Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween 07

This is Mark's first Halloween ever and our second one in this house. Based on the last year's turn-out we upped the amount of candy. You see, our neighborhood is very kid-friendly with an elementary school, a bunch of playgrounds, and of course side-walks most everywhere. Seems like we have trick-o-treaters from all over Raleigh coming over. We must've had like 100 kids at our door in less than 4 hours tonight. We almost ran out of candy; just a few tootsie-rolls are left for me to munch on.

Mark was dressed in his lion costume aka bearded mouse costume. Actually, Chris put him in the costume shortly after lunch and took him on a long walk. Then Chris carved a scary toothy pumpkin. And then Chris handed candy to the kiddies. I guess you see a pattern here, right?

So now both Chris and Mark are soundly asleep after such an eventful evening and I get a chance to catch up on the news. Finally, I have time to put it on record all the progress that Mark's made:

- he learned to shake hands - Chris extends his hand to him and says "Put it there, pal!" and Mark shakes his hand and giggles
- he can hold all his weight on his feet now for a few seconds at a time
- he tries to pull himself to standing grabbing the bars of his crib
- he enjoys yogurt and baked squash
- his top front left tooth is about to poke out
- and he earned two stars on his potty already!

How about all this!!!

Chris started working on renovating our office/family room. Right now it looks horrible because we just dump all the piles of junk in there. But hopefully soon it will look very presentable. I just finished my first (out of 9) classes that would get me a localization generalist certification. And Xander runs out a few times every day, but always comes back (I guess 'cause he can't fend for himself).

That's it for now. You can watch a video of Mark in his lion costume.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


That's for "I don't know what to put as a title for this post". Big news - we (read - Mark) got our first invitation to a party! We're going to Louis's (see previous post) 1st birthday party! How cool, right?! Maybe Mark will be ready to eat some cake by then without looking like a little piglet? Right... For now he practices his table manners on cookies. This is what he looks like after eating half a cookie. What happened to the other half? It's mostly all other his high chair, his tray, his fingers, and some other good cookie-hiding places such as nose, ears, eyebrows, and Mommy's white sweater.

Saturday was a busy day for us. First we went to the Farmer's Market to pick up a pumpkin. But how can you pick just one when there are so many pretty pumpkins and gourds. Good thing we parked the car far away so we couldn't carry too many pumpkins with us. It was absolutely a great trip to the market. Most veggies are on the out now. But the whole entire section of the market is reserved for fall flowers and, of course, for pumpkins. People buy them by truck-loads. Or rather by SUV-loads. 10-20 pumpkins per family. What do they do with all them pumpkins when the Hallowing is over? What would you do with 20 pumpkins?! We only bought one (here's Chris inspecting the year's crop for that perfect one). Oh, and also we bought some little funky-looking gourds and two small mini-pumpkins. Gourds are for Mark to play with. Minis are for easy carving. And the big one is for a special photo-op with Mark.

Just as we were done unloading the pumpkins, it was time to change and go to the Trunk or Treat party. That's kind of like a tail-gating party for kids. Only the theme is Hallowing, there's candy instead of beer, and adults entertain kids instead of having semi-intelligent conversations with each other. Oh, and people decorate the trunks of their cars, mostly SUVs and mini-vans. It's actually more fun than it sounds, but only if you have a kid. Maybe we can decorate our car next year? Heck, we just won't clean the trunk (we're not doing it now anyway) and let the cobwebs grow. And then we will let the kids rummage around the trunk for edibles, spare change, and little critters to take home! We tried to dress Mark up in a costume. The costume was a hand-me-down and we were told it was a lion's costume. Hmm, is it me or does Mark look more like a bearded mouse in it? Adorable! Too bad it got so hot on Saturday that we had to change him out of that costume into some lighter clothes even before we got to the party.

Today, of course, the weather was much cooler. So much so, in fact, that we had to waste a big chunk of the day hunting for winter furs (read - shopping for warm clothes and a comforter). Exhausted from the hunt, we spent the rest of the day playing bubbles with Mark (ok, so he was entertained for only 5 minutes or so).

Monday, October 22, 2007

Extreme Drought

Why have I not been posting on the blog for so long? Well, we haven't had any real rain here in Raleigh for a few months now. So we're officially in the state of extreme drought. I guess it affected the frequency of my posts. Does it make sense? No!

Mark and I play a Godzilla game now - I build him a Tokyo out of Peek-A-Blocks and he demolishes it... over and over and over.

Seriously though, not much has happened between the last post and today. We did go to the State Fair a couple of weeks ago, on its opening weekend. But unfortunately we did not take a camera with us. So you won't see pictures of pretty tea gardens, adorable blue ribbon-winning calves, or giant pumpkins. But trust me when I say it - we had a great time! We didn't go to any of the rides or played any of the games where one can win giant stuffed pink dinosaurs (sp?). But we did get to see a lot of interesting things (cows, pigs, bees, pumpkins, crafts) and eat some of the oh-so-bad-for-you fair food (funnel cake comes to mind).

Oh, and we finally signed up at a local library. And what a library it is! Honestly, maybe it's 'cause I haven't been to a public library in years, but this one (in Cameron Village) really impressed me. Of course, any place full of books impresses me. Then again, they even had Russian books for kids. And they have story times for toddlers! And they have all sorts of interesting events for kids and adults!! And you can check out as many books as you want!!!

Yesterday I went to the Farmer's Market with my friend Kelli and her 11-month old son, Louis. Then they stopped by our house for a little playdate with Mark. Louis is very advanced - he not only crawls, but stands and scoots and even crawls up the stairs! The problem is him and Mark love the same toys. And since Louis is bigger and more mobile than Mark (for now, anyway), he gets to the toys first. Mark doesn't look too happy on the picture.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Mom's Birthday

We had several things to celebrate this past weekend - Mark's soon-to-be 8-month birthday, our 1-year anniversary in this house. But the most important was Mom's birthday. The plan was to go to an Arts Fair at one of the parks on Saturday, followed by a birthday dinner. And then on Sunday - to check out a hydroplane competition at Lake Wheeler.

The arts fair was actually very small, much smaller than what we were used to in Daytona Beach. It took us only 20 minutes to walk all around it and we really tried to take our time. And then it rained quite a bit. So we went home. With so much time to spare, we decided to check out the hydroplane competition on Saturday. I thought it was going to be a competition of planes that take off from water. After all, that's what "hydroplane" means in Russian. Well, I was wrong! It was a speed-boat competition - they were small and extremely loud and went real fast around the lake. They were so loud, actually, that Mark got really scared. So Dad and Chris watched the competition and Mom and I found a quiet spot some distance away from the lake and sat there while Mark napped. But we did see a big turtle and that was cool.

Then in the evening things got back on track with the birthday dinner. I decided to do it Iron Chef-style, with a secret ingredient. My secret ingredient was apples. So we had a baked apple and almonds salad with cider vinegar dressing, freshly-made apple sauce, chicken and apple cider stew with butternut squash and, of course, apples, and finally, an upside-down apple cake. Of course, when the desert was ready to be served, we realized that we didn't have any candles. So instead Dad contributed a lighter and we held it rock-concert style while singing Happy Birthday in both English and Russian.
On Sunday we went to the Duke Gardens for a little bit. And then parents watched Mark for about an hour and Chris and I got out of the house, just the two of us! That was weird. We didn't know what to do; so we went to buy a potty and a new toy for Mark and then had coffee at B&N.

Almost 8 Months!

Aha, Mark is turning 8 months tomorrow! Just as with all other "birthdays" I can hardly believe it - 8 months already!!! Yay!!!! He's made so much progress over the past weekend. I credit my Mom and Dad with much of Mark's new skills. Seems like they provided "the tipping point" - new people, new voices, new games, etc. But first thing first...

Mom and Dad drove to Raleigh last Friday and stayed the ENTIRE weekend. Yay!!! As usual, they brought enough foodstuff with them to feed a small but disproportionately hungry village. This time a package of humanitarian aid included a loan from my brother - a book "One Red Paperclip" and some year-old mail.

Chris and I were a bit worried about the reception my parents would get from Mark. Ever since last month our smily baby turned shy and unfriendly towards strangers. He would try to hid his face or even cry when someone would approach us with the usual complements. Of course, he saw his grandparents several times before, but it was a while ago. He saw Grandpa 4 months ago and Grandma - 2 months; and that's a long time for a not-yet-8-months old. But Mark was great! He got a bit shy at first, but completely recovered after about 20 minutes. So much so that he was happily tagging Grandpa's nose and giggling. In return he was practically overloaded with love, attention, cooing, and such from both grandparents and spent most of the weekend in their company.
As I mentioned earlier, it was all for the best. Sometime on Saturday Mark started doing the tummy-to-back roll. I mean, he did it before a couple of times, but since Saturday he's been doing it all the time in the most casual fasion. So now I call him "полный Колобок" because before that he was only "полу-Колобок". Even more exciting is his speech development. Again, since Saturday, probably influenced by endless torrent of endearments, rhymes, songs, and general chatter from grandparents, he started saying TONS of consonants. He now carries quite lengthy discources about things, such as (approximately) his latest on the state of "dla-da-de-poo-lya" and a poetic "pre-rrre-dle-da-dya". It's all very cute and unbelievably funny.

Grandma also made Mark some home-grown baby food. He got to eat a tiny, baseball-sized watermelon she grew this year. The next day he ate fresh apple sauce. And finally, on Sunday night, mashed potatoes made out of 3 small organically grown potatoes. He enjoyed most of it, too.
Upon advice from grandparents, and with their financial backing, Chris and I went to Babies'R'Us and bought Mark a potty. Yep, we're potty-training him already. So far it consists only of putting him on the potty, aptly labeled "King Mark's Throne" in the morning and in the evening for a couple of minutes. He hasn't done anything yet, but we'll keep you posted on the progress.