Since I totally neglected to put pics on the last post, here’s an all picture post to assuage my guilt.
In before midnight!
Love and bright blessings,
Since I totally neglected to put pics on the last post, here’s an all picture post to assuage my guilt.
So I keep posting here partly because I know some of you who follow aren’t on Facebook to catch all the daily shenanigans. And partly because I like having something a little more in our control for maintaining memories. Facebook is so much easier for the quick status update but it is not easy for finding a particular occurrence and of course, well, it’s Facebook so it’s go issues. Heh. Anyway, I guess as long as I get an update in once a month that’s a win.
So Alexei will be starting at the Ventura Montessori in the Fall. Montessori doesn’t have grades per se so the classes are divided into Pre-primary and Primary. He’ll start with the Pre-primary so they can evaluate his skills and he’ll move into the Primary as he masters things. Kids go back and forth sometimes as well depending on what things they are excelling at and those they need to keep working on. I like that fluidity. Makes much more sense then “You are X years old so you will go into X grade and should learn X skills before the end of the year.”
It’s a nice calm and supportive atmosphere so I hope he’ll have an easy time transitioning. I calculated with weekends, holidays and vacations he has about 60 more days with his current caregiver. This makes me a little sad. Trying to think what I can come up with as a really nice gift to give her for all she’s done for him. And hoping he won’t have too hard a time leaving his second home. I’m sure everyone is right and it will be harder on me than him – he’s a resilient boy – but yes, every big change worries me just a little because he’s had so many in his short life.
But I am very excited about him going to school. And he is too. He talks about it a lot. Has all these things he really wants to do – carry a lunch box to school, get a real back pack etc. So school shopping will be fun at least this year! He is definitely ready. I’d put him in for the summer session except: 1) I really want him to have the summer with Bev 2) the summer session starts while we are in Canada for my birthday 3) we’re out for a full week in July (going to Yellowstone!) and 4) the session only goes through July so I’d have to do something with him for the bulk of August. Sigh! Also, really, I like the idea of him starting in the fall, most likely with other kids also starting for the first time.
OK, I am also looking at ideas for dates for Alexei’s b-day party. His b-day is the Tue after Labor Day so sort a toying with the Saturday before. He’s saying he wants to do the museum again – which is cool by me but wondering if others think that’s too repetitive. Anyone want to weigh in?
I’ll post pics late so check back!
Blessings and love,
I was going to write another post about family building issues but I just realized it’s April already and rather than let another 8 weeks go by, I thought I’d better get something up.
As I’ve mentioned, we’re looking for a school for Alexei for the fall. Aside from being a lot of hard work, it’s also really gut wrenching. Facing down the fact he’s going to be 5 (yes, sometimes that missed year just about kills me!) even if it’s still 5 months away. Yeesh! As my friend Linda keeps reminding me: “Don’t blink!” (No, Dr. Who geeks, not like that!)
We think we’ve found the place, BTW. More on that later when we have it secured.
Harder still is facing, once again, the fact that he’s our one and only. My heart is continually in my throat even as I exercise superhuman restrain by NOT stopping him from climbing that tree or jumping off that rock. I’m sure parents of more than one feel the same about the subsequent children, too, of course. My parents certainly weren’t exactly blase by the time I came along but I do know they weren’t as hyper-vigilant about every right and wrong move since they’d had a chance to work out some of that anxiety on the first model. (LOL! Love ya, bro!) I also imagine that as he gets older, being an only may be an enormous amount of pressure for our Alexei, so we have to find ways of reducing that to only “amazing” proportions rather than “alien super powers” level.
And while I’ve tried hard to be OK with the one and done factor, there is still a big hole in my heart where a second child should be. Events keep conspiring to remind me of that “missing person” – new baby at daycare, a fellow adoptive mom starting her next paper-chase, All The Pregnant Ladies. Sigh!
I try not to feel so sorry for myself. I am blessed. There are certainly any number of folks who would gladly exchange my woe for theirs. But it doesn’t make it hurt less to know that, really. And it makes me feel kinda like an asshole to compare my pain to theirs. Ya know what I mean?
Sorry, end of my whinging.
Alexei continues to grow seemingly overnight. He is definitely maturing in so many ways and I am more and more convinced that extra year at his current caregivers was the right thing for him. He’s really become a leader and big helper at daycare. This week while our caregiver has been recovering from surgery he’s been such a big help to her. He picks things up off the floor for her without even being asked! FYI: she has adult help, too, so it’s not like she’s relying on the kids but I am so proud of how he has stepped up.
4 has been a challenging age all the way around though. He’s very opinionated, a mixed bag of independent and babyish and pressing the boundaries at home more and more. We are still having some minor sleep issues – he still wants me to stay until he falls asleep and I still get called in the middle of the night for reassurance. I think over the summer I may have to start pushing both of these issues. I’d like to see him getting to sleep by himself and sleeping most nights all alone before he starts school in the fall. We shall see. He can count to 20, is starting to recognize and form letter, along with a growing number of awesome things. When he chooses to he can be a big helper around the house. For reasons that I cannot fathom he likes to scoop the litter boxes and does a pretty good job of it actually!
We are also saw an unanticipated effect of his early life: he had several pretty nasty cavities in his molars. The dentist thinks it partially due to lack of fluoride while he was little in China. He was an incredibly brave boy and dealt with the major procedure very very well. He only got upset when I had to step out of the room for the x-rays but I was able to reassure him from the hallway. I was very pleased with the pediatric specialist and the whole office staff aswell. They were very reassuring, they have movies for the kids to watch in the chair, allow parents to stay (obviously) and gave him lots of positive reinforcement including prizes and a Perfect Patient award (a free round of mini golf!) Doc says we need to be on the lookout for more cavities but so far everything looks good enough to wait until the next 6 month appointment to try more x-rays. He also thinks his adult teeth will be better for exposure to fluoride.
Well, guess I better post this before it turns into another few days and then another few days etc.
So as per usual, Facebook is killing my blogging. Although despite that fact we’ve been very busy since the new year began, there haven’t been any really big things to report.
Alexei had a hard time readjusting to “normal life” after our vacation and break. He really loved the hotel, mostly I think because of the elevator and his “Transformer bed” (sofa bed.) He also kept talking about what Santa would bring him next and was disappointed at the lights being taken down all over our neighborhood. And his wish list has only gotten longer. Damn you, Amazon!
We finally had the bay window out front replaced. The new one is much nicer. But doing that has started the cascade of Things Which Must Be Done to the house. Gonna be a constructive 2014 I guess.
We’ve been to Disneyland a couple of times already, of course. Even got to ride the holiday it’s a small world before they closed it to change it back. Alexei loved all the lights on the outside, too. Disney must keep Sylvania in business single-handedly. Unfortunately we didn’t get to make one last ride on Finding Nemo! They closed it one day early! We were very disappointed. Going to be really pissed if the rumors are true and they are shutting down this attraction for good. Grrrrr!
Alexei is learning to play soccer now. They had a little six week class in his park near his daycare and thankfully they had enough interest that there will be another class after this one is done! I’m sad that it happens during the day though as it’s tough for me to go see him play. I did take a morning off to do so though. And I’m really glad. He’s really seems to be enjoying it. So we’ve found something to replace gymnastics, which he’ll be giving up after this month is done. Sigh! He’s just really not that into it anymore, I guess. Oh, well. You cannot force them to like something! He is still having fun at the ranch so we will try to make it up there on Saturday mornings regardless of no longer having gymnastics.
He was REALLY excited about Chinese New Year this year and loved wearing his Chinese clothes to daycare for their little celebration. He has become very interested in many things Chinese. Although he’s still doesn’t appear to have any interest in Mandarin (we play the music and story cds we brought home from China for him regularly but usually he only wants to listen for a short time.) It’s interesting to watch him try to process his adoption story – he likes to tell people he was a baby in China right now.
Warning: political rant ahead. We’re looking into various options for school for him in the fall. I think I’ve already ranted about him missing the public K cut off by ONE DAY! And Ventura county schools are making NO exceptions. So we are looking into private K programs for him. We’re actually hoping to put him in a particular private school that is K-5 (and may eventually go to 8) as it’s pretty clear Common Core is going to screw things up for a while until the bugs are all out – or the Next Big Reform comes along and screws it up again!
As a liberal mom, I feel sorta guilty abandoning the public schools as I do believe in the idea of them. But the so-called GOP have spent a lot of time, money and propaganda trying to destroy our public schools systems and then a lot of grifters have made a lot of money and well-meaning privileged folks with no educational experience have made a lot of press trying to “reform” what has been intentionally broken. NCLB is an abomination and Common Core, as I already said, is going to mess things up again for a while.
So we feel it’s in Alexei’s best interest to keep him out of the storm if we can.
Unfortunately our options are somewhat limited as almost all the private schools in our area are religious. Sigh! The school we are hoping to start him in is having him do a shadow-day with their K class later this month so we can evaluate if he’ll be ready for their K program. I’m also looking into the two local Montessori schools, one of which goes up to 3rd grade, so that would give us a little more leeway.
OK, rant off.
I know y’all only come for the pictures so enjoy!
Love and bright blessings,
Happy Western New Year!
Love and bright blessings,
Janice, Darren and Alexei
Good grief! It’s almost the end of October. As usual it’s been weeks since I posted anything. And it’s been months since I posted new pics here! For those who follow the blog and aren’t on Facebook, I greatly apologize.
Without further ado:
Yes, Alexei turned 4 this year. 4 is a bit more challenging than 3. We’ve had a few knock-down-drag-out erm… discussions about listening and not always getting what we want. Fun! But he really is a super good kid. He’s just definitely checking the boundaries.
We recently had his speech evaluated through the school district because we were still having some trouble understanding him and it was clearly causing him a lot of frustration. Fortunately the speech therapist was able to give us a few tips for helping him so a formal course of speech therapy ended up not being necessary. We did a follow up a few weeks later and she was very happy with his progress. We continue to model correct pronunciation and push him to use his pronouns and full sentences. He’s improved by leaps and bounds and the moments of frustration are much less for both of us.
We had his birthday party at Gullwings Museum in Oxnard. He loved it. The theme was Star Wars (as you may have noticed in the birthday post) but he wanted the Disneyland Castle on his cake. I love this kid!
We had a house party at a place we rented for Darren’s birthday. Yes, Darren cooked his own birthday dinner. Nothing new there. LOL! Big time thanks to Auntie Resa for keeping Alexei entertained with the light saber fights and “airplane” rides.
We’ve done a ton of Disneyland since the summer hiatus of course. Alexei got picked for the Jedi Academy at Disneyland! He was super proud and excited. Eowyn got picked too so it was a happy day for both kids!
I’ll try to post the video of them fighting Darth Vader. Too many of the pics are of him and a bunch of other kids so you just get the diploma pics for now.
Alexei and I also go to meet up with our friends Beth and Silpa, their daughter Sofia and foster son at Disneyland a few weeks ago. Alexei did pretty well in the roll-reversal of being the biggest kid introducing the toddler to Disney. Had to remind him a few times that he had to let other people pick rides too but we only had a few bad moments over that. Heh. He and Sofia walked around much of the park hand in hand. It was pretty darned cute.
This also marked a major milestone as Alexei was finally brave enough to meet some of the characters. He actually met Tinkerbell and the fairies by himself but we met most of the others with Sofia and/or “A” so out of deference to their privacy I will not post those pics here. Those of you who are friends with either Beth or Silpa on FB can check out some of the great pics there.
He’s now the oldest kid in his daycare, which has been great for him. His caregiver has been doing preschool stuff with him for a few weeks now.
He liked this NASA outfit at daycare so much we were inspired to go visit the Space Shuttle Endeavor on the one year anniversary of it being brought to the California Science Center. The whole museum is a blast and it’s FREE. (OK, $10 parking but still…)
It was really hard to take pics with the shuttle in the temporary building so here’s just the shuttle.
Alexei is obsessed with Star Wars right now so of course is going as a Jedi for Halloween. He’s very adamant that he is Obi Wan Kenobi!
We took our annual pilgrimage to the pumpkin patch with Auntie Boo on Fillmore and Western Pumpkin Liner.
So Friday Alexei woke up with a pretty clear case of Pink Eye. Sigh. You know how much fun it is to try to get a four year old to let you put drops? Fortunately we’ve developed a routine that allows him to have some control over it so we can get it done. He first has to give all his stuffed animals their drops (Visine) then Alexei gets his. Then Mommy (also Visine.)
After the doctor’s visit we had to go by my office to change the back up tapes so Alexei got to hang out a Mommy’s work for a bit. Everyone fawned over him of course.
Here’s the equine menagerie:
Halloween is in a couple of days. I promise I’ll post pics of the Jedi!
We’re planning to go away for our anniversary and Xmas this year. Thinking Cabo or Puerto Vallarte as they are both close and warm. Anyone have any personal experience with resorts in either area, especially ones good for small children?
Bright blessing and love to all,
Janice, Darren and Alexei
(Trigger warning for discussion of sexism, homophobia and adoption related issues. Also, note, I am referring mainly to trends and beliefs here in the US.)
Folks who know me (IRL or from Facebook or Twitter) know I am an abashed liberal and lifelong feminist. Now being both, I will readily admit I focus a lot on women’s issues and how our patriarchal society short-changes girls and women on a daily basis. But it is also true that patriarchy is bad for boys and men. It sells them short in a lot of ways. One of those ways is intimately tied to adoption.
Across the world, more boys are available for adoption than girls. Boys wait longer in countries that allow PAPs to request the gender of their child. Boys wait longer in Special Needs programs. Boys wait longer in US foster care. I’ve read of PAPs who have rejected referrals for boys from China’s “traditional” (aka the Non-Special Needs) program!
(Full disclosure: Darren and I were open to either a boy or a girl and stated so in our paperwork. I actually had imagined having boys or one of each when we first started. But when we settled on China, which at the time was referring something like 95% girls to the US , we “knew” we would get a girl. Getting Alexei instead of Lorelei was a surprise but a happy one.)
I don’t want to be seen as judging other people’s family building choices. There’s quite enough of THAT going around (a post for another day!) I know very well that that individual families have very legitimate individual reasons for preferring to adopt a girl over a boy. Frankly, since I already have a son, I would like to have a daughter! So I understand. But although each individual choice may make sense, it is still part of a clear pattern: when there is a chance to make a choice, adoptive parents tend to chose girls.
There are a lot of theories about why this might be but all of them seem to come down to sexist notions about boys and girls.
One theory is that women usually drive the adoption process (which is probably true, at least if one goes by the skewed sex ratios on adoption boards) and women prefer daughters to sons (insert raised eyebrow here.) I guess because they want their child to be “like them” as possible. This is coupled with the belief that men don’t care as much about the sex of an adopted child as they do a bio child therefor they default to whatever the wife’s preference is (raised eyebrow again.)
My personal theory is many folks erroneously believe, consciously or not, that girls are more pliable and easy to raise than boys. That girls are more loyal to the family (and specifically the mother) than boys. The flip side of this is the belief that boys are more trouble to raise and will leave the family and not look back. I’ve heard these opinions from quite a few parents, bio, adoptive and foster, enough to make me think, consciously or unconsciously, that belief this drives a lot of the “demand” for girls in adoption.
I’m not even sure where to go from that point, except to say, this obviously does a huge disservice to boys who need families to love and nurture them and teach them how to be wonderful men. Seriously, if there is any thought that has given me more anguish about not feeling equipped to parent a child with identified special needs, it’s knowing that so many boys are still waiting for a chance for a family based on their sex alone.
Annnnnd now I seem to be once again veering into “safe the children” territory. Perhaps I have more of a savior mentality than I like to admit. But for the record, we didn’t adopt to “save” a child. Our money would have gone a lot farther given to an NGO like Half the Sky if we had that goal in mind. We adopted because we wanted a family. An entirely selfish impulse. To go back and adopt another child with any other goal in mind other than creating a family is, in my opinion, not a recipe for long-term success for all parties involved. Like with the previous post, I don’t think folks should be moved to adopt to “rescue” a child from their situation. I do want folks to think about these issues when they are already moved to adopt for reasons of family building.
OK, I don’t have a good segue here but while we’re talking about issues of sex and adoption, I want to mention the issue of men adopting. (At this juncture I won’t even get into the issues of gay and lesbian *couples* adopting – again, that’s a post for another day.)
It can be difficult for single women to adopt, even domestically. Although attitudes are changing in this country, there is still a lot of bias against single mothers, so they may wait to be chosen by a birth mother or be discouraged by a social worker. Many countries are closed to singles of either sex, because of the same bias and/or fear of same-sex couples getting around bans on gay and lesbians adopting.
But hard as it is for women, the number of programs open to single men is minuscule. And again, the reasons come down to sexist notions about men, especially single men, and children. I have found that even I, as a person who is surrounded by examples of good, nurturing fathers, have to fight my own prejudices about single men adopting. But needless to say, I find it sad that people in a position to make decisions about about who can adopt, from government officials to agency representatives, can judge someone to be an unsuitable parent on the basis of gender alone.
I have no pat answers about how to change any of this. However, this is one part of why I’m a feminist. Continuing to fight the stereotypes of men and boys as difficult or dangerous or what have you is just as important as fighting stereotypes about women and girls being soft, stupid or what have you. I know this doesn’t solve the problem for boys waiting for families right now or men wishing to be fathers right now. But such is the nature of the struggle. Those we fight for may not even have been born yet.
Love and blessings,