Monday, August 17, 2009

A Busy Weekend

On Saturday we decided to take Owen on his first trip to the beach. The sky matched his morning disposition - storm clouds! For the most part, Owen is a pretty happy kid, quick to smile and tolerant of obstacles that slow him down (or jump up to knock him down). Clearly, we took him out of the crib on the wrong side that day! Undeterred, we took the little grump and the excited Alexa - crossing our fingers the clouds would blow over. By the time I arrived on the beach (after dropping everyone off while I found a parking space) Owen was miserable! He hated the salty water. He hated the sand - especially the way it got in his mouth and on his face when he sucked his thumb. He didn't care that we had fun digging toys, floating things and a bucket. He loved sitting down and having a fit after each attempt to cheer him up. Things did not look good. To give everyone a little break, we adjourned to the blanket for a snack. Maybe it was the food or the blanket or the short respite- but whatever it was it worked!! Owen was a changed little man and everyone got to have some fun on the beach. Nothing amazing happened as we kept the trip short in hopes of maintaining the now good experience...

The other big event was the car-washing/water balloon fight. All day Sunday, Alexa asked when the car-washing would commence. It was also supposed to be a big secret that she and Tracy bought water balloons. I feigned ignorance about the whole plot despite Alexa's numerous slip-ups. When the time finally came, Mommy and Daddy did most of the work while Owen tortured us by walking to the end of the driveway and then coming back. Alexa also suddenly had great interest in riding her bike. Fortunately, the water balloons quickly became a true family endeavor! Alexa just wanted to hit Daddy with balloons. Owen just wanted to see the balloons pop - something that was surprisingly difficult. Getting a balloon to actually burst on someone was nearly impossible as the ground took the brunt of our attacks! On his own, Owen decided that biting the balloon yielded the quickest results. Biting is actually a popular interaction with inanimate objects - he loves to bite buttons on the shirt you are wearing, looking like a vampire. In the end - and after many duds - we all were soaked and water satiated.

One of Owen's favorite games is passing objects back and forth with one of us. Only he likes to do it mouth-to-mouth! Owen will hold anything he can in his teeth and then aim it at your your mouth. Once you take it, he has a quick laugh and then opens his mouth for you to return it. This game would probably go on in perpetuity he any of us were patient enough!

Owen loves to climb in things, on things, or over things all by himself. We have a small swing attached to the small slide by the pool. Owen could climb in and out of it the whole time we are outside. Alexa also introduced him to the baby-sized fire truck outside and somehow rode with him. Now Owen has to have his fire truck time when we go swimming. I know I will experience what most father's feel with their sons - the hope that he likes the "guy" things we liked and think he should like as well. So far, Owen hasn't disappointed! He is every bit the "boy" - totally fearless, loves rough-housing, enjoys balls, climbs everything, and likes cars/trucks. BTW, I think Alexa is just the "girl" Tracy wanted as well...

Here are some more pictures for those making requests:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Daily Dosage of Owen

This week things returned to normal in terms of work schedule. That means whenever I have somewhere to go, Owen comes with me - as well as Alexa of course. Owen had his first playdate at the mall for lunch and romping in the play area. We joined Alexa's good friend Zack and his sister, Leah who is Owen's age. Thankfully the experienced Miss Dana helped me manage lunch - Alexa was a big help simply by not needing much help! Bill Cosby was right, you aren't a real parent until you have multiple children! Owen did great and only made a small, manageable mess on the floor. Sufficiently fed (at least the children), we headed to the play area...

The play area has one entrance and about a 4-foot-high wall enclosing it. Owen wasn't intimidated by the large group of children in the small play area - ages ranged from nearly newborns to 6-7 year olds. However, he did quickly figure out how to exit and this became a game for him. He would head in a random direction and enter the closest store, then I would pick him up and zoom him pack to the play area. Alexa and Zack entertained themselves while the parents stayed close to the little ones. Leah and Owen played near each other (we'll pretend it was on purpose) and Dana got some great pictures. Everyone had a good time and each family went home with a tired baby!

Here are some other random notes about the week for Owen:

- I decided to do some vacuuming while the kids got there bath with Tracy. Suddenly the very naked Owen came walk/running toward me and the vacuum sound did not phase him a bit. My recollection is that Alexa didn't like loud noises as a baby, so this really surprised me. In fact, Owen was trying to help me vacuum by holding the hose! The little guy is fearless...

- Owen is now able to pick up his bottle and serve himself - finally tilting his head back when the liquid gets too low. I really appreciate this one for numerous reasons: Owen violently turns his head sideways when he is done with a swig, it is hard to distinguish being "done" versus just "needing a breath", and for some reason it makes me uncomfortable to stick a bottle in his mouth with his head tilted all the way back while standing.

- We are officially crediting him with his first word - up! Monday, Owen was playing with one of his toys that says "up" and "down". I thought he was saying "up" on his own, but he would never repeat it when I said it. Today, Tracy was asking Owen if he wanted to come up and he said "up" very clearly. I could hear this from the kitchen but he refused to say it when Tracy called me over and when I tried to elicit it later. I almost credited him with his version of "doggy", which comes out as something like "da-a". He clearly knows he is referring to the dogs and says it while following one around (Speaking of which, he was doing that to Archie today and would hug him or lay his head on him whenever Archie stood still). The problem was twofold: he is inconsistent with how he says it, often running it together and sounding like dada, and he calls our cat the same word. If you've ever met our cat, Wojo, you'd know he ACTS more like a dog than a cat, but I have to maintain his integrity as a cat!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Fun with Owen

Owen is really a fun little guy - he loves to laugh and is so social! In an early post, I wrote about how he shows more affection for Tracy and just seems more comfortable with her. Now I feel Owen treats us about the same. In the last couple of days, he's started to give us kisses- he leans and opens his mouth slightly then kind of blows gently. It is so sweet! On the not -so-sweet front: Owen has always been a good eater but the last couple days he could eat all day - and his diapers are taking the brunt of it;) Hopefully, this signals a growth spurt...

We've added a few more things to his fun arsenal. He likes to go down the slide (assisted) into the pool. He loves for me to throw him in the air and then let him land somewhat roughly on the bed - don't worry, I'm holding him most of the way! Just generally, he loves to copy us - especially sticking his tongue out or making the same sound. Maybe I'm just being the "Dad", but I don't think his verbal skills will be delayed like normal adoptions from non-English speaking countries. He really seems to be trying out a new sound each day. Yesterday, it really seemed like he was saying "Mama" on purpose to Tracy (doubtful, I know)! Plus, having an older sister somewhat close in age should be an advantage.

Anyway, we are really enjoying our new edition in case you didn't notice;) Tracy and I were discussing how much easier it is the second time with a baby. It's not that Alexa was uncommonly difficult, just that we stressed about small things and didn't know how to act with a baby. Owen makes it easier though by being so easy to please. There's really only one area where I can complain - he throws a fit every time we put him in his crib for sleep. I find it odd only because he was raised in an orphanage where things are usually run on a tight schedule. The good thing is that he always settles down within 10 minutes (often less) and sleeps through the night! It's probably just more proof Owen was an orphanage favorite.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Owen's First Days Home

The first excitement for Owen was meeting our cat, Wojo. Owen was fascinated and kept trying to put his face in Wojo's fur - the result was a close-up of the cat's rear end since he was trying to get away as fast as possible! When Wojo finally settled down, Owen laid his head on Wojo's side and stayed there until Wojo finally got up.

The first morning in his new home Owen would whine if Tracy or I left the room. As the day progressed, he walked around the house and felt comfortable enough to go to into his own room and start playing with toys by himself. Alexa can be found in Owen's room more times than her brother. Speaking of which, the first nap Owen took in his crib turned into a slumber party as Alexa slept UNDER the crib! Every night since, Alexa has made a bed there and fallen asleep - although she eventually comes out the first time she awakens in the night. We had to buy her a sleeping bag to make it more comfortable - so she is sleepover ready now for all of you who have friends of Alexa in your house:)

After all the success in the bathtub, it was no surprise Owen enjoyed the pool. We have a floaty for him and he will stand on the steps and play with toys. He has no fear of getting his face in the water. Today, Tracy and I were pushing him back and forth -Owen would purposely put his head in the water and then laugh when we grabbed him. He is just as brave in the bathtub and I recommend coming to watch if you need a good laugh!

Tracy's parents visited on Sunday and he acted with them just like he did on our first trip - interested but quiet and passive. By the end of the short visit he let his grandmother hold him and play with him. Interestingly, Alexa wanted to play by herself instead of with her grandparents. My mother will be in town this weekend , so we'll see how she acts this time (I'm sure Owen will be is normal wonderful self!).

On Monday, the dogs came home from boarding and Owen showed no fear. He wanted to touch them badly although they just wanted to jump on me and Tracy. We appreciate the way the dogs clean-up after Owen, but he doesn't appreciate the way they try to steal the food out of his hand! Owen does like when Raven licks him while he's eating in his highchair. Today, he was grabbing Archie's tail and rubbing it on his face - like I did to him with the zebra rocking horse during our second trip. I'm really happy he isn't allergic to any of the animals!

This morning Owen had his first doctor's appointment, which includes duplicating all of the vaccinations and bloodtest history just to be safe. The poor guy woke-up a little grumpy and was whiny during the 30 minute wait. Surprisingly, he was perfectly still and quiet as the nurse measured him and the doctor checked him out! Owen stares very intently and shows no signs of fear or stress. He acted like nothing was happening as he had his blood drawn! Then came the vaccinations. The first thing was the one where a needle is used to make a bubble on the forearm - Owen was not pleased. Next came three shots to the legs and he was doing that cry where there is no noise for 15 seconds (the calm before the storm) then the scream of bloody murder. As a parent, you tell yourself that this is what the baby needs but then still feel awful watching someone else make your baby feel that way. Can't wait until the next visit in two weeks:(

Overall, Owen is doing very well. He laughs a lot and loves trying to figure things out. He has been whiny as his body adjusts to the new time zone and schedule. I think we may have his sleeping and eating schedule set now. He eats everything we give him (and sometimes things he unfortunately finds elsewhere!) although sometimes it takes him a bit to decide he wants to eat something. We couldn't be happier and wouldn't change a thing about him! Alexa does her best to be a good big sister. She has been really tired due to the travel, stress, and pink-eye though. Tracy and I could use more sleep even though Owen has yet to wake-up in the middle of the night (knock on wood). I'm still getting used to saying I'm a father of two or we're a family of four. Since we got Owen's referral it has always been weird answering questions like "How many children do you have?" When Alexa was asked if she had any brothers or sisters, she would always look at me first. Well, thankfully that is finally over!

I know I need to post some more pictures (and take more plus video!) so that will be my goal over the next couple of days. Check back soon for the latest and greatest Kosofsky Family moments and thank you for all the wonderful sentiments you've expressed for Owen and the rest of us!!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Finishing-up in Russia and the Longest Flight Ever!

Friday we all went to the US Embassy for our interview and to get Owen's passport with visa documents. It is a fun experience because the Embassy schedules several adopting families at the same time. We all sit in a room together for about an hour sharing stories, letting the children see each other, and waiting to be called to the window for the interview. It is a very low stress day and the people working at the Embassy are always helpful and pleasant.

When we returned to the hotel, I decided to venture out for some shopping at Old Arbot. The hotel provided a shuttle that dropped me off a little over a mile from my destination. After surveying the area, I could see where I needed to go but did not see a direct way to cross the busy street in front of me. I was also trying not to look too much like a tourist and draw the attention of a local official, which would mean showing him/her my documents (passport, hotel registration) and hoping I got them back without incident. Eventually, I remembered Moscow has these underground walkways with kiosks that sell all kinds of things. I made it through two of these on my way and spent the rest of the walk in parks without looking too conspicuous (I assume). I found pretty much what I wanted in Arbot and my lack of Russian was not a problem. When I returned to the hotel I was exhausted but felt I had redeemed myself from my previous walking adventure...

The next day we were finally going home with our baby boy! Per the routine, we had to get up more than five hours before the flight to meet our driver four hours before it and get to the airport three hours before. For the first time we actually needed all the time! We were told to buy Owen's baby-in-arms ticket at the Moscow airport and attempted this at check-in. When we got to check-in, we were told the ticket had to be bought at the ticket counter. This may seem obvious but you have to understand the process at this airport (plus know that we were able to get the ticket at a similar point for Alexa). Here's how things work:

1) Go through a preliminary luggage screening - one long line
2) Go through a passport check with Delta representatives - a few short lines
3) Go through the normal US-type check-in, where you check bags and get boarding passes (this is where we tried to buy the ticket) - several fairly short lines
4) Go through Russian Passport Control - a few long lines
5) Go through the normal metal detector for carry-ons and people
6) Finally enter the terminal gate area

So now someone has to go back through steps 1 and 2, after waiting in line to buy the ticket at the kiosk ticket counter near the entrance. So I take my passport and Owen's and go through all the roped areas backwards (no one tried to stop me which was a little concerning). After waiting in the for 15 minutes, I get to the front and am told Owen has to be present as well - ugh! Now is the really tricky part because Tracy is already in line for step 4 with both children. I manage to get her attention and make the Owen transaction across some ropes. Apparently since I left Owen, he has been melting down and Tracy looks spent. Fortunately, I take him and distract him enough so that he is actually fine while I get his ticket. By the time I make it back through steps 1 and 2, the check-in agent is not at step 3 and Tracy has made it through step 4, which means I can't see her. I've told the people so far that we already went through the first steps before and get little resistance. I decide to just walk past step 3 and get in line for Passport Control. At nearly the same time, a Russian women points to me and speaks in Russian and the check-in agent tracks me down. This is a very good thing because he translates that the lady is saying I can go in a shorter line because the baby and the agent gives my something I need for Owen to get through Passport Control. At the window, the Russian agent says I missing something and I have to put Owen down search my bag. He, of course, crawls under the gate where I catch him in time but send him into another meltdown. Somehow I got out the right documents, got him under control, and didn't forget anything I needed to go on! After that, things went smoothly and we had time to eat lunch before boarding on-time.

Owen was miserable on the 11-hour flight from Moscow to Atlanta. He had more meltdowns in that period than I can remember- and the only thing that seemed to help was giving him to the other parent. There were at least two other babies on the flight and each took turns crying loudly throughout. I felt bad for the other passengers! The only good thing about the flight was that Owen became a United States citizen the moment our plane touched the tarmac at the Atlanta airport! Poor Alexa never adjusted to the time change and slept more than Owen both at the hotel and on the plane - although that did make things easier for us with Owen's disposition.

Somehow during this ordeal Owen figured out that when we give him his eye medicine, it is over very quickly and painlessly if he doesn't fight. Even on the plane, he was perfectly calm and motionless - giving us a much needed respite. I know I'm biased, but the kid is pretty sharp:) It turns out Alexa acquired pink-eye from Owen as well - fortunately we already had the right medicine!

Owen was better on the short flight from Atlanta (although clearly exhausted from lack of sleep) and we got our luggage and to the car without any trouble. I foresee many rides in the car to get Owen to fall asleep. He actually starts to laugh when he sees a car seat. I sure hope gas prices drop soon! He slept the whole car ride and then woke-up enough when we go home to look around before going to sleep pretty quickly. I'm almost as ehausted writing this as I was experiencing it - okay maybe not...

Next up will be Owen's first few days home

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Short Owen Update

As I left the hotel room to blog in the lobby, Owen was singing himself to sleep "bah, bah, bah, bah." Maybe we actually do see sheep and then knowledge of the world replaces them with our hopes and fears...

(shakes off that philosophical mindset and gets down to what you all our waiting for!)

Today I went to the US Embassy alone and - although gone an hour - only spent about 10 minutes accomplishing what was necessary. Tomorrow we go back as a family for our interview and to receive Owen's passport with visa documents. Since Alexa has been begging to eat "out", we went to the lobby restaurant and gave Owen his first dining experience. Owen sat in a high chair calmly while we waited for our food and then freaked out inexplicably just after starting to eat. My theory is that the mashed potatoes he was shoving into his mouth with his baby utensils (i.e. hands) went up his nose and caused a most uncomfortable sensation. Whatever happened, we all got to see his first inconsolable meltdown! Tracy eventually had to take him out of the restaurant and let him finish for about five minutes. Once he came back, a spoon seemed to work better (Owen actually is pretty good with one - although he periodically tried to use the wrong end) and he proceeded to eat an entire bowl of the stuff! Seriously, I may have had trouble finishing that much. Of course, his diapers for the rest of the day reflected the prodigious consumption...

The rest of the day went very well for "Owen moments" (although we do give him eye medicine a couple times a day and it is a pretty horrible experience for all involved - of course he is scared and uncomfortable as we simultaneaously hold down his arms and head, pry his eyes open, and put medicine the consistency of Neosporin in there). The first moment came when Alexa and I were having a pillow-fight on the bed (her idea). Owen was watching us with great interest, so I lightly brushed his face with a pillow and he started cracking-up! He wanted me to hit him so he would be knocked off-balance like his sister. I obliged and he loved it every time I "hit" him! The second moment once again involved inspiration from Alexa. She kept asking me to flip her over on the bed, and after a few times Owen had to join the fun. He was sitting on Tracy's lap in a chair watching and suddenly started leaning back. Tracy adroitly turned this into a back flip where he mostly landed on his feet with an occasional assist from his head. Owen could not get a enough of this! He must have done it 15-20 times and Tracy had to put a stop on it. The last moment I will share is his latest bath exploits. The newest addition to his antics is purposely slipping while standing and then rolling over in the water. The back of the bathtub is slanted, so I use it like a slide (don't worry, his feet are almost to the bottom of the tub when I release him!). This would cause him to rollover when his butt hit the bottom (is that redundant?). He decided he didn't need the slide part. He would just drop from a standing position and sell the landing with a roll that caused his head to go under water momentarily. It was hilarious - both the act and his laughter afterwards plus how quickly he would do it again! I took some video that I'll post eventually...

I'll leave with that. We have one more day in Moscow and then leave Saturday for home. I'm not looking forward to the flying, but getting home will be so nice...