Friday, February 29, 2008

Four Things.

My friend, Sadaf, has tagged me on the subject of "four things." Since that's all I have time for lately, here it goes:

Four jobs I've had:
A babysitter
A bookkeeper
A bank teller
A financial accountant
Four places I've lived:
Four places I've been on vacation:
Disney, FL
Las Vegas, Nevada
Paris, France
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Four of my favorite foods:
Japanese (Sushi)
Thai Food
Four places I would rather be right now:
Anywhere in Western Europe
Dairy Queen (ice cream cafe)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Lionel Trains or Lionel... Hampton!?

One of the "games" that I play with David while in the car, is changing the radio station after David exclaims "no!" I believe that David enjoys having some say in the choice of music that we listen to. Nataliya thinks that I'm just giving him another reason to yell. In either case, the game usually ends when I give up on the radio and press play the pre-loaded kiddie CD.

After exhausting the presets on the radio, I decided to try something different, and pressed the search button instead of going to the CD. Station after station passed with David offering his usual "no" until we hit an unfamiliar station playing, of all things, jazz. With finger hovering by the search button, I stopped. There wasn't any objection from David. In fact, there wasn't any sound. This wasn't how the game played out, so something very weird was going on.

When I turned my head to check on David, I first noticed that David had an expression of awe and he seemed to really be enjoying the music. His eyes were elsewhere and a smile was apparent on his face. Noticing me looking at him, he looked back and his smile widened. "David," I asked, "do you like this music?" David softly replied, "like it!"

At nap time, I put on one of my jazz CDs for David to listen to. He was very quiet as the entire CD played, and he fell asleep without any fuss or argument. After his nap, he had no interest in leaving his room. Instead, he got up, pressed play on his CD player, and then went back to bed.

At bedtime, I put on another jazz CD for him, and again he went to sleep without a single complaint.

David gets in the mood as he listens to smooth jazz.

Hmmm.... maybe I'll introduce him to rap next week! Won't that be the illezt!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Prison Break - Part 2

When we last left our hero, he'd escaped the confines of his personal cell towards freedom. It was a proud achievement, and even though freedom was so close he could taste it, his plans were thwarted by additional security measures. With escape so close and having to face the prospects of another time-out, it looked like David had hit a bump in the road. Does our hero have a trick up his sleeve, or will his escape plan fail?

Find out on this week's episode of Prison Break!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Rain, Rain, Go Away.

Although it snowed yesterday, we didn't get a chance to play outside. I was hoping we'd get an opportunity today, but it's been raining non-stop. Fortunately, David rediscovered his love for puzzles and it kept him preoccupied for a good half an hour. Since Julia follows him everywhere, she kept him company at the table, playing with her own shapes and numbers puzzles.
Next, I decided to use our garage as a play area. Although a bit messy, it is spacious but still enclosed. I took out two tricycles for the kids, and a ray of sunlight immediately shone through David's rainy day. Julia had been expressing an interest in riding a tricycle as well, but she opted to push herself on the ground, rather than using the pedals. They chased each other through the garage, although David preferred crashing his tricycle into her hers.

After playing with their tricycles, I appealed to their artistic side with some chalk. Let's hope Daddy doesn't notice the graffiti!

Not understanding the concept of sharing, the kids next played kickball solitaire.

Then David turned to me and said "I wanna ride bigger bicycle." I brought out the bigger tricycle for him that he was too small for just one month ago. Now he not only was reaching the pedals, but was pedaling around the garage with ease! (Now I have to figure out how to convince him to wear a helmet!)

Monday, February 11, 2008

I Can Name That Tune In Two Notes

What I find interesting is that David has an interesting ability to not only recognize songs, but he can do so if they're hummed or whistled. He doesn't always know the names of the songs, but he will identify some lyric or word that makes it clear he figured out the song. For example, he may not say "Theme To Sesame Street", but he will rattle off the names of several muppets from the show.

For fun, I thought I'd push it a step further and sing (badly) the first two syllables of a number of songs. To my amazement, he was right on the money, nine times out of ten! Two notes were enough for him to show off a wide smile and belt out the answer! (When you take into account that I tend to be a bit flat when I try to sing, this is an even greater achievement.)

Then he did something unexpected. He proceeded to sing more half the songs from start to finish. Yeah, he would cheat a few words here and there, humming or babbling in the missing pieces, but he managed to sing entire lines of the songs as he accounted for every last note of each song. Here's a kid who barely puts nouns and verbs together, rattling off entire lines of songs.

Could we use music to help him learn in general? While there's not much to gain in clapping when we know we're happy, understanding how one merrily rows downstream, or why so much emphasis is given to a bus's rotating wheels, perhaps we could choose songs with a more educational value. Maybe if we sing to him about conjunctions, interjections, how a bill becomes law, or why three is a magic number ... maybe ... just maybe ... he'll pick up something of value!

On the other hand, it could simply turn him off to music completely.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A checklist of a perfect Sunday for me.

- Sleeping in late.
- A long shower.
- Having a hot pot of coffee ready before I even get downstairs.
- David and Julia running towards me screaming "mama! mama!"
- Having fun with the kids OUTSIDE of the house.
- Kids taking their naps.
- Running 6 miles.
- David having 5 tantrums an hour and not 20.
- The husband cooking dinner.
- Not overindulging at dinner.
- Not consuming an entire box of chocolate.
- Kids asleep.
- A bite of Seth's ice cream.

Today was one of these Sundays. Today's outside activity included a trip to Hoboken for Cabin Fever Festival (thanks, Sadaf) filled with a puppet show, arts and crafts, face painting, tattoos, bobbles, music and much more.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

A Movie Night.

Seth had planned to take David today to the French Institute in the city to see a movie called "The Red Balloon" which was supposed to be followed by arts and crafts. We figured, it is never too early to introduce him to a foreign film especially since he perfected English language so well (sarcasm). Actually, this movie doesn't have much dialog. It is about a balloon that follows a boy around Paris. I suppose it sends a message of friendship and loyalty.
This morning we found out that all tickets for the movie were sold out. We knew we had to improvise especially since we had told David that he and daddy would take a train and a bus to see a movie. He's been talking about it for days now.
So, instead, we drove to a Ridgewood library and borrowed the "The Red Balloon" dvd and settled for a movie night at home.

David's inhaling the smell of butter in a popcorn package.

At first, he seemed disappointed not to use a stove to make popcorn. A wide grin appeared on his face as soon as we told him he could press a few buttons on a microwave.

And here they are: munching on an entire bowl of popcorn (they both finished it all before the movie ended) and enjoying a foreign film.

Once the popcorn was gone, Julia lost all interest in the movie, but David was glued to the screen for its entire duration. Nothing beats the comfort and convenience of a home. Did David understand the movie's underlying message? We shall see how he treats his sister tomorrow, but I doubt much will change.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Dress Up.

Julia woke up with a fever again this morning. As Seth was spending some one-on-one time with David in a children's museum today, I was playing dress up with my daughter. As much of a tomboy as she is, she loves her hairpins, bags, shoes (Elmo slippers for now), butterfly wings and have her hair brushed by her daddy.

And then it was time to dress up her toys. I noticed Julia struggling to put her Elmo (or as she says "Emo") slippers on her bunny. After helping her, she placed a bunny in a stroller and happily proceeded to pushing it. Oh, what little things make her happy. I am so enjoying it as I already know what's coming just in a few months.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Schools of Fish;
Queues of Russians

Our Saturday plans have changed over a dozen times before we left a house earlier this morning. I had asked Seth last Friday night whether he'd prefer going to NY Aquarium this weekend or making a trip to Lowe's with David and try to do some handy work around the house. Since Seth likes to fix broken things as much as I like to cook gourmet meals, the choice was obvious: On to the NY Aquarium!
On Saturday morning, Julia woke up screaming and a fever approaching 102. We decided that only Seth and David would make a trip to the Aquarium. However, as Seth was leaving the house, he suggested we all go since Julia's fever was down. Another 15 minutes later and all four of us were on our way to Brooklyn.
Once there, the kids were running from one fish tank to another as they both fed their curiosities. Julia didn't even exhibit any behavior of someone who had a relatively high fever two short hours prior.

David was in awe of the walruses, yet he wouldn't stop licking his lollipop.

To most, the step in front of the tanks offer a way for small children to view the residents in each exhibit, but Julia found another use; She'd climb onto it and then jump off. I have a feeling that this was the highlight of her experience today.

The kids saw all kind of water animals today: sharks, moon jelly fish, starfish, stingrays, penguins, eels, and even a small crocodile (among many other animals.)

We even caught a performance by sea lions which David enjoyed watching, even though his sister didn't seem to have much interest in it.

After a stop at the Aquarium's cafe for a quick lunch, it was time to say goodbye to all the fish and head back home --- or so I thought. Seth thought since we were so close to Brighton Beach (a.k.a. Little Russia,) I'd want to go food shopping in the area. A few minutes later and we were seeing Russian signs on every block.

I should mention that since I've come to US, I have never seen the lines for food as long as I saw today in Brighton beach. The sidewalks were so crowded that not was it almost impossible to walk, let along push a stroller, down the streets. Are the people so nostalgic for the old life that they bring their lifestyles to the new country?
So, instead of going straight to a Russian supermarket, we made a stop at a toy store. Ok, it was a Russian toy store and maybe that's why it was so much more appealing to me. That's when I felt nostalgia ... for my childhood. I saw so many familiar toys featuring characters that I grew up with. They even had a small section of Ukrainian books which most of them my kids already have. The store was divided into two big sections -- Russian and American. David ran right away to an American section that had an inventory of every musical toy imaginable.

As my kids entertained themselves in a store under Seth's supervision, I became a kid myself in the Russian section of the store. I was tempted to buy a lot of stuff, but I held back. Instead, we left without making a single purchase, pulling a screaming David away from a toy guitar (whose box he ripped opened.) One day, when I am a grandma and don't have to save for my kids' college education, I'll be doing nothing but shopping in a toy store!
Since I didn't have the patience to deal with the crowded stores, we ended up only buying lots of fruits and vegetables from outdoor markets.
Once back home, Julia's fever came back and she was hysterical. We realized she was teething and after applying an anbesol, she calmed down. I couldn't wait to put them to sleep tonight as neither one of them had napped and we had all ran around nonstop.
After putting the kids to sleep, we enjoyed a delicious dinner of baked ziti, garlic bread, salad and some wine. Afterwards, we were ready to call it a day.

Friday, February 1, 2008

The future so bright.

I couldn't resist taking this picture of our boy who tonight was sitting still for the longest time in the last three weeks. We've had quite an adventure during those weeks and I am afraid it is not over yet. I still can't get used to David's mood swings, but today was a good day and I am going to sleep hoping there are more days like this in our future.