Monday, January 28, 2008


Nothing is going on... nothing at all. We were supposed to go bowling last weekend. Well, we decided to get our house choirs done on Saturday, including whole lot of going through store to store looking for curtains and pillows and nice things for our office. Oh yeah, it's looking really great now. We installed new wall-to-wall bookcases that look totally like built-ins. The design is mine; execution - by a local carpenter, Patty. And Chris is almost done converting a closet into a built-in crafts area for me. And so I stay busy trying to make it all look pretty on a pretty limited budget.

Anyway, we decided to go bowling on Sunday when the alley is open (11am to 1pm). But Mark came up with a better plan - he fell asleep right after his morning snack and stayed asleep pretty much through our projected bowling time. Why oh why aren't there any drive-through bowling alleys? We would put him in the car; he'd sleep; we'd drive up to the lane, open the doors and bowl to our hearts' content! Alas... Instead, we ended up waiting for Mark to wake up and then doing the reverse lunch thing - first, ice-cream and then - a gourmet pizza and a root beer from a local micro-brewery.

This week we probably won't go bowling either. I tutor Russian for 1 hour on Monday nights now. And then tomorrow and Thursday I have a Translation Memory and Machine Translation class (working on a Localization Generalist certification). Then this weekend is Chris's drill. Oh well, will have to wait another week.

What's new with Mark? He talks a lot - baby talk and all sorts of funny noises. He started saying "ma" again. He walks when supported. He learned to play "catch" and scoots merrily on his butt down the hallway when we pretend to be chasing him. He pays attention to other little kids - looks at them and tries to touch them. Chris and I took him to a couple of story-times at the local libraries. At home, he plays with all his toys, but prefers regular objects such as tapperware and kitchen utencils and old magazines. He's very good at taking toys out of boxes and drawers, but lately he's been trying to put them back in. And he's staying busy developing his personality - for now it chiefly consists of loud objections while being diapered and dressed or when being seated in the car seat.

Monday, January 21, 2008


We're going to a real restaurant - for the first time in over a year!

Getting Mark ready to go out is a major undertaking!
Last Friday was our 5th wedding anniversary. As usual, we went to the Melting Pot for some fondue. It's just something we do every year (and we got pictures to prove it). Mark went with us. I was a bit concerned whether he'd be able, and more importantly, willing to behave himself for even half an hour. After all, fondue eating takes time. But it was ok. First, there were so many people around paying a lot of attention to him - two hostesses, a waitress, a photo girl, a flower girl, a manager... And then there was the knob that controlled the temperature of the hot plate! That was very exciting (to Mark). He even got his own plate loaded with chopped banana. And I took some of Mark's food with us. As we were dining on cheese fondue, Mark was content with making a mess of his food. We even managed to order and enjoy a chocolate fondue before Mark started getting cranky.

Back home with flowers

Sunday, January 13, 2008

More Pictures from Florida

Teaching Mark not to feed the gators at Blue Springs Park.

At Blue Springs park.
Eating shrimp under the bridge at sunset.
New Smyrna Beach.
Playing mini-golf.

At Blue Springs Park in Deland, FL trying to show Mark some manatees.

In New Smyrna Beach, FL - dolphin-watching with Tania.

Check out this super-sized cat, Boris!
Check out this super-sized live oak!
One of the branches of that same oak.

Sun Splash Park in Daytona Beach, FL

On the beach in Daytona.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


We're back from Florida after a short vacation. We went to Daytona Beach and stayed with our good friends, Tanya and Mike and their gianormous cat, Boris (and also their fish, frogs, turtles, finches, parakeets and a canary). The weather couldn't had been better - upper 60ies in the mornings and low 80ies in the afternoons with sunny sky and lite breeze.

We spent some time driving around town, looking at things that were old and that were new. Frankly, Daytona hasn't changed for the better in the last year and a half. Lots of places closed down; others looked like they might follow the suite in the near future; new businesses were mostly box stores and big chains. But the beach was as nice as ever and the views from the bridges as one crosses the Intracoastal to the beachside - absolutely stunning.

Mark behaved very well on the drive to Daytona and we were able to make it there in just 9 hours. The next morning we went straight to the beach and to see our good friend, Eleonora. We had a few things on our to-do list and most of them had to do with food - shripm, sandwiches, ice-cream, tiramisu, hot dogs and more. Apart from eating, we wanted to spend time at the beach, see manatees at the Blue Springs, maybe watch dolphins in New Smyrna Beach, play a round of mini-golf, and just forget about house, work, bill-paying, etc and just have fun. For the most part, we successfully accomplished this mission.

We weren't in too much hurry to get back to Raleigh and adopted a very leisurely driving pace. First, we went for a little stroll on the beach, then - for some coffee. Then we stopped to buy oranges at one of the many Indian River Fruit stands along I-95 and ended up with a bushel of navel oranges and a small orange tree that immediately filled our car with the smell of orange blossoms. Then, somewhere in Georgia, we stopped at an outlet mall and got some stuff for the kitchen. Finally, around 3pm we drove into Savannah for a late lunch of crab cakes and a walk along the River Street. Needless to say, we had to stop for the night well short of Raleigh. But it turned out a lot less stressful than driving straight through.

Midway through our trip Mark turned 11 months. He was mostly very happy with the vacation even though he spent more time sitting in a car seat and in the carrier than he's used to. He started saying more things, such as "baba", "vava", "tata", and most exciting of all, "papa". He also became very proficient at pointing at things that attract his attention (he also says "etoh" or "toh"). He really knows the point of walking now - to get to something. So when he's up on his feet, he almost runs (with our help and support) to whatever interests him most. He's also a lot less shy than he used to be. Or rather he figures out whether being shy works to his advantage (i.e. gets him more attention) and uses it discriminately. All in all, he puts a lot of effort into getting and staying noticed. He also plays "monkey" - stick your tounge out and he'll happily reciprocate; show him how to bang two toys, and he'll do the same.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

New Year 08

Yes, the NY 08 celebration was almost 2 weeks ago and I'm just now getting around to typing things up. The truth, of course, is that I've been unbelievably busy. But first thing first - my parents FINALLY met Chris's dad! Yes, this is pretty unbelievable considering that Chris and I have been married for almost 5 years and have an almost year-old baby. But that's just how things worked out to be.
Chris's dad arrived first, shortly after X-mas. My parents drove down from NY 2 days later. This way, they were guaranteed to spend almost 1 full day acquainted before Ron had to catch his flight back to Kansas City. So we kind of celebrated the meeting itself, X-mas and New Year all at once over a nice dinner of cole slaw, fried catfish, collard greens, cheesy grits, and blackeyed peas (yeah, I decided to go with a totally Southern theme this time).

Then for New Year's eve I was so tired of cooking, that I decided not to make anything special. Instead, we bought different cheeses and fruits and good chocolate. After putting Mark to sleep, we all sat by the fireplace and celebrated the New Year... at about 9pm. This year instead of resolutions, I decided to concentrate on building a few good habits such as reading to Mark before he goes to sleep at night. So far, my habit-building attempt is going in fits and starts, but that's because we are actually in Florida now. But when we get back home, I'll get back to the good habits in earnest.