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Thursday, October 27, 2011

zaiki and co.: Let's All Chip In and Blame the Mother

zaiki and co.: Let's All Chip In and Blame the Mother: Even before zaiki were born, I've looked for parenting advice. I thought that there must be a formula, a set of guidelines on what to do to ...

Let's All Chip In and Blame the Mother

Even before zaiki were born, I've looked for parenting advice. I thought that there must be a formula, a set of guidelines on what to do to raise happy children. Turns out, no...After two plus years of doing it, this is my takeaway: no matter what you do, you are bound to screw up. It seems that all literature's (and some blogs' on parenting) goal is to make you feel guilty for something. Not giving enough meat, or giving meat. Sleeptraining or co-sleeping, and so on. Seems that as a mother and a human being, no matter what you do, you will somehow manage to impede your child's growth or fail to help them realize their full potential. Grrr.

Now,thanks to this book: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We_Need_to_Talk_About_Kevin that-was-made-into-a-movie-that-just-won-big-at-London's film festival, mothers are responsible for turning their children into murderers. Lovely. The gist of it is that the boy never felt fully loved by his mother who is an emotional handicapper, and killed a bunch of people at his school and now she is writing about her guilt to her estranged husband.

So something else for mothers to fret over: are we loving our children enough, giving them unconditional love? Or are we somehow scarring them emotionally? What about self-love? Self-actualization? Common theme in parenting I come across often is "lose yourself in your children". But it's impossible. And unhealthy. Once they leave (as all children should!) to start their own life, what is left of you? Your life doesn't end when a little screaming thing is placed in your arms. Or does it?

I agree that the book and the movie both raise an important issue that is akin to a gay uncle at a fundamentalist (think Duggars-ish) family reunion: The gay uncle issue is wearing a flamboyant pink shirt with orange crocs, but everyone is trying to ignore him it as hard as they can. What if you don't love your child unconditionally? What if you don't have an instant bond with him or her? People shy away from discussing it.

The cult of "having children is the best thing that ever happened to me" is reinforced by the media who parade a score of idiotically happy new celebrity parents. Of course, if you have a full staff, don't worry about sleepless nights or changing diapers if you don't feel like it, why not enjoy your child? But this attitude of baby-bliss makes feelings of anything but drool-filled love for your children a crime. Oh, you mean you don't enjoy wiping puke off of your new shirt 15 minutes before you have to leave for work? You don't think that 2-year-old's temper tantrums are cute? Then you must not love your baby enough and he'll turn out to be a psychopath and it's-all-your-fault.

By making mother a sympathetic (but still) a villain we open the door to more maternal guilt. To things like "Oh my God, I just yelled at her for dumping her juice all over the floor (again) and put her in time out. Or slapped her bottom after she bit me hard enought to draw blood. Or anything else. Will it scar her? Do I need to find a baby-shrink ASAP?" and then beating yourself up for it for the rest of the day.

I don't think I'll read the book. Or watch the movie. I could really use some positive reinforcement for a change.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

zaiki and co.: Eating healthy

zaiki and co.: Eating healthy: One of the most important mom-duties (as I see it) is feeding my children a healthy, home-cooked diet. I try to limit processed stuff and ma...

Eating healthy

One of the most important mom-duties (as I see it) is feeding my children a healthy, home-cooked diet. I try to limit processed stuff and make lots of stuff from scratch. One of my specialties this past summer due to us joining a co op and receiving an abundance  (I'm not kidding, we got a shitload!) of zucchinis, was zucchini bread. But zaiki, in a natural children fashion, refuse to eat anything that is remotely good for them unless it is carefully disguised (Kevin actually pureed a roasted eggplant and clandestinely added it into a pasta dish). We also started making them kale (yes, kale) smoothies. If you add enough bananas and blueberries to mask the taste, they don't even know it's in there. It looks a little funny, but they haven't figured out suspicious food color yet, ha!
Anyway, back to zucchinis:
Since they wouldn't eat zucchini bread, I came up with a sneaky strategy: put chocolate pudding on it and told them it's "happy cake" (cake or cookies in zaiki-speak). Well, do you know that they DEVOURED it. The photographic evidence is below. Turns out, we really like healthy stuff. If properly presented that is. :)
Chocolate lover number one

Life is sweet

Somewhat dazed chocolate lover number 2

Really focused Sonya

Tune in next week for more poop updates and Halloween fun :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

zaiki and co.: I'm done playing

zaiki and co.: I'm done playing: I didn't think it was possible to be stressed any more than we were before the car accident, but turns out our stress-bag can be further exp...

I'm done playing

I didn't think it was possible to be stressed any more than we were before the car accident, but turns out our stress-bag can be further expanded. I'm just waiting for it to burst.

Turns out I am incredibly naive: I thought that, since my car was totaled and we were left with one functioning vehicle (which in suburban NJ is a death sentence since there is no meaningful bus, train or car pool transportation, the fact that makes my head explode periodically) the insurance company will kindly pat us on the back and fork over the estimated value of the car within a couple of days, we'll take the check and hippity-hop into a sunset to buy a new (for us) beautiful car.

The reality, as usual, is ugly and cruel: it's been two weeks and we haven't seen any money yet.  All the dealerships in the area pretty much laughed at us and our budget. We were told by one sympathetic dude to look privately, because they have nothing in our price range. We were not planning on purchasing a car for another two years, when zaiki will go to school and we'll stop paying ridiculous childcare fees, so now we are effectively fucked.

So we've been looking privately. We've found a score of scams, lemons, and Polish people who can't spell.

One seller's mother saw my daughters, asked what their names were and, hearing "Maya" excitedly exclaimed: "I love that name! One of my dogs is named Maya!" before climbing into her sporty red Mercedes. Now, I don't have anything against people with money, people with dogs, or Bergen county, or Medcedes drivers, but I do have an itty-bitty thing with people comparing my children to their smelly spoiled butt-licking creatures.

Note to ya'll: if you ever compare my children to your dogs, expect an ass-whooping. It's a pet peeve of mine. Because children are NOTHING like dogs. I've had both and I can assure you of the difference most emphatically.

In addition to all this, I had a flu shot. BIG MISTAKE. I've forgotten that every year I get sick after it. This year is no different: two days after the shot, I feel like shit, my head is on fire and my body hurts. Which made taking care of the girls oh-so-fun this weekend. I should have one of the zaiki sneeze in my mouth instead, probably would have been more effective. Apparently the American flu shot vaccine is poison to my sad Russian immune system. This is a last one I get.


So right now I'm sitting in my pajamas sniffling into a napkin, shaking from the cold and the stress. Yes, I am that high-strung. I haven't been able to run and it makes me even sadder.
Today Kevin took the girls to the park so I can fully engage in self-pity right now. God, I'm done playing. Old Jewish parable (or whatever you call it) says that it could always be worse, and I know that. But I'd like a little bit of a break for us, just to be able to swim up to the surface and take a breath. I'm done playing.

Monday, October 17, 2011

zaiki and co.: That’s How the Car Accident Goes Squish! Goes the...

zaiki and co.: That’s How the Car Accident Goes Squish! Goes the...: What does Lida and a bouncy ball have in common? They both didn't see it coming…Ok, let me elaborate a little: So last week I had an awesom...

That’s How the Car Accident Goes Squish! Goes the Jetta

What does Lida and a bouncy ball have in common? They both didn't see it coming…Ok, let me elaborate a little:

So last week I had an awesome day: came home from work, went for a run, took a nice shower, went to class. Kevin had the zaiki so I took the Jetta, our commuter car. Traffic was slow and heavy as usual. I’m crawling along the road in the left hand lane, sipping my hot green tea to invigorate me for an intense research session, grooving out to music. All of a sudden I hear a grinding noise, my head slams back and forth and I am being propelled into a car in front of me. Again and again. Bouncy-bouncy..

My brain short circuited and the following thoughts flashed through it:
- oh shit
- I can’t believe this is happening
- this really really really hurts
- this must be what a bouncy ball feels like
And:
- I’m definitely not making it to class tonight
(I know, I know, I expected something more eloquent myself but this is in a span of a second).

Somehow I managed to turn my wheel (I do have cat-like reflexes inherited from a military pilot grandfather who was able to catapult from a burning plane over Korea), got onto a curb, and surveyed the damage. The vehicle that hit me was behind mine with its mug smashed in and airbag deployed. The next few minutes are a blur, except I remember cursing. A lot.

The back of my faithful little car was crushed, it looked like crumpled paper. There was also curious numbness in my head and neck and I contemplated fainting for a second or two. Somehow laying on the side of 287 next to a roadkill deer didn’t seem at all appealing, so I focused on the moment and cursed some more.

Then a very young authoritative trooper came up, license-registration-insurance-sit in your car-are you hurt-what happened-I’ll be back-m’am. By the way, do all State troopers in NJ look like they are 15?

Kevin and the zaiki came to pick me up, drove me home while I cried and shook. My neck still lacks movement and I wasn’t able to run since. Recovery will take awhile, I have a feeling. Muscle relaxants and Naproxene flowed freely over the past week. So did the X-rays. L

I got really really lucky. I did everything right: I had my seat belt on, sitting far enough from the steering wheel, I was stopped a good distance from the car in front of me. If one of the above wasn’t present, I may have been writing this from a hospital bed and/or mumbling through a broken jaw. But even so, I can’t lift my kids, my movement is severely limited and I can’t sleep at night.  

Now we face an unpleasant and difficult task of searching for a new car, stress of dealing with insurance companies and overall uncertain financials due to this unforeseen expense.

This situation makes me angry: because someone else was careless, was not paying attention and should not have been behind a wheel of a heavy SUV on a major highway during rush hour due to their sub par driving skills, my family has to pay the price. Had I mentioned I am angry? I’m not going to comment (yet) on the actions of the other driver, but let’s just say that their reaction reinforced my misanthropic tendencies.

One thing about German das auto engineering: it did das wonderful in protecting the driver (me) as much as possible. The salon was left intact, few cracks in the window and jammed doors. It’s the rest of it that suffered. Oh, and the front symbol from the other car was firmly jammed in what was left of the trunk. We are keeping it as a trophy. HA!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How to make your baby a genius, или я говорю по-русски

Ha! I knew that second language early on is important! Now the all-mighty prophet of liberal burkenstock-wearing parenting and childrearing, aka The New York Times, agrees. Aha. I feel justified. Well, not really, but this article is pretty interesting:  


According to it, bilingual children learn to be more flexible in their problem-solving skills and other high-order cognitive functions. The article keep bringing up Mandarin and Spanish languages (I guess those are the “it” languages that all cool cloth-diapered and breast-fed upper class infants are learning) and no one mentions Russian. With Cold War over, the demand is not as high as it was. Here’s a recap of zaiki’s Russian lessons (as promised, no mention of poop anywhere in this post!):

So I found a Russian school without exorbitant (for our family anyway) fees. Do-Re-Mi school in Livingston NJ. It’s a hike for us, but totally worth it. Their teacher is super nice, and I think zaiki like it in their own spastic, destructive 2-year-old way. They are starting to say color names in Russian, as well as few words here and there. They switch between languages amazingly fast, although still prefer English. It’s my fault, because I speak English to them. I know I have to be diligent and only use Russian, but it is virtually impossible. I try, and try, and fail. So I’m beating myself up about that, feeling time to instill language knowledge in them is slipping away…

This brings me to a free bit of wisdom from Lida for today: no matter what you do and where you turn, parenthood is ridden with hidden (you like that, ridden-hidden rhyme? I’m so cool!) guilt-traps. How do I lessen the guilt? Well, according to NYT parenting blogs, this is what you do:
                Learn a second language and speak it to your kids exclusively
                While you are at it, feed them an all-organic diet
                Never lose your temper 
                Hand-make their clothes 
                Never vaccinize them
                Be a hands-on parent (but not too much, because you don't want to be hovering and stiffling)
                Don't project your values on your kids
                Make sure they go to the right school district (move if you have to!).

Did I forget anything? I'm sure I did, and that's why I'll probably screw my kids up in some way. But at least they'll be able to tell it to their therapist in two languages. And I need to stop reading the blogs..До свидания!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Running with orthotics and hiking with two-year-olds...Which is more...fun?

I finally received my highly anticipated orthotic inserts for the running shoes. Not sure how I feel about them yet - they have to be broken into and it looks like it'll take some time. They make a squishy noise when I walk and are heavier then regular insoles...Running with them takes getting used to as well - the feel of the shoe changed, I notice I'm doing a heavier heel strike. Now that I'm back on track (haha) I've been evaluating the damage done to my running form by wear and tear, pregnancy and wine. So:
-Need upper body and back strength (doing the Paula Radcliff headbob when speeding up, not good). Our leg movement during running is connected to upper body strength, so hit the weight room people!
-Weak and feeble hip muscles, especially the left one. Balance, balance and more balance. Been doing fartleks during runs and one-minute pick ups with high knees. Painful, will see how it works.

Once I'm improved enough, I'll attempt to go a longer distance, but for now, while I break in my orthotics and nurse my pregnancy-damaged hips back to health, I'll stick to my regulars.

I've also been a bit jumpy: the other day I was running along a very pretty but isolated path and heard rustling in the bushes. It was probably a squirrel, but I thought it was a bear and it made me sprint for an unscheduled minute. Ha!

Speaking of bears, we took the zaiki hiking to Round Valley the other day. It was interesting. As you see from the photo below, Maya had to make an unscheduled pit stop. What the photo doesn't show is Maya telling us she has to go "peepepepoopoopotty" and then promptly pooping in her underwear and on the ground. And us performing an emergency change-clean operation midair.
After which she proudly proclaimed that she pooped in the woods like a bear.  (It is important to note that I do know how much I talk about poop: it took over my life during potty training. I'll try to stop. Maybe next I can write about ice cream..Or Dr Seuss...Or Russian lessons the zaiki go to...Anything but poop, I promise).

Also, if you pay enough attention to the photos, you'll notice how wet and sloppy the trail was. And that Sonya was the only one who was wearing rain boots. Two somewhat intelligent adults didn't think about trail sloppiness, and the only reason she is wearing the boots is because she insisted on having them. The hike was fun though: pooped in the woods, touched some questionable mushrooms and lake foam, threw rocks, got wet shoes, chased unsuspected and blameless insects into a certain heart attack, made sure that Papa doesn't lose his cardio endurance. Can't wait to do it again. :) 
zaikiandco: Kevin and Maya on the trail



Monday, October 3, 2011