Monday, August 27, 2007

Growth Spurt

First of all, this is NOT our house in the background. It's the Yeats Mill - a small working corn mill turned museum close by. I took Mom there on her visit. The mill is a working one, as I said and they do grind and sell corn throughout the summer. We went on a tour the other day - very interesting!
Mark is almost 7 months old now and is growing super-fast. This has been a very eventful month for him. First, he grew 2 teeth. Then - he learned to roll all the way onto his tummy. And now, just last week, he learned how to sit on his own!

I thought it was supposed to be gradual: one day he'd try to sit up with support; then - he'd sit up on his own, but leaning forward onto his arms; then - sit up without any support; and finally, in due time, sit up, lean over to reach and grab a toy, then straighten himself up again. Well, well, well... that was a nice theory. Up until last week Mark simply refused to sit, even supported. He would either object loudly or slouch into an almost-horizontal position. More often than not he did both. I started getting a bit worried - a 6-month old baby was supposed to WANT to learn how to sit. And then it happened: last Monday Mark was slouching and crying when sitted. And last Tuesday he all of a sudden decided not only to sit up, but to lean over, grab a toy, and straighten back up WITH the toy!

So here are the pictures - Mark is sitting on his own - no trickery, no Mom and Dad supporting him, no pillows to prop him.

He loves reaching for everything that is out of his range - a toy, a plate, a phone, a napkin. No crawling yet, but he's trying really hard. This reach-and-grab thing replaced all his other games, even the jumper doesn't interest him much right now. Mark's favorite toys this month are Alphabooks by Baby Einstein. Foods - anything, but green vegetables or cottage cheese. I bought him a feeder (like a small pouch made out of mesh fabric and with a handle on one side) and feed him bananas and peaches. Big plastic bibs are out, ever since the whole made-in-China recall debacle. So we're back to small fabric bibs - a HUGE mess every time Mark eats solids. Lots of clean-up, but perfect picture opp!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Mom's Visit - Part 2

It's great having Mom here and not only because of all the help cooking, cleaning, watching Mark. Actually, I tried, rather successfully, to limit her volunteering efforts. Instead, I took 3 days off to relax and spend more quality time as a family. It was a bit different since we had no car in the morning to go anywhere and it was insanely hot in the afternoon. But we did go to the pool once more. We actually walked there and back!

We also went to the Oak View Plantation here, in Raleigh. It's a nice old plantation not far from us that was turned into a park and a sort of museum. All the buildings are restored and open for visitors (free). There's an old barn, a cotton gin (there's a very nice hands-on exhibit there about cotton growing), the main house, a kitchen with all the period tools and cooking utensils. I also took Mom to the Yeats Mill and, lucky us, they were having one of the corn griding demos. We didn't go on a tour since Mark was getting cranky. But we got to watch from the outside how the miller opened the water gate and how the water rushed into the huge wheel and how it started slowly turning... It probably sounds very boring, but I guess you just gotta be there to appreciate. Besides, the entire place - the mill, the pond, the park around it - is very beautiful and makes you want to linger in one of the rocking chairs.

And we went on a big road trip - to Charleston, SC. Ok, so it's only 4 hours away. But making this trip with a 6-months old that is full of energy and never sleeps - 4 hours seem like 24. I packed so many toys that I could've passed for a Santa's little helper. We actually had to get a bigger car to fit all Mark's gear in it (a stroller, a bag with diapers, food, spare outfits, etc). We got to North Charleston (a very ugly place, by the way, and chocked with traffic day and night) around 5pm, checked in at a La Quinta Inn, soaked our stiff joints in the pool for a little bit and then drove to Hanahan to see my cousin Olga and her parents, Sam and Lydia (Olga's husband, Noah, had to work evening shift). Unfortunately, it was a very short visit and I spent most of it taking care of Mark - feeding, pacifying, rocking him to sleep, etc. So I barely got to chat with my relatives.

The next morning we got up early and drove to the Isle of Palms. What a nice place! We decided that next time we're in Charleston, we'll get a hotel room there. The water was nice and warm, with just small waves. There were no huge hotels to uglify the scenery. Instead, there was plenty of parking, beach access, restrooms, well-preserved dunes, picturesque sea-side cottages, shops selling Isle of Palms branded souveniers and all the nice things that one might want at a sea-side resort town. And I even got stung by a jelly-fish!
Later that morning we drove to the historic Charleston and walked around a bit. What a nice place! We decided that next time we're in Charleston, we'll get a hotel room there. Wait... I think I am repeating myself. Ok, so next time we're in Charleston, we'll have to stay there for 2-3 nights - both at the Isle of Palms and in the historic district. It was getting hot and Mark was getting tired. We were all gettign tired and hungry and all. So we grabbed some Arby's and headed to my cousin's house once more for the final goodbyes. Besides, it was a convenient refueling and diaper-changing stop for Mark.

Monday, August 13, 2007

6 Months and Mom's Visit

Mark turned 6 months last Thursday. Thank you for all the phone calls and e-mails that we received. He's doing great! We had our first graduation - from a swimming class. Ok, so he's not a very accomplished swimmer yet; but he's not afraid of water and enjoys kicking and splashing and chasing a toy duck around the big pool. Once in a while I dunk him and he takes it very matter-of-factly - doesn't cry or look surprised, but quickly gets back to whatever he was doing such as chasing a duck or sucking on his thumb.
Another thing that happened last Thursday was THE TOOTH! Yes, Mark got his first tooth (bottom left, just as we suspected). I was going to name this lonely tooth, something like Chompy or whatnot. But alas, there's another one coming out already! Of course, Mark is chewing on everything now and is a bit cranky. He also bites now pretty hard!

The day after Mark's birthday, last Friday, we went to meet Mom at the airport. She flew in for a week of vacation time. I couldn't believe it - Mom was flying UNACCOMPANIED! And judging by her big smile, it was a good experience. And she brought several pounds of fresh tomatoes and cucumbers from her garden. (check out this holla to Mom and the tomatoes that was published on Barbara Kingslover's website). Back home, she assured us that she was not tired at all from the trip after which she fell sound asleep in the guest room.

Also on Friday, Mark learned turning all the way from his back to his belly. He really loves it now and uses his new skill at the first opportunity, creating new diaper-change challenges.

It is very hot here, in Raleigh, and we stay in-doors during the day (plus I work). But on Saturday we all went to the beach. It was just a day trip. We drove 2 hours to get there; spent 20 minutes setting up the site; 20 minutes - changing and feeding Mark; 10 minutes in the water with Mark, jumping over the waves; 40 minutes - eating lunch; and another 2 hours - driving back home. But such is life with the little one.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Size 3 Diapers

Mark now wears size 3 diapers. Yes, he is getting bigger and bigger every day! We went to the doctor last week for his 6-month check-up (time flies) - Mark weights 16.24lbs and is 26in long. No teeth yet, but we're thinking it won't take long now.

Of course, moving up in the world of diapers was not the only thing we did last week. We also celebrated my birthday. Yeah, again... time flies... Anyway, not to make a big secret out of it, I turned 29. Chris got me a ginormous chocolate cake with enough sugar in it to OD an elephant. And then he proceeded to put 29 candles on it and almost ran out of space. One more candle and he would have to put it on the side of the cake. Not a bad idea for next year though - a cake covered with candles all over, like a hedgehog. We waited until Mark fell asleep in the evening so we could have that cake and eat it too. Once Mark fell asleep, Chris started lighting the candles. By the time he finished with the last one, Mark woke up and we had to rush through the whole candle-blowing and cake-eating thing. That's how I learned that the older you get, the less fun you get to have.

We continue going to the pool every day. Mark is doing well, I think. He seems to like most of it, except putting on a life-saver jacket. Actually, he threw a fit today when we tried to get him into one. Oh well, he'll really have to learn how to swim on his own then. Funny - he hates the life-jacket, but doesn't mind diving at all. What else... Oh, Mark started trying to sit up. If he's in a good mood, he would lean forward and rest on his hands while sitting, just for a few seconds. He also learns rolling over. Most of the time he needs a bit of help, but only a very tiny bit. The rest of the rolling over from back to front he does on his own. And he loves it too, smiles big and immediately tries to crawl.

Oh, Chris got me excellent gifts for my birthday. He baked a huge pizza. Also, he got me three books from my Amazon wish-list which, at present, runs to 95 titles. All three books were fantastic and I would highly recommend them:

1. Justinian Flea - goes over diverse subjects such as Roman emperors, Christianity, geography, bacteria, evolution, military science, etc, etc that all contributed to the decline and fall of Roman empire.

2. Living in Foreign Language - a memoir by Michael Tucker about how he and his wife bought a house in Umbria and moved to Italy. This book is a light read, but its value lies in very thorough and mouthwatering descriptions of Italian dishes. It's very inspirations - I'm going to learn Italian cooking now.

3. Banvard's Folly - this book is absolutely fascinating if a bit depressing. It's about "13 people who did not change the world". It starts with an American artist, Banvard, that was famous for painting a 3-mile long diorama of Mississippi river. I'm reading about Martin Tupper who, contrary to what you might think did not create Tupperware, but was a poet. Oh, if only he lived in the age of Hallmark cards!