Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Home for Baby

In case you've ever wondered what a 750 km drive during the Russian Winter can do to a minivan.
Behold: Z's Worst Nightmare


P.S. Check out the license plate. So Russian.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Countdown to Russia

We had planned to go to King of Prussia today for pictures with Santa. Since the weather didn't cooperate I had to put plan B into action and headed to the Lehigh Valley Mall. I was really sad because we were meeting friends there and I was looking forward to seeing S. and her family, but it really wasn't an option, and there's no time between now and Christmas to get it done.
The trip turned out to be a good one. The roads were pretty dicey but I took my time, hoping that not many parents wanted to hit the roads for Santa pictures. I mean, really, who would be that crazy? Exactly. My intuition panned out, there was no line, I managed to wrestle the double stroller and the babes without too many problems, and I got a nice parking spot! And it turns out that just because we happen to be 45 minutes away from Philly the price for Santa pictures is about the same. But at least for $50 I didn't have to be in the picture!
We managed to get in and out, with a stop at Starbucks where the line was longer than the line for Santa, with very little stress.
I also purchased the tickets for our trip to Russia in February. Just typing that gave me a chill. It's been below (way below) freezing there for the past week or so. I may be shopping for a long parka between now and then. Our flight leaves February 5th, returning on the 21st. I'm beside myself. Since moving and settlement on the house is behind me the stress of it all is catching up to me, and I'm not looking forward to the holidays this year. No shit, I need to see my cranky Russian.

So below is the picture from our visit with Santa. Neither one was happy, but they at least quieted down, probably because mama was jumping up and down like a maniac trying to get their attention. Not bad.




Monday, November 2, 2009

Half-Way

I have one major update, the house is under contract and if everything goes well it should all be settled by December 10th. Needless to say it is a relief and overwhelming at the same time. We have a lot to do.

Alex has mastered a new trick, at least halfway...

video

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Update to Z

I talk to Z about every day, sometimes twice a day. The conversations are very short, I'm usually in the car on the way to the baby sitter in the morning or just about to go to bed. He is doing well, but missing his family very much. I hear it in his voice, but he is being strong, because we both have to be strong.
Right now he's living in a city about 2 1/2 hours southwest of Moscow, called Kaluga. He has an apartment, and will stay there if things work out. Another option is to move closer to Moscow but to a smaller city. He calls it a 'village'. I'm not sure what to think of this, but if there is a job there to keep him busy while we try to get him back here I'm fine with it. I just picture wells and cow milking and (eek!) outhouses. He would laugh at that.
The babies are keeping me very busy, and I am perfectly happy with that. I cry a little less, and it's only bad when the babies are super fussy. Then we all get into a downward spiral that only kisses and mommy's blackberry can heal.
We have had several appointments to view the house but no offers yet. The feedback has been positive so I'm comfortable that we've got it listed correctly. I just have to be patient.
The babies have graduated to their small table for meals. Occasionally I still resort to the highchair if they aren't cooperating, but it's working so far. The big kid table!


Thursday, October 1, 2009

One Down

So the first full day. Without Z. It pretty much sucked, but we made it. His flight left Philly yesterday evening. Thank God, my sister came down to stay with me and help with the kids, because I really needed it. We made some food for the week and gossiped about our other sister, but even that juicy bit still didn't make me feel better. And J, you know that it must be pretty bad when other people's unpleasantness doesn't cheer me up!
She stayed overnight and helped me get the babies ready in the morning. The kids were very well behaved and I was able to take a shower at 5:45 and get myself ready before we rescued them. The biggest reason I'm grateful she came was that the house just went on the market and my realtors were coming in the morning to take pictures and have a tour with the other realtors in the firm. At least I assume it's a firm. Club? Anyway, there was some last minute clutter to clean up before I left for work.
So here is where I'm always surprised by my emotions and when they can dissolve me just when I'm not paying attention. I cried in the car all the way to the baby sitter. This only shook me because I thought that the time I would be the most susceptible would be at home and at night (this is still true, I'm at home, it's night, there's wine, and I'm using blogger as therapy), not on my way to work, a place I thought (haha!) I would be safe. It didn't taper off so after I dropped the twins off I pulled out the big guns. Tori Amos. She may hate men but I'll take her sarcasm over Alanis' rage any day. Luckily I had pulled out Little Earthquakes earlier this week, probably subconsciously preparing.
So the day was difficult but I was relieved when I finally heard from Z after lunch. His flight into Mocow had been delayed and he ended up having to purchase a cell phone so he could call. He is fine, staying with his sister and heading out to the Kaluga region tomorrow. This is about two hours southwest of Moscow.
Another pleasant surprise was that my realtor called and said that two people were interested in seeing the house tonight. There was already someone booked for 7-8, but now two MORE people made appointments. I am hopeful that there is an offer, it would be wonderful to get the house sold quickly. So my babysitter and her father were wonderful enought to let us stay there and have some pizza. While we were there I happened to see the molars that have erupted on Alex's left lower side. He has been so FUSSY and tantrumy that I was beginning to think we had turned the corner on "sweet little boy" and were heading down "satan's minion" lane. I don't know how long this will last but at least I have a label. We got home at 8:30, just in time for a bottle, pajamas, Goodnight Moon (no tears this time!) and bed.
Not every day will be so easy, but I'll have to take them one at a time. If I learned anything from my maternity leave, it's that I MUST let people in and share what I'm going through, and let my friends help. Otherwise I'll be lost.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Really? That Long?

Wow. It really has been a long time since I updated this blog.
I've been putting it off, really. Work has been overwhelming, and life, well, life has been exhausting. We've been preparing for a pretty big upheaval in our family. For complicated reasons Z has decided, with my full support, to return to Russia.
Sometimes your idea of how your life will turn out ends up looking completely different from what you expected. I know everyone who reads this can relate to that in some way.
Anyway, Zhenya is leaving the country on September 30th. After that it's just me and the babes. Over the past few weeks I have been alternating between DENIAL and acceptance. I'll let you guess which one has been dominant.
In the course of my short (well I think so, at least) life I have had to do many hard things. I will list them here, to make me feel better.
  • Joining the Army. No really. When I enlisted (1994) there was no war going on, but I had no idea how crazy that decision was until I was:
  • Going Through a Gas Chamber. I nearly peed my pants waiting in line for this lovely part of basic training. Never Again. Until,
  • I had to throw not one, but TWO, live grenades. Trust me. that sound, it's a lot louder than you would ever expect. And then,
  • I arrived at the Defense Language Institute and saw the Cyrillic alphabet for the first time. This is Russian? And I have to LEARN it? OK, but wait:
  • While stationed in Bosnia, translating a dialogue between an old woman and a bunch of Army guys. Basically her ENTIRE family had died in the war and she was all alone. She kept asking me why I wasn't married. The Army guys only wanted to know if there was any suspicious activity in the area. Which do you think she cared about more? Oh and by the way your're
  • Having trouble conceiving. Maybe giving yourself shots in the abdomen will help? So you can be:
  • Pregnant with Multiples! Oh what a blessing! This could lead to:
  • Post Partum Depression, ahh old friend, we meet at last!

Besides the above there are many more examples about how my life has been hard, boo-hoo. And you know what? I made it through. The past is all relative, sometimes it has nothing to do with the present at all. Everything I've ever done can only prepare me for what's to come. I can only hope it has molded me into a person who can deal with the craziness, maybe not alone, but at least with a little support.

So. If you happen to live near me, and have a spare hour or two in the evenings, stop by. On or about October 1st I might be welcoming visitors who a) love the idea of watching boy/girl twins eat dinner and b)wouldn't mind watching Survivor while I read "Goodnight Moon" to Anna and Alex.

And by the way, this is not a permanent situation. Z is coming back, if I have anything to say about it. When he's coming back, is not entirely up to us (President Obabma I'm talking to YOU). So all we can do is wait, and hope it won't be too long. The babies and I will be able to visit him as often as we can.



Friday, August 7, 2009

Winding Down

We had a great week off. Trips to Amish Country ("Can I help yous with anything?") and swimming at the Y. Very relaxing.










Monday, August 3, 2009

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Danger

I try to leave my cell phone in a safe place at all times. Especially when my husband is a "lesson teacher." Here is what I hear from downstairs while I'm doing my hair one morning before work: "That's right, Anna, play with Mama's cell phone."
And here is what I discovered a week later, when looking through my pictures:


Lesson Learned? Probably not.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sleeping

I realize I haven't posted an update, and I really haven't had a ton of time. So, here are the highlights:
  • Babies have been sleeping through the night. With one exception, Anna woke up at 2 AM but we did not go to her, she was back asleep within minutes.
  • Bed time has been working nicely. We put both babes in the cribs between 8:30 and 9 every night with minimal fussing. The first few nights were the hardest on Alex, but he has come around nicely. Tonight and last night we bumped up bed time to between 8 and 8:30. We'll see how this plays out, this morning Anna was up at 4:30!
  • The naps went poorly last weekend. This I was not surprised at, but I stuck to it and no heiney's touched a bouncy seat once. Sunday afternoon seemed like the culmination of Anna's resentment. She didn't nap at all and cried for the entire hour and a half. No one was happy in our house (except Alex who slept through the whole ordeal)

So if anyone suggests they are going to start a sleep training schedule before the 4th of July holiday wish them LOTS of luck. Friday night was our local fireworks and it was so loud they sounded like they were being shot off over our house. Of course, no one woke up, thankfully.

Here's a video of Alex trying to do Fishy Lips. It ends a little abruptly, I had to edit out a certain Russian fellow walking into the frame with an extremely white pot belly showing. Not fun for anyone.

video

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Sleeping and Birthdays

I have re-started the Ferber sleep training with Anna, and have thrown poor Alex in the mix. He’s a good sleeper during the night but we’ve been lax in trying to let him go to sleep without assistance. For those of you that don't know some people refer to this as "crying it out." It's not pleasant, and if you aren't consistent you pay for it over and over again. See this post from April.
Started last night and it took a good 45 mins for both to fall asleep. Anna fell asleep first, of course, probably still a little Ferberized from the last time. Alex took longer, but in the end both babies slept through the night. Hopefully a sign of what’s to come. This time I am committed and I have Z’s support. The night before last we started letting Anna cry it out for her night wakings too. She didn’t wake up Alex, which is the biggest worry, and Z did not have as much of a problem as I thought he would (light sleeper, hmmm, wonder where she gets it). With the long weekend coming up I’m hoping to get the whole package in: naps, bedtime and sleeping through the night. Wish us luck!

The party for the babies went really well. Until it was time to nap. And when you have babies who don't nap or sleep easily then you have a problem. Hence Dr. Ferber.
Otherwise it was a great time. I had the baby pool out and everyone had fun playing and splashing. Thank goodness my daycare provider's dad lent me his canopy, it was pretty hot that day.
Cake smashing was not a big hit with them, I think both were a little tired by that time. No matter how I try to plan things, I can't account for the variables (yes, Faraday, humans!).
Here are some pics that Sandy took with her super-awesome DSLR (drool).












Friday, June 26, 2009

Happy Birthday Babies!

Happy Birthday Anna and Alex! I can't believe the year you've had, it's gone by so quickly.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

In honor of his papa Alex has decided to tackle two new skills in one weekend! On Friday he stood up by himself and then Saturday started taking his first steps. It has been crazy hard to capture him walking, but I think I got one or two in this movie.
Hope all the dads out there had a good day!


video

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Someone's Walking

Anna has taken her first steps. If she wasn't already a complete handful I'd be saying something like, "Now the trouble really starts!" Right. If this is where the trouble really starts, then we are doomed.

The video isn't long, the action is towards the end.

video

Saturday, May 30, 2009

America's Next Top Models?

We took the babies for their second professional photo session. The first, in case you were wondering, was just a little over a year ago, and maybe it doesn't really count but they were there, you know. You can see those early pictures on this link.
The session was at Sears, I went on a recommendation of a coworker who took his newborn there and gave a good review. My sister J also said they did a good job so I booked them. Below are some of the highlights. We (I) ended up buying the disc, which includes all the shots plus some enhancements that were cute. That was a little pricey but it beats sitting down and picking out poses. I am so bad at that I would rather pay to sit at home with a glass of wine, look them over, ask mom and the sisters which ones they like, and get my own prints.
I took along all the props you see in the pictures. Thanks S for the balloon suggestion, it was a hit! And if any of you do this I would skip the cupcake smash. Anna wasn't interested, in the end I had to schmear some icing on her face for the close up. Alex liked it (of course, look at him) but the mess was mostly scattered around their legs and diapers, not worth the hassle of getting them undressed and then having to clean them up. Could have been that the cupcake was one of six from the Acme and it pretty much sucked.
Oh yes, Anna is standing on her own. She has been making little tiny shuffle steps with her right foot, sometimes turning in a half-circle, which is pretty cute. Alex is not standing up yet, but just yesterday he has started to crawl not on his knees but on his feet. I can tell he wants to move faster but his knees are slowing him down, poor guy.




Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sweater for Anna

I did it! I made a wearable item! I got a little impatient and the sweater came out a little short, but next time I can make go longer. This was also the first time I made modifications to a pattern, the bottom is supposed to curl up like the sleeves but I don't like that idea so I made it a ribbed pattern like the neck.
The best part? NO SEWING. I didn't have to sew together any of the finished pieces. This sweater is knit entirely in one piece.
It took a while, but I don't exactly have all the time in the world these days! If the color looks familiar, it's because I used the same yarn to make a hat for Alex earlier in the year. And I still have enough left to make some other projects I have in mind.



The pattern came from this blog: Soulful Hues Hobbies & Random Thoughts Thanks Shellee!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day the First...at least it wasn't a nursing tank

My first Mother's Day was pretty uneventful. My expectations were a bit high, it being my first one and all. Z got me roses, and we got take out from the best place on earth, P.F. Changs, so in all it wasn't a total loss. The part of the day that really got to me happened when I went in the restaurant to grab the take out. As I was leaving the cashier said "Happy Mother's Day!" Now, she really had no way to know I was a mother. OK, maybe I was wearing an over sized (yes, maternity) tee shirt that might have had a stain or two on it, but that is not necessarily an advertisement of motherhood. It was probably just a reflex, like saying Felize Cinco de Mayo! Completely harmless. Or at least I can say that, now that I am finally a mother. So it made me smile, and be thankful that I'm not in a place where I would have been shattered by that statement. It was more like Thanksgiving Day for me and I enjoyed immensely.


Happy Mother's Day to all!

Alex not loving the grass so much.



Kung Pao, you never stood a chance.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Weakness

Today was such a beautiful day, I am so glad I had the day off. Nope, the daycare provider isn't sick again, this was a planned vacation day, and I really lucked out. The babies and I took a walk around town after lunch. We stopped for an iced latte, went into Hipster Home, and visited my favorite local yarn shop, The Knitting Basket, where I dropped sixty bucks (I know, baby shoes and yarn, I have an addiction, people!).
Here is one of the yarns I bought. It's Claudia Hand Painted Yarn, the color is called Boot Camp. So J, if you're coming down on Sunday bring that sock pattern!


Right now Alex is napping it off and Anna is playing quietly, checking me every once in a while to make sure I'm still in her line of sight.

This morning Alex and Anna discovered the bowls in the kitchen cabinets. The stainless steel bowl stole the show, it makes the best noise when dropped on the floor.


When Alex is napping Anna cannot resist him. She loves to terrorize him!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Shoe In

Today my daycare had a sick day so I got to spend the day with the wigglies. I have discovered just how awesome it is to simply lay on the floor. Anna and Alex have the most fun crawling all over us, whenever Z or I are in the 'pen' with them. It's the best. So we spent the morning at home. Playing, reading, napping, all the fun stuff. After lunch we headed to the mall. It has been my mission, ever since Alex started to 'cruise' or furniture walk, to get the babies into shoes. Their socks wear out so quickly now, it's just time.

So off we went to Stride Rite. Yikes, they are pricey, but I couldn't resist. Plus they have a twin discount! 10% off. Excellent. Here is Anna showing off her new togs:

And here is Alex hanging out in the background. It's more like a tribute to my little sis, J. Hope she'll get the joke...

And because I thought the last post was a little Alex heavy, or maybe I just remember it that way, here's a rare smile from Anna.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Elements of Nerdiness

I know I sound like a dork but I got a chance tonight to play with Photoshop Elements tonight and actually learned something that I'll really use! My biggest fear was spending money on a program that I wouldn't understand how to use, but the mini tutorials are really helpful. Here is one picture I played with of Alex.
Before:

And after:



It's still a little dark but I like the way I got it to look warmer. So there's more to learn but I'll have to take what I can get in one hour increments.

I took some other pics of Alex this weekend for fun.





So spiffy in his Huggies!

Here is Anna hanging out with cousin S. at Grammy's:


And as promised, a view into the new living room 'space' we've created for the babes: