Friday, June 1, 2012

End of Nursing to Sleep

Shenandoah. November 2010.Last Wednesday Aroshka forgot to ask for his favorite “gut’” (breast) before mid-day nap, so I tried to put him to bed without. I failed in a sense that he did not nap at all that day, but then after he did not ask for “гуть” in the evening, I was able to put him down to sleep without it. He hasn’t been nursing before sleep since then, although he still drinks my milk first thing in the morning.

Now let me tell you. His whole life he’s been nursing before going to sleep, and he started to verbally ask for it since he was around 13-14 months. Just before last Wednesday he would always (and I mean ALWAYS) say “гуть, спать” (breast, sleep) while we were putting on his pajamas after the bath. Before last Wednesday I could not imagine just how it could be possible to put him down to sleep without nursing.

Sleeping on his feeding pillow. November 2010.The mere thought of weaning was terrifying to me because I thought that Aroshka will not give nursing up without a fight. I read TONS of people’s advice and experiences on weaning, but I did not want to force him to abandon it. I know it’s best to let children self-wean, but my plan (mostly because of cultural reasons) was to stop or be near done with breastfeeding by Aroshka’s second birthday. So anyhow, I tried no to stress too much about it and just deal with the situation as the time gets closer to August.

When I was thinking about weaning, I was not sure which feedings to cut out first. Some people were saying the night one should be the last to go and some that it was the morning one. I was and still am so relieved that Aroshka made the choice completely on his own. Breastfeeding was one of the things that I really wanted to do right, and I did not want to traumatize my little boy in some way by forcing him to quit when/if he was not ready.

Staten Island. May 2011.Our nap/night sleep routine has changed to reading books instead of nursing. I ask him to go to bed, and he asks me to cover him with his blanket, and then I just read a few of his books to him. The current favorites are short stories about Winnie the Pooh, although for today’s nap I was reading to him about the kitten named Gav. I have to say though that putting him down for nap is a bit more challenging now than before (he skipped a nap altogether twice in the last 9 days), but he mostly goes down without a fight.

He mentioned nursing a few times in the last week, but was always content after I told him that the milk is gone (except for the morning). Usually when he asks for it that means that he is either hungry or tired, so eating or going to bed always helps.

I think that I could have cut his morning feeding too with some small resistance if I wanted to, but I just do not see a reason to do it just yet. There is not much milk left anyhow, plus I think it is still beneficial for him both nutritionally and emotionally. He pretty much does not drink cow’s milk (only in his morning cereal, which he does not eat daily), and eats very few diary products overall. I don’t think it’s a big deal, since I am trying to include a lot of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, eggs, nuts and healthy meats into his daily diet.

We are not done with the breastfeeding yet, but we are close to the end of this wonderful journey. I am so happy and grateful of how things have turned out so far. The best advice I can give to anyone who is new to this is to trust yourself and your baby and to educate yourself as much as possible. I did not know much about breastfeeding before Aroshka was born, and I think it contributed to the initial stress of it. Breastfeeding is not easy in the beginning, and quitting it can also be somewhat stressful, but it is a very rewarding experience overall. I am both glad and a little sad that we are nearing the end of it with Aroshka.
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Friday, June 8, 2012

Of Diablo III

Progression.Now it’s been some time since I’ve started playing Diablo III and I have to say that it did not disappoint. I was somewhat unsure of whether I will like it or not after playing WoW and SWTOR which are very different from Diablo type of games.

For one thing I really liked the aspect of MMOs in that you gain new skills as you level and you keep using most of them till the end. I remember that being much of break for me coming from Diablo II, the break which I liked. Diablo III is very much like Diablo II in that sense, but it actually is a very nice change of pace after all MMOs.

My level 60 Barbarian.You only get 6 skills at any given time and each skills has a sub-skill which modifies a given skill in one way or another. You can change the active skills as many times as you wish. For example you can use one build for clearing the dungeons and a completely different one to bring down a boss.

The pace is completely different from the MMOs that I’ve played and is a very welcome thing. When you have to mostly pull 1 by 1 in an MMO here you just jump into the huge herd of monsters and smash away — the more the merrier. You basically never have to stop for a break — you just plow away.

Achievements.Obviously the biggest difference is the fact that Diablo, while can be played with friends, is built as a single player game. It means I can complete it on my own time fully without having to worry about finding a group. But it also does support cooperative play, which we tried with Eldar, although we didn’t have much time.

Besides leveling, gearing your character and progressing through the story the game comes with tons of achievements for players to … ehm … achieve. Getting as many of them down as possible is another very fun aspect of the game for me.

My Wizard.My favorite class to play at the moment is Barbarian — a melee DPS class. Although all classes in the game are pretty much DPS classes, since it is meant to be a single player game after all. At this point I’ve finished the story on Normal, Nightmare and Hell. However when I step my foot into the final stage — Inferno — I almost get taken apart by regular mobs and I ain’t got nothing on elites.

The problem with melee classes is that you actually have to be able to get into the thick of it and be able to sustain all the damage that is being dished out to you. Ranged classes on the other hand can avoid damage altogether if the player is proficient at kiting the mobs.

Secret level — the land of killer unicorns.Anyhow, as far as I’m concerned, I might not play much longer, but it was money well spent. It provided me with hours of great entertainment. Although I might try leveling a ranged class as well to 60 — should it be a Wizard or a Demon Hunter?
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Monday, June 11, 2012

Aroshka — 22 Months

Aroshka in a tree house.Aroshka is 22 months old! Only 2 to go until he is two. He is growing and developing so fast!

He can communicate pretty well now. He forms 3-4 word sentences quite often (“музыку папа включил”, “Шублик ногу укусил”, “папа дай щетки две” и т.д.), and he would repeat pretty much everything that he hears. Just a few examples of the things that crack me up (it’s in Russian, since we almost exclusively speak Russian to him):

Arosha on a swing.ёлки-палки (услышал от бабушки)
Шублик-бублик (это уже от нас)
тётя-Мотя (это от няни Даниэлки)
дядя-Мотя (а вот это самодеятельность)
баки-каки (покакали собаки — сам придумал и тащится)
говый нёд (иногда путает и говорит это вместо “нового года”)
гуть-муть (это от моей “груть-шмуть”, когда он невовремя о ней вспоминает)

Of course, his pronunciation is still far from perfect (for example, he says “nee-pooh” instead of Winnie Pooh or “abaka” instead of “sobaka”), and he does not make all the sounds yet (no “R” or “L”), but I can understand him in most cases. It’s so great!

Arosha hanging out.One of his favorite questions in the last few weeks is “Эта што?” (What is that?). Every time he sees something of interest, he would point at it and ask “eto chto”, and it’s so much fun to name things for him and try to explain what they are for. Just the other day I put my neti pot in the bathroom (I had a major cold which I am still recovering from), and just as expected, he spotted it right away and asked what is that. Well, long story short, he ended up pouring half a jar of salt in it and was very proud of himself for helping his mommy in important business of nasal irrigation.

Swinging is serious business.And neti pot is a bad example — who the hell knows what it is anyhow? He asks about simple things like twigs, hooks, pebbles, straws, fences, etc. I guess, nothing is trivial when you are this young!

By the way, we measured him on June 7th, and he was around 36 inches (91.4 cm) tall. He still weights around 27 pounds, just as last month. I think that it’s OK that he did not gain weight since he seem to be growing and developing just fine.

All of us.We had quite a sad event a little over a week ago — Daniеlka (Aroshka’s best friend) went to daycare on June 1st. They’ve been friends for a while, and they played so well with each other almost every single day. I think Aroshka understood that she went to daycare, because he asks about her much less than when she was available. But I think that he misses her, because he does not want to go outside to play anymore (not like before at least), and he is more eager to get back home. I hope he’ll start playing with other children on playground, but for now he pretty much keeps to himself.

In the pool with grandma.I love the way he calls me: mama Ayonka. I am not sure why he says Ayonka and not Ayona — maybe, he figured it in associations with “AroshKa”. He also started calling his grandma baba Asyanka (Oksanka), which is also very sweet.

He took new liking of books these past few weeks. There was a period of time when he just would not let us read anything to him (although describing of pictures was OK), but now he enjoys some stories too. Among his favorites are “Мойдодыр” and “Федорино Горе” by К. Чуковски, “Котёнок по имени Гав” by Г. Остер, a few Russian fairy tales (Колобок, У страха глаза велики, Маша и Медведь) and a bunch of very short stories about proper behavior (рассказы про Аню и Митю) from his beloved “Великая книга о зайке”.

Vitalik helping Arosha on a swing.We’ve run into a small issue with putting Aroshka down for a nap in the last week. After the nap breastfeeding was gone, we were fine for a little while, but then it started to get harder and harder to put him to sleep during the day. It takes me up to an hour and multiple attempts to leave his room, so sometimes it gets really frustrated. I just hope that this is some sort of stage and it will pass sooner rather than later. It’s kind of cute though that after each story I tell him, he asks me “asedny raz mama” (one last time mama).

Fire truck at the Children's Museum on Staten Island.All in all it’s been a fun month! Our building’s pool is opening next week and I am looking forward to enjoying it with Aroshka once both of us are fully recovered from the cold.
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Friday, June 15, 2012


SyrnikiSyrniki is one of my favorite things made of cheese. In fact, when I think about visiting Minsk I always fantasize about asking my mom or my sister to fry some for me. They are just sooo good!

I was a bit of a syrnik failier myself though. I tried making them a few times after immigration, but they always were a burning mess sticking to pan. I kind of gave up. Until this week.

Last Saturday we went to Daniеls’ cousin’s house in CT to celebrate aunt Lilya’s birthday. The whole thing was really nice (I always enjoy visiting them), but one of the biggest highlights for me personally was Aroshka eating a ton of syrniki. I mean, this child usually spits out any cheese, does not drink milk and barely eats a tiny bit of yogurt now and then.

Slightly burnt, but still tasty syrniki.Lena cooked a bunch of syrniki in the morning, so they were still yummy an fresh. They are a bit different from what we used to cook in my family (thicker, more flour), but still nice nonetheless. She shared the recipe, and I cooked them twice already. I have to say that I did not follow the recipe exactly (I added more eggs, less sugar and less flour), but this recipe is a very good baseline and could be adjusted depending on your taste and the quality of cheese that you have on hand. You’ll need:

  • 1 lb farmer cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • pinch of salt
  • dash of vanilla extract

Mix everything together, form patties, fry in oil on medium heat until golden. Enjoy!

Oh, and you can also add raising or cranberries if you’d like (my mom often adds raisins). And of course a good nonstick pan makes frying them much easier.
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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Red Bowl Photo

Alёna and Daniеl at Red Bowl.Several weeks ago Artem was in our part of the world and we met up with him in our favorite place in Williamsburg — a small Asian fusion cuisine restaurant owned by our friend David — Red Bowl.

Artem had oodles of photo gear with him. We setup a flash (otherwise its quite dark in there) and Artem took a photograph of us that we liked. He was kind enough to send me a resulting file in a RAW format, which I dropped into Photoshop and spent an hour or so on it to correct certain things caused by flash as well as I could.

We thought that the end result looked decent, so we’re posting it here.
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Friday, June 22, 2012

Cap-Toe Oxfords

 Air Madison Cap Oxford by Cole Haan.We’ve been on the topic of shoes a couple of months ago on here and at about that time we took some more shots of dress shoes as well, but I never got around to posting anything about that. There really isn’t much to say except for the fact that I’ve developed an appreciation for stylish good looking fashionable shoes.

Self.I never used to wear sneakers to begin with and much preferred to wear dress shoes for a long time already. However they never were anything special. This new pair is moderately priced, but was on the edge of my comfort zone. Now after owning it for a while they are not as edge as I thought they were when we bought them and my comfort zone has expanded.

 Air Madison Cap Oxford by Cole Haan.These are called cap-toe because of the broguing separating the toe of the shoe. These are made by Cole Haan, but I seem to be in between the sizes for the shoes that these guys make, so they are not as comfortable as they could be. But I like the way they look. They go with a lot of things — something casual and something formal as well.
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Friday, June 22, 2012

Poached Eggs

Poached egg.There are tons of simple ways to cook and eat eggs. You can hard boil it, soft boil it, sunny side up fry it, scramble and fry it, make an omelet or you can eat it raw. All these ways have been know to me for ages, but what I was strangely not aware of was an existence of poached eggs. Poached egg is an egg cooked in an almost boiling water, but it cooks without a shell. It’s very easy to make and is quite tasty.

  • Put some water into a pot — enough to cover the whole egg once you drop it in.
  • Let it sit on the stove until the water starts to simmer. Don’t let the water boil or the egg will drop apart.
  • Break an egg into a small bowl or cup and discard the shell.
  • Add some vinegar into the pot. That will help to keep an egg together.
  • Turn the stove off.
  • Take a spoon and move it in circular motion to create a vortex in the center of the pot.
  • Carefully slip the egg off your bowl into the vortex.
  • When the egg whites solidify your poached egg should be ready.

Poached egg on a toast.Now you fish out your egg with a spoon (the one that has holes in it preferably) and place it on a plate with a paper towel. Paper towel will soak up all the extra water. After that toast a piece of bread and put your poached egg on top of it. And some salt and ground pepper. Now it’s ready to be eaten. Yum!
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