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Thursday, May 29, 2008

I love you

Man, we have had some great days around here.  Yesterday, we had ZERO time outs.  Today, we only had ONE.  It's quite amazing how well he is able to calm himself down now when he gets upset.  

BUT - here's the big new for today.  We think (although it cannot be 100% confirmed) that Zac spontaneously told Katie, "I love mama".  Obviously, this is every parents dream.  I'm just amazed that we're hearing this so fast.  I can't begin to covey how well the attachment is going.  We now rock him to bed every night and he loves it.  I think this alone has made a big difference.  

It's worth mentioning that we finally had his International Adoption Specialist Doctor appointment yesterday.  In short, he is fine.  Hearing:  Fine.  Development:  Fine.  Health:  Fine.  There were a few minor things, but no need to go into details.

Here's some pictures from our day trip last weekend to Mahoney State Park.  




Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Regressions

I was such a good little blogger leading up to our trip and of course DURING the trip.

But now, I'm having a hard time finding the time and motivation.  The last few posts were Katie's.  (Thanks dear!)  I'm hoping eventually we'll settle back to normalcy.

Anyway, I wanted to quickly mention our experience with regression.  Specifically, I'm talking about potty training.  When we first got Zac (over a month ago now!) he was VERY good with his potty training.  Rarely would we find a wet diaper.  Occasionally, he would have a dirty diaper.  He always said "Da" when we asked him if he had to go potty and he always would comply with going.  (Even on the big potty chair)

One month later, things have changed.  Pretty much he is 100% diapers.  We're now to the point where he absolutely refuses to get on the potty.  When we ask him if he has to use the potty he quickly says "no".  (Yes, we've already transitioned from Nyet to No.... his English is quite amazing!)

Katie and I are not in the least bit concerned with his regression.  In fact, we've read that this is quite common.  We're so encouraged by his incredible PROGRESS with everything else that this one REGRESS is not a big deal at all.  

I merely find it very interesting.  What's going on in that little head of his?  Is it a control thing?  Is it a need to revisit his "lost babyhood"?  Is it a fear of the toilet?  Is it because he would rather poop on my hand?  

We may never know the answers...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Picture Update

So much is happening around here. This is a random picture update of the family.

Hallie graduated from Little Lamb Preschool this past Thursday night. She sang beautifully and was so proud to have her grandparents and some friends there to watch her.



Zac got to meet his Great Great Auntie Lois today and his Great Grandmother Charlotte.


Zac the Cowboy! Isn't he cute?

Zac's first Sunday at church. He stayed with us during the service and was a hit with all our friends.

The kids helped plant flowers in the front yard. What a fun mess!

Two weekends ago Zac got to meet his Great Grandma Anna (aka GIGI) at my cousin's wedding.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Gift

Hey blog friends! This is Katie.

I wanted to share a sweet gift that God gave me today.

I was putting Zac down for his afternoon nap (which has turned into a bit of a struggle) and after 1/2 hour of sweet, quiet time I finally decided to let him fall asleep on his own. Besides, I had my agenda of naptime "things to do". Well, after another half a hour I was getting frustrated and he was too. It escalated to him crying and me praying (something I should have started with, I know). God gently, but with conviction said to me, "Get in there and be his mother! Comfort him and let go of your agenda (cutting up vegetables which I'm sure no one will eat tonight anyway)."

So, with a deep breath I went into his room and scooped him up. He didn't fight it at all but cozied up into my neck and wrapped his arms around me. I held him as he calmed down and then went into the hallway to rock him in the rocking chair. Within two minutes he fell asleep in my arms for the first time. I cried. How sweet to rock my baby and that he let me rock him. How precious that as I watched him sleep my heart could not have been more in love and known him more as my own. I'm so grateful that when I finally surrendered (when will I learn) God was gracious enough to bless me with those sweet moments.

So, I had to let you all know (and the vegetables are still waiting to be cut up!).

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

update

Quick update tonight:

(I'm watching American Idol as I type this, so my head's not really in this)

In case you're all wondering, it only took Zac ONE day to figure out that he can walk out of his room.  Oh well... at least we tried.  Most nights one of us end up staying with him until he's asleep anyway.  Probably not the best thing for us, but we just can't help spoiling him.  Plus he so darn cute when he sleeps.

Each day continues to be better than the last.  There were countless times today where he COULD have had a tantrum, but DIDN'T.  I think he's starting to figure out new and better ways to express his frustration.  

Plus he's learning a ton of English.  Today he clearly said, "I want snack".  I was impressed that he strung a 3 word sentence together already.  Of course, he is VERY motivated by snacks.  Just like Hallie and Jake, he prefers to skip meals and exclusively nourish himself with snacks.  (We're working on this).

Gotta go.  It's time for me to vote for David.  (I'll let you guess which one)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Interesting analysis

Here's something I thought you may find interesting: Zac's new bedtime routine. (Much different than our first few nights with him).

First of all, I should let you know that Zac sleeps in our room right next to our bed. This is so he doesn't ever have to wake up alone.

When bedtime roles around, we brush his teeth, walk him to bed, read him books, pray with him and then give him a little "baby massage". The massage is basically rubbing his back and maybe gently tracing his hands or face. It's very relaxing... for all of us. Everything up to this point generally goes pretty well.

When we get up and leave, he starts to cry. We tell him it's OK and that we're not leaving him. We shut the door and he cries more. The first time this happened (maybe a week ago or so) we immediately ran back in. Certainly, we don't want our boy to think that we've left him for good! Everything we've read talks about how adopted children's biggest fear is being left or abandoned. We've tried to be so sensitive to this.

After a few days of the bedtime drama increasing, we began to notice a funny thing. When we shut the door to the bedroom, Zac would let out a scream that made me wonder if he had accidently cut off his leg. BUT - when I ran back in to tell him everything was OK, he would immediately smile at me. Additionally, there were no tears whatsoever.

Hmmm.... is this kid playin' me?

So here's where things get funny. Tonight, Katie and I tried something different. First of all, it should be noted that he only cries when we shut the door. Therefore, we thought we'd try to leave his door open and see what happens.

We got up, walked out, and left the door open. He didn't cry! .... we waited.... he waited.... still no crying.... pretty soon we saw him peak around the door. When he saw us, he ran back to his bed. A little more waiting.... still no crying.... and then we saw him peak again. We all made eye contact. Followed by him running off again.

Finally after about 1 more minute, we saw him peak from behind the door and this time, he closed the door himself and then began crying. We walked over to the door and opened it back up. (We didn't go in, we merely opened the door) He immediately stopped crying. But we could tell he was confused as to what to do.

Sure enough, about 1 minute later we heard the door shut again followed by more wailing. We walked over and opened it back up.

Would you believe that he shut the door on himself yet again!? This time, we ignored it. He stopped crying within another minute or so.

This seems to work for now. I wonder how long it'll take him to figure out that he can simply walk out of the room now that we're leaving his door open....

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The next David Hasselhoff


ATTENTION LADIES!!!

Future Baywatch star: Zac Horner !!!



Today, we decided to venture out and try something new. Zac loved the pool! (See video) We're also proud to report we had no temper tantrums when we left. He's starting to understand us when we give him a "2 minute warning".



Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Poop Story

Last night, I gave Katie a much deserved "night off", so it was just me and the kids. Things went very well through dinner so I thought I'd take everyone out for a treat: Dairy Queen.

Zac's first Dairy Queen. I thought he'd like it.

And he did! All 4 of us split a Hot Fudge Sundae. Zac had his fair share, but nothing out of the norm. He really seems to like ice cream and chocolate. (who doesn't?)

But this is not the point of the story. I'm merely building the scene.

At bath time, I thought it very odd that Zac wanted to get out of the tub so soon. (A mere 10 minutes). Unfortunately, I didn't ponder the situation long enough as I was quickly consumed by my 2 other naked kids wanting to get out of the tub. The next thing I knew, Zac was making a strange grunting noise from inside Jake's room. I glanced in the room just in time to see a poo emerging from Zac's naked rear end! AAAHHHHH! My fatherly instincts took over and without even thinking about it, I made a "Jerry Rice diving catch" and literlly caught the "log" just in the nick of time.

At this point, I scooped up Zac with my free hand (as my other hand was.... well.... let's just say it was full) and we ran to the bathroom. Eventually, I got him wiped up and it seemed that things were back under control. I started working on the other two children who were still naked at this point. I glanced over at Zac who was now on the rocking chair at the end of the hallway and what did my eyes see? Another log!!! AAHHHHH!!!!!!!! He wasn't finished!

What was I thinking? Why didn't I put a pull-up on him the first time? I have 3 children! I should know better!

This time the poo managed to smear a bit more so the clean up efforts were a bit more cumbersome. Nevertheless we prevailed.

And I was smart enough to immediately put the pull-up on him this time. Thank goodness I did, because believe it or not, he shot out one more round within another minute or so.

I'm thinking that we'll hold off on ice cream next time...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

2 weeks


What a difference 2 weeks can make. Boy howdy! This kid has changed in the last 2 weeks. (Some for better, some for worse)


1. Two weeks ago, Zac whimpered at the mention of a bath. This was, in fact, the only thing that he cried about during our first 3 days with him. Now he LOVES bath time! Everytime he goes near the bathroom, he asks to take a bath! (and he uses the word "bath") Tonight, he took a 1/2 hour bath. He plays, he blows bubbles under the water, he absolutely loves it. The only way I can get him out of the tub is to lure him with "swinging towel rides".
2. Two weeks ago, his gross motor skills were such that he couldn't even walk up and down stairs. He could barely bend down to pick things up off the floor without falling over. Now, he takes stairs without holding the railing. He can hang from the monkey bars. He can bounce on the trampoline without falling. In fact, tonight he attempted a somersault on the trampoline. It wasn't very good, but still very impressive nonetheless.
3. Two weeks ago, he quietly sat at the table and ate everything without discussion. Today, he is picky with his food. He pulls his bib off in the middle of the meal. And he is constantly telling us he is "all done" and then immediately asking for "more please". (We know, it's a control thing. Nevertheless, we're happy that he feels he has a voice).
4. Two weeks ago, he had little to no exposure to English. Today he says Mommy, Daddy, more, please, all done, duck, dog, Jimmy (short for Jimmy Johns), cat, ball, water, juice, and up.
5. Two weeks ago.... one week ago for that matter, he had raging temper tantrums that were near impossible to control. Today, he knows what a time-out is and quickly calms down when we mention them. (He still fires out a good temper tantrum, but they are much less intense already.... or maybe we're getting used to them).
6. Two weeks ago, we were all strangers. Today, he pulls on our pant leg and says "Up, please". He simply wants to be held and knows that mom and dad will always respond.
7. Two weeks ago, he knew no pain. Today, he is still tough as nails, BUT he does come to us to "kiss his ouchies". I think he's even starting to make up ouchies just for the attention. We love it.
What will be saying 2 weeks from now, I wonder?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Hannah for hire

Yesterday, we had Hannah come over and take some wonderful pictures! We thought a studio would be too much for Zac to handle, so we hired her to come to our house instead.

She only took 1,389 pictures. Here's four. (Give Hannah a call. She is available for hire!)



Time In's

Well, it's official:

Time in's are out and time out's are in. (Did that make sense?)

Wednesday was not a good day. We had several temper tantrums and it seems that the more we held him, the more frustrated and desperate he became. In truth, if I were mad about something, the last thing I would want we be pinned down by someone 10x as big as me.

Because we feel the attachment thing is going so well, we opted for a time out approach yesterday. (Sitting him on a chair and walking away). We still remain within view of Zac, so he knows we haven't left him. This went 1,000 times better yesterday. He truly wants are attention and approval. Therefore, time outs are something that he responds to very well.

We'll keep perfecting the art of our parenting, but we feel like yesterday was a break through day.

Before he was about 95% great child and 5% scary tantrum boy. Yesterday, I'd say he was 99% great child and 1% normal tantrum boy. Much much better.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Report Card

Now that we're back from Russia, I will most likely be ditching the twice a day entries. We'll probably be going back to every other day... er something.

So naturally, people are asking how Zac is doing, so I thought it would be fun to draft a "report card" format:

Sleep: A+
Zac has been consistantly sleeping through the night from day one. The most amazing feat that he accomplished was our first day back home when he managed to sleep from 10:00pm to 6:00am even though we were all tremendously jet lagged. I'm not sure how he pulled this off.

Many of you have commented about my blog entry regarding how we witnessed Zac falling asleep those first few times. I'd like to let everyone know that he has already transitioned into a more "normal" sleep habit. (i.e. whining when it's time to go to bed, playing a bit before he goes to sleep... not exactly "good" behavior, but certainly more "normal"). Nevertheless, the whining and playing are very minimal. Bottom line is that he is a great sleeper. Very quiet too. No snoring.

Eating: A+
Zac is a great eater and doesn't appear to be too freaked out with our American food. He really likes bananas, but isn't real crazy about any other fruits. Go figure.

Temper Tantrums: B-
Today was our first day without a full blown "Zac attack". (Yea!) There were a few 2 year old moments but nothing like what he's capable of. Each day is getting better and better. We are so encouraged by his sweetness and ability to handle what must be a very stressful time in his life.

Playing with Siblings: B+
One of the biggest surprises we've had during our time home is how helpful Hallie and Jake have been. They probably don't even realize they are helping, but there have been countless times when we've been trying to steer Zac in a particular direction, and he doesn't necessarily listen to us, but he does follow whatever his big brother and sister are doing. (i.e. coming in for dinner, washing his hands, brushing his teeth, etc.) All 3 are getting along very well. We have had only 2 very minor cases of hitting.

Attachment: A
We are making leaps and bounds on a daily basis. As I look at various "check lists" that are out there regarding attachment disorders, I see that we have very few things to worry about. The only major issue that we've seen from Zac is that he has a tremendous tolerance for pain. (which is indeed on the list of attachment issues). This kid has taken some serious spills in the last two weeks and for the most part, he simply gets up and keeps right on going. No tears. No hugs from mom or dad. (We try, but he resists during these times) But this seems to be the only "big thing" that we're seeing. For the most part, our lives are full of cuddles, snuggles, kisses, hugs, eye contact, etc.)

Cuteness: A+

Sweetness: A+

Humor: A+
Zac is showing himself to be a little clown. It's fun to watch his new faces and noises emerge on a daily basis.

Talking: A+
I'll let you watch this one for yourselves.

(Editor's note: At the end of the video, Zac walks away like a "silly man". Please don't be worried that he has something wrong with his legs.


Sunday, May 4, 2008

Wow

All I can say is "wow". Zac is doing so great. Today was a really good day. We only had two temper tantrums. He is doing so much better with the concept of "not getting his way". Additionally, Katie and I are working hard to make sure he doesn't have "too much control" over things. As a result, we are doing things for him that he can certainly do on his own. (Brush his teeth, get himself dressed, feeding him) This is all b/c a lot of books tell us that giving in to his need for control now (which he certainly has) can lead to bigger problems when he's older.


Think of independance and attachment on a spectrum. Most biological kids come "pre-attached". Therefore, everything that parents do is done in order to move kids across the spectrum from attachment to independence. For Zac, however, we must do things a little "opposite" of conventional parenting. I can't begin to express how much better things have gotten now that we're home. He is accepting when we take things away. He is allowing us to brush his teeth. (which really takes a lot of trust!) Even the "time-in's" have toned down a notch. (No more hitting and biting.) In fact, we're finding that he is clinging to us quite hard during these time-in's. It's as if the tantrums have nothing to do with us, and everything to do with whatever it is that he needs to work though. Katie and I have had no problems holding him during these screaming fits. I thought it would be tougher, but it's really not.

PICTURE TIME:

As you can see, Zac is fitting well into our theatrical, singing family.


Here's our 3 kids plus cousin Jillian



Once again, no problems fitting in with the "baseball boys". (Except that he holds the bat upside down... we're working on that!)


Editor's note: Don't worry, Jake is hitting a wiffle ball in this picture. Although the ball did almost smack Zac in the head with that particular line drive.
At first, Zac was a bit confused as to how the pool works. He stripped himself naked upon entry into the water. But he eventually figured it all out!
Wearing big brother Jake's hat and shoes. He's already immitating a lot of what Jake does. The ultimate sign of brotherly love!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Pictures and time ins



Our kids are getting along amazingly well these past 2 days. I'm very proud of all 3 of them for how they've behaved.

We've continued to have a few temper tantrums from our little Zac, but we've employed what we believe to be a good working strategy. We've now developed what I would call a hybrid time-in and they seem to be going well.

The ignoring thing didn't seem very effective. This resulted in unresolved conflict which led to bigger and more frequent tantrums. At one point, we even attempted to give him a time-out" by himself in his room. Within about 3 seconds of shutting his door, we realized that this was absolutely NOT the right thing to do. We don't want give him any illusion that we're "leaving" him at anytime.

Therefore, we've settled on time-ins.

Doing great

Welcome to the new format of my blog:

It's called, "Holy cow, I have 3 kids now" format.

It's quick! It's short! It's to the point.

We're doing great.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

We're HOME

Whew! We made it home.

And I'll have to say that the dreaded, "Flight from Hell" went surprising very well. For most of Tuesday, I had a pit in my stomach thinking about what a rough day Wednesday was going to be. But much to my delight, Zac was awesome yesterday. At the beginning of the day, I was mostly only thinking about the 12 hour flight from Moscow to Atlanta - but the reality is that the day was SOOOOOO much longer than that. Before we even started flying, we had 3 hours in the Moscow airport waiting in line after line after line. Zac did great the whole time. He played and laughed and never once ran away from us. (One of my biggest fears)

Then we boarded the planed and he immediated slept for almost 2 hours. For the next 5 or 6 hours, he was awake - but was definately in a good mood. He played, watched TV and walked up and down the aisles many times. We also went the bathroom about 5 times, but I didn't mind. It was something to do. Therefore, he was active - but certainly he was not being bad or out of control. Believe it or not, he ended up sleeping the last 4 hours of the flight.

We ended up with about a 2 1/2 hour layover which was more than enough time to get through immigrations, customs, and baggage. It was during this time that we had our one and only Zac attack of the day. In truth, it may have been to our advantage because it was right when we were going through a security check. He was screaming so much that they basically just let us through without checking anything. Katie and I later laughed at how much you can get away with when you've got a crying child.

The second flight went great. Again, he mostly slept the entire 2 hour flight.

Therefore, I'd give our little guy an A- for the day. Only 1 breakdown is pretty awesome for ANY 2 year old.

When we landed, we were greeted by the large majority of our family. (and a few friends) It was so awesome to see everyone and especially Hallie and Jake. Man, I missed them so much. It chokes me up again just thinking about how wonderful our homecoming was.

We went against what all the books said and let Zac go around and give everyone hugs. He was so sweet the whole time. Additionally, we could tell that he really liked Hallie and Jake. While in Russia we had been showing him pictures and talking about them the whole time - and I really think he understood who they were.

We came home and all the kids started playing. What a joy it is for a parent to see their kids playing together. I think Zac was a bit overloaded, but nonetheless, still very happy.

It's good to be home. So now it's 2:00 in the morning and everyone is asleep but me. Hmmm...