Friday, August 7, 2015

Bicycle Riding

Arosha riding his bicycle.A couple of months ago we finally bought Arosha a bicycle. We kept meaning to buy it for each of his birthdays for several years now, but every time we would go to Toys ‘R’ Us to try one Arosha kept having a hard time figuring out pedals. However in the beginning of this summer we noticed that he pulled out some old tricycle that my parents had and had no issues with pedaling.

So we went to a local cycling shop — the place where we bought our own bicycles and picked him out the biggest kid bike that he felt comfortable on — Specialized Hotrock 20. Obviously we had the shop install training wheels since Arosha has never ridden a bike.

Training wheels make riding very clumsy. Arosha got a hang of it and was having a bunch of fun. Two days ago though we were watch Shark Tank TV show and saw somebody present a little bike for little kids with no pedals at all. Little kids start with that and they learn to hold balance. We got inspired by that and took off training wheels off Arosha’s bike.

We went outside and I ran with him around the field for about 15 minutes for him to try to hold balance. I was holding him by his shoulder and he was pretty wobbly. Eventually I just ran out of breath and had to take a break. I told him to just try to push himself off with one foot while pushing on the pedal with another. He looked like a fish out of water. Falling, unable to even hold bike steady while standing still.

I thought that he will just give up and we’ll have to put training wheels back on. But he kept trying and trying and trying. In another 15 minutes he managed to actually launch himself, put both feet on the pedals and started going. Just going by himself. I was amazed. He kept circling around the field with zero support from us. My eyes started to tear up — I was so proud.

He spent the rest of the evening stopping, launching himself and riding around. He still needs quite a bit of practice, but he totally figured it out. What a present he gave to himself 2 days before his 5th birthday. I still can’t believe he figured it out in under 30 minutes. He kept riding up to me and asking — “You can’t believe your eyes, right?”
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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Arosha — 5 Years

Birthday morning.Arosha turned 5 a few weeks ago. He is such a big boy! In all senses too — he is about 47.5 inches tall and weights around 50 pounds.

He was anticipating the event for a good while. Starting at the end of July he was counting down days left until his birthday. He usually tells everyone, in either English or Russian, when his birthday is and how old he is now. So cute.

Birthday cake.We decided to celebrate at home as always. I think Arosha might have invited more people if given the option, but I told him to only invite his very best friend, Alex, and he was happy and content with it. If we had a back yard or a house, we might have invited more people, but currently we could not fit more than we did. We also invited Arosha’s grandparents, his aunt Lina and uncle Lenny and also Mike. Alex came with his mom Erica, little sister Liza and brother Andrew.

Birthday balloons.We bought him some balloons too. He was kind of expecting them this year though, so it was not a real surprise. The night before when I told him not to get up too early the following morning he told me: “Ahhh, so that you have enough time to buy surprise balloons for me!”. We decided not to get small balloons as the previous years, but 5 big ones. Danya ordered and picked them up on the day prior and we hid them at Danya’s parents as usual. Anюta really liked them too, especially the one with “The Minion”.

Arosha's friends with their mom.We invited the guests for four o’clock, and Arosha could hardly wait. I cooked my traditional meat brased in wine, roasted duck with apples, garlic potatoes and a few salads. Danya and Arosha were supposed to get a cake, but Danya had a really bad back pain and could barely move, so granddad came to the rescue. Arosha picked a red velvet cake, which was quite good.

Arosha.I think Arosha really enjoyed his birthday. He got a lot of gifts, even from people who did not attend like Zhanna and his classmate Simon. We are very grateful to everyone, and I hope so is he.

Playing with Anna.I am really proud of Arosha. He is kind, smart, fearless, energetic. He keeps making me proud, although there are of course moments when I get upset or angry with him.

The school year is starting soon and I hope that he will do very well — not just in terms of academia (I have absolutely no doubt that he is a very bright child), but in building relationships with his teachers and classmates. I hope he’ll be as healthy and happy as possible! We love him so very much!
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Friday, August 28, 2015

Blue Apron

Blue Apron box.I like cooking. Trying new recipes and exotic ingredients is certainly fun. However, cooking is also a major chore. It’s not even so hard to find time to cook, but to figure out what to cook is often a challenge. I have my usual repertoire, which is not so small by the way, but with kids and all it’s just not easy to find time to look for new things. I mean, there are gazillion billion recipes online, but who knows which ones are good? Plus some of them are really time consuming or require some obscure ingredients which I never even heard of.

About a month ago we were watching an old “Shark Tank” episode, and there were two guys from “Plated”, who got me really interested in their business. Basically the premise is that one can subscribe to their services and get a weekly delivery of ingredients along with recipes to cook exciting and healthy meals at home.

Pesto Meatballs and Fresh Corn Polenta.Huh! I never knew such things existed. I went to check them online, and the price seemed a bit high to me ($12 per plate/portion). I decided to see if they have any competitors and found Blue Apron and Hello Fresh. Both were cheaper than Plated, so I decided to give Blue Apron a try based on some online reviews.

I’ve subscribed for the family (4 person) 2 meals a week plan, which cost $70 per week. I mean, if I were to shop for the ingredients myself, they’ll be a little cheaper, but I don’t mind paying a little extra for the service.

Parmesan Crusted Chicken.I’ve gotten two deliveries so far (so that’s 4 meals), plus cooked twice using their recipes with my own stuff. I have to say that I am very pleased with results.

First of all, taste wise everything came out really well. For example, Danya is not big fan of either quinoa or cooked salmon, but he said that quinoa and salmon salad was delicious, which made me so happy. I tried cooking polenta for the first time in my life, and everyone liked the taste. I tried using za’atar spice blend, and ended up ordering a spice online for use in other recipes.

Quinoa and Salmon Salad.I know that if I did not get those recipes picked for me (I can actually select 2 out of 4, but so far I have not changed Blue Apron’s selection), I would not have cooked them otherwise. Not now anyhow.

Another factor is cooking time. I don’t have that much spare time on my hands, so the faster, the better. So far, based on the six recipes that I’ve tried, I figured that it takes me 40-50 minutes per recipe, which is not bad at all.

Steak Gyros.The ingredients that I have received were good quality, but I have to say that while there is certainly enough meat for four people, they could improve on the vegetables side. There is no way that the amount of potatoes or green beans that I received would have been enough for four people. So I added my own vegetables on most occasions (more potatoes, more tomatoes, etc). At least, the recipes seem to be with seasonal stuff, so I usually have extras in my refrigerator anyhow.

Catfish and Roaster Potatoes.Unfortunately for me, so far kids have eaten very little from the Blue Apron stuff that I cooked. I use leftovers for our lunches and have to figure out something else for the children. But it’s Ok. They try at least some of the stuff, and hopefully they will develop more taste for it as they grow older.

So to sum it up, I really like Blue Apron so far. It’s exciting to see each week’s selection or recipes and to taste what will come of them. I hope I won’t be disappointed in the future.

Some of the contents of the box.
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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Adventurers Amusement Park

Ready to sail.Today for the first time this year we ended up in an amusement park. This was actually the first time for Anюta overall.

Flying. Alёna and Anюta are behind.We bought 30 tickets, since they never expire and ended up using up about half of them.

They didn't let Anna onto this one even with an adult. Too short.Arosha definitely had a good time. On most rides Alёna had to ride with Anna, since Anna is still too short to go on most of them. Most of those things made Alёna very dizzy.

Carousel for Anna.They didn’t let Anna go on the previous one even with an adult because she is still too short. So Alёna took her onto this one instead.

Round and round.This one would always get me dizzy. I hated these when I was a kid.

Go-cart.I drove a go-cart with Arosha which turned out to be quite fun. And they actually let us ride around for a good amount of time too. These things handle really well. I never let the gas pedal go. Who needs brakes anyhow, right?

Boat.This one was the only one where Anюta wen’t without an adult. We weren’t sure if she would agree, but she did fine.

Frog.This one goes up and down. Several years ago Arosha went onto this one and didn’t expect what it would do. Bliss on his face quickly changed to mild terror when it started going up. This time around there was no surprise, so he liked it much more.

Planes.And when we told them it was time to go Arosha talked us into one last ride. As you can see he is fixing the plane here. Clearly it needed fixing.

Planes.And here lucky Alёna got to “enjoy” yet another dizzying ride. Overall not much fun for adults, but a blast for the little ones.
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