Tuesday, December 22, 2009

H1N1 clinic at Shamona Creek Elementary

This evening I volunteered at Dima's school during the H1N1 clinic. I was one of the people there to check kids and school staff in and to get their paperwork filled in before they went to the nurses. Most of the kids were brave or maybe just didn't know what was coming, for a few there were tears, there was some screaming (not from the volunteers) , there was one escapee whose poor mom was dealing with a fussy younger sibling while the older one made a run - out from the nurses station, across the gym, and out the door. Thankfully Mr. Reed, the principal, was nearby and caught up with the kid - out in the parking lot! I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it myself.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dima's made up words

Booby pair = bra. Dima makes up words once in a while booby pair being his most recent. Before this he's combined pretty and beautiful and come up with prettyful and when he couldn't remember the name of a neck tie he called it a church bow. I guess that goes along with his creative bent - we just got a nice post card from his art teacher telling us what a pleasure it is to have him in class. He's definitely got a creative mind.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

laid off???

Hey, next time a Veep of the company you work for that's reducing it's workforce tries to call you into his office to talk - tell him you're too busy or something - DON'T GO!

Last year around this time Chris's company laid off about 10% of their work force. While feeling relieved that we weren't effected by that lay off I was thinking of the situation that puts those people in and wondering if it's better to go through Christmas and then being laid off or if having it happen before Christmas would be better. Well, this year we were effected and on Dec 4th Chris was laid off. It's hard to believe - still feels like a dream to me!!

So, this year our Christmas will be scaled back stuff - wise from what we'd originally planned. But the kids don't have to know it. We had been thinking of a DS game system for Josh and a kid's GPS for Dima for geocaching but we're definitely not spending that kind of money now. We're switching to plan B and will go simpler things. People have been very good to us and we even have friends who gave us their old (very well taken care of) Game Boys to give to our kids - I know they'll think they're the greatest things!

We're going to a concert on Tuesday night that the tickets are already paid for - just no dinner ahead of time now. It's hard to feel festive when something like this looming. The company gave us a decent severance package, well, Chris earned it with the time he gave to the company, but I'm definitely aware of getting creative with what's already in the pantry, using leftovers, eating at home instead of going out and stuff like that. We're both being very aware of what we're spending - I usually am but now Chris is on board with me - something I'm hoping can continue even after it doesn't HAVE to. Can't hurt to be aware of the day to day nickle-and-diming that adds up over time if you're not careful.

Now Chris's days are spent in our basement - he set up an office down there, no, I didn't just send him down there! - working on his resume then getting in touch with lots of people to get the word out that he's looking for work. He's spending time during work hours looking for work. He's already had a phone interview and a face to face interview in Wilmington, DE on Friday but we'll have to wait a few days to see what the word is from them. I'm not too sure that would be a pleasant commute - like being in DC all over again!

In the mean time I've put his resume on here and would encourage all of you to get it out there. Please feel free to send it to anyone and everyone who might be helpful in this situation.

Chris' Resume

When you do forward the resume if the job just happened to be near here and pay really well and have great benefits that would be ideal - I can dream can't I??

Thanks, Lyn

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Attias lost... and found, whew!

ATTIAS = SAITTA backward. He has a sister named Sicily, where the Saitta family is originally from.

Our cat Attias got out of the house last week ... I think while, um, one of us... a grown up... who also lives in this house... left the door ajar... while watching a cement truck across the street. Well, we didn't really notice that the declawed, defenseless, cat was gone until about a day later. He's actually got a great personality for a cat, he even begs for attention even from strangers. Each morning before the kids get up he comes to me for attention. I noticed last Wednesday that he wasn't around and as the day went on I realized he still wasn't appearing so I went through the closets and basement and still no cat.

At the same time I was not feeling well so I waited and expected that the cat would make his way home. While he was gone it was hard to rest - each time I woke up I was thinking - "maybe he's out there RIGHT NOW!" and am still in the habit of looking outside for him when I'm near a window. Many times I rattled the Pounce container outside to attract him then - each evening - "get lost deer!", once surprised a fox on it's way to a bowl of cat food on our porch, and many times tried to get our dog Honey to show me where Attias was - she didn't get it!

As I realized he wasn't coming back on his own I printed up posters with his picture on it and fliers to leave with people who could potentially see him. I also emailed the neighborhood ladies that I play bunco with each month in an effort to get more eyes searching for him.

WOW, did they rise to the occasion on this! I am amazed and very grateful for the friendship and support that these people offered. I've definitely had my faith in the goodness of people renewed. There were times that I was wondering what I was doing - stupid cat left the warm, safe house, but, stupid me for spending time and energy (especially after being sick!) to search for him - I was wondering what the neighborhood would think... Okay, there's the Cat Lady of Glenmoore! While he was gone my mind was working constantly to figure out where he could be, how to get him back and really hoping that I wouldn't see him on the side of a road.

Everyone I met or talked to during this long, strange week was empathetic and encouraged me to keep up the search. One call led me to a neighborhood over a mile away and I placed pictures and fliers around the area - and put 19,000+ steps on my pedometer in one day!! (For me a typical day is usually 8 - 10,000 steps.) I knocked on some doors to introduce myself as I was traipsing through people's yards and everyone I met was supportive, some had stories of their own lost and found pets and some went out of their way to help or offer to help me out. I realize now that I met some really nice people that I probably wouldn't have met otherwise.

After I took Josh to afternoon kindergarten yesterday I stopped for groceries and when I got back I decided to go out to the area where he was spotted the evening before and try to open a can of tuna in the hopes that the sound would get him to come out of hiding. As I went out across the lawn I looked behind our shed and there he was!!! I called him... he meowed again and again... I popped open the can of tuna to get him really close... dropped the tuna once he got close enough to grab him and in a death-grip, scruff-hold hustled him into the house. So, he's back and acting like he was never gone. Right now he's on my lap - he has been very clingy since he's back. Sicily keeps hissing and growling at him.

With Thanksgiving coming up my friend Vicki started a "What are we grateful for" countdown and other than family I must say that each day I'll think about being grateful for all of my wonderful friends who showed me so much love and support.

I do realize that in the scheme of things a lost cat is trivial but if this is the support I have during something like this I know they're there for me if something real comes along, for that I'm truly grateful.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What the kids have learned lately

Josh has learned that no matter how many times you ask the accordion-playing leader of the band at the Austrian Village restaurant to play "Fire Burning" by Sean Kingston he's not going to play it. He went up (between dances with little girls from the dance group) again and again on Saturday night to beg him to play it. I'm glad that our friend John was amused and not irritated by the constant pleading.

Dima learned that when you're trying to imitate the video to the same song it's NOT a good idea to try to break dance on your forehead on the family room rug. You should see the big rug burn on his fore head! Its hard not to laugh at him when you look at it. I guess Chris DID laugh at him until Dima reminded him that HE didn't laugh when Papa got hurt when he hit his thumb with a hammer. He said that everyone in school yesterday was like "What happened??!!" ....bet he'll never do that again, I'd say he learned from the experience... as far as Josh, I'm not too sure he gets WHY his current fav song wasn't played for him when he was all revved up to dance.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

a beautiful autumn afternoon

Dima and I had a nice afternoon together, we put on our hiking gear - he was all set his camo pants and new hiking boots and we set out for Hibernia park near Coatesville here in Chester county to find a few geocaches. Today I can really call caching a sport... - we put 15,000+ steps on my pedometer!

As we were on the way to the park Dima was talking about how he can't stop looking at the leaves on the trees and their colors - he's definitely got an artistic side.

We'd been to the park before we started caching and there are a few of varying degrees of difficulty within a few miles it seemed like a good way to get out and about to walk with a purpose. We did some pretty steep hiking along what are basically deer trails to find the first cache and we found a Hot Wheels station wagon to bring back for Josh (he was at hockey practice at the time) and Dima picked a Superman key chain for himself. You're supposed to trade stuff and we carry a supply of trade-ables when we go out.

The next cache we tried was a walk-right-up-to-it for terrain with a higher difficulty rating. As we neared the cache site Dima was poking around with sticks... throwing walnuts... looking at the nearby creek .. while I was trying to figure out where the cache could be... more poking.. more throwing... more wracking my brains to figure out the clues and I came up empty handed on that one - ARRGGGGHHH!!

Heading back to the car, okay maybe it 's not too late so let's try another cache called Brandywine View on a hill side inside a fallen tree over looking the Brandywine creek - You never really realize how many fallen trees there are in a wooded park until you have to find the "right" one. The GPS gets you close... when it gets a decent signal... and if there are tall trees or hills or rocks around you might not get a decent signal... trust me, we know.... we traipsed up and down hills a while trying to figure out where the cache "should" be and Dima was a trooper through the hills and and rocks and thorns and while looking at fallen tree trunks we did find the cache Dima traded for a Koosh ball as I was starting to think ... 'uh... maybe I should have picked up a trail map to quickly get us out of here before the park closes ..." Whew! the GPS got us outta there before the 6:15 closing time and we now know we can fast-walk at at least 2.8 miles per hour.


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

the little plattler

The little plattler, aka Josh, is on a kick where he likes to put on a CD and dance or just listen to whatever songs he picks - I think he likes the feeling of having control over the music. For a few weeks we listened to The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything by Veggie Tales and he learned how to put the player on repeat - oh great the same songs over and over!

Now he's onto an Oktoberfest / German dance group theme - for those who don't know what that means: our German dance groups do several work ethic dances from Bavaria and Austria that are imitations of real, rural life. Today he's been pretending to be a little blacksmith and wood chopper in our playroom again and again and again. He could hardly wait to finish dinner to get back to dancing. He's go this own style of plattling that is more like flapping around and I've been telling him that when Papa gets home he needs to ask how to really do the dances.

Right now he's "chopping wood" with a wooden "knife" and a cup standing in for the log he's chopping - the kid also known as Mr. Destructo really likes that one - go figure!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

B B Bat for me

Josh: "Da da da da, Da da da da B B Bat for me, B B Bat for me, B B Bat for me." ""Da da da da, Da da da da B B Bat for me, B B Bat for me, B B Bat for me."

Me: "Josh what are you singing?"

Josh: " You know, from Augustoberfest... the guy with the alphorn... he sings this song... B B Bat for me, B B Bat for me, B B Bat for me" to the tune of : I don't Want Her, You can have her, She's Too Fat for Me.

Me: "Oh, now I get it"

I've decided NOT to tell him the real words. Don't need to have him going around saying that whenever he feels like it!! _Hey, music teacher guess what I learned??!! - Just as I've told Chris not to let him repeat the current country song that says something about " toes in the water, a** in the sand" I really don't want to have to explain that when the kid starts singing it out in public!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What do zoos sound like at night?

One thing I thought about as I was figuring out if Dima and I could to the zoo sleep over last weekend was: What do zoos sound like at night? I was thinking that if we were sleeping near something like big cats or something would we hear them? Would the sounds get incorporated into my dreams and then I'd end up dreaming about being stalked or something? Would we hear them roar or doing other stuff that we'd then have to explain to the kids?? Would it be like torture for them to smell fresh meat right there - so close yet so far??

The tour and the staff were great the "live animal show" included an screech owl, an American alligator and a kinkajou. Trust me, while they were out of their cages I was happy to be back a few rows and ready to get my (and Dima's and Vicki's if needed) feet up on the bench if that two foot alligator made a run for it!! Interesting lay out of this zoo - Vicki pointed out the close proximity of the porcupine and the fisher, the only animal that knows how to eat one - by digging under the snow to wait for them - I think their cages were pretty close to back to back or at least within smelling distance if the wind is right.

It turned out that our "camp" was near the vulture cages and as we waited our turn to go do the night tour I mentioned my thoughts to the the lady that was helping with the enrichment project and she pointed out that unless we smelled like carrion the vultures wouldn't be interested in us. That made me feel better.... then Vicki tried a few times to freak me out as we did the night tour. I couldn't help but notice that the bald eagle "enclosure" was kind of lame. The five eagles were all just sitting there in a big fenced off pen nothing over them, nothing tying them down. Okay so they each have something wrong with a wing but the fence wasn't very tall and IF these eagles decided to make a break for it all they would have had to do was run close to the fence (and they could have gotten to right under a walkway) and jump like six feet up and over to the path to run around the zoo. They have this menacing look when you go near the enclosure that's like " If only..." I did ask about it and the tour guide said that they don't really run and really can't jump, and I'm thinking - uh, not that they've seen so far.

As we tried to fall asleep that night with the gabbing girls next to us they were pretty much all I could hear. Somebody said they heard elk making noises late at night but it was hard to tell if it was them or people. The howling monkeys definitely made noise but that was almost exactly at 8:30 like the zoo staff predicted. So basically zoos are pretty quiet at night... aaahhhhh. By the way - and not necessarily on purpose - our tent was in the middle of 50 other tasty campers who would certainly become eagle chow way before they would have gotten to us.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Night at the zoo

Dima and I went to the Elmwood Park Zoo's Zoo Snooze last night and had a very nice time. We were there with good friends who had done the whole thing before. dima likes anything to do with water and was interested in the water in the enclosures as well as the creek beside the zoo. The staff was attentive and knowledgeable about the animals, their program kept us busy - the time from 6:00pm to 10:00pm - just flew! We set up our "camp", ate our dinners from Panera Bread, got to see live animals up close, the kids made "turkeys" out of papier-mache to feed to the cougars this morning, had a tour of the nocturnal animals' cages and had s'mores by the camp fire... at that point the rain that was drizzle earlier really started coming down pretty fast. They had planned to show the movie "Madagascar" but since the rain picked up the staff decided to skip that. I thought it was just as well since it was getting late and they told us that they'd get us up at 7am. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Well, apparently not everyone thought so... a tent not too far from ours let their kids stay up and talk loudly for quite a while and the moms in the same tent were also awake til midnight + not being quiet about it we could hear them shuffling cards! and laughing after every sentence - just great - I used the time to research the local geocaches I had loaded on my GPS and Dima was asleep pretty quickly so I just waited them out.

This morning we packed up our stuff - it's amazing how much you need for just one night! Took our camping gear to our cars and then had time to eat - more Panera Bread food - and then explore the parts of the zoo we missed in the dark. They fed their bid cats turkeys like the ones our kids made - the lady helping us last night said the ones the kids make usually take days to dry - the "enrichment project" (enrichment for the kids? or the animals? I think both) was made in a room with the floors covered in plastic and glopped with goo by the time we left, a few kids had to work together to put the plaster stuff on the paper strips and smooth it over big balloons. They explained that the stuff we were using will just be eaten and digested by the animals who are lucky enough to get them. They also said that sometimes they fill them with food and other times they don't to keep the animals interested. This morning they were NOT filled and the obviously well- fed cougars just kind of played with one of them once they were released into the area where the turkeys had been placed.

It's a neat zoo and I'd like to to the whole thing again - maybe place our tent apart from others who might yak into the night - and if Josh goes along we'll have to cause he'll be the yakker... his lips tend to go from the moment he gets up til he goes back to sleep at night.


After we left the zoo we tried to find a few caches and found a pretty cool sculpture garden with large wooden animals that Dima really liked since it had a creek running through it, again we went to a place that we wouldn't have seen if not for caching:


At this point I'm exhausted even though I had a quick nap this afternoon!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

First day of school, 2009

Josh has pm kindergarten this year and was of course bouncing off the walls before it was time for us to leave for school - The morning seemed long for me too especially while he was asking every five minutes if it was time yet. I got out one of our clock - toys and showed him what the clock would look like when it was time to go. Even after that he was still standing here literally bouncing up and down.

When we got to school the parents and some grandparents were taking pictures and stuff and we ran into a neighbor who's in the same class and was nervous about starting school. Well, after Josh started yakking to him the kid probably didn't have a chance to even THINK about being nervous. There was also a kid we recognized from the school he went to last year and he was sitting off to the side even when the teacher asked them to line up so I suggested to Josh that he go say hi. He did and was then trying to get other kids to sit with them but since they were supposed to line up I told them to get ready to go into the building - well, guess who ended up being the line leader on the very first day of real school? As they were going in with the teacher I could hear him saying " My Dad has a ..." I don't know how that conversation ended but it was just a preview for the teacher of what's to come.

After they went into the building I stopped by the office to volunteer to help them out and they asked me to send an email to them, so I did and got a response last night at around 7:30 that they'll keep me in mind especially for days that they do health and dental screenings in the school.

A neighbor and I are working out a carpool so I won't have to drive over to the school every day and now with them both coming home on the school bus it feels like I have all this free time that just opened up. I spent yesterday cleaning the kitchen and re-arranging the table and chairs while I was cleaning the floor and even had time to get a walk in before I had to meet the buses. Since they both go to different schools they take two different buses - I got a note from each that they'd be here at exactly the same time but in two different locations - Dima's in front of the house and Josh's down the street. As I wondered how that would work out I was pacing up and down the street (and getting extra steps on the pedometer) while I waited. Josh's bus got here first and he had to scoot down the steps on his butt - his uncertainty in cases like that could be a result of the glasses - but today I explained that he could try to do it slowly while carefully holding onto the rail that's there so we'll see if that works for him today. So while we waited for Dima's bus he was going - " I'll go up to the house and you can meet me there later." Uh - I don't think so... Even with the school day over he was throwing himself at me so I could pick him up as we stood on the street.

Now Dima's a second grade - veteran of the schools so first day was really no big deal for him. It's always hard to get information from him about how things are going and what he's doing - I really wish there were some kind of webcams in the schools so I could peek in and see what they're really doing there. He picked his hot air balloon festival shirt to wear and shorts even though it was pretty chilly out especially in the morning. Today we did jeans - quickly since he had been wearing shorts with a broken snap and didn't mention it until Chris and I noticed as we were walking out the door that his pants were loose. Here's me running up the stairs for jeans while Papa and Dima went outside in case the bus came - then me hustling him into our beetle barn to change his britches. Giving them the responsibility of picking out their own clothes sometimes amounts to um... interesting pattern combinations and at times surprises like this one. There are times that it really doesn't matter so I'll let it slide - but when Josh came out with the flowered shirt and plaid shorts yesterday I had to make him turn back to change - though it would have made some very funny first day pics!!

This season Dima's going to be Chris's "assistant coach" while he's coaching Josh's team. That means he'll be the example of how to run the drills for the little kids and it'll get him more - + free! -ice time. He seemed proud of himself that he'll be doing it - he's a good skater and it's nice that he can take a role of responsibility. I think this is going to be a good thing for him.

We'd talked about letting him opt out of skating next year to do Boy Scouts instead since he has a friend who's doing the same and since he really does need the one on one interaction with other kids his own age to get better at the social stuff. We'll probably leave it up to him - the team for the next level is more involved and would mean more traveling so that would be the time to drop it if he's going to. If the helping out with Josh's team works out he'd still have a hockey connection and would still get to skate as well as the outdoor stuff which seems more suited to him. I think he'll want to do the outdoor Boy Scout stuff and that's fine with me it means more caching and maybe I'll actually learn the orienteering stuff so we can use it for some really challenging hikes.

I was just unplugging the camera and Josh was like " take a second day picture" so I'll put it on here too. The explanation is that he listens to music on the CD player while rolling around on the floor. Whatever.....

Friday, August 28, 2009

What we did on the last day of our summer vacation

I'm disappointed that it's raining today since it's our last real chance to get out to the pool. We had a membership at the Marsh Creek pool this year and definitely got our money's worth out of that - we went as often as we could and both boy's swimming skills have improved - with two sets of swim lessons for Josh and two private lessons for Dima. They've both got a healthy respect for the water but still think of it as fun just because they spent a lot of time goofing around with the lifeguards and jumping into the water again and again and again. So far we've had a big breakfast, played our new Cranuim Cariboo game and went out for a walk in the rain. As we were out there in rain jackets and crocs it really started to pour and Josh was unhappy and going "we're wet, we're wet" Once I pointed out that the pool also makes us all wet he was better about it but still not as thrilled to be out there as Dima was. He was fascinated by the water flowing down the street, down the storm drains and down the driveways.

We went to Josh's open house at school and when we got into the room he flew directly to the toys and played and played there - there was a kid who's also into NASCAR so Josh'll have someone to talk to about that stuff. There are several kids in his class that were in the same school as Josh last year but were across the hall. It's nice to have kids there that he'll know. With his outgoing personality I don't think he'd have trouble going into any new situation but I think it can't hurt to have kids there that he knows. When it was his turn to say hi to the teacher she asked if she should call him Joshua and he said yes - I then told her Josh was okay and that when I was filling in his info sheet for her and asked him what he wanted to be called he said Mr. Josh Hockey Player!! I must say the teacher seemed very attentive when the kids were talking with her and seemed nice. The kids also go to practice getting on and off a school bus... oh, goody!!! He was skipping around the hallways - I can only imagine how excited he'll be during the school days!

Dima got a letter from his teacher as well as a video that the class made last year at the end of the year it's a to be continued mystery about their class pet being missing ... cute.

This week we've gone out caching a little - got eaten alive by mosquitoes at one of the caches (Josh took a car and Dima got an American flag from the cache) and promptly got back outta there once we found it. We also discovered St. Peter's Village - a really neat little town set up in the woods with a huge boulder field behind the "town" and a stream. We found a cache there and spent some time hiking around and actually went back there yesterday to take Dima's therapist to see the place and show him the cache since he was intrigued by us telling him about geocaching. Since we found some cool loot in the caches the kids - especially Josh- keep asking when we're going out caching again could have gone today if the weather had cooperated.

St. Peter's Village

Hard to believe that next week we're already back to school routine. Time just flies!!

Monday, August 24, 2009






A few familiar faces in these videos.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lots and lots of blood...

How ironic is it that just a few weeks ago I sat poolside with a friend talking about her kid’s various injuries knocking on wood and thinking about how lucky I was to not have had to deal with that stuff … then…

Not even two hours after he got home from his vacation (see Nana’s guest – post) Dima and I took a nice walk and he went into the back yard while I came in through the garage. When I first saw him running toward the house screaming I was thinking – what now??? He can be dramatic at times… but this wasn’t just drama, there was lots and lots of blood dripping down his right arm and on the grass and on his shoes and on our floor. So I grabbed him and made him stick it under the kitchen faucet to wash it off while he was screaming about all the blood - by now I could see a gap in the flesh inside and below his knuckle as I grabbed gauze from our first aid kit (good idea to keep it in the kitchen pantry) and a clean towel and wrapped it around the finger I was hoping that MAYBE it wasn’t as bad as it looked at first and I sat him down and held his hand above his head to get it out of his sight and to try to stop the bleeding. I knew Chris was on his way home and I don’t know how long it took for him to get there but it seemed like a long time as I was just waiting and still holding out hope that I’d look at it again and it would be better than I first thought. No such luck. Once Chris got here I was spelling out h-o-s-p-i-t-a-l and s-t-i-t-c-h-e-s so Dima wouldn’t freak to get the severity of the situation across. Once Chris came out and said the word stitches Dima did freak out– he’d heard from someone at school that they really hurt and was really scared at that point. Chris said that maybe they’d be able to give him a cool butterfly bandaid instead. So we piled into the car me in the back with Dima– Josh was still with my parents, just as well so we didn’t have to deal with him trying to look at the cut and stuff. During the ride I noticed that when we weren’t saying much Dima started to cry so there’s me sitting there trying to keep Dima’s mind elsewhere so I found a golf score card in Chris’s car and showed the map of the course and asked again and again for details of his trip to the shore.

He did end up getting three stitches even though he tried his best to control the situation – not letting them wash it saying things like: “I’m going to lose all my blood and die”, “can you put the shot in the other hand?” - nice try…, “can I just get the bandaid?”- uh… no. The doctor did say that his behavior wasn’t too bad. I must say he was brave and actually watched the stitches as they went in. The doctor was great and once we all stopped using the word STITCHES Dima was good about going along with it all. We ended up breaking the steps down – I didn’t want to lie to him and just told him that it would be like getting a regular shot at the regular doctor and he was better then and watched the bubble form under his skin and laughed about it when he got the anesthetic. Once it was numb it was all down hill from there. He actually agreed that the bubbles the peroxide made were neat. He should being proud of himself because he handled most of it pretty well. He’s definitely proud that he’s got his first stitches. ( I’m hoping first… and last…) It wasn’t until we were on the way home that we noticed the blood all over his red shirt! Whew!!

guest written by Nana


Monday, August 10

Mama brought Dima to Quakertown to begin his third mini vacation of the summer. After dinner Dima and Nana packed some things for the trip to Ocean City

Oh Joy !!!!!! Nana found a strand of red, white and blue lights at a local gift shop. The other strand that Dima found at the CVS went home with him and so now he has a new set. Guess what he did after packing and what he used to decorate his room for sleeping???? You guessed it ---- lights.

Tuesday August 11

Dima helped Pop Pop to pack the car and at 11:30 Dima, Pop Pop and Nana left Quakertown for the trip to Ocean City. The portable DVD player kept Dima occupied and the trip was back roads, nice scenery and we all arrived safe and sound to a room with 2 double beds, a micro, small fridge and a shower. It was a very old motel but clean and very close to the boards and beach. After a lunch of cheese and tomato sandwiches with grapes for dessert we all headed for the beach. Dima was in his element – he swam, dug in the sand, swam and dug in the sand. We stayed on the beach until after 6 the best time of the day. On the way back to the room we stopped on the boards for pizza. We all showered - - - with the water running from hot to cold and back again. Then we walked up to the boards, one and a half blocks. We scoped out the place. Dima looked things over and decided what he would like to do when we return another night. Pop Pop was too tired from the ride and swimming with Dima to ride on the amusements so we just assessed the situation. That was OK with Dima. He wanted cotton candy so we bought a bag and he ate some and saved the rest for another day. Back to the room and p.j’s and a short video ,prayers and to bed. No problem falling asleep while Pop Pop watched the news.

Wednesday, August 12

Dima got up around 8:15 went to the bathroom and back to bed until Pop Pop go up a little later. Breakfast of cereal and fruit When Nana got up she told Dima to get ready for the beach so he dressed himself and got his sun block applied by Nana and off he and Pop Pop went- - -stopping at a shop to buy a wave board. Nana cleaned up the breakfast things and got the bag of treats etc ready for the beach and then joined them. It was about 10:15 when they left for the beach and they swam, dug in the sand, rode the board, swam ,dug in the sand, rode the board until the rains came about 4:00. A quick run back to the motel - showers and then around the corner for the early bird special. Dima – steamed clams and some of Nana’s clam chowder and Pop Pop’s French fries and rice pudding for dessert. We sat outside under a canopy with zippered sides and so the clouds and rain were a distraction instead of a problem. After a nice dinner we walked back to the motel (about 100 yards) under our umbrella, due to the heavy rain, and we sat on the covered second floor deck while Dima filled his bucket with the rain water and dumped it into the potted planters. This kept him busy for a long time. PJ’s and a movie since the boards were rained out. Again no problem with falling asleep

Thursday August 13

Up again at 8ish and the same routine as Wednesday. The weather was cloudy but no rain. When Nana joined them at the beach they were on the boards watching a parade honoring the 100th birthday of Ocean City and the annual baby Parade. We saw a few Mummers, politicians in cars, caught some candy and Papa will be thrilled that we saw SALLY STARR riding in one of the convertibles. :0) I thought she had gone to “Cartoon Jockey Heaven” years ago

There must have been 75 baby floats ---- one from Quakertown, Allentown, Pottstown and Downingtown

It was fun and Dima chose to stay and watch after which back to the beach to swim, dig, ride his board ,swim, dig and ride the board. The sun peaked out from time to time. We got a hot dog and sat on the boards to eat our lunch. We stayed on the beach until after 6 watching several kites being flown high over head and also the para-sails. Again back to the room, showers and a close by restaurant where Dima got his own clam chowder, roll and you guessed it ;0) steamed clams and two of Nana’s coconut shrimp. No dessert since he bought funnel cake for lunch and was saving it for his treat. We continued on to the boards, a half block away, and he chose to play games instead of rides. Lot’s of neat games for him in the arcade – skeet ball, bowling, a water thingy ( his favorite why are you surprised???? ) and then one ride on the merry go round. We stopped for the fudge on our way home. He found 75 cents in the machines and so that made him very happy!!! We have started a jar of quarters for next trip!! Bedtime again was fine.

Friday, August 14

Same morning routine After breakfast Nana packed and Pop Pop and Dima packed the car. We then drove to Egg Harbor,( about 25 minutes and on our way home,) to visit our former next door neighbors Theresa and son Kevin. They have a lovely apartment and we sat and chatted and then had some lunch. Dima’s behavior was outstanding. He was quiet while Theresa and Kevin told us some stories about their trip to CA and then Dima told a story and helped Theresa to set the table, serve the food and then clean up. He did get his toy bag and played on the floor for a while. He was a perfect gentleman and Nana and Pop Pop were very proud of him. On the road at 1:30 and again the back roads and the DVD player kept Dima occupied. Dima and Pop Pop emptied the car and then watered all of the plants and brought in veggies from the garden. We had tuna melts for dinner and then a movie and then to bed.

Saturday August 15 Fer- Augusto

In Italy on August 15 EVERYONE heads to the beach for the last two weeks of August. The “camp fire girls” had little or no business) In the Philadelphia region it was a custom to dip in the Atlantic since the priests would bless the waters and dedicate the ocean to the Blessed Mother. We ALWAYS went down - even if for just the day

Dima got up around 7:30 but did not get out of his room until Pop Pop went to him about 8:00. They had breakfast together and watched some TV. Nana got up at 9:00 and started laundry and cleaned up the kitchen. The boys went to the beer store and the Post Office and returned in time to get a hat, sun block and all headed to Bob White Farm to pick peaches. BUMMER ….. the peaches are not ripe so we picked “yellow early apples”

. We got 2 bushel baskets and bought some peaches from their stand We then went home, dropped off the loot, had some lunch and then Pop Pop and Dima went to Lowe’s and Giant. Nana continued with the laundry and cut up one bushel of apples and cooked them.

Pop Pop and Dima bought a fire pit at Lowe’s and then to Giant to get pie crusts and some other things. When they returned Nana continued to stir the apples while the boys put together the pit “seasoned it” by starting a fire and letting it simmer.

Dinner at 6:30 --- hot dogs cooked over the fire - by chef Dima baked beans and fresh corn on the cob bought by Pop Pop and Dima on their travels this day. We ate outside and had a picnic. Lot’s of fun.

After dinner Dima helped Nana to “smoosh” the apples through the press and to make the apple sauce and then he and Pop Pop sat by the fire pit until Nana joined them. All had a beverage, watched the sun set, bats come out and enjoy the fire. The gnats chased them in at 8:15 so a shower and the Penguins short TiVo and to bed at 9 ish. Prayers and ready for Sunday.

Sunday, August 16

We got up as usual around 8:00 had some cereal dressed and left for the 10:30 Mass. We sat up front int he third pew in front of the singer and Dima was exceptionally well behaved. He read a “God” book from time to time and then just watched the priest, the singer and was very quiet. After Mass our pastor gives candy to the children. They get to pick one piece from his basket. Dima got a caramel. We then went to John’s Diner where he wanted to order clams but settled for strawberry covered pancakes. Then we went to Giant to buy marshmallows for the evening camp fire.

After he changed to “work” clothes he watered all of the potted plants, dead headed all of Nana’s plants and helped Pop Pop to get ready for the evening camp fire.They cut up a lot of small wood and Dima gathered it all and put it in the wheel barrow.

He came in the house to cool off just in time to help Nana make the filling for the apple pies. He read the recipes and learned the measurements. The anticipation of the camp fire got him a little antsy so he sat in the lr in Pop Pop’s chair and watched a Penguins movie until time to light the fire.

Again he cooked hot dogs on the bbq fork and we had more corn on the cob and toasted marshmallows for dessert.

Bath read the rest of the God book and a short movie, brush teeth, prayers and to bed

Monday August 17

The usual morning routine then off to pick up Shannon and proceed to the “Y” for a few hours of swimming. Pop Pop did his laps, Shannon swam around on her “noodle” and Dima went down the slide and was swimming with his head under water and doing very well. Nana got in the water also and to use a Dima phrase “it was refreshing!!”

After we took Shannon home we went back to Zipp Rd, Pop Pop and Nana had some lunch, packed Dima’s things into the car and then we left for McDonald’s to fulfill Dima’s lunch request.

On our way home we stopped at the Shrine of Padre Pio and just happened to see a monk there. He hugged Dima gave him a Padre Blessing and gave him a kiss. Then we lit a candle and said some prayers.

Dima was glad to be home and to see Mama again. He spent a while telling her all about his vacation.

Nana and Pop Pop returned home to a quiet house but will miss their little buddy.

The End

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What I did on my summer vacation: pool and hot air balloon

My parents brought Dima back from his mini vacation yesterday and we all went to the pool in the evening. Josh isn't allowed to sit on the lifeguard stands with his buddies anymore ( I was kind of surprised that they let him do it in the first place) He still talks to the guards as he's jumping into the pool again and again and again and the woman who runs the place came out to swim with him the other day and showed him different ways to jump and now he's got even more ways to keep himself going while we're there. This year he has no problem with jumping into the "deep" section - the deepest the whole pool gets is 5'6" - and he did it once without me or an off duty guard near him and got a time out for it and hasn't done that since. Whenever we go Dima has to go directly to the splash park and Josh and I start out in the two foot section and walk in - he dives after his dive sticks or a hair band or asks other kids if the can join their games of catch til I make my way in and we go to the four foot section to him to jump in and swim to me. He knows he can't stand there and was afraid to go there last year but has lost that fear.

After we got back from the pool and I was rinsed off Dima seemed especially emotional - crying hysterically because a bee was stuck outside in a spider web - with me telling him to go get a stick to set it free, him doing it and them realizing that DOING is better than crying. Thinking back on it he also had a crying jag while we were at the pool - Josh picked up a bucket he brought along and then Dima decided he wanted it back - again ASK him for it instead of blubbering and you'll get it back when he's done. Is this crying attention getting stuff? is it his meds? avoiding confronting Josh to get the bucket back? He did also mention that he missed my parents could it be related to that?

Any way our visit to the pool ended with each boy getting their special thing Josh got to do the "ammouncement" that the pool was closed. He goes around here saying it since he's heard his buds saying it each night we're there at closing and we'd mentioned that to the guards so since there was only one other family still there he got to do the "The time is now 6:45 and the pool is closed, please exit the pool using the nearest ladder or stairs, the doors, including the bathrooms will be locked in fifteen minutes. Have a good evening" I tried to get Chris on the phone quickly enough to get him to hear it but I wasn't close enough to a speaker for him to hear it.

Then as we got to the end of the road that the park is on we saw a hot air balloon just about to take flight so we pulled over and watched that. Dima was really happy then.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

the vacation lottery

We got a call last night from my parents asking if they can take Dima for a few days for a mini-vacation at their house. I was like - sure go ahead... Well, you'd have thought Dima'd won the lottery, he was so excited! Josh was too and wanted to go along and I had to remind him that he already had a week there being the little prince of the house. This morning the boys were still talking about what Dima's going to do there. Josh was saying that Poppy's going to take him to "see all the secrets" when I asked about it he said he meant the car museum and things like that that kept him going while he was there. I had to explain that since they like different things Dima's trip would most likely entail doing things like playing in the creek and going out for all you can eat clams instead of car stuff. Again this afternoon they talked about Dima going away. It's always interesting to hear them discuss something and hear their slant on things - from what they've said I think Josh is really happy for him and it's as if Dima can't believe he's the chosen one this time.

Our little friend who came to swim lessons with us on Monday and Tuesday was like - "Josh, all you talk about is cars!" and after the twentieth time of listening to Cotton Eyed Joe on one of Josh's trucks she was saying "can you please stop it" I tried to explain to her that sometimes you just have to tune it out. It was nice to have another kid for Josh to play with - someone other than me - we stopped at a playground for them to goof around on the way back from swim lessons on Tuesday and they had a great time playing together pretending to be in a house on fire and then one would call 911 and the other would be a firefighter and slide down a pole on the playground and go rescue the other. That scenario was a suggestion I made once they showed interest in the pole and they took off with it and played quite a while.

Dima's done with "camp" as of today and he got rave reviews behavoir and grade - wise from his teacher. That's really saying something since she's the same teacher he had when first grade began and while in her class earlier in the year he had all kinds of issues - The only thing that seemed to be a problem this time was the bus ride and I think the driver being occupied with trying to drive makes it easy to get away with bothering other kids and pushing his limits. Academically he's now at grade level - it's the friendship and social stuff that really needs work now. He seems to have a natural artistic side and math also comes easily to him and now the reading is coming together as well as writing when he's reminded to slow down and take his time. That's the stuff that summer school helps with - keeping him on track even during he summer. I find myself going around spelling stuff all the time - even though I question that when I need to tell Chris something not necessarily for the kid's ears and he's slower at sounding it out than Dima is sometimes... we're reminded by the teacher to continue to show him words and sounds them out whenever possible on signs and where ever we can and to have him read every day to keep him going, so Gramma and Poppy and - later in August - Nana and Poppop -don't forget you're in charge of that while you've got him.


Let our real summer begin - Dima's done with summer school and Josh is done with swim lessons - no more scheduled mornings!! So what are we going to do this afternoon ?? - Go back to the pool of course! Marsh Creek Park - if anyone's up for it come find us there.

Monday, July 27, 2009

homebound in the middle of the summer

Both boys are napping this afternoon - they're both tired from staying up late Saturday night at our neighbor's graduation picnic, Dima's coughing and it's raining off and on today - a thunderstorm already rolled through so it looks like we'll be hanging out inside. Maybe a game or two of Uno, maybe puzzles, definitely will read Dima's "homework" book - they bring home a different book each day in a baggie and the assignment is to read it. The "Camp Success" (they used to call this summer school) teacher is trying to give them a little slack since it IS summertime.

This is his last week of this and Josh's last week of swim lessons - it'll be nice to have a less scheduled schedule so we'll have some freedom to get out and about more. I'd like to get around to some caches in or near parks and definitely re-visit a new bouncy - place we discovered last week. On Josh's birthday it was rainy in the early afternoon and after swimming / camp we - and some friends went to Bounce Zone http://www.bouncezone.org
to use up some energy. The place is off the beaten path so we were essentially the only ones there and of course Josh did what he does when we're out an about he made friends with a bunch of teenagers. These kids seemed a bit big for this kind of place but there weren't many kids there at all - hopefully if there were more little kids there the big ones wouldn't want to be there or they would be sent to their own inflatable slide and the little kids kept off of the same one.
The timing that day worked out well because by the time we left the Bounce Zone it was nice enough to go back to the pool.

As I type this it's clearing up - at least the sun is coming out so it could turn out to be a pool afternoon anyway - I get cell phone updates if there are storms coming so we'd be able to clear out if needed. Kids are up no more time to type.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What a difference five years makes

As we're nearing Josh's sixth birthday I can't help but think about five years ago when Chris and I were in Russia for our first visit with the boys. During our trip our agency http://www.eaci.com took very good care of us and at the same time the people there have ALOT of control over how things are executed each time you're traveling.

I'm not sure if things are still the same but at the time the Ministry of Education had custody of them and you had to comply with how they wanted things filled out with every t crossed and every i dotted in an acceptable way. The agency was a big help with letting us know what to do and what to expect from the experience. It all took lots of time to gather everything from our birth certificates and marriage licenses to forms that you fill out and then have apostilled, - it's a kind of internationally-recognized notarization - since we lived in Maryland I had to drive to Annapolis to get the physical stamps on the pages - at $10.00 a page!!!. So we had to compile it all - It was like working on the most serious graded paper you'll ever do since it's so important and I always had the ultimate goal in the back of my mind while doing this. As it turns out the "Ministry of Magic" as WE came to call them - has the option to back out of the deal for any reason and without explanation if it wasn't all lined up correctly.

Not only was there that paper work maze to get through but there was also after- adoption stuff to do. From what I understand some parents who went before us didn't think this stuff important and it made it more urgent for us to get it done. The reason was to justify why we have these kids and illustrate to the Russians how they're thriving here. While we were in Russia in July, 2004 it was hard to imagine getting through the three years of follow up updates and now it's hard to remember it. Again the agency set us up with basic forms to fill in each month - we've got copies of them - something like this that the kids can look back on later in life. Wow the time flies!!

Exactly five years ago we met Josh just days before his first birthday so at the time Dima was 32 months old - in the orphanage Josh kept trying to get out the door in his lope / crawl. Dima was goofing around with our video camera and crayons and to our relief - we'd been told by an International Adoption Specialist (another story) to look out for speech- he whispered to two tiny stuffed dogs we brought along, Josh actually repeated a "Hallo" from me. I realize now that they both must have been really tired since we had them with us for something like four hours and they were then really off schedule from what they usually did. Then in September, 2004 when we left Russia I took their basic schedule and only modified it a bit and to this day it's the basis of our days.

During our first trip to Russia we built in several extra days to stay in St. Petersburg - I'm glad we did, since Chris and I are both pretty well - traveled we appreciated the architecture and the beauty and the history of the city as well as the great food and the Alaska - like nights (where we went on our honeymoon). Obviously everything changes with kids and we haven't had another trip like that one since.

We left Russia the first time on July 23rd - one day after Josh turned one. It was tough coming back without them - but at the same time you don't want to get too emotionally invested until it's all over since things can change at a moment's notice with the enactment of a new law over there. Until we got back to Dulles with them I felt like it was all a dream and now most of it does too since it all sped by so fast.

Now more than ever I wonder about their mothers and siblings... where are they how often do they think of them - and Where would we be and what would Alexi - we changed his name - and Dmitry be doing right now had our paperwork not hit the desk at the Ministry of Education at just that moment that theirs did to set this all in motion.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Franklin Institute / very cool cache

Dima and I went to the Franklin Institute today - since Josh is having his only- child time with my parents (and doing nicely as I hear) I decided to do something special with Dima while we had the time alone. Once we got there -no major delays and not a bad drive into town during rush hour - definitely nothing like DC traffic! - we started with the upstairs which included a " sports challenge" area where you goof around with different experimental things that demonstrate the need for quick reflexes in race car driving and the way to build momentum while doing and axel in skating. I thought he'd like that one but wouldn't let me read the instructions on any of them before trying them out then kept getting frustrated when they weren't doing much or what he thought they should. That didn't last long at all.

We made our way to the Galileo exhibit:


Don't ask me what most of the things were - instead I could have been counting the number of times he said "Can we go yet?/ or can we leave? or I'm bored" as I realized it probably wasn't the smartest thing to bring him to - but then a docent helped him discover cool things about the various mirrors and lenses that were set up. He invited us to turn back for a special up close look at Galileo's telescope and I wanted to go do it so we went. Dima got to look through a telescope that Galileo himself used - thought that it was the coolest thing the significance was totally lost on Dima.

There was some whining when I got us to the line for the planetarium show (this line will take forever, my neck's gonna hurt, ...) but he was glad we went cause he was awed by the show.

I made him go through the Giant Heart by himself because I would have been totally claustrophobic in there - I was on a tube slide maybe 4 feet long not too long ago at a playground and very uncomfortable - and have had bad dreams about that kind of stuff. It didn't seem so confining when I was younger!! .... or maybe that's where those dreams came from...?? I thought it best not to even try it - he did it by himself and came out "luku" his description of when he's really excited - and I asked later why he was like that and he said it was because he was scared.

On our way home I asked him what his favorite part of the day was and his answer was the water-play stuff in the KidScience area was the best - there were areas where the kids could - okay I was doing it too - take tubes and connectors and make a fountain with a valve you pump yourself. So again the water is his thing. There's a surprise!!

If you're a geocacher and don't want too much information about a certain cache in Philadelphia stop reading here .....................

If you're a potential cacher this is enough to get you going - If you're serious about trying this and really interested give me a call - I'll go with you whenever you want to try one. I'll line some up if anyone wants to try it while we're at the gaufest:

Another really cool thing we did while in town was go find two caches one was standard and the other outstanding. Since it was rainy and we were getting hungry I had to be selective in the caches to try this afternoon. I picked one that other cachers seemed to hold in high regard:


This was one of the coolest caches I've seen so far. It was not really easy zeroing in on the exact location with clouds over head and buildings nearby. Like one of the other finders of the cache posted I felt like I was in a movie - going through the stacks and coming up with the find. At first I was over thinking it... maybe there's a vampire statue or mummy or relic of some sort with a clue. Nothing like that was obvious and since it says "something Anne Rice left behind" I decided on the obvious approach - while on the way to the fiction department I'm thinking - take out an Anne Rice and look behind it to the left - it was easier and more clever than that - it was in a hollowed out Anne Rice "The Mummy" book - like one you can get to keep your valuables in. That was the cache - with log book and trading stuff and a travel bug, right on the shelves of the public "free" library!! BTW: is there also a "pay" library in Philadelphia?

I haven't been motivated before this to put out my own caches but this got my mind going - How to do this myself - who do you ask for permission?? can I do this in used book stores?? How can I do this? This is why I got into this hobby it makes you use your mind and you visit places that you might not usually see. Very cool!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Blue Marsh Lake

Josh is spending time with my mom and dad, so... since we had the time I decided to do something special with Dima this afternoon.. I'd heard of Blue Marsh Lake - their website:


Looks great doesn't it? When you get there there's a nice informative Visitor's Center and you make your way down to the beach and there's goose poop right along the shore ( like 20 feet of sand.. woohoo) and so I was totally grossed out and barely got my feet wet. Dima on the other hand had no problem with it and was swimming in the lake and dunking himself under more than he does in the pool we usually go to - and digging in the sand so he had a good time. I guess the splash park at our usual place takes up most of his attention there and at first the jet skis and boats interested him but the bottom line was the sand and goofing around with that.

Both of my boys have said recently that the want to go fishing - I don't know that their definition of "fishing" is but I can imagine it's got something to do with coming home with lots of fresh-caught fish. In order to set them straight about what it really is I've thought about setting up our baby pool and making them sit next to it for a while to see what it's like - not like we would actually catch anything if we went in real water anyway. While out at the lake today I took along Josh's hand- made net - a piece of mesh on a rope and Dima spent maybe two minutes goofing around with that before he moved on to other things.

After our outing we met Chris at a restaurant for all you can eat crab legs - Dima's practice on all our $4.99 / pound Acme legs paid off since he's quite the crab picker now and can get his money's worth while sitting there for an evening. The disappointment of the poopy lake was off set by a nice evening out.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

... today in the PA House of Representatives...

This afternoon I had the chance to sit in on the Pennsylvania House of Representatives with our Philly German dance group. This is what it was all about:


We got the call maybe 2 weeks ago to ask if it would be possible to pull a group together to do a performance at the capitol - I thought it sounded cool - what an opportunity to do something that not a lot of people get to do ! ...so thanks to Chris working from home in the morning and Nana and Poppop taking over for swim lessons and dealing with the boys for the afternoon I was able to go to Harrisburg.

I expected : go in ... wait in the wings for the blah blah to be done, dance a while, have lunch in a back room, go home... that didn't happen.

When we got there we were met and escorted in to the House chamber to "our seats" we were schmoozed by many passers by. What a room! What a mix of eras: the artwork in the room is beautiful as well as the fabulous mahogany desks and the stunning marble on the walls... then there are the laptops and TV cameras and the electronic voting tally boards and devises that I'm sure the architects never imagined would be in that space - with a big mural of William Penn and Ben Franklin and the influential people of the state in the front of the room. There's a "Night at the Museum" - type movie in there somewhere...

While we sat there we saw the remaining Tuskegee Airmen:


they got many standing ovations and it was great to see these real heroes ... unfortunately one of them just passed away on Sunday.

There was also a presentation lauding the dairy industry in Pennsylvania and I was ll over that - butter, butter, butter!!

Okay, so when it was our turn we were introduced and there was a list of contributions to the nation by German Americans. The contribution of wineries was lightly applauded - the breweries got a bigger round of applause... They actually managed to get our bill passed before their one hour break for lunch so we had our chance to dance during break. We were in a big atrium and people had been just walking through on the way to their lunches but once we got started some stopped and lined the area upstairs as well as down - it looked like some of the older people really appreciated us. We were treated to lunch in the cafeteria there - taco day! Posed for some photo ops on our way out - we had to go out the back of the building but the area has a really nice fountain with the dome behind us. Our escorts were great and if this opportunity comes up again it would be nice to take Josh ... if we can get him to be quiet while we're in watching the serious stuff.

This is one of those things that when we're there I can't believe we're doing it - rates right up there with dancing at the German Embassy and then on the steps of the National Capitol and the National Cathedral with the other dance group. At the embassy they were really great to us too - (more professional schmoozers) - they gave each of the girls little gift bags including key rings that I still use, and they let us into their little room downstairs that looked like a beer - drinkin' cellar in Germany. Totally, unbelievably, cool.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Our days

Wow ... I think I'm busier now than when Josh was in school!

Our day today: Me ... up by 6:30... kids ... up by 7:30... (Josh let me pull his first tooth last night as it was barely hanging on so he WOULD have been up much earlier, as in as soon as he found his tooth fairy reward but he did settle back in and sleep some more after I told him to keep the news til morning )... After breakfast I helped Dima with a shadow box and the related speech that's due Thursday, ... Dima off to school, ... I supervised while Josh drove his friend's Kett car around our cul de sac - (He loves this thing! He actually said good-bye to it as we left it in our garage to go do stuff. - I've got eyes out and about at the yard sales looking for used ones.)

We got together with our friends to go to Mandarach Memorial Park - the one with the big slides. We found a cache while we were there that had kid stuff in it ( a great first caching experience for our friends). Josh got a car and his girl-friend-for-the day got lip gloss(from what I understand she's got a pretty big collection of lip stuff already)! Then, once they had their cache loot in hand it wasn't so hard to get the kids to leave this awesome park.... So, ... off to get lunch and since we were close we went to the Philadelphia Premium Outlets. My friend and I agreed to go back there some time when we're kid-free cause it's hard to look at stuff and hunt for bargains while the kids are with us. I was trying to find bunco prizes for next month when it's my turn to host but coudn't really focus on the stuff and didn't want to take the kids into Yankee Candle Co since they were both pretty wound up and excited to be together. We found a play area so the kids goofed around there to burn up some energy.

Later we came back to their house and I left Josh there to play until Dima's bus got here - gave him a snack, talked a while about his day then back to their place ... We tried to sit and relax and watch Bolt - but that's hard to do with three restless kids in the room... Back here to make and serve dinner... Kids needed baths before bed - luckily Chris took over for that and I got my own stuff done and my own bath done and I'm just now sitting down myself.... Whew!!!

Last night my dance group did not have practice but with my "free time" I went to hockey practice with the boys and took a walk with Dima to talk about his day and played bubble hockey with him while Josh had practice then got Josh back here and ready for bed - and pulled his first tooth for him before Dima's practice was wrapped up. Josh was anxious to tell Dima and Papa about the tooth so when they got back from the rink we stood on a line and I said "whoever lost a tooth today please step forward " and he bounded forward and was grinning his little Jack O lantern grin and jumping around as I was standing there thinking - losing teeth already?? where has the time gone??


Yippee!! Is what Josh said this morning after his first tooth had been lost and he found his fifty cents in his bed in lieu of the tooth. He woke early this morning and that was his first word out of his mouth he tried to wake Dima up to tell him but I told him to save the news til it was light outside and he actually fell back to sleep, miracle of miracles and got up again when 7:30 rolled around.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Just wait til he's a teenager!!

One half of a double-decker egg and cheese sandwich, a Nutrigrain bar, three cups of "Smoothie" drink and three big handfuls of animal crackers. This is what Josh has eaten so far today and it's only 11:30!! He did have skating practice last night and had a long tricycle ride this morning so I guess he's burning it but holy cow his belly's bulging right now. He's also sitting on my lap sucking his thumb so I guess we'll do a nap then get ready to head to the pool when Dima gets home.

Josh and I went to the pool to buy our membership yesterday and ran into one of his lifeguard his buddies from last year who was off duty but just happened to stop in. I hadn't expected to swim so he ended up in the pool with regular shorts on and being tossed around by his friend while I sat there and caught up on what he's been doing for the winter.

It's safe to say that our hang out now will be the pool - Josh is tall enough to easily stand in the baby pool part and he's okay about asking to go to the deeper part with me when he wants to jump in there. Of course I'm with him at all times no matter which part he's in but if I want to sit out for a while he's okay with playing in the splash park or laying next to or right on top of me if I stop to I read and he's a little tired. Dima will be spending his time under the splash park I'm sure. I did tell them that if the weather's good and Dima does well in school... and if Josh isn't sassy we'll go over after school. So they were both saying to each other - " I really want to go so don't YOU blow it today". The park is near a field where hot air balloons are put up in the evenings at times so we always have to check for them on the way home - that's okay cause it gives us something to look forward to and it's easier to motivate them to leave.

It's.... Shake your Groove Thing?

Dima and I were in the car this past weekend - his behavior was exceptional so we hit the road for some quick caching - and as we rode along I didn't think he was listening to the radio when he started laughing. The song playing was "Shake your Groove Thing" the old disco song and he thought it was Shake your boobies.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Josh Havin' Fun at the Beach

A kid with exuberance as big as the ocean! This week Josh and I went to Ocean City, NJ for a few days. Once we got there Tuesday we hit the ground running. We stopped at a playground and Josh met two kids and was directing the action within minutes. Since we had been in the car for so long I thought it was good for him to DO something even before we unloaded the stuff from the car. Plus there was a near-by cache that I was looking for so we had a chance to search after he played. Unfortunately we didn’t find the cache and since we got back I see a log entry that someone else looked too and marked it as un-found also. Too bad since it was supposed to have a beetle in it! Again another cool place we wouldn't have found if not for caching!

We got out to the beach as soon as we could after we ate a quick lunch in the room as I got our stuff situated. On the beach he had a shovel that he used to throw sand out into the ocean again and again and again. He also had forms to build things and make shapes with, but Mr. Destructo - and I should have guessed this would be his thing - kept hurling the sand back into the ocean … one teeny scoopful at a time. He also liked the boardwalk and the arcades.

In the evening I let him have a little pouch to carry his coins in and he had to budget them out, when they were gone that was it. It made him stop to think about how he was using the money to know it would end when he was done. Even when his money was spent he still had a good time sitting on each of the motorcycle rides and sitting in the car ones. There was one with three screens around the driver’s seat that just fascinated him.

There were rides across the street from our hotel that weren’t running most of our trip – just as well cause I can’t imaging him trying to go to sleep with that noise and all the activity and screaming going on over there. But then yesterday morning they started up the rides as the two of us looked at each other at the same time and ran to the window wide-eyed thinking it was thunder. Once we saw it was the rides Josh was fascinated and watched from out on the beach, boardwalk and again from our room like a big TV while we ate lunch. It was kind of cool that as I watched the noon news on Philly channel 3 they showed a web cam shot of the same park.
There must have been a school group there cause they were leaving and everything shut down again at around one o’clock when we were going to say good bye to the ocean and sand. He’d already said good bye and thank you to the pool, the front desk girl and the cleaning staff.
During waking hours Josh was literally bouncing off the walls and when he tried to sit still his leg would twitch! I had to hold his hand most of the time on the boardwalk because he wasn’t paying attention to where we were or which lanes we walked in and I was afraid that he’d get run over by a bike or cause a crash by making someone swerve around him– he liked the surreys – and stared at them each time one would go by – it was like a whole new world to him as we walked he was very busy just taking in all the details.

Yesterday we were both awake by 5am! though I tried to sleep more I could tell it wasn’t gonna happen so even though I got extended check out so we could have time to do beach and boardwalk I decided to get up and out to make the most of the day. It was chilly and rainy we but we still clicked off 15,000 + steps on the pedometer for the day. I should let Josh wear the pedometer some time since he probably gets in more steps than I do, while I walk straight lines he’s exploring in every direction.
He had a great time on the whole trip, from throwing sand to screaming and running away from waves, to asking high school or college aged kids to let him play with them. He played volleyball with three girls on Tuesday afternoon and football and Frisbee with a group of guys on Wednesday - just like anywhere else he goes in like he owns the place.

Monday, June 1, 2009

a good weekend

Dima and I met my Mother in law to see the movie UP on Saturday and he did remarkably well. There were a few instances during the movie where he kind of turned and pressed his face against my arm or tried to grab my hand and at the advise of the counselors I tried ignoring that stuff and it seemed to work - he kind of gave up and didn't get himself into trouble while we watched It was a good movie and I'm sure we'll end up owning it some day - I'm looking forward to seeing it again to pick up on all the little things that I'm sure are in it. We also went out for lunch and he was getting antsy there - kind of like when Chris and I took him to the flower show and he let loose with the silly, wild stuff once we all sat down There it's harder to ignore that stuff and I feel like I'm being inconsistent if I let him start all that when we're out when I wouldn't tolerate it at home since he still doesn't regulate himself and figure out when enough is enough. I realize that it is a long time to sit down with both things so in retrospect it might have been better to trot him around somewhere in between. After we ate I took him to French Creek park to "fish" with the plastic little dredging net that Josh made in preschool we got in quite a bit of walking since he fished, we walked around the pool there and then we went and found a cache in the park. It was big enough to have trinkets in it so we left a little toy and Dima got to pick something out he decided on a little hippo with a parachute. We also ran into other geocachers along the way - what else would you be doing in the woods with a GPS?? It turned out that we had a nice day out together.

Then since we figured Chris and Josh would be tired and doing their own thing on Sunday I got Dima up and out and we drove up to Cabela's it's like a wonderland in there for Dima since he likes water and they have a mountain with waterfalls in the store. I showed him the website first to get him excited about it and he was really looking forward to it the whole drive there. He even patiently waited for me while I poked around a sidewalk sale and he actually wanted to look for caches with me - found 3 in the Cabela's parking lot it's a HUGE lot with a HUGE building and HUGE store - then we were off to Hawk Mountain. He did great on the hike - it's pretty rocky and steep too at times and he kept right up with me and said he had a good time. He was impressed with the views from the mountain and kept the clouds in his sights all along the way. There was a "raptor show" at 2 and he said he didn't really want to stay for it but we had only a half hour to wait so we poked along in the gift shop, he had an apple in the car and I was like... "lets go explore some more... well, look over there they have birds in those boxes let's go see them." He liked looking at the Red Tailed Hawk and Screech Owl and we did get rained on while the presentation was going on but he got bored once the birds were back in their boxes so I gave in an we got going.

There was a cache listed near where we stopped for a mid -afternoon meal and we decided to go try to find it. We could have driven maybe a mile down a road to it but he wanted to park and walk in so - okey dokey walk we did. We didn't find the cache - the area was too weedy - but if it hadn't been for the sport we never would have found this cool park within walking distance of a dam with a huge water fall that Dima thought was awesome.

Josh got to go to his first NASCAR race this past Saturday, May 30. 2009 a date that will definitely live on in his mind - he'll remember this for a loooong time the roar of the engines (he had ear phones on and didn't fight them) the fly over during the Star Spangled Banner and all the hubbub around that kind of thing is just made for that little kid - he's already incorporated all that into his little play world. While playing yesterday he did his own National Anthem and had Chris simulate the fly over and he's talking about it and the friends they went with constantly well, except for right this minute because he's so tired from such a busy day that he's napping. This is a good thing since I'll be taking him to Ocean City, NJ tomorrow. I decided that since he's out of school and the big kids are still in school I'd take him to the beach - I think it's another place he'll love. He likes to go to arcades, people watch and to play in sand - it's cheaper this time of year than in full season. We haven't really had a vacation for quite a while so I'm looking forward to this. The last time I took the kids to the beach it was way- off season like in January, 2008 and they liked the beach and boardwalk then and only a few things were open then - he's going to love all the stuff when it's open.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

conversation with a five year old

Josh - "Guinness" (our dog) "you're going to die soon"

Mama - "well, he'll PROBABLY die before we do -what made you say that?"

J - "He's gonna die. Papa yells at him and wants him gone - he says it every time we're eating dinner."

M - "yeah, he wants him out of the room while we're sitting for our meals he certainly wouldn't say he wants the dog to die. Anyway, I don't think talking like that is very nice, how would you like it if someone talked about you dying?"

J - indignant - "I am NOT going to die!!"

M - "We all will and the reason I'm always telling you to be careful out on the streets and stuff like that so you don't get squished and die sooner rather than later."

J - "I'm not going to die!!"

M - "We'll all die at some time."

J - crying and adamant at this point "I'm NOT going to die - we can get resurrected."

The light bulb goes on for me - the kid is thinking the Easter stuff with Jesus happens to everyone, so after explaining that Jesus was special I got out the Bible that he got for his preschool graduation, read him a verse about dying, leaving our bodies behind and going to heaven if God is pleased with us - when we accept Jesus we get to have new bodies in heaven.

He seemed to believe me once I got the book out and read it - if it comes from another source I guess he can believe me.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

In case you're wondering

The picture of Josh on the left is and outfit they made at his preschool: Christian soldiers fully armed and ready for graduation. The children were so excited to make their armor - just like Christian had in the Pilgrim's Progress. The Helmet of Salvation, the Breastplate of Righteousness, the Shield of Faith, the Belt of Truth, the Sword of the Spirit and the "Gospel Feet".

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mr. Sobrinski says..... Mr. Sobrinski says

Teacher Receives Daily Shoulder Rubs from Student!!

Student Hugs and Adores Teacher!!

...could be scandalous headlines today but when I was in third grade - yikes! back in - 1973!!! - it was a reality that unfortunately kids don't see anymore. Yes, I was the one doing the shoulder rubbing and hugging and adoring. That was then.

This is now: My mom still works at the library in the elementary school and told me that Mr. Sobrinski is retiring. She thought I should write something but it's taken me a while to come up with it since I don't even remember specifics of the lessons from the year in his class - except that I struggled with math - okay, really, what did we need all that for? Now we each carry a calculator all the time on our cell phones to help us figure it all out!

Anyway, while in class and in school in general what did we really learn? What do I remember about the teacher I knew as a fun, young, active, endlessly interesting guy?

I'm sure that if you ask any of Mr. Sobrinski's students what they remember of his class they'd mention reading the Hobbit - I can tell you he introduced us to this book even before it was cool by pop-culture standards.

I remember that he taught us to play chess - now I appreciate the lessons playing the game teaches to young minds.

At the time I guess I must have quoted him a lot since I definitely remember my sister and my Dad razzing me by saying "Mr. Sobrinski says..... Mr. Sobrinski says...".

There's memory still lurking in my brain cells of being out on the playground and after fumbling a ball Mr. S. used the word SUGAR!! instead of cursing and I realize now that he taught by example and whether by coincidence or not, I rarely curse well, I don't know him that well personally and don't know if he would normally curse but I do know that he did the right thing in front of us.

The kids that were kids when I was a kid survived the hazards of life and along the way our lives were touched in numerous ways by people like Mr. Sobrinski. I guess if I'd had the math stuff down and had the details of how many students over many years I'd be able to spout out the hard numbers. Beyond that the reality is that the gifts and lessons we walked away with are beyond count and still growing as we convey them to our own children. So ... exactly how do you calculate that??

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

goats, races and a few familiar faces

On Sunday we made our annual trip out to a local brew pub's Bock Bier Fest which includes goat races, lots of people hanging out for an afternoon and our dance group dancing. As I was looking for video of this year's rain-soaked event I came across some footage of last year:


and... stay tuned ...I'm still working on getting video of Josh's Saturday performance to put on youtube...

Chasing balls around anyone?

Josh found an old tennis racket in our garage this past weekend and really wanted to play so since we had some spare time this afternoon while waiting for Dima's field trip bus to get to his school and there's a playground along the way so I decided to take the rackets along and let Josh give it a try. The rain this afternoon let up enough for us to get out there and then it turned out to be basically Josh and I chasing the ball around the puddled, wormy court while holding rackets in our hands and occasionally hitting the ball over the net. I tried to get him to do it close up and then work out to further away but we had three adjacent courts and were all over the place. I also tried to show him how to serve over hand and usually he's good at imitating what he sees and did bounce the ball then serve kind of sideways - whatever you call that - it a few times - he didn't get that from me must have seen it while watching real tennis on TV I don't think any young tennis pros need to worry about Josh just yet but at least he's been exposed to it.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

coming up

Josh is off school today so he and I will be hanging out and resting up for the coming busy weekend. Then Dima's off school tomorrow so he and I will be hanging out together while Josh does school and bell practice for the little number they're putting together for a performance at the church where the school is on Sunday. Since Dima went to an all you can eat buffet with my parents and had clams, clams, clams he's been bugging me to go to another one so this will be our chance to find one and go - Josh isn't a fan of clams and stuff like that anyway so it'll be okay if he can't go to that. He'll do his lunch at school after his practice.

Saturday will be Josh's learn to play hockey lesson in the am then home for nap and our dance group's fest is that night and I'm doing the tickets for it so we'll have to be there nice and early so I can handle the at the door ticket sales. There goes Saturday evening and night...

Sunday the church service at Josh's school then the annual goat races are being held at the Sly Fox in Phoenixville and we'll be watching some goats and then dancing for that event too.

Monday Josh's class has their field trip to Marsh Creek park during his class time. We did this with Dima when he had the same teacher and it's fun and we actually learned stuff about the park. They "fished" with little nets the kids made and hiked around the trails in the park.

Tuesday Dima has his field trip to the zoo then on Tuesdays in the evenings he had been having CCD. This one will be his last one including a church service and all. Wednesday next week we'll finally be back into our "normal" routine. Oh, except for another field trip Dima has the following week.

It's hard to believe that Josh is done with school on the 20th of May. I can see this year that he's soooo ready for kindergarten as opposed to last year where he was reluctant to sit to do writing practice and all that - now he sits while Dima does his homework and he asks to write and draw and paint (we sat and painted beetles-the car kind- and trains and buses yesterday after Dima left for school). He first really got interested in drawing and letter practice when he found that a dot - to - dot book that we have has a tractor and a train and stuff that he's into.

Time flies!! Especially when you're busy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

That smells nice ??

Today Josh and I went to Marsh Creek park. Being Earth Day and even though it was drizzly off and on I thought it would be a good thing to get outside. There's an "EarthCache" near us so it seemed like a good day to check that one off my list - (as of this afternoon I've already found 51 caches!). The Earthcache is one where there isn't a physical thing to find it's more informational. There was a brief description of Marsh Creek Lake and it's history on the geocaching website and to claim it as found you had to meet the criteria of the people who set it up 1. had to answer some questions about the Christina watershed - that the reservoir at Marsh Creek drains into and 2. had to take a picture of your caching "team" at the site the coordinates led you to. As far as the acres that the lake takes up (535) and the other questions I had to look them up. Then I sat Josh on a bench and took his picture - a cute one at that - and as we were walking back to my car a tractor and pick up truck were driving by and Josh inhaled deeply and said " mmmmm That smells nice..." it was the smell of the exhaust! Is it possible that a kid can really be a born motor- head? Ah - yup, I think so.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Where's the princess... where's the princess??

We went to see Aladdin at Desales University this past weekend and ahead of time I explained to the boys about the show being different from the Disney version and read the online description of the show which included the name of the princess "Serena". After he started thinking about the princess every once in a while during our days Josh would ask me what her name was - again and again. Once we got to the theater some of the kids were seated around the perimeter of the stage on little carpets and Josh sat there for a short time then moved up into seats with the rest of us - I was glad he did it voluntarily since I was picturing him trying to talk to or hug the princess during the show and trying to figure out how to contain his enthusiasm. In the mean time Dima went to his seat - it might have helped that we literally sat in the same place we did last year for Jungle Book but he was remarkably well behaved and focused on the show. When they started the performance Josh was asking every few seconds "Where's the princess... where's the princess??" Once she came out he was like.." She's beautiful" If you ask now he'd tell you he remembers the princess and the few times that characters blew raspberries - Josh and his cousin were sitting next to each other and thought that it was just hilarious. After the show the cast sits in the lobby and signs coloring sheets. One of the ushers told me she went to Serena and described Josh to her and she was expecting him to be thrilled to see her. As we got through the line of kids waiting to see her he was actually kind of subdued and even kind of quite while she signed his sheet. Then as she was wrapping up the line of kids he decided he wanted to go hug her and again once he got close was kind of deer -in -the headlights in awe. She was very nice to him and I remembered the actress from Jungle Book - she was super nice to him then too.
She's got a fan for life in Josh if she ever pursues acting seriously.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

"How soon can we have another wedding?"

Josh got to go to a wedding this past weekend. He was prepared beforehand with some conversation about being quiet during the ceremony and did really well. He was quiet and even bowed his head during the appropriate times and thought "The Bride" as he called her all day looked beautiful and didn't blurt it out - he managed to whisper.

He had a grand old time at the reception and looked cute in his lederhosen - the group was dressed in traditional costumes and he ALWAYS gets lots of attention when he's got that stuff on. As we were winding down he was saying good-bye to people and asked The Bride's very pretty, 19 year old sister "How soon can we have another wedding?" She said he could marry her and Josh was like - "great, then you can come over to my house!!"

He actually realized his limit and when I gave him a five minute warning before leaving - time he just said he was ready and he wanted to go then. Okey dokey - he's usually the last one being reluctantly dragged out of any party so he didn't have to tell us twice we got out of there while he was willing and he even fell asleep in the car on the way home - he's usually gabbing away and doesn't sleep after an event like that.

I had planned a rip to Hawk Mountain today since the weather's nice and the kids are both off school and when I mentioned it to Josh this morning he literally threw a fit - flopping on the floor and crying and being miserable in general. I'd even gotten up and mapped out a few caches to do on the way up and back and gotten lunch ready to take along. He has been incredibly sassy and bratty all day so as things turned out no trip, no picnic lunch, no nothing but boring day here at home. The trails up there might be difficult for him anyway so Dima and I will have to go on our own sometime. I'd offered to take Dima before and he didn't want to go until he saw a picture of the view in a newspaper he got from school and now he wants to go and it's too bad it didnt' work out. Even since he finished his nap he's been up in his room refusing to say he's sorry to me for being so nasty and yelling things like "I'm not listening to you!!" Oh really, then why are you still up in your room sassy - pants? I've thought about getting out the old Pack and Play that we used to use as his "baby jail" and sticking him in there but he'd probably think that was fun. Right now hopefully he's adjusting this attitude so we can get out of here and DO something today.

Monday, March 30, 2009

I'm always amazed by the generosity of friends and strangers

While the boys were at a Reading Royals game last evening one of the ushers ( I guess usherette since it was a lady) gave them a bag of nice clothes with logos -Royals, Flyers - apparently she was impressed with Josh and since her son had outgrown the stuff she wanted to give it to him and Dima. Very nice - I had Dima and Josh drew a picture make up a Thank You card this morning to give to her the next time they see her.

We've been very fortunate to have friends with bigger kids that have given us lots and lots of stuff including NICE logo stuff. Pretty much everything they wear is a hand me down from someone. We're also lucky that the kids' grandparents are nice enough to chip in for new outfits once in a while so there's some new stuff in the closet too.

Yesterday afternoon the skies seemed clear after a gloomy morning so I decided to try to find a cache or two in places that aren't very kid-friendly - as in lots of uphill hiking and lots of walking off the established trail. Soooo, I got my act together as they were getting ready to head out to the hockey game and found one cache relatively easily. I proceeded to another cache that's rated a 3 for terrain (pretty difficult) while I was searching - I really do need to figure out how to get better reception on the GPS while out in the woods - I thought I heard thunder in the distance - didn't think it was a big deal because the weather geeks who live in my house hadn't mentioned anything big coming our way. Plus my cell phone usually gets notifications sent to it when the weather service posts a warning - I've had that set up since the summer when we spent most of our days at the pool - no warning so I'm ASSUMing everything is okay and still out there searching for the cache. After more distant thunder for a second I thought it was still really far away. Then as a purple sky rolls over me and I'm literally running to the car holding my baseball hat on I'm thinking "this is probably one of the stupidest things I've ever done" but the kids weren't with me and I was still really focused on the cache hunt until it was obvious that the storm was right there. Still no rain or lightning by the time I got in the car but as I drove home there were literally lightning bolts coming down very close to my car. By the time I got here there was definitely rain but not as bad as some places north of here where they had huge hail. Once I got home the phone and shut our open windows notification buzzed in on my cell phone - Thanks a whole lot National Weather Service!!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

March 24, 2009

Dima got 100% today on his "Daily Point Sheet" where he's got his school day divided into the times of day and the tasks that have been his problem areas. He's been in this class since mid-February. Is this co incidence that he's on different meds now ?? Today was the first day that he got 100 - He had one light slip in being distracted while lessons are taking place - but they give him a chance to redeem himself. Whatever works, I'm glad that he can hold it together and I hope we've turned a new page.

In other news... Josh had a friend come home from school with us today so her Mom could take her brother to an orthodontist appointment. He was very excited and then as we were on the way to our house: first the kids compared the stuff in their back packs and then Josh was like " So, what do you want to do today? ". He was quite the little host. Once we got here we played with a Frisbee, and ended up getting out our goal and kicking a ball around until his friend's Mom and brother came to pick her up. While we were talking we realized that the brother had Dima's current teacher while he was still in grade school - he's now in middle school. Dima's also been referred for an orthodontic consultation and they were happy with their doctor so I asked them to get a card for us so we'll be following up on that soon too. Small world!

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