Home Owners Association here, at Avent West neighborhood, is very different from what we had in Florida. First of all, it's 100% voluntery. The membership fee is $30.00 - a year! And noone tells you what to do and what not to do. Sure, there's no community pool or golf course or gym or some such thing. But there is a book club, a baby-sitting co-op, other special-interests groups. The side-walks are everywhere, yards are clean and houses - well-kept, playgrounds - safe; it seems that people live here for generations and all know each other. In short, it is a very pleasant older neighborhood that we live in. And they have an annual neighborhood party!
This year's party was a short walk from our house, at Valerie Drive cul-de-sac. The entire cul-de-sac was blocked off from traffic. There was a small band playing, some entertainment for kids, and a tent with all different foods. Most everyone brought either a dessert or a side dish and there were also hot-dogs and BBQ. More experienced neighbors brought chairs and coolers with wine and beer. As for Chris and I, we sat on a grass in one of the front-yards. But mostly we walked around since Mark didn't like standing still. We met my playdate pal Melanie and her husband, Will and their relatives and friends. They were wise in the ways of block parties and brought beer and wine that they shared with us (well, with Chris). And there were so many children there! Kids of all ages, from a few months to teenagers, vastly outnumbered adults. It seems that each family here has at least 2-3 kids!
And speaking of children... Mark is learning new things every day, it seems. He's a very talkative fellow now - says all his "hoooo, heeee, haaaa, neee, gaaa" and such very loudly and one after another. These are his happy sounds; he usually smiles right before or after saying them. His unhappy sound is still a loud cry, but now it is even higher-pitched and insistant than ever. He spends a lot of time in a semi-sitted position, proped on the pillows or on our knees. And he looks at pages of different books that we show him. Another thing that he's quite proficient now is rolling from his back to his side when properly motivated. It is funny to watch because he swings his legs to give him the momentum. Finally, Mark started waking up with a big stretch and an even bigger smile and he smiles before going to bed too. But it is very hard to catch him smiling for the camera. He usually pretends to be very serious when photographed.