Friday, October 29, 2010

It feels good

Things feel kind of normal now – or the kind normal that I’ve observed and admired in happy, busy American families.


For instance:


* He reads for 20minutes every night and has regular homework.


* She is making little friends and asking for sleepovers.


* I have a car (it’s been 8years) and drive my children around all by myself.


* I can go to the grocery store – a big one – whenever I want. I can choose from a bounteous variety of yummy things. I can get multiple heavy items (e.g. 6 cans of beans, 5lbs of flour, a gallon of milk, potatoes, onions, apples, etc.) and not have to calculate the weight for the walk&carry home. It’s been 8 years of such restraint!





* We have a church family again

and I’m teaching Gospel

Doctrine and Nathan was scooped up by the Branch Presidency.


* We have neighbors that speak our language and a community we can participate in -- we’ve been to a barn dance and school board meetings and fundraisers and cub scout bonfires and regattas, preschool potlucks, libraries, dinner parties, TAG SALES, art museum socials, farms for fresh produce and New England road trips!!!


OH MY HEART!


If I never get a job that brings income again, I am confident -- and a little giddy -- at the prospect of my life fullfullfull of these things.



Monday, October 25, 2010

A New Home

It's still a little hard to believe but we let that return ticket to Kazakhstan pass us by and we packed our things and moved to VERMONT.

:::breathin, breathout:::

It couldn't be more to my liking and I think this is the

S e a s o n o f H e a t h e r


I've always dreamed of living in New England, frolicking through the small liberal arts colleges, living in an old house, surrounding myself with great local farm food and animals, having New England-y neighbors -- it's been a HUGE romantic mystique for me.

HUGE

And it's all come true. Come take a look into our new lives . . .


Here's the PLACE we're renting

Here are the FRIENDLY CREATURES we socialize with
Here's NATHAN -- adjunct teacher extraordinaire -- he's teaching the Anthropology of Islamic Societies at Bennington College (liberal arts college extraordinaire!)

Here's my big 1ST GRADER BOY independently marching down to the bus/getting on the bus

Here we are in Massachusetts PRESSING CIDER with our former NYC friends , the Blosils -- they're living the dream too!
{drop the apple and wipe that man's (mr. kent blosil) brow!}


Here are some pics of the beyond-our-wildest-dreams FARM and property
{:::sigh:::}

Here is the CAR we now own after 8years of having no car. I can drive my own babes around to places. It's REALLY cool.{hello chickens!}

Here's my LITTLEDEARDAUGHTER, she's a preschooler and loving it
{here she is with her yoga-loving, soon-to-be youngfarmergirl teacher}

Here are mybabes on the treasured TIRE SWING





Here's my beloved BOYSCOUT and his Tiger Den group. I'm a Den Leader!




We're happy.

{in Concord, MA)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tag sales in the USA and other joys -- to come! to come!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Patient Parenting

Does everyone feel this way? You know, that your children are CRAZY?! I had a moment the other night when we were out with our friend, Victoria, where I felt true powerlessness to curb, moderate, control or STOP them from going completely out of control.

We had been out walking, enjoying the sunshine and the water and the fountains. We came upon this low red rock wall and as Des climbed up onto it, we noticed that the bright brick-red color of the rock rubbed right off onto his hands and clothes. He immediately began to rub his hands all over the rocks. He then wiped his hands all over his face. RED SMEARS. Then Zoe joined in and did the same thing, not leaving her clothes untouched. I was earnestly advising from the sidelines, my pitch going up, my voice becoming more and more frantic . . .

Mom? Who’s Mom? What is a Mom?

I was utterly unheeded. I was ignored. I was the wind in the willows. I was less than red dust smeared onto freckled cheeks.

I was too adult.

Victoria was beside me, at first fascinated, she let out little squeaks of surprised laughter. As I bellowed, as I plead, she became more delighted – she curled, she jumped, she eventually, joyfully, laughed and reached for her camera.

So I’m left to wonder about my will verses theirs. The Indigo Girls have this song called, “Deconstruction” one of the verses reads like this: Sculpted from youth/The chipping away/Makes me weary.

I’m weary with chipping.

My developing theory, based on experience and a wish for better parenting, is that it takes time for the countless values and rules to be processed by little minds virtually blank of the nuances of appropriate behavior. It’s a slow accumulation, like the ideas of Patient Capital – where investments are not aggressive ones demanding immediate profitable returns. But are more patient, generous reserves that prosper slowly and sustainably and that ultimately benefit more than just self.

Oh, and sometimes it’s good just to laugh.

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Vika with Zoe – with a formidable person approaching in the background!

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Arghhhh . . . TACKLED!

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We are creatures out of your control!! Waaahaaaaa!

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Here we are finally in front of our apartment building. We had to take a 25minute bus ride home after the incident. It was scandalous and rollicking good fun all the way . . . for them that is.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Zoe en Voice

I know a story of a girl who’s mommy flushed her down the toilet and then she flushed her back up and said, ‘Oh no, mysweetie’s in the toilet!’ And then she put her in the bath and then she was shiny and she washed the tub and it was shiny and then they were happy. And I know that. "

Our chandelier drops it’s glassy orbs regularly. I found Zoe holding onto one like a jewel and asked her about it, “I call it the Crystal of Change.”

Over dinner one night Z wondered about the beef in her stir fry, specifically where it came from. After I gently, generally explained, she became very stern having deduced the gore I didn't go into, “ O.K. That is BAD. BAD. BAD.” She gave me a severe thumbs down and continued, “They killed a cow and that is BAD. I’m not eating a cow ever again!”

Des has been trying to negotiate for a late night where we all stay up, as long as we want, and then all go to bed together. In the same bed. I have, so far, resisted. One night, Zoe felt suddenly triumphant as I continued to postpone and hedge on the idea. She announced wickedly, “When WE’RE grownups, we’ll send OUR children to bed and then stay up ALL NIGHT.” She then laughed a cruel laugh, “HaHaHaHaHa.”

Look at the sun in the water! It’s wonderful!

Mom, know what? I love you!

I want Grandma!

Zoe often has me pretend to be grandma. She’ll pack her bags and pretend to take a train and then ‘arrive’ calling me grandma. She’ll sit on my lap and tell me about her journey and say that she wants to stay with grandma forever.

I asked Zoe to wash the crumbs off her face. She informed me that she already did and explained that it was her “uncle” stuck to her face. She meant freckle.

Zoe: Des? I want to be the mom to your children.

Des: We can’t marry each other cause you’re my sister.

I’m done with that thing, I’m done with it!” Her response to my oft repeated phrase that I only help a girl who helps herself.

Can we get a rain-bella because it’s raining?

Look at the clouds! I wish I was a cloud . . . a pink one.

During the first few moments after waking up for a school morning, Zoe pulls away from a hug and looks up at me, “Can we go back to bed?” I let several seconds pass. She spoke up again, “Is that a ‘NO’?”

Mom, can you do something you did last year?

After a dinner prayer, before we ate our spinach quiche, Zoe grumbled, “I don’t like this food! I’m not grateful for it!”

Zoe: Am I beautiful?

Nathan: Yes! You are beautiful!

Zoe: Yay! (To me) Know what daddy said? I am beautiful!

I want to keep you and never lost you! I don’t want to ever lost you!

While brushing Zoe’s hair we hit a snag. To defuse the pain I asked, “Wow! Where did that tangle come from?” Zoe answered, “I don’t know . . . I think from God.”

Over a dinner Zoe was refusing to eat, Nathan was attempting to philosophically reason with her about the benefits of eating vrs. starving. Zoe ended the conversation thus, “I get to choose what I do!” and then added, after Nathan called her ‘stubborn’, “You call me that and I call you Malfoy!”

After teaching Zoe the term ‘body of water’ as we walking by our nearby river, she later referred to it as, A big water of a man.”

I asked Zoe one afternoon after school who she helped that day. She replied, “I helped nobody. I helped nobody two times.”

I wish Grandma was with us and even your sisters!

Desi Candor

Des had a wound that merited a bandage. This was a big deal because not all wounds get bandages – they think everything should be bandaged, even if it’s a week old. Zoe said with approval, “You’re Dr. Mom!” Desi added, “Zoe’s the Dr. of Love,” (she’d helped him on the playground when he fell) “And I’m the Assistant of Fun!”

I noticed a lot of little white fluffy things out on our balcony and I asked Des what they were, he replied, “I don’t know. It might be terminal bacteria”

I’m going to pretend I’m a porcupine now.

“Who taught you all this BRILLIANT stuff?” Des asked me after a homeschool lesson on teeth.

I’ve had a couple of conversations with Des encouraging him not to use the word ‘fat’ when describing people. One evening he was talking about a character in a movie he’d just watched and was struggling to find the right words, he asked me, “What’s the modest way to say FAT?” Before I could reply, he’d found his descriptive words, “One was a short, round, CIRCLEST kid!”

Since I was in your tummy, I’ve been scared of the dark.

*

DPJ WORD DISSTORTIONS

Word: Instructions Des Distortion: Destructions

Word: Robbers Des Distortion: Robs

Word: Snot DD: Snod

Word: Disgusting DD: Excusting

Word: Ax DD: Ox

Word: Snickers (candybar) DD: Sneakers

Word: Skeleton DD: Skell

*

“I thought they’d give me lollipops for change.” He was explaining his first successful, sans mom, errand to the next door market for cucumbers.

My feet are all sogged. After walking through a big puddle of water in Tashkent.

Hi! My sweet little mommy!

Fanta and Sprite are better than Coca Cola.” Des explained. I replied, “Oh yeah? Why?” He answered, “Because Coke has KATHLEEN in it.” [Kathleen is his grandmother’s name]

Des recently said he was including, sandmuncher on his personal bad-words-not-to-say list.

In a previous post, I explained our family behavior enhancement Point System. Des reasoned one afternoon after an omission, “I don’t lose a point, I just don’t get a point!”

During an intense hugging session Desi shouted out, “I love everyone in the whole universe, even the bad guys!”

On a recent Saturday, Des&Zoe were in high anticipation to spend the day at the house of Desi’s friend Tanamirzah. D graciously included Z in his plans, before checking with the family. After finding out that she couldn’t go after all, Zoe was devastated! As the bell announced their arrival, I tried to usher Des to the door but he resisted, “Wait! I wanna do something nice for Zoe!” He disappeared into their bedroom and returned saying, I gave her my last piece of nice paper, permission to play with all my toys . . .” He turned back to the bedroom, “Look at her! It’s so sad!”

One of the (countless) things we’re working on with the Point System is turning off lights. Des recently observed Zoe leaving the bathroom and then gave me the play-by-play, “She was t h i n k i n g . . . She had an ‘OH!’ on her face . . . and then she ran back to turn off the light!”

During a happy a.m. cuddle, “Oh, WOW! We’re together! Even Zoe’s choking me!”

After hitting his leg on a hard surface and letting out a few tempered shouts. Des announced, “I didn’t cry! I didn’t cry! That means I’m getting better at getting bigger. You don’t cry when you’re bigger.”

I wish your parents called you Goofy Mom.

Des reported a middle of the night good deed, “I helped Zoe off the floor last night then went back to bed and HIT THE SACK!” I laughed heartily at this, then catching on, he began to repeat, Hit the sack, while I laughed on cue.

I’m an inappropriate movie.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My Little Boy's Pockets


He has myheart in there, right next to the bottlecaps.

I was speaking with a friend the other day, who has a 4yearold little boy, and she was telling me about how her son always has his pockets full of thingsthingsthings he’s collected.

Wow! Did I smile and suddenly love LITTLE BOYS -- 10times more than my already 100x100 times. These littleboyquirks are completely new and wondrous to me. I grew up with girlsgirlsgirls – we ruled.

Desmond P. Jones, is a voracious littleboy collector. His eyes are constantly probing the ground for the precious things he knows it will yield. Recent finds have been: a broken Mickey Mouse alarm clock, used notebooks, empty matchboxes, rocks, pinecones, plastic bags, clothespins, playing cards, broken toys, fireworks casings, and, of course, bottlecaps — he even harvests other kids’ drawings from the garbage at school. When we were in Philadelphia for a month last summer, we began scheduling treasure hunts. Our neighborhood, in East Falls, has very grand old houses and on garbage day the things waiting on the curbs will make you sparkle. Des simply exploded. Every Monday, we would leave after breakfast with our bags and race against the trucks for the cast-off goods -- I was hoping for old furniture and books, he would take just about anything.

To emphasize the limitless possibilities of people’s trash, we went to a gallery on South Street that was filled with sculptures made from refuse – toys, electronics, furniture, etc. – we were in there for over an hour and Des was COMPLETELY inspired. Ha!

I secretly hope all this will refine into a passion for flea markets and yard sales and that we will be antiquing buddies all over the WORLD!

Happy Earth Day!
Go raid/recycle some garbage.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Geeezz. . . it's like pulling teeth to get me to blog these days?

WHY?

I don't know if I have an answer to that question.

Thebabes&I had two weeks together due to spring break -- Nooruz -- Persian New Year. We don't live in Iran or anything (yet) but the Kazakhs dig the holiday. Similar Muslim roots, I suppose.


I was nervous about it. Spending all that time with mybabes
, I mean. I know I just spent two months with them, out of school and bouncing all over the land, and survived. I wasn't really nervous about it in anticipation either. But I worried about this 2week break because I'd gotten some freetime to myself again and it's hard to let that go. Mostly, and maybe it's related, I don't like the part of me that hollers instead of talks, or to put it poetically, gently persuades them. Hollering is much easier and when my mind is numb, I holler.

Mybabes are really cool and I don't want them to think hollering is what you do to cool people.

Cause it's not.

Sometimes I like to tell myself that I see them first as people. And that comes second to seeing me as mother. I've tried to think about this a lot and this is what I mean: They are people first, independent of me as their mother. It's like, if I wasn't their mother, Des&Zoe would still be people, sentient beings.


This makes total sense, right?


Well, it does for me and so when I let myself really go with this idea, and here's my point, I treat them differently. Because they're people, not just littlechildren who annoy me sometimes and don't know anything about the world adults created and frankly aren't learning quickly enough. I see them growing up into adults with MEMORIES of these littlepeople moments with me and I want them to remember how well respected they were, how they were guided to see the possibilities within themselves and the duty they have to live with purpose -- and it makes me feel responsible to their adultpeople selves.


How can hollering convey all that?


Anyway, I really don't like to holler.


Oh, so if you can indulge me some more on this ___fill in the blank___ thought (I could suggest *insightful* or if all this is a great bore, though you're still reading!, *self-indulgent*)


I came up with a family motto, challenge, path -- if you will.

LIVING WITH PURPOSE
{so let it be written}

I have not read any parenting books so this might all be wrongwrongwrong per conventional wisdom (discuss this with me backchannel) but I wanted to inspire our littleforevergroup with some family principles. Yes. Finally.

Here they are -- The P's of PURPOSE

*Planning - Family Councils every Sunday night to review the below principles and inspire each other and schedule/plan our week.

*Points - Behavior Enhancement they earn points when they self-activate -- *remember and do* -- the pre-recorded messages I've declared since forever -- things like all the morning steps of makingbed, brushingteeth, gettingdressed; in addition to little courtesies like taking their dishes to the sink when finished, flushing the toilet, keeping toys off the floor, folding their clothes and putting them away, etc. I was getting sick to my stomach at the thought of spending two weeks in perpetual repetition of said steps&courtesies. When they remember these things, without me reminding them, they get points toward computergametime. 60pts=30mins // 120pts=60mins. Desi finally tallied 60pts on the final day of springbreak! Zoe was still 15pts off.

*Possibilities - To recognize the possibilities in our lives and set goals to achieve them. For example: Desi wants to learn how to bounce/dribble his beachball more effectively. Zoe wants to finally wipe her own bum. I want to read my scriptures every day. Nathan wants to find a job.


*Projects - Discuss and plan service projects and fun activities together.

*Progress - Temporal & Spiritual learning and growth. Setting a high premium on knowledge and obedience, education and meditation, and on living an examined life (I've been listening to Socrates:))

*Provident Living - Financial Management and Ethics. Boy oh boy, is that ever something we need to recognize as relevant in our lives. Darn it. Why does money have to be so important? Blech!

*Pure Religion -- Acknowledging the goodness of God and our relationship with him and
our duty to love as he would love and live as he would live.

(Lots of biblical bits
in John, 1st chapter, pulled all these together for me.)

The end.


p.s. A few pics below

Happy Easter!
{I love eggs with the coup still clinging to them}












This is Genia and I at the St. Patricks Day celebrations at Samal School. We were helping my Peace Corp friend Shannon with her little party. The Samal School is for disabled young adults. Genia is from Pav but spent the last 2years in NYC with her husband&son, who is Zoe's age, and it's oh-so-nice to have someone who can relate to living outside ones country.



















This is Desmond's schoolfriend, Tanamirzah. They are great buddies. We've dined at their house -- great Kazakh food -- and eaten out in a pizza restaurant (Tana's mother, Fatima, ordered *4* pizza's for she&I&our 3children!) and hung out with them at our place. They even want us to do banya with them. Isn't it cool how friends get together and bathe?
Fun.














This is the playground right outside our apartment building (shown in background, on right side). This was taken two weeks ago, the snow is melted now and thebabes can't get enough sunshine -- they want to be outside all the time.
Yipeee!!

This is Zoe with Fatima when we were at their house for a Kazakh Food Fest! Fatima is lovely, she was Miss. Pavlodar once. She taught me how to cook this really great chicken and potato dish that they served us that afternoon. She found herself in my kitchen a couple of weeks later and suggested we make it together. SO FUN.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Some Things Stay the Same - Part IV

I will search and conquer (with humor!)

Almaty, Kazakhstan



. . .

The Yellow Brick Road

Let’s just jump right into it as if I’ve been a supreme blogger all the while. There was once this crazy family of four, who thought it would be interesting to live in Kazakhstan for another year.

That’s us. The Family Jones.

Forget village life however - that was only once in a lifetime. We set-up apartment keeping in Pavlodar, in northern Kazakhstan, about 2hours from the Russian/Siberian border. This apartment came with all the amenities we went without in the village – washing machine, insta-radiator heat, indoor plumbing, food varieties. We soon found it easier to make FRIENDS too! A small group of Peace Corp volunteers were about the city doing good works – I clicked instantly with Shannon Huett. Also, there were English teachers from the U.S. and lovely locals with hearty English skills. I even got a terrific job teaching English in 2 Kazakh schools. Thebabes went to a Russian speaking private school – it was tears and wailing in the beginning then sweet submission. Nathan took on a hefty teaching job 6 days a week and threw himself into it.

Nice life.

Then we were asked if we’d like to relocate, for a month, to another Kazakh city in the south. Taraz. Oooooh . . . milder winter weather, a southern city, a trip to Uzbekistan, a little adventure. Indeed it seemed interesting and we made preparations to move, in 1.5 days, on December 20th.

Our days became long and languid again. No school. We only had one friend. I tried to home school and then got bored. I went running regularly. Thebabes&I needed to renew our visas, they were set to expire on 21Jan. So after a month-ish, we applied for Uzbek visas and left for Uzbekistan (UZ)!

It was quite involved getting across the border – we drove in three different taxis, 3-4 hours each, through the countryside in search of the international border crossing. It took us all day. Zoe threw-up all over me.

We loved Tashkent instantly. It’s like the New York City of Central Asia, I said. The subway systems were strikingly beautiful. Yes, beautiful. The city felt like a city. More sedentary. The infrastructure was fantastic. We found fun restaurants but our hotel was a DIVE of the grayest, yuckiest kind for $20 a night. We submitted our passports quickly to the Kazakh Embassy and waited and bided our time in museums and long walks.

Something went wrong with the paperwork. There would be a delay while Nathan’s office in Pavlodar resubmitted it to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We decided to hit the road and leave the dingy hotel for other cities!

We took a speedy train to Bukhara – an ancient silk road city that is remarkably preserved. People still live and work and create their art there. OH! What art! I was in my aesthetic paradise only with very little money. woewoewoe! We spent 4 days in Bukhara, feeling a little like locals, it’s so small and everyone came to recognize us and we them. Nice.

Samarkand is only a few hours from Bukhara via that fast train and we arrived in high anticipation. This city is legendarily beautiful! The TILES, the TILES which enamor all the ancient buildings . . . I couldn’t get enough! We walked around for 4days snapping photos with my camera phone. David of the Old Testament is entombed there. So on a lovely Sunday afternoon, in the light rain, we walked toward the rainbow in the sky and his tomb.

Things were not going well with the visa process though. We returned to Tashkent and waited for another two weeks. We found a better hotel at the train station for $25 a night and we were very comfortable but we felt increasingly anxious as we approached the expiry date of our UZ visas.

We waited right to the day before our UZ visas were to expire, but NO Kazakh visas were forthcoming. We had visas to no other country either. We were told that you could get one month visas on arrival at airports so we were left with flying out of UZ into Kyrgyzstan (KG). Getting Kyrgyz visas was seamless (and reasonably priced).

Nathan decided to take the KZ visa matter into his own hands and got in touch with good old Stan Tours in Almaty, KZ. Also, we were able to stay with Allen and Lori Palmer of Provo who were are in Bishkek for 9months on a Fulbright Teaching Scholarship at the University of Central Asia in Bishkek. They were terrific to us and after a week . . .

We had our one year KZ VISAS!

In total it took us over ONE MONTH to get these buggers.


*Lesson #1: Don’t go to UZ for anything that involves various government(s) cooperation. UZ is for shopping and bowing down before the architecture!

*Lesson #2:
KG = kindness & efficiency.

*Lesson #3:
Live in your own country.


So, we’re broke as can be but back in Pavlodar, KZ. It’s been a little over a week since our return. I really love Pavlodar.

I got the best greeting from my friend Victoria yesterday on the ploshid, out in front of the library. It was a greeting I’d dreamed of having in this country. One where someone calls out my name in happy recognition and moves toward me in eager embrace. Victoria clung to me and kissed my cheeks over and over again.

And it was bliss.

Next blog project: PHOTOS (courtesy of my camera phone)

#1 Marketplace in Samarkand

#2 I swoon Bukhara

#3 Uzbek Art


. . .

Desi Candor

While eating a tasty pasta dinner Des explained, “Sometimes the smell eats for me.”

“Mom, you know what? I love you so much and I don’t want you to DIE!”

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“I’m gonna be a dad who takes care of my kids – and tackles and tickles and not be smiley in pictures and stay home with my kids and take them to school.”

Mom! I have a surprise for you, a ball made out of toilet paper and water!”

I was just trying to defend myself against Zoe. She was an ANIMAL, she was a dragon trying to blow fire at me!”

“My nose is full of snod”

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On his 3rd day of attending an all Russian school, DPJ asked, Dad? Why do I have to go to school if all I do is sit there and do NOTHING ALL DAY?”

“Aren’t we going to watch ‘Sounds Excusting’?' I had told him earlier that day that we would be watching ‘The Sound of Music” that evening.

“Zoe looks so cute in the morning – she looks like a rockstar!”

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Zoe: Desi? Can you be Boots and I’ll be Dora?

Desi: No.

Zoe: Mom? Can you be Boots and I’ll be Dora?

Desi: But mom’s too big. Maybe, though, she can be a huge GORILLA boots! {Des, of course, later agreed to be Swiper.}

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After being tickled DPJ exclaimed, JOY!JOY!JOY! JOY knocked me OUT!”

While sitting at dinner Desi decides to turn a boring meal into an imaginary feast at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It was quickly established that he would be Harry and Zoe Hermione. They both look at me. “How about I be Nearly Headless Nick!” I say with a chortle. Des looks at me for a moment (not even smiling) and says solemnly, “No, Snape.” I choked on my white bread.

While practicing writing his English alphabet one night, DPJ happily observed, “I’m happy I'm not dead yet, it’s fun being on this world.”

“Her hands feel like smooth macaroni.” Des observed of Zoe during a morning cuddle.

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Des seems to have a very high body temperature and usually runs around shirtless while indoors. Nathan grabbed him one afternoon and observed, “I bet you don’t wear a shirt so I can squeeze your belly.” Des countered, No, so the hotness can fly off my body.”

“Run for your lives and jump into the UNIVERSE!”

On a long train ride to southeast Kazakhstan we shared a train cabin with another American, A.C. from Atlanta, GA. He asked Desi at one point in their conversation, “Do you play sports?” Des responded enthusiastically, “Yeah! Basketball High School Musical!” For weeks he’d been replaying the first scene from High School Musical 3. We have an inflatable beach ball and he bounds around the living room singing and ‘playing basketball’.

Zoe: Can you stop kissing me please?

Des: But I can’t! You’re so cool!

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“Dad, you’re a tremendous goofball.”

On trying to open the front door to our apartment in Taraz, Des capitulated, I can’t! It’s too hard for me – that’s because I never do Pilates workout.”

Zoe is usually the first to rise in the morning and begins to chatter with me very eagerly. Des mumbled over to us one early morning, How about you be sushed up.”

I love mysister Zoe more than pizza!” It was Zoe’s 4th birthday and we were on our way to a much anticipated pizza restaurant in Taraz, KZ.

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Zoe? Why does you hair look like cabbage?” She had ponytail braids for a day and we had just taken them out.

On a sick day at home Desi sighed, “Ohhhh . . . I wish I could have some broccoli.”

Des regularly stumbles and bumbles when walking. On our first day out in Samarkand, UZ Des crashed pretty hard and observed, “I’m the tripper around here.”

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Zoe en Voice

“ I want to take a bath, OK? That’s my point!”

“Hey! Yours bum! That is yours big giant BUM!” Then she slapped me on the behind.

“I think superhero’s mommy help them clean up – why not you don’t?”

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“My other girl will be named Ini and the other one is named Lunch. My boy is named Jackson and my other is Jeffy.”

The first thing Zoe said to me one morning was, Mommy, we’re bestfriends!” And we hugged and kissed tightly and then she pulled away and said, “That was tough love.”

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I pinched mommy’s cheekmonk”

While remembering a memory back home in NYC she referred to it as, “The Happy Jones Place.”

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Zoe has quite a vocabulary for calling names, mostly to DesmondJones. The majority are words she makes up when angry and it’s pretty clear they are intended as an insult. Her frequent one is Lizard. “You LIZARD!” There are also: Fuffer, Fuffet, Malpomb, Kaseba, Undol, Wizard, and Stish. {None of these are Russian words, btw}

“I ate it all gone to my throat!” She often announces this when she’s proud to have eaten her food.

Both mybabes are in school now. So 5days a week, we have those parting moments where I earnestly attempt to send them off with words of encouragement (wisdom!). It was somewhere in the third month of attending school (Dec) when Zoe asked me shortly, “Mom? Could you not say ‘rememberwhoyouare’ everyday?”

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“1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . 8 . . . 44 . . . OUT!” Z’s countdown before she pulls the plug out of the tub.

While opening a cupboard in the kitchen Zoe asks, “Can I have some I love you treats?”

“I’m growing up to be a grown up!”

Des and Zoe were mumbling the other day after Nate left the apartment before they were ready to leave (he went down early to dump the trash). Des grumbled while trailing down the stairs after N8, “Dads macaroni.” Zoe agreed, “Dad’s a bad guy.”

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During a joint bath time, D&Z had taken to playing a game where one placed a hand over the others face and then pushed it under the water. I told them that the game was too dangerous and asked them to stop. I repeated myself a few times. Finally, Zoe had had enough of my parental supervision and spat at me, “If you say that again I’m going to hurt you!”

During our cuddle on the morning of her 4th birthday, Zoe happily declares to the universe, “I LOVE my mom and dad and Desi and Grandma and Grandpa and other Grandma and Grandpa!”

During dinner one night, Zoe tapped on DPJ’s shoulder and said, “You’re a genius!”

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“Mom! Snap out of sleeping and play with me! Snap out of it! Snap out of it!”

“I love you mom and I don’t want to kill you either.”

Early one morning after Zoe cuddled up with Nate, a little air escaped from her behind. Nathan asked her, “Did you come in here to fart?” Zoe reasoned, “Oh, I guess all bums do that sometimes.”

After telling Zoe about how as a girl I shared a bedroom with my sister Holly, she sighed and said, “You have a spell on you.” I was surprised and repeated her statement with a question. She covered her face and sadly explained, “You’re a grown up and I didn’t see you as little.”

After squeezing Zoe’s cheeks together and calling her a chipmunk, she said, “I’m not a chipmunk, I’m your sweetie!”