Saturday, January 31, 2009

this crazy road of attachment & transition

Things go so well . . . then things go not so well.

I'm not complaining though.

Overall, the last 2 weeks have been great. Sure, there are bumps along the way, but nothing compared to the first 5 weeks of being home. Last night, for instance, was more difficult again. We had some guests pop in to pick up their son, and Sofia didn't like that we were talking 'round the kitchen table with them, instead of playing with her. So, she did lots of silly things to try to get attention. No big deal. But, bedtime was a bit later than usual, and she was in a bad mood by then. As mad as she was though, she didn't cry or scream . . . she really wanted another sticker on her calendar for going to bed nicely in her own room. It took longer than usual, but she eventually fell asleep (holding my hand while I sat on the chair beside her bed). btw, it's now 10 days in her own bed.

Today had mostly been fine, until after lunch when I denied her request to play on the computer. She said she had only played for a little while before lunch, but I disagreed. Again she got really mad, and said some things that could be quite hurtful. Around the same time, I had to take Joel to a party, and everything was fine when I got back. We baked a cake together and did lots of hugging (she loves it when Stefan and I pick her up in our arms - she wraps her arms around and squeezes, then she wants to do flips, etc . . .)

I have forgotten to mention that she saw the doctor on Thursday. All her blood tests came back normal/negative. The doctor's exam showed that she's healthy. The only thing we mentioned to the doctor was her poor appetite . . . she has stopped eating things she used to like, she was eating really small meals, etc. The only thing she was eating in large quantities was fruit. Well, since then she's been eating like crazy. That day we came home and had spaghetti - she ate 2 portions. For dinner she had leftover spaghetti - another healthy portion. Yesterday, for dinner, she asked for "more" 5 times and for breakfast today she had toaster waffles and cereal. Go figure.

Friday, January 30, 2009


Guess who went skating yesterday? It was Sofia's first time on the ice, and Stefan was the lucky escort :) Actually, it wasn't too bad, because she has rollerbladed before. However, she didn't like the spikes on the figure skates . . . so, she has requested boys' hockey skates. We'll see what we can do about that . . . Also, the ice has a lot of snow on it and is pretty bumpy.

These are my 4 children waiting for the bus this morning. Pretty dark out at 7:45 . . . Yes, Sofia took the bus to school today. I went there about an hour later and hung out in the staff room. She didn't know I was there for another hour. Things went really well. Her class has a short day on Fridays. They had 3 hours, then lunch, then she took the bus back home (I drove home and met her there). Joel has the same schedule, so he was on the bus with her.

Getting on the bus for the first time.

Sofia amazes us every day with how quickly she is learning the language. She actually participated in the lessons at school today. Some people may be worried that she's rejecting Russian so much right now, but for her, it's a safety issue. She doesn't want to talk or hear Russian right now, and we have to respect that. For her, being part of our family means speaking Swedish. Maybe she's afraid she'll have to go back to Russia . . . I don't know. Anyways, in the future we plan to encourage her to continue to speak Russian -there's a program not so far from here for Russian speaking children that we can enroll her in.

Now, for the "wow" factor of the day. I got my first "I love you, Mom" - totally unsolicited. Technically, she said "Sofia tycker om Mama" (Sofia likes Mom) - yes, she speaks in the 3rd person - but I'll take it! She's been very cuddly today . . . I like it. And, I should mention that I did bedtime last night with no problems, and she was asleep within 35 minutes!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

evidence of transition and attachment?

Sofia likes to read the newspaper everyday now, just like her Papa. This is the page she always goes for: the funnies. The top half of the page is drawings sent in by children. She always asks about them.

A couple days ago, she copied out this list of words from the funny page. (the other words she had me write) The page is now posted on her door.

I finally knew she was attaching to me through the hand towels. It used to be that the princess towels were "Sofia's", then "Sofia and Papa's". Now they're "Sofia, Papa and Mama's".

Awhile back I wrote about her concerns about Russia - "Sofia Finland - not Russia". You can see on this map of the southern half of Finland that I drew a train leaving SPB and also our house. Sofia then scribbled out the city of St. Petersburg.

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some photos

Joel and Sofia were dressed up in my clothes. They think it's really funny to run around the house in someone else's outdoor clothes. I like the fact that it's something they do together and have a good time.

Pepsi had been having some really bad hair days. Since we came home from Russia, her grooming regime has been neglected so her fur was a mess. I stole one of the clips from one of my orchids to keep her "bangs" out of her eyes. She looked so cute! Yesterday she went to the groomers so she looks much better now. The groomer suggested that I start showing her, and she gave me some numbers and websites to get started. BTW, most times I'm blogging, she's here on my lap ( a safe place from not-so-gentle-hands).

Sofia loves Bob the Builder. Not so much watching the show, but looking at books, etc. She likes to pretend she's Wendy.

She made up a bed for herself on the cedar chest in my room. Here, she is reading a farmers' magazine. She is very interested in the farm - more so than her brothers.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

we're not out of the woods yet

Things are definately looking brighter around here now, after a few very dark weeks. That doesn't mean that everything's rosy, though. Sunday morning was a little rough. Everything was no, nej, nyet. . . Sofia didn't even eat lunch that day - she refused to come up from the basement. By 2 in the afternoon, she was in a better mood and finally came up, said sorry to her Papa and had a little to eat. Later that evening, Stefan and I figured that it was probably Sunday's lack of routine that threw her for a loop . . .

Apparently, last night was also not so great, but I was at work. They were outside sledding, and Sofia was very whiny - even though she had promised she wouldn't be this time.

Bedtime is going well. She has gone to sleep in her own bed 5 nights in a row.

Today, again, I took Sofia to school for 2 hours. This time, I didn't go in her classroom at all. She now has her own desk and chair and place on the coatrack. Her class went out to skate for gym today, so she also played outside with the school children for awhile. They were sledding on the hill in the school's back playground. It was an icy hill, and she went down a few times, and over the jump as well. She just laughed. If it had happened at home, she would have started crying or screaming . . .

The last few times she has had to say sorry for something she has done, she has cried softly afterwards while getting her hugs. We think she understands what the word means now. We think the crying is a good sign, because it seems she knows we are reconnecting with her after a rift, and that's what people are supposed to do . . .

We just took a break to have some sandwiches for lunch and we had another funny conversation around vocabulary. I thought she had burped, so I asked (in Swedish) if she had. Then she said, "Rapa på Svenska. På Engelska?" I told her it was "burp" and asked what it was in Russian. First she said she didn't know, then she said, "På Ryska . . . . {insert a burp with an angry look on the face}". Funny girl.

Here are a few more photos, they are all pre-haircut:

Sam and Sofia. This was the day she had sorted through her pile of stuff from Russia and divided it among us.

Mama and Sofia making pancakes.

Joel and Sofia were running around the house with the towels they got from Uncle Steve.

Sofia reading from her Russian book. We're not sure if this book came from the orphanage or Babushka Tonja. For awhile she was pulling it out while the boys did their homework. Today she has put it on the top shelf in her closet, along with all her other Russian things.

Friday, January 23, 2009

coming up for air

If you're paying attention, I haven't really blogged much about Sofia since January 10th (that was sauna night). We went through a really rough patch and then it was all the birthdays . . . I had had lots of intentions of detailing our struggles, but was generally too exhausted physically and emotionally to do it. Jackie and Becky have recently posted about the bad days we go through. Like them, I thought I was one of the few that had any problems because I have read so many posts of how wonderfully things are going in other families. It's a very vulnerable thing to do, to post about the bad stuff, because it makes us sound like we're not competent, but at the same time, it keeps it real. So here's some of our reality:

As I've said before, Sofia has been really drawn to Stefan and for weeks has pushed me away. (You know things are bad when your 13 year old has to remind you not to take things personally) . . . I have cried many, many times since we came home. It was so hard to wait for so many years to have a daughter and when she was finally here, she didn't want to have much to do with me (although I usually got the bathroom duties). I've been kicked, hit, pinched and scratched. I was told to go away at bed time. I've been run away from, screamed at and told (in Russian) I was not loved by her. Stefan has also been on the receiving end of some of these behaviours, but not nearly to the same extent, and she will eventually cuddle up with him after she's over whatever it was. That sauna night, she even told Stefan that we weren't her Mama and Papa (ouch). Since we've been home, Stefan has taken over her bedtime routine because it was just easier that way. She's been going to sleep in our bed, and then we move her about an hour later to her own bed.

Well, now it seems like there's a totally different girl living in our house . . . her last major meltdown was last Friday night and I attribute it to her being tired from the early morning birthday song for Joel and 2 brothers having birthdays, gifts, parties and lots of fussing over. The relationship between her and me and has gotten ever so much better. I haven't been pinched, etc. in over 2 weeks. I can't remember the last time I got the "talk to the hand" gesture. She actually cuddles with me now, plays with my hair, gets nose-to-nose/forehead-to-forehead with me and stares into my eyes, wants me to carry her (and flip her around) and has even chosen to spend time with me rather than her Pappa. It really feels good right now. The last few days have gone exceptionally well. The only argument was over lunch on Wednesday - she didn't want to finish it (I purposely only give her small amounts so she decide what she likes and have more of that, but she has to have a bit of everything). In the end, she ate it all, although she sat at the table 20 minutes longer than Stefan and I (the boys eat lunch at school). This also means that there is a totally different Mom in the house too. The stress level is way down, so I'm not over-reacting to things like I have been in the previous weeks. Of course, we keep asking ourselves what has happened to cause such a drastic change and we don't really know. Maybe she has cognitively processed the fact that she is here for good (remember a while back she kept stating that Sofia was in Finland, not Russia).

Besides the birthdays, Sofia has had a busy schedule lately, too. Last Wednesday she went to the dentist. She has 5 (five) cavities, and 2 of them are big. She has 3 permanent molars, so her next appointment is to put plastic in those molars so they don't get cavities. Then, one of the decayed baby teeth has to be pulled and another filled (they can't pull it because it will create an orthodontic nightmare . . it's important for tooth placement/growth). If I understood correctly, we'll just wait for the other 3 to fall out on their own. She also has a sore in her mouth which tends to bleed if we brush her teeth, so we're letting her brush herself supervised, for now. Thankfully, since the dentist visit, she has become more concerned about the condition of her teeth, and readily brushes twice a day. She also has a flouride rinse she uses at night. She talks alot about food and drinks that are bad for teeth and those that are good for teeth. She is concerned about the biggest cavity, because food gets stuck there. She calls it her "black tooth". Another problem we had was a wiggly bottom tooth - she was afraid to pull it but it was really affecting what she could eat, and she was talking about it constantly, hoping it would fall out while she was sleeping. Well, it finally came out Wednesday evening and was tucked under her pillow for the Tooth Fairy.

We've made some changes to the sleeping routine this week. When I came home from work Tuesday night (I teach adult ed. 2 nights per week), it just worked out that I did the bedtime routine with her and Stefan did the boys. She actually asked me to come read the stories. So, I picked 2 stories, read them in our bed with her, turned out the lights and said goodnight. She snuggled under the covers with me and draped herself across me (like I've been so jealous of her doing with Stefan). A little bit later she rolled over (the sign that she's going to sleep), and I was out of the room in 45 minutes (it usually takes between 60 and 90 minutes). On Wednesday evening, Stefan was out, so I took on the routine again. At first, it looked like she might try to sleep in her own room, but then she started talking about the tooth fairy and said she was scared (she mimed someone tiptoeing across the room). So, this time we read one book (a longer one), and after she had cuddled, I told her I needed to check on the boys and make sure they were in bed. She made me promise to come back and leave the door open. While I was gone (and I took my time) she fell asleep! Sweet! Then we decided on a new angle to get her into her own room - bribery. Last night she was told that if she went to sleep in her own bed and stayed there all night, she would get to choose a gift from the fun bucket. It worked. She has already asked me today if it will happen again (she wanted to see the fun bucket, but it's in hiding) and I've told she'll get to pick another gift after 2 sleeps in her own bed . . . am I bad for going this route?

This week, Sofia had a hair cut (as you already know) and she absolutely loves her bangs. She stops in front of the mirror several times a day to check on them. She also points out the salon everytime we drive through town. On Wednesday, she had a check-up at Rådgivning (equivalent of BC's Public Health Unit). The nurse copied her vaccination records (I just heard back today that there's one Sofia needs to get) and checked her height (119.5cm, which is right in the average range) and her weight (21.5kg or 48 lbs, which is on the low average side). Hearing and vision were good, as well as gross and fine motor control. Yesterday, we took Sofia for blood tests she needs to have done before her doctor's appointment next week. The technician took 5 vials and Sofia watched the whole thing. It seemed to be easy to find a vein! Today I took Sofia to school and she participated in her class for the first 2 lessons, with me sitting in the back. However, I left her to play with the kids for 15 minutes at the end and she was totally fine. In the late afternoon, I took all the kids for portraits (group and Sofia alone). Hope they turn out ok - Sofia had a pretty cheesy grin for the photographer!

Sofia's language development is going really well. For those who don't know, Finland has both Finnish and Swedish as official languages. We are part of the 6% who speak Swedish. Although my Swedish is not very good, we have decided to concentrate on Swedish for now, and leave the English for later. So, when I say she has said something, it is in Swedish (but I write it here in English). Anyways, she understands pretty much everything we say to her and ask of her . . . about 90%. Granted, we're mostly using basic, familiar vocabulary and sentence structure. And now we come to one of our biggest regrets: not video-taping more during the first 6 weeks. You see, the Russian is gone now. Vanished. Just like that. She will sometimes say Da or Nyet, but the sentences are gone as well as the stories and explanations. She still knows the words, but she wants to speak Swedish so she tries to say everything using the Swedish words she knows. In the last few days, we notice more grammar structure instead of just strings of words. However, she speaks in the 3rd person . . . "Sofia wants milk". Also she has taken an interest in learning English (we believe the caregivers in the children's home told her we speak different languages, because she seems to have always known this). Anyhoo, lately we've had many conversations like this:
Sofia: Bok på Svenska. På Engelski?
Me: book
Sofia: Mjölk på Svenska. På Engelski?
Me: milk
You get the idea. Sometimes she will also say what it is in Russian or sometimes she inquires about a Russian word. For eample, we had this conversation today while she was on the toilet:
Sofia: Pooka. På Engelski?
Me: toot (the passing wind sort)
Sofia: På svenska?
Me: proopa
Sofia: Pooka på ryska.
Yes, she's a little obsessed with toots. The Cabbage Patch doll usually gets blamed. "Kookla Daisy Pooka".

Speaking of obsessive behaviour . . . I've noticed a decline in that as well (I'm quite attune to that sort of thing- everybody gives me a bad time about my own "OCD" behaviours). One thing she has been especially diligent about is keeping her shirt tucked in. Doesn't matter what the style is, it's gotta be tucked. The moment it comes loose, tucked again. Lately, she hasn't noticed the moment her shirt is untucked and has left it for awhile. For the photo session today, she wore a new blouse, and she left it untucked all day. I'm not really sure what to make of this. . .

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

can somebody go shopping for me?

Just a quick plea to any family member or friend who can send me a couple of 2009 wall calendars . . I have 2 of those wooden calendar frames and the calendars here don't fit in them (plus they start on Mondays and I find it very confusing . . .) Anyways, one frame fits a 12x12 calendar while the other takes a 11½x12 (hXw). I'm guessing that they're on sale now and since we're already mostly through January there's no rush as far as postage goes. Thanks a bunch:) If you can do this, please leave a comment so others know it's been covered:)

Shall I include some photos for those of you wondering how things are going? Sofia had a hair cut yesterday . . . just a clean-up on the ends and then some bangs (which she loves).

You can see here that she was a little unsure about the whole thing at this point.

Not much gone, length-wise.
Happy with the bangs. Notice, Joel has his arm around her . . .

Monday, January 19, 2009

happy birthday, boys!

We had 2 special events last week . . . Mattias turned 11 and Joel turned 8! Birthday fever was the main reason for my lack of appearance in Bloggerland . . .

Wednesday, the 14th, was Mattias' birthday. His school friends came home with him on the bus after school (1:30) and we had his party until 4:30. We bought him "Lips" for the xbox, so part of the party was spent singing in the basement.

Stefan's mom, thankfully, made the cake. I had big plans . . . on Tuesday I baked the cake, following a Swedish recipe I found online. But, I made a mistake with the instructions and it was a disaster - rock hard! However, the boys thought it tasted delicious so we broke it up into pieces and served it as "Barb's Special Cake". Dinner that night was fajitas.

On Friday, the 16th, it was Joel's birthday. Again, his friends came home with him on the bus from school. I had much more success with Joel's cake and his friends were quite impressed (note: in my kitchen, the cakes look better than they taste). However, it was more difficult to entertain the younger kids - I had activities planned, but they were over and there was still plenty of time left! Oops. We had waffles for dinner.

Finally, on Saturday we had a combined party for the boys so they could celebrate with Stefan's family. The cake is supposed to be a castle . . . not sure if you can really see that in the picture . . .

Saturday, January 10, 2009

the daily grind

I'm almost a little overwhelmed to sit down and write what's been going on here . . . there's been so much, and I have so many thoughts swimming around my head - that this is probably going to turn out very disjointed. . . I should probably post every day, but I simply don't have the time. However, I think it's important for me to record all that's going on now, mostly for us to look back on later but also for family and friends overseas and other people who are adopting children of a similar age.

Let's see . . . Thursday morning started off on the wrong foot. I was not feeling particularly well (it had been 2 unrestful nights) and Sofia woke up shortly after I got the boys up for school. During the last week of school before Christmas break, she slept through their morning routine each day so I was able to get them out the door in time to catch the bus, looking fairly presentable. Well, now that she's awake, a monkey-wrench has been thrown into the routine machine. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before, but she has pretty much NO patience (in some ways, the 2 of us are very similar!). When she calls, she expects to be responded to immediately. That has made it difficult for me to help the boys and make their morning go smoothly. Anyways, the morning went from bad to worse and eventually Stefan had to come home from the farm to give me a break. He took her out and I was able to do some chores around the house. One of the big jobs was cleaning Mattias' room. In the afternoon, I took Mattias and Joel to the city - Mattias had violin lesson and Joel had floorball practice. Stefan's mom looked after Sofia - it was the first time she had spent time away from both of us. It went ok for a couple hours, but then she got restless and Stefan had to pick her up. (One of the things she does when she is restless/frustrated/angry is play with light switches - she runs all over the house, flashing them on and off. It drives me crazy. We've heard from Family N that their boys do it too.) Thursday night, Stefan continued with his and her bedtime routine - reading in our bed for awhile, then lights out and he sneaks out when she falls asleep. About an hour after that, we move her to her own bed. Thursday night she slept well and so did we.

Friday turned out to be a really good day. After breakfast, I painted her fingernails and she was not at all bothered when Stefan left for work. Then she wanted us to clean her room - she had been disappointed the day before that I had cleaned Mattias' and not hers (the reason being I was afraid she would not be able to handle me touching her stuff when she was not there). Then we did laundry - she helped me carry all the hampers to the laundry room and sort the dirty clothes (she made a comment for every pair of her brothers' underwear). She was so happy when we found her missing tights in the hamper from my room. She did the "thumbs up" and said "Yes, Mom!" Joel has a short day on Fridays, so he was home by noon. It was the first day that they played nice together for any significant amount of time. It was great - not only for their bonding, but I got some vacuuming and mopping done. The only "meltdown" of the day was when I had to go get Mattias from a friend's house. We had been outside sledding and when I said it was time to go, she said no and proceeded to run away and hide behind bushes. I finally caught her and as I carried her to the car, her toque (woolen cap) fell off and she started screaming. She wouldn't get in the car, so I had to put her in her seat and do her seatbelt, by which time Joel had brought her hat. I tried to put it on her, but she just threw it on the seat, and really started screaming, I mean SCREAMING. She finally stopped after we had driven about 100m, and was fine by the time we picked up Mattias. At home, she was so proud to show everyone her tidy room. Our evening was really nice - we roasted sausages in the fireplace in our rec room (which is the coziest room in the house) for dinner. We talked on the phone to my dad -Sofia talked to him 3 times. As the evening wore on, Stefan started feeling really bad - he had been working with insulation in the afternoon and was having an allergic reaction (runny nose, congestion and killer headache). He explained to Sofia that he couldn't read as usual and she seemed to be ok with that. When I tried to help her with her pyjamas, she tried to play silly games again, but when I left the room, she put them on herself. She brushed her teeth with Joel and then started to pout about the change in routine. So, Stefan took her to our room and without reading, they just lay down to sleep. And, she fell asleep right away!

Once again, we all had a good sleep. We woke up this morning to the sound of Mattias and Sofia in the kitchen - Mattias was making Coconut Balls and she was watching. Then he served her cereal for breakfast. The day has gone quite well. Sofia did not make a fuss about staying home when Stefan went to the farm. She has played with her brothers, watched Dora the Explorer for the first time, and has eaten well today. We took the kids outside sledding from 3-4 and she only had a couple "meltdowns" on the slope, and that's all there's been so far today. Right now she's having her first sauna, with her dad and brothers - we're hoping the sauna and shower will help her get ready for sleep:)

Something that's come up, and worth mentioning, is her feelings about Russia. For background, when we first came home, she would look at the pictures and say the names of the people in the pictures or talk about the photos (don't know what she was saying then, cuz it was all Russian). Then, around Christmas, I noticed that when she was watching a random slideshow on the computer, if it was a photo from the orphanage she would cover it with her hands and not look at it. More recently, Stefan and I were looking at the Gotcha Trip photos and when we asked her the names of the girls (in her group) and she said she didn't know. We also noticed that shortly thereafter, she had one of her "meltdowns" for no apparent reasons. Hindsight . . . Now, the last 2 days she has repeated several times, "Sofia nyet Ryssland. Sofia Finlandia." She usually says it when one of us is holding her. It started with a pocket-sized map of the world, and Stefan marked in Vancouver (to show where Grandpa and Uncle Steve live), our area in Finland and St. Petersburg. When she says it, we say, "That's right. Now you're here with your family in Finland. You're with Mama, Papa, Sam, Mattias and Joel. We love you very much." Sometimes she also says, "mama nyet Ryssland" or "papa nyet Ryssland". So, it's pretty clear to us that she doesn't want to go back to Russia.

I think I was counting my chickens before they hatched. I had made a couple comments to Stefan today about how well things finally seemed to be going . . . Sofia and the boys appear to be getting along better. She's been jumping/climbing up into my arms (mostly when Stefan's away) and holding on tight. Last night I got a hug and a kiss on the lips and I'm pretty sure she said "I love you" when I said it to her . . .While I was writing this post, they finished the sauna and I took a break to help Sofia. The evening fell apart. It started with the fact that the sauna was over. Then it was the hair. Then it was the teeth. By the time Stefan took her to bed, she was really mad and upset. He tried reading with her as usual, but she wasn't into it. She fell asleep fairly quickly. Tomorrow's a new day. I hope she wakes up happy and we get to have another good day (despite tonight's bad ending).

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

the last few days

So, my last post sounded very hopeful! Wouldn't ya know it, but that same night, at about 1 am, Sofia woke up and then would not go to sleep for the next 2½ hours! (We think she woke up because she's a light sleeper and Stefan opened the door to turn off her light. We don't think she had a nightmare.) Ugh! It was awful. After a whole bunch of crying and shrieking, she just lay there with her eyes wide open. Of course, I didn't help the matter too much by insisting she had to sleep. Eventually, Stefan brought her to our bed and she finally fell asleep between us, around 3:30am. I couldn't fall asleep, because I was afraid to move and start it all again . . . and then Joel started a coughing fit at 4:30. I was so worried she was going to wake up as I got out of bed to bring him some medicine. Since then, we're back to putting her to bed in our bed and then moving her to her own about an hour after she falls asleep. Stefan has been staying with her until she falls asleep, while I look after the boys. It can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half for her to fall asleep. They have a routine of books they look through (some of them are Stefan's farming books) and her Swedish language skills are growing by leaps and bounds as a result. She understands most everything we say to her in Swedish, and a small amount of English. Which brings me to "no" . . .

Sofia has started saying no to almost everything I tell her to do (and yes to things I tell her not to do). For example, yesterday she kept pulling the vacuum plug and the nightlight out of the sockets and when I told her not to do it and tried to explain that it's dangerous and she could get hurt, she just looked at me and said "da" and then did it again. We went through this procedure several times and then I decided that the bench in the hallway is the time-out bench. We spent a lot of time there yesterday! Examples of things I tell her and she says no to:
  • finish your meal
  • wash your hands
  • get off the counter
  • brush your teeth
  • Pepsi is scared
  • Papa is sleeping
  • leave the remote alone
  • Pepsi's brush is yellow
Basically, anything I say gets a contrary response. But, the bright side is that she doesn't have a breakdown anymore when she is told something she doesn't agree with. So, we are making progress.

Yesterday was a pretty good day. She spent the morning at the farm with Stefan while I took down the tree and started undecorating. After lunch, Stefan snuck away and she stayed home with the boys and me. While I was cleaning the living room, she was watching some Russian movies and then she called me to come sit with her on the couch. She snuggled into my side and we watched tv for about an hour like that. Then was a bunch of contrary stuff, but no really big deal . . .

On Monday, Pepsi went to a friend's house for the day so she could have a break - it's a little stressful being a small dog in this house right now. Monday night, the boys slept at their grandparents' house so they could have a relaxing evening and not worry about disturbing their sister as she was settling down for the night.

Yesterday afternoon, Sofia found the bag in her closet that she brought home from the orphanage. It was full of her artwork, things we had sent to her and small little toys (like from Kinder Eggs). She spent about an hour sorting through everything, dividing up the artwork into piles for each of us. In the pile, we found the certificate you will see below. It appears to be from her 6th birthday, although I'm not sure when the photo was taken. Stefan HATES the make-up, but I love her hair!

That's all for now!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

baby steps UPDATED - see bottom for this evening's addition

Without getting prematurely excited, I'll update the last couple of days . . . Yesterday we were invited to lunch at our friends' house, but we had to stop at the dentist on the way so Joel could have his braces removed. We were running late and after Sofia got dressed, I said "Now we need to do your hair" and she bolted. I managed to catch her before she ran downstairs (if she makes it to the rec room in the basement, then we end up playing cat-and-mouse around the coffee table and drum set . . .) and carried her to the bathroom (she only pinched me once). I stood her on the step stool, as usual, and undid the old braids. The only things she did in defiance were to slap the comb on the counter once and step down from the stool to stand on the floor. Other than that, I was able to complete the job without any fussing. A success!

Another surprising turn of events happened at dinner - she asked for milk! This is the first time she has drank milk since we came home. By the end of the night, she probably drank about 500ml (2 cups).

The most newsworthy of events happened after dinner, while Stefan and I were still sitting at the table. She was in her room playing, and she called for me to come turn over the cassette. Once I got the music started, she wanted me to stay so she could show me some things in her books. She sat in her little rocking chair and I sat on the floor beside her while she showed me several books. Eventually, Joel wandered in and sat on my lap, but they soon got into a disagreement and Stefan took Joel downstairs to play x-box. The rest of the evening she wanted me to be around, although there was an incident when she was playing with the dog and the dog got hurt but no one saw what happened. She felt bad while the dog was crying and hid in another room. Once the dog was okay, I brought Sofia close to her so she could see all was fine, but we talked about how she must be gentle and needed to say sorry. She resisted a lot, and even hit me, but after a few minutes said sorry and we moved on.

Since things were going fairly well, I took on the bedtime routine last night. Pyjamas went fine. Brushing teeth went fine - I even taught her how to use the new flouride mouthwash we got from the dentist for her and she tried it without a fuss. It took an hour and a half for her to fall asleep, and we had our ups and downs and disagreements over what's okay to do at bedtime, but at least she let me be there with her and hold her hand. A step in the right direction. (She usually prefers Stefan to put her to bed, and sometimes I can say goodnight, but not always.)

Today she went to the farm with Stefan in the morning. After they came home for a late lunch, he disappeared back there and she stayed home with the boys and me. We got along fine, she was even a little clingy with me and sat on my shoulders while we watched "Horton". She didn't even notice when Stefan came home! Hopefully tonight's routine will go well, and maybe it will even take less time for her to settle . . .

I'll leave you with a few photos:

{this is our little girl drinking milk again today at lunch - I think she drank about a half litre again today. }

{a picture of how much our skinny Mattias ate for lunch!}

{the workbench is popular with all kids}

{Joel's Webkin (Werfy) he got from the deGraafs}

While I was making dinner, there was a major row which ended with her finally saying sorry to her Papa and then to me. As I was finishing up the cooking, Stefan pointed out to her the scratch she gave me on the arm. She ran away (I thought she felt bad or didn't want to face it) and then came back with one of her Hello, Kitty bandaids and put it on the scratch. Dinner went well, and the rest of the evening was fine. Now, Stefan is reading to her in bed.

Hills and valleys.

Baby steps.

The Holms

Denmark Road Trip

The outskirts of St. Pete

St. Petersburg

Saint Petersburg: Sankt-Peterburg, Russian pronunciation: is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. The city's other names were Petrograd (1914–1924) and Leningrad (1924–1991). Founded by Tsar Peter I of Russia on 27 May, 1703, it was the capital of the Russian Empire for more than two hundred years (1713–1728, 1732–1918). Saint Petersburg is home to more than two hundred museums, many of them hosted in historic buildings. The largest of the museums is the Hermitage Museum, featuring interiors of the former imperial residence and a vast collection of art. Celebrating the 300th anniversary of its foundation, Saint Petersburg was selected as the main motif in a recent Finnish commemorative coin, the €10 Mannerheim and Saint Petersburg commemorative coin, minted in 2003. The reverse of the coin features a view of Saint Petersburg, with the Peter and Paul Fortress and its three turrets. In the coin the words "St. Petersburg 1703-2003" can be seen.