August 1st Update

Getting Ready for a Swim

I can’t believe I haven’t posted a thing since May. Oh well, that’s just the way it goes with a busy 1 1/2 year old and a Maine summer. Those of you that  live in Maine understand the need to capture any chance you have to be outside

and enjoying warm, sunny weather. Despite the fact that we’ve had the coldest, rainiest summer on record, Kairat and I have managed to keep busy and be out of the house as much as possible.

A summary of summer events include:

  • Visits to Winslow Park, in Freeport Maine. If you live in Maine or are visiting, this is a fantastic park for kids and adults! We love it there.
  • Bike riding (K loves his new bike seat) and many, many walks.
  • Playing in the rain…of which there has been A LOT!
  • The breaking up and re-pouring of our new basement floor in our addition. No vapor barrier was initially put down and the new basement was wet.
  • Our yard FINALLY shaped, sloped, and seeded with grass after the 4th of July… all necessary due to the major construction started in October of 2008.
  • A small gathering on the 4th of July. We had planned to not have a party this year (we usually have an annual event) because of the lack of a yard and a large tractor for the lawn work that had been sitting in our driveway for over 3 weeks. People came and we loved being able to host guests in our new barn during scattered thunderstorms.
  • A week stay at a camp (cottage as non-Mainers would call it) on a great pond in western Maine with two other families and their kids. Fun for all.
  • Camping in the Berkshires (North Adams, MA) with our friends from Moorestown, NJ. A good meeting spot and a great area to explore.

Kairat is growing up so quickly it amazes me. He has many words, is running everywhere, and loves to climb. Personality wise, he keeps us laughing with his entertaining antics. He really is quite a charmer and loves to wave to tourists as we bike and walk down the streets of Freeport, Maine.

We’ve been visiting his soon-to-be daycare, frequently (Ready-Set-Go in Freeport, ME) in preparation of my returning to school. Each time we go he becomes more comfortable.

Today I am driving to my parents in Mexico, ME where Kairat has been for two days. He’s done well and Mama and Papa had a little break that included a nice evening out with drinks at our favorite watering hole, Brian Boru’s, and dinner at Five Fifty-Five in Portland, ME. Kairat has been doing great with Mimi (my mother) and Bampi (my dad) during his visit but I’m anxious to see him and will be on my way shortly. Once there we’ll attend a family reuion and then rush back to Freeport to ready ourselves for a picnic at Two Lights State Park in Cape Elizabeth where a group of friends are gathering this evening.

Images of summer, thus far:

July 4th Parade

K with Yard Ornament

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Playing with Carter

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August 1, 2009 at 1:17 pm 3 comments

It’s May Already? Wow!

GOALS FOR MOMMY: WRITING, KNITTING, AND EXERCISE/ GOALS FOR KAIRAT: SLEEP
45624My online time tends to be fast and furious right now, as my darling 15 month old has been keeping me quite busy. Nap times tend to be housework time and by the time he goes to bed, I’m ready to follow soon afterwards or would just rather do nothing. However, I’d want to be a bit more productive in the evenings and I think chores are going to take a lesser priority so that I can start doing at least a couple things I’m missing such as writing in my Blog and knitting.

Exercise is also a major goal. Kairat went through a bit of separation anxiety for about three months and “Mommy” was his main focus. With that waning a bit, I can hopefully start leaving him at the gym daycare again while I work out. We’ve gone in just to play a few times and he seems to be enjoying it and forgetting that I’m there; a good sign. I typically enjoy my physical activity in the early morning around 5:30 a.m., but with the onset of a couple bad colds for both he and I, mornings have been tough. K’s sleeping has also been off and he’s been getting up anywhere between 5:30 and 6:30 a.m. I think we’re on the tail end of this last bout of stuffy nosed ailments so hopefully K will begin coughing less, breathing smoothly, and sleeping later allowing Mommy to get back in shape. (Of course, that’s assuming I was ever fit to begin with.)

ALL ABOUT THE KID
Fifteen months old. It is hard to believe that Kairat is growing and developing so 45634fast. I was warned about the toddler stage where walking means trouble but I swear I absolutely love the fact that K is mobile and exploring. Of course, we’ve done some major baby proofing around the house and there are still some challenges, but I find it so much fun that he can and run around it greatly outweighs restacking books on the bookshelf or trying to figure out what his button pressing fixation has done to the TIVO machine.

Kairat took seven steps a few days after his first birthday and never turned back. Not much of a crawler to begin with, he worked incredibly hard to gain his balance and move out on his own. All K wanted to do was have someone “walk, walk, walk” him around the house until he finally reached some independence.

Peek-a-boo has moved on to a new level where we now chase each other around the house, crouch beside chairs, spy around corners, and actually try to surprise the other in our one-on-one search.  We’re both having fun with that!

45566[K is hanging out with the neighbors.] This child is verbal and really wants to communicate. Of course, I can understand quite a bit of what he is saying but he is starting to get to the point where others can too. For instance, at library hour last week during the reading of the story, Kairat walked up to the librarian in the middle of the book, made the sign for “more” and at the same time said, “more cookie”. Now, I know his “cookie” isn’t clear but she knew exactly what he was talking about and told him he had to wait. (The kids get Graham crackers while being read to.)

He also impressed the librarian this week by his ability to focus on a “longer story” typically meant for the “older” kids. There are two sessions for library day: the first half hour consists of books for children under three while the second session is for children who are a little older with a longer attention span. There are breaks in each session with a snack. We typically sit through both sessions and K loves hearing all of the stories read by someone new.

Kairat is addicted to cookies (and grapes). Mind you, he doesn’t get a lot of sweets but once he had one of Grandpa’s molasses cookies, he was hooked. Every time we read a book and he sees a picture of his favorite treat, he signs for (and now says) “More, more?” He does the same for apples and bananas only with those; he pretends to eat them off the page. Have I mentioned what a good eater he is?

Kairat is now saying “please” and “thank you” in his own way. It is pretty hard to refuse a 15 month old something when he looks at you and does sign language for please and says, “plaaa?” However, K has also learned the meaning of, “No.”

Some of the words that he can say, or almost say and/or sign for are:45640 Papa, Mama, Mimi (my mother’s name for him), grandma/grandpa (they sound the same), Emma (our cat), Mini (our neighbor’s cat), ball, balloon, baby, kids, cheese, apple, banana, cookie, cracker, more, please, thank you, no, bread, grapes, book, down, up, truck, stuck, bike, Pat (as in Pat the Bunny), rabbit, diaper and animal sounds for a rooster, cat, dog, elephant, monkey, cow, lamb, and lion, as well as a good car imitation. He also likes to try to sing with some “la, la, la’s” and “ladida, ladiday” from an old song my mother sings with him. Of course, I have a mother’s ear when it comes to pronunciations but he is trying to repeat almost everything he hears and if he can’t say it, he repeats the intonation of word’s syllables so it almost sounds like the word.  It is remarkable how his vocabulary seems to grow every day.

Being outdoors is our favorite place to be and swinging seems to be K’s favorite 45822activity. [This pic is of him being pulled by Aunt Kerri.] We’ve strung a baby swing up in the new barn for his pleasure and it is a constant request. (He can almost say, “swing”, too.) Riding in his wagon, pushing cars and trucks, playing in the dirt, mud, and puddles, walking in the woods, and exploring flowers, the grass, rocks, and anything else he can get his pudgy little hands on are also favorites. (Natascha, he loves motorcycles!)

45722We love being active and getting outdoors without having to wear a snowsuit. I’m looking forward to even warmer weather and a chance to garden and do yard work with my busy helper who loves to rake and dig things with his shovel. As long as he isn’t digging up freshly planted seedlings, we’ll do just fine.

May 18, 2009 at 2:53 pm 4 comments

Sunscreens

http://www.clipartheaven.com/clipart/outdoor_recreation/beach_&_water_(s_-_z)/sunscreen.gifIt is the first really nice day in Maine this year (67 degrees at 2:30 p.m.) and the weekend is suppose to be even nicer. With the sun out and a cookout tomorrow, I decided to do some quick research on sunscreens. If you are using sunscreen you are most likely trying to prevent skin cancer. Why not take it a bit further and use sunscreen without ingredients that are possible carcinogens. (I know, crazy thought, isn’t it?)

My resource was my favorite skin product site, Skin Deep, referred to me by another favorite, The Soft Landing Blog. This information is taken from the Skin Deep blog and summarized for my use and others that may find it helpful. See both sites for more information.

SUNSCREENS from http://cosmeticsdatabase.com/special/sunscreens2008/index.php?nothanks=1

Top 10 products* (The numbers to the right of the product refer to its toxicity level).
1.    Soleo Organics Sunscreen Organic chemical free sunscreen SPF 30+            0
2.    Keys Soap Solar Rx Cosmetic Sunblock, SPF 30                        0
3.    Trukid Sunny Days Facestick Mineral Sunscreen UVA/UVB Broad Spectrum, SPF 30+    0
4.    California Baby Sunblock Stick No Fragrance, SPF 30+                    0
5.    Badger Sunscreen, SPF 30                                0
6.    SanRe Organic Skinfood Supple Sunshine – Organic Rosemary and Lavender Day Creme (Dry to Normal)                                                1
7.    Purple Prairie Botanicals Sun Stick spf 30                        1
8.    Marie Veronique Organics Creme de Jour Tinted, SPF 30 (light face screen)        1
9.    Lavera Sunscreen Neutral, SPF 40                            1
10.    Devita International solar protective moisturizer 30                    1

Recommended Common Brands
1.    Blue Lizard            anything without oxybenzone
2.    California Baby            anything with SPF 30+
3.    CVS                with zinc oxide
4.    Jason Natural Cosmetics    Sunbrellas Mineral Based Sunblock
5.    Kiss My Face            “Paraben Free” series
6.    Neutrogena            Sensitive Skin Sunblock
7.    Olay    Defense         Daily UV Moisturizer (with zinc)
8.    SkinCeuticals            Physical UV Defense
9.    Solar Sense            Clear Zinc for Face
10.    Walgreens            Zinc Oxide for Face, Nose, & Ears

Recommended products from popular brands* (A repeat of the list above with added detail.)
Blue Lizard

  • Blue Lizard Australian Suncream Lotion, Sensitive, SPF 30
  • Blue Lizard Australian Suncream Lotion, Baby, SPF 30+
  • Blue Lizard Australian Suncream Lotion, Face, SPF 30+

California Baby

  • California Baby Sunscreen Lotion No Fragrance, SPF 30+
  • California Baby Sunscreen Lotion Natural Bug Blend, SPF 30+
  • California Baby Sunscreen Lotion Everyday/year-Round, SPF 30+
  • California Baby Sunblock Stick No Fragrance, SPF 30+
  • California Baby Sunblock Stick Everyday/year-Round, SPF 30+

CVS CVS Sunscreen with Zinc Oxide, SPF 45+

Jason Natural Cosmetics Jason Natural Cosmetics Sunbrellas Mineral Based Physical Sunblock, SPF 30+

Kiss My Face

  • Kiss My Face Face Factor Paraben Free, SPF 30
  • Kiss My Face 100% Paraben Free Sunscreen with Oat Protein, SPF 30

Neutrogena Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunblock Lotion, SPF 30

Olay

  • Olay Complete Defense Daily UV Moisturizer, Sensitive Skin, SPF 30
  • Olay Complete Defense Daily UV Moisturizer, SPF 30

SkinCeuticals Skinceuticals Physical UV Defense, SPF 30

Solar Sense Solar Sense Clear Zinc, for Face, SPF 45

Walgreens Walgreens Sunblock with Zinc Oxide for Face, Nose & Ears, SPF 45+

Major brands that have no recommended sunscreens
Aubrey Organics (6), Avalon Natural Products (8), Aveeno (21), Banana Boat (41), Biore (1), Biotherm (11), Bull Frog (9), Burt’s Bees (2), Cetaphil (2), Clean & Clear (2), Coppertone (41), Cover Girl (4), Dove (4), Dr. Scholl’s (2), Elizabeth Arden (12), Eucerin (5), Garnier (3), Gillette (1), Hawaiian Tropic (10), Jergens (2), Juvena (2), La Roche-Posay (5), Lancome (28), LORAC (5), Lubriderm (1), Maybelline (1), Murad (9), Nature’s Gate (7), Nivea (4), Paradise Gold (4), Phisoderm (2), Pond’s (2), Purpose (2), RoC (6), Skin Simple (1), Target (.method) (1), The Body Shop (3), Vichy (2), Zia Natural Skincare (3)

* Products listed above are made by brands that are widely available in stores and that meet our criteria (SKIN DEEP) for an ideal sunscreen. Each of the recommendations has a green rating on our index (including broad spectrum protection from zinc or titanium, stable in sunlight, few hazardous ingredients). Additionally, these products offer other benefits, providing an SPF of 30 or higher, containing no oxybenzone which poses health concerns, and made in a cream or liquid form that can’t be inhaled like powder or spray sunscreens.

April 24, 2009 at 6:39 pm 4 comments

A Long Overdue Update

Looking back over my Blog I’m amazed to find that I haven’t posted anything since the 30th of January. The past three months have been full of gatherings, appointments, child-care hunting, home renovations, attempts at dog relocation, being a mom, and everyday life. Despite always seeming to have something to do, a strong sense “cabin fever” has dominated and claustrophobia has set in.

41644Perhaps it because snow came early while we were still in Kazakhstan or the mere fact that I don’t get out quite as much with a little one to bundle up and nap times to consider that has made this winter seem so long. The constant noise from the construction (that finally ceased about three weeks ago) and not being able to leave our anxiety stricken dog during the day certainly hasn’t helped either.  I actually think a combination of above with the fact that I was in Kazakhstan for almost three months (half of it alone) is to blame. Although I was free to explore on foot and interacted with friends there, the experience was a bit isolating and incredibly boring at times.  Whatever the cause, I, like most people in Maine, am anxious for consistently warmer weather and am dying to get outside more!

We’ve had glimpses of spring ranging from a couple beautiful days in the fifties to snow melting downpours. The overall weather has been downright dreary for days and after poor weather forecasting last weekend left an expectant state without the one sunny day it was hoping for, all are looking forward to parting clouds this Sunday morning. I want to go outside and play!

K and MimiKairat turned one year old on February 5th and took his first real steps two days later. It is so funny to watch him practically run with his Frankenstein-like gait. Carrying toys from room to room and chair to chair seem to entertain him much longer than I could ever imagine. He loves to rock his collections in the adult rocking chair in his bedroom and then will cross the room to rock himself in his miniature version.

44576Mud (of course) is quite the fascination and we’ve already spent some time playing in it. The local consignment shop was a great place to pick up extra “play clothes” as being outside, at least at this point in the season, means being covered with mud upon our return to the indoors. Prior to the mucky season, Kairat LOVED being pulled in his sled through the snow. The faster, the better, which was good exercise for Mama. Riding in his baby backpack has also shown to be a tolerable outdoors activity although I’m sure K would much rather be running around on his own clumsy little legs.

I’m amazed at K’s verbal skills. At a recent doctor check-up he was declared to be performing on an 18-month level with his animal sounds. Large felines are obsessions right now and K prefers all creatures to have a roar like a tiger or lion, even when he knows that isn’t the sound it makes. I have to admit, he’s got a pretty good imitation but it just doesn’t sound right coming from a duck. Actually, anything he isn’t sure of (as far as sounds go) becomes a tiger. “Roar!”

Kairat identifies numerous body parts, clothing, home items such as doors, windows, etc. upon request along with characters, food, and other things found in books and his alphabet placemats. I’m starting to move from object recognition to number and letter identification. K points to the objects he wants to know repeatedly and I just give him the unknown information over and over again.  He really enjoys it so I’m happy to help.

44236Hours are spent reading books in his bedroom, on the couch, and especially while sitting on the potty. We’ve continued the toilet training started in the baby house, often to the shock of family and friends. Most people don’t expect a 1 year old to be ready to sit on a potty but, frankly, I can’t get the kid off sometime. He’ll sit and we’ll read book, after book, after book until I finally decide it is definitely time to move on to other activities.

Of course, we spend plenty of time listening and dancing to music (oldies, classic rock, classical, jazz) and singing and acting out the typical “kiddy” songs. It is really amazing how all children have such a natural love of music and dance. They’re like little sponges and I already love how much fun it is to help my little sponge soak up everything he is interested in.

44524Aside from his walking, Kairat really seems to be very coordinated fourteen-month old. He is doing very well eating with utensils and is drinking from a regular cup rather than a “sippy” cup. Along with dining coordination, though, also comes dining messiness and playfulness. The messiness is fine with me and all part of the learning process but when that little bugger takes a piece of food, looks at me out of the corner of his eye, and then throws it across the table we then work on some simple mealtime manners while I try not to crack-up laughing.

If this child doesn’t grow up to be a soccer player, I’ll be surprised. Before he could even balance on his own, he would hold our hands in order to walk around the house and kick his balls of various sizes. Now that he is walking on his own, he’s continued this practice with surprising success. He is also obsessed with trying to bounce a ball. I’m not talking about a bounce in a pass to someone else. He’s been doing that for months. No, we’re talking about bouncing as if he were bouncing a basketball. Once his aim for that second bounce becomes more accurate, we are going to have a bouncing fool on our hands.

For anyone reading this Blog post, you can probably tell that I’m a bit biased and in love with my incredible son. It is so amazing how your child becomes a perfect little being in your mind, incomparable to all others.  Then again HE IS the most talented, charming, handsome, intelligent fourteen-month old ever.  Well…. at least I think so. (-:

April 5, 2009 at 5:53 pm 5 comments

Day 73 in the United States

43935Monday, January 26, 2008 was significant in our adoption adventure in that it marked Kairat’s 73rd day in the United States and our days at home now equaled my stay in Kazakhstan. Upon reflection, the passage of time since our departure in September to our current standingimg_1211 seems completely surreal. Countless pictures (actually, about 1,000 or so) help to keep our Kostanai experience fresh in our minds and to remind us that, yes, we were there and we did adopt our son in this wonderful little city.

40540I’ve been mentally strolling the streets and markets where so much40747 time was spent walking and interacting with locals. The smells, sounds, and smiling faces of the baby house staff and children are also still with us…especially the children. If there had been any way possible, we definitely would have adopted another while there.

39031[October picture of K at the baby house.] Despite the fact that we traveled and lived in Kazakhstan and that we’ve been a family for not even three months, the reality that seems most bizarre from the entire experience is that K is actually adopted.  I don’t mean, “adopted,” in that we actually made home with him. I mean, “adopted,” in that he seems like he has been with us forever, that he is our natural child. This feeling isn’t something that took long to develop, either. Before he even left the Delphin Baby House, my motherly instincts had already kicked-in. But now, now that we are home, it seems like this is where we have always been and that the three of us were meant to be together.

Today is an incredibly quiet day in our home. With a sizable snowstorm already falling, our builders have taken the day off and there is no construction going on for the first weekday since our return in November. In celebration, I’ve turned off the typical background noises I utilize in attempting to drown out the nail guns, air compressors, saws, and other various decibel-breaking devices that go along with building. No TV, radio, or music today. Just silence.

43644Next week will be K’s 1st birthday and he has already outgrown some of his size twelve-month clothes. With his growth rate and chubby little cheeks, you wouldn’t think that I would be worried about his eating habits. However, for a week or so, K seemed very difficult to please at the table so I started reading Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense, jumped right to the toddler section, and began implementing some of the strategies and advice mentioned. Mealtime has once again become pleasant. I highly recommend this book and plan on reading it in its entirety. There are great suggestions for not only feeding but parenting, as well. (Kairat’s third tooth is beginning to appear; a top central incisor to join is lower.)

Kairat is such a funny and sweet little boy. We are truly blessed. He continues to charm and intrigue those that he meets and passes in the grocery store and on outings. He loves visiting with his grandparents (both sets) and squeals with excitement whenever he sees them. Our wonderful neighbors are quickly becoming his third set of grandparents, which was proven by a very successful babysitting session yesterday. When I returned home, Kairat merely smiled at me and went right on playing with his new friends.

43537Walking seems to be a focus of our little one. He loves to stand and receive applause and, “Hoorays!” from anyone within view. K still isn’t quite up to the hand and knee crawl on a consistent basis but will try it out once in awhile. He definitely seems intent on pulling himself up to a standing position and seeing where he can go from there.

Verbally, Kairat attempts to repeat words and sounds that he hears and although his vocabulary may seem to not vary to others, I can tell the difference between his “ball”, “bottle”, “puppy”, and other words he constantly attempts. When reading a vocabulary book the other day he quickly repeated the word “banana” with a “manana”. Really!

I know I’ve said it before, but Kairat is a wonderful, easy going, sweet baby and we love him dearly. Each day is a new and exciting adventure for us all!
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January 30, 2009 at 4:07 pm 5 comments

Winter Update

43757Like most of the northeast and many other parts of the United States, Maine has been experiencing a bit of a cold spell. I woke up Friday morning to the thermometer fluctuating between minus thirteen and fourteen degrees. My suspicion is that it was a tad colder because Doug’s car thermometer, which tends to be pretty accurate, reported an additional deficit of 5 degrees upon his return home the previous evening. Either way, it’s not as cold as the thirty-two degrees below zero reported in Fort Kent, Maine. Now THAT’s cold!

42977Despite the chill, we’ve been making our best of the winter438121 weather. Kairat, Kineo (our dog) and I get in at least one walk in a day. With our snow refreshed just a week ago Sunday, the sleds have also become a popular mode of transportation. I’ve included a picture of Kairat in his welcome home gift from Grandma and Grandpa and one of him in Papa’s homemade sled, both of which cruise quite well over Maine’s blankets of white.

Winter is a fun season and no excuse to stay indoors. Of course we need to temper our outdoor explorations when temperatures fall too low but fresh air in every season is important for parents and children a like. I’m already looking forward to next winter when Kairat is walking and I can slap a pair of skis on his little feet and begin to teach him the wonderful sports of downhill and cross country skiing.

43678The snow today will be a fun excuse to get out and play tomorrow. There’s nothing like the fun of freshly fallen snow.

January 18, 2009 at 8:31 pm 1 comment

What to Use on Baby

This is just a quick post to link readers to the Skin Deep Cosmetic Data Base. Kairat has a little rash around his mouth from teething and pacifier use and I’ve been looking for something non-toxic to help the irritation. This can be a tough order to fill, even if you are using “organic” products.

The Skin Deep site rates products according to their toxicity and potential medical dangers. I’ve already a link but they now have a page just for baby products at http://www.cosmeticdatabase.com/special/parentsguide/. I highly recommend checking out your baby products before applying anything to their skin.

January 16, 2009 at 1:53 pm Leave a comment

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