Red Bowl Self Picnic Picnic Caumsett State Park
Friday, April 18, 2014

Little Battles

Danya at 4 and a half month with his dad.I just wanted to write a few words about how we’re doing in the last week or so.

Anюta’s eczema is not going anywhere unfortunately. Some days she is better, some days she is worse. I am not sure if my diet helps any. Last Saturday I ate an egg, and on Sunday she had a horrible rush on her face. Coincidence? Who knows, but I am scared to try eggs again. Today I took some probiotics, which are not dairy free, and in the evening she was screaming for half an hour and scratching her face all the time. Coincidence? Probably, but no dairy for me in the near future.

I am at my wits end with this thing, but what I am realizing is that this thing will not magically go away. At least I know that I am doing whatever I can to help her.

In the meantime, I’ve lost 3 pounds in the last two weeks. I am hungry, sometimes more, sometimes less, pretty much all the time. And how I miss my rye bread and butter! During the last few months I was finishing a package of butter (250 grams) every single week, and now even though I try to compensate with olive and coconut oils, it’s just not the same. I weight 158 lbs right now by the way, which is much better than what I had with Arosha at 6.5 months postpartum.

Alёna.On another note — my carpal tunnel syndrome has completely gone away. Took awhile, but luckily I am back to normal. No more night sweats either.

I have to confess that I absolutely hate cloth diapering at this point. The thing is that it takes so much effort on my part, and her diaper area is still red most of the time. And believe me, I’ve done stripping (by hand too!), and use things that are supposed to get rid of ammonia and mineral deposits, and I change her diaper every 2-3 hours around the clock, and I give her A LOT of diaper free time. In fact, in the last week or so, during the day she only has her diaper on while napping or when we’re out. I have so many poopy and wet towels to wash every day, but it beats her screaming in pain when I touch her diaper area. I am afraid to try disposables again since they gave her even worse allergic reaction.

On the bright note — Anюtka recognizes her name. We realized it a week or more ago. She also is mastering crawling. She can move kind of sideways, but very slowly and can’t always control where she is going.

Anюtka and her red face.She is in general a very happy and easygoing baby. Unless stupid eczema is really bothering her.

I give her some solid foods to try. I follow baby led weaning approach — no purees. My friend Volha sent me a BLW book with recipes — I think I’ll try some of those. I am eating super healthy anyhow (lots of baked vegetables and poached chicken and quinoa and such), so giving her some of the food I cook for us comes naturally. She enjoys trying things and so far I think her favorites are zucchini and chicken. She gagged a few times in the beginning, but seems to be doing better and better with each try.

Oh, and I think Anюta is starting to look more and more like Danya. A lot of people commented that she looks like him, so we looked up some of his old pictures, and I think the resemblance is obvious! I see both of us in Arosha (but I think he looks more like me), it will be interesting to see how she’ll turn up.
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Monday, April 14, 2014

Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

A won match.A couple of days ago I by pure chance discovered a new game that I ended up finding quite a bit enjoyable, through a promotional email that Blizzard tends to bomb me with. The game is called Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft and it’s a digital collecting (trading) card game.

I always felt that I missed out on the whole Magic: The Gathering thing back in the day. Because of that when Blizzard produced World of Warcraft Trading Card Game I happily jumped on it.

Playing with Priest deck.However for somebody as casual of players as my friends and I are there were several problems. First of all to keep the game somewhat fresh one has to constantly be pumping money into it. Once the initial thrill of facing your friends with your newly formed deck ends and you become familiar with their play style and their stronger moves it stops being as much fun. It also is the only way to stay competitive against other players.

Playing in clubs against other people we simply wouldn’t have time for now and after taking prolonged breaks it became hard to remember all the moves and rules. This probably sounds lame to some real trading card game fans, but that’s what it is.

Hunter.All of the above things are not a problem with a digital game. You still have the thrill of opening new packs, but you can earn them without spending any real money. You can obtain them through in-game currency which is earned by doing quests and winning games.

The game itself is free to begin with as well. You get to build your custom decks from all your cards for different classes without having to reshuffle real cards and taking them apart and putting decks back together.

Almost finished.You get to compete against the computer with pretty good AI and best of all you get to face off real players online. And all the rules are really easy to figure out since the game basically doesn’t let you do what you can’t do and it keeps score for you and when you start it guides you through an easy to understand tutorial.

At the beginning you get one class and a crash course that makes you easily get the rules. Then you unlock other characters of other classes and then you build a couple of custom decks and compete. I started out with a priest, but now I’ve gotten pretty good with my hunter deck. I like the synergy that a lot of cards in the deck have with each other.

Unlocked characters.There is also an Arena mode and a ranked game-play. I tried both and they are also equally interesting. I can say that for such a simple game that can be played in as little as 5-15 minutes at a time it is a pretty damn addictive and fun strategy game. Now I need to coerce my real friends to join it and try it out so we could face off against each other.

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Caumsett State Park

Caumsett State Park on Long Island Sound.Yesterday was a first truly springtime weekend day this year. The day was so nice and warm that it was the first time we could be outside in a park without our jackets. We decided to visit a state park located on the north shore of Long Island that was recommended to my mom by a coworker — Caumsett State Historic Park.

Stables.All of us went, so we had to take two cars. Even though it’s only 48 miles away it took us a bit on the long side to get there — all the traffics and such. Arosha was as always a good traveler, and Anyuta did pretty well also, although she did “complain” from time to time.

Arosha and Daniel in front of main estate house.The park was created on the lands acquired by state from an estate of Marshall Field III that he in turn put together in 1921. The park is pretty sizable as far as estates go.

Kids in daffodils.The road to the park was quite picturesque as well. I really long for a 70-200mm lens lately, no pun intended. Throughout the day we saw 3 large eagle nests with a pair of eagles in each and a large white heron.

And grandpa too.The signs of spring were all around. A lot of trees are budding, Magnolia trees are covered by fresh flowers, but out biggest discovery the the day was a large number of fields covered in blooming daffodils.

Arosha.Arosha was running in front of us all and when we happened upon the first of these fields could not stop asking if we were happy that he led us to such a beautiful place.

Picnic towards the end. All the food is already gone.Our hike culminated in a nice family picnic on the blankets in the middle of a large field not far from the main estate house. That event totally put Arosha’s excitement level over and top and off the scale — he kept pointing out numerous aspects of how picnicking was great, amazing and awesome.

Flowers.The total length of our round-trip hike ended up being around three and a half miles. However while we might’ve walked that much Arosha did twice of that since he was running non-stop back and forth and to the sides and all around. He picked up numerous sticks of varying sizes, jumped into ditches, climbed onto large stumps and so on.

Arosha and woodpecker.At one point he found a stick with a sharp short branch at the top coming out of it. He proclaimed that it was a woodpecker and we had to wait for “them” while they go and find some food in nearby trees. He proceed to go from tree to tree pecking at them and pretending to look quite surprised by the fact that they were unable to get anything out of a tree trunks.

Anyuta riding around.Anyuta slept some, but mostly she was exploring the park while sitting in Alёna’s arms and looking around. She enjoyed touching flowers and grass with her hands — I remember Arosha was a lot more cautious of the grass in his first encounter and wasn’t quite sure of what to make of it. Anyuta seemed to like the sensation of touching it.

Lunch break.We spent five hours in the park. We left home at 11:30am and came back at 7:30pm. On the way back Arosha went into “recharging” mode for a change, and Anyuta actually stayed awake looking and playing with her toys. It ended up being a great spring day.

Blooming daffodils.
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Friday, April 11, 2014

On the Topic of Eczema

Anna.It’s been a pretty tough week. Anюta’s eczema has gotten worse, to the point where it seem to really bother her. She has it pretty much all over the body, but it’s worse on her face, legs and diaper area. Our pediatrician has prescribed some steroid cream, and it seem to help with flair ups, but obviously it can’t be used on a daily basis.

I bought some moisturizers and also use whatever else we have. The full list of the things that try includes coconat oil, Angel baby bottom balm, eczema creams by Aveeno, Babyganics and TruKid; Aquaphor and Cetaphil. Moisturizers do help a bit, so I guess I’ll keep applying them at least twice a day.

I also made some drastic changes to my diet starting from Sunday. No dairy products, no wheat or rye, no eggs, no soy, no nuts, no citrus fruit, no seafood, pretty much no sugar. I also try to limit meat because I read that it can contribute to inflammation. I also avoid any kind of berries, but blueberries, tropical fruit, legumes and tomatoes. I am not sure yet if there is any effect, but her face has gotten a little better. I did use the steroid cream on it twice since Sunday. I guess, we’ll wait some more and see. I think that if she has an allergy/sensitivity to any of the things that I have excluded, it will be obvious in about two weeks.

I am also struggling with cloth diapers. I think because I use so many things on her bottom (I try to use cloth diaper friendly stuff only), they have gotten less absorbent. Also, I am not sure how good of a job a washing machine does since I only use detergent in pre-wash cycle in order to get that extra rinse. I had to strip them, and I did it by hand. I used seventh generation dish washing liquid, and also a Funk Rock powder from the Rocking Green company. I also switched detergents from Tide Free and Gentle to Rocking Green one. The diapers are a bit better now, but I try to soak them and handwash them a little before going down to the laundromat. To be honest, I can’t wait for her to be diaper free! I put her on a potty every day, and usually I can catch a pee or even a poop, but obviously, these things are accidental. It’s a good thing that she does not mind sitting on the potty. Arosha was very much against it at this age, and believe me, I tried. I hope that in the worst case scenario she’ll be in diapers until two, but maybe we’ll manage to transition sooner.

Sitting.I still miss my mom very much. I called her a few times, but she does not have internet or a land line in her new home, and calls on a mobile phone in Belarus from Skype are around $1 per minute. With these crazy prices I can’t talk to her as much as I would like to.

Arosha also got sick. Nothing too bad — a fever for a few days, runny nose and cough. We started using nebulizer with saline solution right away and I think it helps some. He only had the horrible barking cough one night and now it’s just a regular one. Anechka has some nasal congestion too, but it’s not serious.

She started to sleep really bad for the last 5 days or so. She used to wake up ones or twice to eat, but now it’s a whole different story. On bad nights she wakes up every 40-60 minutes, on good nights, like today, she woke up 3 times and was awake for about an hour in the early morning. I don’t know what is the cause — a growth spurt, teething, eczema, less absorbent diapers, developmental leap. Maybe, it’s a combination. My only solution is to take her to bed with me. Good thing we have a spare bed (she does not really fit in ours with the both of us) in a small room. We bought it for Arosha a while ago, but he still sleeps in his converted ex-crib.

The good thing is that it’s finally getting warmer. We still need jackets, but lighter ones. The nature awakens. The first flowers are sprouting and starting to bloom. I hope we’ll have a nice and long transition period, since summers in NYC are too hot and humid for my taste.
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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Photo Prints

Decorated office.Today I finally remembered to bring in a real (non-iPhone) camera into the office and take some photographs of photographs. Yes. The end results of all my prints hanging on the walls.

Canvas prints.There are 20×30 canvas prints that I’ve done a while ago (at Costco). I keep thinking of adding one more cityscape to this collection. At this point my main candidate is Seattle Skyline.

Standouts.There are 8×12 standout prints (along with non mounted 8×12 prints on the desk) that add some nice color and were very easy to line up and hang because of their precise mounting holes on the back.

Black & white framed prints.And there are 16×20 black & white framed prints (the print itself is 8×12). These were a real pain to line up correctly because the hanging cord on the back is attached by hand which results in different, uneven lengths. But once done correctly the also do look great.
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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Stoller Progress

Anna in a sitting stroller.Today we tried Anyuta in our sitting stroller for the first time. She did a test-drive and it seems she’ll be moving to it permanently soon. It also means we have finally started to get rid of things that we kept around for the time when number two would arrive. We’ll be giving away quite a bit of stuff from about now on.
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Friday, March 28, 2014

Anna 6 Month Mobility

Anna on March 14th.Looks like our Anna got tired of being in one place. By now she can sit unassisted for 5-10 minutes and can easily roll both ways. However lately she started making real attempts at crawling.

Crawl attempt.She pushes both of her legs under herself and gets on her knees. It’s not quite crawling yet, but she does move around. On the picture above she started by a bunch of her toys, facing them. I didn’t catch the crawl attempt itself though. She’s taking a 5 second rest on the photo.

March 22nd.She had her 6 months doctor visit yesterday. She clocked in at 27 inches and 15.5 pounds. She also got her set of shots. Food-wise she’s nothing like Arosha. She eats much more rarely and doesn’t seem to care for real food yet.

Units.
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Friday, March 28, 2014

Black & White Prints

A set of three black & white prints.I’ve ordered1 and received another set of prints. This time it’s a black & white set of three photographs. Each print has a two inch white mat and a two inch simple black frame, adding four inches to the final size2 of the print on each side. The prints are under glass.

Print closeup.I’ve put them up on the wall in my office and it looks good. It was much harder to line them up though than it was with standouts. Next week I’ll try to take several photographs of the end results for these black & white and standout sets and post them.

  1. Each framed print comes out to $40. Mpix had a 25% off offer going. []
  2. The print size is 8×12 inches. The final size is 16×20 inches. []
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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mom Leaving

Alёna's mom at the airport.Today my mom is flying back to Belarus. She stayed a little over two months this time, and it was so nice to be around her again and just to catch a break with all the work around the house.

It will be tough for me to get back into the routine again (shopping and cooking seem especially challenging for me now), and I will miss her company. I know she will miss us too, especially Anechka and Aroshka. I hope to see her again sooner rather than later. Coming to Belarus is complicated for us, although it will probably be nice. I guess, time will show who will visit whom.

Anechka got sick yesterday. She has a fever and no other symptoms for now. I hope she’ll get well soon, so we would not have to cancel our upcoming trip. I know Anechka will miss her grandma. They had such a nice relationship. Too bad the little one will forget all about it in time. Arosha is upset that she is leaving too. Even though my mom tried to impose some discipline on him, he loves her and accepted her as a member of the family right away. He cried at the airport when she was leaving.

Last security point.Arosha went for his first dentist visit yesterday. We did not go to a specialized pediatric dentist, but to our new doctor, who said that he treats children as well. Arosha did very well. He was calm and was doing exactly what the doctor was asking. Arosha had no cavities, but the doctor recommended to do a light cleaning for some build up which he had (probably from all the tea Arosha is drinking). We will go for another check up in about 6 months.

It is still cold outside. They predicted snow today, but luckily it’s just cold and windy, no snow. It should get warmer by the weekend, and hopefully the temperature will not drop to below zero anymore.

I feel sad. Time just flew by so quickly. I am putting her things, like cup and slippers, away and I can’t stop crying. I keep reminding myself that I’ll talk to her soon and will most likely see her in the future, but it’s still hard. Mom is mom and she will always have that special place in her child’s heart. I love you , mom!
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