Archive | March, 2013

American Easter

31 Mar

Our busy weekend ended perfectly today with a trip to a town down south where we used to live – it is where I went to university, where we spent our first year in the US and just a beautiful town! The weather was gorgeous and we were ready to take a little trip to break in our new car.030Since today was American Easter, first we had to celebrate. After my boys woke up, they found little gifts from the Easter Bunny. N got some cups and tools for playing in the dirt, some new clothing (sleeper, shorts and t-shirt, and shorts/shirt for swimming), as well as a cute luggage tag, a book, and wipes that were for our re-scheduled trip to Ukraine. I think he liked the pinwheel that was also in his basket last year the best 🙂 024After playing with gifts and talking to the family in Ukraine over Skype, we all got dressed in cute clothing and got out our fancy camera for the first time since New Year’s Eve. We drove down, driving at various speeds to break in the car. Rather than trying to rush, it was nice to just take our time and enjoy being together, enjoy the weather, and enjoy the scenery.  It was a beautiful day! Our local volcano was visible as were the surrounding mountain ranges and it was stunning! The skies were blue and everyone was out enjoying the spring weather.

We headed to a favorite park we enjoyed when we first moved to the US almost 6 years ago. Here are some pics from mid-April 2007:225707_7695845610_206_n225642_7695860610_2126_n We look like babies!!

And some pics from today with our little boy:IMG_5980 IMG_6019IMG_5990 IMG_5998IMG_6012IMG_6017
After a nice little walk in the park, we did some more driving and headed home. We grabbed some takeout from a local Mexican restaurant and had a yummy meal at home. Both my boys were asleep by 9pm! It was a busy, great, weekend!

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Short term / Long term

31 Mar

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We have been trying to figure out our life – both short-term and long-term. As both an academic and small business owner, it’s hard to expect what will come next. Will I teach this summer? Where? How about fall? Will I get the fellowship I applied for? Will our business book many weddings? Which weekends? Will money stretch all winter? Will we book for next summer? Those are the short-term concerns.

Long-term, what do I want to do? What kind of jobs do I want to search for? I’m looking at both academic positions and State Department. I have a secret dream to work for the Foreign Service and I think my skills would be well utilized there. Hubs is on board and it would be awesome to be a traveling family! So I’ll be putting out many job applications over the next year. So long-term, we have no idea what city we’ll be living in but more than that, we have no idea what part of the world we’ll be in.

Layered on top of all these concerns are things like Hubs getting citizenship, getting N a passport and visiting the grandparents in the homeland. We had a trip planned for late April/Early May, just waiting to buy tickets next week. Of course a wrench was thrown into our plans: Hubs got the notice for his citizenship exam right in the middle of our planned trip! So, we can’t go then. So we may have to shave our 2 week visit down to 7-10 days and miss a couple days of teaching. Of all the reasons to have to reschedule this trip, this is a wonderful one. But our schedule is so full of teaching and weddings we won’t have another chance until N turns two and we need to buy 3 tickets.

We so desperately need to visit Ukraine, but cannot seem to make it happen. It takes money and time and money and time are things we are both short on. It took a year and a half to upgrade vehicles. It has taken a year and a half to try and make this trip work and we have a 2 year deadline. We know the trip will be wonderful and frustrating. It will be hard to travel across the world with a toddler, to cope with jet-lag while living with the grandparents, to transition between cultures and truly enjoy every moment. But it is such an important trip! I just wish I knew how to make it happen while still being able to do the things that are important here: teaching, shooting weddings, earning money to pay our bills and gather experience!!

It is difficult to fulfill short-term demands while strategizing our long-term life. I wish (pray) for the wisdom and guidance to do it right.

New Car!

30 Mar

In 2008 we bought our dream car – a Scion tC. We actually first saw it in Ukraine and were stunned by its modern, sleek design. A sailor had brought it home from a trip and it was one of the few Scions in the country (if not in Europe). When we moved to the US it crossed our radar again and we fell in love with the pricing, features, and design (not to mention that it has a solid Toyota engine under the hood).004

When we finally got one, we were thrilled! When we got pregnant, we told ourselves that a baby shouldn’t cramp our style. That, and we wanted to get ahead on our auto loan so that it would be worth it to upgrade to just the right car. As babe has gotten bigger, moving from an infant, easy-to-click seat to a rear-facing monster seat, and as he’s gotten heavier to maneuver into said carseat, we’ve gotten tired. Every time we go anywhere we have to wrangle the boy into his carseat. Fold the stroller, pop off the wheels, and only then we can be on our way. Into the car, out of the car. We’re exhausted after any trip anywhere.014A little car wash for our pretty pretty car!

So, this weekend we broke down. We’re well ahead of our loan (a year and change left to pay) and we have some extra money to add to a down payment, so we stopped by a dealer to check out the cars. We had our sights on a Mazda SUV, but the salesman mentioned the Mazda5 and once we took a look we fell in love. It’s based on the Mazda 3 chassis. It’s technically a minivan because of the sliding doors, but its size is more like a car. It is one of the only in its size (as a mini minivan) and it’s really popular in Europe as a ‘people mover.’010 I did a ton of research last night, getting values for our Scion and for the Mazda so I’d know what was reasonable. I contacted a couple dealers to see what they’d offer, and I contacted my bank. I was ready.

So today we cleaned up the Scion and headed down. We took the Mazda5 out for a ride and it confirmed everything we read. It was fun, sporty, and family-oriented. It was a solid car that suited both our business and family needs. And we realized we’d be able to buy a brand-new car! It had only 10 miles on it!!009011There were, of course, a couple kinks in the plan. When the dealer ran a carfax report on the Scion it turns out there was an accident from before we bought it that was only reported in 2011. I don’t know if it’s real or legal or a real accident or what’s going on, but it affected our trade-in value 😦 We ended up getting $500 – $1000 less than we should have. Sucks but that’s life. They also didn’t seem inclined to negotiate on the price too much, so it’s a good thing I had been emailing with another dealership – got the same number and the free tinted windows they offered. Yay! During the contract signing with the finance officer, of course, they had to offer all their various service plans. I wasn’t interested (’cause I know they’re a scam) but I let her run the numbers anyway. As the played with the math, she had the ability to lower our interest rate so somehow I ended up with the full Mazda maintenance plan for free. We walked away paying a couple hundred less than the manufacturer’s retail price. Not bad, not bad indeed 🙂

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I love the sliding doors (no worrying about hitting a nearby car as I load baby in), the low bed of the vehicle for loading business equipment, and the size (the first two rows seat 4 in captains chairs and there’s an additional third row/huge cargo space behind them). Hubs loves that Mazdas have a manual mode on the automatics so he can zoom-zoom all around, the design of the exterior, and the solid engine power for a ‘family car.’ We’re both happy. Babe is happy. Yay for a happy day!!

20130331-103339.jpg from the first page of the owners manual

Spring Break

26 Mar

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I’m finally on Spring Break after a busy quarter – I had my RA-ship and taught a class every day. I was juggling a lot but the money was nice 🙂 I’m glad to finally be on break so that I can take care of many neglected tasks (like cleaning, laundry, getting N’s passport, etc).

We’ve gotten a bunch of spring cleaning done already, but we still have the living room, kitchen, laundry room and outdoors to clean and organize. It really is cleansing and relaxing to clean out our things and let some sunshine in.

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This morning N got a haircut! His first haircut was on his first birthday and we trim his hair every three months or so. If we don’t trim the sides and back he begins to look a lot like Einstein – his crazy curls take over. He looks so sweet and mature with a trim (and I make sure to leave enough so that he can keep his cute curls 🙂

We’re beginning to schedule our trip to the motherland for the family so that N can be baptized in the church where hubs’s family was baptized, I was baptized, and we were married. We’re not religious but it is an important part of our culture and will mean so much to hubs’s family. I was offered a teaching position for the summer, which means that our trip will have to be this spring!! Just a few weeks away!! So we will take N’s passport pics this afternoon and go to the post office in the next couple days to get his documents sent off. It still amuses to have an international traveler for a son–hehe!

Hubs is in the process of getting citizenship. We had hoped to finish the process before we went abroad, but it seems that the timing won’t work out. I’m not too concerned but he worries about the annoyances of being a permanent resident at customs. If we have to go through different customs lines, only one of us will be with N and if he gets cranky… it could be very hard.

My mind is full of logistics–what to pack, how to entertain N, which stroller and car seat to bring. It is going to be quite the process to haul our little family across the world. I’m excitedly nervous.

We’re also planning for Easter. I think we’ve decided to celebrate American Easter with the Easter bunny, egg hunt, etc. and Orthodox Easter with a good meal. N is a lucky boy–two Christmases, to Easters, etc. We will likely be abroad for Orthodox Easter, which is our favorite holiday there. It will be wonderful 🙂 It will be good to finally go on this trip. It has been hanging over our heads since I found out I was pregnant. We know it will be diffcult to travel, likely frustrating while there, but also wonderful to see N in the arms of his grandparents. They haven’t been in good health (Hubs’s mom has had two small strokes) so it is especially important. We wouldn’t be able to live with ourselves if anything happened to them and they hadn’t met our boy. Despite our anxiety about traveling, it is nice to begin to get excited for it!
015One week ’till this cast comes off and N can take real baths!!

Trading spaces

25 Mar

Since spring is here, over the weekend we began spring cleaning. Since we moved in, babe was in the big bedroom in our house while hubs and I were in a room barely larger than our queen-sized bed. Now that babe is walking and sleeping all night, we figured it’s time to take back the big room.

Saturday I went rug shopping since that room has wood flooring. It took a couple tries to get the right one, but like the rug we ended up with. Then I wiped down the walls and mopped the floor. One corner of the room tended to mold with our bed in it, which is one reason we decided to put the much smaller crib in there.

After cleaning we moved the furniture in. Since Sat we have been baby-proofing and decorating. Baby seems to like his new room:

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Still working on organizing and decorating our room but the change in spaces is awesome!

18 months!

20 Mar

017The stats: You weigh a lot and you’re getting tall – I’ll update with stats once we’ve gone in for your 18-month appointment!

N went in for his 18 month appointment on April 10 (almost 19 months). These are his stats: he 26.9 lbs (60th percentile) and 34.6 cm tall (94th percentile). Compared with12 months, when he was 25 lbs and 30 inches tall, he has gained only 2 lbs and almost 5 inches of height!!

Nicknames: Chik-a-ti-ta, chi-ka-tulya, muffin, angel

Temperament: Fun! You are still a delightfully fun, chill kid. But you are beginning to feel your emotions more deeply. If you don’t get your way, we know about it! Also, when you are in a new situation, new place, or meet new people you get soooo serious as you take it all in!

What Baby’s Eating: You love mac & cheese – we feed you the fancy organic kind, but you’re still a baby cliche. You love all kinds of meats (meatballs, chicken, fish) and eggs, pasta, and some breads. Fruits and veggies are few and far between–but not for lack of trying. You’ll eat apples for a snack, occasionally blueberries, and raisins are a new fun treat. We also got some awesome fruit leather you really like. Veggies are even less popular. You’ll take a bite here and there, but never with pleasure. I need to get better about blending up veggies and hiding them in your food. You tried pizza for the first time the other day and seemed to like it, although you carefully picked off all the peppers.

What Baby’s Saying: mama, mama, mama! It’s still the only identifiable word you use. You say “fffff” to the cat and carry on conversations with yourself. We can’t wait until you let us in on your thoughts. Just yesterday you finally started to sapy “papa.” It’s actually pretty ridiculous-after months of never saying papa, your papa said it to you in a silly gravelly voice and you immediately repeated it back in the same gravelly voice. Today you asked him for more food (carrot cake) several times in that ridiculous voice! You’re such a funny boy!
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Things I Could Do Without: tantrums! You feel everything so deeply: pure excitement and pure frustration! Whether it’s us taking away a treasure or breaking your leg, you’ve had a lot to complain about recently. Luckily, the tantrums easily pass and your laughter is infectious. After breaking your leg, we had a series of difficult days while you dealt with pain and then frustration. We’ve been so glad to have our happy boy back this week!
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Item/Toy You Love The Most: right now your faves include: your toy duck, sippy cups, a tv remote we let you use, your blocks, and your mama.
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Things I’m Loving Most Right Now: Your energy! You can crawl around the room in circles for up to an hour. You love to play with your blocks, building towers and destroying them. You are becoming more and more interested in books and games.

Things You’re Loving Most Right Now: You like to eat. We probably feed you 3-4 times a day. You love to play with food, so spaghetti is one of your favoirte things. You still like dangly things, although you’re no longer entertained by simple strings. You like your little monkey and other stuffed animals. You often have a couple with you when you sleep. You also love the remote we gave you to play with, your blocks, and you still love reading your books.
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Whenever you’re pleased with yourself, you clap! It’s so funny. You can turn out the light by yourself (it’s part of our bedtime routine–i pick you up and hold you to the light switch and you turn it off) and you clap! Sometimes you’ll stand in your room and clap to yourself. Such a sweet sound 🙂

Finally, you’re still getting teeth. Right now you have the front four on top and bottom (8), the top molars and bottom two (4), and now your canines are coming in. The top left is definitely through and the top right is beginning it’s creep. The bottom two are bulging but not through the gums. You don’t seem to have much teething pain, but occasionally your fingers are in your mouth.

Sunshine and fresh air

10 Mar

Last night went better than recent nights, with babe going down for sleep with no tears . . .but still waking at 6am. He wouldn’t go back to sleep so we played for about an hour and then he went back down to sleep ’till noon.  I had a meeting with a potential business client at 2, but as soon as I was done I picked up my babe and we went to the park.

We went to a favorite park not far from where we live–it is a big area that used to be military and now is reclaimed wetlands. They have all kinds of duck ponds with walking trails around them and then it goes down to the beach.  I probably walked for 40 minutes at a brisk pace–good exercise and good for both N and me to get some fresh air.

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The mountain was out today 🙂

N did get frustrated that he couldn’t get out and walk, but as long as I kept the stroller moving he was ok. After our little day in the sun, we went home for a nap and he went down with no problem! 014

The next task is to work on our routines. With daylight savings kicking in, he now goes to bed really, really late. We need to massage that bedtime down by an hour or two. That’s my project for the upcoming week–be super-aware of naptime so that bedtime is normal and keep up the routine!