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.