Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What the boys like to do on nice spring days...

Swing shirtless,

Practice muscle-showing,

Play Perch-the-Chick,
Practice not Freaking out over little baby chick pecks which, I can assure you,
do NOT hurt in the slightest.

Swing with a pretty girl--even if she is your sister,

Anything involving sticks. Here they are guns complete with sound effects.
(and just so you know that I am not a negligent parent,
I did tell Vitali not to chase people with sticks after making sure I got a good shot.),

"Picking" flowers (another stick activity),
See? Ivy got her flowers! Thank you, Vitali!

Pose nicely for your mom who is always waving that camera around,
Take the chick for a ride in the wagon and the dump truck at the same time...
I could go on and on. :-)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Simple matters of perspective...

We ate pizza in the car this evening while we were out doing this and that. I handed Misha's piece back to him and a moment later he complained, "Mama, My pizza is stuck!"

"Where?!" I asked him.

"Down there--" (pointing to the floor) "I did not drop it!" Was the reply.

"Well, How did it get there?"

Quickly came the reply, "It just fall down!"

"From where?" (can you tell I was suspicious?)

"My hand."

Oh. Well, at least he didn't drop it...

And then this one:

The boys were playing a game together when Misha came to me with a mournful wail, "Mamaaa, Max is cheater!" and then he proceeded to tell me more detail of Max's transgression. In the distance I could hear Max piping up, "Misha! You did it too!"

So I asked the poor puppy dog eyes and the wringing hands in front of me, "Misha, did you do it too?"

He tried to keep the soulful expression on his face but knew it was too late. "Yes." And with a sheepish grin he headed back happily to play with the others. I just put my head down and laughed!

Maybe you had to be there...


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Chicken experiment: Day 6

(Max is looking up to watch for hawks and eagles.)

I am very pleased with the difference we already see in Misha. I wish I could tell you more specifically what we see but it is such a slight shift that it would be difficult to explain. I am hoping that this brief encounter with 'parenting' will continue to be a good chance for us to teach compassion and concern for others.

Misha is doing a great job with his chick! Steve and I were in bed last night and we could hear Indiana Jones peeping loudly. (He has really turned up the volume now) Just then, Papa Misha called out from his dark bedroom, "Indiana Zhone, be quiet, go sleep!" Haha. Unruly children do need to be told to quiet down at bedtime, after all!

Misha often runs out to the kitchen or wherever I am to find me and report on Indiana. "My Chick is drinking a lot water!" "My Chick is eating food!" He doesn't bat an eyelash at cleaning out Chick's home, either.

The warm weather these last couple of days (which has disappeared today) meant Indiana could chase us around the yard. We were hoping Misha would be his favorite but he doesn't seem to care who runs past him, he'll just dash off after them, tiny wings at the ready and little orange legs doing their surprisingly speedy chicken dance across the lawn.

(Ivy, Max, and Indiana Jones--who is enjoying his flower bouquets immensely)

(Ivy is offering Indiana a drink from her teacup. A moment after this picture was taken,
she turned around and said, "Oh no! All my tea is gone!")

His first day outside, Indiana ate a tiny worm, this meant that three more worms were dug up by eager volunteers and presented to Indiana. Another tiny victory here is that Misha surprised even himself by announcing that he is no longer afraid of worms! The second day outside, Indiana just wanted to run and run and run. So we did. Today, he went out for three minute sessions but at the third re-entry into the house his little chicken feet were shivering so I think it is just too cold!

I think Misha is making progress in some small ways. I see him mimic what Steve and I do with our children. For instance, the first night Indiana Jones was here, Steve prayed with the boys in their beds and then suggested that Misha should pray with his baby. Misha hurried out to the living room and knelt beside the box he had helped us prepare for Indiana and prayed with him. The next night, I tucked the boys in and prayed with them. Misha sat up as I was going out of the room and said, "Mama, I do not pray mine little chick!" I just told him that he could lay in his bed and pray for him tonight and that is what he did. But the next night, on his own, Misha made sure to pray with Indiana as soon as he got his PJ's on. He didn't want to miss out on that very important part of parenting. We take every opportunity to say things like, "that is good, Misha, babies like to be held and cuddled by their papas." or "What a good papa you are to check on your baby so often!" --and he does, too!

Tonight, Misha handed Indy to Steve before he went off to clean the box. Indy peeped a little. "Oh!" Misha deduced, "He afraid! It's okay little chick..." It is something to notice because he showed genuine concern and tried to evaluate the emotions of little Indiana. More progress.

Also, before we left for church last night, Vitali called to Misha, "Misha, let's go to the car!"
Misha looked very sternly at Vitali and scolded, "I was saying goodbye to my chick!"
And he had been for a while. I had heard him over there, not 'performing' for me to hear (I wasn't all that nearby), but just explaining to Indiana Jones about what he was going to do that evening: go to church, eat pizza, come home again...

Indiana was listening intently the whole time. I think he was taking notes. It's hard to tell because his writing looks like chicken scratch.


Monday, March 09, 2009


In an effort to develop a better sense of caring and compassion in our middle boy, Misha (7), we have gone and gotten him a little fluffy, delicate, high-maintenance pet.
A baby chick.
What could be cuter?

Misha has come so far from his early trips to our friend's farm where he would shrink in terror at the mere thought of holding anything living regardless of its fluffy cuteness. And, by the way, when I say, 'shrink in terror'? I mean it, okay?!

One thing Misha is much better at is self-control. By this I mean that, even though dogs no longer make him terrified but just simply very nervous, he hides it well. He may even pet the dog or comment on its adorableness but he would never do either of those things without an adult that he wants to impress present. He is the same way with people-babies, incidentally. (not afraid of people babies, though. Just weirded-out by them. He truly doesn't see what all the fuss is about!)

Anyway, because we want to teach him to not only be "un-scared" of animals and just "un-weirded-out" by babies, we had this idea that a baby chick might be just the thing to foster some independence and compassionate thinking in Misha.

Frankly, I don't care if he loves animals. I don't want him to hate them, though. I also want him to be comfortable with and even to truly enjoy babies and small children. This little exercise seems a great chance for us to talk directly about things with him and to train him individually in the area of caring for others less able than himself.

We let him pick the chick from our friends Tami and Chuck's chick brooder. It was newly hatched but fluffy. There were several different varieties but Misha had little interest and pointed quickly to a fluffy yellow little guy(or girl).

Chick and a bit of starter feed in hand, we thanked our friends and headed off to Walmart to get a clamp-light, a thermometer and a newspaper. In the car, Misha was holding the chick obediently and even with a nice artificial smile until I said to him, "hold your little chick closely, Misha, he needs to be warm. You are his papa now, you know."

Misha's eyes lit up a bit and he wriggled little Indiana Jones (that's is the chick's name) closer to his chest. Progress.

Indiana Jones is still doing well a few days later. Misha was outside teaching him to follow his PapaMisha through the grass. Indiana enjoyed pecking at the lawn and Misha enjoyed watching him. I am hoping that this really makes some headway into the mind of our little boy who has spent the bulk of his life practicing self-preservation and perfecting his charm in order to be as far at the top of the "pecking" order as possible. While we are glad to see that some of these behaviors have been modified, we know that he is just mostly obeying us and that real change will have to come from his heart. Hopefully, Indiana Jones will awaken that part of Misha and allow him to more fully experience his life.

Oh. And, to celebrate our new addition--Look what we had for dinner.

Maybe the fact that we found this funny is partly why he still has compassion issues...
.......naaah. I doubt that.