Father & Son 9/11 Leeks & Rice Chicken Soup Cheesequake Wild Flowers
Thursday, September 4, 2014

First Day of School

First day of school.Today was a big day. Arosha has started school. A day that started a new phase of his life. We often talk with him about steps a person takes in his life and school is one huge step. He was aware of it for some time now and when the day was nearing he was full of anticipation.

We, as parents, however (or at least I) was anticipating it with quite a bit of anxiety and only time will fully relief me of it. How will he met all the challenges of dealing with all kinds of situations on his own without us being around?

Constructing something.How will he conquer the language barrier? His Russian is very rich at this point, but his English is very much non-existent. Luckily this is far from a unique problem in our area and Pre-K is the right place to deal with it. To our luck the TA in our class speaks Russian.

How will he deal with aggressive kids? He is a very peaceful kid with a keen sense of right or wrong and he typically prefers to avoid confrontation. He does socialize with a lot of kids on the playground and Alena lets him deal with majority of confrontational situations on his own. Hopefully that gives him some foundation and hopefully if he cannot deal with something the teachers will help.

School gear.How will he be able to handle being on his own for 6 hours every day (our school does full day Pre-K), considering that he has never been without his close family nearby for any periods of time? Luckily he knows a couple of kids in his class from the playground and his good friend Rachel is in his class as well — although she will start her school next Tuesday. Hopefully the fact that he is not there “alone” will be helpful to him also.

Today we met his teacher — Ms. Lupion. She is a nice Jewish lady who has been teaching Pre-K for the last 28 years. Alena has heard a lot about her and every parent who had a child in her class gives her endless praises. She is a strict, but a fair teacher. We really know numerous mothers who were very happy with her. We are very happy with the fact that out of three Pre-K classes in our school Arosha ended up in hers.

School lunch. And both teacher and a TA.First day went all right. I don’t know how it will go from now on, but I wish our little boy all the very best in this important journey that he has started today. And I’m sure that he will be able to meet all the challenges before him as all the kids (like ourselves) before him.
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Monday, September 1, 2014

Anna — 11 Months

In Marine Park.Our little Anechka is 11 months old today! She is such a delightful baby — very serious, but at the same time easily amused. She is so curious about the world around her. Anna loves picking up everything from the ground — be it twigs, stones, candy wrappers or empty water bottles and other garbage.

Anechka adores dogs. Every time she sees one, she stops whatever she is doing, and rashes towards it. She then squeals in excitement, and tries to touch a dog, although she is kind of being cautious at the same time and not really touches it. Anюta also makes high pitched “aaa-aaa” sound when she sees a dog — very similar to what Arosha did at her age. And of course the smaller the dog, the more she likes it. Big ones, even though still very interesting, are more scary. Which makes perfect sense, you know.

In Marine Park.Anechka still is very weary about strangers. She even refuses ice-cream and toys from the children on the playground which are not familiar to her. She does not like when adults other than family pick her up or touch her. I think it’s not so bad, especially for a girl. Arosha was different — more open, less cautious. He is still a conversation starter with anyone who can understand him (who speaks Russian that is).

Anechka’s vocabulary still consists of two words — mama and “dai” (give). I wonder if she’ll be an early talker like her brother was.

She can play by herself for a pretty long periods of time. Enough time for me to do things around the house oftentimes, like start cooking something, vacuum, etc. When she gets bored by herself, she likes to follow Arosha and tries to play with him. Sometimes he does, sometimes he does not. You should hear how those two laugh and/or squeal together sometimes. Their favorite place to do this is the elevator. OH MY GOD! I have to cover my ears sometimes because of how loud they get.

Ready to go.On playground people often comment on how independent she is.

Arosha is starting pre-K next week. I can’t believe it! He is such a big boy already. I hope it will go well. I am so curious to see how he’ll handle being away from me for such long periods of time. I am so curious to see how long it will take him to start speaking English. I hope he’ll get a good teacher and nice classmates.

I think we’re finally done celebrating his birthday. He was lucky this year and got 3 cakes! The first one was on his actual birthday, the 8th. Just the three of us (Anюta was asleep) celebrated. It was funny when during the birthday song he said — “enough already” (he really wanted to blow out the candles). I don’t think he realized that it was a little rude, so we just laughed and finished singing.

There is no fence we miss.The second celebration was with some of his and our friends — Alisa and her parents, Emma and her parents and Misha. Danya’s parents were away on vacation. I did not cook — just made two salads, and the rest we ordered from the Uzbek restaurant “1001 Nights”. This was definitely Arosha’s favorite party. Every time he has kids over, especially Alisa, he has a blast. He proclaimed on numerous occasions that he’ll marry her when he grows up. Alisa said that she does not mind. Those kids are too funny! By the way, when we ask Arosha why he wants to get married, he tells us that he needs a good wife to have children with.

Arosha's guests.Arosha got LEGO sets, school game and money for ice-cream (I say, we got all summer worth of ice-cream covered by the generous Misha) as gifts. Danya helped him to assemble some of the lego things already. I think you can never have too much of those.

Anюta seemed to enjoy all the birthday activities too! She ate well together with everybody and then followed children around and played with balloons and new toys (Ignat and Vika bought her a present too).

Playing.I was pretty tired by the end — Anюta got up really early that day and I did not have a chance to get any rest during the day. I even had to do laundry after putting Anюta down for the night (I wash cloth diapers every other day). Still, I was very glad how the party turned out. I honestly think that at this age celebrating at home with 1-2 friends is much more enjoyable for children than going to childrens’ gyms or a restaurant with a large group of kids for 2-3 hours.

And the last party to celebrate Arosha’s birthday was with his grandparents and aunt Lina and uncle Lenya. We also invited Misha again — he lives just a few minutes away from us and we thought that it’ll be more fun for everyone if he comes. I cooked wine-brased beef and garlic potatoes and a few salads. Danya said that he liked the food more than shish-kebabs from the restaurant that we had a week before.

Our guests.I am not sure how much fun Arosha had without children, but I liked his party still. And the cake, which we don’t have a picture of, was the best from all three. It had lots of berries and a very light cream inside the thin crust.

I am not sure how we’ll be celebrating Anюta’s birthday in a month, but I hope that we’ll contain it to just one party.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Germany Austria Vacation

MapIn a great turn of events my parents have agreed to take over our kids for a week in late November allowing Alena and I to take another what we hope to be a great vacation for our eighth wedding anniversary.

We had an approximate plan in our head for a while now, but this week we actually did a good amount of preliminary research and have finalized our core itinerary. After having done that we have booked the plane tickets and our hotels.

We have a pretty good idea of what we want to see at each destination and how we are going to get around. Trains will be the main form of transportation. However we are planning to rent a car for one day and have a side trip as we did in Italy.

It seems that train pass doesn’t make sense for us yet again, as we’ll only be taking the train two times. I looked at approximate pricing of train tickets on the routes that we have to take to make our plan more solid. Same with the car rental.

Now in the coming month we’ll just do a lot of reading to make sure we don’t miss something interesting as well as what food we should try beside the obvious bratwursts and beer. Basically we’re going to start building on our initial plan. One thing that we know we want to try avoid is anything related to World War II. But I think that will be in our minds anyhow throughout this trip.

The short summary of the plan is as follows. We leave on late night of Friday, November 21st. We fly1 to Berlin with a change over in Frankfurt on our way and land on November 22nd. We couldn’t find a decent direct flight. However I finally do get to fly Lufthansa and Boeing 747! We’ll be coming back on Monday, December 1st on a direct flight from Vienna with Austrian Airlines.

We were thinking of which cities to visit and ended up decided not to spread ourselves to thin and limit it to only 3 cities — Berlin, Munich and Vienna. As before we’re going to stay in Hilton hotels. At this point we booked hotels for a combination of points and euros, but by the time November rolls around we plan to have all of them upgraded to points exclusively.

By taking advantage of our Hilton Diamond VIP benefits we expect to get rooms upgraded, access to executive lounges, free breakfast and Internet access.

Our trip will start in Berlin. We’ll spend 3 nights2 in the city. Judging by our Italian vacation the first day we’ll feel very much like zombies, so we’ll just grab some dinner and go to sleep.

Our hotel is located right in the center of the city. Guides suggest that people visit Gendarmenmarkt square and it’s right across the street from us. Brandenburg Gate is also within a walking distance. We also want to visit Fernsehturm — a TV tower built during soviet times. Also we will possibly visit Tiergarten — Berlin’s Central Park. And we will try to climb to the top of Reichstag.

On Tuesday of November 25th we take a train to Munich. We’ll spend 3 nights3 there. In Munich we plan start start with Marienplatz (the main square), climb to the top of the tower at Rathaus (city hall), visit Frauenkirche (Munich’s largest church). We will also try to visit the English Garden and have some beer at the world’s most famous beer hall — Hofbräuhaus am Platzl.

One of our Munich days we’ll dedicate to renting a car and driving south to visit Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles.

On Friday, November 28th, we will depart to the final stop of our trip — Vienna, Austria. We’ll also spend 3 nights4 here as in the other cities. Our hotel is located right in the city center, so we’ll be mostly walking around without having to use any transportation. We’ll try to visit Hofburg Imperial Palace, 12th century St. Stephen’s Cathedral and we’ll try to climb to the top of one of its towers.

We still need to do a lot of reading about other places that we want to visit in these 3 cities and build out a more detailed plan of getting around the cities and from city to city. We made the reservations in the beginning of April, but still have not made a lot of progress as far as t he exact plan goes. Hopefully it will be another great trip filled with memories.

  1. Round trip tickets came out to $2,155 for the both of us. Very expensive this time around. But we do get to fly Lufthansa and Austrian. []
  2. Hilton Berlin — 60,000 points per night. Expensive! []
  3. Hilton Munich City — 60,000 points and €195 for all 3 nights. []
  4. Hilton Vienna — 48,000 points and €149 for all 3 nights. []

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Arosha — 4 Years

Birthday balloons and a lightsaber.Нашему фантазёру, баловнику, лазателю по заборам и деревьям, любителю девочек и компьютерных игр, мелодраматическому хныкателю, высокому блондину, красавчику и просто любимому сыну уже 4! С Днём Рождения, Арошенька! Расти умницей, не болей, будь счастлив! Мы тебя очень-очень-очень любим!

Ароша очень ждал свой День Рождения. Последние недели две он чётко знал сколько именно дней осталось до его праздника. Еще он хорошо запомнил, что родился он в августе, хотя конкретную дату обычно забывает.

Morning "almost" surprise.Наши дни очень похожи друг на друга. Мы много гуляем на улице — хорошо, когда есть кто-то из его подружек — каждый день читаем книги, играем в “пьяницу” (причём Ароша жутким образом мухлюет, но я ему это позволяю) детскими картами, спим, едим, играем на iPad. Ароша очень любит смотреть как Даня играет в Star Wars, а я в Hearthstone. Мы, конечно, очень ограничиваем его время у экрана, но практически каждый день он минут 30 тратит на это занятие. Причём, что интересно, в моей карточной игре он хорошо знает что какая карта делает, знает все классы игроков и тому подобное. Когда он придумывает сам какие-то игры, то часто интегрирует какие-то элементы из обоих этих компьютерных игр в свои фантазии. Ну, например, что он маг и у него есть лайтсэйбер и что он нападает на “плохих” и их побеждает. Вобщем, типичные мальчишечьи “войнушки”, только в реалиях его жизни.

Birthday ice-cream cake.Всвязи с такой любовью к Star Wars, мы купили Ароше в подарок лайтсэйбер. Сабля очень понравилась, и Ароша вот уже несколько дней с ней всё время дома играет. Еще мы купили ему новый двухколёсный самокат на замену старому трёхколёсномы. Выбор пал на Razor Cruiser. Пока у него не очень получается на нём кататься, но это дело времени.

Battle.Еще мы записали Арошу в школу, которая находится напротив нашего дома. Сперва его туда не взяли, а взяли в другую, на Манхэттен Бич, но на прошлой неделе из нашей школы позвонили и сообщили, что всвязи с большим количеством желающих, был создан еще один клас pre-K, и если мы хотим, Ароша туда попадёт. Мы подумали и решили, что несмотря на то, что школа на Манхэттен Бич лучше, преимущества нашей всё же перевешивают. Во-первых, сюда намного удобнее добираться — максимум 5 минут пешком. До другой школы пешком занимает 40-50 минут в каждую сторону, а машину я не вожу. Дедушка согласился отвозить Арошу, но для этого ему надо каждый день в течение года планировать вокруг Арошиных занятий. Ну, и последнее — в нашей школе занятия с 8 до 14:30, а в другой – с 11:45 до 14:15. Думаю, что 6.5 часов школы (которая, вобщем-то еще не школа, а больше детский сад) для всех нас подходят больше, чем 2.5. Надеюсь, Ароша сможет быстро адаптироваться и выучить английский. До начала учебного года осталось меньше месяца. Кстати, Арошина подружка Рэйчел тоже пойдёт в этот класс. Надеюсь это облегчит для него процесс адаптации.

Balloons.Еще Ароша что-то снова немного приболел ко Дню Рождения. Ничего такого серьёзного — немного повышена температура, немного сопли, немного кашель — но мы перенесли празднование на неделю. Анюта, похоже, тоже заразилась. Надеюсь, они успеют придти в себя к следующей субботе.

Arosha with his lightsaber.Мы, правада, купили шарики (в этом году этим занимались дедушка и папа), праздничный торт и шашлыки, так что Ароша всё же почувствовал себя именинником. Но всё равно хочется, чтобы к нему пришли в гости его подружки и он получил даже больше удовольствия. Дедушка и бабушка в этом году на Арошин День Рождения как раз улетели в отпуск, но они успели его увидеть и поздравить до отлёта.

Making faces.Ароша очень любит природу — всё растительное, всё живое (вклучая жучков, червячков и гусениц) и неживое (камушки, палочки). Мы 9 августа ездили на ферму, и там собирали ежевику, баклажаны, помидоры, кукурузу, чернику, персики. Так вот кто же был самым лучшим сборщиком урожая? Ароша! Особенно много он насобирал ежевики — она была первая на нашем пути, и энтузиазма было еще через край. Причём, несмотря на то, что мы советовали Ароше часть ягод собирать прямо в рот, он упорно хотел собирать именно в коробки. Анюте, кстати, на ферме тоже понравилось. Она всё перепробовала, но особенно много сьела ежевики.

Kids.Ароша любит знакомиться со всеми на улице. Обычно он подходит к понравившимся детям и начинает спрашивать как их зовут. Естественно, по-русски. Некоторые отвечают, некоторые игнорируют, некоторые говорят грубости (“не твоё дело”). К счастью люди из второй и третьей катогории Арошу не смущают, и он продолжает быть очень общительным.

Serious business.Ароша очень много болтает и средне слушает. Когда ему звонили и поздравляли его с Днём Рождения, он не давал людям на другом конце трубки что-то особо сказать, а перебивал их и рассказывал о себе.

P.S. Мы измерили Арошин вес и рост — 41½ фунтов (19кг) и 45½ дюймов (116см).
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Saturday, August 9, 2014

Стихи

Ароша выучил стихотворение ко Дню Рождения бабушки Оксаны. В прошлом году мы делали ей открытку, ну а в этом хотелось удивить чем-то новым. Стихотворение Ароша выбрал сам, и на заучивание ушло 4 дня. Он до сих пор иногда сбивается, но в принципе помнит его неплохо.

А еще мы наткнулись на старое видео, где Ароше год и 4 месяца. Мы никогда его не ставили потому что для нас оно было слишком обычным. Теперь вот смотрю и поражаюсь, сколько он всего знал, понимал и мог сказать.
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