Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving Day Weekend

Wew, the holiday season is upon us. It all started last Thursday with the International Turkey Day, aka the Thanksgiving. Last year it was just Chris and I. This year, we had Mark and also my brother, Arkadiy, came down from New York. Also, this year the T-day fell right on his B-day - a double whammy that called for double the food, at least in my mind. So we went grocery shopping and got this 15-lb grain-fed, free-range, hormone-free turkey and a bunch of other stuff from the Whole Foods.

This year I made Dried Plums and Rosemary Roasted Turkey, cranberry relish, mashed potatoes, double-baked sweet potatoes, ginger-flavored green beans, mushroom and cerely stuffing, and ginger and pear muffins. And Chris baked two loaves of bread - zuccinni and pumpkin and a pear and cranberry pie. And of course, I made a big bowl of Chris's favorite salad (the one with Jello and mini marshmellows).

We decided to have a dinner instead of a more traditional lunch. So we had a lot of time in the morning to wake up and get ready, cook all the food, and go on a walk around Lake Crabtree and collect pretty leaves. Mark really enjoyed the walk. We found tons of leaves, some of which I kept to decorate the table with and some - gave to Mark to play with.

So the dinner was ready and the table was set. Then we proceeded to stuff ourselves silly with all the food. Here we are, pigging out... We had to take a break before eating the pie 'cause we were so full. And then we went back to our Thanksgiving duty of eating... And of course, we sang a Happy B-Day song for my brother. We didn't have birthday candles, so we gave him a lighter to hold and then made sure to take our time singing, hehe. All in all, it was great!

Mark also got some holiday food. We gave him small pieces of turkey and some mashed potatoes and some sweet potatoes. He especially liked the mashed potatoes - got them all over himself. That's what he does with the food that he likes very much. And he likes a lot of different kinds of foods. So meal times are pretty much always followed by bath times. Check out Mark's new bath robe! Doesn't he look totally cool?

The next day it was very-very cold, but still sunny. Chris had to do tons of homework and Arkadiy and I took Mark on a walk around the lake. Mark had to wear his "Buzz Aldrin" space suit. Other than it being cold, it was a fine day - sunny and calm. Also, since most people were either shopping or eating left-overs, the trail around the lake was almost empty. And, more importantly, there were plenty of empty rocking chairs at the boat house for after the walk. And the birds - ducks and geese - were close to the little sandy beach, waiting to be fed.

It was a tough weekend for our cat, Xander. For some reason he is very scared of Arkadiy. I mean, the very second my brother walked through the front door, Xander started hissing and growling. Then he ran upstairs and stayed there for 2 days. He wouldn't even come down to eat or drink and Chris had to bring him downstairs to the kitchen at night. I mean, Xander never really liked Arkadiy, but this time it was really ridiculous. What the heck? Today was absolutely dreadful. We tried going on walk even though it was very cold. But less than 5 minutes into our walk it started to rain and we went back to the car. So we stayed in the house, Mark - playing, Arkadiy - on Internet, Chris - studying, and I - doing stuff around the house. Then, after Arkadiy left, we went to a mall for a walk and then - to Ben&Jerry's, of all places, for some Chocolate Therapy.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Big News

1. Mark's now got 5 teeth!!! Yes, the 3rd tooth poked out just as we were leaving for Greenville. The 4th one - literally a couple of days later, as we were heading home to Raleigh. And today we got another tooth! This little baby is like a little alligator now! Mark, the Shark!

2. Mark plays with the wire labyrinth and guides little wooden beads along the wires. Why is it so exciting? First of all, it's really cute to see him figuring things out. Second, it's amazing how his little hands and fingers get more and more capable. Just a few months ago he had hard time holding a toy! As a side note here - he reaches for 2 toys at once now. They don't even have to lay terribly close to each other. He grabs both and plays with them (usually smacks them together).

3. Mark is learning to stand! This is probably the most exciting news of them all. Yes, he still doesn't crawl. But he stands! Today he progressed far enough in his standing that he can now stand for a few seconds grabbing onto something like a crib rail and without our support. With our support he can stand for a few minutes at a time! He seems to really like standing.

In miscelaneous news about Mark, he absolutely hates getting dressed. If he sees that we're planning on putting some clothes on him, he starts crying and tries to wiggle his way out of it. Undressing - this he likes. Also, he started getting quite an appetite for solid foods. He still doesn't eat much in one sitting. But he eats solids 3-4 times a day now, a little bit at a time. And he seems to like most of it - yogurt, baby cereal, fruits, cottage cheese, even some squash and mashed potatoes.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Trip to Greenville, SC

Earlier this week we went to Greenville, SC. It was a business trip for me and Chris and Mark provided "life support" - relaxed (mostly) atmosphere and good company after stressful times in the office. The main purpose of my trip to the ForeignTranslations office was... well, to meet everyone face to face; to present my research project to the boss; and to help him get the company through operations audit required by one of our potential clients.

We stayed at the Hyatt right in the center of Greenville. The hotel was pretty big and rather nice. More importantly, it was right across the street from my office, so I shuttle back and forth between work and feeding Mark. The first evening in Greenville, after checking into the hotel, I took Mark on a little stroll around the Main St. Greenville has probably the most pleasant Main Street I've ever seen. It has a good mix of restored old buildings and some nice new ones. There are dozens of good food places, small stores, galleries, etc. There are also some businesses and the city government. And they even managed to find space for a great terraced park complete with a waterfall and a one-of-a-kind bridge! The side-walks are wide and lined with trees. Most cafes have outdoor sitting. It's all very relaxing, safe, and inviting. That first night we stopped by the Sticky Fingers, a BBQ place, for dinner. The food was excellent and I totally pigged out.

The next day I dressed in my most professional-looking outfit (the only one of that kind) and went to the office. After a short "meet and great" we had to go through a photo-session - our mug shots are going to be on a new company website. Boy, do I hate these things! Then I had to hurry back to the hotel to feed Mark. And that's when things started going wrong - I got stuck in an elevator! The company office is on the 2nd floor; so I felt silly taking an elevator and instead opted for the stairs. Little did I know, the stairs did not have an exit on the first floor, but only in the basement. Worse yet, the exit door locked right behind me when I stepped into the basement. The only other exit I saw was one to the loading/unloading area in the back of the building. I ignored it for now and instead decided to try a service elevator. I got in, the doors closed, I pushed the 1st floor button - nothing! The damn elevator wasn't moving. Ok, I pushed the "Doors Open" button... Nothing!!! And I had no cell phone on me. I could be sitting there in the stupid service elevator the entire day and nobody would find me! I pushed the alarm button and heard a distant buzzer. But I suppose the service elevator wasn't important enough to be monitored. After a few minutes of shear panic, I started banging on the doors, screaming for help. Nothing!!!! Completely loosing it, I accidentally pushed "Open Doors" button on another panel (there were a total of 4 panels of which 2 didn't work). Finally, the doors opened and I ran out and into the loading/unloading dock. Sure, I had to walk around the building, but it was such a minor inconvenience. Plus I really needed the fresh area.

The rest of the day was just more work. And a business lunch on the top floor of the office building, in the private business club. It was very fancy! I relaxed enough that the elevator story started to seem funny.

In the evening we were supposed to drive to a company dinner at the Romano Macaroni & Grill. So Chris and I and Mark got into the car and... had a flat tire when we were far enough from the hotel, but not at the restaurant yet... So instead of a dinner, we spent 90 minutes waiting for a AAA guy to show up and put a "doughnut" on. Let me tell you - good thing we had some toys and diapers in the car with us.

The next day I had to be at work even earlier to get through an audit. It went very well; better, in fact, than we expected. Afterwards I was free to go and check out of the hotel. But first I fed Mark and we all took a short nap. Then we checked out, loaded the car, and had some lunch at an Asian cafe (yummy; much better than the usual Chinese take-out). And finally we drove home.

Friday, November 09, 2007

9 Months - Playing Ball, Reading Books and Getting Around (sort of)

Mark is 9 months old today! Here's his reaction to the news (above).

What does he like? Well, he likes my laptop and tries to get to it whenever he can. He also likes all sorts of books and magazines, but we only let him read his own books for now. He also likes playing ball with his Daddy and both are getting really good at it. Also Mark loves bath time - so much so that he actually cries real hard when it's over. He likes falling asleep next to both of us; usually he snuggles close to Chris's hairy chest for comfort and warmth. And he likes to play "tickle-bees" before bedtime. He loves when people pay attention to him.
What doesn't he like? He doesn't like when we try to make him crawl. He absolutely HATES getting dressed. He doesn't like spending too much time playing with any one of his toys. He doesn't like car rides when it's dark (I guess he gets bored). He really-really doesn't like when his meals are late. And he doesn't like when I work too much. He doesn't like when strangers try to grab him, pinch him, tickle him, or otherwise get too close to him.
Here's a video of Mark playing ball with Chris and moving around... sort of.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Another Tooth!

Mark the Shark has 3 teeth now. Yes, the top front left tooth finally popped out and it's a big one. So we're going to take all the money out of our piggy-bank and invest into the ToothFairy Savings Fund. I bet by the time Mark is old enough for a visit from this fairy, the going rates for baby teeth would be like $50/pop.

If Mark's potty was an Army general, it would be the 4-star general now. And of course we're not planning on stopping here, but will take it all the way - to 5 stars and beyond. Per as(s)pera ad as(s)tra!

Mark is still not interested in crawling. He doesn't need to. For one, he learned to get around low-crawling on his belly and rolling around. And of course, we can always move him to a toy or a toy to him if all else fails. Yes, we do that and tons of other things such as letting him sleep with us, feeding him on demand, and picking him up a whole lot. Some call it "spoiling your baby". But they are wrong since actually it's called "attachment parenting" aka "intuitive parenting". It has tons of advantages too. For example, since Mark sleeps with us, we not only get more sleep (no need to wake up at night), but also save money on a baby monitor and extra heating.

One big thing that Mark learned - he can now pick up and play with 2 objects at the same time! That's a big achievement! He picks up two plastic rings and bangs them against each other.