Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Little Cousins

Last weekend we had tons of guests over -my brother, my cousin Pavel, and his daughter Alisa. So Pavel and Alisa saw Mark for the first time. I think we all had good time here. Too bad it was only for two days - Sunday and Monday - and I worked on Monday.

On Sunday Alisa played with Mark and generally ran around the house looking at things. She is tons of fun - talks a lot, asks A LOT of questions, bounces around like a little Energizer bunny, and it seems like she never ever gets tired. Well, maybe if you take her on a long-long walk. We did just that when we all went to Lake Lynn in the afternoon. And on Monday Chris made a big pizza! And we also had cake!! And that's why I still can't loose weight!!! (Plus I have like no will-power).

I think we all had a lot of fun. The only casualty of the visit was our cat, Xander. For some reason he really hates guests, especially children. He doesn't mind Mark and seems to like my parents. But he took a deep dislike of my brother almost from the moment they met and tried to sneakily attack him a couple of times. As for Alisa (and other small children), Xan gets scared, mews, growls like a dog, makes all sorts of threatening noises, and eventually tries to attack their feet. Alisa is a very generous girl and she seemed to like Xan even after all his rudeness. But for her safety and for Xan's sanity and life protection, we locked him up in a spare room for most of the time.

In other news, I feed Mark some sweet peas now. Gotta make sure that he likes the veggies, right? He is puzzled by the texture since it's a lot more "solid" than milk or liquid-y rice cereal. I don't know if he likes the tast that much or if he just likes chewing on the spoon, but he eats 2-3 baby spoons of this stuff and then licks his fingers and bib. I eat the rest so it doesn't spoil - very fresh and yummy! Xan got a hold of one of Mark's spoons and chewed the heck out of it. Maybe he's hinting that he wants some peas?

Friday, June 22, 2007


This has been a pretty exciting week. Mark has learned a great deal. He communicates now mostly through grunts and squeals. Crying is reserved only for extreme situations - when he's hungry, frustrated, or scared. He makes two different kinds of grunts. One is a good ol' "pooping" grunt - haha. The other one sounds like a low humming sound and he uses it sometimes when he's trying to fall asleep. His squeals are very loud now and serve not just to express delight and joy, but also to attract attention. If not properly attended to, these squeals degenerate into a loud protesting cry.

Yesterday we fed him new food - sweet peas. He was mostly surprised and didn't seem to like it too much. But at the same time he kept opening his mouth for another spoonful. We'll see if he likes it more today.

Also, he started expressing mild interest in his legs and toes. Sometimes he straightens his leg and grabs his knee. Other times he just watches his toes wiggle.

Most exciting of all, for half the night he sleeps in his basinet. Yes, we brought the basinet back into our room since I feel very uneasy about letting him sleep in a separate room yet. So after he goes to sleep, Chris moves him to the basinet. Mark is really big now so he touches the sides of the basinet with his feet and hands. But he seems to like the snuggness. Anyway, he sleeps there until about 2:30am when he wakes up to eat. After he eats, I just let him sleep in our bed for the rest of the night since both Chris and I are totally exhausted.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Father's Day Weekend

It felt like a long and very fun weekend. My parents visited. They got here on Friday afternoon, just as we finished all the preparation work - baking healthy organic muffins and very unhealthy cookies, cleaning up, etc. As usual, when parents arrived, they brought so much stuff with them, that it looked like they were moving in. And of course, they brought tons of food stuff, enough to award their Toyota Corolla an "official hunger-relief car" status. After unpacking and settling down, they got busy spoiling Mark. And Chris and I were just too happy to have 4 more hands to cary Mark around all the time; so we didn't mind. On Friday evening we made a big pizza from scratch. Chris made dough and I - toppings. It turned out so great that we decided to make pizza every week now.

On Saturday we went to the Farmer's Market. When I say "we" I really mean Mom, myself, Chris, and Mark. Dad stayed in the house, smoked, browsed Internet, and tried to get over his back-pain. Mom was really impressed by our Farmer's Market. Now it really boasts a huge variety of fresh fruits, veggies, herbs, flowers, cheeses and all that stuff. Originally we didn't plan on buying anything. But how could we resist all the sights and the smells and the sounds. And so we bought some goat cheese, tomatoes, cukes, and freshly picked bluberries. Mom even bought some flowers, included a small rose plant, to plant in NY.

Back at the house we set to cooking - yummy cold beet soup, leftover pizza, and a very-berry layered dessert. And we had so much sweet stuff - Chris's oatmeal-raising cookies, muffins, chocolate-dipped apples from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, and of course all the apricots, cherries, grapes, and peaches that Mom could haul from NY. Then we waited until it cooled off a bit outside and drove to Pullen Park for a little stroll. We chose Pullen Park mostly because we wanted plenty of benches for Dad to sit on since his leg was bothering him. But the evening was so nice and the park - so lovely! There were plenty of children there, as usual, but most of the BBQ shelters were empty. Carousel and other rides were open and paddleboats were gliding all around the little lake. We simply walked around snapping pictures of each other.

After eating dinner, we decided that it would be a good idea to feed Mark his first solid food in front of his grandparents. And so I quickly made some water-based Gerber Organic Rice cereal; we put Mark in his swing (haven't gotten him a high-chair yet); put a huge bib on him; and I approached him with a little spoon bought just for the occassion. Chris was at the ready with the camera and Dad - aiming at us with a camcoder. I was almost sure with all this commotion, Mark would simply ignore the food. But he was such a good boy - opened his mouth wide for the spoon, made cute surprised cooing noises, and covered his face and his bib with cereal in the most darling way. And after eating ONE WHOLE TEASPOON of cereal, I took him upstairs for some regular food. Then later on he even drew a picture for his grandparents under Chris's and Grandma's supervision.

So after the grandparents left early on Sunday, Chris and I went to the stores to get Chris his Father's Day gift. Since Chris didn't know what he wanted and I didn't want to get him a pair of socks, we went to a couple of stores and got him several bars of gourmet dark chocolate. And later in the evening we drove to yet another park - Lake Lynn - for a nice leisurely 2.2-mile stroll. Going back to work on Mondays is getting ever more difficult!!!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

4 Months

Can you believe it - Mark is 4 months old already?! On Friday we went for a regular check-up and a second round of shots. The boy is growing - he's 13lbs 15oz and 24.5in long. His head grew bigger as well - 41.5cm. And he was such a happy and curious boy all through the visit. But then he had to get the shots. He liked the first shot, which was administered orally, because he could chew on the dispencer. But the other three he really hated and made it known to all around him. Finally, after the nurse withdrew, our Band-Aided little bug quieted down. But for the next could of days he didn't feel all that great and even had a bit of a fever going. Happy freaking birthday, Mom and Dad! (Note to ourselves - do not schedule shots before important dates)

Last week Mark learned a lot of new and useful things. He learned to put everything he can grab right into his mouth. Some, like a teether or Dad's hand, turn out to be pretty good; others, like giraffe's foot or a soft red cube, are not at all tasty or chewable. When Mark sees himself in the mirror, he now smiles wide and tries to get close. If we hold him, then he just stretches his hands towards the mirror and squirms and makes little needy sounds. If he happens to be laying on his tummy, he lifts his butt up, pulls his knees under, grabs a blanket with his little hands, and tries to crawl towards the mirror. Of course, he can't yet. But what he can do is to leapfrog. At first he could only do it when laying on his back. He would dig his heels into the floor, lift his butt and lower back, and push through heels and shoulders. It was amazing to see how quickly he could move and turn this way. And then it all got a bit funnier when he learned to leapfrog on his tummy. With his knees bent under the tummy and hands grabbing the blanket, Mark presses his little nogging to the floor, huffs and puffs and wiggles and leaps forward a couple of inches at a time. It must be really frustrating for him, since he always ends up crying. Then we pick him up and carry him around for a little bit and try to calm him down a bit which is a lot more difficult than it sounds.

It is extremely hot outside during the day. The temps reach lower 90ies by noon. So unless we walk with him early in the morning, we have to wait until late in the evening. This throws Mark's schedule out of the window. A couple of times we tried to go to different malls so we can walk around at regular time. There are a lot of big malls here, but oddly, all of them are exactly the same. I mean, the layouts are a bit different and most malls are the newer ones and very attractively built. But the stores are all the same. So it gets annoying and boring. Plus it's so crowded there since everyone has the same idea about escaping the heat. I'm telling you, stroller traffic is very heavy.

Yesterday we got fed up with the mall crowd and instead waited until it cooled down some and went to Pullen Park. Pullen is a nice park and, as so many other cool places, is just minutes away from our house. It's a great park for kids - has a carousel, a lake with paddle boats, a big playground, and a toy train. There are also a dozen or so picnic shelters and gazebos. Can it get any better than that? And today we all went to the Farmers' Market (also only minutes away from us) and got some great stuff for a little picnic. We had to do the indoors picnic (read - lunch), but next year, when the deck is done and there's some landscaping and all, we'll do it outside.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Two New Games

Mark learned two new games this week. One is a good old peekaboo or, rather, its localized Russian version, a "koo-koo" game. He was getting restless and bored on Monday as I was foldign the laundry. So to distract him, I waved some of the towels, shirts, and receiving blankets in front of him. He didn't care too much. But when I added the magic "koo-koo" words, he was hooked and began smiling wide.

Another game that we discovered, quite by chance, is the "wind blows" game. That's when I blow wind gently on Mark's face. He always acts surprised and sort of catches his breath. And then he giggles very happily.

Other interesting things that he does include lots of drooling, attempting to put everything into his mouth (if it doesn't fit, he just licks it), munching on a teether, babbling (mostly "neee", "hooo", "heee", and "auuu" sounds), grabbing practically anything that is put in his hands, and smiling at his reflection in the toy mirror.