Thursday, December 31, 2015

Some snapshots from around here

A scene in the back seat, while stopped at a red light:

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I love her little hand reaching out to him, and his sweet little monologue :)

The biggest train track we can muster these days:


Family game night:


Two best friends, holding hands on a wintry walk:



Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Toledo Zoo lights

Every year the zoo puts up millions (maybe an exaggeration?) of Christmas lights and extends their open hours into the evenings so people can come see them.  After Jesse finished finals, we bundled up the kids and trucked down to see them!

It was suuuper cold (mid 20s, I think) so we tucked the kids into the stroller with as many layers and blankets as we thought we could get away with, and set off to explore.


Unfortunately I only have a handful of extremely blurry cell phone shots of the beautiful lights, but take my word for it that they were breathtaking!


But doesn't the blurriness make Jesse look like he's pushing the stroller into a hyperspace jump up there? (Also, can you tell we just saw Star Wars and LOVED it?!)


After a while in the cold we stepped into the cozy Aquarium to warm up for a bit. It was PACKED in there so Niko rode on my shoulders:


And then we took the best family selfie we could manage:


Miriam got hungry during the expedition and after a few minutes' struggle to find some warm water (the water in the bathroom was cold cold!) we gave her a bottle, propped up so we could keep exploring. She took it in stride :)


In addition to the lights, we got to see a few reindeer brought in just for this occasion (such lovely animals!), which was a big hit with all of us. 

All in all it was a really magical night, and well worth the cold extremities!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Merry Christmas to you

Niko and I kicked off the Christmas celebrations by making some salt dough ornaments. I made some of Miriam's hand and foot and then we had a fun time stamping various things in the dough to see what impressions they made. After they baked, we painted them with some assorted paint I had on hand. We came out with some pretty interesting ornaments!



Christmas morning with an almost-4-year-old was a complete blast. Much excitement, much fun with toys, everything was wonderful.



Niko got a "dried-up-bones" dinosaur in his stocking and Miriam got graham crackers in hers. They were about equally pleased.



We tried to keep Christmas as un-materialistic as we could this year (always a struggle) but we're pretty pleased with our new material goods all the same. Mostly, it was a nice day spent together!

For dinner we skipped the traditional ham-and-stuffing route and opted for tacos instead, going with the theme of "Feliz Navidad" for our meal. 

And of course, we had to listen to the song while we ate (I still have memories of listening to this with my dad growing up!).

And of course, Nikolai wanted to dance and Jesse joined in:

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Merry Christmas, one and all!

Miriam: 10 months

Miriam turned 10 months old yesterday! She is growing by leaps and bounds (personality-wise...not sure she's growing that much physically these days) and our love for her grows with her. It's astounding to remember that this time last year I was super pregnant with her but we hadn't met her yet. We existed before we met her? What is this nonsense?!

So that I don't forget them (I will!!) here are some things about Miriam at 10 months:

Sleeping patterns: Wakes up around 7:15, naps 2-3 times (usually every 2-3 hours) and goes to bed around 8:30. Sometimes wakes up once around 9:30 and hangs out with us for another hour, but I'd say most days she's down by 8:30 and down for the count for the night.



Eating patterns:  Eating changed a lot this month! Miriam pretty swiftly weaned herself from breastfeeding in the early weeks of the month so we switched over to formula (seriously, she would nurse for like 30 seconds before jumping off my lap to go explore something, and the sporadic eating meant that when I tried to keep up my milk supply by pumping at work I would only get 2 ounces of milk after 20 minutes...). I still get to breastfeed her first thing in the morning when she's too sleepy to want to run off and play, so that's nice, at least. Food-wise, she still eats copious amounts of whatever we're eating (and with great enthusiasm!) and if she sees us eating anything she gets very upset if we don't share. Her sense of injustice is still going strong!

Miriam making her "You have something I want and you're not giving it to me" face:


And Nikolai doing a pretty good imitation of it:


New discoveries she made: She doesn't like having her hair clipped up, but it's so long that without one it hangs in her face and gets food in it. She also discovered that if she's crawling around and one of us bigger people comes near her, she can crawl away and squeal and thereby initiate a game of chase! Weeks of having a runny nose taught her that she doesn't like having her nose wiped, and her burgeoning exploration skills taught her that A) she can get into things we don't want her to have and B) if she turns around in a circle away from us she can briefly keep us from taking it from her (as well as make us laugh!).


Accomplishments: Miriam discovered that UP was a thing this month (it was sort of incredible how quickly it happened, like something switched in her little brain!) and soon after learned to climb on the couch (with the cushions off), and once made it 6 steps up the stairs before we realized she was too quiet and went to find her! (yeah, that baby gate stays up most of the time now...)  She's been cruising along furniture for a month or two now but she just recently started getting more into holding our hands and walking. She's got a strong enough core to walk, I think, but she's got some balance and confidence issues to overcome first. She has also begun cutting her very first tooth!

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Places she went: Everywhere we went! The zoo, the library, on bike rides (we've had a mild December for the most part) and all sorts of other places.


Special memories: Anytime Nikolai goes upstairs or downstairs without her, Miriam goes to the stairs and shouts across the baby gate for him. Sometimes she relents and goes to play by herself, but often she gets increasingly agitated, upset to be cut off from her favorite other small person. She likes joining in with almost anything he's playing, especially wrestling with Dad! Jesse and Nikolai love wrestling, and when she sees them going at it Miriam squeals excitedly and crawls over to climb all over the two of them. I need to capture it on video one of these days because it is delightful!!!

We love our incredible Miriam and are so glad she's part of our family!


Friday, December 18, 2015

Clickety Click Clickety Click

The highlight of my day lately is watching Nikolai ride his bike as I drop him and Miriam off at Nycole's before I head to work. He pedals vigorously and flies down hills with abandon, occasionally shouting "Wahoooo!!!!" as he goes. My heart soars with him.

The other day he didn't want to ride his bike home when I picked him up, so I suggested that I ride his bike home and he push Miriam in the stroller (note: when Niko is being grumpy or stubborn, silliness is almost always the perfect antidote. If only I thought of it sooner!). Obviously this was the funniest thing he heard all day so he acquiesced joyfully. 


I'll admit, seeing him push Miriam was definitely the cutest thing I saw all day.


Nikolai will be 4 in January. While we're in Moldova, he'll turn 5, and when we come back to the states he'll start Kindergarten.

KINDERGARTEN.

I'm not really sure how that is possible.


Lately I get this feeling that Jesse and I are riding a parenthood roller coaster, but we're still climbing the first hill before the ride actually starts (clickety click clickety click clickety click). As a fervent lover of roller coasters, part of me is excited for the plunge that will come when we reach the top, when our kids start going to school and time starts to fly even faster than it does now. Won't it be lovely when Nikolai goes to school and comes home every day with his little brain fuller than it was that morning? Won't it be great when he can have complex conversations with us? (Ok, more complex conversations, because we already have fairly complex ones about ice ages and extinction and about violence and war and being kind). 

But part of me is afraid too, the same way I am when we're climbing that first hill on the roller coaster. What if I've picked a roller coaster that is too crazy? Wait, I really didn't want to go upside down and sideways and backwards all at the same time! What if it feels way different than we expected it would when we held hands there on the ground looking up at the massive metal structure, saying to each other "Boy, a triple upside down loop, that looks fun, right?"

What happens if other kids are mean to our kids and we're too stressed to properly manage work and family time and what if we do it all wrong and our kids turn out to be the kind of teenagers that dye their hair crazy colors and date people they shouldn't? (Oh wait, that was me...)  What if time goes too fast (do you feel it getting faster? or is that just me?) and there isn't enough time to teach our kids to be kind and good and brave? 

These are the things I think about as I hear the clock say clickety click clickety click, as we approach the top of that first hill.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Silly Miri

Something our Miri has been doing for a month or so now is crawling between the yellow armchair and the wall to get to the little nook between the chair and the table. 

Obviously, she thinks this is HILARIOUS.


And obviously it is really hard to pull her out of such a small space without bonking her head on the table.


And obviously she is the cutest little person we know.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

I got this

When Miriam tries to touch the tree, Nikolai often tries to intervene (often too aggressively) and I say to him "Don't worry bud, I've got this." 


But lately he's started saying "Mom, I got this!" to me instead.


Luckily he's watched my good example (*snort*) long enough to have realized he should be gentle when encouraging her not to touch the tree. 

Atta boy Niko.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Next year in Moldova

We went to our local German Christmas market for the last time a few weeks ago! It was amazing, as usual, and we spent the bulk of our time fighting crowds while we searched for the perfect family ornament (previous years: 2014, 2013, 2012). 

Last year we bought a wooden Michigan ornament to remember how much we have LOVED living here in Michigan (so, so much love!). 


This year a different sort of ornament caught our eyes:


As we admired it, the artist selling them (each ornament was individually handpainted!!) mentioned that she was from Romania and the pattern on it was reminiscent of traditional patterns from that region. 

Immediately we knew this is the ornament we wanted for our tree. Not only was it beautiful, but we had just found out the week before that Jesse had gotten a fellowship to work with an NGO in Moldova! (In case you don't know where Moldova is, which I didn't when we started this whole process: click here). Moldova is right next to Romania and most people there actually speak Romanian, so we were really glad to buy an ornament for our tree that looked forward to our exciting adventure. 

So, by the way, I guess I should formally announce that we're moving to Moldova next August! It's a temporary move (just a year), but it'll be a great chance for Jesse to work with an international legal NGO and to gain some really excellent experience. Many people speak Russian there so he'll get by some on that, but we're both going to spend a lot of time the next 7 months learning Romanian so we can get around. 

This whole thing has brought up tons of crazy logistical questions that we still don't have the answers to. What should we do with all our stuff while we're gone? Get rid of most of it and store the rest for when we come back, I guess (seeing as we don't know where we'll be yet when we return in 2017)? How do we pack enough stuff for the 4 of us for a year in just suitcases? Will we have good enough internet in our apartment for me to start my online MLIS (Masters of Library and Information Science) degree while we're there? How will the kids adjust? Can we put Nikolai in preschool while we're there? Will we be completely bored when we can't check out 50 books a month from the library????? How will we watch tv when we won't have netflix or hulu or amazon?!?! How will Nikolai survive without his daily dose of peanut butter?!

As you can see, the questions keep coming and get progressively more ridiculous. Obviously, there is a lot we need to figure out before we go, but we're really glad to have so long to figure it out! And though we're both nervous about various different things (and incredibly sad to leave MI!!), we're really excited for this new adventure!

Friday, December 4, 2015

She plays, I crochet



See also this post from 3 years ago: HERE

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Bacon

The other day I had  to cook some bacon to add some seasoning to my new-ish cast iron skillet (twist my arm!).


At dinner Niko ate his share with great gusto and said very profoundly, 

"After I eat this bacon, I'm going to want another piece of bacon."

You and me and the rest of the world, kid.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Wie treu sind deine Blätter

On the day after Thanksgiving we went to see The Good Dinosaur (good, but too scary/intense for Nikolai) and then came home and put up the Christmas tree!


Nikolai was very into it this year and put up most of the ornaments himself! 



For my part, I whipped up another stocking for Miriam, who wasn't born last year :) 


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Outside: Addendum

Remember a week ago when I posted about the kids playing outside? Well, a few days later we got 8 inches of snow (in case you're wondering, that means that in a 3 week period it was 70 degrees and 30 and snowy. Whew, Michigan!).

The view out the window at work (where I watched the first part of the storm) with snow on top of our new addition:


Snow was all piled up on this little pole--it couldn't have been wider than a quarter but it had this giant ball of snow on it!


Obviously, Nikolai and Juwon went out and played in it.



We built a snow family together:


And Nikolai really wanted to hug the little snow baby:



Nikolai was so excited about the snow that he went out no less than three times that day, and insisted on going out at 7:30 the next morning. Hooray for snow!