Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Nature's Wonders

Our butterflies hatched out this week! Both times (one Monday, one today), they were in their pupas when we went to bed and out of them by the time we woke up, but we got to watch as their wings dried. After they started flapping with some confidence, we let put them on our potted flowers until they were ready to take off. Misha was sad to see them go ... but that's how it is with living things.

A boy and a butterfly:

We've also been back on the bike trail quite a bit. We found two toads, which we invited to our house for one night. They were so cute that I just couldn't resist catching them, and I have fond memories of catching toads with Tanya to keep for a few days at a time. Grandma Thomas used to let us put them in her bathtub to swim!

Misha and one of his toads. "Just like Toad and Frog!" he exclaimed, thinking of the book. "I didn't know toads were real!"

The next day we got Daddy to join us on the trail (to take the toads home) while Sebastian stayed at home with Grandma.

Misha eagerly peering into the water to see fish and frogs.

Daddy joined in the frog-catching fun!

Misha even caught some frogs all by himself.

This video captures the excitement of frog catching:

We rode around the beautiful youth fishing park behind the bike trail, admiring the fall colors.

A few pictures of the little one:

I love those pudgy arms!

Misha laughing with Sebastian. :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Mini-Golf, Go-Karts, and Preschool

Last weekend, we spent an afternoon in Sioux Falls to give Misha his first taste of mini-golf. He enjoyed it!

A few tips from Dad.

Posing by the waterfall with Mom.

Checking out the bubbling volcano on Hole 17!

As much fun as the mini-golf was, it paled in comparison to the go-karts. Misha reached the exact minimum height guidelines to be able to ride double with an adult. Assuming he would like driving around the track, we bought one ticket and he and Josh took a ride. Afterward he came dashing out to me yelling, "We're gonna go again, Mom! And YOU'RE gonna be the driver! Come on!" Josh was already buying me a ticket. After we had strapped in and eased out onto the track, Misha started yelling, "We gotta catch up, Mom! Go faster! We gotta catch up to THEM, like Daddy!" So I floored it and we went racing around the track. Misha loved it.

Here's a video of Josh and Misha cruising:

After go-karts, we relaxed at a park ...

and went out for spaghetti. :)

On Tuesday, Misha had his first day of preschool. I wasn't sure how it would go when the moment came to leave me and get on the bus alone, but it was no problem. When the bus helper asked him if he was excited for school, he smiled and nodded and hopped right on the bus, his new Spiderman backpack bouncing on his shoulders. When he returned, he was barely off the bus before he was telling me enthusiastically, "I had a fun day!" He told me about snack and lunch (at the top of the list), the toys, the songs they sang, etc. The school he attends is Head Start, which looks like a great program. He has enjoyed every day this week and is excited to go back on Monday.

He has long wanted to ride to school on a yellow school bus. Last summer when we visited Crazy Horse, we were transported to the monument on just such a bus. When we arrived at the foot of the carved mountain and got out, Misha said with crushing disappointment, "I thought we were going to school!"

His new-found confidence is especially evident in gymnastics. After taking the summer off, he assured us he really wanted to be in gymnastics again. On his first day back, he ran out with all the other kids without so much as a backward glance. He never once retreated back to me or wanted me to go out on the floor with him. Hooray!

He also loves being able to "help" Sebastian go to day care. I take both boys there for two hours twice a week so I can go to one class on campus, a great history of philosophy class. Misha likes to "check on" Sebastian, asking his baby-sitter, "How is he doing? He's cute, isn't he?" He also loves seeing his friends there again after not seeing them during the summer.

Happy Sebastian in his stroller.

Who's the monkey?

Backyard fun at Grandma and Grandpa's!

Bathtime with Grandma. He's getting to be so efficient at kicking that everyone else gets wet during his baths too!

Misha showed Sebby how to hook together his linking rings.

Suspended from his crib, they provided nearly an hour of complete fascination! These could be especially helpful in the evenings, when all of Sebby's problems seem to catch up with him - a stuffy and running nose, sneezes, watering eyes, a gassy tummy, and a hurting mouth. I hope he's not teething already, but the way he chomps on his fingers and pacifiers while wailing inconsolably makes me think he is. In the mornings and afternoons, though, he's the easiest baby there is!

Some family shots in the yard swing:

World's Best Dad:

The first pictures of my parents with both of their grandkids at once!

The four of us:

Misha's (temporary) pet frog spent a week with us living on crickets and enjoying some of the excess plant growth taken from our aquarium. However, Josh was more than happy when we released him because of the ever-chirping crickets.

Besides, we have a new nature project: waiting for our monarch butterflies to emerge! We have two. Last year, Misha and I happened to be in New York when our butterfly hatched out back in SD. This year we hope to view the grand event!

This happens whenever we make a cake and lick out the bowl.

All clean, but no less goofy!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Fall is coming ...

I have a feeling it won't take very long for Sebastian to weigh as much as Misha!! Look at that head! Those legs!

The change of seasons makes it suddenly crystal clear how much Misha has grown since a year ago. I remember the things we did last fall, the things he noticed, how we watched the pumpkins grow and went out to the pumpkin patch to pick some out, and how he asked question after question about why the leaves fall off the trees. Now that he is the wise old age of four, he talks about the leaves like a pro. But of course, he still asks lots of questions.

"Mommy, what's inside of the grass?" he asked.
"Inside are like little veins that suck up the water," I said.
"But what's inside of the veins?"
"Oh. What's inside the water?"
"Well, molecules."
"What's inside of the molecules?"
"Atoms. Atoms are tiny little things that are inside of everything."
"But what's inside of atoms?"
"Inside atoms? Very tiny protons, neutrons, and electrons."
At this he looked perplexed and said, " 'Lectrons? There's a lot of stuff to learn!"

We love how Misha loves to learn - a great quality that will stick with him his whole life. He doesn't see it as work, but as an adventure.

A little picnic in the park with Sebastian too! Josh started his new job as an elementary school teacher's aid this week (like the job I did for the past three years), and Misha will start preschool next week - so this was a good week for long walks and park play with the kids.

At 37 inches, Misha is JUST barely tall enough to touch his tip toes to the hamster wheel!

Misha's favorite game at the park is tag. Josh and I take turns playing it with him, because Misha never runs out of energy. His parents don't have the same endless supply, though!

Classic smiley Sebastian.


Sporting one of his cute pj's from Grandma Kate.

More cute pj's from his Texan grandmother. Look at our little monkey!

I never get over what cool creations Misha can make with Legos. This one looks like a Roman aqueduct.

Eyes of intensity!

A relaxing bath, some clean pajamas, and a musical friend is a good recipe for a nap.

Misha likes to draw next to Sebastian. Sebastian is going to learn so much from his brother. Misha likes to include the baby in everything - yesterday, he made a fort of pillows and blankets around themselves on the bed.

To eat our home-made stir fry in style, we bought some chopsticks. Misha did incredibly well!

To listen to a conversation between Misha and Sebastian (in Seb's mother tongue), click here:

Here, Misha describes his planetary picture he drew. He has been very interested in space lately, and he knows all the planets and then some.