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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father’s Day

Arosha's drawing.Arosha has created Father’s Day gifts for myself and my dad — drawings. We picked one of them that we like the most — one for my dad — and scanned it in. He spent about 20-30 minutes to put this one together. The most lengthy part of the process was putting little people into every single window of his buildings. Lately he really enjoys drawing. He comes up with new elements to incorporate into his pictures. Buildings started appearing just yesterday.
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Friday, June 19, 2015

Pre-K Stepping Up Ceremony

Arosha's first ever class.Today Arosha had his Pre-K stepping up ceremony. I went by myself — decided that it was better to leave Anюta with Danya and his dad, so she would not distract me from the man of the hour.

The ceremony was really nice. I felt quite emotional, especially when Arosha’s class was singing “It’s a small world”. I could differentiate my boy’s clear loud high voice from the choir, and it made me extra teary. Danya can also hear his voice in the video.

I am really proud of Arosha. He did well in school, even though he missed a lot of days due to being sick. His teachers seem to genuinely love him. I remember I was dreading speaking to his main teacher, Ms. Lupion, in the beginning of the year, because she was telling me that she can’t figure him out and that he does not listen to her and that maybe I need to check his hearing….

Teacher’s assistant Mrs. Aviani, who is Russian, knew right from the start that Arosha is a bright and well developed child, and I think that we are very lucky that he had a Russian-speaking teacher to ease him onto public school education. In any case, as Arosha picked up English language and figured out what is expected of him, his main teacher changed her opinion of him. She actually told me that children like Arosha, seeing the impact that she made on him, make her love her job all the more.

Arosha with his teachers.I am really grateful to his teachers. I see that they are loving and caring and really put all their hearts into their job. I hope Arosha’s new teachers next year will be good too. Ms. Lupion is retiring this year after 30 years of helping little ones to start school. That’s too bad, because I was hoping that Anюta will go to her class too.
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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Sick Days

Sleeping Arosha.We just went through an extremely hard couple of weeks — hence the lull of posting on our blog. It started with Arosha getting sick. This was the 4th time since our return from vacation less than two months ago. Started with mild fever, and then escalated quickly.

He had very high fever for four days straight. Up to 103.9. He is usually not phased much by fever, but with fever that high he felt terrible. We saw a doctor and she didn’t see anything serious, but we had to put him on Motrin. It was quite stressful to see the fever last for as long as it did. It was the worst he ever had. Motrin ended up upsetting his stomach and after 4 days doctor recommended putting him on antibiotics. Second time in his life.

And a day after his fever subsided and we started feeling a bit of relief the same thing started happening to Anna. Her fever spiked up to 104.1 at one point. On several occasions we thought that we were very close to rushing to an emergency room. We actually had to rotate Tylenol and Motrin in order to keep her temperature in check. But after several days of this torture to us and to poor Anюta things seem to be coming back to normal.

Anюta sleeping.Luckily the ear thermometer takes only 3 seconds to read temperature. Anna was quite a bit afraid of it, but we kept showing to her that we measure temperature for Arosha, then for papa, then for mama and she actually started liking the process. So now when I need to measure her temperature she would come over says “На” (giving me her ear) and saying “истрашна” (не страшно — not scary).

And the fact that they make medication sweet for kids also helps a great deal with somebody as little as she is. If Arosha we could easily convince the he needs to drink it with her it wouldn’t work yet.

It’s true what they say — having kids is like having your heart walking outside of you. Seeing your kids feeling this bad has been very emotionally draining on both of us. Hopefully it’s behind us now and with Arosha’s school year winding to a close — here is to a healthy summer!
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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Cheesequake Picnic

Burgers!We haven’t visited Cheesequake State Park since my last birthday, which happens to be during the month of August.

Anna being cute without trying.The weather has finally gotten nice outside — although in this area of the country it goes instantly from cold to hot — so we decided to do a small family picnic.

Arosha with grandparents.In the morning we actually set out to visit Staten Island Zoo, but Arosha really wanted a picnic, so we figured — why not.

Alёna.We like Cheesequake because it’s really close to us (relatively) and it always has a bunch of free space in picnic areas — no matter the hour.

Us.We called my parents, dropped by a supermarket to get some burger ingredients and off we went.

Anna enjoying the burger.Alёna did a great job driving us back and forth — numerous highway changes, bridges and so on. She is still quite afraid, but the best way to cure the fear of driving is to drive.

Grillin'.Burgers came out really well — as they always do on a real grill. It probably is not possible to screw them up. Our recipe is super simple — non-frozen patties, sharp cheddar cheese and a slice of sweet onion.

Arosha vs corn.Everyone enjoyed it. Even though Arosha likes burgers our Anna ate more. She is a real big time meat eater, unlike Arosha.

Playing after lunch.Then we took a short hike through the woods, but it was getting real hot, so after collecting a full bucket of treasure (cones) we went home.

Grandma handing out treats to kids.And that was our day. Good family fun for people who live in apartments. Probably less exciting for house owners with their own personal grills.

More grilling.
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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Anюta and Arosha Update

Anюta. One year, seven months.It’s been a while since I wrote anything about Anюta’s development. I used to do monthly posts with Arosha, but now I just don’t have the time or energy to do it on a regular basis.

Anюta learned how to ride a scooter a few days ago. She was really interested in scooters for a few months now. She enjoyed pushing it around the apartment and playground like a stroller, holding it backwards. She did try to ride it properly sometimes for short intervals, and during the last week she’s gotten pretty good at it. Now she can ride it around on different terrain. Of course, she is still not as good as older kids and when she needs to turn, she usually gets off the scooter, moves it in the right direction and gets back on, but still… A lot of people on playground are amused to see such a little girl riding a scooter. It’s like last summer all over again, when people kept asking me how old is she when she started to walk around at 8 months old.

Arosha really enjoys his scooter too. We bought him a two-wheeled Razor for his 4th birthday, but he still can’t keep the balance well. So in addition, we got him a Maxi Micro kick scooter at the end of January — it’s pretty much a bigger version of his old scooter, which was inherited by Anюta. Arosha’s best friend Alex has the same scooter and they ride around the playground together and do different tricks — ride with arms spread apart like wings, ride sitting on the scooters sideways, ride standing on one leg, while another one is wrapped around the bar, ride while playing some sort of soccer with the ball. They remind me of two figure skaters, gliding on asphalt in some elaborate dance.

Speaking about friends. I am very glad that Arosha and Alex like playing with each other so much. They can always entertain themselves and find fun things to do — from riding around to digging worms, to jumping from different structures on playgrounds, to devising imaginative games with rubber dinosaurs. The only time they don’t get along so well is when Simon, another one of their classmates, is present. Arosha and Simon both have a strong desire to be leaders in games, while Alex does not mind to follow their cues. Simon is a bit more aggressive than Arosha and they end up fighting a lot (while Arosha normally does not fight with other children unless they are provoking him). So when all three of them are on the playground, Simon wants Alex to play with him, and so does Arosha, and usually Alex follows Simon and Arosha is either left by himself, or they fight with Simon. So I am glad when it’s just the two of them.

Friends. Alex, Anna, Arosha.I also really like Alex’s mom, Erica. She is an ESL teacher and is currently on maternity leave. She is smart, fun and overall I find her approach to parenting to be similar to mine. She has two other children besides Alex — Liza, who is a little older than Anюta (they play with each other sometimes) and Andrew, who is 3 months old. Erica, like me, believes that kids need to spend at least a few hours a day playing and moving around outside, so we end up spending anywhere from 2.5 to 3.5 hours on the playground each day.

Anюta’s language development is progressing nicely. She repeats everything she hears, and also uses language to communicate her needs. She does not tie words together in a sentence yet, but she definitely lets me know what she wants. For example, if she wants me to move a chair away from the table so she has a space to climb on it, she says “тульчик” (стульчик), or when she wants water she says “дичка” (водичка). She lets me know when her diaper needs changing (although we still have no luck with sitting on a potty) or when she needs my help in order to look out the window. She also asks for cartoons, specific food, her scooter, help with putting shoes on, etc. She can say her name pretty well, and she knows our names too, although obviously she still needs to work on pronouncing them, especially “Arosha” (which she pronounces as “Ауо”). She likes to point on objects and name them, like bus “тёбус”, stroller “аяска”, boy “мальчик”, apple “ябака”, etc. She calls Shublik “Шуба”, which is pretty funny.

Arosha.I am still breastfeeding Anюta. Usually it’s 3 times per 24 hour period — before nap, before bed at night and once in the early morning. She is totally fine if I skip any feeding — twice Danya’s mom let us go out on Saturday a few hours earlier and put Anюta to bed without any kind of milk. I think if I wanted to stop, Anюta would be OK with it, but to be honest it gives me some peace of mind, because she does not drink cow’s milk and rarely eats any kid of dairy. Pretty much like Arosha (although he does drink cow’s milk occasionally).

Also, after vacation I gradually switched from cloth to disposable diapers. I was too afraid of eczema to switch before, but since we had zero issues with disposables on vacation, I started using them more and more after we came back home, and now I rarely use cloth diapers anymore. Which is a relief to be honest. As much as I like the environmental factor of it, doing laundry every other day for over a year (and prepping them for laundry by soaking and pre-washing in the tub) without having a washing machine at home is a pain in the neck. I am still keeping the cloth diapers just in case, but hopefully I won’t need them anymore.

And I forgot if I wrote about Anюta’s eczema, but after the course of steroid cream a while back, it’s pretty much gone. She does get a spot here of there from time to time, but I treat it right away with the same cream, and 1-2 applications are usually enough for it to go away and not reappear. I really hope it will not come back in the fall again. One time after eating mandarins she was starting to get eczema on her chin, and she actually was communicating it to me by scratching it and saying “тесеца, тесеца” (itching, itching).

Anna.Arosha started to like to draw more than he used to. I especially like his family portraits. One of the things that he did for mother’s day at school was a drawing of his mom plus a short questionnaire (the teacher wrote down his answers) . So now I know that my favorite food is “bread” and I most enjoy “read, cleaning”, and he likes it most when I read to him. Kind of sweet, isn’t it?

Arosha gets sick pretty often. He was a little sick on vacation (runny nose, cough), and in the month following it he managed to get sick twice. Ones with a stomach virus, and another with some kind of cold (he is currently sick with it). He missed the second field trip with his class (missed 2 out of 3 total) this Friday. I just hope that next year he’ll get sick less often, since they’ll have to do more things in school.

Arosha started to enjoy cartoons in English finally. Well, not all cartoons, but just Curious George. He refused to watch any English language content before, and now he asks for George every day. I am glad that he understands much more now. The pre-K is to thank for it. He still does not want me to read books in English for him, but I am not insisting too much. I think any kid of reading is good, so as long as he listens, I am glad to read in Russian. We are currently finishing the last book in “Волшебник Изумрудного Города” series, which is called “Тайна заброшенного замка”. The writing in it is worse than in the earlier books from the series, but he still likes it. I have never read it myself when I was a child (my favorite one was “Урфин Джюс и его древянные солдаты”, which I read probably 10 times), so it is mildly interesting for me as well.

Arosha.Anюta does not seem to like books as much as Arosha did at her age, but we still try to “read” books with her multiple times a day (I end up just pointing on pictures and talk a bit about what’s on them, but she turns pages too fast). Plus she also listens when I read to Arosha, although sometimes she really does not want me to do it, and starts screaming as soon as I start reading. To be honest, it really annoys me, but sometimes I have no choice but to stop reading. Sometimes she gives up on screaming when I ignore her and just keep going. But it’s an ongoing battle.
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