Monday, August 30, 2010

Are you preparing him for hockey or roller derby?

For Cohen's second birthday, his Aunt Stephanie gave him a pair of roller skates. We like to take these out every now and then to see how Cohen's sense of balance has progressed. While the skates are put away most of the time (we've had a few accidents where Cohen put on one skate and hit the wall, etc.), the elbow and knee pads stay in the playroom. Cohen came to me the other day with the elbow pads and knee pads and asked me to put them on. After he was fully protected, I went to retrieve the skates from their super secret hiding spot.

So I ask the question "hockey or roller derby?" because of his outfit. Now that Cohen is totally potty trained, I'm trying to teach him to go to the bathroom with no help. This is difficult when he's wearing I just leave the shorts off on most days. Looks like I'm training him for roller derby...hum. I'm certain I will get a speech from the boys father later, but for now, we can all admire his chunky legs!!

Can you say "moo"?

Last week at our house (or as Molly refers to it as "Mrs. Emily's School") we learned all about cows!! It was very fun and exciting!

Of course we colored some pictures of cows...but as the weeks progress, I'm getting really bad about taking pictures of everything. Take my word for it, these cow pictures turned out really cute!!

After coloring pictures, and napping, our friends Stella and Cille came over to play. They brought Scarlett with them, and she was our story teller for the day. She told us stories about how the cows eat, and all about their stomachs. Then she told the kids all about how when Moses was up on the mountain getting the 10 commandments, God's people made a calf out of gold to worship. Scarlett did a great job telling the story and explaining why it's not good for us to worship anything other than our God.

Scarlett, Stella and Cille brought over chocolate cupcakes (made with milk from a cow).  Check out Scarlett's blog for more pictures!!

The cupcakes were a huge hit with all the kids...but especially Cohen. That boy loves to eat!!

Next...we moved right into our construction paper/painting craft. We made the cow's face from construction paper...I showed the kids where the eyes, mouth and ears would typically go on a cow, they chose where they wanted them to go. All our cows have a mouth, eyes, and ears, but they are not all in the same place...I love to see how creative a kid can be.

As you can see, I put the example in the center of the table, thinking the kids would follow it...I will know better next time and not even bother wasting my time with an example. These kids were so creative they don't need my boring examples.

Also...if you take a close look, you can see the Cille is just thrilled to be joining us for this craft.

Here is an adorable picture of Stella showing us her ears.

Here's Molly showing off her cow's head.

The next step was painting the cow's body. These kids LOVE the paint. Molly and Cohen have asked for it several times since this day. It was so much fun, I know we are going to have to do it again.

The finished product....Stella's on the left, Cohen's in the center, and Molly's on the right...very cute!!

After painting the cow, we moved right along to milking a cow. Thanks to Scarlett's great idea, we used a rubber glove and a bucket to give the kids an idea of what it would be like to really milk a cow.

And after you milk a cow, you get very thirsty, so we all enjoyed a nice glass of cold chocolate milk. Yum!

Another successful day at Mrs. Emily's School. Can't wait to do it all again!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

How well do you obey?

Ah yes, more of the Raney's crafty adventures.

Last week we learned all about Robots. We rented the movie Wall-E from the library (which was probably due back yesterday…great, just when you are trying to save some cash by going to the library instead of the video rental store). Anyway, Wall-E started our robot adventure. I did my best to teach the kids how to do the robot (you know, swing your arms around as if you are a robot). We created a very interesting little dance. I don't think any of us actually got it, but we had fun trying. (Ok...we did not play the Mr. Roboto song, because I don't understand the lyrics, and I'm not going to play some ugly song in front of the instead we danced to our Wee Sing CD).

Like all other craft days, our day included a Bible story. This week we learned about Jonah and the Whale and why it is important to obey God. We learned that robots have to do whatever we tell them, but God gave us the freedom to make our own choices. Sometimes we don't do what God wants us to do, and that's not good. So the moral of the Jonah story is that we should always obey God.

Cohen's good friend, Molly, came to play for a couple of days, so she got to join in our crafting fun.

Our crafts this week included a robot coloring page…

And of course, construction paper….

And a really neat little foil robot…

And later the kids came up with a really cute game called "Hide Under the Table." They sat under the table for such a long time, just laughing at each other. It was so cute!!

Friday, August 20, 2010

How do you act for the dentist?

Earlier today Cohen had his very first dentist appointment. I must say, I was super nervous about this dentist appointment, because I had heard all the horror stories about how the kids just scream. I've been to doctor visits where Cohen did nothing but scream, and they are no fun. I know I can handle the screaming, because let's be honest, it's more important at this moment for him to be healthy than super happy. So I had prepared myself for the worse. I brought snacks, his favorite toys, books and blanket. Little did I know...I wouldn't need any of them!

We went to see Dr. Jason Parker. He has a wonderful office, with big screen TVs and lots of toys. Cohen was super excited when we got there. These folks know how to treat a kid.

After we played in the waiting room for a few minutes, we were called to the back by Ms. Tina. Cohen and Ms. Tina got along so well!! She pulled out every instrument (um, I mean toy) she was going to use to clean Cohen's teeth. He got to hold each one and he even used the gauze that was going to be used to clean his face to wipe down the table. Such a great kid.

Ms. Tina and I discussed whether I should just hold him in my lap, or try laying him down on the table. I chose table. If he squirmed, kicked, or hit, it would be easier for me to hold him down on the table than in my lap. Now I did not mention this before, but they have small flat screen TVs on the ceiling playing some of Cohen's favorite cartoons.

He was a little hesitant when I first laid him down, and I had to kind of hold him there, but Ms. Tina turned on the light to look at his teeth, and he was all smiles. She took out the mirror to look at his teeth and he was loving it. Next came the toothpaste (which was strawberry flavored). He was amazing! Such a brave kid! He kept saying "yum" and rubbing his tummy. She took a small break to squirt some water in his mouth, and while she was getting the little water squirter, he was reaching around begging for "more, more, more" strawberry toothpaste. Then he couldn't get enough of the water. He just kept saying "wa-wa" over and over again. Then it was a fight to get him to let us take the stuff out of his mouth. Ms. Tina brushed all his teeth, washed out his mouth, used the mirror to look around, flossed, and then put some vitamin something (that tasted like birthday cake) on his teeth. He didn't move an inch. I didn't even really have to hold him down. He wanted to hold my hand through most of it, but that's it.

I even broke away for a second to snap a quick picture. Look at my brave little man!!

Dr. Parker and his team did such a great job taking care of my little man. The doctor says he has great teeth with no cavities and great spacing (does that mean we won't have to get braces later??). I'm so proud of my little guy.

As we were walking out, he was still begging for the strawberry toothpaste. Can't wait to go back again!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Can we just "bee" friends?

So the themes continue.

I'm certain you were all convinced that my lack of desire to teach would eventually lead to the end of the Raney craft and storytime, but you are wrong. We didn't stop with the fish or the watermelons. Nope, we moved right along to BEES!

Last week we learned so much about how bees behave and what makes a bee buzz. We also had some tasty honey cereal for a snack one day. I tried to work in a field trip, but the weather would not cooperate, so instead of going to the local plant nursery to see the flowers a bee might pollenate, we went to my front yard, where there was one flower that was near the end of it's short beautiful life. Sort of the same idea, right? I'm trying here!

Our Bible story for last week was the beatitudes, which can be found in Matthew 5. It was a great story and I think the kids love the way the verses kind of flow "blessed are the...for they shall..." It was like poetry to them.

Now on to what you are really here to see, the pictures. I regret to say that I was busy doing crafts and such with the kids, that I did not get many pictures from this week's lesson. Check out Stella and Cille's parents blog to see some really cute pictures of the kids.

We were thrilled to have Molly come and play with us one day. She's an expert at coloring, I'm hoping Cohen can learn a thing or two from her.

Our friends Stella and Cille came by for a visit and to take part in a fun craft that involved glue, markers, and paint. If only we had some glitter to toss in there, we would have a real preschool craft, right?

We made bees from construction paper (you will notice that just about every Raney craft contains some construction paper).

I just let the kids glue the stripes wherever they wanted. I love to see how a kid thinks things should go. If you look close at this picure, Stella put two of the antenna on the bee's face to make a mouth. So creative! Cohen put the antenna on top of another black line, so that you can't see them at all. Molly put them on the face to look like eyes. Stella did manage to get some extra antenna to put on the top of the bee's head, exactly where they belong.


Also, take a close look at Molly's hands in the picture above...that's red paint! Prior to the glue, we used the kids hand prints to make the bee's wings. I have no pictures of them actually doing this but I do have a picture of the finished product.

Playtime at the Raney's always includes some dancing. I have these Wee Sing CDs and I play them all the time for Cohen. He can't get enough. Looks like Molly and Stella are loving them too!

Ok. So I told you there were not many pictures, and I totally did not even get a picture of Cille. She was dressed for the occasion in the cutest little bumble bee dress. Please check out her blog to see how cute she was looking.

Monday, August 16, 2010

What do the boys do when mommy is away?

A week ago, I spent the day in Baton Rouge, LA with some of my fellow church members and AWANA leaders at a training course. It was on a Saturday, and it took almost the entire day. That means Cohen and Jace had the day to themselves, no girls (or no mommy!).

Now, I’d like to start this by saying I was not in attendance on this outing, so I have no funny stories or explanations for the photos below. I was hoping that Jace might do a blog on this one, but it’s been a year since he wrote a blog, so I’m not going to hold out for Jace’s blog post.

Looks like the day started with waffles and apple sauce. Can you say "cheese"?

Then to get the car washed. Looks like fun so far.

The next stop was a local running shoe store or bike shop. I can't remember. Maybe Jace will read this later and comment to tell us where this picture was actually taken, and what is the name of that adorable puppy.

The next stop...The Children's Museum!

It's sad, but he probably won't ever really be able to appreciate the real meaning behind this little train.

On to the hula-hoop.

Now, I'm not sure if lunch was before or after the Children's Museum, but here's a really cute shot from lunch. Did you know that penne pasta will fit on a toddler's finger?

Doesn't that look yummy?! I believe the name of the place where they went to eat was called Slice. Looks very tasty!

I hate that I missed all the fun, but I guess the boys deserve a "Guy's Day Out" every once in a while.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What was your second trip to Russia like? (aka: Going to get Cohen - part 3)

Ok. I know it's been a while! But here's another installment of the stories from our trip to Russia.

I'm posting this one today in honor of the 6 month anniversary of the day we got Cohen. Can you believe it's been 6 months? It seems like only yesterday we were in Russia, but then again, it feels like Cohen has been a part of our family for forever.

I wanted to share a couple of pictures....

Cohen on 2/11/2010 in Vladivostok, Russia...

Here is a picture of Cohen taken in July 2010....

He's changed so much in just a few months! I can't wait to see what he will do next!


New Orleans 2/10/2010 2:23pm
Vladivostok 2/11/2010 6:23am

Today is the big day! I can't believe it's finally here. I couldn't sleep at all last night. I feel like a kid that is about to go to Disney for the first time. This is just so exciting. But I'm also very nervous too! Who knows what type of questions the judge will ask us today. I'm saying my prayers now that everything goes well and we get to go get our little boy today.


New Orleans 2/10/2010 12:21am
Vladivostok 2/11/2010 4:21pm

Today at 10:00am (or about 6:00pm New Orleans Time on 2/10/2010), Jace and I became parents! They approved our petition to adopt Bogdan.

Our last picture as a family of just two.

A lot changed today for all three of us. We all got new names. I'm reminded of the stories in the Bible where God changed the names of people to make them represent something (Abram to Abraham, Saria to Sarah, Saul to Paul). I feel like God has done the same for all three of us.

From this day on, Jace and I will be known as "Dad" and "Mom" to the most wonderful little boy on the planet. And that little boy, his new name is Cohen Bogdan Raney.

Court was interesting. They started by asking easy questions, like "what is your full name." Don't worry, we got that one right. Then they asked Jace questions about why we wanted to adopt, why we chose Russia, etc. Then they asked him about our adoption education, and how many hours we had taken. Jace proceeded to tell them about the 10 hours of online classes we took and explained that our social worker also sat with us a couple of times to go over adoption related issues. He talked about the attachment process and how the baby would take to his new life. He did great! Jace handles himself really well under pressure and he's an excellent speaker. I knew he would do great.

Then they asked Jace if Bogdan remembered us (um…do you remember how much he screamed at us the last few days?). Jace was honest and he told the judge that Bogdan did not remember us, but he did remember the cookies we brought for him. When Jace made the comment about the cookies, the prosecutor laughed out loud. Then they asked Jace about Bogdan's likes and dislikes. Jace was great! He named off every toy we played with and explained why Bogdan liked that toy.

Then it was my turn. Prior to our court date, we were told that Jace would get most of the difficult questions and I was good with that. Well they were wrong! The prosecutor grilled me! They asked me where we would register with the consulate and I totally didn't know the answer. I was frozen. I just knew that if I answered it wrong that they would throw me out, so I told the lady that my adoption agency handled all the paperwork. It was interesting.

After I totally messed up the very first question, the prosecutor continued on…she asked me about child abuse and how I felt about that. She went on to give detailed numbers on the adopted Russian children that were abused by their mothers. I was almost in tears. How could someone hurt a child like that? Why bother going through all this trouble to get a child, and then hurt him? I looked at the judge and I said "I wish that no harm ever come to this child." And that's the truth. I don't want anyone or anything to ever hurt my child.

As if that line of questioning wasn't bad enough, she went on to ask about my patience and what experience I had with children. They had asked earlier about the primary care of the child and I explained that I hoped to stay home with him. I guess she thought I was going to lose it one day. She asked what I would do if I ever got frustrated and couldn't handle the situation. What do you say? How do I know what I'm going to do when I've never had a child of my own…I've never stayed home for long periods of time a toddler. I just told her that if it ever got to a point that I couldn't' handle the situation, I would seek help, either from other moms or from my agency or the pediatrician. She seemed ok with my response. The only thing I could think was "Emily, don't you cry in court. Emily, don't you cry in court." I didn't want them to see me as weak.

They also asked me about our religion. See now this is a line of questioning that I would have asked the father…but noooo, they asked me. They asked what religion we were, I said "Christian." Then they wanted to know what type of church we attended. I said "Baptist." Then they asked what religion I would raise my child to be. I explained that he would attend church with us as a family, but in the end it is his decision. I can't force him to believe something. (But my prayer is and will always be that Cohen has a personal relationship with Christ, no matter what church he's attending).

In the end, they approved our adoption.

After we left the court building, we went to the market to get cakes for the social worker and the care takers at the hospital where Cohen was staying. It felt like an eternity. I had just been told that I could take our son home with us, and now I have to run all over town buying cakes!?

When we got to the orphanage, I couldn't wait to hold my son! It was the best feeling ever. I remember fumbling around trying to get the camera so that we could get a picture of the hand-off. I wanted to document every moment, because I know he won't remember.

The official hand-off picture (of course he's screaming!)

They had just finished feeding the children, so we had to wait 30 minutes before we could ride in the car (I know it seems like a strange thing to do, but remember, these kids have never been in a car, so let's not upset their fragile system, please). He cried the entire time we dressed him. We waved goodbye to the care takers, put on Cohen's snow suit, and headed back to the hotel, with our son!

The car ride back to the hotel was peaceful. We were with the other American couple (who had just picked up their daughter). Both kids did great in the car. Cohen sat on Jace's lap and was finally quiet!

Once we stepped foot in our hotel room, took off the snow suit and sat Cohen on the floor with all the toys we brought, he was a totally different kid. Jace and I kept asking if this is the same kid from earlier that day. He started laughing and making funny faces right away. We had not ever seen this side of him. He was also making grunts and sounds that he never made in our presence before. He was running everywhere!

We are also in the process of teaching Cohen to drink from a sippy cup. I know, seems crazy to go backwards like this (he was drinking from a cup at the orphanage), but a real cup makes such a mess, and he can't do it on his own. I'm all about independence! He's figured out how to use the cup with a straw, but the others are not going as well.

Jace fed him tonight. He did so good! Cohen held his own spoon and fed himself most of it. We are feeding him chunky baby food so we don't mess up his little tummy right now. I'd really rather be home before we need to visit a doctor.

After eating, he welcomed us to parenthood with a messy diaper (and shirt and pants for that matter). It was so bad, we had to give him a bath. I was concerned about bath time, because they say these kids aren't used to bath time being fun time. It's more like a chore for the workers, so they get it done as fast as they can. Our first bath experience with Cohen was not much fun. He didn't scream, but he did cry. Maybe tomorrow he will do better.