Early birds

»  olya    5 Apr 2009 @ 22:23    

First time in our gardening history that we planted some good stuff in MARCH. Not late May or June, but March. Hope it’s a good sign!

look who is back!

»  olya    5 Apr 2009 @ 22:18    

I know, it’s been a while. Winter is the time of hibernating for me. All I can say is that I’m glad it’s over.

Here are some recent photos, I’m not going to squeeze them all into one gallery so I’ll split them into a couple of posts. I think it’s all pretty much self-explanatory :)

Elijah up close

»  mark    3 Apr 2009 @ 08:29    

Hard to believe it has been 3 years since this little one joined our family.
baby Elijah

It hasn’t been always easy, and he has already tested us, but our family would be much lacking without Elijah. Although most people quickly spot his long hair (same length as when he was born!) and happy nature, here are some observations that I’ve made having spent some time with him.

1. What’s that for?
Most kids are sponges when it comes to learning about the world around them. Elijah is no different, but rather than ask the typical “What is that?”, he often will ask “What does that do?” or “What’s that for?” Things don’t just exist around him, they exist for a reason and that is what he cares about. A couple months ago, our family attended the Draper Utah LDS Temple open house and toured the building. The kids loved to see everything in the building and were surprisingly reverent. But one of the things (besides the bus ride there and the high ceiling of the Celestial Room “wow!’) that I think stuck out to Elijah, was the fire alarms. Maybe because they stuck out of the architecture, but each time we passed one, I knew I’d hear, “What’s that for?”

2. The deconstructionist
It could be related to his age, but Elijah thrills at “deconstructing”. He is constantly taking things apart: his toys, electronic equipment, carefully stacked books and videos, his sandwiches, and lots of other things. Elijah wants to know how they fit together, what they are made of, and in the case of food, if Mama is trying to hide anything “toxic” inside. He takes joy in pulling all the tools out of my toolbox and scattering them around the house. He thrills at the site of a new puzzle or board game; not to put them together, but to take them apart.

3. Observe carefully
Elijah lives at the center of his own micro universe. He is constantly looking at things from a very close vantage point. He loves to observe bugs, though he doesn’t like them. When he’s outside, he is ever picking up small rocks to look at and carry around. Yesterday, he painted his face with the mud off a rock he grabbed before climbing in the car. And as mentioned, he thoroughly inspects all his food. Mortally afraid of vegetables, he examines everything for suspicious specks and will often turn down the whole meal if one is located. Much to our dismay, his beloved “triangles”, the spinach and mozzarella raviolis that our kids have eaten enthusiastically for over a year, have come under suspicion and he may never eat them again. Our last hold out for inserting fruit and veggie into his body is the vita-mix blender.

A few more “facts” about Elijah
Favorite room: bathroom; all kinds of interesting plumbing devices at ground level.
Favorite time of day: early morning; exploring is much more fun when nobody can stop you
Favorite food: cold cereal or yogurt; except when it is tainted with raisins or fruit or something
Favorite primary song: The Wise Man and the Foolish Man; it is always his first choice
Favorite color: brown; the color of dirt and the color that is made by mixing all the other colors
Favorite show: Wall-E; who can resist a garbage compacting robot?

Happy Birthday, Elijah! We love you.

Church ball

»  mark    28 Jan 2009 @ 23:30    

Despite the bad press it gets, I enjoy playing basketball with my ward. Last year we had a really good team, tied for first in our stake and went on to regional play. And the funny thing about it is we never practice. Just show up and run around.

Unfortunately, it isn’t always so simple. Tonight, I stayed after ward basketball because they needed a referee for the game after ours, and I didn’t have as good an excuse as the others for not doing it. Oh, that was awful. The hardest part was I kept forgetting to call whose ball it was when it went out of bounds. Most the time I knew, I just forgot the referee has to tell the players. I guess I figured they knew whose ball it was just as much as I did.

Some of the guys were a little nicer when they realized it was my first time ever refereeing. But there was a huge peanut gallery on the stage that was just waiting for this game to end and kept heckling me for only calling fouls on the blue side. I admit I didn’t call all the fouls that took place, but I also didn’t call some that should have been called on the blue side, so I thought that evened it up.

I guess it was a good experience. I’m sure it will be funny to think back on it someday. Perhaps most importantly, I don’t think I’m going to give the volunteer refs at our game any more slack. Those that do it for a living bring that pressure on themselves. Self-inflicted. But the volunteer refs deserve a purple heart or something.

When each letter counts

»  mark    17 Jan 2009 @ 18:59    

I used to love those puzzles where they give you half of the word or clip the bottom half of the letters and you try to guess what is written based on the shapes of the words and the context in the sentence.

Recently, watching Maya read unfamiliar words, I realized how important every letter is in some words. Here are a few things Maya has read recently that have made Olya and me burst out laughing (for hints, follow the links).

Is my cooking that bad?
Maya, seeing the box of grain on the table I am about to cook, asks “Are you making barely soup tonight, Papa?”

One of our favorite authors of children’s books
Maya picks up the new book she got for Christmas and states calmly, “I think I’ll read some hateful Seuss tonight.”

Not quite as scary as fruitcake
Maya in the shopping cart at the store in December points to the shelf and says, “Mama, can we make a dangerbread man?”

The 8-armed orchestra
Maya, helping Grandma sort through our videos and match up cassettes with cases asks, “Have you seen Mr. Holland’s Octopus?”

Looking back on 2008

»  mark    4 Jan 2009 @ 17:50    

Perhaps it seems trite to pause and reflect on this past year, but I’m writing this for me as much as anyone. 2008 was one of those wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey distortions that felt like 12 weeks at times and 12 years others.

Of course the birth of a child always throws a wrench into any carefully made plans for life: for better and worse. I could really do with the expert’s recommendation of 7-8 hours of sleep a night. College may not have been too many years back, but I don’t adjust to sleep deprivation as well as I did then. And as much as we loathe the current schedule, we seem powerless to change it. Just when Anya was starting to get some good stretches in at night (4+ hours), she began teething. Now we’re back to anyone’s guess how she’ll do each night.

Anya makes up for the rude awakenings at night by using her hypnotic charm on Olya and me. Despite our promises that we will not be deceived in the morning, she erases the bad feelings with one of her ear-to-ear grins. It must be a survival tool that babies come with pre-installed.

Elijah and Maya have sure enjoyed getting a bunk bed this year. How ironic. During the day, we can’t get them to play together for 10 minutes without making each other angry or crying. At night, we can’t get them to stop playing. After a couple of experiments when they played 2-3 hours with no sign of tiring, we figured this was not going to correct itself. Things have improved some since we began putting them in separate beds to start the night and then bring them back together after they are both asleep.

Olya has taken up knitting in a big way. Like just about anything she sets her mind to, she has become quite proficient, learning new stitches and patterns from library books and Web sites. During the holidays, she churned out a couple hats, headbands, gloves, and pants for family and friends. I’m sure the kids don’t appreciate the sacrifice to have handmade clothes; I know I didn’t appreciate clothes my mother made for me growing up. But I have a new appreciation for the time and concentration such a skill requires.

Not much new for me this year, other than picking up a solar oven. Wish I had more chances to use it. But for now, I try to be content just “treading water,” a challenging enough task. My mother asked if I could find the photos Olya and I scanned for my grandmother back in 2002-2003. Miraculously, I located them and assembled a CD collection for my mother’s sisters and my immediate family. It felt terrific to tie up this project since it has been on the back-burner for the past 5 years.

Predictions for 2009?
More change. Not sure whether it is self-inflicted or just a result of having small children, but change seems to be all around.

Olya and I extend our love and appreciation to our ever supporting and faithful family and friends. Best wishes for 2009.


»  olya    22 Dec 2008 @ 03:36    

When I was little, I didn’t get to ride in the car very often. It was either public transportation or walking. Once in a while when we visited my grandpa, he would drive us in his tiny 2 door car (which he won in a lottery) to visit his sister and my great-grandmother. That would translate into 2 (sometimes 3) adults in the front and 3 or 4 people in the back, adults and children mixed in. Heck, I loved it! I loved looking out the window for as long as I could stay awake, but most of the time I’d sleep, no matter whether I was tired or not…

Now, our kids are complete opposite. They will resist sleeping for as long as they can. On top of that, they won’t look out the window when they have such a perfect opportunity to fight. You can bribe them, yell at them, bury them in books, toys and activities, but none of that will guarantee a quiet peaceful car ride. Here’s the proof.

From this:

to this:

Catching up

»  mark    30 Nov 2008 @ 00:27    

Why is it that I always feel behind the times? The weeks go by relentlessly. Anya continues her predictable pattern but we’ve learned to adapt (kind of). Still, I don’t often seem to get time to read what everybody else is writing, let alone sit down and write a few things myself.

Then I get some time like tonight and I read a dozen posts from Lisa, more from Angie, and then take a look at what my wife’s been up to. That fleeting slice of time each day between Anya going down (10:30-11:00) and when I feel too tired to stay up is so precious. Still, it is enough work to try to salvage the house to start a new day, and I often don’t sit down and write.

So I guess I write in bursts. But that’s how it goes. November flew past, but was not without a few highlights.

Bunk Beds
We’ve talked about this for awhile and finally bought them for Maya and Elijah. The first week was pretty rocky. First, both wanted to be on the top; then they both wanted to just stay up and play in them. Olya hung one of her wraps up as a hammock in the bottom bunk so the kids can swing and that helps entice Elijah to stay on the bottom bunk. My mom gave the good advice of putting the kids to bed at different times so they wouldn’t have anyone to talk to. Very wise. Wonder where she picked that up?

Lisa knows well how I overwhelm the odds when I plant flowers. I guess because I’ve never been very good at growing them, I have to stack the deck in my favor. So Maya and I planted well over a hundred bulbs in the hopes that even a few will make it out next Spring. We’ll report back in a few months if they come up.

Olya and I took Maya and Elijah to see Wall-E, which has been out forever but is now in the cheaper theaters. I think it was the first time the four of us went to a movie and we had a good time. Ilya was a little frightened by the loud dust storms and rockets at the beginning, but settled down and enjoyed the show. He was watching close enough that during the quiet, sentimental sequence where Eva is trying to prop up her injured friend, Elijah in his not so quiet and sentimental voice belted out, “What’s wong with Wa-we?”

Growth Spurt
The past two weeks have been truly amazing. My mother came to stay with us for a few days, the week before Thanksgiving. On Thursday, Anya was for the first time in the crawling position and lifting one hand in the air, balancing herself with the other hand. Within two days, she was in full crawl. By the time Thanksgiving came around, she was crawling about like she’d been doing it for months. And not even a week later, she is getting really fast.

But that’s just the start! In the same 10-14 days, Anya has cut a tooth, started making talking sounds (la la la da ba ba wa) not just cries and grunts, begun climbing up on things like shelves, learned how to sit up and move to a “hurdle” position (one leg forward, the other back) so she can get back on her tummy. We also began putting her in Elijah’s high chair and feeding her more than just a little oatmeal. She gets bread, lentils, macaroni, soup, almost anything we eat. She really is a different little girl. Maybe it’s the tooth that makes her seem on the verge of toddlerhood. Exciting and sad at the same time.

Donut Falls

»  olya    4 Nov 2008 @ 18:25    

White Pine Trail

»  olya    28 Oct 2008 @ 00:28    
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