Monday, March 14, 2011

She's here!!!! Julia has arrived home safely.

She's here!!!! Julia has arrived home safely.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Julia still ok

From Julia:
"they're letting us back into our rooms to sleep, but there's no heat, phones, water, or power. Airport is mostly closed, but still uncertain. ... At present all transit to airport is closed, but it might change tomorrow. Everyone here (Japanese) says it's the worst earthquake they've ever felt... Roughing it a littlle, ...but they're well prepared here. I don't have much time on the computer though"

Things seem to be calming down. Yay!

Julia is in Japan and OK

Hi blog readers. We haven't posted in forever and this is a crappy circumstance under which to start again. But in the hope of reaching anybody that might be worried about Julia, I want to say that she is so far fine. She is presently in Tsukuba near Tokyo for work. In case you haven't heard there have been very intense earthquakes off the coast of Japan in recent days. The lastest was measured at 8.9 and happened right in the middle of the talk she was giving.
She has been emailing me from other peoples phones to let me know she is ok:

6:22 GMT "There was a giant earthquake in the middle of my talk . Meeting is cancelled. We ca't go back in..."
10:58 GMT "...there is no power or water and there are constant small tremors still. its getting cold and we are a little hungry but fine..."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Day 7 - Kiev some more

Alright back to the trip. Kiev was actually the place we stayed the least amount of time. It was also when the real blistering heat started. We only had half the day to visit since we were getting back on the train to Simpferopol that afternoon. Here I am on the windowsill of the window in our hotel room waiting for Bela and Julia to wake up. I fit comfortably sitting here with room to spare. That a wide windowsill/thick wall.

Just outside the window on the boulevard down below was a prominent statue of Lennon with a campaign tent for the communist party in front of it.
Also very close to where we were staying was this awesome farmer's market selling fresh produce, lots of berries, flowers, meat, cheese, fish and lots of caviar. Béla of course go a carrot from one of the market people while we were buying delicious blueberries and raspberries.
Here is a picture of the strange art... advertizing... panoramic scene thing that went all the way around the market's walls.
After the market we went to see some parliament buildings that were up a giant hill. Big blocky and commie looking, they were pretty impressive.
One of the buildings, or at least one near the parliament is the House with Chimearas. This art nouveau building has a bunch of crazy looking gargoyle-like animals running all over it.

Walking further along we saw this majestic looking building. Again very solid and blocky looking but still very ornate, especially this one. Directly adjacent to it was an entrance way to an underground parking garage that was done in the same style. Needless to say this was a more affluent neighbourhood.
Then we walk in a park that went along the Dnipro river. Here I am next to a nice big fountain.
Here a cool looking outdoor theatre.
Here are Julia and Béla at a nice view point where you could see the other side of the river and the Dnipro itself way down below.
We were steadily making our way south to get to the big orthodox chuch complex (more on that soon) and made a pit stop at this play ground so Béla could stretch his legs. The playground was in need of some upkeep but Béla didn't mind. Here he is climbing this wavy ramp.
Here he is being adorable on the wavy ramp.
Going down the slide with Papa.
There was also one of those giant inflatable slides that mushroom themed. Big blown up 'shrooms were holding the slide up. Very eastern-european. We also saw a horse and carriage with a bridal party in it. We had seen it earlier seeding by at a fair gallop going through the city. Hopefully it made it on time.
Here is a war monument of some kind.
Here we start to see what was are final touristic goal in Kiev: the Caves Monastery. But it was still a little while away.
Here is a monument to the victims of the Holodomor, the Ukrainian famine of 1932-33. It's far more elaborate than this picture could capture.
And finally we got to the golden domes of the Caves Monastery. This is just the entrance to the grounds.
The Caves Monastery in a big complex holding several churches and other monuments and buildings. It's a site of pilgrimage for the Eastern-European Orthodox Christian fate. Below is the Great Lavra Belltower. And here is the view right after entering the grounds. Directly in front is the Dormition Cathedral. There are yet another 8 churches on the grounds according to wikipedia, and a monastery or two.
Here I am next to a big bell I presume went in the belltower at some point.
All these pictures are from the higher grounds. There is also the lower grounds that also houses some churches, etc. and below the whole thing are caves also used for religious going ons hence the name Caves Monastery.

More fanciness.
We were a little strapped for time by this point and the way down to the caves was not the easiest with a stroller apparently to we didn't get to see them. We opted for getting to the train on time and skip seeing the relics that populate the caves.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Béla's 13 month post (only a little bit late...)

Since he just turned 14 months this past weekend, I figured it was about time I wrote the 13 month post... Don't worry, we took some notes so I remember what happened when. In his 13th month Béla kept up his impressive growing, to the point that we were getting worried that maybe he was getting a bit too chubby, so Jeremi asked the doctor while he was in for a routine vaccination appointment. The doctor called up his stats on the computer and said it looked fine, and hadn't actually planned on weighing him, but after Jeremi's request they put him on the scale to find that he'd gained 1.2 kg since the previous appointment only one month before, bringing him up to a whopping 12.6 kg, or 27 lb. 12 oz. This puts him up around the 95th percentile, so he's definitely a big boy for his age, but the doctor's only advice was to cut back on sweets and juice, neither of which we give him, so she figured it was okay.

Jeremi also asked about what seemed to be his cradle cap getting worse in a few crusty areas, which she identified as some sort of parasitic mite infection common in the late summer that was totally harmless and which would go away of its own accord in October, which it did. Weird.

In other growing news he got two new teeth, bringing him up to a grand total of 10, all eight incisors and his upper two first molars. His new favourite games include climbing on everything. He has a little table for drawing with two little chairs (we call it his office), and he spends quite a lot of time playing with it, but it usually involves climbing on the chairs or the table, and then doing a little dance on top of the table. There aren't too many pictures of this unfortunately because we're usually standing by as spotters rather than photographers, although he really doesn't fall from the table much. At daycare the Tagesmutter, Susi, is also pretty taken with how much he climbs, and how well he does it for his age.

This might be a good time to mention how much he loves daycare. I honestly think he's disappointed on the weekend when he doesn't get to go, because we're just not as much fun as Susi and the other kids, especially Bruno, the other boy, his constant companion. Susi put their cribs together so they can stand and chat a little before lying down for naptime, since they spend the rest of the time together as well. He really loves it, and in the morning after breakfast he's standing at the door waving good-bye, waiting for Jeremi to open it so he can get there already!

One interesting thing that happened when he started daycare is that he stopped talking. He still babbles a lot, but the few words that he was consistently using (papa, cat, duckies) pretty much disappeared. I think it might be that the introduction of the third language made his brain do a double take - just when he was starting to make sense of this whole talking thing, everyone started doing it differently. We were ready for him to be delayed with speaking because of the multi-lingual environment, and it hasn't been a problem so far. Susi is convinced that he understands some German after just a few weeks, and we know he understands a number of English and French phrases at home (some rather complex ones even), and he communicates quite well with gestures, so it hasn't led to much frustration yet. My only concern is that people will think he's a bit slow, as he's already the size of a two year-old with motor skills to match, but doesn't talk.

Speaking of motor skills, he can throw a ball overhand well now, and kicks balls around the back yard with great relish. He's still eating well, and has begun to get better with the use of cutlery. For a while we've been loading up spoons or forks with food and then handing them to him to feed himself, but now he 's getting better at actually scooping up or spearing the food himself, which results in many rounds of applause during the average supper. (Sometimes while clapping for himself, while still clutching the fork, the hard-earned chunk of food goes flying off the fork before it makes its way into his mouth, but this just allows for more chances to practice.)

He's also getting better at mimicking complex behaviour. He babbles into our cell phones, and then hands it to me so I can talk on it for a while before handing it back (much as we pass him our phones to say hello to family members), and, much to our amusement, does the same thing with remote controls when we're at friends' places. (We don't have any standard remotes at our house, so to him they look like cell phones.) He helps us load and unload the dishwasher too (one has to be a bit patient), but his favourite job by far is laundry. He's been putting things in the washing machine for a while now, but now he goes through all the motions. When it's time to do laundry I get him to help me and he takes individual items from the hamper and puts them into the machine. At some point he decides it's time to close the door (sometimes a bit before the machine is full, so we have to negotiate this part), and then he slams the door to shut it. Then he "helps" me by pushing the buttons, which means that sometimes I have to turn the machine off and start again a couple of times. (There is a child-lock, but I have to have it off while I program the machine, after which he's free to push all the buttons again, and listen to them beeping.) Then he opens the drawer for the soap and helpfully points to where the soap is (out of his reach). Then he closes the drawer, and watches the clothes turn. He does condensed versions of this on his own, moving his head up and down at the window at the end to simulate the machine moving.

In other big-boy news, I stopped nursing around the end of September. I thought I'd be more sad about it, but honestly, I felt better than I had in months. I suddenly had more energy, and my body felt "normal" again for the first time in almost two years. Breastfeeding was great, but I'm glad it's over for now. He hasn't missed it either, and now finds my breasts no more interesting than my elbows (and considerably less funny than my belly button). We've also started to transition him slowly into his own bed by taking the crib off the side of our bed and pushing it into the corner. He's still sleeping in our room, and when he wakes up in the night for milk (usually just once now, on good nights), we bring him in with us from then on, but it's a start.

I know it's unusual to have such a young child sleeping in a crib with the side off, but he has no trouble getting in and out on his own, and it lets him climb out and into bed with us whenever he wants. In fact, last week he woke up in his crib while we were still awake in the living room, and he climbed into our bed and went back to sleep on his own, because it was clearly where he'd rather be. At this point, we're still letting him make that decision, although he does take up a surprising amount of room for such a young kid, and often wants to sleep perpendicular to us.

The only really negative thing this month is that he's started to hit us sometimes, mostly me, and he thinks it's hysterically funny. He doesn't do it when he's angry, which is good at least, but more when we've been playing and he's very excited, and then he thinks it would be funny to hit me in the face, and then he's laughing soooo hard. If I'm very unlucky he does it while holding an object, like a block, and catches me unaware, so there have been a couple of fat lips. Of course we tell him that this isn't allowed, and I put him down and tell him that I won't play with him if he hits me, at which point he has a full out (but short-lived) tantrum. I'm hoping he catches on to the hitting-means-no-more-playing thing soon, but he still thinks it's hilarious every time he starts up again. He does it to Jeremi sometimes too, which I hate to admit I found a bit reassuring, but so far he hasn't hit anyone at daycare, which is good.
And now for some pictures from his thirteenth month. This isn't everything (there will eventually be a separate post from Oktoberfest, for instance), but rather the day-to-day things that didn't warrant their own post but which were still nice to share.

Here he is, just after his birthday, opening a package of Duplo that came in the mail from Calin and Susanne (who are now living in Copenhagen).

And now the jacket that my friend Rachel knit him fits! Doesn't he look smart?

Here he was playing by dropping things into my pot of (cooled to room temperature) herbal tea...
...and decided he'd like to have a sip. While he has his own high chair for eating, he's usually ready to get out before we're done, and then he pretty well always migrates to my lap for the end of whatever meal it is.
Here Béla and Jeremi were all dressed up and ready for a little bike trip.
We rode along the river and stopped for a nice early supper at a Biergarten by a historic bridge and dam in Burgau, just south of Jena. (We also went out this way for another little bike trip to visit my colleague Christian for some cake in his garden one pleasant September afternoon, but we didn't bring along the camera...)
And Béla, happily asleep on the way home, after enjoying the rabbits and birds they have at the Biergarten for the younger guests.
The following weekend the weather was really nice, so we went for a late summer picnic in a park around the Saale, eating near this lovely fountain with statues of different animals spraying water.
Béla (with cilantro from bean salad on his face) was enjoying the good weather.
This photo is included only to explain why the rest of the pictures from this afternoon look like a soap opera dream sequence, after his oily bean-salad-fingers smeared dressing on the lens of the camera.
Here Béla and I are walking along the paths in the park...
...and around the edge of the fountain, figuring out which animal is which. (I'm not holding his hand to help him walk, but rather to ensure he stays out of the water.)
After that we visited a playground on the other side of the river, and Béla had much fun.

And finally, a couple pictures to show you (not very well) how much more fun baths are now! He loves the bath now! After hearing about how much he hated the bath, both sides of the family sent bath toys for his first birthday, and they've been a big hit. He doesn't look like it in this picture, but he really was having lots of fun. But doesn't he look like Paul here (Jeremi's dad)?
After he got out of the bath and into one of his new birthday sleepers from New Brunswick, he wanted to come back to play some more as Jeremi was washing his hair. Here he's holding two of the little octopi that came with a set from my parents, with suction cups that let them stick to the side of the tub. He loves them!
In his birthday sleeper with his birthday elephant (also from New Brunswick), freshly bathed and ready for bed.
I forgot to mention it in the developmental skills part, but he's pretty well mastered the shape sorter now. The easier shapes (circle, square, triangle) are no problem at all, but the more complex shapes (cross and star) still take a few tries. I was trying to point out where the star should go, when he chose to ignore me and offer up an alternate solution to this classic puzzle...
That's right, you could do it like everyone else and put the star in the star-shaped hole, or you could use your preternatural strength to force the star through the circle hole, even though it doesn't really fit. He wedged it in there pretty well, but was quite satisfied with this alternate solution.
Here we were preparing some food as we were getting ready for the arrival of Zach (my roommate at McGill) and Meg (his wife), who were taking a short vacation in Germany to visit Oktoberfest, among other things. Béla wanted to help me, so he sat on my lap and cried his way through the chopping of many onions.
Hmmm... I think that knife is a bit too big for him.
And finally, here's our crazy baby eating some raw garlic, after having a few good gnaws on the raw onion.