Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Arosha’s Birthday

Balloon tradition.This year Arosha turned 9. Happy Birthday, my boy! We love you very much and wish you all the best things there are!

Spooner balancing board.The birthday fell on Thursday. Daniеl took a day off work so that we can spend it together and celebrate as a family.

Swurfer swing. Awesome!We inflated a bunch of balloons the night before — the expected, but still very exciting birthday treat which we started when he was still a toddler. We put the gifts from grandparents and aunt Lina on fireplace and we also hid most clues for the treasure hunt which happened on birthday morning and led Arosha to our gift.

Anna swurfing.Anna also prepared a gift for her brother. She repurposed a bath bomb box with the help of scissors, scotch tape and markers and created a cardboard house. She put some drawings and $1 in a pretty bag inside. She also bought him a ball at our local store later in the day.

Swurfer fun.From grandparents and aunt Lina he got a bunch of things that he asked for — wooden blocks, poly spots — and a bunch of things that were a surprise — board games, electronic Rubik’s cube puzzle game. Anna also got a few small gifts.

Hibachi dinner.We got him a spooner balancing board which looked way more fun on Shark Tank than it was in reality, and a Swurfer surfing swing, which actually is fun so long as you are careful. The installation of Swurfer took over an hour — Daniеl was doing most of the work and I helped with little things. We also stopped at the local service station later in the day and got two used tires which Danya attached to the tree trunk to somewhat protect a person in case of impact. The original rope included with the swing was a little too short for our high branches, so we had to order a longer rope. It came with two additional handles sets plus we had a set included with the swing. We installed two of those so that it’ll be comfortable for both Aaron and Anna, but did not think that for a grown up an even higher set of handles would be very convenient. That is a sad mistake, but it’ll take a lot of effort to install it now, so sadly adults have a bit less control while swinging.

Birthday cake.At lunch we went to Mannen — our local hibachi place that Arosha really likes. Then we went to Stop and Shop where he picked a cake and some candles. It was nice, fruity and not too sweet.

Duckpin bowling with friends.And on Saturday he celebrated his birthday with friends at Danbury Duckpin Bowling. Logan, Julian and Ben were invited from his class (also Justin, but he was away that weekend), and Matvey and Misha were invited along with their parents. Bowling was fun, although I with they would let us play longer. There were no other parties, so we had a whole party room for ourselves and got an extra lane. There was pizza and ice cream cake with candles and I also made a fruit salad in the morning. The price was very reasonable too, which is a nice change after crazy Brooklyn prices for party events as such.

Birthday lunch with friends.And after bowling Ilya with family and Logan went to our place to celebrate some more. The boys seemed to have fun playing together and we also enjoyed the company of the adults. Later on Wendy stopped by to pick Logan up and spent about an hour with us. That was nice too.

Swurfing mastery.All in all, Arosha had a nice birthday and a good year for the most part. I hope he’ll have a wonderful next year of his life. We are lucky to have him in our family!

Another birthday cake!

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Helena — The Capital of Montana

Montana State capitol.When we put together our road trips we try to include state capitals even when those require a bit of a detour. Especially for those capitals that we haven’t been to previously. But Helena, the capital of Montana, turned out to be directly in our way and not only that, but very much in the middle of our drive from East Glacier Park Village to West Yellowstone — our next destination.

Helena. Montana State capitol.However instead of going through Helena and just stopping there for a short while we decided to break our long drive apart and spend a day in Helena itself to make things easier on our kids. It was 187 miles away from Glacier National Park and 176 miles to Yellowstone. We spent one night in Helena and we stayed in the only Hilton owned property of our whole trip — Hampton Inn Helena.

Capitol from the front.The drive to Helena itself was mostly uneventful except for a bit of anxiety we experienced on the part of us running out of gas and a complete lack of settlements of any kind on our way. So we were quite relieved to reach a town of Choteau with a population of around 1,500. We decided to grab a quick lunch at the gas stations where we filled up our car. We ate some typical gas station food, but Alёna and my dad ordered some soup to-go at a small sandwich place across the street.

Inside capitol. Anюta being Anюta.Hampton Inn turned out be very pleasant. Probably the cleanest and nicest place we stayed at on this trip. The only exception is a place at Jackson where we actually had a huge two bedroom, two story suite to ourselves — the only place where we actually finally got a joint room — our last day. Anyhow, we deiced not to procrastinate and get right back into our car right after check-in.

Looking up into the dome.The only thing that we wanted to see in Helena was its capitol complex, which was only 10 or so minutes away from the hotel. Since the day was Sunday the capitol building ended up being closed, just as we expected. We walked around it, looked at various monuments and simply spent some time laying on the green grass surrounding the capitol while kids ran around and played.

Walking up.As far as the pictures go, the sun was shining from the wrong direction, but the biggest issues that prevented me from taking decent photographs was my continuing lack of a shift lens. Thus without having one on hand all my pictures in their original form have a serious case of converging vertical lines — buildings appearing to be falling down behind themselves. Thank you, Photoshop.

Hibachi dinner.While kids were running around Alёna and I were going through restaurant listings on TripAdvisor. We wanted something different from the usually available American cuisine and ended up settling on a Japanese hibachi place called Nagoya Steakhouse which was in 18th out of 115 places — decent enough. The food turned out to be very good. Kids enjoyed the show and all of us enjoyed the food. Even my dad, who is not easily impressed by restaurant food, commented on the fact of it being delicious.

Senate chambers.And to finish our day all of us went out to hotel pools which also had a hot tub. Here I was pleasantly surprised by the progress that my kids had made with swimming. If back in April during our Canadian trip Arosha used to swim like a kind of a mix of amoeba and a zombie, he was actually swimming like a typical human would. And Anna who would refuse to go into a pool alone before was swimming all around it with a help of inflatable arm bands. All those trips that Alёna makes to our building pool with them really pay off.

Senators.One the morning of the next day — Monday, before leaving Helena we drove over to the capitol complex again. The building was open to visitors, we got our official capital stamps in our passports and were able to explore all over the capitol itself. It had a lot of paintings depicting Native Americans inside. We also were able to check out house and senate halls. It looks good inside, but to tell you the truth all the capitols are started to blur together in my head by now.

Inside the capitol.And that was our stay in Helena. The next stop was Yellowstone National Park itself — the longest single portion of our whole trip — five nights in one place.

Some of my stamps along with the one we got at Montana capitol building in Helena.
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