Monday, April 28, 2008

Ukrainian Easter Weekend.

Last Sunday we celebrated Easter with my brother's family. When I was growing up, the preparation to this day started 2 weeks prior to the holiday and involved everything from cooking, baking and cleaning the house. It was not only a holiday, but also an event. Additionally we would prepare a Easter basket to get blessed on the day before the holiday. Nowadays, I simply go to a Russian food store on Friday night and just purchase practically everything that I need for my holiday basket which includes babka, kovbasa, eggs, butter and some other food items.
With a busy Saturday ahead of us and much to Seth's dismay, David was ready to start his day at 5am. While Julia and I were still catching some Z's, Seth took David to a nearby stream to look for frogs... at 6 am. Since the weather has turned nice, Seth's been trying to spend a lot of one-on-one time with David outside instead of turning on the television.
Before heading to the church in the city, we headed to Abma's farm to pick up some organic chicken, fresh eggs as well as other healthy snacks. This particular farm also has a petting area where kids can pet and feed the animals.

When we returned home, I finished up preparing the Easter baskets; one for each child. On the way to the Church, David insisted on carrying his own, although I was afraid that by the time we returned home, all the eggs inside would have a broken shells from David shaking the basket.

The kids sat long enough on the steps of the church for me to shoot a few pictures of them until they realized they could be running up and down those stairs with their cousin.

We then planned to meet up at my brother's place so the kids could play in a nearby park, but the traffic turned out to be a disaster. Thoughts of driving to the city for Ukrainian school every Saturday, (starting in September,) and dealing with this sort of traffic scares me.
We were back to the city on Sunday to celebrate Easter with the kids' cousins. I know I didn't prepare days before for the holiday, but my sister-in-law sure did. The food was delicious and presented beautifully.

The best part of getting together with my brother's family is seeing the kids interact with one another (or rather jumping all over Seth.) Daria, who isn't even two years old yet, was riding her tricycle all over and even asking to go to the potty. Someday I'll start potty training Julia, but I am afraid it is not happening anytime soon.

Luckily for me, the kids and Seth were not interested in any dessert except for hallow chocolate eggs, so I felt obliged to eat their share. Anyone who knows me realizes how difficult that task is.

So what makes four kids sit still long enough for a photo? A movie of course!

The only reason David left their house while "Peter Pan" (his favorite Disney movie) was still on without much screaming was because there was a "big boy" bicycle waiting for him in a hall. His cousin lent his old bicycle to David, who took to it like a duck to water, jumping on the seat and peddling down the street to our requesting that he slow down and wait for us. I guess it is just a matter of time when those training wheels have to come off.
So to sum up: Great weekend, great company, and great food. What else can one ask for? Oh, yeah, for those terrible threes to go away (I wonder if I ever stop mentioning David's age without a word "terrible" next to it. I doubt it ... sigh).

Saturday, April 19, 2008

We're No Spring Chickens, But We Can Still Outlast Our Children (Barely)

I'm not certain, but I think that today, Saturday, our kids beat their own records for the shortest stay indoors. With quite a few activities planned and no time for a nap, it was a very busy day for our munchkins.
I can't find the words to describe how happy we are that the winter is behind us. We barely see the inside of our house nowadays except to sleep and an occasional meal. (Some meals are enjoyed right outside!) The kids even play in the driveway while I am cooking and David is in charge of making sure Julia doesn't wander into the street, although she already knows not to do so. We love this weather and take full advantage of it.
Anyway, Saturday began with a trip to Van Saun Park before it got too crowded. Since the park was practically empty, Julia was making friends with the park's local residents.

They enjoyed the sound of the water running over the rocks in the stream, taking a few quiet moments to relax and throw an occasional rock into the water.

Since the zoo and carousel wasn't open, they played in the park and enjoyed the beautiful spring weather. David tried his hand at climbing the wall - something he wasn't able to do last autumn.

Ahhh, carousel! Open once more for our kids to enjoy! Seth and I can already feel our wallets getting lighter.

After a couple of trips on the carousel, we headed to the zoo. That's when we met up with David's "girlfriend" which made the zoo much more fun!

Then it was back home before David headed out to a Birthday Party. David's friend at school had just turned 3 and it seemed as though half of the kids in town came to a party. It was so much fun watching him interact and play with the kids.

The biggest surprise was having David's idol, Mr. Kurt, come and perform at the party. (I can't believe I didn't think of asking him to perform when planning Julia's 1st Birthday party!) I have never seen a better child entertainer than him. Every single kid at school adores him and watching him perform and engage the kids, now I know why.

After the music, the kids painted a mural.

Once back from the party, we all went to another park and had a blast there with some of our friends. Julia had a great time playing on the swing.

By the end of the day, the kiddies were so exhausted that they were looking forward to going to bed - at 7:30 pm! This hasn't happened... ever. In the last few weeks, we've been coming home from the local parks at around 9 pm, so Seth and I didn't know what to do with this extra time. Exhausted ourselves, we settled for some wine and cheese.

Finally enjoying some time alone, we start to recharge our batteries. By 7am tomorrow morning, the kiddies will be ready to repeat another fun-filled day. *sigh*

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Greatest Show On Earth.

Wow! "The Greatest Show" logo now digitally rotates!

Long gone are the days of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus actually having the right to proclaim that they were the “Greatest Show on Earth.” There wasn’t any three ring circus, no one was shot out of any canon, no tightrope performance and the trapeze setup looked a lot less impressive or dangerous than I remember as a kid. The souvenir lights were wrapped up in plastic bubbles -- no more tiny swinging flashlights that we had as kids that allowed an impressive sea of circular patterns in the audience (and a few bruised heads.) Lastly, this was the Blue show, making me wonder if this the greatest show. Perhaps the Red or Gold shows were better!

But for David, this was the greatest show on earth. During the 2 ½ hour show, he didn’t fidget, complain, make demands, bang or screech. The only thing he asked for was popcorn, which I was happy to oblige and only cost $7.

The popcorn made David's night... the circus was just a bonus!

He was mesmerized; glued to his seat (which happened to be my lap). During the clowns’ performances, I heard him laugh – not the forced laugh he makes from being tickled or the exaggerated laugh he produces when he’s amused and thinks he needs to laugh.

Prior to the show, or should I say during the pre-show, we got to go to the floor of the Brendan Byrne Continental AirlinesIZOD Center. (In case they change the name before this blog is posted, it’s that arena in the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, NJ.) Some of the performers put on a show: clowns perform and interact, some acrobats perform some basic maneuvers, and we even got to see one of their elephants produce a canvas painting.

Popcorn in one hand, Mini M&Ms in the other,
and a great view of the circus. What could be better?

Shortly after taking our seats, the show started. It had the usual bits; tigers standing on pedestals, white horses running in a circle, and elephants standing or lying on one another. There was a motorcycle ball where seven bikes rode, a trapeze show, and a few other bits that reminded me vaguely of Cirque du Soleil. Vaguely. The sub-plot of the show involved one of the clowns stealing the ringleader’s (Chuck Wagner) hat and keeping it away so that the clown (Tom Dougherty) could run the circus his way, emphasizing the point by referring to the show as his circus.

Nice kitty!

It only lasted several seconds, but when it was over,
three trainers and two clowns were unaccounted for.

The grand finale!

When the show ended, David turned to me, smiled and said “more circus!” For David, this was indeed the Greatest Show on Earth.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Why Wine When There's Grape Fun To Be Had?

The other night, David stacked three whole grapes and said "Mama, look -- a snowman!". Since he could barely hold three of them with his little fingers, Seth gave him a toothpick to keep the grapes in place.

The next day, he placed two halves of a grape on both sides of a toothpick and started lifting it up and down breathing heavily. He didn't know the name for dumbells, so he kept showing it to us until we realized what it was supposed to be. It was hysterical ...

and Julia thought so too.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

David's Mind At Work

Every so often, David shows us he's capable of strategic thinking. The goals may not be too high, but he is, at times, relentless in trying to figure out ways to get what he wants.

The other night, I took him out shopping. While waiting on the cashier's line, David spotted a lollipop on the candy rack. Making his move, he grabbed the lollipop and presented it to me and asked if he could have it. The answer was 'no.' He grabbed a different lollipop, trying to see whether it would change my mind, and was disappointed when the answer was still 'no.'

When we returned home, he told Mommy about the incident, adding that he wanted a lollipop. Mommy's answer was the same. "No."

Seeing that his quest for a lollipop was hitting a wall, he seemed to relent. We thought it was over and that he would finally let it go.

A short time later, the incident was forgotten, but now there was a new problem. David started complaining that his ear was hurting. He'd recently had an ear infection, so we thought it might have come back! He then added that he wanted to go to the doctor's office. This sounded a little strange, since the doctor doesn't actually relieve any pain, but rather pokes, prods, probes and pricks him during each visit. Then a devilish smile appeared on David's face as he added that he'd then get a lollipop.

* sigh *

The pediatrician's office gives lollipops to the kids after their visit, so David figured that if he faked an ailment that had resulted in a previous office visit, he would finally get his lollipop -- even if it meant getting an ear inspection.

Nice try, kiddo, but the answer is still 'no.'

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Our Social Butterfly.

"Does David like playing with other kids?". I've been asked this question more times than David can count (and he counts past 30). I have asked back "Do two year olds really play with each other or simply interact with one another?" I've learned from different sources that even though the little kids might acknowledge each other's presence, they don't really play with one another -- at least not when they're very young. So far, socializing with his friends for David, meant running after them, trying to out-screech them or playing ball with them. He's always loved the company of other kids though, especially the older ones.
A couple of months ago, a friend of mine, whose son goes to school with David, told me that after asking their teacher if her son has any friends, the teacher replied "I guess David is his friend since every kid wants to play with David". What?!? Were they talking about our little terror? Seth and I started analyzing this. We thought there had to be a correlation between expressive language and having friends, but it looks like we were mistaken. The kids love to run around, ride tricycles and David is good at that. Could it be that he's animated and silly that the other kids find him entertaining/amusing?
Today, as I came to pick him from school, he and another boy were sitting on a floor playing with building toys together. There wasn't any screeching or the usual silliness he displays at home. Without him noting me, I moved closer and I heard them exchanging a few words back and forth. They were communicating! Oh, it was the best sight ever. I took my time signing him out so I could watch them play and take it all in. For a split second I wished David had a twin brother. As always, he didn't want to leave, but this time I could understand why.
It is important to have friends in life and I hope David has a lot of them.