This isn’t the “Old McDonald” that the children’s song refers. Rather, it is the name my 5 year old son has called McDonald’s since he could speak the words. This subject is one of constant debate with myself in husband in that, as a junk food junkie, he insists that the food can be healthy. A statement of which I disagree. So, in keeping with what I am teaching my students right now, I’ve decided to start writing on my blog again so that I can conduct a little scientific research on the question, “Are there truly healthy choices at McDonald’s?”. Through my observations and readings throughout the years, my hypothesis is: There are no healthy choices at McDonald’s. Of course, first one has to define what “healthy” is.
This is where I begin: What is healthy?
The following posts were written almost a year ago during my last days in Kazakhstan. My Internet connection was so bad while staying in our hotel that I wasn’t able to post everything I wanted. However, I did keep a journal and I have finally taken the time to put my journal entries online. There is so much that I wrote about, yet so much more that I never got around to describing. Hopefully, I’ll write down even more, soon.
Acclimating to Almaty- November 10, 2008
Another Day, Another Adventure- November 11, 2008
Almaty Summarized- November 12, 2008
Panfilov Park- November 12, 2008
As usual, I am amazed daily by my child. It is truly a period of changes in his life. It seems as though so many things are being learned everyday that I can’t keep up with them. Listing things I’ve been noticing have been a great way to watch and keep track of K’s growth to share with him when he is older. Recent interests and skills include:
- An obsession with musical instruments is what I’m most amazed by right now. Kairat seems to have developed a sense of rhythm as he dances to most music he hears. He’s also begun to imitate how to play a number of instruments such as the violin, clarinet, piano, saxophone, drums, trombone,and guitar. He will spend some time strumming on my guitar and loves to play music together with his toy drum and xylophone. His favorite book is The Remarkable Farkle McBride, which is the story of a child prodigy who attempts a number of musical instruments until he finds his true love as a conductor. At my uncle’s birthday party, Kai spent the bulk of his time making friends with the band (40′s music) and dancing to the music. He prefers watching old reruns of the Lawrence Welk Show to Sesame Street. We are getting a piano when our addition is completed and a child’s guitar is on Santa’s list.
- Talking- this child is quite verbal. This month he has moved to multi-syllable words and sentences. Three is typically the most he strings along but his vocabulary becomes more clear each day. It really is amazing that I can understand almost everything he is trying to say. What truly cracks me up is that he sings, too. Anyone else hearing his little voice may not realize that he is singing, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, but I know what it is. As we were walking out of his daycare yesterday he exclaimed, “Moose, moose,” as clear as a bell towards a moose poster.
- Teeth- When we first met Kairat and up until his first birthday, he was pretty much toothless. He still remains slow to “cut teeth” and is now chomping successfully with about twelve and seems to be still waiting only for his four lateral incisors.
- Kitchen help- K enjoys pulling his little chair up beside the kitchen counter to “help” in the preparation of meals or with dishes. “Stir, stir,” becomes a request if there is any liquid with a spoon nearby and I usually need to have a spare dish towel for my little assistant.
- Daycare- After about two months in daycare, Kairat now cries when he has to LEAVE. For the first two months, he would cry whenever he saw me arrive to take him home. (So emotional.) Now when I arrive I get a big smile and a tour of whatever he happens to be playing with.
- “Hand, hand,” is the phrase that Kairat uses when he wants to show me something or have me play with him. He grabs my hand with his little one and drags me to whatever he is interested in at the moment.
- The Moon- is another obsessions. All books that have a moon in them are studied extensively and are unable to be read because of Kairat’s wanting to just look at pictures of the moon. Whenever we are outside or driving in the car he will, at some point, start looking for the moon and asking, “Moon? Moon?” Perhaps we have a future astronaut on our hands or at least a meteorologist.
- Busy, Busy, Busy- K is a non-stop, fun-loving child who enjoys playing and exploring new things. His latest is to take all of his Match Box cars and line them up, end to end, and pretend that they are a train. I’m also impressed with his new puzzle completing capabilities. It seems like overnight that he has figured out how to fit wooden shapes in the prefabricated holes for which they are meant. He is quite proud of his achievements, as well, and usually follows any successful task with a self-congratulatory, “Hooray!” Building towers is also a new craze that he is enjoying though he gets very frustrated if he can’t quite make his stacking cups stack they way he wants.
- “Mummy, hooray,” is the compliment I get when I’ve done something K likes such as singing a song (completely out of tune).
- Mimicking has become common practice in our household. Whether words or actions, our little monkey loves to mimic and we must now really watch our expressions.
- K is getting SO big SO fast! Almost in 24 month sizes and quickly growing out of the 18-24 month range, this child has gone from being so tiny to the 75th percentile range when last checked.
I could go on and on but this is a quick summary of things we are now seeing and I’m hoping to remember. As people say, “They grow so fast. Enjoy it while you can.” And, oh, we certainly are!!!
Halloween marked the 1st year anniversary of our accepting custody of our wonderful son, Kairat. It seems amazing that it has been an entire year since he left the Delphin House and returned to our little apartment in Kostanai. Reading my post for that day makes it feel like it was just yesterday. Not only do I feel thankful for the wonderful child that we have been blessed with, but also for the people who kept us sane as we prepared for this journey and while we were there. You can’t imagine how much the emails and comments meant.
We weren’t sure if trick-or-treating was to be on our list of events for this special weekend as Kairat has yet to have any candy (that we know of) and the wearing of a costume didn’t really seem to be something of which he had any interest. Maybe he just liked saying the words, “Trick-or-treat,” or perhaps it was the idea of wandering around in unusually warm October weather with Mama and Papa. Either way, a haunting we did go.
Stopping only at certain houses on our quiet street to say, “Hello,” to neighbors and friends and then wandering into the much busier downtown area of Freeport, ME was our determined route. Riding on Papa’s shoulders, getting down with his bag and knocking on doors, and waving to people passing by was great fun for Kairat. He excitedly showed his “loot” to anyone that would look, even though I don’t think he actually knows what it is. An apple, from our neighbors, was his prized possession. We had a great time and were glad we headed out into the night.
Camping, insulating our addition, family birthdays, a bridal shower, and two weddings have consumed our calendar every weekend this fall. We’ve been busy but have enjoyed traversing the state of Maine with Kairat as we connect with relatives, friends, and the great outdoors. With that said, I’m looking forward to a weekend no commitments and a little down time at home. We shall see…
Drywall dust will be cleaned up this weekend as we clear out the remnants of a two week process that resulted in walls. After a year, our addition is beginning to look like something to live in. The electrician and plumber are due to return in the near future to finish their part and we’ll actually have light and heat. That, of course, will lead to further discussions between husband and wife as we come to a consensus on flooring, paint colors, trim, and finish work (shelving, doors, etc.). A lot of work is yet to be done but we are getting closer.
A few pictures of the celebrated events are to come.
This post was written on September 7th and I’ve just now had time to revise and post.
Like any parent, time with our son has flown. This week has been an emotional one for me as K has not only started daycare (three days a week at an establishment with the other two at his grandparents), but this week also marks our one year anniversary of when we arrived in Kazakhstan and met our son.
I can only imagine that parents who have given birth go through the same sentiments remembering the joy when a new child entered their lives. For them, it is the child’s birthday. For the adoptive parent, there are many milestones in the steps to become a parent and it is sometimes hard to decide which day is the one that stands out in significance. Either way, at some point, the pain of childbirth and frustrations of pregnancy are long forgotten just as our struggles to adopt and the years it took (three for us) to finally become parents seem to blend in with teething issues, potty training, and the thrill of seeing the world for the first time through the eyes of your child.
This blog has been an incredible tool in which to record our journey to parenthood. As I look back over entries written in Kazakhstan I’m reminded of how much I actually “sugar coated” the reporting of some of the difficulties that we encountered. Not being sure of who was reading my blog at the time, I didn’t want to record anything that may have interfered with our process while in Kostanai. There are still things I need to write about before they become another faded memory.
But, as with most adoptions, and as I have said in many, many, posts and probably will again, somehow fate is working in your best interest and you are blessed with a child that is meant for you. We truly feel that way with Kairat.
Kairat turned 19 months on September 5th. It doesn’t seem like he can already be that old yet every day I’m amazed at his new feats of achievement. For instance, he began clapping his hands in excitement the other day as we were driving home at dusk. When I asked him what was so thrilling he pointed his little arm repeatedly and shouted, “Moon! Moon! Moon!” Because he goes to bed around 7 p.m., the moon isn’t something he has had a chance to observe other than in his books. Without ever being shown in the “real world” setting he realized what it was that he was seeing and, obviously, loved it!
K is walking, running, and climbing on everything. Fixing dinner or doing dishes is now done with my little assistant who insists on pulling his toddler sized chair to my side and standing on it to get a better look. Yesterday he mixed eggs for scrambled eggs while perched in his typical viewing area. He loves being given jobs and does great with follow through.
Counting to three and recognizing the letters “O” and “E” are recent achievements and his vocabulary blows me away. It is as if we are living with an almost three foot parrot who repeats the final word of every sentence. K is also constantly coming out with words that I had no idea that he knew. A few days ago he was playing in a bucket of water outside with some of his toys when he came up to me with one item and said, “Dry.” He wanted to dry it off. Amazing. I’ve also become, “Mummy,” instead of, “Mama,” which I think is so cute. Speaking in two word sentences, “More, please,” versus a one word demand and filling in the words in some of his favorite books are also recent developments.”No!”, however, remains his favorite phrase at this point in his life.
Trucks, cars, and motorcycles seem to be some ingrained male interest. However, we spend a lot of time identifying the natural world and studying trees, the sky, flowers, bugs, and many other outdoor phenomenon. Kairat loves being outside and we are there as much as possible. Coloring, trains, building with blocks, and helping “Mummy” sweep or clean also tend to be high interest areas at this time right now. Of course, books and balls are still obsessions. Kairat loves to read (Baa, Baa, Black Sheep is a current favorite nursery rhyme/song) and he is actually getting pretty good at catching a tennis ball, adding to his skill in kicking and throwing.
Slow to teeth (at one point we didn’t think he was EVER going have teeth), K’s bottom chompers are finally coming in with a total of six fully formed (that’s on top and bottom) with another six poking through his sore gums.
Our son remains incredibly social in large gatherings, yet a little fearful of strangers in more familiar settings such as home or at a relative or neighbor’s. Last Wednesday I took him to the annual 6th grade cookout at my school where I teach. It is an event to welcome the incoming 6th graders and their parents to King Middle School and takes place in the front driveway/yard of the school. We parked in the back and walked through the building to the where the celebration was taking place. As we exited through the front doors and saw the throngs of parents and children, Kairat began clapping and bouncing in my arms with excitement. He instantly wanted to get down to run and play in the crowd. Through my gregarious son, I met more students and parents than I typically do at these events. He attracts attention and loves it!
Life is fun and Kairat is wonderful but we are also beginning to see what can be described as the “Terrible Two’s”. Stubbornness, throwing, swatting at people, occasional tantrums (mostly when he has to come inside), and testing limits will not pass us by. Like all parents, we’re reading books, talking to friends, working on strategies, and figuring out what works best at this stage. Overall, however, we can’t complain. Kairat is such a good little boy…most of the time.
I’m finishing this entry before Kairat awakes. (6:30 a.m. is his typical rising time with a 7 p.m. bedtime.) Today looks to be another busy day with grandparents visiting so I have some time to help with the insulating of our addition. A walk around Freeport and playing with my son, laundry, and then an evening of lesson planning before going to bed as early as possible will round out the day.
Throughout out most of the next few months I’ll constantly be thinking about our time in Kazakhstan and where we were in our adoption process. This fall will certainly be reflective of what our past year has brought us and constant realizations of the fact that, LIFE IS GOOD!
Time to go…I hear my son singing in his bed.
It is amazing to think that one year ago, September 1, 2008, we were on our way to Kazakhstan. Little did we know what we were about to encounter and little did we know how much joy our fears, frustrations, and struggles would lead to. So much has happened in the previous 365 days that I couldn’t pass this date without a little writing.
We are truly blessed!