Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Ground (parental) control to Major Zoe

December 2nd, 2012 | admin

We know now why parents get that worried look in their eyes when they hear the weather forecast predicting heavy rain on the weekend. After a few hours cooped up at home with a toddler, survival instincts kick in and wallets open.   This weekend we had a major rainstorm which reportedly flooded our former neighborhood (the Mission) but would have been quite nice in Alameda if we didn’t have to deal with Z’s mega energy.  After the internal resources (playdough, books, playing trains, sand and water table, watching trains, playing hide and seek, playing baby car (cardboard box goes a long way), and saving Pilot and Pixel countless times from Zoe’s eager embraces) were exhausted, we loaded up our energetic bundle of joy into the car and went to Chabot Space and Science museum.

What a find!  Great space, great location, not crowded like Calacademy, but not empty either, and lots of hands-on things to do for kids and adults!  An eager high-schooler showed us to to make a comet from scratch (in case we ever have to); we have discovered that gravity exhibits attract both coins AND toddlers; and David got to try some of the workout machines that astronauts use for training, adding on to his well-balanced series of toddler-lifting exercises.


Next to the old Soviet landing capsule (1960s?) It seems so small..


… and inside it looks just like my dad’s Soviet-made car “Zhiguli” from 1982! I think I even recognize some parts. Ha!


David and Zoe are landing us on the Moon. Pilot’s a bit rusty and co-pilot is seems trigger-happy. Hmm…


Zoe is not impressed with the achievements in space exploration.


This is Major Zoe to Ground Control: “No I will not put on the shoes and the jacket! And where is my paci? Over.”


Star gazing with Papa David


Up up up on the stairs!

August 2012 Recap

September 9th, 2012 | admin

Another cold summer month just went by… While waiting for the Indian summer to begin, we took trips to East Bay to visit the Little Farm and the Steam Train, to Marin (Children’s Discovery Museum), and even Alameda where we are hoping to end up in a few months to escape the fog, crowds, crime, and prices of San Francisco.

Zoe’s canine teeth are finally out, and now she is working on her expanding vocabulary. Her brain is working overtime, it’s very hard for her to go to sleep, she keeps rehashing things she saw or experienced earlier that day.  She just began to stich words together (Mama Dai, Papa Voda, Cat Claw, Happy Puppy, Baby Go).  She also just started singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Start (either that, or the almost identically sounding Russian lullaby), making up words as she goes.  She uses her triumphant call ‘Baby!’ every time she does something important (it’s hilarious).  She learned to jump off the floor.  She spins trying to imitate me dance, and eventually loses her balance and falls on her thankfully well-cushioned behind.  She has learned a firm ‘No!’ but no “Yes’ yet.  She is definitely hitting her ‘terrible twos’ early and is working hard on establishing her independence. It’s fun and exciting to watch, and is also hard to deal with sometimes.  She recognized the word “cat” on a “Wildcat Canyon Park” outside.  That I couldn’t really believe at first, but she was pointing at the second part of the word “wildcat” saying ‘cat’ and ‘meow’.  She clearly understands pretty much everything we say in both languages.

All in all, August has been a month of major developments, and we are holding our breath to see what September brings (fractions?  quantum physics?  Riverdance?!)

Here are some photos from the last month..

Posing for Papa in front of one of the rare brick walls in San Francisco.


Riding her Trumpette CaCaCaCow


Dinnertime. Z no longer wants to be spoon-fed. Very independent type!


More dinner shots… cause we have’em!


Parading in now-too-small camping bunting before I packed it away for the time being


These are not the neon-colored droids you are looking for, baby.


Mom’s attempt at taking an artistic photo. Of course, she’ll blame it on the iphone camera and the fidgety model..


An iconic photo with the Golden Gate Bridge. After visiting the Children’s Discovery Museum in Sausalito and spending a couple of relaxing (not really) hours with Brad, Monica, and Max playing with rubber fish in the stream and making good use of the toddler playroom.


More iconic footage. Zoe is not impressed with our overly touristy approach to creating photo memories.


The girls got themselves a new kitchen furnished by.. some toy company. It is actually pretty cool, has all kinds of compartments, plates and utensils, pots and pans (if you put them on the stove, the light comes up and makes bubbling noises), and fake food. Nanny Ripa, being the executive chef in this establishment, directs her line cooks.


As the dinner time nears, it can get hectic in the kitchen. All (plump little) hands on deck!


The new restaurant operated smoothly for the record 3 days, before the line cooks scattered all the kitchen-related items across their playroom and moved on to the bigger and better things (Olya’s cats).


Once in a rare while, the stars line up just so, and Zoe decides maybe yogurt is not a disgusting poisonous substance that her parents are trying to trick her into, after all.


She decides to give it a go, and to her pleasant surprise, discovers dabudabus (berries) at the bottom of the container.


Additionally, yogurt turned out to be a great material to be spread thinly over one’s face, hair, pajamas, table, and parents.


My clients and cofounders think that I do all my work. Little do they know that I have been employing elves.


We are not impressed with your latest performance. We think you can do better than that. We also need to talk about that brushing teeth every night thing. This has GOT to stop.


As a friend put it, short little bosses that can’t reach their keyboard are the toughest. I cannot agree more, especially when it comes to changing their diapers and getting them into the carseat. I am sure taller bosses that can reach the floor with their feet are much more agreeable there.


Watching baby ostriches at the Cal Academy. At 10 days old, they are so much more capable than human babies. They are practically flightless bird teenagers!


En route to nyanya’s. Zoe’s first peach eaten whole (not cut up into small pieces). Of course, by the end of the commute and the peach, all her clothes had to be changed and everything else had to be washed. But nonetheless!


They are busy people, those tots. Starting the day bright and early by sitting under the little piano. Because nothing makes a morning better than… well, doings something like that.


Zoe takes Papa to the sandbox. He always wanted to go, so why not, after all. Here he can socialize with other dads for a little while, get some fresh air and such..


So being stupid first-timers, we let our strongheaded daughter run around a stationary car. She immediately climbs into the driver’s seat and methodically presses all the buttons. For about 20 minutes, nothing can extract her from the car. Then we go in and forget about it.
Fastforward 2 days. It’s the street cleaning day, and we have to move the car by 9am. David runs out at 9:10, attempts to start the car, and realizes that the battery is flat because SOMEONE HAS TURNED ON ALL THE LIGHTS INSIDE THE CAR!
Well, we said to ourselves, we wouldn’t repeat THAT mistake.
Yesterday we decided to spend a nice weekend afternoon by taking a family hike. We packed our bags, loaded the very excited dog in the car, and attempted to put Zoe into her carseat. Well, that didn’t work. An hour and many failed attempts later, we abandoned the plan and retreated back home. She would not sit in her seat, she wanted to drive. Now we just hope that next time we actually HAVE to go somewhere in the car, we can distract her long enough to fasten those belts and keep her down. With luck…


Ms. Z is taking her imaginary baby on a stroll.


Z’s bedroom window. Someone is not sleepy.


The photographer has been spotted!



Hey you in the kitchen! How’s life?


Riding what we’ve identified as a granite wombat in the courtyard of the Cal Academy


On xylophone: Zoe Marks.


Z is giving a free concert at the Children’s Discovery Museum in Marin


Driving Ms. Zoe. Actually, Ms. Zoe is driving another Ms. Zoe, another Zoe toddler who lives on our very short street. There are 5 toddler Zoes in the radius of 5 blocks from where we live. Clearly, it’s the name of the decade!


At a playground


Playground again, eating a blueberry muffin that mama baked. Strange things like that happen sometimes these days (mama actually baking muffins and Zoe actually eating them).

June-July 2012 – Recap

July 22nd, 2012 | admin

Crazy month!  Or two.  Quick recap:

– went camping with 3 other parent/toddler teams in June to Big Basin.  A campsite crawling with toddlers immediately became the hot spot for all the squirrels and raccoons.  Because, as we now know, there is nothing like a bunch of toddlers to turn the pristine woodsy environment into a mess of food elements.  Luckily there were no bears.

– in Sequoia NP, however, there definitely WERE bears, and our second camping trip (with Olya, Aaron, and Tali) was spent mainly trying to keep the food particles off the campground and toddlers away from the campfire.  In the end, bears chose another campsite to pillage at night, but we did ge a visit from deer and a very well-fed marmot.

– we are thinking of moving to the East Bay seriously now.  Everything in our neighborhood, save our nannyshare and friends, sort of came to its natural conclusion for us.  It’s too hip, too loud, and our apartment is too small.  In a few years we would be in a hard spot trying to get Z into a good school.  So the writing is on the wall.  The market is tough though, and we are having hard time finding anything suitable in the areas that we like within our budget.  But we just started the search, so we are hopeful.

– etc.

So, without further ado, here is the avalanche of summer pictures:

Zoe is trying on the backpack before the camping trip. To carry Dada on her back. (Dada could not be reached for comments).


Quick snack at the SF Zoo in early June


Zoe is walking Pilot, who obliges, like a (dog) gentleman that he is.


… And they walked into the sunset…


Baby wagon was a big hit during the Big Basin camping. Turns out you can put 3 toddlers in it and have 1 adult drag it around to the delight of the rest of the parents who can sit around the fire and drink their beer in peace. I mean, to the delight of the said toddlers. To everyone’s delight!


We come in peace. Give us all your blueberries.


Don’t you ever interrupt her when she’s reading a book!


Bumming around the tent is half of the fun during camping!


Polar baby just woke up.


See above re: bumming around the tent.


bunting fashion this season is all about bright colors. so that bears do not confuse you for something edible.


Hiking up to a waterfall in Sequoia NP. Stopped to dip the tired feeties into the water puddles on the granite river bed.


Can this be the sign that we should move to Rockridge? (this is in Rockridge)


The Crew.


Out and about




Anti-Olya’s visit


Our mini-computer genius. Adding up eggs and balloons on her “Apple” (that’s what she calls iPad. It was one of her first words. Scary or fascinating?)


Brave explorers. Looking at a waterfall (possibly posing).


Oh, the places they went!




David, Zoe, and the granite Watchtower formations in Sequoia


Hello? Hello?


Hello? Zoe speaking. Sorry if it’s a bit hard to understand, I have a pacifier in my mouth. What? No, I can’t take it out. Nope. Not an option.


The Blueberry Gang


…and the Blueberry Gang dealer


Warm day in Dolores Park


She is going… over there.


Definitely over there.


Girls’ Night Out!


Well, looks like no toddler boys made it to the Kiddo Disco… will you dance with me?


Give it up for the DJ, who looked totally nonplussed despite having a crowd of 2(!) toddlers(!) to entertain!


BEAR!!!! Oh wait.. it’s Zoe.


…or a bear? hard to tell.


Fine dining menu included onions and beets.


Dinner time


Dining out in style


Point Reyes. Beach day.


Beachgoers wear sunglasses and dresses with frills


David’s artsy balloon photo… love this one! It looks like it belongs in Z’s favorite books about balloons that Honni gave her. The only book she sits through patiently, pointing out at EVERY balloon in it!


My little balloonmaster on Linda Street, after lunch at the cheese place on Valencia.

May 2012 Recap

May 28th, 2012 | admin

Been too busy to keep up with weekly updates.  But here are some highlights from May, including a visit to The Little Farm and the steam train in Tilden park, the San Francisco Zoo, and just some local fun in Dolores Park (new playground -yay!) and at home with the mammals.

Hello Baa! Z absolutely LOVED the visit to The Little Farm. She fearlessly fed celery sticks to cows and sheep and threw a huge tantrum when it was time go to home and leave her new hoofed friends.


Peering at the sheepies


Very intriguing!


Z wouldn't let go of the fence (sheep and goats on the other side)


Here, Baa, take this celery!


Clinging to the fence for dear life. 30 sec to the tantrum and counting!


Mama no take me from moo cowssssss!!!!!!


WHERE are the MOO COWS???!!




Zoe in her bath ship


At Foreign Cinema - brunch with Rama (Z is picking items from the menu.. sort of)


At the grilled cheese place on Valencia


Z decided that it's her job to pick up various pieces of fluff and dirt and to give them to us with the victorious shout "KAKA!!!"


At home with Pilot


Zoe in her office


The Artiste at work


Z and P in Dolores Park


Dolores Park


Rolling on the grass with Papa


Trip to Half Moon Bay


Go there!


Point Reyes


Exploring a creek at a beach in Point Reyes


The quintessential Z. Off she goes.


Back to Papa for a quick hug


Mama, you are using the camera wrong! Let me show you.

Happy Mother’s Day!

May 13th, 2012 | admin

Zoe prepared an exhibit of her selected work for all mothers and grandmothers this year. Please visit her gallery here:

Young Artist's Mother's Day Exhibit 2012

The Gene Whirlpool

March 29th, 2012 | admin

I LOVE looking at old photos. When I was a kid, rummaging through our messy plastic bag of black-and-white photos was my favorite activity. I would ask my mom to tell me stories about all these 2-dimensional people in funny clothes, kids especially, and to repeat them again and again. Not sure why nobody had bothered to put the photos in an album, but it was even more fun for me this way – not knowing which photo would come up next.  I have a few of them here at home , mostly kid photos of me and my brother, and they are fading fast.  I should really have them scanned since there are no duplicates, no film, no way to reproduce them if they get lost.

But I digress.

People constantly tell us that Zoe looks like one of us.   They tend to take a firm stance and to defend their position with vigor.  They take it personally if we don’t immediately agree with them.  Sometimes they have unexpected ulterior motives.  For example, my mom would never in the world admit that Zoe looks anything like me, even if she was my double, because of the silly Russian superstition that girls who look like their dads are lucky in life.  Strangers often come up to me on the street to compliment Z’s stunning blue eyes, then they look up into my face, evidently expecting to see the same trait and having the follow-up compliment ready, and then they pause and say:”..oh..”.

I cannot see myself in Z at all, though I see lots of David, especially when Zoe smiles or is in the process of planning a mischief (thank you, David, for contributing the mischievous gene which keeps us happily occupied these days).

Often it’s easier to see similarities when people are close in age, so here are photos of three 8-month olds.  What do you think?

Zoe at 8 months... LOOOONG time ago! A bit of a ghetto look here.

David on his trike, with plump ballerina feet. Confidently biking... over there. Not sure how old he is exactly, I am guessing between 10 and 12 months?

Me at 8 months, first picture ever taken. Yes, I look like a penguin.

The Avalanche Part Deux: Rainy Days

March 21st, 2012 | admin

Ready to go out into the rain.

Almost ready...

Not as ready as mama would have hoped...

Wait, just one more thing!

Oh, and let's not forget to chew on that bulb thingy before we go. It's important.

Alright, Ms. Mischief, now it's really time to go. No, seriously. Like, now.

Umbrellas are also a lot of fun. When used upside down.

This reminds me of that illustration in the Winnie the Pooh book where Christopher Robin and Winnie are sailing in an umbrella..

...This one here. Pilot can be Pooh.

On cold rainy days, Z travels in style, under mega umbrella, wrapped in cozy sweaters.

The Infamous 2012 Baby Photos Avalanche…

March 20th, 2012 | admin

…is on its way!

Before Z’s grandparents disown us for the lack of visual documentation of Z’s progress, I am going to stop pretending that one day I will sit down and neatly write stories about each picture.  It just won’t happen.  And the longer I don’t do it, the higher is the probability of it never happening. So I am just going to dump them all in a flash flood-like manner, clear the backlog, and THEN start with the clean slate.. hopefully.

Ready?  Here it comes!

Z's bath has become a fun routine of trying to catch her exiting the bath before she actually exits the bath.

Zoe meets a canine her size (Luna)


She quickly climbs into Luna's bed and nationalizes Luna's toys


Ready... set... ..... ......... oh, I got distracted and forgot to throw the ball.


Nyanya and Zoe


Oh hai!


Blowing a kiss


Bubble bubble bubble bubble yellow fish blue fish bubble


Duckface or skip?...


Dancing Queen

February 26th, 2012 | admin

This morning, while I was on Skype with my parents, Z walked over to her music cube, turned it on, and started dancing.  WTH?!  Where and when did she even learn that?!  Her dance moves look a bit like the alien dance from the old Russian sci-fi movie Kindzadza, but it’s dancing nonetheless.

Ok, while I am getting over these news, she points at her hairbrush, I give it to her thinking that she’ll just swing it on the floor or something, but she proceeds to brush her hair.  By now I am barely breathing.  Is my child some kind of a baby genius, a salvation for the human race, our only hope, like Obi Wan??!  I am seeing news headlines, breaking news TV reports disrupting regular programming, hordes of paparazzi outside of our building.  Our normal life will be ruined.  We’d have to move to Canada. Or something.

And then she moves in for the kill.  She points at the screen and says “Baba” (grandma in Russian). Ok, I can handle that.  Then as a response to my standard question ‘where is Mama?’ she gives me back a sign for Mama from ASL.  What?!  And then to answer a question “where is Zoe”, she taps herself on the chest.

Or dear. What’s next??!

Walk in The Park and a Playdate with Tia Andrea

January 29th, 2012 | admin

Despite our impressive collection of respiratory ailments, Z is making great progress at becoming more mobile.  She doesn’t just walk now – she runs.  And I dutifully trot behind her when we are outside on a playground, hoping to prevent an inevitable face plant or avert a consumption of an old baby carrot left on the ground by an older kid.  My spine is acquiring a bridge-like shape, my knees are bent and arms extended in an almost pleading manner. I probably look like Gollum if he wore jeans and had hair. Yesterday we decided to go to a ‘grown-up’ park and went to Dolores.  Z had to wear her ‘grown-up’ shoes with real soles.  The outing was very quick as Z decided that no one would stand between her and the cigarette butts/beer bottle caps… I mean treasures found in the grass. Not to mention that it’s a warm weekend, so hipsters make sure the park grass is sufficiently marinated in beer.  Not super baby-friendly.

My Fair Lady on her first walk in Dolores Park

Then we got hit by a tennis ball from the nearby court (the ball got my leg inches away from Z’s head), so we retreated to our backyard to continue our good weather outing:

Backyard explorer

Here’s Z exploring the grounds.  The exploration is halted by backwards, science-averse people (ahem) preventing brave explorers from tasting the new plant species.  Progress is never easy!  Here is a video of the brave explorer.

Today one of Z’s favorite people came to visit – Tia Andrea!  Happy Z lured Andrea to a playground and enlisted her to assist on swings and slides:

Higher, higher!! Weeeeeeeee!....


Some more of the swinging fun here.