Things have settled down a little bit. We were actually sitting at the dining room table at 10:00 local time tonight, with the boys in bed, the dishes done, and the floors swept. The bed time experience was much more smooth tonight. We’re hoping to get some reasonable sleep tonight, although it’s now 11:00, and the fireworks are setting off all of the car alarms in the parking lot behind our building. So far, the boys are sleeping through it. Let’s just hope they are sound sleepers!
So first of all, we didn’t mean to give anyone the wrong impression by listing the difficulties of our travels and our first day. Part of that was simple exhaustion, and part of that is that there are no words to describe the little joys that we get from the hugs, smiles, and laughter of these two little boys.
Once they finally got to bed last night, the boys slept pretty well until about 3:00. I had decided to get off the bedroom floor and join Lara on the sleeper in the living room, but shortly after that Evan came wandering out into the hallway. Luckily, he wasn’t panicked, but he was clearly not comfortable wandering around. I walked over to him, and he just led me back into the bedroom. Lara joined them in the bed, and they slept until about 6:30.
We had breakfast of “Kasha” (Russian oatmeal) and eggs. Both boys ate fairly well, but they have this nasty habit of pouring their juice into their food. I think they are just testing us, although it may be related to the fact that at the orphanage, they weren’t given anything to drink until the meal was done.
Tatiana (Olga’s helper here in Bryansk, whom I met on my last trip) stopped by with her husband to take us downtown to the parade. Today was the 68th anniversary of Bryansk’s liberation from the Germans. We were very glad to have the opportunity to let Evan and Alex participate in a local tradition before we left. The parade was a bit of a disappointment however. The Russians (and Europeans in general) are not very polite in crowds. We staked out a spot that looked like we would be in front, but by the time the parade started, we were well towards the back. No one had any compunction about standing in front of two little boys trying to watch their first parade. It wasn’t really a problem though. The sites and sounds alone were enough to put the boys into over-stimulation.
We picked up some pizza at the fair, which turned out to be a huge hit with both boys. It is harder than you might imagine to find foods in Russia when you don’t even know the children’s likes and dislikes, but we are learning. Alex is a machine. He will pretty much down anything you hand him. We have to work very hard to slow him down. On his own, he will stuff the food into his mouth until he has no option but to spit it back out. For whatever reason, Evan is much more finicky. He doesn’t seem to like meats or potatoes. He even begged out of some pasta at dinner tonight. He seems to be getting his fill, but we aren’t certain that either of them really has any idea of when they’ve had enough, or too much.
We are also learning to be more controlled with liquids. Both boys constantly crave juice. We were pretty liberal yesterday with granting them their wishes. Unfortunately, this led to several accidents and overflowed diapers. Hopefully we’re finding a good balance now.
The weather today was pretty much lousy. The highs were in the upper 40’s, and it was overcast, drizzling, and windy most of the day. Other than our little adventure to the parade, we only had about 10 minutes outside before we decided to throw in the towel. That left us crammed in the apartment with a limited toy supply, which understandingly led to some wound up boys and some stressed out parents. Oddly enough, their favorite toys so far are a small broom and dust pan we found under the sink. I swear Alex spent two hours today sweeping the floors, walls, couches, and television…
We’re actually doing amazingly well communicating with the boys. While we don’t have enough Russian to discipline them, or get them to stop truly bad or dangerous behavior, we’re able to understand when they want more food, or when they’ve had enough. We know when they need to go to the bathroom, and we’re even able to talk through the picture book that we left with them in August. Evan is obsessed with it. Clearly, someone at the orphanage talked him through it several times. He will flip through the pages and explain each one: Mama, Papa, Vanya (Evan) and Vetya (Alex); moi sobaka (my dog), domoi (home), mo-yee eegrushki (my toys), and he is emphatic with the use of “my”. We are very thankful for that.
We gave them a bath after dinner tonight. Oddly enough, this seemed to make them want to go outside. Perhaps the orphanage routine was different than we thought, and they got their baths in the morning before going outside, or maybe they just wanted out of the apartment. I guess time will tell. The hot water seemed to have the effect we were looking for though. After about another hour, we took them into the dark bedroom, and with only a few minutes of protest, they settled down to sleep. We didn’t have any of the circus of last night. We hope that means we’re getting a workable routine in place, but we can’t help but think that it’s too early for that.
I know some of you are craving pictures. I hate to disappoint, but between the chaos and the weather, our picture selection is still pretty sparse. Here are a few samples from yesterday and today, and a video that summarizes our “gotchya” day. Hopefully there will be much more to come over the next few days, but now, it’s off to sleep!
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