Monday, December 27, 2010

Punta Cana Revisited

Our trip in the week before Christmas (with the kids at 2.5years and 10months of age and my parents)

Starting from the airplane ride, the trip was not nearly as peaceful as when we made it only with Martin at 10 months of age. Valentin is at exactly the same age now, but unlike his brother, this boy MOVES. He slept very little and was quite fidgety for the rest of the trip. Even flying with my parents and taking turns to hold him did not give us much break.
The hotel, Barcelo Dominican Beach, was quite older than the one we stayed last time, but the property grounds were big and well-kept. The rooms were extremely humid and decorated in cheesy floral hotel colors - thank goodness we did not have to spend long hours in them! Only the first day and a half were rainy and we had gorgeous weather for the rest of our stay. We stayed on the beach as much as we could. It felt unreal to be in a bathing suit after leaving Charlotte with layers of sweaters, coats, hats and gloves.

Mini Disco

Before the main show every evening, there was a show for kids consisting of playing kids music, one lady showing the moves and all kids that dared go on stage following her. The first night I asked Martin if he wanted to dance on stage, he said 'Yes' and I took him there leaving him with the rest of the kids. He started following the moves - step forward - kick, step backward - turn around, hands up... then he stopped, looked around and noticed all the audience staring at the stage and suddenly his smile turned downwards, he saw me and ran to me crying. We watched the show till the end and joined the last song (about the train) together...
The next evening Martin went on stage by himself and did not come back till the whole show was over. He was trying to follow all the moves and was having a great time! Every morning he would wake up singing some of the songs from the evening ("Hands up! Baby, Hands up! Give me your hart, give me, give me, your heart - give me give me! All your love!", "Veo veo! Que ves? Una cosita. Y que cosita es?... ", etc. etc.).

Martin also made two girlfriends from the very first day - Luciana (3) from Peru and Maria(2) from Chicago. He would 'date' one of them during breakfast and in the pool and the other at the Christmas tree in the lobby (after dinner) and all throughout the discoteque. They would go on stage together and although Maria would be in her own parallel world dancing to what seemed a totally different music, both of them would often check on what the other is doing... They were very cute together!
At the end of each show every kid will get a small bag of hard candy. Grandpa taught him to put it in his pocket and wait for the next morning to eat it! He indulged into every single candy the next day, kind of like Israel and I savor our morning coffee with occasional chocolate bar.
One day, there was a kids party at the pool. They played the mini disco hits and played some games. Martin won the game where kids in a circle pass along a ball after receiving it from their neighbour and turning around. When the music stops the kid having the ball has to leave the circle. Fast turning around and passing the ball was key to winning, but Martin was taking his time and enjoying it! Still, he won!
Another night, they had a similar game on stage in the evening. They interviewed each kid leaving the circle: "Como te llamas? De donde vienes?". When Martin's turn came, he said his name, but to 'De Donde vienes?' he answered "De donde?" one evening and "de Venezuela" the next. And then they made him say "Chipi-chupi!" before they gave him the bag with candy. He was so cute - the youngest one on stage to have to do that...

The Baby

Valentin will probably become a mountain climber one day. He loved to climb the beach lounge chairs with the head position up. Even getting a blister on his toe did not stop him from constantly trying to climb over. He always tries to put his feet on an elevated surface - be it the table, the arm rests of chair, or anything higher than the ground. Unlike Martin at this age, he did not mind at all the sand getting all over his face and mounth. I think he liked the taste of it - he continued sucking his thumb no matter how much sand there was on it and did not flinch a bit. He also enjoyed the Chrismas tree in the lobby, but for slightly different reasons - there were so many ornaments he could touch, taste, throw and too little time to do it. He was fast and my dad could hardly keep up with him.

Food & Drink
The main buffet was our favorite. The freshly squeezed juices of banana, melon, watermelon, pineapple, papaya were the best part! We could find queso fresco, passion fruit, plantains, fish and mariscos. But even chicken had a totally different flavor than the hormone-grown chickens we eat in US. The a-la-carte restaurants were not great, but were a break from buffet food which inevitably comes in great quantities...
Martin was very cute noticing every person's use of Spanish: "Lelichkata (la senora)/chichkoto (el senor) habla Espanol!"
Alcohol drinks were also included. And here is where all these All Inclusive pacakges make money - from people like us: my mom never drinks, my dad ventured to try pinacolada, Mama Juana (the Dominican rum) and Irish coffee, but he would do one drink per day. I cannot drink because I am still nursing and Israel does not drink much if he does not have company...


My Dad was constantly busy with either Martin or Valentin. He would go patiently through offering them different kinds of food until he finds what they like and would still more patiently feed them (Martin gets distracted a lot and it takes an hour to feed him the bare minimum). He would take Martin for walks on the ocean, take him easy in the water (not to shock him with the cold water), swing with him on a swing, play games, run with him, and he would always try to look busy with the kids at the beginning of the main show when the dancers picked up people from the audience to dance on stage. Still, this did not save him and he got picked up twice. My mom looked like she was taking a much deserved break from the kids :).


I thought about it, thought about it, thought about it, and finally succumbed to the constant offers of the locals to braid my hair. I don't like huge changes (especially with my hair) and only did it half-way. Next time, however, I will do full braids and not worry about washing and drying my hair at all. How nice would that be!!!

Isra and I got picked up to go on stage for one of their shows. However, Martin thought we are there to dance without him and ran on stage crying for me. So, I stepped down and avoided being made fun of (thanks Martin!).

Traveling with the grandparents did not give us too much break from the kids (at least not what we hoped for). We stayed late one night (even went to the club), but since the kids wake up at 6:30am every morning, we had a miserable day and agreed it was just not worth it. Vale was waking up once or twice at night (and he hasn't missed a night for 6 months now), so I still could not get the rest I needed. And unlike the first time to Punta Cana when I could read my book by the pool while Martin was sleeping next to us, this time we had at least one kid awake at all times and my book stayed unread (except for 2 chapters).

More photos here

Monday, November 22, 2010

What happens when kids see Santa too soon after Halloween

Going to the Breakfast with Santa event at Simon's preschool (on Nov 20th), I tried to prepare Martin for seeing Santa and sitting on his lap (without crying like he did last year). I told him that Santa is good and will bring him a present on Christmas and that if he sits long enough for a picture without crying, Santa will give him a candy cane. Hearing 'candy' Martin lit up and said: "Daa... Martin will say 'Trick-or-Treat' and Santa will give candy."

Friday, November 19, 2010

Belated Halloween Post

Halloween came along very early in Octomber and we had several occasions to wear costumes: First was Lila's Halloween-themed First birthday party.

Then the Fall festival in the Library:

Early trick-or-treating at Bill & Martha's:

The Chills and Thrills Lollipop concert:

The Halloween party at the Bulgarian School on Halloween day:

And Trick-or-Treating in the neighbourhood.

'Le sacamos el jugo' del Buzz Lightyear costume - like my mother-in-law likes to say. Which does not make me feel so bad purchasing a costume that will be worn presumably once and will be too small for him next year (or, Martin will be into something other than Toy Story). Valentin's Cupid costume was my idea, but came too late for the first events. Still, I think this was the most appropriate disguise for him - having this name and being the chubby, cheruby, curly-haired angel baby he is!!! Muaahh!

Martin LOVED trick-or-treating! Right after the first house he realized that by saying Trick-or-treat people give him candy and he was hooked. We stopped to talk to some neighbours and he was all 'Come on. Let's go to this next house to say Trick-or-Treat.' I would also occasionally ask him to tell people what Buzz Lightyear says and he was all "I'm Buzz Lightyear! Space Ranger! To Infinity and Beyond!". This costume was a success (although most of my friends - usually moms to smaller kids - did not have any idea what he is dressed up as. I didn't have any idea either until six months ago when we first saw Toy Story and have been seeing it every night since then with only little interruption from Up, Ratatulle, The Bee Movie and Snow White...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Columbus Day Weekend at the Beach

(an attempt to capture the two brand new teeth)

Vale grew up so much in only one long weekend. His grandma left him on Thursday with only one tooth poking out of his gum and found him on Tuesday with two teeth, able to crawl quite professionally (until then he was only sliding on his belly), able to clap his hands intentionally, and also making sounds with his tongue like horses steps...

Of course, taking him to the beach might have helped. We rented a house on Topsail Island and went with friends and their babies. After a cold week in Charlotte, we had gorgeous weather at the ocean. We took long walks on the beach, and stayed under the canopy all day long. Valentin would usually fall into deep sleep the moment the stroller hit the sand. Martin would wade in the water or play football with papi or would help him make sand castles (yes, Martin was only helping papi, who was very serious and concentrated on the job).
When it was Martin's turn to sleep, Vale would be awake. He discovered sand, but only with his feet - as I had learned my lesson that sand tends to sticks to baby hands oiled with sun-block and baby hands tend to find their way to baby mouth and baby eyes very quickly... Thanks to guinea-pig Martin!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Biseri (Gems)

We try to phrase limits and commands in a positive way for Martin. So, instead of 'Don't give cheerios to Vale', we say 'Kato porasne i Valeto shte iade cheerios' (When Vale grows up, he will also eat cheerios). So, Martin really likes the idea of Vale growing up and he says all the times things like 'Kato porasne i Valeto shte skacha' (when Vale grows up he will also jump). 'Kato porasne i Valeto shte rita topka"(when Vale grows up he will also kick the ball)... So, the other day, I lay in bed nursing Valeto and Martin was close to us. He observed (as usual): "Valeto iade teta" (Valeto eats boob). And then added: 'Kato porasne i Martin shte iade teta" (When Martin grows up, he will also eat boob).


On a night when the moon was about 40% full:
"Mamo, tova e lunata. Se schupila lunata."
("Mommy, this is the moon. The moon broke.")


"Mamo, Martin iska da vidi pampersa na Valeto" while I change Vale and comment on the poop he had made. He sees it and says: "Ima ujas!"

Martin counting in Spanish (past 10):
"Dieciseis, diecisiete, dieciocho, diecinueve, DIECIDIEZ"
("sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, TENTEEN")

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I am now used to regular displays of jealousy from Martin. Sometimes as intense as throwing a fit on the ground and purposefully bouncing his head on the floor or on the wall until I put down Valentin to take him instead. The other day we were visiting friends for dinner and Martin was an angel until I started feeding Valentin - he then took a photo frame from a glass side table and banged it on that same glass table... It is a miracle nothing broke - actually, the frame did, but the host was kind enough to assure us it had been broken. In his defense, this happened way past his bedtime, when he was super tired and he had a soiled diaper on top of that.

I notice that the more tired he is, the more (self-)destructive his jealousy. It is very rare that he would target his rage towards his brother - only occasionally he would try to pinch him while he is in my arms and I would not put him down after Martin has demanded so.
Otherwise, Martin is very gentle to his little brother - he would touch him, kiss him, talk to him, explain to him what he is doing. He would insist to me in the morning to go upstairs to take Valentin: 'Valeto se sabudi se! Mama hodi gore vzemi Valeto!' (Vale woke up! Mama, go upstairs to take him!). I believe they communicate with telepathy, because Vale does not let out a single sound, yet every time I go to take him after Martin's order, Vale is awake indeed! The other thing Martin very correctly guesses about Vale is when he has had enough to eat: 'Mama niama veche hrani Valeto!' ('Mama won't nurse Vale any more!') at which Vale stops in the middle of his feeding and I cannot put him back on the breast at all! Of course, he says that only because he wants me to hug him instead, but looks like Vale too doesn't want the drama which could unfold if I don't.
Martin has always been very huggy-kissy type of a child. Not only he would let me hug him at any time of the day, but he would occasionally come to me with 'Martin gushi mama!' (Martin hugs mama). Which is super cute and adorable and melts my heart and would have been my favorite phrase except... he uses it to oust Vale from my arms or when he is about to throw a tantrum because he did not have something his way. I try to hug him as soon as possible but this does not always stop the tantrum or the fit of jealousy.

At times, Martin is jealous of his father as well... If he is not tired and cranky, he would just observe 'Mama gushi tati' (Mama hugs Daddy)... However, if he is cranky, he gives out his orders 'Mama niama gushi tati!' ('Mama stop hugging daddy!') and throws himself on the ground and continues with a full-fledged tantrum. Naturally, this made me research Freud's Oedipus complex theory (a boy is fixated on his mother and competes with his father for her attention); and yes, it is manifested between 3 and 5 years of age (when the ego is developing) and at times even earlier... And yes, a successful resolution of such feelings is critical for the child's future development... And such resolution comes with the boy identifying with his father and the external world rather than with the idyllic image of his mother.

I think Martin is on the right track, because he is more and more accepting his father into his world. Isra used to work really hard in order to gain his attention and affection. Lately, however, I see Martin doing more and more with his father - he can hardly wait for him to come back from work to start playing with the ball. Also, it has been a few months now that every time Martin wakes up he would call 'tati! tati! tatiiii!' to go pick him up from his crib and not the usual 'mama'... And finally, he does not wait for me to put him in bed at night - his routine is to read books with his dad ('Oso Pardo' is mandatory), to listen to some music (Martin picks and plays the CDs himeslf), and if I come in to help his father to finally put him in bed (Martin knows he can prolong this with his Dad as much as he wants), he would order me 'Mama hodi hrani Valentin!' (Mama go feed Valentin!). Yes, this is his way of kicking me out of the room; and that hurts my feelings, but I know I also need to let go and let him grow up!

Half a Year Old

At his 6 month appointment, Valentin is 19lbs 7oz and 27.5 inches tall. This puts him in the 75th percentile. ONLY?! He is such a chubby and big baby that it is hard to believe he is not following in his brother's footsteps of being always above the 95th percentile... I even went back to my notes to confirm that... wow, Martin had almost these measures at his 4 month appointment!!! Now THAT is CHUBBY!!!
Compared to Martin at that age, though, Vale does not do that much - he still does not say anything beyond 'Boo', or 'GRRRR' (the R is very clear, but produced somewhere in his throat and having nothing to do with his tongue)... Martin was saying 'Da', 'da-da-da' at this age and varied his intonation immitating our speech... Well, I should not be that harsh on Vale because when I think of it, he too tries to immitate me when I read to him, only doing it with his 'brrr'... Reminds me of how Isra taught Martin to answer to "Como hace mama?' (What does mommy say?) with 'Burra-burra-burra'...
Vale still does not sit well without support. Martin was able to put his hands in front and to the side when he was falling - still not to the back. And Vale is not sliding backwards across the wooden floor yet.
I kind of feel guilty of this delay - although this is not delay according to his doctor who thinks he is doing great for his age. Vale is such a happy and content baby that occasionally I forget where I left him while I play with Martin. He would be just happily kicking in his bouncer enjoying the motion he creates and pulling on the toys without complaining for lack of attention. Good thing he was like this (he no longer is as he now loudly complains if he is left alone for more than a minute), because Martin has been extremely jealous of him from the very beginning. And Valentin at the same time looked like the only thing he demanded was to be changed and fed regularly. He would not depend on us carying him to fall asleap or to be entertained. And I surely capitalized on this fact!
Of course, every chance I get, I smother him with kisses and bite on his sexy legs, arms, belly and tickle him till he cannot stand it any more. A friend on FB called him 'kozunache' and I said I cannot agree more - his fingers melt in your mouth and another friend warned us this is going a bit canibalistic way. Well, look at him - would you wait till Easter to taste him?!
But the quiet days are over now! Lately he wants to sit constantly, he wants to always have something in his hands (something to drop every 2 seconds and to want someone to put back in his reach), he follows Martin at 360 degrees (especially when I sit down to feed him) and he rolls over on his tummy seconds after you put him on his back - even if this causes him to spit up half of his lunch...

Saturday, July 31, 2010

More sewing

This one has much cleaner and straighter hems than my first nursing cover :). Still, if I were to pay myself by the hour I would make quite a meager wage, but it made a great babyshower gift and I can be sure a unique one.
Posted by Picasa