Saturday, January 31, 2009

Hospital Field Trip: "I like this place!"

Josh had various stomach/gallbladder/esophogus tests done this week, and as a result, Misha and I have spent a lot of time in hospital waiting rooms lately. Both Monday and Friday we went to Sioux Falls to wait while Daddy saw the doctor. (Diagnosis: he needs his hyperactive gallbladder removed.) So while Daddy had IVs put in, scans done of his gallbladder, and sensors and cameras stuck down his throat, Misha got to entertain himself and everybody else in the waiting room. He has suddenly become extremely sociable. When it was just the two of us in the room, he colored and played cards peacefully (playing cards in photo above), but the second someone new walked in, he jumped off his chair with a "Hey! Watch this!" as he started to blow his balloon around with a straw. He soon engaged the newcomer in a game of balloon catch while dancing and chatting. He seemed to especially like older people. When an older couple came in and sat down, Misha asked me, "Is that Great Grandma and Great Grandpa?" I told him they probably were to somebody, and they said, yes, they had four great-grandchildren. He soon had them playing balloon with him. Then he bluntly told them, "My Great Grandma died. She went to the hospital and had a decoration and some medicine, but it didn't work and she died." They said that was too bad. On Friday, he met another old couple that were as entralled with him as he was with them. He danced and jumped and made them smile with high fives and drew pictures for them. One of the first things he told them was, "My Great Grandma died." Luckily he didn't dwell on that topic! He thought the hospital was a great adventure - he loved exploring the hallways, running up and down the ramps, and eating a meatball sub in the cafeteria. "I like this place!" he told me.

We got to go see Daddy when he was waking up from the anesthesia after the upper GI scope. Misha cuddled in the hospital bed with him. (If I had had my camera, I would have taken a picture and posted it for you. It was so cute.) However, he soon became wiggly and before I knew it, he had lifted up the curtain and chirped "Peekaboo!" to the old woman next to us who was recovering from some sort of colon surgery. Luckily, she laughed and said "peekaboo!" back. We kept reminding Misha to talk quietly and not to run around because people were sleeping and trying to get better. No one seemed to mind him though - on the contrary, everyone thought he was charming. And he knew it, too, because he kept showing off every chance he got.

Misha trying to stay warm after a shower.

Our great new step-stool! Perfect for brushing his teeth.

Mommy and Misha cuddling.

We worked on a picture together. I drew a princess in a castle, and then Misha added the 'mean guy with the sword.' You can see the holes he poked in the castle.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Conversations On God

I didn't realize a three-year-old (going on four) could be so concerned about death. For the past several weeks, Misha has come back to the topic of getting old and dying countless times. This was brought on by a couple of things. One was talking about Great Grandma, who died a year ago. My mom tells him about her and shows him pictures. He knows he got his yodeling goat from his Great Grandma, but I doubt he really remembers dancing to it in her assisted living home with her. He was only one and a half. Every time we talk about her, or even when we're talking about something completely different, he'll pop up with, "Why did Great Grandma die?" And we'll say something like, well, she was old, and she was sick. She went to the hospital, but it didn't work and she died.

The other source of worry is the song “Puff the Magic Dragon.” He was very concerned about the ending, how the little boy grew up and didn't come to play anymore. "Why did he not come to play anymore, Mommy?" And I said, well, he got older. He didn't want to play; he got too old. That made Misha very sad (it IS a sad song!) and he said, "But when I get older, I still want to play. I just need a bigger bike." And then he's been asking a lot of, "Mommy, are you old?" I say I'm not very old. And he tells me a lot, "I'm young. I'm young, Mommy! Are you young? (yes) Is Daddy young? (yes) Is Grandpa young?" I say, "Well, Grandpa's kind of middle." "Middle?" "Yes, not young but not old." Misha says, "No, Grandpa's young too!"

So one night trying to fall asleep, he started up with all his same questions about Great Grandma and dying and getting old. "Why do people die?" he asked. I started explaining how when you get old, your body isn't as strong anymore and it gets sick. He got very worried and said he had stuffies in his nose so he was sick and he didn't want to get old. So then I tried to show him that he was VERY young. "You're only three! That's one - two - three." Then I counted to 100 for him to show him that Great Grandpa is still alive and he's almost a hundred and it takes a LONG time to count that far. He was very impressed.

I also tried to focus on the positives of getting old - that means that you have done a lot of things in your life, and met a lot of people, and loved a lot of people. " And then," I said, "when you've done all those things, your body just gets used up kind of like a battery." I thought that was a pretty nice analogy, but apparently it was the wrong thing to say because he burst into tears and said, "But I don't WANT my body to get used up like battery and die!" He was shaking all over and crying, and I quickly said, "But it's okay when you die, because then you get to go to a special place and you can see God." He was immediately much calmer. "God?" he asked, in a voice that would accompany the image of a dog perking up its ears. (Our first conversation about God came about because of singing “He's Got the Whole World in His Hands” with the guitar. Who does? Well, God! What's God? And so on ... It's much trickier than one would think explaining God, because you feel like everything you say is far too limiting.) I said, "Yes, and you can see all the other people who went to God, like Great Grandma." He said cheerfully, "And I'll grow up and when I die I'll go to God and say 'Hooray, I'm at God!'" We also talked about how he'll grow bigger and get to do fun things, like have a house, and I'll come visit him at his own house. He said, "And I'm gonna get big, and can you tell the truck to bring me some bricks?" "Some bricks? For your house?" I asked. "Uh huh, so nobody can't blow it down." (Gotta watch out for that Big Bad Wolf, you know.) Anyway, he fell asleep much more easily after that. However, in the morning, he woke up and his first question was, "But mommy, why do people die?"

And now, for a few photos ...

Misha loves looking at his own blog, especially the videos of himself!

To my delight, Misha has started to enjoy fruit more. We made strawberry-yogurt freezies, as featured in the Highlights magazine, and he thinks they are delicious. He also likes just eating the strawberries (dipped in a little sugar) and grapes. And he discovered how good orange juice sucked from an orange is!

Practicing guitar again. He makes it look huge!

Misha and Daddy playing with his new Tag Leapfrog book. The "pen," when touched to the page, will not only read the words but play sound effects and character comments for each image touched. There are also creative reading games in the back. Thanks, Grandma Kate!

Speaking of reading, Misha is starting to read three-letter words like cat, fox, etc. He knows almost all of his lower-case letters and their accompanying sounds, so we've been inventing creative games for him to play to practice. Once, Josh set up cups under lettered sticky notes all over the house. He and Misha would read a word together, then Misha would run around to all the letters and put a ball in each cup that matched the letter. Yesterday, I made him little cards, half with a picture and the other half with a matching word. He would sound out the word and match it to the card with that picture. He really liked it! It wasn't like "work" at all. He would say, "cuh ... uh ... puh! cuh uh puh!" and finally - CUP! - and off he'd run to grab the picture. He still needs help with some letters and with blending the sounds together, but he amazes us with how well he does. He has also started writing "MOM" on the pictures he draws for me. (He draws the two Ms first, then pops the O in the middle!) Today the word MOM was accompanied by a letter "t", for Tammy, he told me. That always makes me feel really good! Here's a little video of him reading "bat."

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Smallest Skater

Misha played at our neighbors' house last week. After playing trains and painting with the boy, Misha decided he wanted to play dolls with the little girl. They rounded up extra dollies and bottles and cribs and blankets, and Misha practiced playing Big Brother. It looks like he'll do a great job!

Whenever Josh and I start to discuss baby names, Misha chimes in. He has decided on a most unusual name. "I want Puff the Magic Dragon, mom! His name is Puff the Magic Dragon!" This morning, he told me he wants the baby to have TWO names. Puff and Magic Dragon and ... Brudder. :) So, in Misha's ideal world, the baby would be called Puff-the-Magic-Dragon Brudder Kula.

Misha's interest in ice skating has not lessened - we've been at the rink every week - so we decided to enroll him in a preschool ice skating class. It's a cheap, six-week, half-hour class Saturday mornings. He went for the first time this week. When he discovered he was not supposed to take a red support frame, he started to cry and I thought he wasn't even going to try. But after five minutes, he decided he'd rather try it than go home, and he went to the woman with the fluffy pink mittens and cheered up when she said, "Come on, let's march!" There was only one other girl in the class (a lot bigger than Misha) and they did some fun things like drawing on the ice with markers, skating around stuffed animals, and throwing the animals and skating to fetch them. Misha was sad to get off the ice (half an hour is not much compared to the two-hour open skate sessions he's used to), but we returned the next day for open skate. He likes to zoom around using the red support, but he also skated on his own - he's gaining much more control. Here are a few videos of his progress! The rink is a VERY crowded place on the weekends, and Misha impresses all the skaters simply by the fact that he's able to stand up and wobble his way across the rink by himself.

Misha and Daddy
Misha and Mommy
Playing Mommy's guitar
Playing with the very entertaining Marbleworks set - as much fun for parents as for kids!
Time for some good old fashioned fun with blocks

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pooza Stories

Though we’ve been talking about the concept of brothers and sisters for a while, we didn’t actually tell Misha that mommy had a baby in her pooza until I was three months. That way, if he blurted it out to friends or strangers (as indeed he does) it wouldn’t matter.

Misha was really excited when we told him. He said, "And can I hold him and I can play cars with him?" When we ask which one he wants, he says "I want a little brother AND a little sister!" And when we tell him he has to wait a while, because the baby is very small in mama's pooza, and it won’t come out until summer, he says, "But I want a little brother and sister NOW." (Pooza, the Russian word for “tummy” or “belly,” has been Misha’s preferred term since he could talk.)

I'm glad Misha is too innocent to ask questions like "how did that baby get in there?" He just thinks I “made” it. And he seems to have come up with his own way that the baby will come out, having made a couple references to "when the baby comes out of your mouth." I told him that mommy will go to the doctor and the doctor will help get the baby out, and Misha looked rather concerned and said, "But why does mommy have to go to the doctor?"

A lady in a restaurant a few weeks ago asked him if he had any brothers or sisters, and he said yes. She asked, “Are they big or little?” Misha said, “Very little. They cry.”

When my sister was here over Christmas, he told her, "You have a big pooza! Do you have a baby inside like mama?" She does NOT have a big pooza!

The baby comes up in nearly everything he does. With his fingerpaints, he drew a big pink dinosaur that he said was stuck in the mud. Behind him, was a yellow mama dinosaur that was not stuck in the mud. He drew a big round pooza on her and said she had a baby inside. Then, he decided, "Now, the baby comed out. It's right here." And he drew a little yellow dino next to the mama. He was very good at describing his picture to me! He knew exactly what he was drawing.

One morning early before we even got out of bed, Misha woke up and asked me, "Mama, when the baby grows up, is it going to be a brudder or a sister?" It was cute. I told him we didn't know yet, since I didn't get my ultrasound until the following week. (He wants a sister.) I have told him that his little sibling is swimming in mama's pooza right now, and I'm sure that sounded strange to him. He said, "Mama, how does that water get in your pooza? Do you drink a lot of water?"

A few nights ago, lying in bed, Misha told me. “I want a sister. His name is … Polly.” (Because of that silly Froggy book where Froggy gets a sister named Pollywogalina!) On the 7th, I got my ultrasound, and it’s a boy! Oops, no sister! Josh told Mish, “Did you know you have a brother?” and Misha responded, unfazed, “No, I have a sister. You forget. I don’t like brothers.” We told him we got to see pictures of his brother today, and he perked up a bit – “Can I see the pictures?” So we showed him. He still wants a sister, but he got a big smile on his face when he saw the pictures.

Whenever we read the Froggy book, he comments about one of the illustrations. Froggy’s mommy is going to the hospital. Action lines around her tummy show movement, and her mouth is a squiggly line. Misha always asks, “Why is her mouth wrinkly?” And I say, “Well, the baby is jumping around in her pooza because he’s ready to come out.” And Misha says, “Does it tickle?” Right … something like that!

Misha sports his new SDSU sweatshirt from Grandpa. However, he later decided to play Batman, and he told us that Batman does not wear a bunny on his shirt, so he changed. Below, you can see his best Batman pose.

Babies fill his thoughts even at day care. He came home one day proudly saying, “I was a baby, and Judith was my mama and she taked care of me. I sucked my thumb because I didn’t have a passy!” (I found this ironic since he sucks his thumb anyway.)

Yesterday morning, he woke me up and started pulling off my blankets. When I pulled them back up again, he said, “But I want to touch your pooza!” So, of course, I complied. He keeps saying, “It’s getting bigger, mama!” Then he gave me a hug and said, “I’m hugging you AND the baby!” He asked, “Can I play dinosaurs with my little brother?” I think he’s getting used to a brother.

Whenever I accidentally use the word “little” in reference to Misha, he corrects me. His previous response was always, “I’m not little, mama! I’m big because I’m three!” His current response is, “I’m not little! I don’t have little arms and little feet and little toes like my brother!” (The ultrasound pictures showed all the teeny body parts.)

I’m currently about four months, so soon I suppose I’ll have to appease my sister and post some belly pics. At the moment though, I appear more to be in the “She looks like she gained some weight over Christmas” stage then the more obvious “She’s pregnant” stage! You see my hesitation...

Moving onto other topics, here is a series of photos that capture Misha's expressiveness in dance. He has loved to move and groove to music since he could balance on all fours and bop back and forth.

Misha has also been back at the ice rink. He loves it. He tells me, "I'm an ice skater. I'm getting better and better!"

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I'm a Little Neti Pot

Trying to explain the terms "spout" and "handle" in the teapot song to Misha, I grabbed the nearest piece of realia and showed him Josh's Neti Pot, which has a lovely genie-like spout and handle. I later found Misha on a stool at the kitchen sink singing his song and pouring water out of his little "teapot." For a short demo, watch the video!

His other current favorites to sing are "If I were a Rich Man," "Mazeltof, Mazeltof," "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning," "Yankee Doodles" (yes, he adds the 's'), and "On Top of Spaghetti" (he can really belt it out when Grandpa accompanies him with the harmonica!).

With Christmas over, I am shocked to see how much STUFF Misha has aquired. I feel guilty for living in such a material-driven society! However, I found comfort in a small phenomenon: Whenever we go somewhere, Misha usually picks a toy to bring along. Just a few days after being bombarded with new and flashy gadgets, the toy Misha chose to take to Grandma's and Grandpa's was his long-time favorite, an old stuffed unicorn that my sister won in a coloring contest when she was six. One of Misha's great joys is descending into his grandparents' basement (trust me, it's better than Wal-Mart!) and digging up treasures of his mommy and aunt Tanya from days gone by.

Tanya helps Misha put on his shoes to go to Grandma's and Grandpa's, unicorn in tow.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Seasonal Fun

Making sugar cookies and decorating them is a must for Christmas. Luckily, I had my mom and Misha for helpers this year. Misha did a good job getting frosting and sprinkles on the cookies, as well as other places :) - but the hardest part was keeping him from eating them all!

Playing in the snow is another thing you can't miss out on. Sadly, it has been extremely cold outside for most of the month, meaning the only time we spent outside was running to the car. A few days were more mild, so Misha got to walk on top of the snow and climb the snow pile with his aunt Tanya.

Tanya and I also took Misha to try ice skating for the first time. He was enthralled. As soon as we got the tiny skates laced onto his feet, he asked, "Can I take these home?" Alas, they were only rentals. He was eager to hit the ice, and he really enjoyed it when we pushed him around the rink or held his hands on either side as we made a lap. He could stand up by himself and wiggle his feet back and forth, covering a small bit of ground before toppling over. He really enjoyed it, though, and didn't admit he was cold until Tanya and I were long since frozen! He wants to go again.