Wednesday, October 31, 2007


This is how it went tonight...

went trick or treating with Jordan and Mina in their neighborhood

raced from one house to another

rang the door bells until someone came out with a bag full of goodies

and we grabbed as many candies as our little hands could fit

then we carefully examined them ("chocolates go into my mouth and the rest goes back into David's bag")

since everyone was hard at work, an occasion break was well deserved.

We kept it short and sweet. It went really well considering there were 4 kids under the age of 3. Let's hope David doesn't start ringing random door bells tomorrow thinking that's what we do on the daily basis. Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Halloween starts early in Jersey.

On the last Saturday before Halloween, Leonia holds their annual Halloween celebration. It starts with a parade, but that was canceled on account of the rain. After the scheduled parade, however, the recreation center hosts an indoor party for this kids. The center is decorated every year for Halloween and the local kids do some mini-trick-or-treating, accepting candy from costumed characters. That's where we were headed.

As I was getting an uncooperative David dressed, I tried keeping his mind off his costume by telling him that he'd see Olivia soon - and it worked. As for Julia... well, usually she is the first in line to put on a princess costume in David's music class... but for me, she refused to cooperate. Tough, it is getting on.

Once we arrived at the rec center, David and Julia rushed from one candy station to another to get their share of treats. Almost immediately, their little hands started reaching into the bags and pulling out all sorts of goodies. They asked us to open each packaged candy and they went straight into their mouths. It was not long after that David found a lollipop and started screaming for it, despite our refusal to give it to him. (Running around the gym area with a lollipop stuck in his mouth didn't seem like a good idea...) Julia, on the other hand, was content with the bag of salty pretzels.

They ran around the gym with some of their friends, posed for a professional picture and ate too many treats. When they finally went home, they were all too happy to get out of their uncomfortable clothes.

The next day, we continued with the Halloween festivities by attending the James A McFaul 3rd Annual Cabbage Night in Wyckoff. We've visited this event every year since it started and it's always been a big hit with David. This year Julia joined in the fun. There are so many free activities for the kids that the three hours we spent there went by too fast.

David painted two pumpkins, one for himself and one for Julia.

Meanwhile, Julia enjoyed four pony rides.

David later joined her as his painted masterpieces were drying.

The kids took a short break to feast on hot dogs and apple cider. Neither one of them ever had a hot dog with a bun, but when there are limited food choices, they tend to not be as picky. (That's good to know for the future.)

The sound of a guitar drew David to the performance stage where a band was playing. While we were enjoying the music and watching the other kids dance, we were munching on the kettle-cooked caramel popcorn. I think Julia discovered her favorite food - after four bags of popcorn and she was still reaching for the empty bags.

David didn't care for a cotton candy; thus more for me.

After a few rounds on a hay ride, it was time to head back home.

The Wyckoff Cabbage Night was a hit yet again and all had a good time.

The early Halloween celebrations prepared the kids for this Wednesday's night of trick-and-treating. David already knows how to say "trick-or-treat" and he's looking forward to eating more candy. However, the one who is really excited about Halloween is Seth -- so much, that he's working from home on that day so he could take David out! In fact, he's the one who has been teaching David how to say "trick or treat" for quite some time now and they practiced David's "skills" at the rec center. Seth drew a big calendar on the chalk board circling the October 31st date and crossing out the days leading to Halloween.

David's painted pumpkins are sitting outside our front door now and we still have to carve the pumpkin that we picked up about a month ago at the Demarest farm. Other than that, we are all set to celebrate Halloween.

However, we have no idea how David and Julia will react to more candy than he's ever seen in his life. We'll probably give David some candy that night, but perhaps we could use some of it to our advantage. Having realized the power of a simple lollipop while toilet training David, perhaps I'll hold off on introducing the candy to Julia until we can use it as a bribe for behavior modification!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Finally Back Together.

Fall arrived and everyone seems to be going on the vacation except us. David's speech therapist was gone for two weeks camping and his girlfriend, Olivia, was away in Disney celebrating her 3rd birthday. We stayed home and impatiently awaited their return. I tried not to bring up either of their names to David, so he wouldn't get upset and insist on seeing them. It proved to be more difficult than I thought.

The first day his speech therapy was canceled, I asked David if he wanted to see Ms. Anne (his music teacher and David's idol) or Ms. Lauren (his school teacher). David's reply -- "Kathrine" (his speech therapist). I explained that she was away. Right, David accepted that answer. Every single day for two weeks, I sounded like a broken record: "Ms. Kathrine is away on a vacation. You'll see her soon" and so on.

When I wasn't apologizing to David for Ms. Kathrine taking a vacation, I was trying to explain to him why Olivia was missing from a park. In the middle of his music class, David turned to me and said "O?" (O is for Olivia). How do you explain to a 2 year old that his girlfriend is having a great time with Mickey Mouse? So, he just knew she was away and coming back soon. We received an e-mail from them saying that O is asking for David and Julia as well.

Luckily, a playdate with his friends, Jordan and Mina took his mind off Ms. K. and O. David was asking about Mina long after they left. "She is away" was my reply. Creative lying was never my strongest suit.

I wish I had a camera to capture a smile on David's face when he saw Ms. Kathrine again. He got shy at first, but then without any hesitation said "bye mommy, bye baby" and left for his session. Sometimes I wonder why I stay at home when I am not even his favorite person... not even third in line.

This morning I was preparing David for his reunion with the gf. When Olivia walked in the door, a familiar smile lit up David's face and he couldn't take his eyes off her. Of course, this lasted just a couple of minutes, as their wild and cranky toddlerhood took over and they got lost in screaming and temper tantrums (mostly David).

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

How to keep a friendship (hint: leave the kids home)

With Seth taking off from work on Friday, it meant that the weekend was starting a day earlier for me - or so I thought. Seth dropped David off at school, played with Julia in the park, took her to her gym class and then returned to the park before picking up David. Meanwhile, I was home enjoying something unfamiliar to me ... quiet. I should have known I was going to pay for this later.
Our good friend, George, was getting married that day, which is why Seth had taken off work. All of us were invited to the wedding (although I think the kids were rather imposed by me).

I was looking forward to this day for a month. The last time Seth and I went to a formal affair was when I was pregnant with David; over three years ago. I was even excited about getting dressed up, wearing some nice shoes and having an excuse to put some makeup on. Of course, at the last minute I found out that liquid foundation and mascara have a shelf life as I tried applying makeup that had the consistency of chalk. I only wish that it was my last challenge that day.
Picture a 15-minute wedding ceremony during which David loudly asks to go to the potty twice. Now picture a bathroom situated right next to the main room where the ceremony was taking place, and all David wants to do is keep flushing and washing his hands. At the same time, Julia decides that she's hungry (for which she always seems to be) and loudly chews on her Cheerios. Shortly thereafter, halfway into the wedding ceremony, I had to step outside into the rain with Julia; two minutes later David followed. Before the end of the ceremony, both kids were entertaining themselves, throwing rocks into a puddle.

Julia's white shoes and stockings were black before the reception even started. The kids wouldn't sit still for a minute and kept running outside into the rain. David kept stealing butter packets from the serving table. When we told him to stop it, he did what he does best - he sat on the damp cement floor in protest. This gave Seth and me the opportunity to get some appetizers on our plates (although finding time to eat them would prove to be another challenge.)

Eventually David insisted on going to the car for which we obliged. However, he refused to come out, so we left him there. We checked on him a few times, but he asked to stay, granting us a 20-minute break. Meanwhile, one of our friends was running after Julia, allowing us some time to finish those appetizers. (Thank you, Albert!)

During this time, I took the opportunity to finish my glass of champagne, then Seth's, and slowly on to the other 4 glasses for people who were absent from our table. (Go ahead - think what you want of the Eastern European stereotype!) The best part, aside from sharing this special day with George and Noelle, was seeing and catching up with all of our "old" friends who we haven't seen for years.
You'd think I would learn something from this experience and hang low for the rest of the weekend. Wrong! On Sunday, we visited our friends who have three kids: Chance, Connor and Sarah. Even though they are older than David and Julia, I have a feeling they've always been well-behaved kids. Their house is always neat and doesn't look as though kids live in there (at least not on the main floor). That all changed as soon as Meyer clan stepped in the door. I have a feeling that everyone (although they are too nice to admit) including their poor rabbit, Raven, were traumatized from us visiting. A subway map, hanging on the door, ended up in pieces as David ripped it in two. Food was dropped all over the floor and chairs, and doors were slammed shut a dozen times, and some musical instruments took a beating as David banged on them. I don't think we'll be invited back in a long time and rightfully so.
So... what lessons were learned? Do you want to see some friends whose house isn't equipped for toddlers? Invite them over. And if you want to attend a wedding... get a babysitter.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Look out for bruises, scratched knees and more boo boos.

One of the greatest things about the location of our home is its proximity to a lot of parks, thus we spend a lot of our time there. Lately, David's been insisting on riding his tricycle to the local parks. Julia doesn't have much saying in how she's commuting. She is stuck either in her little plastic car or her stroller and I try to get as fast as possible to the park before she starts getting out. So, with one hand, I push David in his tricycle and with the other, I somehow maneuver Julia's stroller. It's been challenging some days and I couldn't wait until David learned to pedal. Well, last week he surprised me and just let go. He got so excited he could pedal that he wouldn't want to get off his tricycle. Of course, now he won't let either me or Julia touch the handle of his tricycle to give him an occasional push. He's been riding all over the town to the stores and parks. As expected, he rides there, but refuses to ride back and again, I end up pushing a stroller AND a tricycle.
The same day, Julia decided that David was receiving too much attention and she somehow needed to redirect it back to herself. Even though she's always been strong physically (of course, she needs to keep up with her brother and his friends), she still managed to catch me off guard by climbing up on the top of a coffee table. After I got her off the table and left the room, she was back up jumping on the table. This kid is unbelievable. She has more bruises and scratches on her face than David ever had.

I love watching the kids learning something new. It seems as though anything I teach David goes in one of his ear and comes out of the other. He does pick up educational things in his school which means our $$$ are well spent. Julia, on the other hand, takes everything in. She understands both languages, imitates everyone, especially, Ms. Anne in the music class and listens to me... on a rare occasion. She does have the same speech pattern as her brother did at her age. She says a lot of words, but doesn't repeat them. The only consistent phrase she uses is "all done". Life is definitely more interesting with two curious toddlers in the household who think the world revolves around them (maybe not the world, but our house definitely does).

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Baby By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet

For all the love David may have for Julia, he refuses to call his sister by her proper name. Even under threat of intense tickling, he flat out refuses to call her "Julia." Instead, he'll only call her "Baby."

I would rather he calls her by her proper name than an impersonal classification. After all, Nataliya and I argued considered many names before agreeing on "Julia."

To an outsider, it may seem that he doesn't understand what is being asked of him, but a recent interaction proved otherwise. Julia and David were having fun in the bathtub, playing with their bath letters and numbers when I started up with David:
Daddy: David, say "li"
David: Wee.
Daddy: No - "Li"
David: Wre.
Daddy: Close enough. Say "ya"
David: Yaa
Daddy: Good! Now say "ju"
David: Yuu
Daddy: Great! Good job!
Okay... so I've established that he could approximately say "Julia" if he wanted to. I just needed for him to paste the three syllables together.
Daddy: Say "liya"
David: Reya
Daddy: Now say "Juli"
David: Yuree.
Daddy: Say "Ju. Li. Ya."
David opened his mouth as if to say something and then paused. After a few seconds, a smile appeared on his face. He looked up at me and took in a deep breath in preparation for his reply.
David: BABY!!
Damn! I thought I had him!
Daddy: No. Say "Julia"
David: Baby!
I even tried breaking it down for him.
Daddy: "Ju. Li. Ya."
David: Bay! Bay! Bee!
Daddy: Say "Li"
David: Baby!
Daddy: Say "Li"
David: Baby, baby, baby, baby, BABY!
It was hopeless. It's unclear what he thinks he's achieving by not saying Julia's name, but his resolve is admirable, if not frustrating. Let's hope he can put that same determination into his schoolwork and career.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Van Saun Park in The Autumn

The crisp air of Autumn has finally arrived to NJ and with it come sweatshirts and runny noses, but it doesn't mean the end of fun. The family went to Van Saun Park today to spend some time on the train, the carousel, and of course, some fun in the park.

The park has slowly been getting its Halloween flavor as well, complete with cut-out boards with holes for putting your faces in. David and Julia got into the act, posing for some pictures.

First David:

And then Julia:

Next they took one together, but David started getting mischievous. Careful Julia - Big Brother is watching!

One thing we did notice is that the park was very quiet - too quiet. The temperature drops below 70 and the NJ parks are practically empty! The temperatures might be cooler, but it doesn't mean that the fun's all gone!

Introducing Some Culture Into David's Life

This Saturday was Daddy's turn to take David for a day on the town; well, Manhattan at least.

After being dropped off at the George Washington Bridge, we hopped on one of those shuttle buses to Manhattan. After a long trip on the A train, we found ourselves in the Wall Street area; a hectic bustling area during the week, but a virtual ghost town during the weekend. After a stop at Seth's office to give David a chance to keep up with the potty training, we headed down to Battery Park for the Seventh Annual Culturefest.

Culturefest features over 100 booths which present small slices of culture in New York City, from ballet to opera, museums to workshops, theatres to gardens, and parks to performing arts. Then, after working up an appetite, they had plenty of food stations on hand from NYC restaurants, featuring Indian food, Mexican food, French food and a dessert booth. (We ended up going to the booth that featured peanut butter sandwiches: (Peanut Butter & Co.) The funny thing is that I remember when this restaurant first appeared - almost ten years ago - and never thought I'd have any reason to patronize them. Because of David's particular diet, this turned out to be a life-saver.

We visited a number of booths, and David especially enjoyed making his own button in "The Studio Museum in Harlem," getting a rub-on tattoo in the "Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum" booth, watching the train in the "New York Botanical Garden" booth. There were many other booths which offered something for kids and David was moderately interested in these activities.

There were a two stages which featured various performances, and David wanted to stay through three of them, featuring Taiko Masala (Japanese drumming), Chris Byars Quartet (jazz) and The Smyrk (punk/grunge-rock).

After Culturefest (and a quick potty break,) David and Seth went onto the Staten Island Ferry for a quick boat ride to Staten Island and back. He liked the ride, but wasn't too crazy about staying outside with the strong breeze.

Once back, it was back on the train to Times Square. By this time, David wanted to ride on Seth's shoulders which wasn't particularly fun for an already tired Daddy. Walking to Eighth Avenue, the two made their way through the 8th Avenue Autumn Festival and back to the bus that would take them home.

David went to bed at his normal time, but Seth would be fast asleep first. How good it must feel to be young... sigh...

Monday, October 8, 2007

Craving Boredom.

I just recently realized why I am more tired on the weekends than during the weekdays. I shouldn't have any excuses as Seth spends the weekends playing with David and Julia whereas on the weekdays they are mostly my responsibility. On the weekdays though I don't drive myself crazy coming up with things to do with my kids. They spend bulk of their waking hours at our local parks playing with the same kids they've known for years/months in Julia's case. Once the weekend approaches, we always have at least two kid friendly outings in mind. We make sure we are back home for the kids' naps and we are back "on the streets" as soon as they are up. That's why we never get any break and Seth actually looks forward to going back to work on Mondays to "get some rest". This weekend was no exception... except that we had nothing planned days ahead and decided on the activities half an hour before leaving the house.

We found an ad in a paper about the Hackensack Street Festival and a half an hour later we were headed west. To our surprise, the festival had a lot of activities for the little ones such as a petting zoo, pony rides, live music, puppet shows, an inflatable slide and moonwalk. Did I mention running on the streets was not only allowed, but encouraged which was good as the kids had filled up on candies and lollipops and needed to burn some energy.

Saturday didn't end there. After the kids' naps, we took them to the playground where Julia was trying very hard to keep up with the older kids.

Sunday came and Seth thought it would be nice to get a fresh organic chicken from the farm for a dish I am planning to make this weekend. We've been to this farm before, but didn't remember the address and since it was too early to call a neighbor who introduced us to it, Seth decided to google it. Instead he came across Demarest Farm which we visit for pumpkin picking every October, so even though it is a little bit too early, we decided to get us a pumpkin for Halloween.

The hay ride was the most exciting part of the entire experience for David.

Julia was so mesmerized by a hay ride that she sat still the whole time.

Picking up the biggest pumpkin seemed challenging.

So, then David decided not to be so greedy and settled for the smallest one.

David chased Julia in a corn maze ("chased" is an understatement, it is more like "tortured").

Back home, while the kids were taking their naps, I was fixing some furniture I bought at a garage sale for Julia.

It was another busy weekend. There are definitely times when I wish I could stay in bed all day long with a pint or two of Ben and Jerry's ice cream and watch old movies. If Seth ever offered me this opportunity, you bet I am taking it! But for now, I am already planning the activities for next weekend which promises to be a hectic one.

Love Is A Battlefield

As Julia perfects her walking, she’s become much more of a playmate than a play thing for David. In fact, she’s become his closest playmate. Their relationship seems to change, depending on the environment, but at home, they’re best buddies.

Julia adores David. She'll follow him, watch his every move, and try to imitate him as best she can, whether it’s making a funny noise or climbing on the couch pillows. They share each others’ sippy cups, even though they have their own readily available. They’ll even have entire verbal dialogue, although usually it’s either screaming back and forth or panting like dogs at each other. They even take a bath together.

Then there’s the physical part of their relationship. David still tugs at Julia’s legs or arms and even wrestles, holding her down with his body weight. Julia often will find these interactions amusing, but her tolerance for these activities often turns sour as she starts feeling discomfort or perhaps even pain. David isn’t quite aware of the consequences of his actions, which is why they still need constant parental supervision when they play together.

David’s still the authority between the two, but Julia’s coming into her own. As she gets bigger and stronger, she’s starting to realize that she doesn’t have to give in to David, and she’s starting to give him a bit of his own medicine as she learns to imitate his actions, grabbing his toothbrush from his hands and not letting him have it back.

Will these two become lifelong friends in addition to their relationship? Astrology paints a bleak picture for overall compatibility between siblings who are a Pisces and Leo. (It's always so convenient when human behavior can be broken down into a chart like this!) Well, I sincerely hope that their relationship will remain close and that their bonds as siblings will become stronger over time. It certainly looks like they’re on the right path.