Monday, May 9, 2011

How have we been? And I need your advice!

We are good. We have bad moments, but never bad days. Regular stuff. Three year old stuff. I have come across several three year olds in my illustrious career with children (from preschool teacher to children's ministry worker and a few things in between) and from what I can tell, my kid is pretty much on track.
I knew I would be second guessing myself with the way I parent, but luckily I have a great network of moms that I can talk to. From what I can tell I am normal (relatively speaking) and Charlie is doing just fine.
Would I like him to be able to sit through the entire church service? Of course.
Would I like him to stop peeing in the car seat? Definitely.
Could I live without having all of my shirts stretched out of shape because he thinks I am an awesome human-shaped jungle gym? Darn Tootin.
Would I like for him to stop putting random things in the toilet? Yes.
But overall, I feel really blessed to have such a joyful, active, healthy little guy in my life. We are celebrating the small victories-
He is sleeping through the night 90% of the time now. Turns out we weren't keeping his room dark enough for his liking. Here we were putting brighter lamps in, leaving hall lights on and he just wanted a cave-like room.
He still likes 98% of the food we put in front of him. The only thing he isn't crazy about is carrots and a few kinds of fruit. Other than that- the kid still puts a hurtin' on some Chinese and Thai food! Go figure. Of course his favorites are the kid usual- french fries, hot dogs, chicken nuggets and pizza.
Potty training- This week has been our first full fledged "in underwear all day" all the time. I'm sure we drive him crazy with the "do you need to go te-te?" a hundred times a day. He's doing really well with it though. Before he goes, the negotiations start. How many M&M's for #1s and #2s. This may be TMI for you, but yesterday he tried to convince me that because the "business" was exceptionally, shall we say "large" that he should get three M&Ms. Hilarious.
I need your advice on this one: Speech. We've been home for 2 1/2 months. His English I think is going pretty well. I don't know if he's completely on track or how much I should worry. Our friend is the speech therapist for our district and she said he is doing great. She said if he's 7 and still having some of these issues, then we should be concerned. It's just baffling to me what he can say and what he can't. Like today we were watching Sports Center and he proclaims "Basketball" as clear as a bell. But you ask him what a cow says and he looks at you like you have three heads. (Then on the 80th time we ask, he'll squeak out a "oooooo" leaving off the "M")
Please comment: AP's was your child diagnosed with a speech delay in their first language? And if so at what point did you see a big difference in their second language and/or decide to seek speech therapy? If you went ahead with speech therapy, did you see a big difference immediately? If your child is shy around new people (like Charlie is to a point, unless he REALLY likes you....) was the therapy beneficial? I ask that because I can't see Charlie opening up and speaking to someone he's not crazy about at this point.
I guess I don't really know what I am asking, I just need your advice on this topic. I know at this point he understands practically everything we say to him, it's incredible! But I just don't know how much he should be saying.
Right now our strategy has been constant talking and conversation, reading an obscene amount of books and using flash cards.
Words he says on a regular basis:
Hello (both as a greeting and his word for the telephone)
Yes, Yup, Yeah
No, Uh-uh
Oh No!
1, 2, 3 (will say the rest up to 10 if he repeats after you....)
"Too" as in if someone has the same thing
Just about every part of his body (head, hair, eyes, mouth, teeth, elbows, knees)
He calls dogs "ruff-ruffs" and cats "nene" because his aunt nene has a cat!
Alex & Annie (our dogs)
Rory ("Orrie" my sisters dog)
Several friends names- Joe-Joe, Dale, Dave, Joyce, Nene, Jana, Emma, Sam, Seth, Blair, etc.
Stuck (Used for multiple purposes, as in I'm stuck or I'm frustrated)
Movers (his favorite show on TV)
Mail (sometimes says "ail")
Shoes (Still calls them their Russian name sometimes too- Ooboofs)
Up (Ketchup)
Colors- Blue, Green, Red (ed) Yellow
Wet (et)
Cheese! (for the food and the camera)
Florida (lorida- where his Babas and Dadas live)
Will say "please" and "thank you" but only if there is chocolate involved.
Luv oooh. (I love you)
And his Russian words that he holds onto-Ca-ca, Ribah (fish) Mama, Papa, Baba, Dada, and "Stas"
I'm sure there are a few more, but that's all I can think of right now. Now that I type them, it seems like a lot! If I need to just chill, please tell me that too!


  1. please chill. Charlie is doing GREAT and you are AWESOME!

  2. As a Mom and AP I would say "chill"....but the teacher in me says why not have him evaluated, it can't hurt.
    You are doing all the right things and he seems to have learned a lot since coming home. :) More than likely he wouldn't qualify for anything.
    I had both of mine evaluated when we got home. My oldest, who was 9 months when we brought him home, did great and didn't receive any services. My youngest, who was 2 1/2 when we brought her home, needed services and in Kindergarten still receives speech, OT, APE and sp ed for developmental delays.
    Hope that helps!

  3. That is an awesome word list, go Charlie. M&M haggling, also impressive!

    Waiting until 7 seems a bit long. I was a kindergarten teacher for a number of years and if interventions are needed, the sooner the better is usually the best.

    It can't hurt to get him assessed. Some states even have these services for free for young children. Our two year old neighbor receives speech services right in his house.

    We have our second visit to the IA doctor today and I'm going to ask him if I should look into services for Oliver.

  4. I'm in the chill camp. From what my grandma describes of trying to learn English in first grade, after going in knowing two words, he's doing great.

    No, he's not going to know as many English words as an American-born child of the same age. But it seems like he's learning so many new things. Even from what you described when y'all were in the hotel, still in Russia, it seems like he's a quick learner.

    Two and a half months is such a short time to be exposed to a new language. Right now, in my humble opinion, it's all about him having fun and getting used to his new family and country. If, later on, he shows difficulty, I personally would deal with it later rather than throwing assessment and services into the mix this soon in his new home.

    But hey, I'm still in the "trying to pick an agency" stage here, and even that is stalled while we try to close on a house -- so what do I know? I just think your son is an amazing miracle, and his progress gives me hope for our future children. :)

  5. Wow, sounds like he is doing great!! It is funny what they can say and not say. Our little guy can somehow say disgusting and ridiculous almost clear as a bell, thanks to his older brother, but then has trouble saying table. Sounds like he is doing very well with language and you are doing a good job teaching him. You can always have him evaluated and then take it from there. We were told our little guy had a language delay in Russia so we did that after he'd been home a month, which seems extreme, but the speech therapist has been so helpful giving me things to work with him at home. If your speech therapist friend says he's doing well, I would just wait.

  6. Our son came home from Moscow Region last March at the age of 11 months. He is now 2 and has a decent speech delay, but we are seeing improvement. He receives speech therapy through Help me Grow and they're happy with his progress even though he is technically still delayed. I have spent much time worrying about this as you have, but I think the biggest thing is that you continue to see improvement. I would encourage him to use words as often as possible, and in the right context. Nickolas has great receptive speech, but he tends to want to repeat things without really knowing what he's saying so that's our biggest challenge right now. If his receptive speech is good, and he's trying to use the right words I would bet his is fine. But, hey we're mom's...worrying is what we do :)

  7. I am the mother of a 4 year old bilingual child (Russian - English). My husband is Russian and I am an American. For all practical purposes, I would say her my daughter's 1st language is Russian. We live in Moscow for 3 years. I was the only person who spoke English to her. Everyone else around her spoke Russian.
    We moved back to the States in August. My daughter now attends an English PK-4 program at our church on MWF and a Russian program on TTH.

    Her English has been slow to develop. She will often get tongue-tied when trying to find the right words to say something or just give me a blank look. In addition, her English is peppered with Russian. ( Yet, her Russian is never peppered with English.)

    She was 4 when we moved here and, still 2 months later, her English vocab was by far less than Charlie's vocab. I would just give up and answer her sometimes in Russian.

    This is true of all my friends who have bilingual kids. They say it usually sorts it self out between ages 4 -5 from what I have been told.

    You can tell he is trying and seems to understand as is vocab is amazing for only hearing English for 2.5 months. My duaghter's vocab and speech has taken almost 9 months to achieve an age appropriate level.

    The person above is right in saying you need to just now he is making progress and is he understandable. If yes, I would give him 3 -4 more months before evaluation. Perhaps set a deadline at the end of summer and take a check point. This will give them more data to go on to make the right evaluation / diagnosis.

    Have you thought about trying to keep him bilingual? At this age, it would not take a lot of work for him and could be done.

  8. Sounds like he is doing awesome! I get what you mean about him being shy around people. Grace takes FOREVER to warm up to people. She has been going to OT for months and it took so long for her to let the therapist touch her. It's stressful on the parent bc your child is uncomfortable and you do worry it isn't worry the stress. But Grace did get a lot out of it and it taught me what to do at home. If you just get him evaluated, they will give you tips right then and there on what to do to help on a daily basis. Actually, your friend could do that for you :) He really is doing super tough!

  9. As a mother of four language family, I can only say...relax :)

    Currently your baby is bi-language. He is still comprehending all the word and figuring out what they mean.Avoid having much worries and pressure to the language ability. My advice as a mother from four-language family, talk, talk and repeat what he says correctly in cases when he speaks it wrongly.

    I would start to worry in about year to year and half if he is far behind his age group.

    Good luck :)

    Regards from one that has been following your journey for quite a while now :)