Monday, December 22, 2008

Awww, NUTS!

Asya and Kiril just finished up their short but highly successful career as amateur balleraunts (I am guessing at the PC non-gender version of ballerina). With a couple months of insanity, practices and lessons 4-5 times a week, and a week of running them to and from the Covey Center, I am glad it's over. I don't remember it being this much of a pain when I was a mouse 20 years ago. And I am sad to report that I don't remember it being so awful. Saturday, we decided to buy tickets and go watch it (support the kids). The theatre was nice should be, it's new. Just as it started, it began to slide downhill. Right off the bat, they started hitting us up for donations. Just a bit irksome, especially considering that the lessons are outrageously priced, they charged us $40 dollars in participation fees, the cheapest tickets were 16$ a seat, and the makeup for the week cost us around $100. The music was from a CD that had seen better days. It was really annoying to hear it chirping as they will do when dirty or scratched. The performances were lackluster. Some of the kids were better than the "professional" dancers. And poor poor Asya. It is not uncommon for a ballerina to biff it on stage. But if it was going to happen, it was going to happen with Asya...and it did. Fortunately, she popped right back up and continued on with the performance. It was a fun thing for them, and I am glad they had the chance, but next year, I think we will take the kids to Ballet West or go see "A Christmas Carol" at the Hale Theatre.

Today we were snowed in pretty good. The roads were all slush. So much for going to IKEA. I cleaned the walks 3 times. The last time, I got Misha dressed and dragged him out with me. He hates playing in the snow. He is just like "Randy" from A Christmas Story. Once he falls, he can't get back up and starts calling for "Hep! Hep!". After I got the walks cleaned off, I took him for a walk around the block. He seemed to enjoy that much more and was even upset when we finished even when he lost his boot a couple times and was walking in the snow.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ewwwww!!! And Gonna Have To Watch More Carefully

The other night, we were in the middle of our weekly routine. It was after dinner. I was on the floor holding Nokolai helping Asya with Math while Iggy was drawing. Ira was reading with Dasha. Baba was off at her ESL class. As I glanced around the room, I noticed Misha under the end of the kitchen table on the carpet. Next to him was a 3/4 empty bottle of ranch dressing from Costco (that means big bottle). After dinner, it had been about 1/4 empty. The half he had anointed the floor with was being swirled around and around with his pudgy little hands. As soon as he noticed we were wise to his caper, he started to eat it. Ira grabbed the camera and recorded the moment for posterity. Here it is for your viewing pleasure. Just tilt your head to the left.

Misha is starting to run. He can actually gets some good bursts of speed on those scrawny legs of his. I realized that we need to be more observant with him. We stopped at Target to grab some shoes for Nikolai (lost one of his last weekend). As were were loading everyone in the car, Misha, who was standing next to Ira, turned and bolted. Luckily Ira caught him in time cause he was headed right out in front of a car. We bought him one of those Monkey harnesses. It works well...when we remember to bring it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Some new words

Misha has graduated from signing "yes" to saying "yah" (sounds like "e-yah"). On any yes/no question (especially where you know the answer will be affirmative). Misha still won't say no. But if I tell him "no-no", he will shake his finger like he is scolding. Even if you ask him to say no, he gets upset. But saying "yah" is great.

Misha also has picked up say "uh-oh" when drops something intentionally or not. This includes utensils at dinner and objects he drops over the railing to the downstairs.

When he is hurt, he will either sign or will say "bo-bo" (russian cutesy form of "ow"). If he falls, he sometimes will say "bup" which I am assuming is his pronunciation of "bonk". Yesterday, they called from school to say that he had fallen on the carpet but was just fine (district policy, I guess). When he got home, Ira asked him about it. He thought it was funny and kept repeating "bup" and laughing.

When I ask Misha to do something, he doesn't always comply. I will start counting to three and then "assist" him in doing it. He has turned this into a game too. Sometimes he will sit down as soon as I make the request (like, "Let's go brush your teeth." or "Let's get your pajamas on.") He will wait until I reach three and then will stand up and go. Sometimes he waits til I start assisting and laughs.

He also is very jealous of Nikolai. Whenever we change Nikolai and he sees this, he will come over and pull at his diaper and grunt meaning that he wants his changed too...even if we changed him immediately prior to his brother. When I am holding Nikolai, he will come over and try to get my attention or if he is cranky start acting more cranky. He will also run off with toys that his brother is playing with. It's not all jealousy though.

The other day, Ira asked "Who does Misha love?" He signed "I" then "love" then pointed at Baba Liza. Then repeated it for Ira. Then repeated it for Nikolai. He will also pat (pet) Nikolai's head or give him "loves".

On the weekends, I am usually up before Ira to get things going. Last weekend, I got up and slipped out of the room and heard Misha talking in the next room ("bilaaa-bilaaa" and "bee-bee-bee"). I opened the door. He slid of his bed and went to one of his toys, sat down, pushed a button and then looked at me and signed "Mom sleeping". That is what I tell him sometimes when I get up..."Shhh. Mama's sleeping." Again he surprises me with how observant he is.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"I love to cook"!!!

Proud of the wife. She passed her naturalization civics and English test with flying colors. She has been studying hard for weeks now. I, of course, had the dubious honor of drilling her with her study materials. I could also pass the test at this point.

We drove up early this morning. I had to speed a bit, no too much, to be on time. She probably walked in the door right at 7.30. As per the docs they sent, I was prepared for 2 hours alone, in the car, with Nikolai. I brought a book and settled in. Luckily, Nikolai fell asleep on the way and stayed that way for the duration. Ira surprised me 1/2 later when she walked out. My first thought was that she failed, the second was that we didn't have right documentation, but then she said that she had passed. But she did. Her English written question was "I love to cook." She passed her civics questions easily.

So YAY! We still have to wait til they tell us where/when the swearing in ceremony will be, but the hard stuff is over. Now the most we have to worry about between then and now is keeping her from getting arrested.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Quick update

Nikolai got his first two teeth this weekend. He has been drooling puddles for weeks now and they popped in in the bottom jaw one after another. He is only 5 months, and much earlier than the other kids. Oh well, he is also bigger than the other kids. It will be nice when he goes on solids so he will sleep all night long...not that he bothers me much.

Dasha is on the verge of loosing her first tooth, ironically the same tooth that Nikolai got first. It was bugging her during meals yesterday, so if it isn't out by the time I get home, we'll use the door/string method.

Misha has been going to school for a couple of weeks now. He seems to really enjoy it, from what Ira has said. He loves taking the bus to and from. He even shows how "big" the bus is. We should be having his follow-up IEP anytime now, so we can see about setting some goals.

Asya is enjoying ballet and is excited to be in The Nutcracker as a Party Girl. She is "getting" math this year and it's been much less a headache. She is developing quite the sense of humor.

Kiril is going to be a Party Boy in the same cast as Asya. He just decided to try out for the fun of it. Just like his old man. Only I got to hide behind a big hot grey suit.

Ira's citizenship test is this week. We are both nervous. I think she will pass it easy enough.

Me? Same old, same old. Nothing really changes for me. I work, I come home, I do homework with the kids. I sleep. Still trying to perfect my biking gear so I can keep riding until its too snowy and icy.

P.S. Someone reminded me that I forgot Baba Liza. Baba Liza is plugging right along. She moved to a more advanced ESL class where the teacher doesn't speak Spanish all the time. She takes care of Misha and Nikolai all the time, reads to Dasha and the other kids. She keeps up with her family with weekly calls. Luckily those phone cards are so darn cheap (1.9 cents a minute). In the evenings, when not too busy, we play Rummikub, watch movies (which I translate for her...more or less).

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Misha's first movie

Ira kicked me out of the house with the kids a couple of weekends ago. Told me to get lost for a few hours so she could study for her citizenship test.

We decided to go see "Wall*E" at the dollar theater. None of us had seen it before, though we had heard it was a keeper.

I was somewhat apprehensive though, cause "kids" included Misha this time. We have never taken him to a theater before and in general, he never watches more that a couple minutes of any movie at a time with the exception of Signing Time, for which he will sit glued to the screen for however many we put on in a row. Occasionally, he will flop down on the blankets with the other kids when they are watching something, but never for very long.

Admission for the 5 of us was $6.25. The refreshments were around $20. I figured that we don't go often, why not splurge. And I figured that it was the only way I was going to get Misha to sit there for the 97 minutes + trailers. So, I got a popcorn and drink for Misha and myself, and a popcorn and drink for the other kids to share. Steadily, for over an hour, I kept a constant stream of salted, buttered, exploded popcorn kernels and high-fructose corn syrupy, artificially flavored beverage moving over his lips, down his throat, and into his belly.

When that ran out somewhere between 2/3 and 3/4 of the way into the movie, the church training kicked in. So between the full belly, the sugar high, the dark theater, the loud speakers, the huge bright screen, and the knowledge that he was not getting off my lap for any reason we made it through the rest of the film exceptionally well. He even laughed at some stuff in the film, but not sure for what reason. His sense of humor exists but the oddest things set him off. For instance, the telephone/power lines on the side of the street send him into hysterical bouts laughter when we drive down the road as does any picture of Disney Princesses.

What I want to try next is buying the flick on DVD and seeing if he will watch it. Then he could watch something other than Signing Time, which the other kids have memorized.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Good Talking!

It was Misha's birthday the other day. He is 3 years old. It's been a long path but it's been a worthwhile one. He has made such wonderful progress that something new can happen at least once a week. It will be interesting to see what he does once he starts school next week (he has had a bit of a sniffle and with fall break, we decided to start next Tuesday). I expect great things to happen.

I took the day off. We spent the day doing Misha oriented things. We went to the park after breakfast. Went to lunch (we originally wanted to go to Carl's Junior to get fries cause Misha loves em, but they were closed for remodeling and went to the Chinese Buffet instead.) After his nap, we went swimming and ended the day with take-n-bake pizza and cake. He got Happy Birthday sung to him too many times to count...mostly cause he signed "again" every time we sang it. All in all I consider it a successful day.

Misha has been saying quite a few words with some prompting for quite a while. He makes sounds for animals and cars. He says "Baba" when we drive to Gramma's house. He probably has a list of a couple dozen words which he uses with or without prompting. Recently "more" has been moved to the unprompted word list. We noticed this the other day after a few weeks of working with him to say alongside the sign. While in the park, I asked him if he was done swinging and whereas usually he would either sign "done" or do nothing, he answered "more" several times. At dinner, he pointed at the juice and said, "More." He also has said "again"...or as he pronounces it, "agn". He has named himself "Me-me". When he sees himself in the mirror or in a clip, that is what he says.

With recent posts on Whitney's (and others') blogs as well as observing Misha, I am reminded how constantly and pleasantly surprised I am at how much I underestimate our 1p36ers intellectually and otherwise. Despite disabilities, they have a great capacity to learn and love. I am looking forward to the next 3 years.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Misha's first IEP

We had a meeting a couple days ago at Misha's preschool. He will be starting 4 days a week the day after his birthday next Monday...assuming that Ira can get things settled in her head and with the district. She wants him to goto the morning class instead of the afternoon class cause that would completely mess with Misha's nap schedule. He still takes 1-3 hour naps in the afternoons.

So, she got Misha's pediatrician to write a note which she then had to take to the district office. When she got to the district, she fell in a giant nest of bureaucracy which, being native Russian, she should be used to by now. Eventually, they told her that she had two choices. She could have the afternoon schedule with a bus to pick Misha up or she could have the morning schedule without the bus. For some reason, she got all worked up over it. I think she thinks that she is doing them a favor putting Misha in the class instead of the other way 'round. Sigh. Sometimes I just don't understand.

Anyway, we met Misha's teacher and the therapists that will be working with him sans the speech therapist who was sick that day. Every time we meet with anyone about Misha, they offer us the same stupid booklet and we have to sign saying they offered it to us. Then we sign more things, and more things, and more things. I think I am just going to get a stamp of my will be easier that way. The dumb thing was that all they told triplicate, was that they wouldn't really set an IEP for Misha now but would wait 30 days in order to observe him first. I am not sure what Ira would have wanted but for me a phone call would have sufficed to tell me that. A meeting once the observation is complete..sure. I hate bureaucracy.

Misha's teacher is a quiet spoken lady of middle years who got into the special ed program because her son is autistic. A score of years ago, when he was born there wasn't anything close to the amount of resources available for parents. Kudos for her though. I think school will be fun for Misha and beneficial.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Wife tag!!!

Where did you meet? In Ira's branch in Moscow. I hadn't planned on going to church so I was in black jeans, boots, a black tee, and had long (for me) scraggly hair (not my fault, the humidity and natural curliness did it). And I was in the company of a bunch of Americans in skirts. Maybe I looked especially "bad boy".

2. How long did you date before you got married? Including the letter trail on the mission...3 yrs, 9 months.

3. How long have you been married? Going on 10 years this Dec 31...holy cow.

4. What does she do that surprises you? She will find me neato clothes at TJ Max or Ross and bring them home.

5.What is your favorite feature of hers? Her nose, except when its runny. Her hands cause they are beautiful artist's hands.

6. What is your favorite quality of hers? Her dedication to the kids. She is a good mom.

7. Does she have a nickname for you? Joshun. Don't ask. It's a Russian thing.

8. What is her favorite color? It changes.

9. What is her favorite food? Sauteed mushrooms. Pizza Factory zucchini noodles.

11. What is her favorite sport? Ping Pong.

12. When and where was your first kiss? Sasha's apt (I lived there). It was almost on a walk in the snow near the Moscow River, but I chickened out.

13. What is your favorite thing to do as a couple? Go to plays. She comes from a "rich culture" so she enjoys the theater, concerts, etc.

14. Do you have any children? 2 girls, 3 boys.

15. Does she have a hidden talent? If she does, she hides it even from me.

16. How old is she? She is going to be 30 in 2 days.

17. Who said "I love you" first? It was 10 years ago...I don't remember. She probably would though.

18. What do you admire most about her? She has much more tenacity than I do. She is dead set on enjoying life...or making life more enjoyable.

19.Do you think she will read this? Eventually, yes. And I don't think I put anything in here that will get me in trouble...Right, dearest?...honey?...sweetie-pie???

Friday, September 19, 2008

I made Misha cry

Misha doesn't cry very often. Usually he is a very happy child. He gets annoyed, angry, fussy, frustrated, whimpers, yells, screams, etc. In fact, he only cries for a few reasons.

Obviously he cries when he gets hurt. And it's not a slightly hurt thing...that is when he whimpers. This is like he fell-6-feet-through-a-poorly-
packed-sand hurt. Then he cried for a while. He doesn't cry for sympathy. There has to be a reason.

He has cried a little a couple of times when Ira and I have left him to go out on a date, or a while ago at the nursery at church before he got used to it. Typical separation anxiety. No big deal.

Occasionally, he will cry when I tell him "No". He will look at me with his big blues and then start to wail. And it takes several minutes to comfort him. Not sure why he gets so upset when I tell him "No". In fact, it took him months until he would sign "no" and only recently he started shaking his finger "No. No. No." for scolding purposes.

Last night, I made him cry. Misha loves music like he loves water. He has favorite children's songs, favorite songs when I play the guitar, favorite dancing songs, etc. At church he will sign "music" when he hears something he likes. A some point in time, we acquired a little keyboard...I think Baba Liza sent it from Russia, or brought it over on one of her visits. Misha loved that thing and enjoyed pushing the buttons to get music out of it. He learned how to turn it on. Ira hid it one day and so it has been absent from his consciousness for a few months. Somehow, it turned up yesterday. Misha sat there for an hour and pushed the demo button over and over and over again listening to the various demo melodies. Baba said he was hugging it when it played a song he liked. So, after an hour, I came upstairs from practicing with Kiril and decided he had sat there long enough. I told him that it was time and turned it off.

Misha started crying like I had told him his puppy died. Inconsolable crying with bubbles, runny nose, and drool. His poor little heart just about broke. Finally, I gave it back and he calmed down and continued on with his demo medley. About 1/2 an hour later, it was dinner time, so we were successful in prying it away from him again with bribes of food. I felt bad when he was grieving over his loss of music, but my intentions in taking it away was that he had sat there just doing that for quite a long time. Now I am not so sure that is a bad thing. The two sides are 1) that he is focusing on one thing for a considerable amount of time. That good for many reasons. But 2) He was focusing on pushing a button. If it was drawing or reading or something more active, I would be ecstatic. But sitting there pushing a button over and over for music...dunno. I fear that it is somewhat like his other amusement of wheel spinning. Kind of an autistic sort of behavior. Not sure what to think. Anyone with a comment is welcome to comment. If I am going to have to make him cry, I figure I should be justified in doing it. Cause Misha just doesn't cry without a reason.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Misha's eval

The past two Mondays, Misha had an evaluation with the local school district to see if he qualified for Early Head Start and, if so, for which services. We were shocked, surprised, and utter gobsmacked when they told us he qualified. And if you believe that, I got some prime beachfront property in Siberia I wanna sell ya.

We knew he would qualify and for anything/everything they have to offer. The eval center was located in the basement of Kids on the Move (local early intervention) so Misha was upset, I think, that we went there instead of class. In fact, while we were waiting in the foyer, he kept signing bye-bye and trying to escape. On both occasions, he acted out somewhat in the beginning by trying to get down, doing his frustration yell, and dropping stuff on the floor. He did settle down and go through the evals. I would tell him that it was time to "work" like he does at kids on the move. And he had them trained very well to keep him supplied with goldfish and cereal for "working". He scored from 1-8 percentile in the various categories (gross and fine motor skills, cognative, speech, etc.).

I thought that maybe I would feel sad or disappointed or something about that, but I haven't. I came to terms with the whole "special needs" thing a long time ago. Misha is a fun and wonderful kid and I have seen great progress in him, especially of late. Kinda like the IQ tests you can take, these scores are not indicative of what he really can do. His vocabulary is increasing greatly. He is gaining confidence in climbing on things. He runs quicker and more stable. His jumping is actually looking somewhat like a jump instead of a squat. He is able to reason things out better, like how to escape from the backyard while his sibs are supposed to be watching him.

Still, I came away from the evals with things to work on. Jumping is one, some fine motor skills like picking up a coin and putting it into a slot. Bigger-smaller concepts, colors, accurate pointing. The list goes on.

I also came away with the understanding that Misha needs more English. So I decided to start talking to him in English instead of Russian. Some things he understands when I say them to him, but others he looks at me like I am speaking gibberish. I am excited for him to start school in a month. He will get a big kick out of the school bus, and I hope likes the class. It will be a big growth experience for him.

Asya has turned out to be a great help with Misha too. She is old enough to be able to watch him, unless she is distracted, which isn't that hard. She can take him on walks, play with him in the park, read him stories, and turn on Signing Time. She even changes an occasional diaper and last night got him ready for bed (including brushing his teeth) while I was doing piano with Kiril.

The pic above is a retro Misha. A few months ago, before we got the bunk beds, Misha would crawl into bed with Kiril every night and occasionally scoot Kiril or himself right off. Ira likes this one cause Kiril is hanging off the side of the bed.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Math with children

I have grumped before about doing math with the kids. Most of the problem was mine. Although I think any parent who has helped their kids with math can understand the frustration of explaining the same thing over and over every day that math is done. But I have make a concerted effort to calm myself down and not get over-excited about it. Patience has been long in coming, but I am doing MUCH better.

Sometimes though, math is funny. Yesterday, Kiril was doing some homework. It was a story problem with several parts, so I helped him with the first bit...actually doing the problem. Then his page had a second section asking him to explain how he got the answer. This is what he wrote:

At first I was thinking.
Next I asked my dad.
Then I subtracted. (there was no subtracting)
Finally I did it!

Needless to say, I had a good laugh before making him rewrite it.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Misha Moments

Misha is a joy. There is no other way to put it...except around midnight when he is crying. Not sure what happened, I was in a hazy fog of sleep, but for some reason he woke up and was crying at his door. So I got up, gave him a smooch and a hug and put him back in bed, which was NOT what he wanted cause he started crying some more. Usually you just have to leave him there and he will go back to bed on his own. For some reason, Baba Liza decided to go in there which caused more crying. What I really need in there is a comfortable arm chair so can sit there in comfort until he goes back to sleep.

Quite often now when we put Misha down for the night, he tends to get upset that he is going to bed and everyone else isn't, especially Kiril who shares the room. In fact, since he can open doors now, we had to put a child-safety knob on the door so he can't get out. So when he isn't ready to go to bed, he will sit by his door and cry or whine. Passing by you can see 3 or 4 stubby little fingers sticking out under the door. Of course he gets a big kick out of it when you start playing with his fingers under the door.

The other day, the kids put on Signing Time for Misha while I was fixing dinner. I finished before the DVD was over and called the kids to the table. Misha was still downstairs watching, so I called him. He came to the bottom of the stairs a couple of times but returned to watching. So I called him again and signed "Eat". He signed "music" back and went back to watch. Like he was saying, "Dad, my video is still going."

Another day this week, I was practicing music with Kiril and was running him through his note cards. Misha was over playing on the piano bench. Kiril hit a note he couldn't remember and was "hmm"ing and "uhhh"ing when Misha piped up "B". He was right. He did it again a few seconds later with "B". Not that he was looking, or even knows notes, but it was funny that he was right.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Bus training

Misha starts school this fall. He has his evals the next couple of weeks, but he will definately get in. I think Ira is going to have him ride the bus, which will be fun for him.

Yesterday, I took him and Baba Liza for a test run to her ESL class which starts today. The bus runs right down the street with a stop around the corner from our house, so she wanted me to do a dry run with her to show her where to get off and how the system works. We decided to take Misha along for the fun of it. He had been cooped up inside all day. As soon as we got on he started grinning and when the bus took off, he started laughing. It was only a 5 minute ride, but he was giggling the whole way. When we stopped to let someone off, he complained and signed "more".

Recently, Misha has had some behaviors toward Baba Liza. I am not exactly sure why, but he has began to show some aggressiveness towards her. For instance, he likes to hit her on the arms and on the face. In any case, Misha doesn't hit hard, but its the fact that he is. He also has tried to bite her arms. The other day, Baba Liza was telling me about him trying to bite her. I told her that he may try to gum her, but he doesn't bite. Misha heard this, walked up and tried to bite her. Kinda blew me away. Whenever I see this behavior he does get a verbal reprimand telling him that he should not hit or bite and that it hurts. And I make him sign "sorry". He usually comes over and tries to hug/snuggle after that, but sometimes he gets really offended and starts to cry. And he cries and cries and cries. I am not sure if its affection of some sort, and attention getter, or that she doesn't reprimand him when he does. It's not like he doesn't like Baba Liza. He hangs around her all day. She takes him for walks and takes him outside to play, and really takes care of him well. She scolds him but less severe than I would or Ira. I think I need to make sure she consistently reprimands him from now on so he will learn not to do that. The last thing I want is for Misha to develop any kind of permenent aggressive behaviors.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hep-bi beh beh

Last night, we went to a birthday party for the daughter of one of Ira's acquaintances. I think I may have seen her once. They held in a local park with broad spans of lawn, a fish pond, a couple fountains and the like. They had some Russian food I haven't tried in quite a while: plov (rice, meath, carrots cooked stir-fried) and the equivalent of a chebureika (meat filled pastry). Quite tasty. When they hauled out the cake for the little girl, they gathered the kids and sang happy birthday.

Immediately after finishing, Misha signed "again" and "music" and I asked if he wanted me to sing happy birthday. He then sang to me "Hep-bi beh beh". I was drop-jaw shocked. He has tried singing before, but this was the clearest. The rest of the night was having him repeat it. Amazing.

A couple of weeks ago, we went to the Thanksgiving point discovery park. It had a bunch of flowers and some other things for kids to do, but the highlight was the wading pool. It had Noah's ark in the middle with various animals, elephants and goats that blew water, and Noah and his wife. Misha loves the water. Whenever we pulled him out, he squawked tried to get back in at every chance. I didnt want to go in and tried so we just used his monkey harness. Didn't help though. Some little punk kid walked over and kicked water all over me. I didn't even know him. I have the leash to Baba Liza so I could film him. He was so upset when we had to leave.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bloomin' Misha

Misha has been blooming again.

I mean, that he has been making some great progress on his speech. Instead of laughing at us, he actually tries new words and sounds. Side note: his signs are progressing as well.

He picked up "cookie" about a week ago. Ira just thought he might be able to pronounce it and sure enough, he did. Yesterday, I was lounging on the couch and Misha was sitting on my belly and I ran him through the English alphabet. A bunch of the letters were garbled or not pronounced very well, but that was the first time he has sat there for so long and been willing to try new sounds. Of course, he got tired of it as soon as I got to the Russian alphabet.

Hopefully I will get un-lazy and get a blog with a vid of Misha from a recent activity this evening. We'll see.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

It's been a couple of busy weeks. I haven't found the time to pull pics from the camera and blog. Even now, while I am just getting started, Ira is trying to get me to go play with a sprinkler. She is never happy with how the sprinklers are sprinkling. sigh...So this will be a photo blog with comments.

This is Misha's new favorite activity. Whenever he gets a chance, he climbs into the bathtub to play. At least he isn't splashing around in the toilet.
Ira had just had Kolya (Nikolai) and shooed me out of the house with the kids that weekend to go to Family City, USA festival. As usual, when the carnies arrive so do the freaks. But Misha took a rest in a firetruck while the kids where getting motion sickness on the carnival rides. Misha and I didn't right, but hung around the play area and distributed tickets to the munchkins.

Misha had a field trip with Kids on the Move one of the local attractions--Thanksgiving Point's Animal Farm. Ira kicked me out of the house again and told me to take pictures. So trying to get a picture of Misha and the cow, I had Asya take a picture while I held Misha. She got the cow's nose and Misha's elbow. Then Kiril tried and got Misha's elbow and the cow's eye. Finally I had Kiril hold Misha while I snapped this one. While I am taking the picture and Misha is making a funny face, Kiril is getting licked up side the head by a friendly jersey cow. Now he really knows what a "cowlick" means. Goo all over his head.

Asya had her first competition at the Utah Fies. We were worried that she wouldn't do well cause she wasn't practicing as she ought ta'. But she actually did well. She pulled 1 gold for her 3-hand team, a silver for her 8-hand team, a gold for a single jig, and a silver for the slip jig. And she got two medals for it being her first fies. It was a long two days. Friday night was the group competition in SLC, then Saturday morning was the singles competition. Then we had a wedding in SLC that evening, then Baba Liza flew in (was supposed to be her at 11 p.m. but arrived at 1:15 a.m.) At any rate, WAY TO GO, ASYA!

She, of course, forgot her shoes at the competition which we had to hunt down later.

Our traditional zoo photo on the rhino.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Misha "UP"date

Ira and Misha at hospitalMisha surprised me yesterday. "Silly" has become Misha's favorite sign. He does it all the time. When he sees one of the neighbor boys who is always saying hi to him, Misha invariably signs "silly". But yesterday, I was sitting in front of the computer working and Misha came over and was lounging around. Somewhere in the play, he said I was silly...which usually means that he signs "silly" and we ask who is silly and he signs either "mama" or "papa" depending on who he is talking to and who is being silly. Well, when he called me silly, I sign "no" "you" "silly" and told him "No, you are silly." He shocked me good by repeating the sign sentence "no" "you" "silly".

Misha has picked up on the baby thing. When he sees Kolya, or we are talking about him, Misha will say "bee-bee". That kid may not be able to express himself as fully as another kid, but he understands alot more than he lets on.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Even more tidbits

They goofed at the hospital. We took Kolya in for a checkup cause we broke him outta the joint so early. He wasn't 19.5 inches, he is 21.75 inches. And he has only lost 1.5 ounces. Ira's milk is in so he should beef up quite nicely.

Took Misha to the park this evening. He is getting so good at climbing, it's a scary thing. He is doing well at the stiff chain ladders and even tried to go up the curved horizontal bar know the kind that go in an arc from the ground to a platform and just have horizontal bars spaced right enough for a kid to fall through. I had to help him with that, but he is doing much better. And he walked all the way there and back.

Other tidbits

I forgot to add the kids reactions to Kolya's arrival. When I called mom right after he was born, she told the kids and then told me that they were "dancing around the kitchen". This, of course, was probably followed by requests to come see him.

The next morning, I took them over to see mom and baby. We got into the room with Ira and the bassinet containing Kolya and they started asking where he was. I think they thought he would be Misha's size, or something like that. They all got a turn holding him and had a bunch of questions. Misha looked at him, said "Bebe", gave him a lean-in hug and then it was all about Mama. I'll have to post the pic with him on the hospital bed with Ira. He still says "Bebe" whenever he sees him or even when I mentioned his name over the phone. He is aware, but not engaged. He did reach through the crib and try to snag him yesterday morning though. Gonna have to watch him closely, I guess.

The last two nights, either I have been really tired, or dad-preservation mode has kicked in cause I haven't heard Kolya squawking at night. I think I only have woken up when Ira turns on her lamp and blinds me awake, but my selective hearing must be turned on. Not that I am complaining, mind you. I am still tuned in to Misha, though.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Nikolai has arrived!

Yesterday the kids were invited to sing "I am a Child of God" in sacrament meeting. One verse in English and the last two in Russian. Ira and I were invited to say the opening/closing prayers as well. Ira had her class and I was asked, at the last minute to teach Asya's class. It was a busy Sunday. Ira joked that after church stuff was done she would be available to give birth. Needless to say, when church was over, we thought we were in clear for the day. We weren't even having dessert cause the grandparents were busy helping with an open house.

After lunch, about 3 p.m. during the middle of a Monopoly match between Kiril and I, Ira mentioned that her Braxton Hicks contractions were getting stronger. Now, you have to take that with a grain of salt cause Ira has been complaining about the contractions for days now. But she said that these were different. Then they started getting stronger. So we had her start her sleep and slow breathing. Then they faded and got quieter. We were having a conundrum. Either we wait and maybe rush to the hospital or get sent home. So we called mom and dad and let them know that it may be today...or not. Then we walked around the block. She had 4 contractions just walking around the block. It was now about 6 p.m. and we decided to go. During the interim, we had gathered the kids stuff to take to baba's house and so we were ready to load it into the van and take off. So we took the kids to the open house, dropped them off. Ira wasn't sure whether or not she was ready to go, so we hung out at baba's for a while. She had a few contractions and we decided to drive.

Even after doing the pre-admittance, she didn't want to go up, so we walked around for a while until she was ready. By the time we got up there and in the room it was 7:30ish. I timed her last contraction at 7:39. She was 6cm.

With this pregnancy, Ira decided to go unmedicated and to try hypno-breathing. Jennifer swears by it, so at least I had someone I trust give a good reference for it. So throughout all her contractions she had been practicing her slow breathing. Standing up, her contractions more frequent, but when she went to the bathroom they were strong.

So there we were, in the hospital. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do, so I just read to her out of the book and paused when she was having contraction. I talked with the nurses for her, when I could and just did what she told me to. A little after 9:30, she her contractions were getting stronger and a bit more uncomfortable. She decided she wanted the epidural. Before they put it in, they decided to check her one more time. She was fully dilated and she decided to wait for Dr. Glenn and push. Just then he walked in, suited up and we got things going. It took about 3 pushes, but she was extremely calm during them...not like the last time when she was pulling a Bill Cosby's wife.

It was over and done with quicker than I would have expected. Ira wouldn't let them take him immediately and held him for a while. Then they weighed him, cleaned him up a bit and she got to feed him. He was 7lbs. 12 oz, 19.5 inches, and got 9/10 on his Apgars. He came out pink and squawking. I accompanied him down to the nursery for his work over. Then the nurse in charge of Ira was busy with something so I got to hold him for about 1.5 hours until she was ready.

I hung about the hospital until about 2ish and then decided that I wouldn't get to sleep in those fold out chairs with nurses popping in and out all the time, so I headed home and called Baba Liza and let her know.

So, Ira is somewhat of a heroine in the ward there, from what Dr. Glenn and one of the nurses said. The nurse said that it was the calmest unmedicated birth that she had seen in her 2 years in the maternity ward.

Monday, June 2, 2008

It has been a lot of fun watching Misha lately. He has started to pick things up which we have been working on forever. He is progressing simultaneously in fine and gross motor skills, as well as his speech.
  • Misha has developed enough muscle mass that he has started climbing. He crawls up and down the couches, beds, and chairs. At the park, he has started climbing the chain ladders other climbing bits. Of course, most of the time I am standing behind him guiding or helping. But he is doing it and has the courage to try. And that is something.
  • After months and months of working with him, he started to sign "Mama" and "Papa" with his fingers extended. He is finally trying to sign "juice". Signing Time is doing wonders with his signs. He has picked up "wind", "leaf", "silly", etc.
  • He is still trying new words/sounds verbally. One of the people from Kids on the Move was here today and said to try to give him motivation and reinforcement to says words and sounds. He tries sometimes, but still falls back on "up" or laughs when he thinks its too hard.
School is out and that will give Ira more time with the kids...until Kolya is born. She has grand plans for a summer learning program with them...all in Russian, of course. We'll see how things go with a newborn in the house....which will be any time now. Dr. Glenn says Kolya has engaged (lowered), and Ira is at 2cm and 60% effaced. I expect a panicked call at work.

Friday, May 16, 2008


My mom says occasionally that Misha reminds her of E.T. He has a little scrawny neck with creases of skin like the picture. This week, he also figured out a word we have been working on forever. I am not sure if it was a motor skills thing or he never made the connection, but he is finally signing "ouch". And, he seems to have made the connection with things that hurt. For instance, when I was getting him into his car seat this morning, I must have sat him wrong or something cause he started to "pain" whine and when I asked him what was wrong, he showed me "ouch". When he went for a walk with Ira the other day, he kept wanting to go into the street, but she would stop him and tell him that there were cars that drove on the street. Ira has explained this before and also that he could get hurt. So she was surprised and pleased when he signed "ouch".

I am excited for Misha to get the next two Signing Time DVDs next week. He has been watching and enjoying thoroughly enjoying 1 & 2. I think he is in a state of mind to pick up some new ones.

Ira made me take her up to the Living Traditions festival in SLC. Basically it consists of me loading the puppet theater into the van, driving her up, setting up the theater, doing puppet shows with her for 3 hours for a bunch of rowdy school kids

Monday, May 5, 2008

Misha vs. Demothenes

Misha has been having an interesting week. Some switch has been thrown and he is more willing to try new words. He still just laughs at us most of the time, but he picked up a couple of old words and a new one.

He has also been very attentive to usage of words we are using in sentences. If we mention the word "dog" even when we are talking with each other an not him, he will say "av-av". Or when we say "car" he will do a raspberry. The other day we said "liniya" (russian for "line") and he started repeating (not unlike E.T. in the movie) "anya! anya! anya!". Then, the other day we were at mom's, I think and were talking when he started to say "aabee" for cousin Kobe. He was so excited that he kept repeating it. He also decided to remember that he used to say "Elmo" and "Alanna" -- "am-ma" and "a-ana".

I have such hopes that he will learn to talk and be able to communicate better with us. He is learning signs and makes some up, so we get the idea of what he wants or at least a good idea, but it would be cool if he could do much more. At this rate he might. Maybe I should try the pebbles in his mouth....well, no, he would just swallow them.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Slow but sure progress

Having a 1p36er, you never know what to expect. So whenever Misha does something new, it's always a pleasant surprise, even when you have been working with him on it forever.

Misha's fine motor counselor(?) from Kids On the Move decided that the once a month visit was too often. Ira has been doing such a good job with him that every other month was as much as he needed. Woohoo! We have noticed some improvements in this area but it's nice for a confirmation. For instance, he started stacking himself. After working with him for over a year on this (probably closer to 2 years), he finally decided to do it. He also figured out, and has developed the muscles needed, how to turn the key on a cookie tin/music box we got last Christmas. Albeit, he can only turn it a bit, it's still the best fine motor skill yet.

Misha has also started to "run". It mostly involves a faster, arms-in-the-air, version of his walk, but it is a large improvement for someone we weren't sure was going to walk with out braces or other assistance a year ago. He runs when he is excited, just for fun, or when I tell him it's time to change a diaper.

Words are still one of his biggest challenges. He has his set of words that he "likes" and sticks with those. Then he either ignores us when we ask him to try other words, or he laughs at us. And he seems to pick up a word, but drop another sometimes, as if he gets bored with it. His newest words are "uck", "eenya" and "bee-bee" for "yuck", "liniya (line)" and "baby". "Line" is Ira turning one of his sounds into a word and using it when he is scribbling.

We also graduated him from his crib to a toddler bed. Which means that every night, I have to move him from Kiril's bed to his own. And that as soon as I put him to bed, he crawls right off to play. But, the transition was smooth.

All in all, he is progressing slowly but surely and is a "golden" child.

P.S. The picture above is of Glen Cunningham, whose legs were severely burned in a fire when he was a child and was never expected to walk unassisted, let alone become one of the fastest runners of his time.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men

Being usually poor and having a father that taught me to do things myself, I usually attempt to do things myself when possible. And so I have done with mixed results. Saturday was my biggest foul ball ever.

I have had a coolant leak for a while. It drips and drips and I have had to add fluid or water ever once in a while for weeks now. Finally, we figured it was leaking from my coolant sensor. So, I pulled it out and broke it putting it back in and bought another and put it back in. I thought that my have fixed it but, to no avail. Then dad said I should try putting some teflon tape on it. So, last Saturday, I decided to give it a whirl. I removed the sensor, put some tape on it and proceeded to put it back in.

Now understand, the location of said sensor is to say the least awkward. To remove, or install, the sensor, I had to use a deep socket with a long extension cause a regular ratchet had to large a head. Also there was only a 70 - 80 degree opening wherein I could turn the extension. And with the other junk in the way, the extension is out at a 45 degree angle. So needless to say a tedious job and kind of difficult to judge how things were going. Tighten a little, reposition the socket, tighten, reposition, tighten, etc... I was making good progress when suddenly I heard some dripping. Wait...dripping???...there should be no dripping!!!

I looked down and sure enough, I had fluid dripping underneath the car. So I whipped out my flashlight to look at my work area and saw a long silvery crack running vertically out of the socket for the coolant sensor. @&*#& #**#*@!$ !!!!!@*!$$!@
I broke my bloody car!!!

Actually, I am fairly proud of myself. I didn't scream, yell, swear (well, I sort of swore in russian...I said "The devil take it" which is somewhat like dammit), and only gave the bumper a slight kick to show the car who was boss. After all, who could I get mad at??? I was the putz that broke it. It was ALL ME!!!

It was a miserable weekend wondering how much it would take to fix it, followed by a miserable Monday knowing how much it would take to fix it, followed by miserable (hasn't ended yet) realization how much it did cost to fix it. Ira has let me off easy with only some good natured salt-in-wounds remarks. After all, we weren't going to use that $800 bucks for anything important.

Silver lining (i.e. half hearted attempt to make myself feel less stupid) -- chevy's have a problem with the manifold gasket. Eventually, it would have to be changed to the tune of $600 when it cracked and the manifold developed a leak. Now I have the updated gasket. I also got a "free" oil change. A thermostat tuneup, and my fluid swapped out. And I learned an important lesson...again: Working on cars sucks.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

It's not me, so it must be you

Life is crazy. I know this cause I live in it and I am not crazy. Therefore the craziness around me must be incidental, and therefore not my fault. That's my story and I am sticking to it.

Dasha went to get her kindergarten shots today. She got two in each leg and didn't even cry. She was immensely proud of that and that she got Tweety-bird band-aids. She is quite the dancing princess and is generally very pleasant except when she decides to be whiny. And homie (papa) don't play 'dat.

I nearly had an Ivan the Terrible (among other things is known for killing his son in a fit of rage) moment with Kiril this past weekend. I wont elaborate on a blog (family who haven't heard the tale can call or chat me for details). But nevertheless, he was close to death. VERY close to death. Luckily for him I resorted just to being loud and gave him a light whap up side the head as a what-were-you-thinking gesture.

Asya is very busy. I think she will do well with a college schedule cause she has something like it now. She takes too long on her homework and is the last kid in bed every night. She was also invited to participate in this year's Feis in SLC with her dance troupe. It will be expensive, but probably a lot of fun.

Misha is still the funnest kid around. He keeps progressing sometimes in leaps, sometimes in bounds, sometimes in baby steps. When we try to get him to say new words, he usually just laughs at us or says one of his backups.

Ira is pregnant and that says most of it. She is in the potty, or on the way to the potty half the time now. The other half is spent saying how much she is tired of the potty.

The houseguest is still around. Ira happened to mention that she really didn't want to have a houseguest in the first place but wanted to do it for personal humanitarian growth. My question was why I had to suffer for her personal growth.

We are looking forward to Nikolai's (or Fyodr's...fickle, fickle Ira) grand entrance. It should nicely fall sometime between the Highland festival and the Feis. Then it's back to less sleep, more diapers, and church will get even more fun with two wiggly worms.

My computer died at work today. Nothing worse than spending a day at work trying to get another system working to be able to do your work. I left without it being up. And the dummy IT guys we pay to take care of this kind of stuff were an hour late. I hope they grabbed the right computer.

Peace out.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Not Irish, but I do love bangers

This weekend was the St Patty's day parade in SLC. Asya's dance group was slotted to perform, so it behooved me to drive everyone up for the festivities. A couple notes for next year:

  • Dress the kids warmer (yes, I should have listened to Ira).
  • Bring ear plugs for all for the siamsa afterwards.
  • Bring some lawn chairs for the parade.
  • Figure out a way to be there for the bagpipes, cause that's the only real fun I get out of it.
  • It may be expensive, but set aside some funds for food there. It's darn tasty.
Speaking of which, Kiril really wanted a "hot dog". And I really wanted one too. So I stood in line a while to purchase some fantastically overpriced Irish bangers (sausages). Although I hate standing in line, it turned to my advantage. The vendor, it seems, had failed to get their food handlers permits so they were unable to serve hot food. But, since we were in line, they decided to give us the bangers for free. Yum.

In other news, Asya came home with an award the other day. In spite of us having to get after her all the time, and forbidding her from taking her books to school (cause she reads in class instead of doing her work), she succeeded in placing in the top 10 percent of readers in the nation on her standardized tests. Must have her old man's genes.

Misha has made some great progress in his fine motor skills. Yesterday the KOTM guy, Mark, was there working with him and while we were discussing stuff, Misha stacked three blocks on top of each other by himself, without prompting. We have been working on that stuff for ages. Misha has also started "dancing". He leans his head to one side and starts circling. It's great fun to see. I'll have to film it and post it later.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Houdini does it again

There are certain things that Misha REALLY enjoys. Cheese, bath-time, animals, and playing outside. With the mom either busy or ill this past little while and with spring fever evidently kicking in, Misha always enjoys outside time.

Yesterday I came home feeling somewhat ugh. The flu has run it's course through my family these past couple of weeks. I don't know if I got the flu or a cold bug, but yesterday I decided to come home early from work and rest. Feeling a little achy. When I got home I tried to rest in my room, but the wife, who still has a nice cough, wouldn't let me rest, so I relocated to the living room, taking Misha with me.

Alisa was doing her math homework, the Houseguest was doing something at the kitchen table. Misha was playing around. Kiril and Dasha asked if they could play outside to which I responded to the affirmative. Like all kids their attention to detail lacks something significant, and when the left the house, the front door was not securely shut.

I fell asleep finally but was rudely awoken. Kiril motioned me over to the front door. When I stood up and walked over, I beheld Misha in the arms of a strange couple. They had retrieved him from the center of the semi busy street just to the north of my house. Being still a bit groggy, I got my semi-profuse thanks and tried to figure out how it had happened seeing as how both Asya AND the Houseguest were sitting in view of the front door. It turned out that Asya had even closed the door when she saw it open.

This is the second time Misha has escaped and headed that direction. The first time, I was in the shower and Ira was surfing the net when the cat (who is not currently a housecat) appeared. She went to investigate and saw the door open and then went looking for Misha who was nearly to the same road.

Gonna have to buy a bell to tie around that kids neck...or a ankle monitor. Geez.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

EU trying to take over the world

The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was the other possibility.

As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5- year phase-in plan that would become known as "Euro-English" .

In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c". Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of "k". This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter. There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with "f". This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter.

In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where! more komplikated changes are possible.

Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling.

Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent "e" in the languag is disgrasful and it should go

By the 4th yer people wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with "v".

During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou" and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensi bl riten styl.

Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru.

Und efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in ze forst plas.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Don't come knockin at my door no mo!

Last night I received a knock at the door. I was in the middle of getting dinner on the table to feed the ravaging hordes of kiddies swarming about my legs. It was a loud obnoxious knock of someone who either knows my family, or isn't bloody well likely to. It turned out to be the latter.

Even more annoying than telemarketers are door-to-door salesmen. Some guy was out promoting his business's wares. In this case, it was home security systems. He claimed to be promoting in this area and if I was willing to post his advert on my window, then he was willing to give me FOR FREE the system and installation at a savings of several hundreds of dollars.

I am sorry, but
1. I hate door-to-door salesmen.
2. When I tell you I am not interested, I will give you one freebie to continue with your promotion because I understand it's your job and you have been scripted.
3. If you fail to stop after the 2nd or 3rd hint, I am not going to be nice any more.
4. I gotta get a No Soliciting sign.

This guy was pointless, he wouldn't listen when I told him I was getting dinner on (hint, not a good time), when I wouldn't let him in my house to look at my back door (hint, why do you want to enter my house?), when I told him more than once that I wasn't interested (hint, I am not interested), and when I still was not interested (hint, still not interested). I finally had to shut the door on him. What I should have done is told him that if he showed up again I would shoot him in the foot, and under no circumstances would I ever buy from his company for the sole fact that he was a schmeckel and wouldn't leave me after I stated my disinterest.

It's decided, I am going invest in a door sign and a water pistol. If the sign doesn't discourage them, I am sure the water pistol will.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Misha does drama

We have been trying to get Misha to expand his language skill for quite a long time. They are better than his reading skills but lack behind his ninja skills. For those who do not speak russian, here is the translation:

Papa: How does Misha sneeze?
Misha: Aaaaaah!

Papa: How does Misha laugh?
Misha: laughs

Papa: How does Misha cry?

Papa: How does Misha scream?
Misha: squeaks.

Papa: How does Misha cough? (2x)
Misha: Coughs.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Silly spam questionnaire

My sister sent this to me ages ago, And I forgot to finish filling it out.  Had a moment so, here it is.

1. What is your occupation? programmer, although I am a cook, babysitter, father, husband, grouch and so on.

2. What color are your socks right now? White...ish.

3. What are you listening to right now? iTunes has "Combe Magna" from the Sense and Sensibility soundtrack by Patrick Doyle queued up.
4. What was the last thing that you ate? A bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast burrito.
5. Can you drive a stick shift? Yup. Learned to do that when I couldn't even drive a automatic too well.

6. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? I hate crayons. Unlike my redheaded sister, my personality type is not red.

7. Last person you spoke to on the phone? Mom. She told me to stop being so grouchy when practicing music with the kids.

8. How old are you today? 33 and 330 days old.
9. Favorite drink? A nice tall glass of ice water....and red cream soda...and root beer.

10. What is your favorite sport to watch? Chess...just kidding. Dunno, whatever happens to be on that's not golf.

11. Have you ever dyed your hair? No, but I kinda bleached it once.

12. Favorite Pets? Not anymore. Pets are a nuisance. Speaking for one that had to clean up a large pile of undigested doggie barf the other day.

13. Favorite food? I had this soup in Budapest last year that was to die for. It was so freakin good.

14. What was the last movie you watched? "Dan in Real Life"...liked it.

15. Favorite holiday of the year? Holiday??? I think the last holiday I had was when I got knee surgery and was laid up for a couple days. Holidays are strenuous.

16. What do you do to vent anger? I grouch which includes yelling. I used to slam doors and stuff, but Ira really gets pissed off at that, so I stopped. I also withdraw into my Josh shell.

17. What was your favorite toy as a child? legos and action figures probably.

18. What is your favorite, fall or spring? Yes. They are not summer or winter.

19. Hugs or kisses? Depends on who is the receiver and who is the giver.

20. Cherries or Blueberries? both

21. Do you want your friends to email you back? Not really, I prefer to chat.

22. Who is most likely to respond? No one, this is a blog.

23. Who is least likely to respond? No one, this is still a blog.

24. Living arrangements? Home in Orem. Live with wife, kids, pets, and soon we will have a house guest...i am so thrilled. yuck..I mean yay (houseguest is gone, now have mother-in-law).

25. When was the last time you cried? Real men don't cry, they get something in their eyes.

26. What is on the floor of your closet? Shoes and other misc. items.

29. Favorite smells? Winter. Pine trees. Beef roast on fast sunday.

28. What did you do last night? Made dinner, reviewed homework, cleaned up from dinner, read with kids, read to wife.

30. What inspires you? Music, certain people and speeches.

31. What are you afraid of? The's a scary place.

32. Plain, cheese or spicy hamburgers? Yes. Hamburgers are tasty.

33. Favorite dog breed? My neighbor's dog. Just because it isn't my dog.

34. How many years at your current job? 4...with a six month sabbatical

35. Favorite place you've ever been?

36. How many states have you lived in? 2, plus a couple of foreign countries

37. Favorite day of the week? After a hard week at work, Friday. After a long weekend at home, Monday.

38. Ever driven motorcycle or heavy machinery? Been on a minus centigrade degree weather in the winter on snow and ice. I also drove tractors.

39. Who's your favorite NFL team? Don't have one.

40. Do you have a house phone that is not cordless? Yes. In the hall.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Pres Hinckley

Since President Hinckley died the other day, I have been perusing many of the tributes found in the media. I don't watch much TV, especially since Ira put a month-long moratorium on it, so it's been mostly what I can find on the internet.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that both the BBC and a russian news site had articles on his passing. In fact, the BBC article was headlined on their site longer that the CNN article was. So much for being an "American" prophet. I also really enjoyed Glenn Beck's tribute.

Now that the brightest of feelings for his passing have burned lower, I can at my own little tribute. Pres. Hinckley was one of the greatest men of our time. His ability to communicate and reach people at all levels was truly spectacular. I was always eager to hear him speak. He was non-trivial, non-apologetic, to the point, direct and right. But even when he was calling people to repentance, he did it in such a way that you would not be offended by it. That was because everything he did and said was driven by the Christ-like love he had. He was and is a true disciple of Christ.

Praise to the man!!!

Friday, January 25, 2008

An update

The household update:

Ira is still pregnant. She regresses even more into her sleepy shell as time goes on. We have been reading the book for her book club together...that is I have been reading it out loud while she listens until she falls asleep. She rather enjoys it.

Alisa got into "trouble" recently at school for not staying on task because she is too busy reading a book in class. Had to have a talk and threaten her with punishment aside from restricting her reading activities to recess and home. It's a double edged sword. On one hand it's a good thing she likes to read. She has a good memory and books fill her up. On the other hand, her grades took a dip this semester (in class grades, homework was fine). And I have to admit that I get extremely frustrated when doing her math homework that I have to explain concepts behind problems she has been doing ALL YEAR LONG!!! Line graphs are the worst. But other than that, she is a good helper, especially with Misha. Of the three kids, she bonds with him the best and he reciprocates.

Kiril also was mentioned by his teacher as being disruptive in class. He will raise his hand, then not say anything. He also talks and turns around. Which is what he does at home. At the dinner table, I have to threaten his life so that he will sit down in his seat and eat instead of jabber. It was his birthday yesterday and got some Star Wars Legos and the starter set for the Orc/Knight battle game. He also recently started Irish step dancing and was complimented on his first day for one of the dance moves. All his talent will come to frutation, it seems.

Dasha is usually quite a bit of fun. She also started Irish step dancing and enjoys it. Whereas Alisa will find a book and sit reading for hours whether or not she is supposed to be doing something else, and Kiril will demand your attention to keep him busy, Dasha can occupy herself quietly and productively for a long time. Where Asya will sit and hum some random note progression like a broken radio, Dasha will make up songs to sing to herself. She is quite independent and times, but enjoys the company of mom and dad. Yesterday she and Ira went for a walk with the dog to deliver invitations to Kiril's party. On the way, Dasha talked and talked and then told Ira she wanted to go for walks every evening.

Misha is...well....Misha. He has hit a plateau of sorts with some things, but still progresses slowly. He still does things that surprise me. On Sunday at Mom's, he was wandering around and ended up near the TV. He picked up a DVD case, got Ira's attention, pointed the video, then at the TV. And it wasn't even a video that he watches. In explanation, he is quite sensitive to new audio/video entertainment. Ira has to force him to read a new book several times before he accepts it and will ask to read it. New songs make him cry and run away. Videos are similar, but I think the visual stimuli is more tantalizing and he is more forgiving. He has started to show Ira when he wants his diaper changed, like when he is stinky. That is great news. We might get him potty trained before he starts preschool. Its a lofty goal, but it would be cool.

And me, I am just me. I ride the bus to work. I work. I come home, do dinner, help the kids with the homework and read (the month without tv/games is nearly over, heh, heh, heh). Life is fairly simple in most respects.

Friday, January 11, 2008

It made me sad

Yesterday, I was perusing the news, as I usually do and hit an article which really hit me for some reason. It was about some single mom, somewhere in America who was recovering from a drug addiction. According to her family, she was turning her life around. She lived alone with her toddler, a young boy about two years of age.

Evidentially, the boy and his mom were found dead in their apartment. The mother had died of natural causes. The boy had died from starvation days later. In my minds eye, I saw the boy wandering around the apartment and mommy isn't talking to him. She is asleep. He gets hungry and thirsty and begins to cry and cry and mommy isn't doing anything. They said he was trying to scavage some food, but couldn't. In the end, I could see him lying there too weak to cry anymore. It made me sad because this kinda thing could happen to Misha. Not only that, but Misha had a fever yesterday and was just lying there. He was feeling too poorly to sit up or stand on his own or even do much eating. So I kinda had a glimpse of what it would be like.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Misha's first word

Misha has a vocabulary of a dozen words or so. Most of them are animal sounds, like "a-khiii" for cat (it sounds like the russian word for cat..."KI-sa". Or dog..."av av", or goose..."ga-ga-ga". His best word is "up!", which he pronounces quite crisp. And there is mama, baba, papa and a couple others.

Misha also signs several words. More, again, milk, eat, drink, sleep, yes, no, etc. One day, while putting him to bed, I noticed that he was showing me a new sign which I had never seen before. I have watched his Signing Time videos several times and couldn't remember that one anywhere. But it was so appropriate and understandable, it was easy to figure out. He put one finger in his mouth and moved it back and forth..."brush my teeth". Amazing...he can't speak it, but he is smart enough to make up his own sign that makes a lot of sense.

Misha has also started comforting people when they are "hurt". For instance, when he gets frustrated, he will sometimes hit myself or Ira, but whenever he does we tell him that it hurts, which instantly turns off the frustration and he has started giving hugs. Or when one of the other kids hurts themselves or is crying, he does the same thing.

Another major progression was that the other day, I noticed him while he was playing using a toy in an appropriate role. He was crawling along on the floor and found a small matchbox size car. He did his car noise (kind of like a raspberry with his lips), then flipped it over onto its wheels and moved it back and forth. This is great progress. He is picking stuff up really fast right now. It's exciting.