Thursday, February 25, 2010

Canaan's Chart

So, sorry the news has been slow on the blog. Canaan came down with something last week and so graciously passed it on to Max. I've been busy with sick boys and trying to keep from getting it myself, and just too tired to do much recently. However, though we are still trying to get rid of snot and buggers and sickly things, it looks like it is all coming to an end soon. Oh, in the middle of sick week, Max got another tooth!

This news is actually old news, by about 2 weeks. But I still wanted to share it with you! Since we moved to a luxurious apartment- it has a dishwasher!!!- we have recently given the chore of unloading the silverware to Canaan. At first, it was a fun novelty, but that quickly wore off. He started complaining about it, telling us how much he didn't like to do it, and constantly tried to get out of it. If you know me, I am a fairly strict mom and we do spank. However, in this instance, and since he is getting older and can understand more and be reasoned with more, I decided to try a new strategy: incentive chart! Something every good teacher knows about!
I had bought some charts last time we were in the States, so that was nice to have. I colored in some of the squares, to leave only 12 blank ones. I explained to Canaan that if he unloaded the dishwasher when I asked and without complaining, then he could get a sticker on his chart. Once he got 12 stickers, filling in all the blank squares, then we would take him to the store and buy him a little car. He was very excited! Daddy was a little disappointed at having to wait almost 2 weeks-minimum- to buy him something (he is the gift spoiler in this household!), but he agreed! Of course, I told Canaan if he didn't obey and unload the dishwasher as soon as I asked, or if he complained, he wouldn't get a sticker BUT, he still had to unload the dishwasher- it is part of the way he helps our family.
The next day, I asked Canaan to unload the silverware. He practically sang through it! He talked to me about how he didn't like to do it before, but now he loved it now. It was soo wonderful! And for the next few days, he would ask if it was time to unload the dishwasher and if he could help. Amazing! Well, we didn't run the dishwasher everyday, but after 12 times, Canaan had 12 stickers, and we planned a family trip to the toy store. Daddy and Canaan went in and went through a big box of all sorts of matchbox cars. At the end, Canaan wanted Daddy to pick- he just couldn't decide. So Dougle narrowed it down for him and he picked. And then Daddy picked one for himself too! Stinker! So, Canaan walked away the proud owner of one (two) new cars!
I must say that the no complaining part hasn't stuck the way I was hoping. We learned some good lessons with the chart, but Canaan is back to asking if he can 'do it later' when it is time to unload. Complaining is just a hard thing we are working on with him now, in a lot of areas. I think the chart was great, but the results weren't as long lasting as I'd hoped. I don't think I'll give up on the idea of incentive charts. Actually, I have a new one up for nap taking (since he has been trying to keep himself awake during nap time), but he really has no interest in putting stickers on it, even when he does nap! But, with this complaining business, I am going to have to be a bit harder and stricter in my discipline/punishments of it. I think complaining is a bad habit that is hard to break. I want to do my best to not let it become an issue in my child's life, by not letting him develop a worse habit of it while he is still a toddler, or under my roof. It is best to break the habit early and young, right? Even as I write that, it sounds like a tall order, especially since I, myself, am prone to complaining. However, maybe it can be a family effort, to help clean up our attitudes and improve our outlook on life, from the inside out. After all, what is that verse my Mom made me memorize..."Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you may shine as lights in the universe!"

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hair Cut Number 2!

So, Canaan was really ready for a haircut...his second ever. I know he got his first haircut just a few months ago, and it took a bit of convincing that he needed another, since his hair is still so thin. However, the ends were split and very fly-away all over and this haircut helped even all his hair out so maybe it will continue to grow in and thicken evenly!

I must say, the haircut took 6 months off his looks, which is quite a lot when you are just 3! I almost cried! In fact, it took me several days to get used to it and like it. I was just devastated. And then Canaan told me he wanted long hair like a girls' which made it harder for me! Long hair might be cute on him, but his hair just doesn't want to cooperate! I am afraid that I've given him a complex about it, because when he was talking about his friend's sister today (who is just 5 months old), he said, "She just has a little bit of hair." Perhaps it is me who is paranoid! :) Leave it to the mom to worry!

But, his cut looks very nice and I am pretty used to it now, 6 days later!

In other news, I posted a facebook status that I thought I'd share with you all. I am told that this is just the result of raising BOYS, and honestly, it makes me chuckle, thinking back on it, so here goes. Yesterday Dougle caught Max trying to chew up some already chewed gum. Who knows where he got it, but he was in the hall and I hope it didn't come off the bottom of one of our shoes! Today I also was trying to explain to Canaan why he couldn't draw with the Sharpie. Afterward, I looked over at him because I thought he was being melodramatic and pretending to cry and sniff loudly. No crying. He was just deeply inhaling the marker over and over! Ah, sniffling at such a young age! And then a day or two ago, Canaan and I were playing trains in the hall and Max was chewing on a crayon. Well, I thought it was a crayon, but it was a used
cigarette!!! GROSS!! Yuk! WE must check our shoe bottoms I guess, because that has to be how he gets these things. Everyone here smokes (it is super cheap) and so there are cigarettes lying around everywhere; we must just track them in. Of course a few days before that, I came out of the bathroom to find Max had the trash pulled over and was eating handfuls of old oatmeal and coffee grounds out of it! I guess I can't watch them every second of the day, though Max seems to need it these days! But, my children are surviving, despite everything they are trying to do to harm themselves! I am just very thankful to God that we haven't had any trips to the emergency room, since that might be a bit of a bigger ordeal here in Ukraine! God has blessed us with health and safety and we are grateful!

THE PICTURES: Before and AFTER pics of the hair cut. Notice the TAIL I cut off in the back!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Puppet Theater

Today, Saturday, we once again accompanied my friend Katya and her son, Cenya (Senya) to the Puppet Theater. We went once about a month ago, for the first time, but the story was over the kids' heads. So, this time, we chose to go again when they were doing 3 traditional Russian Fairy-tales. I was familiar with them before we went and reminded Canaan of the stories, which was helpful too!

It was great! We had so much fun. The boys and I were able to walk to the theater, since it is just 2-3 blocks from our apartment. We met Katya and Cenya outside the theater and presented our tickets (that Katya had procured for us!) at the door on the way in. After going inside, we proceeded to the place where they keep coats; we all undressed from all our winter gear (this can be a bit of a process with hats, scarves, gloves and coats, two excited 3 year olds and a one year old) and proceeded up to the second floor to the Theater. Shortly after arriving, the show started. It was great. There were five live people who sang Nursery Rhymes at the beginning of every story, as well as who interacted and took turns doing puppets during the show. It was definitely a show for little beginner-puppet-theater-goers! Perfect for the kids. I took a short video (10 seconds), but it is a bit shaky b/c I was holding Max with one hand and Canaan was bumping my other arm! Sorry!
Anyway, it was also perfect for us because we knew the story-lines and could keep up with the Russian, even though at times I didn't understand it all. Katya would also help explain some things to me, which was helpful, especially when they used some older words that aren't used in regular conversation, but are still used in fairy-tales and stories that are passed down from long ago.

Canaan and Max both loved it. Canaan stood half the time, partly to see better and partly because he really was enjoying it and wanted to get as close as he could. Max sat/stood on my lap and enjoyed all the music and signing, while eating Cheerios!

They showed 2 stories before intermission, one about a hen who lays a golden egg that no one can break, and another about a little round bun who runs away and escapes from the grandparents and animals who want to eat her, but in the end is eaten by a sly fox. At intermission, we were able to visit the animals they have: some birds (they keep some in a remodeled part of an old elevator shaft), rabbits, a turtle, some hamsters, etc. Then we were also able to visit an area where they keep a lot of the puppets, old and new, that they've used, as well as puppets from other countries. Really interesting. Then we went back in for the final story, the Enormous Turnip that grew so big it couldn't be pulled out without the help of grandma, grandchildren and a few pets. Very fun.

After the theater, we went downstairs and in the coat room we were getting dressed for outside and the two boys started dancing in front of a big mirror, just like they danced in the theater. Too cute! That is the second little video.

Friday, February 12, 2010

This and That

Hi everyone.
Well, I just went through a few pictures looking at some stuff that we've taken pictures of recently, but that I haven't been able to post. So, here are 4 pictures of some random stuff from life in the past month that I thought I'd share with you. Sorry that the descriptions don't go with the picture. I give up trying to figure out how to do that!! If anyone knows how and wants to share, please do!!

--The first is a pic of the Fruit and Vegetable stand that is about half a block from our apartment. Very nice to have close, especially if we need to make Bortsch, a traditional Ukrainian soup, and need some ingredients. They also have some milk products and and a few other random stuff, and of course, alcoholic beverages of choice! :) Oh, notice the big slab of ice around it. That is our life, except when the patches of ice are covered by snow/slush and you can't see them until you are sliding!

-- The next (so sweet) picture is of Canaan and Daddy reading a Bible story before bed time.

-- The third pic is of an outing we had soon after we bought our sled. It is a lot of fun, but sometimes hard to navigate with both kids on it, b/c Canaan has to hold Max up, which he can't do well. Max is just too little to sit up by himself, especially decked in his big snowsuit. So, we have to pull it carefully so Max doesn't take a spill, face-first, into the snow. The night this was taken, I was excited about our sled and the new snow we had and wanted to take the kids out to enjoy the sled and snow. We went to a playground near the center. We drove there, thankfully, and then 'sledded' out to the playground. It was SO COLD! We were frozen really fast and couldn't stay long. Just long enough for Canaan to go down the slide twice - flying out and landing on his bottom about a yard away from where the slide ended. I think it was super-slick inside the slide and he flew!! Crazy! Of course, we got a few pictures too and then ran back to the car to get home and get warm. We found out later that night that a cold front had come in!!

-- The last picture is of Canaan writing his name (phonetically) in Russian. We are working on writing his letters in English and his name in Russian. He knows all his alphabet in English really well and can even tell me what letter most words begin with (that are straight-forward and typical). He can write some letters too. He even tried to write a few I hadn't taught him all by himself. The L was upside-down, but I was impressed he could think of what it looked like and attempt to write it on his own. I also want him to be able to know and write his Russian alphabet. WE are working on this, but it gets tricky when some letters look the same, but are different letter. Such as in his name, the Russian "N" is exactly the same as the English "H." Just a tad confusing. I just have to clarify that he needs the Russian letter, which looks like a different English letter.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pictures of the Boys

A Walk to the Post Office

Today the boys and I went out for a walk to the post office. I really don't know how far away it is other than to say it is about 3 or 4 blocks. Not too far. It would take me about 8 minutes to get there at a brisk pace, but much longer with a stroller and a walking 3 year old. And on ice.

I took the camera and we took some snapshots so you could see what we see everyday. We don't go to the post office to get our mail everyday, but we often drive by these areas and walk around. Hope you enjoy some of the scenes of our lives taken on this cloudy February day.

--The busy road street is where two streets merge near our house. If you keep looking down the road around the slight curve, our apartment is there on the left.

--This is outside the Hindman's house. Their courtyard is one huge slab of ice!

--The sidewalk with the snow steeped up on one side is how most sidewalks look. To get into the road means you have to climb over or through a huge mound of snow! The sidewalks are also slippery. When it snows, it gives more traction on the ice, but also hides patches of ice, giving you a surprise sometimes! (For those of you who missed my facebook update- I fell while carrying Max the other day. I figured the day would come one day, and it did. Thankfully, I was able to land on my leg and bottom and I only broke 5 of the 10 eggs I was carrying home from the corner store. Max landed just fine on my lap, a bit startled but didn't cry.)

--Here is our friendly neighbor hood, corner cop. There is a cop here always. They carry a little black and white stick, if you can see it, and wave it at cars to pull them over. So, you have to keep an eye out for them while you drive. If you miss their wave, they jump in their car and chase you down.
--This is outside a quaint, traditional looking restaurant that might be fun to eat at some day. Canaan looks for these little people statues whenever we drive by and asks me if they are out talking today. They haven't been recently, b/c of the freezing ice and snow. But today were back!

--The building with the yellow sign that says ПОШТА (Poshta- which is Ukrainian for Post Office), is just that. It isn't our new neighborhood po
st office, but is the one that we have our PO box at.

-- For this bank, I think they figure it is a waste of time to clear the snow off more than just the middle of this big staircase!

--My sweet Max, all bundled up. He was awake the whole way there, but fell asleep on the way home.

--This is one of my favorite pizza places here in Kharkov. It has oven baked pizzas and the cutest little atmosphere inside. It is called Feliche's.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

One year Old

My baby is ONE! This is a post on my reminiscing of what Max is doing and his routines now. It is long, and I don't expect most of you will read it all, which is fine! I do have some pictures at the end, which are of his party! Enjoy!

That is right. I weighed Max this morning and he is a healthy 21lbs., according to our bathroom scales. I actually think he has been thinning out a bit recently. Probably has to do with him crawling around and pulling up on everything these days. But, he still has the cutest round bottom and a few rolls to take the edge off his life! :)

Max has more hair at this age than Canaan did when he was one. However, I think between his rolls and his small amount of hair and his sweetest chubby cheeks, he looks younger than he actually
is. Still like a baby. Maybe that is why I haven't been like several of my friends, shedding tears upon the first birthday of their children. Due to his young looks, I have had to recently remind myself that he is one year old now, and change a few of my expectations for him. Some things I have decided he does understand, even when he pretends not to understand. Such as "come here" or "give it to me." He doesn't seem to appreciate the fact that I am on to his smarts that he has kept hidden away behind those long eyelashes and perfect little blue eyes!

Max crawls around everywhere these days. The bathroom seems to be his favorite place to hang out. So funny! But most of the time, I can count on him being within a 3 foot radius of either Canaan or I. He adores his big brother, imitating what he does and playing with the toys he plays with. Back several months ago, Max started "playing" with a car by driving it on the floor, as he sees his big brother do. He loves to sit on the floor near Canaan and flip through books, just like Canaan does too. I don't know if it is coincidence or not, but Max's favorite book for a while was Bolt, which just happened to be Canaan's favorite at the time! Just recently, I have caught him standing up, propped up against Canaan's little white board in his bedroom, waving the dry erase marker across the board! He has seen Big Brother do this, so he thinks it must be something he should be doing too! Precious!

Max can navigate our few stairs we have in our apartment pretty well. He goes up and down them, most of the time, without incident. He pulls up on the couch and chairs and can walk along them well. He is not interested, however, in walking on his own. We keep trying to prompt and tempt him to try it, but he just is not interested. Mom and Dad and Dave and Liv went in on a gift for Max's birthday: a little airplane he can ride on AND walk behind. Canaan had a Tonka Truck like this when he was Max's age, beginning his love of all things with wheels, and helping him start walking. I always thought my second child would start to walk earlier, trying to keep up with the older one, but alas, no. Sometimes I think life will be easier when he starts walking. I'll let you know when I find out! For now, Max is sticking true to his laid back personality. He's not in a hurry to start walking, and, well, I guess that will be just fine with me! :)

Max still loves music. In fact, several of his birthday gifts were musical. Often, he will start rocking back and forth and start grinning from ear to ear when music is played. In church, he sits on my lap and rocks back and forth when we sing. Just too cute!

Max also likes to jabber, but hasn't added much to his vocabulary. He will jabber a lot with us these days, but nothing intelligible! There was a time (about 3 months ago), that I was sure Max had 4 words. Now, Max only says "ni-ni" (for night-night), consistently. He will sign "more" and "all done." Sometimes it sounds like he is saying "ah-duh" for all-done, but it isn't consistent. About a month ago, I started to work on some signs with Max. I decided that he wasn't going to be another verbal chatter box like his older brother, so sign language might be helpful for us! Of course, we've been working on waving bye bye forever and he still won't do that. But I think he could if he wanted to. He just doesn't want to! I tried to teach Canaan some sign language, but half of the signs he could say before he actually became consistent with the sign. He was just my chatty boy. Max, not so much. But that is fine. We have enough talking going on with Canaan around everyday. Well, actually, I am looking forward to the day when Canaan can start chatting with Max sometimes, which might give my ear a break every once in a while! Ha! Ha! What Mom ever wants their BOY to not talk so much??!!

These days, Max doesn't like going out in the cold too much. I think it is because he can't get around much and just sits in the stroller or sled, or sits in my hands as we follow Canaan around. That is boring, so I don't blame him. Last time I took Canaan to the little park across the street, I put Max in some shoes and let him stand in the snow with his hands on a bench. He seemed to enjoy that a bit, and walked down the bench. But, it is just hard for him to do much like that, because his snow suit is pretty bulky, restricting his movements. And I let him go down the slide several times. But I can't tell if he likes that or not. He smiles at the top of the slide, but not at the bottom. But I think he likes sitting on my lap and swinging. Maybe he is just mournful because he misses the sunshine these days. It has been cloudy for a while, and the couple days there was sun (finally!) last week, we weren't able to be out in it.

Max still loves to eat, something I feel like he would do all day if I allowed! He takes the chance to snack whenever any of us eats. We have to hide the fact we are eating, otherwise he will come over to us, and longingly stare at whatever food we have in our hands. Right now, he nurses about 3-4 times a day: 4pm, a snack at bedtime, then at 11pm and 6am. Otherwise, he is happy to be up and doing everything with us. He still LOVES his highchair. He sits up with the rest of us at the table and eats w
hatever we are eating. And he can tell if he is getting something different than what the rest of us have. So he will point at what we have, and grunt! Usually he has oatmeal or yogurt for breakfast, vegetables or whatever we have for lunch (carrots are the easiest for me to do because they are available always, when most other things aren't. At supper, he usually has what we eat. He will eat soups and meats and chicken, vegetables, some fruits (though not as much as he did before), and all type of breads and crackers. And he loves desserts too! Recently he has been really thirsty, but I think that is because it is so dry inside because of the heaters. He will drink water, but loves orange juice (which I normally dilute).

Max has found Canaan's sticker chart recently, and enjoys pulling himself up to it and taking off the stickers and eating them. He only has 3 teeth (STILL!), but is constantly chewing on things or putting things in his mouth. I am always having to take away coins or other small things that he has found and stuffed inside. Today I pulled three little red balls from a Hungry Hippos game at the Hindman's house. And he had one in each hand for dessert, I guess!

Bathtimes are still loads of fun for him. He and Canaan both have fun, and now that we have a huge bathtub, Max crawls all around it, chasing toys and splashing everything. Max wears size 12-18 month clothes these days. He is in size 4 diapers, though I am trying to use up some size 3's that I found the other day. I put them on during the day, but they are a bit small, so he is always sporting a plumbers crack! Don't worry, Mom, we are almost done with them! :)

Max still takes 2-3 naps a day. An hour nap in the morning, though he occasionally skips that. Then a two hour nap in the afternoon, and often times will still take a 45 minute nap about 6pm in the evening. He goes to bed at 9pm, nurses once before I go to bed, and wakes up to nurse again at 6am. Then he sleeps until about 8am, when either he or Canaan wake each other up. He is a good sleeper, but still eats more at night than I'd like. But I don't mind, so I haven't tried to wean him of it! However, he is a VERY LIGHT sleeper. He wakes up easily and tosses a lot when sleeping. But, during the day, he has gotten used to sleeping near the window of a busy road, which can be noisy at times. It is nice that constant noise doesn't seem to bother him during the day.

Max is definitely my love-able boy. We sing Jesus Loves Me to him before we lay him in bed for nap or night. It is precious to be able to cradle him in my arms and look down on him as he cuddles his blanket close and closes his eyes for rest. He often is trying to climb on me or comes over to be held. He is totally content just sitting in my arms, watching what I do, as I carry him around. And when I'm on the floor or couch, he'll come up and just smother me with open mouth slobber- I mean- KISSES! It is precious! He loves us to kiss him all over too, and chew his chin, and just give him big bear hugs and cuddles. He'll even lay his head on our shoulder when we are holding him and he is tired. Canaan never was a cuddler or hugger or kisser. We always initiated everything love-y and physical with him. Max is a different boy altogether in this area, which I am just eating up!

I feel like Max should be doing and learning a lot more around this time in his life, but he hasn't started that growing up by leaps and bounds yet. That is just fine with me. Everyday I realize more how different he is from Canaan and I see more of his own special personality, which is really neat. I look forward to each day, seeing more of his own personality bloom and grow. Before long, Lord willing, I know he'll be my little toddler, and then little preschooler and then my little young man. Until then, I remain content in each day I have that remains of him being my little baby boy!