Thursday, June 4, 2015

Levi is 3!

Here we go! It's June 4 again and that means my little man is 3. Rather than wondering at how quickly time passes (seriously, how?!), I want to write down some things that I'd like to remember about this stage in a little note, that nobody but the grandparents will read ;)

Dear Levi,

You are such an entertainer. You love to sing and do so basically all day long, and at the top of your lungs, usually holding the last note just a little too long, and a little too loudly. It's the very best. You sings in the car to your music class albums and we entertain your many song requests. My favorite parts are when you don't know the words and make them up or hum along until a line you know comes back on. Please don't ever stop singing and always have the confidence you do now. Although a little volume control would be just fine with me from time to time.

You are so loving. You tell us 'I love you' freely and openly and give the best hugs. The best times are when it's spontaneous and we don't force you. I usually try not to make you hug anyone you don't want to since it's your own personal space, but I love to see you hug your cousin and monkey, and your dog Chino. You just love coming up to Chino and giving him a good squeeze.

In addition to your singing, there is the talking. It never stops. At some point, I was moderately worried that you were behind. But you weren't- you were learning 2 languages at the same time and making double the brain connections. Right now you are favoring English a lot, and mostly carry on conversations with people, me, and your toys in English. You understand everything in Russian and save most of it for Grandma Tania but will speak when prompted. When you say the little nursery rhymes in Russian it's just the cutest thing ever. You are also quite polite and love striking up conversations with just about anyone you meet. You also know both alphabets, can count on your own, a ton of shapes, and colors and a little bit about everything. I'd say you are a mini Renaissance man.

You love cars, specifically the Disney Pixar Cars characters and have the hoarding tactics of someone who should be on a lifestyle reality show. You ask to go to Target to pick out new cars, and we sometimes humor you with those requests. We know all the character names and have extensive conversations about them. When we play pretend, your papa and I are usually Mack the Truck and you're always Lightening McQueen, of course.

You love running and playing outside, mostly on the playground in the park near our house, or on sand, or really, any patch of dirt. You race like a little crazy person and we try to catch up with you- your papa is much quicker than I am. You are also becoming increasingly more interested in jiu jitsu with papa and ask to wrestle with him all the day. Every time he's taking a class, you say you want to go too and get so excited to run around on the mats. You were moderately interested in yoga for a millisecond, but I think I know where your passion will be in sports.

You're still my little foodie. Not as healthy and chia-filled as I had hoped, but you are a great eater. You love grandma's soup, cucumbers, corn, tomatoes, bread, plantain chips, and mocha yogurt just to name a few. You don't love typical 'kid' food and once looked at me like I grew an extra head when I accidentally gave you mac and cheese instead of chicken soup for lunch. You don't love pizza either but have had it, and much prefer coffee to any other beverage (we make you steamed milk and you call it your coffee).

You are never apart from your monkey, who is a boy, and you have named Masha. He has undergone several reconstructive surgeries and has traveled all over with us. I can imagine packing him up with you when you go to college, but for now it's pretty darn adorable. Most of the time you look like a big boy, but you snuggle up to Mr. Monkey and still use your fingers to suck on for comfort. That's just fine- I've never seen a college student suck their hands. Speaking of which- potty training is not your thing but we'll resolve that at some point.

You are such a strong spirit and so determined- just like you were when you were a little tiny person and didn't follow any of the 'rules' with eating, sleeping, or other general social conventions. That's because you're you and one size does not fit all. Thank you for making us laugh a million times in the last 3 years and for teaching me more than I could learn about flexibility, patience, and construction vehicles. 

Happy birthday my big boy! I couldn't be any prouder of you and am so lucky to be your mama. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Health Hero

In honor of Health Literacy Month, I'm writing a post on my Health Hero. Health has a different meaning to almost every person. If you look at 100 Instagram accounts, healthy can be defined as thin, muscular, vegetarian, vegan, paleo, yogi, or Crossfitter. For me, the meaning of health has evolved from a not so healthy perspective in my late teens and early 20s (fat free crazes and being as skinny as possible), to a much different meaning these days. 

I would like to introduce you to my Health Hero. His name is Levi and he stands at about 36 inches tall and weighs in at about 30 pounds. This little man has taught me more in his last two years about health than I have learned in the last -ahem- 30 years.

Here are the things my health hero has taught me:

1. Strength training is important- those muscles are about so much more than aesthetics- they get you where you want to be, help you pick up heavy objects, and can direct people to the beach, if needed.

2. Food is nourishment and there is nothing like sitting down, relaxing, and enjoying a meal together. My little man has taught me that food literally sustains life- you need proper nutrition and calories to have energy and get the most out of your day. Of course treats are important too, but you feel your best when you eat well.

3. An important part of health is lowering stress levels. We all thrive when we are around friends, pets, and loved ones. For my health hero, we're still considered cool enough to be in his presence, so we spend as much time as we can going on adventures and enjoying each other's company.

4. Exercise is a huge part of my health hero's life. We run, jump, do yoga, and pushups together. For kids, exercise is play time, and not a chore like it is for a lot of adults, so we enjoy playing together. He's much better conditioned than I am (notice the vein on my forehead from doing pushups). 

5. A healthy environment is so much more than just inside the home, and for my health hero, nature is a huge part of his health. He is always asking to go to the beach, to play in the dirt, and to go outside. He has taught me how fun it is to crunch in the leaves (if Fall ever gets here), play in the sand, and dig in the dirt (so much dirt)!

Most importantly, my health hero has taught me that it is my responsibility to take care of my own health. I intend to be around for a very long time to watch my little health hero grow up and then run screaming to travel the world once my health hero can sustain himself. Well at least a girl can always dream!

I was contacted by Andrea of Oscar Health to write this post and it was a great opportunity to get back into blogging. Please note I didn't get compensation or sponsorship for this post. At Oscar Health, they provide health insurance to those living in New York and New Jersey and offer many features that help members be proactive about their health. If you're on the East Coast, check them out if you have any interest.

Hope you're all doing well and I'll check in soon!

Monday, July 28, 2014


I have a beautiful baby book that was gifted to me and it's empty. I am probably an underachiever, but I can't catalog everything in written form, so here it is for me to refer to one day.
Levi is growing and talking a lot more! We have a lovely mix of English, Russian, and Levi's own special blend of language going over here these days.

These are some things that I want to remember from these terrific twos:

  • Waffle is pronounced 'amful'.
  • Purple is pronounced 'pumfle'; we also like the color blue and call it 'byuuuu'.
  • There is a lot of talk about something called 'abadas'- we aren't sure what this means, but he can carry on conversations about it with the best of them.
  • Levi knows about 75% of his letters- like he knows the name and what the words start with. His favorite letter is naturally, 'W'.
  • Applesauce if 'appa-pow' and a favorite food.
  • We talk a lot of about eating- 'nama -nam' is yummy. This is mostly reserved for the soup made by his two talented chef grandmas.
  • Levi likes to drink a lot these days- water and milk are at the top, although he would much prefer my coffee. This weekend he ordered apple juice from the waiter as we had happy hour drinks. Can't argue with the kid.
Just milk here
Gotta stay hydrated

 We talk about trains ('choo-choo-tons'), and buses, and beep-beeps a lot. We think Levi might have a future in logistics and transportation one day.
  • Flammable- when papa comes home, we let him sit in the car and pretend to drive.
    • No children were harmed in taking this photo
  • Also flammable- Levi loves walking Chino. We let him do it under close supervision in open parking lots

     That's all we've got for now! We're enjoying our summer so much these days and love the endless energy that comes with it :)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Big T-W-O

I've been absent from blogging for roughly a year, but since this has become my family journal, I wanted to post on sweet Levi's second birthday. So here goes!

Dear Levi,

You're two years old! Two! You throw up your fingers in what looks like a gang sign, but you know you are going to be two. You are so much fun these days- we get a kick out of you every single time you do something and then talk about you after you drift off to sleep. I often think about what we did the day before while I'm at work and I smile, because just the thought of you makes me happy.

Here are some of the things I want to remember about this time:

-You love to scare people. Your Papa taught you how to play 'boo' and you run into the room, yelling 'BOO!' and wait for the person to get scared.

-You are so outgoing- you will interact with just about anyone, particularly regarding the previously mentioned game of boo.

-You love your dog, Chino, so very much. You give him kisses and squeal when he reciprocates. When we drive home and I ask you who is waiting for us, you always say 'awa awa' and are delighted when you see Chino. You take a lot of ownership in taking him on walks and helping to feed him.

-You LOVE being outside. Pushing your own stroller, car, playing with the older neighbor kids, throwing rocks from the little bridge, all acceptable activities. Mama or Papa steering you into another direction or telling you to go outside, or waiting for us to take you outside? Unacceptable.

-You're a very consistent eater- you love grandma's chicken soup, our Trader Joe's European Style Mocha yogurt, cheese, berries, veggie sticks, tomatoes, and cucumbers. If you aren't hungry, you refuse to eat and have been known to throw your food from your throne. Still working on that. You still love drinking milk too. Also working on that.

-You love your family members and recite their names all the time, most recently, saying 'Sasha' and 'Chi Chi' (for Chino). You call out for all of us in the morning when you wake up. Your favorite family member is still Mr. Monkey, whom you play with, take care of, and rock to sleep.

-You love to play with anything with wheels- everything is a truck, and you roll around pushing anything you can on the ground. I hate to gender stereotype, but you are one messy boy- jumping into puddles, messing with dirt to get rocks, and trying to use any tool you can get your hands on.

-Your laugh- oh my goodness. Your laugh erupts from a sweet giggle squeal into a belly laugh and you often get the hiccups from laughing so hard. Your eyes water and you can barely take any more laughter, but continue laughing anyways.

-You want to talk so badly, and you are learning new words each week. You even know some words in English (ball, truck, up, poo poo). You are constantly babbling and use the words you know. I'm sure you are just soaking it up and we'll have an intellectual conversation any day now.

-You're a great traveler and have been on two vacations in the last year and we all have a blast together. Your favorite part is always the water and you usually charm the staff with your conversational skills.

Our sweet Levi, words can't begin to express how much joy you have brought into our lives. It's the most rewarding, challenging, and exhilarating journey being your Mama and Papa and we can't wait to see what else you have in store for us. We love you and welcome you to the Terrific Twos!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Post I Haven't Written - Losing the Baby Weight

I wrote this post and erased it a few times, both in my head and on the blog.  Not that I really had time to write a lot (little people are needy), but I just couldn't find the words.  I think I was just mostly disappointed.  A little disappointed that it was taking too long, and disappointed that I wasn't able to put my full effort into taking care of myself. 

Something happens when you have a baby- it's a bit consuming and for me, it was all consuming.  When before, I could work out 7 days a week, I was now left with 3-4 days tops, if I could get out of the house with a little guy who needed to eat every 2 hours and I was his food source.  Between a very stressful job, my commute, and adjusting to life as a new mom, weight loss was not my top priority.

Slowly but surely, Levi became a bit older and finally stopped eating in such short intervals and I was able to get away a bit more.  I really hit my stride with workouts at about 8 months after the baby and really only did one yoga/pilates class a week, one Zumba class, and 2 sessions by myself combining cardio and strength training. I also walked the dog with the stroller at least 5 times a week, sometimes twice, and we always had family hikes.

Now looking back on the pictures, it's not a big deal and I know a lot of my feelings were influenced by a lot of outside pressure. My body grew and nourished a baby for 2 years and I'm really proud of myself.  My next mini goal is getting to a healthier and stronger me by my 30th birthday (just a short 6 months away).  As always, I'm open to any questions.

Here is my story in pictures:

Almost 42 weeks pregnant (that means really, really late), and up 35 healthy pounds

Home from the hospital, down 23 lbs by the time I came home. The baby was 8 pounds of the weight I gained 

About 3 months post-baby. Weight stood still with 12 more pounds to lose. I had to go to a wedding and felt pretty icky, but found a dress to hid the bump remnants, kinda.

About 7 months post-baby. I was down 5 pounds and had 7 more to go

9 months after baby- down another 2 pounds, with 5 more to go
About 10.5 months later, almost at goal weight, but a lot of toning to do.
My last official belly shot, about 1 year after baby- back to starting weight.

13 months after baby on the left, and 15 months on the right

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Levi is One!

I think I'm supposed to begin this with the typical wonderment of how fast time goes by. It does, it really does!  Our sweet boy is one today.

365 days in captivity with us.

There have been a few bumps in the road, some learning opportunities, and some tears from both of us, but we have made it!

Dear Levi,

You are one!  You are such a big, big boy! You are crawling like a pirate, cruising on furniture, pulling up on everything, and getting ready to walk any day now! Please learn to walk on a weekend or evening so that mama and papa can see you walk!

You are an awesome little soul- assertive, happy, giggly, boisterous, and silly!

You are still working on your foodie status and want to eat foods by yourself a lot. We let you try most of the time and realize that most of it will be found on the floor, but you love exploring new textures. We have made it to a year of nursing and I'm so proud of myself since I can lack follow through in a lot of areas of life, but I was determined to get here.

We have been venturing out to do more activities with you. You are a big fan of slides, anything with doors that can be opened and shut, and recently, the indoor playground.

You are easy to please. Sunglasses are a new passion of yours. You use any means necessary to take them off of papa's face and put them on your own. Obviously you rock them.

You are wearing 12 month and 12 - 18 month clothing. We won't know your exact height and weight, but you are around 23 lbs and 29 inches tall.  You also have 7 big teeth!  And those cheeks! Amazing cheeks!

You have formed an amazing bond with your papa. You guys have so much fun together playing, reading, or spinning in circles. He helps you explore the house and taught you how to crawl up and down the stairs. He still loves to carry you in the Ergo and you love snuggling up to him.  He is such a good father to you.

The two of us? Well, I like to think we have formed a great bond.  I wasn't so sure about how this motherhood thing would work out.  I wasn't sure if I would succeed and if I could handle it.  Thank you for being so flexible with me, for letting me learn with you, and for being extra bendy and durable the first year.  We made it!

You are my single greatest accomplishment. I know it's very non-feminist of me to say so, but there is nothing more fulfilling than being your mama. You light up the world and I think I can now see the world in color.

We are all so proud of you- we love you to pieces! I'm so excited for you to discover the world, baby boy!

Love you with all my heart,

"On the night you were born,
the moon shone with such wonder
that the stars peeked in
to see you
and the night wind whispered,
'Life will never be the same.'
Because there had never been
anyone like you...
ever in the world."

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

9 and 10 Month Letter to Levi

Dear Levi,

Mama is a slacker and couldn't get her act together, but here is your 9 and 10 month letter.  You, my friend, are an awesome little guy. I've been around a lot of babies and kids and you just top the list. 

We took you on vacation with grandma Elena and grandpa Stan in March and you were such a good little boy! You loved splashing in the pool, eating the local food (lots of yogurt, fruit, bread and cheese), and made lots of friends with the restaurant staff my yelling 'mamaaaa' with your little baby Spanish accent.

You even started crawling for the first time in the big king size bed we shared on the trip! You are moving more and more now and started pulling yourself up last week and love to stand and bang on the coffee table with papa, or look out at us from your baby jail.  You do baby situps whenever we try to change your diaper and you are a man on a mission. You want to go, go, go and don't sit still very much these days.

You love your toys- you have a stuffed monkey and you love your puppy. Their tails are your favorite part and you usually give them a hug as soon as you see them and them proceed to bite their nose and tails for good measure.  You also love taking baths, walks, and seeing all your friends and big cousin at Baba and Deda's house.

You and your papa are great friends!  Papa loves walking with you in the carrier and reads to you in Russian all the time.  He also hangs out with you while I hit the gym and you boys have your man time without me being in the way. 

Food has now become one of your favorite things. I keep trying to expand your menu with more greens and fruits and you seem to take after your big brother Chino and love carbs and cheese. Some of your favorite foods are yogurt, cheese, banana, waffles, pancakes, grandma's chicken soup and cottage cheese, applesauce, pears, cucumbers. You will try almost anything, but will often spit it out as soon as it hits your lips.  It's a good thing you have your brother Chino to help clean up.  I am still providing your milk for you, and while it's a struggle, we are still going strong with nursing and I'm pumping as much as I can.

You are wearing some 9 month and mostly 12 month clothing.  At your 9 month appointment, you weighed 22 lb 10 oz (80th percentile) and were 28.25 in tall (50%). Your head circumference is in the 70th percentile (18.5 in).  You are now sporting almost 5 teeth, 3 of which started sprouting once you turned 10 months and have been working their way through your gums for a couple of weeks now.

2 month and 10 month comparison

My favorite thing about you is your smile!  We joke around and say that you have a little elephant or dolphin smile because it is so wide and genuine.  You will giggle more often now and it is the cutest sound, next to your babbling.  You are quite vocal and say 'mama, baba, dada, papa' and other babbling sounds.  You are a very happy baby and I get stopped while we are out in public with you so people can look at you and tell me how cute you are :)

You are getting so close to your first birthday, my sweet little bear! I just can't believe it!  You are my little sidekick when I am home and I love spending time with you. Sometimes I can't believe you are all mine (OK, I share you with your papa) and that we have this beautiful little family.  I cherish every moment with you and nothing makes me happier than seeing you grow and discover things, even though I get a little sad that you are getting so big. 

I love you more than I can describe in words and then some more on top of that.