Category Archives: Family

Fatherhood moments and observations

My son’s grandmother consoled him once or twice by telling him to throw his tears at something – usually a dog, real or toy, or at something outside. She asked him where he will throw his tears, and he thinks about it and does it, and eventually gets distracted enough that he stops crying and switches gears. My wife kept up this habit. I sometimes embellish by asking him to throw his tears at his toy truck, and then I go and flip the truck over and say “boom” and he laughs. Or I have him throw his tears at my slippers, and when he does, I flick them off my feet. This has worked wonders. I see him get control of his own emotions now without intervention. He’ll throw his tears at something, take a deep breath, and say “vse” (“all done”), and move on to the the next thing with his emotions under control. I think this is marvelous for a not-yet-three year old.

We are potty training. He doesn’t usually wear diapers. During our long car ride today, he said he had to pee, and my wife suggested they put on a pamper, but he refused. There was a little discussion and improvisation and he ended up peeing in a cup, which was dumped out the window onto the rainy highway. When we arrived at grandma’s, after not seeing her for a month or so, his first words to her were “I peed in a cup.”

The GPS told us to take this other road which we know to be in horrible shape. Pot holes big enough to destroy your care if you don’t slow to a crawl. It was patched tolerably last year, and saved us maybe a whole hour on the trip, but the work didn’t survive a single winter. A real example of the worst stereo types of Ukrainian infrastructure. Anyway, we passed the turn, and for a while the GPS repeatedly ask us to make a U turn. My asked what she was say, and my wife said “to make a turn.” My son reasserted that he wanted to go to grandma’s, and told us not to listen to her.

Fatherhood moments

Morning. Just waking up. At Danny’s bed I ask him, as I often do, “How did you sleep?” He answered me one morning, “No, how did YOU sleep?”


His mother has started taking him to football (soccer) practice. It’s really basic stuff for 3-4 year olds. Danylo isn’t 3 yet. He seems to be youngest and smallest, but he holds his own. He dutifully follows the trainers’ instructions. The boys who can’t control themselves get removed from practice. Danylo loves it, and looks forward to it every time.

They learn one English word per training, and have to shout it at the end. Danylo seems to yell the loudest.


During his Helen Doron English classes, he will sometimes tell the teacher the wrong name of a color when she quizzes him. Then he looks at her and waits for a reaction. Judging by his laughter, he seems to be doing it on purpose.

Fatherhood moments

1. We’ve been telling our son to expect a trip to the US by airplane to visit “baba Maria.” Yesterday we were sitting by a lake near his mother’s town here in Ukraine. His grandfather, standing in the shallow water near the shore pushed him around in a canoe. A small prop plane puttered over us from the nearby flying school, we pointed it out to our son. He said “i dania bude letity do baby mariji . . . jisty kobasku.” (“And Danny will fly to baba Maria to eat Keilbasa.”)

2. When I was grabbing his nose, he said: “Romchyk, ne chipai.” (“Romchyk [diminutive Roman] – don’t grab me.”)

3. Somehow, he learned that ice cream was a thing. Apparently not wanting to be forward, he made a general inquiry with his mother. In a cautious voice, he asked “mamu, a morozevo liudy jidiat?” (“Mom, ice cream is eaten by people?”) She asked him where he’d seen ice cream. He’s two and a half and doesn’t really go anywhere without his mother. “In restaurants,” he answered.

Fatherhood stories

In a storybook that I read to my son, there is a recurring picture of a room with many things in it, including a mouse and bowl of oatmeal. On one of the early pages, my son said “myska xoche jisty kashu” (“the mouse wants to eat the oatmeal”). And that I thought was very cute and imaginative.

On the last page, I noticed something I’ve never noticed before, despite reading the book a dozen times at least — the mouse is now beside the bowl of oatmeal! They’re very small and difficult to notice, but I guess my son did notice. :-)

Fatherhood Moments

Our son learned the names of cards, and was thrilled to run from our living room to the kitchen, present a card to his mother and say “Ace” (in Ukrainian), then he returned and looked with fascination as I searched the deck. “This one is a Queen,” I said, handing it to him. He ran off…

I walked in the door and told my wife I that I managed to get all the groceries. She was down the hall, bathing our son. She replied “Diakuiu Kotyk” (“Thank you cat” with “cat” stated in the masculine case.) Our son immediately repeated her “Diakuiu Kotyk”. He saw us laugh and said it again. :-)

“and cover mommy”

Now that he’s two, we decided to get my son off breast milk. We’d made a few half-hearted efforts earlier, that consisted of his mother’s refusal, his increasingly hysterical protests, and acquiescence. It seemed to me that this would be as hard on Danylo’s mother as it would be on him.

Danylo has been walking to the bed, uncovering a corner of the covers. Climbing in, and calling for milk. Very manager-like. His grandmother jokes that he’s like the “holova kolhospu” (head of the collective farm).

After a talk yesterday, we decided that today was the day. We were still at Yuliia’s parents for the Easter holiday and it’d be easier with their support. Yuliia has been playfully cursing me all day. Danylo called for milk a few times, but we distracted him with toys or calling attention to the cat, or the sun, or going outside to play.

When Yuliia tried to put him down for his afternoon nap, Danylo went into hysterics. We tried driving him around in the car, but it didn’t help. He didn’t get any milk during lunch, and didn’t nap either. His sobbing hysterics relented with grandma offering playful distraction.

So he didn’t go sleep.

In the afternoon he continued getting extra attention from everybody, and went to the schoolyard with his grandfather. He also rode a bus for the first time, which was a big deal for him. He knows, cars, trains, buses and other modes of transportation very well. Combined with his knowledge of colors, this is often a subject of our conversations. Yuliia drove behind the bus for several stops, until Danylo and his grandfather existed.

At dinner, he was obviously exhausted and ate handfuls of macaroni with a sort of glazed look over his eyes.

When it was dark, his grandmother brought him into the bedroom where Yuliia was already laying down, pretending to sleep. “Mama is sleeping,” his grandmother told him, in Ukrainian.

“And Danny will sleep,” he answered. He laid down near her.

Grandma called me to look. He was quietly curled up in the center of the bed.

“I’ll cover you,” I said quietly and laid his baby blanket over him.

“And cover mommy,” he said.

Touched, and not wanting to disturb anything, I quickly moved to another room to get a blanket with which I covered Yuliia.

Everything was happening better than we could have hoped. I returned to my computer to work. A few minutes later, Danylo, in his diaper came into my room, picked up a plastic box of q-tips which he likes to play with. There was also a bed where I sat working and Danylo pulled open the corner of the cover. “Do you want to sleep here?” I asked. “No,” he said, and walked back to the bedroom where his mother lay. I followed and gave him a little boost as he climbed into bed, which for him is almost shoulder-high. He was still holding the box.

I covered him again. Gave both his mom and him a kiss, and laid down next to him until he was sound asleep. Yuliia reached over him and pinched me again — playfully. Making sure I realize what I’m putting her through. Then she held my hand as Danylo fell into a deeper and deeper sleep.

Addendum: The second day was very similar to the first. Crying after lunch. Not napping. Lots of attention, and then falling asleep quickly in the evening. On the third day we’d returned to our apartment. Danylo hadn’t napped. In the evening Yuliia read to him in bed. It was Yuliia who fell asleep. When she woke, she found Danylo sleeping on the floor beside the bed, facedown in a book. She called me to come look. He did not wake up as we lifted him carefully and tucked him in.

The bear that ate the honey.

I suppose it’s normal for kids to keep impressing and delighting their parents with new abilities and understandings. Their bodies and brains develop so quickly.

Yesterday, I joked with my wife: “Who finished the honey? I think a little bear must have snuck into our kitchen, climbed up into the cabinets, and ate it all.” Then I turned to Danylo.and said, “If you ever see him, catch him.”

He went to the bedroom and returned with the big stuffed bear relatives had gifted him.

We couldn’t believe it. Though he can name some animals and other things from flash cards, I would never have guessed he understood a single word of our conversation.

Setting Limits

Several times now, while my son was breastfeeding, I put my arm over his mother’s shoulders, and he, without changing his disposition or refocusing his eyes, slowly moved his little hand to mine, gripped my finger or whatever he happened to reach, and removed my hand — with a coldness and gravitas that were he not a 20-something pound baby, I would find downright frightening.

Little Love

Apparently, my not-yet-two-year-old son has a not-yet-two-year-old girlfriend at nursery school. They hold hands, and go for walks to different corners of their classroom. I’m told that when he slipped and fell (no big deal), his girlfriend, frightened, ran to her mother and mimed falling down in an effort to communicate what had happened.

OUN Leader Yaroslav Skaskiw remembered in Lviv

— Двадцятидворічний Ярослав Скасків загинув у бою з німецькими фашистами 19 липня 1944 року. Тоді фронт проходив через ці землі. У „Літописі УПА“ написано, що Провід ОУН перебував недалеко від Прибина в селі Старі Стрілища, а боївка оборони була в лісі поблизу. Відступаюча з фронту німецька частина перетинала село, тож ухилитися від зіткнення було неможливо. Намагаючись відступити до лісу, штаб прийняв нерівний бій, врятуватися в якому не було шансів. У результаті бою загинули два провідники — краєвий референт ОУН Юліан Гулян, псевдо Токар, і обласний провідник ОУН Ярослав Скасків, псевдо Моряк.

3 вересня 2017 року в селі Прибин на Перемишлянщині освятили відновлений військовий меморіал полеглим невідомим воїнам УПА — 11 пам’ятних хрестів. Серед тих поховань — могила студента-відмінника хіміко-технологічного факультету Львівської політехніки обласного провідника ОУН Ярослава Скасківа.

On September 3, 2017, a reconstructed military memorial was dedicated to the fallen unidentified UPA soldiers – 11 memorable crosses in the Peremyshlyan region in the village of Pribin. Among those burial places is the grave of the student-specialist of the chemical-technological faculty of Lviv Polytechnic of the OUN Regional Leader Yaroslav Skaskiv.

Twenty-two-year-old Yaroslav Skaskiv died in a fight with the German fascists on July 19, 1944. Then the front passed through these lands. In the “Chronicle of the UPA” it is written that the OUN’s wires were not far from Pribinka in the village of Stari Strilishka, and the combat bunker was in the forest near. The German side, retreating from the front, crossed the village, so it was impossible to avoid the collision. Trying to retreat to the forest, the headquarters took an unequal battle, to escape in which there was no chance. As a result of the battle, two leaders died – regional adviser of the OUN Julian Gulyan, pseudo Tokar, and the regional leader of the OUN Yaroslav Sakasov, pseudo Mariner.

First words

We counted. Including animal sounds, my 1 1/2 year old speaks (or has spoken) about 40 words. Incomplete list:


kurka (chicken / bird)
katka (duck)
xriu xriu (oink oink)
bliblibli (turkey noise)
how how (woof woof)
tweet tweet
chirp chirp

apricot (yes)


titsa (mother’s milk)




woo hoo

beep beep
choo choo