Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Stuff M Says

This is probably of no interest to you unless you happen to be M's parent or grandparent. So it's mostly for my records so I don't forget these things. M's been making just the most interesting statements lately (all in Russian):

  • Ю. такой щедрый! Он мне подарил столько игрушек! Он - настоящий друг!
  • Мама, смотри, что я нашёл. Я такой находчивый, правда?
  • Мы с Ю. - други. А еще мы сыны. Он - для тети Наталки, а я - для тебя.
  • Мне печально, когда Ю. наказывают. Но я не плачу, потому что я же - джедай.
  • Не плачь, Ю.! Джедаи должны управлять своими эмоциями, а не подчиняться им!
  • Меня мальчик зло толкнул и я подвернул ногу и палец. Теперь я - раненый джедай.
  • Один мальчик толкнул меня, когда я лез на горку. Но я повернулся и сказал ему специальным джедайским голосом - стоп!
  • Мама, ты сделала две критические ошибки. Одна ошибка - в том, что ты меня за уши потащила в магазин игрушек. Вторая - что ты потратила деньги.
  • Да, это хорошая игрушка, но меня она не интересует. Меня интересует только все космическое и звездно-воиновское и роботы. 
  • Мама, я сделаю робота, чтобы он посуду мыл и готовил и игрушки убирал и деньги в банк относил.
  • Я вот тру-тру руки, но они шершавые. Это, наверное, микробы.
  • Передада, передада! When I ask him what it means, he explains that it means someone who передумал сказать да (changed his mind from yes to no; a flip-flopper).

If he doesn't like how a conversation is going, he says давай лучше об этом потом поговорим.

Мама, а когда Боба Фет родился, у него уже была броня? Нет? А как он ее получил? (Я объясняю, что Боба подрос, много тренировался, а потом, уже взрослым, получил броню). М вздыхает: Как же это сложно! Такая большая разница между взрослыми и детьми!

At a Chinese buffet, M is trying to share his dessert with me. But I'm full and tell him "Thank you! It's so nice of you to share, but I just can't eat another bite". He responds: Это потому, что у нас организм по разному устроен. Дети вот могут есть, а потом вырастают, и уже больше не могут.

  • Мама, какой сегодня чудесный день! Давай наслаждаться свежим воздухом.
  • Этот TIE-fighter - на хорошей стороне. Он раньше был плохим, но я с ним поговорил и он перешел на светлую сторону.
And the latest one from tonight:

Мама, что такое ОРЗ? I explain that это острое респираторное заболевание. М спрашивает, а острое это как? Я объясняю, что это когда заболеваешь неожиданно быстро и сразу очень плохо. М подумал и говорит: "понятно. Это острое как если на ежа сел."

Celebrating the Season

Since we were in NY for the first half of December, we sort of missed out on all the holiday prep. Once we got back, I concentrated mostly on cleaning and decluttering which is all done. The only undecluttered area is M's room, but taking care of that one is kind of tough since, well, he's with me all the time and have you ever tried getting rid of your child's old toys while he's home with you? Talking about Mission: Impossible, they should have Tom Cruise do that for one of the sequels, maybe call it Mission: Impossible - Stealth Trash Can Protocol.

Plus I don't throw old stuff away unless it's in bad shape (which is almost never), but instead donate it. Doing that is also difficult since M goes everywhere with me and he gets awfully suspicious about all those donations boxes. But anyway, I'm getting off track here...

So, the house is mostly clean and ready for the New Year. This is not the most cheerful season for us since Chris is gone, but don't you think we are left to celebrate all the holidays on our own. In fact, we have way too many invitations to various parties, dinners and playdates. Big love goes to all our wonderful friends who might (or might not) be reading this post!

Last Tuesday, on the first night of Hannukah, we went to the Jewish Cultural Festival held in the nearby Cary. I wasn't sure what to expect there, but it turned out great and we had an amazing time there with M. First, he did a couple of Hannukah crafts. Can you guess which ones? Of course, he made a menorah out of paper, silver pipe cleaners and LOTS of Hannukah-themed stickers. He got totally into the craft and only stopped when there was no space left for any more stickers on both sides of the menorah. Only then did he move on to the candle-making craft which he also loved.

We got to the crafts area early on when it wasn't very busy. So by the time more kids showed up we were done and ready to move on to something bigger and better. Luckily, we were just in time for an olive oil making workshop. The moment I saw the hand-cranked press, I knew M would love this presentation. What I didn't expect was how hands-on it was for the kids. They got the front-row seats AND got to help the rabbi press the oil. Along the way they learned about the story and the miracle of Hannukah. Once oil was pressed, it had to be separated. Since we didn't have days to wait like in the times of Judah Maccabee, a centrifuge was used. So the kids ended up with vials of oil that they poured into the cups on the menorah, the wick was made out of a cotton ball and it all worked out beautifully!

Again, M loved the whole process and held his hand up high every time the rabbi asked for volunteers. Also while at the festival, we ran into a neighbor of ours and she invited us for a Hannukah party complete with dreidel games, latkes and Hannukah music. The kids at the party were a few years older than M, but he did just fine and had a lot of fun there. Now he thinks that Hannukah is an awesome holiday and we need to do it more often!

We also started getting ready for the New Year which I, as someone who grew up in Russia, consider one of the most important holidays of the year. And since New Year prep is much like Christmas prep, we got ready for that one along the way. First, we decorated the gingerbread house. 

Actually, this year M did most of the decorating. I just put the house together and made the icing. And since it came in a wonderfully simple to use and organic kit, I can't take any credit for this. Except I made it a lot less organic by giving M some jelly beans, gummy bears, mini marshmellows and chocolate chips for decor. Wait, chocs were organic, so there, it's a mostly organic house.

Then we went to the Farmers' Market to buy a tree. We managed to find one small enough to fit into the trunk of our KIA Rio. Or maybe it says something about how spacious that trunk really is? Nah, it's a pretty small tree! I put up the strings of lights and M did pretty much all the rest of decorating work. I did help him with a few ornaments that were either too tricky to attach or had to go up high. He was so excited about the tree and kept saying елочка! я тебя так люблю! сейчас вот наряжу и тебе понравится! спасибо, елочка, что ты пришла к нам! (New Year tree! I love you so much! I'm going to decorate you now and you'll like it! Thank you for coming to us!). 

We also went to a New Year party at the local Russian school. The party was open to all and we were told that all kids would get little gifts from Father Frost who was supposed to appear at the end of the party. Now, Russian New Year party is not just a party, it's a concert where kids from the school perform songs, dances, and skits. M was a bit bored with that. But then all the kids were asked to come up to the stage and read a poem or sing a song for the Snow Maiden and M practically ran to the stage. When it was his turn, he stood up in front of the audience of about 100 people and in loud and clear voice ringing with enthusiasm read the little rhyme he chose and memorized all by himself: Экскаватор ров копает. Сто лопат он заменяет! (Excavator digs the ditch. It replaces 100 shovels! - yeah, I know, it doesn't rhyme in English, but in Russian it does). For this he got a great round of applause (I think it was because a) quite a few people in the crowd know him; b) he beamed with happiness; c) he didn't mumble or shout into the mic and d) the rhyme was mercifully short (this was like the second hour of the concert and everyone was a bit tired)).

I thought M was going to be most interested in Ded Moroz. But turns out, it was the Snow Maiden who truly made an impression. Must've been her all-white and sparkly dress and a white-fur hat. M later kept talking about her, but said that "she behaved oddly. She went into the hallway and disappeared". I explained that she had other parties to go to. Then M thought about it a bit longer and said "Mama, I think the Snow Maiden really likes it when it's clean and neat and all is in its place". I asked him why he thought so and he explained that it was her beautiful all-white dress that gave him this idea. Not too shabby.

Ok, well, I'm totally running my mouth here... Today, on Christmas Eve, we were going to see our friends for a celebration and a playdate. But their youngest is sick and we didn't go. Instead, I took M to jump on inflatables as a reward for behaving so well and doing all the chores. And then we went to see our other friends...

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Son's View of Things


M loves taking pictures with a camera. We have my little digital point and shoot which isn't such a great camera. But it's light and easy for him to operate. Plus I won't feel terribly upset if he breaks it 'cause it's not that expensive (although at some point it was).

He takes pictures with it whenever he can. It's a challenge for him 'cause his hands shake pretty badly (we are working on this and some other issues with an occupational therapist, but so far have seen little improvement). So most pictures come out blurry. Yet sometimes he takes pretty good pictures and I love looking through them and seeing the world the way he sees it.

This is me. I was super busy sorting through the old issues of the Russian Life magazine. It's a very blurry image, but that's how most of his photos come out. Makes me really appreciate what it takes for him to concentrate on keeping his hands steady.
This is one of his LEGO Heroes from the Hero Factory. He LOVES the cartoon (we found it dubbed in Russian) and can assemble the toys by himself (again, no small fit for him).
This is the bear from Toy Story 3. M didn't care much for the movie, but is absolutely taken by the Imaginext toy called "Tri-County Recycling Center". This is his second Imaginext toy (he got a shuttle launch pad last year for the holidays) and he LOVES them. He plays with them almost every single day. Lemme tell you, when you find a toy that entertains your child every day for a year, you don't feel bad at all for shelling out $$$.

For all y'all non-Star Wars fans, this is a TIE fighter. We found this vintage one at the flea market. Not exactly a bargain at $20, but again, something M loves and plays with a whole lot. Now, in the Star Wars bad guys use TIE fighters. But M will explain to you that he actually talked to this particular TIE fighter and explained to come to the good side. So this is a reformed TIE fighter which makes it very special and unique.

Holiday Season 2011

Is it holiday season already? I seriously can't tell. First, it's very warm here, in NC. We've been running around in light sweaters for a couple of days. Then it started to rain, but it's still warm. No snow, no ice, nothing. We went to a Christmas tree farm today to walk around. It was nice, but felt more like an early September outing. Last year at the same time at the same Christmas farm there was a bit of snow on the ground, the pond was frozen and it was cold enough to wear hats, gloves and warm jackets and still get cold.

Third reason it doesn't feel like holidays yet is that I haven't put up any decorations. Part of it is that we just got back from NY. But part of the reason is that I really don't feel like dragging all these decorations down from the attic, unpacking, then packing back after just a few days. I'm not being lazy either, just overwhelmed.

Forth, and main, reason it hasn't felt like holidays yet is, of course, Chris is not going to be home. Just doesn't feel very happy about it.

Of course, we're going to do something. Tomorrow we plan on getting a very small New Year tree. We talked about decorating it with all sorts of edible things - popcorn strands, cranberries, nuts, dried fruits, candies, etc. Needless to say, M is very excited about this idea and has been asking me to put this tree in his room. Yeah, right! But at least I'll be spared the trouble of getting the regular decorations from our tiny attic where I always bump my head on the roof beams.

I was also thinking about putting together a gingerbread house and will get a kit tomorrow. M loved this activity last year and can help out way more this year. Except I'd decorate it with Hannukah colors and with chocolate coins and pretzel stars :) And we'll play our Hannukah CDs and drink hot chocolate or maybe spiced apple cider.

So as I mentioned, we just got back from NY. You'd think that being there, I'd have more time to update the blog. Nope. Besides, there wasn't much going on apart from the usual hanging around the grandparents' house, helping Grandma with baking and building toy airplanes with Grandpa. The main events of our 3-week long stay were:

1. The Thanksgiving dinner with the family - my aunt Sofia hosted and it was great as usual. It was very nice to see my oldest cousin and his family since they live in Ohio and I don't get to see them often.

2. We took a train to Hoboken, NJ to spend an afternoon with my brother and his girlfriend. That was exciting since it involved a train ride (M kept taking pictures with a cell phone to, as he explained, "remember it all for later"), playing with an awesome chocolate lab who's super smart and awfully cute, enjoying a gorgeously-decorated Christmas tree and getting gifts.

One of the gifts was Myachis (just google it). They are like hacky sacks but aren't exactly. We had lots of fun practicing all different Myachi tricks. Finally, my bro and his girlfriend invited us to a Vietnamese restaurant. Needless to say, after an afternoon like this M fell asleep on the drive back and didn't wake up until the next morning.

3. We went to a trampoline place nearby, in Valley Cottage, called BounceOnIt.Finally, there's something in the area that is fun for both the kids and the adults. These are not inflatables, but real trampolines. So adults can have just as much (or even more) fun as kids. The place is great and I hope they stay open so we can go back whenever we're in NY.

4. M got to spend a lot of time with his second cousins. He really loved playing with them. At first he was concerned about the youngest one 'cause he thought she'd break his toys or chew them. But she's a big 2.5-year old now, so that was ok. And then, she's into all the silliness M is into - running around the house, screaming, hiding, jumping, laughing. So they had a jolly good time. But he also loved spending time with his oldest cousin who is now 7. Although the games weren't as wild. Instead, they'd try playing a board game or "do chemistry" with vinegar and soda.

5. We went to Brighton Beach, as usual. This time M walked all around and didn't complain about being tired. Nor was he a pest when it came to me browsing books at a bookstore there (usually he starts whining after the first 2 minutes there). He even got his wish of playing on the playground there and running on the beach. Plus we ate at a really nice restaurant, called "Tatiana" (delicious, but expensive).

That was such a wonderful trip with the grandparents, that M said that he wanted to spend his birthday on Brighton. His plan was we'd go there, he'd get a pastry, would walk around some, get a toy from the toy store and then we'd all go to a restaurant for some fried calamari. Funny story about calamari. In Russian the word is кольмары and sounds much like комары, mosquitoes. M never ate calamari before. So I asked him if he wanted to try and he thought I was offering him fried mosquitoes.