Friday, October 3, 2014

15 More Sleeps.....

It has been a truly glorious September here in Kyiv.  It has not been warm but the sun has been out for a vast majority of the days and Maria, Enzo and I have enjoyed many pleasant hours in the parks near our apartment.  What a change from last September when all I remember is rain.  Paolo has been working harder than ever.  His big project is ending and with that comes constant travel and meetings.  We will ALL be glad when it is over.  And then, finally, Paolo can think about where we might want to go next.
Paolo leaves next week for Washington.  Gio, Maria and I will join him the following week (in 15 more sleeps!).  I am dreading the trip itself but cannot wait to be in the USA for two weeks.  There is a LOT of practical stuff we must do (dentist, pediatrician, Maria urologist, school visits, etc) but in between all of that we have so many friends and family to see and favorite spots to visit (Montrose Park, Starbucks, 5 Guys Burgers, Surfside......).  We also must prepare for that all-important US holiday- HALLOWEEN!!!
Meanwhile, here are some images from the last few weeks here in Kyiv...

Cats are weird.
Gio sometimes takes a break from his "big boy" Legos to play with Maria's set. 
Photo sent from Gio's teacher.  Gio takes his snack time very seriously.
She did not report if he cleaned this all up!
Yep, the project is a big one.  Even the paper it is written on is gigantic!

Just a typical morning at home.  Pepper is always near Maria (but not too near!).
Enzo just waits by the door for the next chance to go out. 
When Maria is napping Pepper finds other places to hang out. 
It never stops amazing me how men dress here in Kyiv.  
A Sunday afternoon spent mushroom hunting (with no luck as it had not rained in nearly a month!).
Someone developed a new love for oranges.
She also developed a new habit of waking at 5AM each and EVERY morning. 
I find it less amusing than she does. 
Milk Bar...again.  Gio now goes behind the bar to supervise his milkshake making.

Hair-styling by Gio!

Some bedtime reading. 
Gio's team for a community building project.  They created their own TV station (the boxes behind).
On the slide!

Yes, we are at Milk Bar again!

Maria went from no mobility at the beginning of this month to speed crawling in two weeks.  Her favorite destination if I take my eyes off her for a minute?  Pepper's food.  

Pepper is less than thrilled with this new development.
This week Paolo came to talk to all of the K/1 classes about his job and how he contributes to the community.  
He talked about the hospitals that he tries to make better.  The children then all had stories about the times they have been to the hospital.  It was a lively discussion!

I hope that October has started well for all of you!  Next post from USA!!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Back in Kyiv to Start Year 5 (gasp!)

Yep.  Back in Kyiv to start year 5.  Really hard to believe it has been so long.  Gio was not even 2 when we moved here.

It has been an easy return to life in Ukraine.  The weather has been spectacular, school began without a hitch (Gio LOVES Kindergarten!) and only dear Pepperoni seems very unhappy to be back.  Poor cat is quite depressed to be apartment-bound after a blissful summer of freedom to roam outside.

Gio is in a combined K-1 class this year.  This happened suddenly at the end of the summer due in part to the crisis here in Ukraine which meant many many families chose not to return to Kyiv.  With the school enrollment down over 80 children some budget cuts needed to be made.  When the new Kindergarten teacher decided not to move here at the last minute the decision was made to combine the Kindergartens and 1st grades into three K-1 classrooms.  We are thrilled with the arrangement as Gio has always gravitated to older children but there has certainly been some unrest at the school, especially among the 1st grade families.  I understand their concerns but I am a big fan of multi-age classrooms and the three teachers at PSI who are tackling this challenge are truly excellent.  Gio was lucky enough to get Ms. Nicole who was his preschool teacher last year so the transition to "big kid" school was especially easy for him.

Right now he is obsessed with math, loves his daily reading homework and has even found a girl version of himself- a new 1st grader in his class.  They have become best friends and spend every snack time together.  Adorable.

On the flight back from Italy.  Yep, those cheeks have not deflated in the slightest.  Poor girl has been battling some heavy teething pain almost constantly since July.  It took two months for her 4 molars to come in and now she has two lower incisors making their debut.  We will BOTH be relieved when teething slows down for a bit.  Hopefully that will be soon as she now has 12 teeth.  Seems like enough for now!

Second day back in Kyiv and I feel instantly back to "reality".  Here men are obsessed with mesh shirts.  It was about 60F on the day I saw this gem in front of me on the metro.  I will spare you the front view (think lots of chest hair poking through.).

As we had 3 days to wait before our boys returned to Kyiv (road trip!), Maria and I had
a lot of time to reacquaint ourselves with our neighborhood....
...and to rediscover toys.
Maria was missing her brother a lot.  
Poor Gio arrived late on Monday night and early Tuesday morning we were off to the first day of school.
I am not sure if this look is nerves or sheer exhaustion.

Gio and I have special Mamma-Gio time where we do Legos together.  We started off September with a big haunted house project.  We work on it when Maria naps and before bed.  Pepper ALWAYS come to join us.  We suspect his love of Legos come from his time with his first family, the McDougals, who were Lego maniacs!
And when he is not on the Lego table he likes to snooze in Gio's pjs.  
Gio had his first fancy hair cut.  This might have been the very first time in his life that his hair was properly washed.  
Pepper's newest veggie obsession?  Corn.  
Sometimes entertaining a 1-year-old can be challenging.
Fortunately the washing machine works every time.  

This is the gang from ECU that moved up together into Ms. Nicole's class.
They still spend much of recess together.  I adore this gang.  (The two surrounding Gio are twins!)

First ever brother-sister bath!
Papa walk
Maria never lacks for company at her meals. 
She feeds Enzo directly.  He does not object.  Pepper just steals directly from her plate.  He is a bit naughty.
First a bite for me....
...then a nose tickle....
...and then some for you....
Maria became mobile this week.  After 13 months of being able to set her down and finding her in the same spot when I looked again, suddenly I have to really keep my eye on her!  Fortunately her crawl is still very slow.  One favorite destination: our magnetic garbage can.  

Baby swings really do not exist here.  Maria had done more than a few face plants in the sand before I finally had the idea to use a bungee cord to tie her in.  Now we can enjoy swinging again!

We had our first book club of the year.  I have been a member of this group since I moved to Kyiv.  In the typical way of ex-pat life, only 3 of us remain from the original group I joined in 2010.  Luckily there are always terrific new people to invite into our crowd.  This month we read "Orphan Master's Son."
I adore this group.
It is always a highlight of every month (and one of the few times all month
that I get to be without little ones for 2 solid hours!).
Breakfast smile.
More Lego time (with Pepper, of course).
Gio came home on Friday very very excited about his new math toolkit.  He has spent much of the weekend playing the games inside.  As a former math teacher I am thrilled to see this enthusiasm for numbers!

This is all I have to report for now.  In early October Paolo heads to DC for the Bank's annual meetings.  Gio, Maria and I will join him on October 18th for a two week stay.  It is hard to believe I have been away from the USA for a full year!  I cannot wait!