January 31, 2008

The Back Story II

I am finally discarding my oldest computer, which has the journal of our trip to Russia in 1996 and a number of documents pertaining to the adoption. So here, in a four-part series, is that journal from the boys' first four years with us.

May 15
Hart is still in a slump, behavior-wise. I got a call from his teacher, remarks from the J, a call from Grandma. I don’t know what to do with him. Margie says spend more individual time with him, so I took him alone for a stroll in Old Orchard. I realize that what wears me out is his contrariness. He has an oppositional idea for EVERYTHING. I realize this is some power struggle but it is tiresome. But there are some moments. While I was reading to him at bedtime, he kept talking…stream of consciousness stuff. “Please let me read,” I said. “NOOOOOOOOOOO, I wanna talk,” was his reply.

May 27
We spent the Memorial Day holiday on a short outing to Milwaukee. The boys enjoyed swimming in the hotel pool on Sunday. Unfortunately, there wasn’t really any shallow end so it required constant vigilance. Also, both of them kept going into the Jacuzzi which had a ledge for sitting, but they both kept stepping off the ledge into the deep end. I had to rescue them–so it wasn’t very relaxing for us. We took them to McDonald’s for dinner, one that has the indoor playground which was a big hit. The boys liked the hotel–we had a suite. Jeff ended up sleeping in the king-sized bed, Hart wanted to sleep in the closet and we slept on the couch-bed.

On Monday, we went to the Milwaukee zoo. The boys had pony rides and loved the little train. They weren’t very interested in the animals, except for the house cats in the children’s zoo. Hart liked the bears, too.

April 1997
May 28
Hart must have had a bad dream last night. Howard said he heard a thump and thought it was coming from downstairs. When he looked into the boys’ room, Hart was standing up wide awake and said, “I want to sleep in Mommy’s bed.” So Howard brought him into our room. I rolled over to look at the clock–it was 3 a.m.! I thought that was the end of a night’s sleep but he was quite content and went right to sleep between us.

June 2
We had an exciting weekend. I was at the ABA convention and brought home two posters: one of trucks and one of heavy machinery. They were a big hit. We found a bird’s nest intact that had fallen out of a tree and into our bushes. We also took the boys to a public works open house where they got to see bulldozers, ambulances, street cleaners and garbage trucks up close. Hart loved sitting in the driver’s seat and honking the horn.

It’s funny how kids put things together in their minds. Alla’s car is in the shop and the last couple times that she has come over, the boys ask, “Where’s Alla’s car?” and she tells them it is broken and is being fixed. Then on Saturday we saw a snippet of The Simpsons. The Simpson family drives to a Safari Park only to find their car surrounded by lions. When Alla came to babysit on Saturday evening, Hart asked about her car. Patiently, she told him again that it was at the mechanic being fixed. Hart nodded, “Tiger broke Alla’s car.”

June 5
I finally weighed and measured the boys. They are both 39 inches tall and if our scale is accurate, Hart weighs 33 lbs and Jeff weighs 35 lbs. That means they have grown almost six inches since they arrived (they were around 33 or 34 inches, they were squirmed too much to get an accurate measure) and have gained weight. They were 29 lbs when they came. No wonder all the pants are getting too short.

Both boys now have a genuine interest in books. I try to read at least two before bed to each one. Jeff is very partial to a book called My Five Senses. He calls it, “Charlotte book” because there is an African-American girl who looks like his classmate, Charlotte.

I brought a new book called Animal Tracks. You have to identify the animal by the tracks and on the next page is an illustration of the animal. Hart correctly identified all the animals, even ones I didn’t know he knew–bear, rabbit, deer, raccoon. However, when I asked him the name of the skunk, he said, “P.U.”

June 9
What an awful weekend. The boys were bad, bad, bad. Whenever I tell Jeff to stop doing something now, he says, “I have to!” I guess he and Hart had to take all their clothes off and run around the backyard naked ten minutes before guests were arriving, I guess he had to throw toys over the fence into the yard with Drake, the dog. I guess he had to smash the garbage can into our dinner table spilling wine and dishes everywhere. (That all took place in less than one half hour.)

However, we have had some interesting conversations lately. Hart was impatient when car in front of us was making a left turn and yelled, “Go, mister!”

Jeff is very proud of his underwear and announces all the time that he wears “big boy pants.” Yesterday he told me, “I wear big boy pants. Hart make poop in diaper.” When I said, “Oh no, Hart makes poop in toilet, too.” Jeff turned to Hart, “Oh, good job, Hart.”

June 18
We returned last night from four days in Virginia Beach. It was up and down. The first day or so was pretty difficult. However, the boys loved the beach and swimming with their water wings in the hotel pool. On Sunday, we drove all over to find the US Military Transport Museum, an outdoor museum with all kinds of jeeps, trucks, helicopters, boats and planes. It was little boy heaven. We made it to Portsmouth and took the water ferry, an old-fashioned paddle boat, across to Norfolk’s waterside where we ate lunch. The boat was a big hit but the boys were pretty tired by then. Our outing on Monday was to the Virginia Maritime Science Museum where the favorite thing was river habitat with lots of fish and turtles, and a petting area of baby sting rays. We got to see them being fed. We spent most afternoons at the beach. The boys didn’t care much for making their own sand structures, they preferred joining in and helping with existing sand castle work. Howard reported that Jeff got disinvited from a group of kids after hogging the dump truck. Minutes later, Hart wandered over to those kids and, some boys, thinking he was Jeff, read him the riot act and kicked him out of the group. The flight home was uneventful, thank goodness. Both boys were on very good behavior.

Hart kept insisting that we go to “a new house.” He was disappointed to return to our own house. They were sorry to leave our rental car, affectionately known as “Alla car” because it is a red subcompact, like hers.

Today is the first day of summer school. The bus came at the regular time and Dawn was there, just like always, so maybe they won’t feel the transition so acutely.

June 20
I took the boys to the dentist yesterday. Hart was eager to sit in the chair and was very cooperative when the dentist cleaned his teeth. Jeff didn’t like the experience one bit. He kicked and screamed and would not open his mouth. He especially hated the flossing. However, when the dentist applied the chocolate-flavored vitamins, he declared, “I like it.” When it was all over, Jeff jumped out of the chair and announced, “I sad, I cry-waaaaahh.”

June 23
I am still in shock over the boys’ magical day on Sunday. Jeff woke up complaining that his foot hurt, so I decided to forego the trip to the pool until he felt better. At 10 a.m. when Joan came over with baby Caroline, the boys were lounging on the couch watching a video. At 10:30 a.m. they were fast asleep. Weird. They woke up at noon, I gave them lunch and we went outside to play. It was so hot that I put them in bathing suits and they ran through the sprinkler happily for an hour. Then they wanted to go to Matthew’s, so we drove the toy cars over and they played in the R’s sprinkler and wading pool until Howard came at 3 p.m. Then without a fuss, they came home. I suggested (to Howard) a short nap and they boys complied by lying down on the couch and going to sleep. We woke them up around 5 p.m. for dinner. We ate outside at a Thai restaurant and the boys were noisy, very chatty but not misbehaving. Stopped at the grandparents' to drop off a car seat and eat some cookies with Sharon, spent a half hour at the park, came home, had a bath and went easily to bed. Aliens have abducted my children and replaced them with these angelic ones…how long will it take until they come to get them back?

July 2
I returned from ALA conference to find the house an utter mess and the boys much more chatty than when I left. Hart resumed speech therapy today. I like the new graduate clinician–she has a very calming manner. Hart was very chatty and cooperative, a big change from just three weeks ago when we left off. He asked and answered questions, he identified animals correctly and he stuck with the tasks much longer than he had before. He identified “rabbit,” and when Dana asked, “Where do we find a rabbit?,” Hart said, “On the grass.” When he saw a picture of a tiger, he said “tiger” and answered that you could find one “at the zoo.” On the ride over, he told me, “Hart likes cats.” I asked what other animals he liked and he said, “tiger.” He told me he wants to “ride a tiger.” At therapy he held a long plastic container like a baton and announced that he was marching, then he did a clean-and-jerk and announced that he was exercising. I didn’t know he knew any of those words as verbs.

We went to the water park in the evening. It was a little cool out. The boys were fine but leaving is always a huge, ugly production.

July 5
We had a very busy day yesterday. Howard insisted on taking the boys to the beach very early–it was pretty chilly, a record low temperature for this time of the year. Then our neighborhood parade at 10 a.m. with the boys in the wagon. After that I went to take part in the neighborhood parade and met up with everybody at 2:30 at the Evanston parade. Hart had had enough and wanted to come home so I took him back with me. Jeff and Howard stayed. Then we went to celebrate Grandma Etta’s birthday. Then off to the fireworks. The boys had pretty much had it even before the fireworks started and were whiny and fractious, but the enjoyed the fireworks display, even though they couldn’t actually sit down for a minute and watch it. After the grand finale, Jeff said, “Do it again.” Well, we will have to wait for next year.

July 7
Yesterday while giving I was the boys a bath, Jeff noticed that the bottom on the toy duck had soap scum on it. “Dirty,” he pointed out. I explained that it was from the soap and I would try to clean it off. “It’s the duck’s poop,” Jeff told me.

July 9
It was a less than great day. This is the boys’ first Wednesday at the JCC due to Alla’s absence, but also Hart’s first Wednesday speech therapy appointment. Last week he was so terrific, I could barely believe it was the same kid. Alas, that was short-lived. He was extremely uncooperative and bossy, and his therapist really didn’t get to do anything with him other than try to coax him to cooperate. It didn’t work. Jeff has a new word though–“guys.” “Two guys sit together,” he told me as he and Hart sat side by side on the picnic table. I also heard him say something about “you guys.” The day after tomorrow is my first Friday home with them. I think the weather will be warmer and we can swim.

July 15
I haven’t written for a while since things have gone from bad to worse. The last three days have been terrible. On Monday, I went to pick the boys up at the J and Jeff was in disgrace. He had been doing some mischief on the slide and a teacher was giving him what-for. Then he tried twice more to go on the slide after being told not to. When I grabbed him to get down he threw himself headfirst into the sandbox (after being covered with sweat).

Since it’s over 90˚ out, I said the boys could play outside in the sprinkler after I changed my clothes and brought the swimsuits down. In those two minutes, they left the backyard and when I ran back around the house, Hart was waving the hose which he had turned on himself, so I dragged them both into the house for not following directions. Then Hart burned his finger badly on the stove by touching a burner.

Today, Wednesday, when I came to pick Hart up for speech therapy, he threw a major tantrum. Apparently, they had been decorating cupcakes and he would not leave his behind. (If I had realized that he had already finished his cupcake, I would have taken it with us, but I thought he just didn’t want to leave the project without completing his cupcake.) I could not get him down the hall without dragging/carrying him. When we got to the car, he would not get in. At this point, we were already quite late and he was carrying on so much I realized there was no way he would possibly cooperate for the therapist, so I brought him back into the J to call and cancel. I was just too frayed around the edges myself. As I was trying to get them out of the J the second time, Jeff started methodically pouring water by the cupful into the garbage can.

I took them to the water park directly from the J, thinking to wear them out there. Jeff evidently has a new ear infection. We have the same fight because they can’t keep their paws off the red cones that are set up there. (Why can’t they just fix the problem????) Hart, without provocation pushed a toddler down, then took Aaron's toy watering can and hurled it over the fence.

July 19
Another frightening episode–I had the boys at gymnastics today and overall, everything went OK, thanks to the two aides. However, when the class ends, they say good-bye and leave, so I am left trying to get shoes on and herd the boys out. As I was putting shoes on Hart, I saw Jeff round the corner and called to him to come back. He didn’t answer (surprise?) When I got up to get him back, he was gone. No sign of him in the hall, near the gym or anywhere. I was just beside myself. I couldn’t go look for him and leave Hart, I couldn’t exactly look with Hart in tow. When I reported to the front desk that I had lost a kid, there was no one to help me. I ended up standing around helplessly, hoping someone would find him or that he would make his way back to the gym area. After about eight long minutes, an older woman jogger appeared with Jeff in her arms. You could tell she thought I must be a total incompetent as she asked if I knew where he had been. I said I didn’t know, that I had alerted everyone that he was missing and was quite concerned. He had been climbing over the second floor railing that overlooks the gym. I don’t know how he even got upstairs. Spank spank and I hope to God that never happens again.

July 25
Today is the last day of summer school for the boys. These three-day weekends are hard on me. However, we have started splitting the boys up between us. This week I took Hart to Old Orchard on Wednesday evening and last night took Jeff to story hour at the library. He can’t really sit and listen to the stories but he likes dancing to “Shake Shake Your Sillies Out” and any flannel board story.

July 27
Jeff likes me to sing a song about each of the stuffed animals. We have a frog (Down by the banks of the Hanky-Panky where the bullfrogs jump from bank to banky…), an elephant (one little elephant went out play), baby beaver (I sing something to the tune of O Dreidl Dreidl Dreidl). Last night Jeff requested a song for doggie Charlotte, specifically “How much is that doggie in the window.” As I started to sing, Jeff said, “wait wait.” He had to put Charlotte on the windowsill first.

Also at dinner, Jeff peeled an orange (a clementine actually) himself and announced, “Look, look, a basketball.”

August 3
A few days ago, Jeff was whimpering and whining in the car. I couldn’t see him since he was sitting behind me and couldn’t tell what was going on. I kept asking, “what’s wrong?” “what’s happening?” but he didn’t respond. Finally, I said to Hart, “Why is Jeff crying?” Reply–“has to!” I still don’t know what that was about.

Both boys had very good speech therapy sessions this week. We moved Hart’s second appointment to Tuesday morning, instead of Wednesday afternoon and that’s working out better. The neurologist also recommendis a second dose of medication, so we are just starting that.

I saw Marthe this week and asked how Alla is doing. Marthe assured me that Alla is coming back!

Aug 10
Well, believe it or not, the boys turned four. The birthday was uneventful–H&J brought treats to the JCC and we went to Grandpa and Grandma after dinner. The got some new little cars from Granny. Barry and I set up the twin-sized beds, so the boys are no longer in the crib mattresses on the floor. Grandma got them fancy sheets for the new beds.

Friday was a hectic day. We went to the neurologist in the morning. He spent over an hour with us and the boys were in rare form. They were leaping all over the examining room, from table to chair, through the air. It made me think of the gibbons at Lincoln Park Zoo. The senior partner came in and asked if it was American Bandstand. Dr. Hammer is upping Jeff’s morning dose of Adderall and prescribed Zoloft for Hart. He hopes that will help some of the compulsive/impulsive behavior. We’ll do a month’s trial. The boys are 38.5 inches each. Jeff weighs 36 lbs and Hart weighs 33.5.

Then in the afternoon, we went to speech therapy. Both boys had excellent sessions, to my astonishment. (Of course, this is the last session of the quarter!) Then off to the pediatrician for their 4-year checkup. For some reason, it is always an ordeal there. I don’t know why the office can’t make a simple accommodation for two very hyperactive children–I am considering changing doctors.

Yesterday, Saturday, we went to gymnastics where the boys were pretty obnoxious. Then they saw me off to the Metra Street station to catch a train for downtown to see “Chicago.” Walking to the train, Hart said, quite clearly, “Mommy, I will wave to you on the train.” It was very sweet.

August 11
I am home sick from work, nursing yet another upper respiratory infection. We had a great party last night for Noah. The whole clan was here, Darren, Stefanie, Lorel, Rick and his girlfriend, Scott and family, Roberta and several other Noah friends. The boys were just terrific.

They were happy to play with the other kids although they were at first a bit wary on the onslaught on all their backyard toys. I was even expecting a crash as the medication wore off, but they were fine. Of course, they were exhausted and slept in till 8 a.m. this morning, so we had to rush out the door to the JCC.

Funny mystery. One of the kids was obviously in our room, since they were playing with a toy that was hidden in Howard’s closet. However, when we went to bed, we noticed that the contents of Hart’s urine sample (which was on the nightstand) was gone. The top was off and the cup was empty. We were prepared for the worse…but couldn’t smell a thing. I suspect some small person drank it.

August 13
I am trying to use more 1-2-3 Magic discipline techniques, since the boys now understand “time-out.” The afternoon dose of Adderall is much better and except for a crash around 6:30 or 7 p.m., they are much more pleasant. Hart is still a bit temperamental but not as agitated and tantrum-y as before. I guess Jeff threw the beloved toy kitty into the toilet at the J today…he seems quite proud of that.

We have one more week in Shari’s classroom, before graduating to the “Matzah Ball” class. Can’t believe it. But, first our trip to Cincinnati and then Wisconsin.

August 21
It was the last day in Shari’s room, so the boys must have had an exciting day. The beloved kittycat is apparently going with them to the new classroom. Thank goodness. That transition would be too hard.

We leave tomorrow for our first car trip–to Cousin Scott's bar mitzvah in Cincinnati. I am expecting the worst.

I interviewed a new sitter today who seems terrific. The boys were very well-behaved and extremely chatty. At bathtime, they turned into hellions and would not go to sleep at all. We finally separated them at 9:45 p.m. The J teachers forgot to give them afternoon medication so I don’t know if it’s that, the excitement of the day, the anticipation of the trip or what. Still it was difficult getting packed, having to run upstairs every five minutes to quiet them. When they were separated, they started screaming from room to room. Finally I said the next screamer gets a spank and did it.

August 24
We are back from Scott's bar mitzvah in Cincy. The trip down was much better than expected, although it took a very long time with all the stops. However, thank goodness we declined the Friday dinner, since the boys were completely out of control after the long car trip. They were fine at the bar mitzvah–the baby sitters worked out great. They even played nicely at the luncheon. However, it is still impossible to carry on an adult conversation–you can’t take your eyes off them or let concentration wander. We were seated with cousins Steve and Sharon and Allison and Josh and another woman with a 3-year-old son. We timed the medication so that the boys could attend the evening party easily. It was terrific. Aunt Ronnie got them birthday gifts, a combination vehicle, trailer and boat. One is a shark hunter complete with shark, cage and diver and the other is an alligator catcher similarly outfitted. They were big hits and the boys played nicely all evening. We were able to stay until past nine. Jeff had a great time on the dance floor with his car. Whenever I approached, he said, “Go away Mommy, I dance with car.”

The big discussion in our family is the plans for Ted’s wedding. This morning was a brunch at the Kessel’s and the boys liked their huge trampoline. Still no real chance to talk to adults since there was major mischief. Jeff could not keep his hands off the flowers. Hart would not stop whining for the helium balloons. I stepped away to the bathroom for a minute and Howard told me that Hart had released all the helium balloon centerpieces from every single table. The trip home was long and uneventful. The boys played pretty much the whole time with the new toys.

Aug 25
On of PBS’ best offering is a show called “The Big Comfy Couch” which Hart calls The Couchy Couch or “Couchy” for short.

August 29
We are back from four days in the Wisconsin Dells. It is a good vacation spot for children. We stayed at Treasure Island which included admission to a giant water park which was a big hit. The boys liked the water slides and went with Howard down the monster slides. The small roller coaster and kiddie boat rides were popular. There were several nice pools at the hotel and we tried them all out. We rode with ducks and took the river boat tour, which was too pastoral for the boys. They got restless and loud. Hart has been very crabby and, though I have been putting off getting Zoloft for him, I think I must do it. He whines and hurls himself around at the slightest provocation. It is sad to see him so regularly unhappy. The neurologist hopes that Zoloft will help with the tantrums, the perseverative behavior and the endless defiance.

The train trip up was nice and the boys were behaved. The return trip was awful, even though they slept for an hour. My ears are ringing from the screaming, squealing and bellowing. I thought of leaving them on the train…

August 31, 1997
Yesterday has a whole surreal dreamlike quality about it. We had a tough day with the boys and I am still quite concerned about Hart. I was working on the computer after the boys were in bed and around 9:30 p.m. Howard came to tell me that there had been a car crash in Paris announced on the news. Princess Diana had been injured. Her new companion, who has been much in the news recently, Dodi al Fayyed, was killed and Diana taken to a hospital. We watched the CNN coverage until 10 p.m. when it seemed that the reporters were getting desperate for angles. Anguished American tourists who saw the accident were interviewed. We watched the film “Secrets and Lies” until 11 p.m. and then checked back on the news. Diana was dead! It just seemed so unbelievable, like some horrible dream. She is so beloved. Now she will probably join the ranks of tragic heroines, Evita Peron, Marilyn Monroe, to be forever young and forever beautiful. I somehow felt I knew her, but I guess she is so much in the news that everyone in the world must feel that way.

September 4
The clouds seem to have lifted. Hart has had trouble sleeping, I think due to the new medication. One night I just brought him in our bed, he was making so much noise and it was well after 11 p.m. After dozing off, I heard a little voice in my ear saying, “Get me a cookie, Mommy, I want a cookie.”

Everything seems to be going fine at the JCC. I have to reconcile myself that it’s not going to be like Shari’s room She knew their history and they were really beloved since she saw their progress. Now they are just ordinary kids in the classroom.

School started and I was quite disconcerted by the fact that the bus is almost a half hour later than we are used to. But everything has gone smoothly. Ms. P was very impressed at their speech and I talked to the speech therapist and she also said Hart’s “affect” is much improved. I guess that refers to expression and nonverbal communication. They were just delightful this evening and happy to see Daddy home earlier than usual.

September 7
Hart’s trouble sleeping has taken some terrible turns. He trashed Howard’s closet two nights ago in the space of about 20 minutes. We still can’t figure out how he got all the clothes off the hangers. When I went up to check on him, there was a heap of clothes and he was working on getting the shelves out.

Last night we were guests at Darren's and Lorel’s and it will probably be the last invitation we get from them. Jeff redeemed himself by chowing like a field hand on the pesto pasta (three helpings), marinated chicken and rice, then settling down for some ice cream and cookies. On the way home, Hart threw up in the car, which I am convinced he did by sticking his hand down his throat. He thought it was hysterical. Even after that excitement and the late night, Hart did not fall asleep to close to midnight, after a bout of clean diaper shredding in the bathroom at about 10 p.m.

We took the boys out separately for dinner. Hart and Howard ate at Slice of Life and Jeff and I went to Boston Market. Jeff really enjoyed his kid's meal and was chatting away through the meal. There were mostly older couples eating in and the couple seated behind me stopped to chat as they left. “I can’t understand how you tolerate it,” she said. “Does he ever stop talking?” Needless to say, I was surprised…and pleased. I answered that both he and his brother were late talkers and I was delighted that they were finally talking. Jeff still wasn’t coming up for air and she kept jokingly trying to shush him. If she only knew!

Sept 13
Our ill-fated experiment with Hart and Zoloft is over. He had three terrible days, even though he was only getting a dose every 48 hours. I am relieved that he can sleep again and so can I. However, he has been crabby and obstinate being off the medication for two days. So I am just stymied. Today is Aaron's second birthday and there is an informal gathering at their house this afternoon.

Hart and Howard went to therapy with Margie this morning. Jeff and I went to a couple garage sales but came home empty-handed. I feel like I have clothes for them for the next five years.

Sept 15
We had an interesting Sunday. As usual, Howard took one and I took the other. I invited Sarai and Ivy to meet us at the McDonald’s on Peterson that has an indoor playground. When I cautioned Hart that he must leave when I say it’s time to go, he told me, “I say no, play more.” To my surprise, Hart was great. He came over to report that a lady had told him to put his socks on. I usually take the socks off since he throws them around. However, he agreed to keep his socks on. He played very nicely with Ivy. When he took a french fry break, two older kids came over to the table to ask if he could come play with them again. When it was time to go, there was a momentary fit but he dutifully followed Ivy out when she told him to come. He put his shoes back on without complaint and I lavished him with praise and gave both Ivy and Hart gummy sharks. Sarai says that it’s good for Ivy to get to be the “big kid.” It’s much easier to interact with the boys successfully when there’s only one at a time. It was really a nice evening–a visit to the land of the normal.

Sept 25, 1997
Yesterday I brought home a new “Comfy Couch” tape for the boys. While I was cuing it up, Hart came over and said, “Mommy, I kiss you, thank you a-brought me.” It was very sweet and the first time he has initiated affection.

Sept 30,1997
It was an exciting weekend. Our neighborhood had its first block party and everyone behaved satisfactorily. The Village sent a fire truck and squad car for the kids to see. Jeff had a great time, sitting in the driver’s seat of the police car talking into the mike. First, he says “HI!” a few times, then I said, “Say ‘pull over.’” So then, this little voice yells “Pull ozer, pull ozer.”

Because of our success on Saturday giving the medicine later in the day so they could manage the party, I tried it again on Sunday. At 1 a.m., they were both up, romping around and could not be calmed. At 1:40, Howard put Jeff in our bed and slept in Jeff’s. Last night, the boys were wide awake at midnight when I got home and were still making noise at 2 a.m. when I finally fell asleep, after trying a half dozen sleeping arrangments. Surprisingly enough, they did not suffer at all today after only five hours of sleep but Howard and I did.

Hart is a big fan of The Big Comfy Couch. The Library just bought the whole series of tapes, so we have enough different “Couchy Couch” tapes so that I don’t lose my mind. Jeff, and Hart, too, like the Wallace and Gromit series. That’s great because adults can enjoy them too. I tried Disney’s Aladdin to see if they could manage a feature-length film. They liked it but we had to watch it in segments.

I find that I can engage them in one bedtime book. Jeff is keen on anything about vehicles. Also, he likes to request “songs” and then suggest lyrics for them. Today he wanted a blankie song, a truck song about doors open and kids riding, an animal song and a car song. I find that the tune of “Lollipop” works pretty well in numerous situations.

Hart made an interesting comment today. He was sitting behind me in the car, saying “Look, look, look” presumably at something he was doing. I kept saying, “I can’t look now.” Hart replies, “Mommy, turn your head around.”

At long last, we think Hart is toilet-trained. Yesterday, at the J he used the bathroom several times, so they put him in underwear. He came home immensely pleased with himself. Howard and I were kvelling all over him. I left for the evening and he promptly pooped…in the pants. Today Howard put him back in a diaper since he has a bit of diarrhea but I packed up all the training pants in his backpack to take to the J. He managed the whole afternoon without an accident.

October 4
The Big Comfy Couch is still very popular here. I bring a few tapes home from work weekly to watch. The boys’ favorite character is Snicklefritz, the cat, whose name suffers all kinds of creative variations in our household, Nickasritz, Sickletriss etc, or according to Hart, just Nicky.

Howard and I are car shopping which is hellish. We spent the day running to dealerships, then in the evening, all four of us went to Buffalo Grove to look at two dealerships there. The boys were pretty cooperative. Jeff sang most of the way in the car. He loves to sing to familiar tapes even if he can’t exactly get the words.

Also the boys are very interested in coloring. They spent a while this afternoon drawing and this evening Hart asked again to color for a while. Their attention span is much increased and they can concentrate. Both of them can handle a crayon or pencil appropriately. I notice Hart trying to “color in” things even it looks like contained scribbles.

Oct 4
After gymnastics today I took the boys to meet Loonette from The Big Comfy Couch who was appearing at a store in Wilmette. We arrived about 45 minutes before the appearance. I told the boys we would have a long wait in line. Actually they were pretty good despite the long wait. We made friends with a group of girls behind us, who had all the character toys. The boys were pretty excited about the stuffed Snicklefritz. Then finally the line moved and we got five seconds to sit on the couch (regular-sized) and greet Loonette. I snapped a photo and they ushered us off. I asked the boys if they were going to say anything, like “who made this big mess?!” from the show. Both boys enthusiastically did their best Loonette imitation, “who made big mess?” and then we lost Jeff in the store.

October 13
Things have been going pretty well. I brought a new tape about baby animals home from the library and that’s a welcome relief from watching Comfy Couch every single day, although we do that, too. Today is Columbus Day so the boys were at the J all day. I understand they got pretty wild in the afternoon and were pretty loud and raucous when I got them home. Howard is out of town. Margie called and was delighted to hear that I am feeling better and things are going more smoothly.

Last night Jeff and I had dinner with Brigid and her husband and daughter. He liked the Persian food at Reza’s and was fairly well-behaved. However, I must remember that it is impossible to take him into any stores–he can’t keep his hands off anything.

October 17
Last night a miracle happened–Hobbes let Jeff pet her. She came over to me and Jeff saw his chance and before she knew it, he was gently stroking her tail. Then she realized what was going on and took off.

This morning I woke up to some unfamiliar thumping. The boys had opened the front door, dragged Hobbes’ scratching post over to it. Jeff was holding the post while Hart was precariously balanced on it, carefully dismantling all the Halloween decorations. I told Howard about this and he laughed, then said, “Why?” My guess because they “had to.”

Howard took the boys to NU’s homecoming parade. Alla forgot to give them their afternoon dose of medicine, so they are really in no condition to go, but Howard has his heart set on it.

October 23
I have been driving the new Toyota RAV4 and the boys really like the new car. When I finally got some tapes to play, they started yelling, “No, want mommy do!” I was puzzled, “Mommy do what?” “Mommy do, want mommy do.” Finally Jeff said, “ Want Mommy do tape.” Then I realized it was the tape with the song “What Does Your Mama Do?” So the next day I brought it from the Library. The boys sang and sang along with the tape. There is a verse that goes, “ She drives a great big truck.” When we got out of the car, Jeff said, “ Mommy, you drive a little truck!” True enough.

After his bath, Hart wanted me to use the blow dryer. I explained that he hair was dry since we hadn’t washed it. “But my body is wet!!!!”

Last night we went for Simchat Torah and the boys had a nice time. Jeff wanted to parade around and touch the torahs but Hart just wanted to sit. They liked the flags.

October 26
Daylight Savings time and the weather is cold, rainy and windy. This morning it was a pleasure to hear Hart engage, at long last, in some symbolic play. He had the two stuffed beavers and says, “Baby Beaver wants a snack (he makes him eat off a pie tin). Mommy, give him a snack. Wipe with napkin. (he uses a sock to wipe them off). Wipe ears, tail, body. Go to Granny’s. Go to park. Go see Snicklefritz.”

We still watch “The Big Comfy Couch” often but Jeff loves a Tonka tape with anthropomorphic trucks and bulldozers. Also both are having a newfound interest in Thomas the Tank Engine. A big treat is to visit the Great Train Store at Old Orchard Mall which has two Brio train tables at kid height to play with. We were there last night.

Nov 1, 1997
We had an exciting week. Granny was here for a visit and she had a great time with the boys. She and Hart spent the afternoon together on Wednesday while Jeff was with Alla. They played with blocks and went the park. The boys were very chatty and on good behaviour most of the time. We ate at Old Orchard Food court and showed Granny the dragon there.

Yesterday was Friday, so Granny left in the morning after Alla arrived. There was a Halloween party at school and in the evening we took the boys trick or treating. They were cats. I made costumes out of a hooded sweatshirt with felt ears, matching sweat pants and tail made out of pantyhose. They were very cute. I went to a few houses with them, then Howard took them out to more houses. What a loot!

The boys are talking much more now and respond when spoken to. I spoke to Margie about the lack of success with Hart in toilet-training. Also both boys are congested and Hart’s voice sounds so froggy. The allergist says it is the mold count.

It was quite cold for a couple days and then balmy. This is the first Halloween in ten years that there hasn’t been rain or snow. It was in the upper 50s.

When I went to wake up Hart on Wednesday morning, he pulled the blanket over his head and announced, “I not here.”

Nov 3
What a crazy day! The school bus was a half hour late. The boys nearly went nuts waiting for 40 minutes, I was late to work. In the afternoon, Howard got a call from the J that the boys were completely hyper when they arrived. I spoke to Dr. H, then Ms. P. It seems we have had a succession of bus drivers and any upset in the regular routine makes the boys bonkers. They have had several difficult days, although last week, with Granny here, was fine. Go figure.

Jeff answered, “I’m four,” today when asked how old he was. The /f/ was perfectly clear. The boys’ speech has progressed so much lately, but their articulation is still not very good. If you can decode the consonant substitutions, /s/ for /f/, /zh/ for /v/, /m/ and /n/ are interchangeable, and overlook the lost syllables, they are completely understandable. We are used to drinking “nelk” and listening to “noo-sic,” but we eat “dimmer.” “Bulldozer” is “bo-der” and “beaver” is “bea-zure.” Jeff likes to eat berries but it comes out “beers.” We eat “trench tries” at “stressrants.”

Both boys like watching Thomas the Tank Engine. I found a Thomas bedspread at a rummage sale on Sunday and it was a big hit.

Nov 6, 1997
We are going to try some reward system for getting Hart smoothly on the bus. Today there was dawdling, the bus pulled up…Jeff made a dash into the yard, Hart didn’t budge, then took off in the opposite direction. I had to push him, Sisyphus-style, up into bus, while he was trying to throw himself onto the ground.

Nov 8
I got the boys off on the bus on Friday without mishap, using a techique I got from a tape on ADHD. It says to explain the rules before any transition, specifically when you are going out in public. So I just said, “Pick the leaves you want, and then stand and wait for the bus.” Well, it worked.

When I went to leave the house last night, I said goodnight and Jeff spread his arms for a hug. That’s a first.

I read him a book that has a little boy taking care of a dog. “Do we have a dog?” I asked. “Yes.” Surprised, I said, “we do?” Jeff nodded and pointed out his window, “Drake.” I don’t have the heart to tell him that Drake belongs to the neighbors next door.

I took Jeff this morning to Tot Shabbat at JRC. Although he is older than most of the other kids who look to anywhere from 10 months to three, it is just our speed. Jeff got to open the mini-ark and pass around the toy Torah. He knew some of the songs and people complimented me on how well-behaved he was. There was a little kiddush afterward and I met another family with a little boy from Russia. Jeff was having a nice time playing with the dollhouse with some of the other kids, so I was actually able to converse with the adults.

November 11
Yesterday while Jeff was waiting for the school bus, he told me, “I need slippers, my hands are cold.” Today he asked if I was going to wear my “ear muffins.”

We had a scare on the way home from the JCC today. The librarian had given them rubber bands and we were halfway home when I heard Hart snapping his rubber band. Then he said, “The rubber band is hurting my neck.” For a moment, I thought he had accidentally snapped himself. A split second later, I realized that he had probably put the rubber band over his head and around his neck (God knows how!) I pulled over and jumped out of the car, just as he was beginning to gasp for air. That’s it for rubber bands–styrofoam cups have already been banned for the mess they make.

November 12
I have a tape of 50s and 60s hits for kids. When “Soul Man” came on, Hart looked up and started laughing and singing along. “Ro-man, I’m a Ro-man.” Roman is in his class at the JCC.

November 15
The night before last, Howard found Jeff at 4 a.m. sleeping in the hall at the top of the stairs. When Howard asked the next day why Jeff had gotten out of bed, he said, “The penguin was chasing me.”

November 25
We had our conference with Ms. P today. She says the boys’ language is coming along in leaps and bounds, but there are still behavioral issues. (As if we didn’t know!)

Hart’s toilet-training continues to mystify us. He still never initiates and will not go unless taken by an adult. Last night while romping around with Shira, he announced, “P.U., I smell something stinky!” No kidding.

Neither boy likes having his hair combed. Hart just runs away but Jeff will let me do his hair if he gets a chance to comb mine. We sit in front of a mirror and with the air of an artiste, he fluffs and puffs and styles my hair, occasionally commanding me to “Shake.” Of course, my hair falls right back into place despite his efforts to make it stand up.

Nov 28
Day after Thanksgiving. We were a small group, Grandma, Grandpa and Grandma Etta and us. Jeff took a short nap and enjoyed setting the table. He put all the plates, napkins and silverware out under my direction. Hart took a three-hour nap. The dinner turned out well and the boys were entertaining. We ended up watching Aladdin afterwards. Grandma Etta is quite frail and has difficulty walking.

Today Alla is here and I have a day off from work. We have tickets to the afternoon performance of Ringling Brothers circus. Alla is coming along so we are three adults and the boys.

Dec 7
The circus was a big success. The boys were tranfixed. We were lucky to have a box--nowhere to escape to and our own bathroom.

We had a hairy week with the school bus. Finally in exasperation, we wrote a letter of complaint. It has been a real hassle and very stressful on the boys.

Seems like over Thanksgiving their vocabulary doubled.

Uncle Ted and his dog Max dropped by yesterday and the boys were very excited to see Max.
We have been watching Mr. Rogers visits the circus, a new Kidsong video called County Sing-Along. The boys do sing along, which is hilarious. They also listen to a tape of 50s and 60s hits in the car and sing along.

On Friday Alla babysat all day so we could go to the theater in the evening. I guess it was manageable although she said the boys asked about me. At 2:30 p.m. they got up and would not go back to sleep, so I put Jeff in our bed and ended up sleeping in his. Hart keeps asking, “Member, member, you sleep in Jeff’s bed?” It was comfortable enough but small.

Dec 13
We attended the office holiday party last night. It was fun and the boys were well-behaved. We met Santa and the boys said, Ho Ho Ho, with encouragement from Santa. When Santa asked what they wanted for Christmas, they said teddy bears, which is exactly what Santa had for them. Jeff was fascinated watching the drummer in the band. Hart danced a little with Hannah and Grace but said he wanted to dance with Nathan. En route to the party, we saw a sports car with retractable headlights. Hart said, “Look, the car’s eyes are open.”

Hart and Howard went to Theraplay with Margie and got a Beanie Baby raccoon from her. I took Jeff to Tot Shabbat at JRC. He much preferred to play with some toy cars he found. He is one of the oldest there but is not much interested in participating, which even the 2-year-olds seem to manage. He returned the Torah to the ark, after much encouragement. There is one other Russian adoptive mother there and we commented how similar the two boys look. Both have very Slavic cheeckbones, we think.

After a brief nap, we took the boys to Nathan’s 4th birthday party, which was fine, although Hart was disappointed not to get a balloon. Howard vetoed that since helium balloons turn into a minor obsession for days afterward. He cried but recuperated once we got home. The goodie bag was a new box of fancy crayons which was a big hit. After the party, Jeff and I played and Hart conked out the couch for another hour. He still really needs that nap in the afternoon. I am loathe to tamper with our schedule but it was a special occasion.

Dec 20
Both boys are sick with ear infections again. Yuck. School is out for winter break so next week will be at the J full days.

I had Hart with Margie this morning. She thinks he has really turned a corner and is doing much better. That’s great news. We played “Three Little Pigs.” Hart was the wolf and I was all three pigs. He loves saying “chinny, chin, chin,” and “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down.” When he came to the last pig in the brick house (four pillows), of course, he could not blow the house down. So Hart the wolf announced, “I take it apart!”

I guess I hadn’t written about this before, but having told the story at work of Hart saying, “Go in the chicken (kitchen),” this phrase has joined the popular parlace at the library.

Dec 27
The boys have enjoyed Hanukah and have really been raking in the gifts. They got electric keyboards from Granny, two new videos, The Lion King and Fantasia, backpacks from Alla, cars, a soccer ball and jungle animals from Uncle Ted and Aunt Allison. And we are only at the 4th night! On Christmas, Ted and I took the boys to the zoo. It was great. Completely empty so we had the animals to ourselves. The boys enjoyed chasing pigeons, watching the polar bears swim and seeing doggie Max. We got Burger King hamburgers for lunch and ate at Ted’s. This is unusual warm winter weather so we will probably never be able to do it again, but it was fun. Christmas evening the Rs came over with their two children and the kids ran around while we ate latkes.

Dec 29
What a bizarre day! The boys have been great for weeks–no tantrums, no belligerence. Then today a total breakdown. Hart had a crab attack on arrving at the J this morning, but it didn’t seem terribly out of the ordinary. When I came to pick them up, there were no less than eight sets of clothes that they had peed through. Hart hasn’t had more than one or two accidents for the past few days. Then I couldn’t get them out of the J. There was a lot of lying on the floor and screaming–again a throwback to several months ago. When we got home, things got even worse. The Hanukah gift tonight was from my boss. It was one of those bouncy balls with handles, but of course, deflated and in the box. Hart had a crying fit that lasted until bedtime. I tried to use the bike pump but could not get it inflated. So I hid it in the car, lest it set Hart off again, but it didn’t matter, he resumed the crying jag when he saw me. I tried to do joint compression and brushing at bedtime but it was no use. He kept whining until Howard took him up to bed.

Jan 1, 1998
New Year’s Day. It’s sort of like a regular day. The stores are open, so Hart and I went to run errands at Old Orchard. We stopped in Learningsmith to play with the Brio train setup and watch part of Wallace and Gromit. Jeff and Howard went to Lands’ End and grocery shopping. In the afternoon, we took the boys sledding on the corner of Golf. They really enjoyed it but it took plenty of coaxing to get them to take the sled back up the hill. It’s unseasonably warm for this time of year luckily.

The boys are on a Disney video tear. They enjoy The Lion King and I have brought Cinderella, Aladdin and Pinocchio home from the library. I am happy that they now have the patience to watch a full-length film, but long for the days when a half hour educational tape would do.
Hart is really officially out of diapers during the day. He has one or two accidents but basically seems to have the hang of it. They can now earn pennies for their piggy banks for using the toilet.

Jan 4
What an improvement in language we have seen in just the past two weeks. I am sure the teachers will be surprised when they see the boys tomorrow. This morning I woke up to the boys yelling, “It’s party time!” I think they were playing birthday party. Whew, what a relief.
We have watched Toy Story a few times. That’s a treat for me, since I enjoy it, too. The boys play with their waffle blocks every single day. Lara came to babysit and she had all kinds of goodies, little magnetic trucks, stickers, a fire truck that made sounds, a colored jumping game (Twister?) She is terrific.

Jan 7
We are off to Florida tomorrow for the weekend. Yesterday was a tough day. I had trouble getting the boys out of the J and it went downhill from there. Unfortunately when I lose my cool, then everything goes to hell. Somehow it’s the dawdling and alternate agendas that get to me the most. It seems like I am herding a pack of recalcitrant cats.

Jan 11
We are back from our vacation in St. Petersburg, Florida. The boys were very good on the flight both ways. The first evening was positively bizarre. They would not sleep, but worse yet, they would not shut up and they would not stay in bed. They were bounding around until after 10:30 (really 11:30 p.m. local time.) At my wits’ end I finally left the hotel room. Howard fell asleep and the boys finally calmed down after I came back. In the middle of the night, Hart had a coughing fit from sleeping on the carpet, to which he was no doubt allergic. After that it was fine.

We drove up the Gulf coast on Friday, stopping at two beaches. Sand Key was beautiful with lots of gorgeous shells. The boys collected sea urchins and sponges. In the afternoon, our hotel staff took them shelling which gave us a nice half hour to sit on the beach and watch. After that we swam in the outdoor pool which was so warm.

On Saturday we were going to see the alligator show at the Sunken Gardens but it looked like a tacky tourist trap and was expensive to boot, so we went off to the Pier. The boys liked the trolley ride. We watched the fisherman for a bit, then walked through the pier. At the entrance you could feed a flock of pelicans from a little platform, so I bought some fish for the boys to feed them. Business must have been slow…they gave me twice as many fish as I paid for. Hart loved it but Jeff was a little nervous so Howard helped.

We spent more time at the beach and had a great dinner at a place called Michael’s Cafe. The biggest success of the trip was a place called Tastee Treat, an ice cream stand that is shaped like an ice cream cone. After ice cream, I took Jeff for a swim, Hart was being so obnoxious after dinner that there was no way I could have taken both, so he and Howard went for a walk instead. I brought The Lion King soundtrack along to play in the car and Howard and I had a good time listening to the boys sing with it, although we are a bit sick of it after three days of non-stop listening. This morning, we spent a few hours on the beach watching the boys play before we caught the plane home. We were wearing shorts this morning and here it’s 15˚. We brought home some nice shells. I left our little applesauce container than I bring for the boys’ medication in the hotel fridge. Ahh well.

Jan 22
Alicja arrived yesterday with a new auburn shade of haircoloring. Hart was eating breakfast when he suddenly looked up and exclaimed, “YOU HAVE RED HAIR!”

We are back to watching The Lion King daily. Hart can do most of the dialogue and both boys sing the songs.

Jan 24
Yesterday we had the car radio turned on a classical music station. A slow, minor piece came on opening with some ominous-sounding notes. Hart, “What’s that noise? I think a dinosaur is coming.”

Feb 6
I have been sick and now it looks like Jeff is sick, too. Another ear infection. (Always on a weekend!)

The boys were pretending to be cats this evening. When I started humming “Everybody Wants to Be a Cat” (from The Aristocats), they protested, "No we are not Aristocats, we are Hobbes! "

Feb 12
Today was President’s Day so the boys spent the whole day at the JCC. Two nights ago Hart had a rough time. He was getting so frustrated with his building set that it was one tantrum after another, but he refused to relinquish the toy. Margie has instructed us to stay with him during times of stress, so I was trying to hold him and comfort him…not easy with him kicking, screaming and flailing around. Then our of nowhere, Jeff wapped me in the face with the corner of his blanket. Ouch. I am sure he was protecting Hart but then he had to have a timeout in his room. He was pretty cooperative about it and I explained that I was helping Hart and he was not to hit me with his blankie.

Incidently, Blankie is masculine. Jeff kept instructing me the other day to “hug him, hug him” meaning Blankie, not Jeff.

We continue to be delighted with the speaking progress. Both boys can indentify most animals. They like cats, butterflies, elephants especially and the whole cast of The Lion King and Dumbo. We still lose syllables so one needs to know that “mado” is tomato, “grilla” is gorilla, “bouder” is bulldozer. Still they are understandable to outsiders.

Joan gave us some new Hot Wheels trucks for “Gotcha Day.”

Feb 16
I have the day off since the JCC staff has an in-service. I took Hart for dinner to Boston Market and he was delightful. Then Howard saw us parking the car at the Gs after he and Jeff visited Grandma Mae, so we all descended on them. We talked about camcorders (I just bought one as a gift for Allison and Ted) and Ellen said they watch the tapes often, in fact just had watched the tape of Barry’s second birthday. That had been our first outing with the boys in March 1996, so I asked if we could watch it. It was just extraordinary, seeing how babyish-looking and little they were then. I should ask to make a copy of the tape.

Last night Hart counted to eight perfectly. I was astonished. We were reading one of our current favorites, The Little Black Truck and when the page came with the picture of the truck filled with pumpkins, Hart yelled, “Punkins” and proceeded to count them. Wow.

We are still in the Disney phase. We have been watching Pocohontas, Pinocchio (Nocchio), Aristocats (Ristocats), Dumbo (Elesant) and Snow White. Both boys still love the story of the Three Little Pigs and we have about three or four versions on tape and books. The boys continue to be big fans of Thomas the Tank Engine. We have a whole fleet of various sized Thomases and several videos and books.

Feb 17
Last night the boys were pretending to chase monsters, then dinosaurs. Hart came in to announce, “That’s a new dinosaur. It’s not scary. It’s little. It’s cute.”

Feb 27
What a crazy week. Howard’s Grandma Etta died on Monday after lapsing into a coma on Friday. He took Hart up to the hospital on Saturday and Jeff on Sunday, so they had a chance to see her. The funeral was Wednesday and we were over at the house Wednesday evening. The boys were well-behaved. Howard has been sick with the flu so that was an added complication.

This morning was Howard’s first day back at work after two days off. I heard a quiet voice saying, “Mommy, wake up. Alla is here.” Sure, enough, it was Hart. He tried to help me to a sitting position and then said, “Put on your glasses.” Usually the boys are so loud in the morning that there is no possibility of sleeping.

March 5
It seems that we are on an even keel for the moment. The boys spent all day at the J on Monday, since there was no school. Tomorrow is teacher conference day…again no school. We had a playdate with Nathan yesterday. He is such a good match for the boys. Both can play successfully with him. Although Nathan is younger, he is almost a head taller than Hart and Jeff. Gretchen marveled at the boys’ speech and indeed it is much improved in the past few weeks.

Tonight though Jeff was attaching tires to wheels (his new thing is taking the wheels and axles off of every toy car and truck) and he told me he was too busy to talk. Jeff says the initial /f/ sound now without trouble so his speech is much clearer.

March 7
Jeff has made some interesting observations lately. Yesterday in a record store he noticed a Selena album (the Mexican-American singer) and exclaimed, “Pocohontas!” Last night he told me that Hart has two bellybuttons. Go figure.

We had a busy day today. Hart went to therapy with Margie and Jeff and I went to Old Orchard to make a return. Then we took the boys for haircuts. They were pretty shaggy. Hart hates to have his hair combed so he had some major tangles. Then I took Hart to a birthday party at the Kohl Museum and Jeff and Howard ran some errands.

We have been watching The Sword in the Stone lately and Jeff likes the series about baby animals called See How They Grow.

Our conference with their teacher yesterday went very well. Jeff is really making great gains. Hart’s speech is improving but his raspy hoarse voice is still of concern.

March 10
Yesterday was a snow day. We woke up to a blizzard which downed many trees in the neighborhood and took out power and dumped about 10 inches of snow. So there was no school yesterday or today. Luckily the J was open. When I took the boys, the class was having music with Brigid and singing a song where the named the family members in Hebrew. When they got to “Saba” (grandfather), Hart said, “No, Simba” (the Lion King). Maybe we are watching too many Disney films. Today I brought home the Jungle Book which Hart calls “Bear Esepsies,” after the song “Bear Necessities.”

March 21
Hart’s been sick with stomach flu and now it looks like I have it. I had to pick him up from the J earlier on Thursday. However, he was pretty chipper for being sick.

March 29
Howard and I are back from our weekend in Boston at Ted’s wedding. Apparently everything went smoothly with sitters, Gin and Alla. The house was in good condition when we returned. The weather was as nice here as in Boston–in the high 70s, so Alla reports that they spent most of the weekend outdoors. The only unfortunate happenings in our absence were that the boys got up before 6 a.m. on both days and the TV set broke.

The wedding was spectacular. Our side of the family took up about one table with Aunt Mady, Aunt Ronnie and Uncle Roy, Mom, Margie and Chuck Kessel, Arnie and us. It was a gorgeous event and everything went smoothly. I got in a little sightseeing on Saturday and we hit the Eddie Bauer Outlet store. It was such a welcome getaway and what a relief that everything went fine without us.

April 2
Well, it took a while to adjust to our return. I took the boys to the pediatric opthamologist on Monday. Turns out Hart needs glasses. He is significantly far-sighted. I wonder if this might contribute to some of his behavior problems. People have assured me that even a very hyperactive child will take care of glasses once he realizes that he can see so much better with them. I hope that is true. I took Hart to For Eyes yesterday evening. They had a nice selection of children’s frames, but Hart could only tolerate trying two pairs on before he started throwing the glasses around, then throwing himself around. Everyone remarked how cute he looked in one set of frames, but without cable temples, we doubt he will keep them on.

For some reason, both boys are having trouble going down for bed. Jeff is now in the habit of turning the lights on in his room, turning off the air cleaner and generally, messing around at all hours. Hart makes numerous calls to us before settling down. If they wake during the night as they did on Monday, it is impossible to calm them down and get them back to sleep. They caroused from 1 a.m. till about 3:30 a.m. and Tuesday was a terrible day, needless to say.
Both guys have ear infections again. The ENT is stymied. I also have a call into the neurologist to ask about the sleeplessness, among other things.

April 4
Looks like we are in the midst of a huge jump in language skills. The boys are much more interactive and use speech much more between the two of them. I overheard Hart say to Jeff, “I am getting angry now.” Wonder where he picked that up!?! He also told me, “Don’t be scared, Mommy. Settle down.”

We have a new version of the three little pigs called Who’s There? where you open the door page to see who is at the door. That is a big hit. Hart still loves The Jungle Book but Jeff refers videos about cars and trucks and bulldozers. There is a live-action Pinocchio story which is great. Jeff and I like it.

Spoke to the neurologist and we are going to try Hart on an anti-depressant. He wants both guys to take it, but I would rather try one at a time. We did not have much luck before but I am willing to try something else. I want Hart to calm down enough to wear the glasses once we get them. He also recommends melatonin for sleep problems. I consulted with Margie–my gut instinct is that it is an anomaly, unless it persists.

April 6
Hart had his first day with glasses. It was not a success. Apparently, he only will wear them around me. I try to give as much positive reinforcement as I can. He was wearing them when he arrived at the J today but when the other kids noticed and remarked on his glasses, he tore them off. I called at noon and Rachel said he was refusing to wear them. He did put them on when I picked him up and wore them for a few hours. When he went to watch TV, he complained that he could not see. When I suggested he wear his glasses, he agreed and insisted he put them on himself. So that’s progress. I have promised both boys balloons tomorrow if Hart wears his glasses at the J. The irony is that he is looks absolutely adorable in them.

Last night was our first night with the melatonin and it worked, although Jeff needed a second dose. I would not mind if he was just awake playing in his bed, but he wakes up, turns all the lights on and starts rampaging through the house.

April 8
The melatonin is going fine, although we do need to up the dose a slight bit. I think 1 mg should be perfect.

Hart did well with his glasses today. Alla reports he wore them all day. She says he “acts different” with the glasses on. I think it must be easier for him to do close work with them. Yesterday he wore them on and off at the J and they were completely bent out of shape so we stopped at Lenscrafters to have them twisted back. Hart had a tantrum because he wanted to drink coffee. Rebecca was there and she probably thought I was incompetant because he kept insisting on coffee as if he drinks it regularly. Not!

Yesterday Jeff pointed out that his purple medicine and purple balloon “are the same color.”
Hart demonstrated that he can stand on one foot and he can hop once or twice now, too.

April 16
It doesn’t look like the melatonin is really working after all so Dr. Hammer wants us to try something else. Hart now wears his glasses all day without any trouble.

We hosted the second seder at our house. We were to be nine adults and four kiddies but the Ls got sick at the last minute. One hour before the turkey was done, I called Gretchen and David (an intermarried couple) who were delighted to bring Clara and Nathan and join us. So the three boys had a fine time and we were six adults. Sunday, however, the boys were still keyed up and very difficult. It was Easter so everything was closed, but the weather was nice so I tried to keep them outdoors.

The transition back to school has gone OK, although Hart got three L’s today. I got very angry at Jeff today since he seems to be losing clothes at the J in earnest. I suspect he takes off all his clothes when he goes to the bathroom and puts them who-knows-where. We couldn’t find the shirt he arrived in and he had no socks on. He has lost two pairs of jeans, a sweatshirt, several library books and today’s quota in a short period of time. If I don’t find the items the day they go missing, they never turn up. So the list just gets longer.

Apr 21, 1998
The difference in Hart’s behavior since he started taking Prozac is nothing short of amazing. He did have a bit of trouble sleeping initially, though. Both Ms. P remarked how much more flexible and cooperative he is. Grandpa told Howard today that both boys have been very good the last two days–so that’s like a blind test. Jeff started Prozac on Saturday so it will take a couple of weeks to start working. Also, Hart is very comfortable wearing his glasses all day now. He looks very chic.

Tonight the boys were running around with Shira. We thought Jeff had gone into our room, but when Hart went to look, there was no sign of Jeff. “Where’s Jeff?” I asked. A little voice answered, “I hiding in the closet.”

April 26
My 40th birthday party went very well. It was nice having everyone together in one room. Jeff is very into his stuffed sting ray and Baby Beaver these days. I brought home The Red Balloon, a classic film I remember from my childhood. The boys love it. The ending where the boy is carried away by a bunch of balloons made them laugh out loud. We have also been watching Balto, about a heroic husky/wolf. Our school meeting to talk about the fall is next week. The boys will go to school for a full day and Jeff’s language has improved so much that he probably will not be eligible for additional speech therapy.

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