Sunday, December 30, 2007

Goodbye 2007!

As 2007 comes to a close, we had one last weekend to enjoy with the kids. Saturday wasn't too eventful, but the unseasonably warm weather was the perfect invitation for us to spend a few hours outside. After David woke from his nap, we headed into town. David rode his tricycle for a while while Julia rode in her car. Finally making our way to the park, they were soon joined by Olivia when they continued to play for a while.

Sunday was our busy day. Chance, Connor and Sarah came over for brunch. David loves playing with these kids, and they're really good to (and patient with) him. Even though they are much older than David, they play with him and make sure he doesn't get into any trouble.

After David and Julia's very short naps, we headed to American Museum of Natural History to meet some of Seth's friends from Australia.

Seth had taken David to the museum before and suggested meeting up here because of the museum's size and abundance of space. We found out (the hard way) that space isn't so abundant when the city contains more tourists than usual. In fact, the museum was so crowded that I was afraid I'd lose Julia who, not only refuses to be carried, but runs ahead of us without checking that Seth or I are in sight.
After visiting a few exhibits (which was all we could handle with the crowds), we decided to move our little gathering to a nearby cafe where David enjoyed his second cup of hot chocolate of the day. (Perhaps the caffeine in the cocoa is why David is still wide awake in his bed as I write this blog entry.) After his hot chocolate, he proceeded to tear the cafe upside down. Seth's Australian friend, Michelle, helped distract him by putting on a bandanna which he was interested in (for about three minutes.) Sigh

By the time we got home, it was too late to start preparing dinner, so we stopped off at Donna's Pizza in Palisades Park for dinner. This is one of the few restaurants where our kids "behave" because they are too busy enjoying their pizza slices!

Finally finishing dinner and putting the kids to bed, Seth finally replaced the kitchen faucet that he had put off for a few months now. This is perhaps the first thing he's actually fixed (outside of replacing batteries and light bulbs), although he did have a bit of guidance from his friend, Ty. In any case, hopefully this will be the start of more things getting fixed around here!

Anyway, this posting marks the end of another weekend and another year. It's been crazy and adventurous, but still wondrous at the same time. We hope (wish) that the next year will bring us three things: 1) health, 2) an end to David's terrible twos, and 3) hope that Julia doesn't ever hit the terrible twos.

We wish everyone a healthy and happy 2008 year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

It is hard work, but somebody has to do it.

Christmas day was a lot of fun for Seth and me as we enjoyed watching our kids' reaction to opening their gifts. So why am I carrying our 2 ¾-year old while our 17-month old is walking by herself and dragging along an enormous monkey that's almost her size? David isn't a happy camper before his breakfast. (Wait until he discovers coffee!)

Would you believe that I had to beg David to open his gifts? I hope that this trend continues into his teenage years, rather than him expecting a video game system from Santa. He got into the swing of things after the first layer of wrapping paper was ripped off. It looks like someone was really good this year... *cough* *cough*

Once he unwrapped his new drum, a smile formed from ear to ear as he pondered the possibilities. (At least Santa doesn't have to hear our little drummer boy pound away at the drum!)

Our little sunshine was happy with just a pair of socks. That's all she wanted to play with. One day, while we're waiting for her to try on her sixth pair of Abercrombie & Fitch jeans, we'll look back on this and treasure the times where a simple pair of socks made her happy.

Evidently Santa needs a GPS system, as he apparently left some gifts for our kids at their cousins' place... and the unwrapping started all over again.

Finally, the kids performed their holiday show for the parents. Marko was playing accordian, David was on the acoustic guitar, Daria played saxophone, and Julia provided the vocals!

Taking a picture of the four kids in front of the tree proved to be a bit of a challenge, so I had to assist by holding Julia.

Thank you to everyone for being so generous to David and Julia. They are having fun with all the toys and they love all their new clothes!

Friday, December 21, 2007

My Day At Work - By David Meyer

Weekdays usually mean that Daddy takes a bus and a train to go to work to make money. He leaves early in the morning and returns at night. The Daddy that comes home is more tired than the morning Daddy. I thought it would be a good idea to tag along one day, just to see how difficult his day really is.

First was the wait for the bus. That took a little while, but I found the cool morning air refreshing.
Once on the bus, it was a short, enjoyable ride into Manhattan. (Hey, any ride where I'm not strapped into a toddler seat is enjoyable!)

Next it was onto the train. This was a bit scarier than the roller coaster rides I went on during the summer - I actually had to hold onto this ride! I can't believe they don't offer seat belts on this thing!

Once in the office, I had a hot cocoa and got settled in. After fielding a few phone calls...

... I made some modifications to some software design issues that were plaguing Daddy.

After all that hard work, I went out with Daddy for lunch. While Daddy got some Chinese food, I opted for a delicious peanut butter sandwich that Mommy made for me which I brought from home.

Once back in the office, I got right back to work and wrapped up a few computer-related issues before calling it a day.

All in all, it was more fun than exhausting. Still, by the time we got home, Daddy looked ready to collapse in bed while I couldn't wait to tell Mommy all about my day!

So when do I get paid, Daddy?

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Teenager in the Making.

You bit her? Oh man, that's not right! Hmm? Who? Yeah, I know! Well, she's nice and all, but she still wears those pull-ups and she had that accident last week. Oh, so are you going to that kid's birthday party Saturday? Yeah, me neither. They invited the entire class - how sad is that? I thought that... oh, can you hold on? I have another call.

There comes a time when you cease to be satisfied with the 3-D movie that is your life, and you want a more interactive role. No longer are you satisfied as an observer of events, but you want to have creative input with the script. This is where David is today (and Julia is not far behind!)

Since David was born, he's always had a CD put on to help him fall asleep. For the longest time, it was Ukrainian lullabies that filled his room as he drifted off to sleep, but in the past several months, he's been given different options to listen to. He's recently figured out how to change the CDs in the player, and has been actively choosing the music he wants to sleep to. It's actually kind of cute to watch him make his selection and then go to his crib.

In the car, when I'm flipping through the radio stations, David will say "no" to each selection until he hears the song he wants to hear.

Perhaps not so cute is his stubbornness to dress in the shirt and pants of his choice. Nataliya has gotten into the habit of leaving clothes out the night before; in the morning, David now looks through the choices that were made, and if he doesn't like them will look in the closet for another option, or even open the hamper and dig for something he wants to wear. At times he'll have a tantrum if it's not the clothes he wants to wear. We've even had to leave the house a couple of times with him wearing just his underwear and a shirt.

Then there's the subject of his meals. If he doesn't get what he wants, then he won't eat. (That's a tough issue to fight with him - while we don't want to get into the habit of preparing a special lunch or dinner just for him, we obviously don't want him to go to sleep hungry!)

Yep ... David may be more than a decade away from being a teenager, but moments like this are pinhole views into what's in store.

But it doesn't end with David. Julia has been recently showing some signs of the same desire to control her own life in subtle ways. For example, her desire to wear her purple knapsack; don't even think of trying to take it off before she's ready.

For now, their behavior is manageable and at times 'cute,' but we're not fooling ourselves. This will only get worse before it gets better.

Uhmm ... It does get better ... right?


Monday, December 10, 2007

Next Stop ... Kazimiroff Blvd.

First it was the Model Engineers Railroad Club Train Show. Then it was the "Station at the Citigroup Center" and the "NY Transit Museum Holiday Train Show." Now it's the "NY Botanical Gardens Holiday Train Show."

Seth recently bought an entry-level TomTom GPS navigation toy which he used to successfully get us to the Botanical Gardens in no time. Once there, we met up with Uncle Taras, Aunt Ruslana, and cousins Mark and Daria, and then we made our way through the indoor gardens to where the train show began.

This was Julia's second trip and David's third trip to the annual train show, but they reacted like it was their first time. For a short time, there was no bickering, no pushing and no shouting.

Afterwards, we made our way to the Gingerbread Adventures where both kids played in the gingerbread house, decorated their own ginger cookies and explored muddy nature paths where David learned about bird nests. (Don't ask ...)

The kids (minus a fussy Julia) pose in front of a decorated pine tree. It's difficult to get all the kids to participate in a group picture, and we consider ourselves lucky to get 75% cooperation.

In all, it was a fun, yet exhausting, day for the kids. Once in the car, David and Julia fell asleep for the short trip home... thanks to TomTom!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Santa visits Leonia.

December in Leonia means cooler temps, shorter days, and a visit from Santa Claus. I know what you're thinking - why would Santa bother visiting a small town like Leonia during his busy season. Unfortunately, there are some questions which will remain a mystery.

For Julia, this was her first time meeting her northern neighbors. Generally a social person, Julia was a little uncomfortable with seeing someone with facial hair that was longer than herself and a stomach big enough to hold a small child.

Santa tells Julia that she's been naughty this year and will get a lump of coal. Meanwhile, David stares at the bag of lollipops next to Mrs. Claus.

I get into the picture to console Julia. (Will there ever be a nice holiday picture that I won't have to appear in?)

Overall the kids had a good time running around, and eating their goodies. David enjoyed his lollipop while Julia ate three large sugar cookies. At least Julia won't have to sit on Santa's lap again until next year.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Our Family Musician

David has shown some amazing aptitude for music. At least that's what Seth thinks! But is David destined to be as good as... say... Eric Clapton!?

Let's compare:
  • Clapton didn't release his Unplugged performance until he was 47, but David is well on his way at two (and a half) years old!

  • Clapton had the benefit of playing with a Fender Stratocaster made specifically for him. David is using a plastic guitar from a garage sale with only four strings intact.

  • Clapton was at his best when he was either taking drugs, drinking to excess, or when tragedy entered his life. David's best work comes when he knows he should be going to bed or after some hot chocolate.
As for David's talent... well judge for yourself:

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Our second date.

It's been a long time since I took David to THE city alone. Of course, the one day I decided to do this again was the first snowstorm of the season.

We woke up this morning to at least two inches of snow. No one seemed to be as excited about it as me. After the kids' breakfast, we got them bundled up and let them out to play in the snow before it melted - while most people - childless, I should add - were sound asleep. I sat Julia on a sled and David was happy pulling her. She was so excited and very curious since it was her first time on the sled. For a short time, everything worked out pretty well.

Of course, where David is concerned, there is always drama. Suddenly, there were thousand things that started bothering him, from the snow on his shoes to the hat on his head. That's when the tantrums started. I hope we'll get a lot of snow this year because I'd like to spend some one-on-one time with Julia playing outside while David is in school. (He can be such a party pooper.)

It can get very costly to entertain the kids in New York City or Bergen County (where we live), especially in the winter when the activities are moved indoors; but it doesn't have to be. My brother suggested that we meet this weekend at the Station at Citigroup Center. It's an amazing annual train show that didn't cost us a dime.

I decided to take only David since the timing would disrupt Julia's nap time and also because she was still getting over her cold. David had a blast and barely had any of his tantrums. After the show, he hung out with Marko and Daria, running back and forth and enjoying some snacks. They even listened to the band play Christmas music.

Since we were already in the city, I planned to take him to the NY Transit Museum - Holiday Train Show (there can never be too many train shows for David). Even though this show wasn't as impressive as the one at the Citigroup Center, it was less crowded and it was perfect for David's height, which was a relief since I didn't have to pick him up.

Walking through the underground corridor between the Times Square Station to the Port Authority, I had to pick him up and carry him as various subway performers would catch his attention. He would stop to watch every single performer playing their guitar, keyboard or drums. If Seth had been us, he and David would have stayed there for an hour if that's what would make our son happy.

David loves sitting in the window seat on the bus. He looks out and gives me a play by play, whether we're entering the tunnel, passing another bus or going uphill or downhill. He gets so excited on public transportation like a typical suburban kid. Once we exited the tunnel into NJ, he was fast asleep. He stayed asleep until Seth took him from me and placed him in his crib.

On returning home, Julia seemed very happy to see me. She spent a few hours alone with her daddy, and from what I heard, they had so much fun playing that Seth lost track of time and put her down for her nap much later than usual. (I never forget to give the kids their naps as it is the only thing that I look forward to after 7 hours of insanity).