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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

zaiki and co.: Here Comes The Bride Or The Way We Once Were...

zaiki and co.: Here Comes The Bride Or The Way We Once Were...: November is a pretty eventful month for the Little family: Kevin and I went on our first date in November, we got married in November, Kevin...

Here Comes The Bride Or The Way We Once Were...

November is a pretty eventful month for the Little family: Kevin and I went on our first date in November, we got married in November, Kevin's birthday is in November, as well as his favorite holiday. So this was a busy month.This year's wedding anniversary was very low key and subdued: we quietly exchanged gifts and went out to dinner.

Talking to a friend from work who just gotten engaged over Thanksgiving made me all reminiscent about our wedding, a fun and classy affair marked by debauchery, guests puking under the tables and pooping themselves (yes-yes, they did!!) out of drunkenness. In other words, everything you expect your wedding to be.

So, fasten your seat belts for a little trip down the memory lane:

Kevin proposed in July and our wedding happened in November that same year, proving that it is possible to put together a smashing fun wedding event in 4 months. I never thought I'd ever get married, let along meet the one person I wanted to live with in my very early twenties, so, as I've prepared myself for a life of spinsterhood and/or promiscuity, I haven't had a slightest clue as to how to plan a wedding, pick out a dress, or what exactly I wanted.

Honestly, I would have been perfectly happy to live in sin for years, but pesky legal issues (like being an illegal alien) played their role in speeding up our nuptials. Kevin and I are lucky enough to be mostly on the same wavelength for most things, so we knew that these were non-negotiable:
- lots of good food
- lots of alcohol
- great music

Everything else didn't really matter. And, turns out, if you are flexible and open about venues, guest lists and invitation styles, you can put your wedding together pretty quickly. Unfortunately, my mom and bro couldn't come, so that was one bit of a downer for me... Kevin's mom officiated the ceremony, I got my dress during the first run to the bridal shop, we made our own centerpieces, chose all this amazing food and a cake (it was raspberry chocolate with whipped cream), good friend agreed to DJ, guests graciously agreed to attend on a rather short notice, and we were set.

The night before we had a drunkfest rehearsal dinner for our guests, and I had a mean hangover on the wedding day. Add the fact that I stumbled into Kevin's hotel room at 5 am piss drunk, and you get the picture of squinty-eyed, pale shaky bride. After lots and lots of water, some make-up and rest I was ready.

Everything went on without a hitch (haha, here I go again, ain't I funny?), guests were having fun, and we danced the night away. One bit of wisdom that I've discovered: at your own wedding dinner, you can do two out of three things: eat, talk to guests, dance. One has to be sacrificed to the wedding gods.We chose the latter two, and didn't have more than a bite of all the amazing foods we painstakingly chose several months before. I think I had a single shrimp.

Our guests were having so much fun (thanks open bar and John!) that the venue had to kick us out (they flipped the lights on and starting clearing the tables while people were still dancing). Then lots of guests went back to our hotel, piled into our bridal suite and ordered pizza. They stayed till about 2 am. And it was a lot of fun even since.

I think I'd like to do a "middle of marriage" celebration at some point in time...This time a destination on the beach, during sunset. Flowers in the hair? Maybe some white horses? Rum? Reggae? Rasta minister? Yeah, definitely our kind of thing...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Playing Blocks: Art or Science, or Why Some Whiny Intellectuals Need To Stop Breeding


All right, I'm back from the turkey-induced coma. Actually, we've been sick all weekend. Hacking, coughing, sneezing and waking up at 5:30 am. Not cool. So today, I'm still dragging and decided to put my scheduled work hours to a good use: to catch up on global news. I opened an online NYT edition and what do I see on their front page? A piece intriguingly titled "With Blocks, Educators Go Back to Basics". After reading first few paragraphs I thought this was a joke. Then I flipped to the second page and realized that a very serious matter is being discussed: How to play blocks with your children.

Simple, right? Intuitive, right? Apparently, some neurotic overachieving parents need to ATTEND WORKSHOPS on playing blocks. Big, huge, sloppy WTF anyone? Or is it just me who thinks that building towers and tunnels and houses and other stuff out of wooden blocks is part of what you do with kids? Well, lets look at the article closely, because some paragraphs just leave me in awe. I quote:

"Huddled together on the reading rug of a prekindergarten classroom on the Upper West Side, three budding builders assembled a multilayered church with a Gothic arch. Nearby, another block artist created a castle with a connecting courtyard. Meanwhile, a fifth toiled earnestly on a shaky tower, eliciting oohs and aahs from across the room when it came tumbling down."

Block artists? Budding builders? Oohs and aahs? Sounds intriguing... Let's keep reading on:

"J. S., a self-described “block consultant,” advised the group to engage their children in building by photographing their work."

Block consultant? Really? Photographing?? Those pre-kindergarten kids and their parents have "block consultants"? What's next: Renting a gallery to exhibit your child's pre-k watercolors? Or recording their musical achievements? Do they also have nutritionists and assigned nose wipers on staff? What kind of school is it? Let's see:

"Eva Moskowitz, the former city councilwoman who runs a fast-growing network of charter schools, said her schools had created a “religion around blocks,” and she proudly advertises their fully outfitted block labs alongside the chess program and daily science classes. The International School of Brooklyn is developing a program using blocks to reinforce foreign-language acquisition. And Avenues, the for-profit school scheduled to open next year in Greenwich Village, is devoting a large section of its kindergarten floor to a block center.<...> Fretta Reitzes, who runs an early-education conference every November at the 92nd Street Y, said the block workshop sold out so quickly this year that she added a second one."

Oh, it makes perfect sense now: Upper middle class New York school, where common sense is permanently suspended and replaced with absurdity and new age crap. Block center? Workshops? How neurotic and sad do these parents need to be that they have to taught by a "block consultant" how to play blocks with their kids. Here, let me consult you: get a bucket of wooden blocks, dump them on the floor and actually let your rugrats go at it. This will be $500. I'll even throw in a free song and dance about natural selection and soft-bellied sissies in with it. I bet you that it'll still be cheaper than those trendy workshops... and I'm an awesome dancer, just ask my kids.

In my opinion, if you need a workshop on how to play with your child, you should not have procreated. Your genes are obviously inferior and in the good old days, you'd probably get eaten by a saber-toothed tiger because you wouldn't have been able to climb a tree and there was no need for lawyers back then. I just hope that these people's kids get a healthy dose of common sense and life from somewhere despite charter schools, block workshops and Mandarin lessons. Maybe from their nannies?

Anyway, the article continues in the same fashion for TWO PAGES!!! About playing blocks. With pre-schoolers. Must have been a slow week, NYT. For those of you with a healthy sarcastic sense of humor, feel free to check out the rest below:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/28/nyregion/with-building-blocks-educators-going-back-to-basics.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1322489385-qGnESWuVrrJkt1nRD7EUUw

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

zaiki and co.: The Great and Powerful World of Disney, Or Everyth...

zaiki and co.: The Great and Powerful World of Disney, Or Everyth...: kartoonnetwork.blogspot.com I’ve mentioned before how Disney has inevitably and irrevocably became part of our lives in the last 6 mo...

The Great and Powerful World of Disney, Or Everything Has a Hidden Meaning


kartoonnetwork.blogspot.com

I’ve mentioned before how Disney has inevitably and irrevocably became part of our lives in the last 6 months. The obsession with all things Disney has progressed from an occasional Steamboat Willy to almost daily references to princesses, dragons and evil witches. A friend from work loaned us pretty much an entire Disney library (thank you Doug!) saving us a ton of money and hassle to find the highly coveted entertainment.

The three contenders for the top spot in zaiki’s hearts are “Sleeping Bleuty” (yes, yes, just like that: BLYYUUUTY), “Tangled”, aka “Punzel” and “Lady and the Tramp”, aka “The Puppies”. We watch one of these at least once a day, and by this point I could write Disney's misogynistic, sexist and racist anthology just from watching the three cartoons. But I won’t. Instead, I’m offering you free snippet-style insight into the magical world of Disney:

Lady and the Tramp – the oldest of the three, made in 1955.

Little rich girl-puppy gets thrown out of her house by the stupid cat owner-babysitter and her evil Siamese cats. Full of stereotypes, (Is that what was funny 60 years ago?), starting with the cats, who are obviously and insultingly foreign (Siam is Thailand I believe?).

I counted 5 additional racial/cultural stereotypes in the cartoon, including but not limited to:
a. Red-faced Irish cop
b. Smarmy yet friendly Italian cook
c. Sleepy (and I think drunk) Mexican Chihuahua
d. Dopey and sad Russian greyhound
e. Hillbilli-ish beaver

The tramp-dog calls the girl-puppy “Pidg”, short for Pigeon, which when said quickly made me stop what I was doing and rewind to make sure I heard it correctly. Go ahead, say it fast…See??!


Moral of the story: women need strong manly handling and should stay home and make babies; everyone who likes cats is stupid. And never let your spinster aunt with two foreign cats babysit your baby: they’ll destroy your house, eat your fish and drink baby’s milk. Maybe will even sit on your baby’s chest and steal his soul.   

Sleeping Bleuty – 1958.

Here we see the princess as a helpless yet beautiful thing in need of man-rescue. She does not control her fate in any respect, and is easily hypnotized to prick her finger and fall asleep. In fact, all that the evil witch has to do is show pretty green light to the princess and off into the danger she goes. She doesn’t appear much after that and rightfully so. If  you have nothing valuable to contribute, off to sleep with you!

First of all, let me just say: who gets married at 16???!!! How about let’s finish high school and get a decent education beyond singing and berry picking? And the prince has to be at least 10 years older than her. And who starts dancing in the woods with an older stranger?

Moral of the story: men will take care of everything, just be a good girl and wait.  Also, don’t forget to be as obtuse and gullible as possible. What the fairies should have given her as a gift was brains.

Tangled – 2009 

Fast forward 60 years later and oh my how the times have changed! Here we have a totally different breed of princesses: strong and assertive, handy with a frying pan. Rapuntzel is a force of nature. My guess is Disney acquired some female executives or did a viewership focus group. Or both. They know who puts all those millions in their pockets: mothers of pre-pubescent girls, that’s who, and those power-mommies want good examples for their little ones: “Mr. Disney, no more oh-come-save-me damsel in distress crap, and while you are at it, please raise the age of consent to 18!”

The male protagonist, on the other hand, while still handsome, is somewhat dimwitted this time. Definitely some strong female decision-makers had come aboard… Interestingly enough, this is the first Disney movie I saw with an actual murder in-progress depicted on the screen.

Moral of the story: Girls, make your own fate with the help of a frying pan, a dream, some friendly thugs and don’t count on your prince charming, ‘cause he may need you to bail him out of trouble.   

So there you have it. I don’t know which one I like best/least, the animation is amazing in all three (as always), but at least Tangled has some comic relief for parents’ benefits and some amusing musical numbers. It’s less scary for the little ones. 

One more valuable observation: King fathers in Sleeping Beauty and Tangled could be twins. Ahem, Disney, cutting corners much? 

I know some of you may say, oh, it’s just cartoons! Except it’s not: those movies are carefully crafted advertisements that propagate a certain worldview and lifestyle. It is important to know what your children watch, see it from their perspective (we actually have conversations about the cartoons, zaiki tell me what scared them, what they thought was funny or impressive) to be able to mitigate whatever influence you as a parent consider harmful. As for me, I’m off to make a tinfoil hat, dig a compound in North Carolina woods and stock up on ammo. J

In other Little household news: Thanksgiving is upon us, the Christmas shopping is in full swing, turkey has been bought, wine will be bought tonight, and let the festivities, completed with Kevin’s birthday right on Thanksgiving, begin! We are crazy enough to go out on Black Friday to replace a television that died a tragic and untimely death in a mishap this past year (turns out plasmas really don't like to be dropped on the floor, oops!). I guess you are not fully American until you get baptized in the holy church of Best Buy on Thanksgiving night. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

zaiki and co.: Chi-Squareds, Cohen's Kappas, T-Tests and Academic...

zaiki and co.: Chi-Squareds, Cohen's Kappas, T-Tests and Academic...: I am in statistical hell: I am taking a research methods course in my graduate program. I'm burning and little evil chi-squared, alphas, kap...

Chi-Squareds, Cohen's Kappas, T-Tests and Academic Unfairness

I am in statistical hell: I am taking a research methods course in my graduate program. I'm burning and little evil chi-squared, alphas, kappas and t-tests are prickiling me with their tiny pointy numbery pitchforks. Since when does a marketing communication graduate student need an in-depth knowledge of correlation coefficients? What kind of poppycock is that?!!! You have computer programs for that!

Ok, I have always been no-so-good sucked at doing math and math problems. And now, due to existence of SPSS, Excel and other awesome tools my mathy part of the brain athrophied and fell off. It's an atavism,just like a tail our ancestors had once upon the evolution. Actually, I'll take a tail over the ability to do math.
That's it: I need a long, bendy, grabby tail so I can take my children in public and not worry about keeping tabs on them. Just imagine: you are at the grocery store, both hands full of squirming/screaming babies, and you calmly reach and grab what you need off of the nearest shelf. How cool would that be! And then you could push your grocery cart without having to let go of either of your children.

But anyway, back to my statistical suffering: I have an exam coming up and studying for it is like reading transcriptions of a coded speech. I recognize the individual words, but the meaning escapes me. And then what's up with academian speak?! The more courses I take, the more I realize that just because you are a brainy academian doesn't mean you can effectively relay your knowledge to others. The goal of the majority of my professors has been to use as many GRE test words as they can to make it as difficult as possible to understand them. I actually believe it is a requirement for teaching to weed out faint-hearted students and also to make sure that they don't get questions. If you can't understand the topic, you won't have questions about it.

Seriously in need of wine therapy after this week.

To end on the upbeat note as usual: no mention of poop for quite awhile :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

zaiki and co.: Zaiki in a time lapse

zaiki and co.: Zaiki in a time lapse: I’ve gotten “I’m missing my babies being babies” mood lately. Maybe it’s my biological clock's last feeble attempt to change my mind about h...

Zaiki in a time lapse

I’ve gotten “I’m missing my babies being babies” mood lately. Maybe it’s my biological clock's last feeble attempt to change my mind about having more kids, or just that the girls are getting so big so fast.

So today, after I managed to get them up, dressed, somewhat fed and out of the door with only slight damage to my wardrobe (wiping boogers on Mama's button-down dark navy blue dress shirt doesn't count as damage anymore, it's like wearing deodorant to work, not only normal but somewhat expected) and even less damage to my psyche, I found myself looking at the girls' baby pictures and getting all soppy and in "remember when?" sort of mood. So here you'll find a few of my favorite baby-to-little girl transition photos. 

When the girls were born they resembled newborn mice more then anything else: bold, red and squinty. But they smelled so good! Until they pooped that is, and then cried and cried and cried and cried. Have I mentioned they cried?

Then came endless feeding-pumping (yes, I breastfed for 5 months, yes, it was difficult, and yes, please leave the Best-Mom-of-Twins award at the door, no applause needed). Thanks to nutrient-rich-good-fatty-acids full mama’s milk they plumped up and pinked up. Grew hair. Screaming didn’t stop though. Just got louder.
Then came the teething. Here they are trying really hard to eat the crib: 

Then the little wiggly legs grew stronger, brains-eye-limb coordination developed, and we moved from the cocoon stage into the worm stage.

Maya is so proud to be standing!

Sonya HATED crawling. But she loved the TV remote (sucking on it) and it was one of the few things that motivated her to move. Otherwise she'd just lay there and scream her head off until someone came up and placed her where she wanted to be. Anyway, here Papa would let Sonya crawl close enough to the remote to get her gums on it, and then move it far enough so she'd have to crawl to it. And then he'd giggle and do it over and over again.

I think she is saying "not cool!!"
 Sonya has a strong spirit. She knows her cuteness and is not afraid to use it. Just look at those eyelashes!!!

Maya would crawl up to me and hoist herself up on my leg. Sometimes she'd pull my pants down, sometimes not. It was always a surprise.


Here you see my industrious, strong children at their favorite past time: creating chaos and climbing into things they were not supposed to be in. Like a bookshelf.
This was a spontaneous photo op, I swear. Makes my Russian heart proud though. Ole-ole-ole...


I loved the skirts. This was around 1st birthday.


And this was last week. Oh how the times have changed!!! Now we make "funny faces", tell Mama that we are "mean on you!" (mad at you), demand to wear purple (only purple, God have mercy if you attempt to dress Sonya in any other color!) tights, don't go to sleep till 10 pm due to witch-in-closet issue and pee in the tub. Sometimes INTO the tub. :)

 Little butts. :)


Sonya's and Maya's favorite snack: green pitted olives from Wegmans. Note the adults standing around and calmly watching two 2-year olds use SHARP toothpicks to fish out the treats out. That's free-range parenting right there!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

zaiki and co.: Halloween 2011

zaiki and co.: Halloween 2011: The blog got a bit depressing lately due to fall blues, car loss (solved by the way), and other assorted stresses, so see some chipper Hallo...

Halloween 2011

The blog got a bit depressing lately due to fall blues, car loss (solved by the way), and other assorted stresses, so see some chipper Halloween pictures below to bring up the mood.

Currently we are thousands of dollars poorer but became proud owners of a gently used but still pretty Acura 3.2 TL. By the way, NJ sale tax on vehicle purchases is a heinous fuckary most foul and I strongly recommend picketing DMVs to repeal it. Not that it anything in life is fair, but seriously??! 7% of your car price paid to the DMV???!   

We still managed to pull off a Halloween party complete with banging cupcakes, awesome corn bread, chili, and Kahlua-spiked hot chocolate. 

werewolves cupcakes by Lida
This year was the first Halloween with snow on the ground.

Got some interesting pictures: apparently, our house got visited by a large, friendly and unshaven Halloween valkyrie, who was kind enough to grill in our back yard. :)
Girls got the concept of trick-or-treating fairly fast: you go up to the porch, smile and hold up your pumpkin-shaped basket, and people place candy in it. If you are really lucky, you get to root through the candy bowl yourselves.
We still don’t like costumes though. Fairy wings were the extent of dressing up this year. In the past 2 years, we tried to get more extravagant with costumes, but it didn’t work so well.


Halloween 2009 - went all out. They are thrilled as you can see

Maya as a very sad wingless Tinkerbell in 2010
 
Sonya wondering why we put her in a hot, itchy costume - 2010

 
2011 - don't care, plenty divas as is, no costumes needed
I have come to realize that Halloween is a single or childless people holiday with two important parts to fulfill: dress slutty and get drunk. Kevin and I enjoyed both requirements in the past. Since zaiki were born, our costumes have been those of tired parents and drinking has become far more subdued. It is a sign of passing into another life stage. :)