For the past several weeks, Sebby has been asking me about riding his scooter, to which I continually responded, "when the snow is gone." February has been surprisingly warm, though, and earlier this month, as we were walking home from school one Friday, Sebby remarked with great joy, "The snow is gone!! I can ride my scooter, yeah Mom?" The snow was indeed mostly gone, with just a few patches of ice left here and there, and I couldn't bear to crush his overflowing enthusiasm, so we went upstairs to our apartment, dug the scooter out from its hiding place, carefully retrieved Misha's bike from the top of the closet, and headed outside. Since then we have been out walking / scootering / biking a few times while the sun has been warm enough to chase away the chill in the air.
|Baby blue galoshes|
|Sebby's Spiderman galoshes|
Misha's old winter boots gave out mid-season, so we ended up buying these blue-with-white-polka dot beauties (there were not a lot of options). They are actually perfect for the sloppy, melty weather. When we realized Sebby's boots were also full of holes, I got him a pair of his own galoshes, which he loved so much that he kept gushing, "Thank you for my boots, Mom! Mom, thank you for buying me boots!" all the way home on his first walk wearing them. "Now I can go in the water, yeah Mom?" I said yes, now you can. And he sloshed his way happily through each and every puddle, much to the horror of every woman watching him on the street. When other mothers told him not to splash in the puddles, as other mothers in this country will inevitably do, Sebby replied, "Nyet, mojno! Eti botinki rezinovi!" (No, I CAN! These are rubber boots!)
|Cruising over a snow pile.|
|Brothers wheeling away.|
|Little gloved fingers.|
The sidewalks and roads are full of remarkable pot holes, which fill up with muddy water as soon as the sun peeks out and melts a bit of ice or snow. This makes for lots of opportunities for Sebby to get remarkably dirty. One day, just as we had cleared the school gates and were heading for home, Sebby managed to fall just so in a huge mud puddle. His whole back and side were coated in sticky mud, not to mention his once-white scarf, his hat, his mittens, his pants, and his boots. He was a walking mud-boy all the way home (but he still stopped to splash in the puddles).
Earlier this month, we had fun celebrating Josh's birthday. The boys prepared board games while I made a carrot cake.
|Misha made this sign all by himself!|
|Happy birthday, Daddy!|
|Josh on the board|
|Misha cruising down|
|Josh and Misha|
|Misha all bundled up and skiing with confidence|
|Misha waiting impatiently for me to finish taking the picture so we can ski down.|
|Mother and son on the ski lift|
|The view as we ski: the tops of the mountains peeking out of a bed of fog.|
|An early, unsuccessful attempt to pull out the tooth.|
|I love the gap-toothed smile!|
In other news, we have decided to get Misha started with violin lessons. I found a violin teacher through the mother of Misha's classmates who also take lessons. We're borrowing (renting, but very cheaply) the most adorable violin - the smallest size that is made. Our teacher comes right to our house twice a week for short lessons. Since Misha himself thought it would be fun to try, and since Josh and I have long been meaning to introduce him to instruments, note-reading, and music in general, this seems like a good opportunity, especially because private lessons are so cheap here. He has only had two lessons so far, but he's eager to learn. Even if he only gets in a couple months worth of lessons, it's a skill that can transfer to other instruments and other areas. And yet another benefit is that his music lessons are all in Russian, so it's a language lesson at the same time. (Sebby watches with interest and is already asking for his own violin...)
Fun around the house ...
In Sebby's preschool, the children string bright plastic beads or various macaroni noodles onto strings, so we have made our own noodle chains at home. The cats find it entertaining as well.
And singing the alphabet song :)
It's always a pleasure to see Misha reading a book to Sebby. Sometimes it's an English book, and soemtimes it's a Russian book. In this case, it's the Russian version of Winnie the Pooh, based on the 1969 Russian cartoon which shamelessly imitates the English original.
Misha is very good about doing his homework. Sometimes Josh and I help him with Russian, when he has to make sentences using certain combinations of letters. For example, he had to think of sentences using the letter sounds ch-k and ch-n (чк and чн). After considerable thought, we came up with "Ya tochno znayu chto eta babochka" - I definitely know that it's a butterfly. His handwriting in Russian is getting quite good - better than mine, I'd say! In math, I'm surprised that they're doing "uravnenie," as Misha says, or equations, such as 15 - x = 12. The curriculum seems to be fine, but there is definitely more emphasis on memorization here than in America. America's math curriculum is moving much more toward the mentality that there are many, many ways to solve a problem, and it tries to get students to be creative and use what they know to come up with an answer, then share their ways of solving it with others. In the wake of the Soviet system, it is commonly accepted here that there is only one correct way to solve problems, and each problem needs to be written in the exact format that the teacher wants it to be "correct."
Sebby loves playing games, from Crazy Eights to Memory (which he is getting amazingly good at) to Sorry.
I was playing Crazy Eights with both boys, and Misha was the first to go out. Sebby and I continued the game until he beat me. "I lost!" I said. Misha piped up reassuringly, "No, Mom, you didn't lose. You just won third!"
“You can't stop me! I'm a lucky boy.” - Sebby, playing Sorry
“You! You! sorry yourself!” - Sebby's advice when Misha was looking for a good opponent to “sorry.”
“I saw byeli! and oranjivi! and look at that sviet!” - (white, orange, color) Sebby watching fireworks.
"We're druzia, right Sebby?" - (friends) Misha
"I want the sparkly cheese." - Sebby, asking for parmesan cheese on his noodles.
Sometimes while talking on webcam, Misha momentarily forgets an English word. When my mom asked him how he learned cursive, he started to say, "I just looked at mom's writing and I ...." He stopped, looked at me, and asked, "How do I say poftaryat?" (copy/repeat)