Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Memorial Day weekend

Before I talk about the Memorial Day weekend, I am going to brag about our foraging success. A while ago I found a couple of mulberry trees in the neighborhood, but they didn't have many berries. So I started paying better attention to the surroundings whenever I'd go on a walk with Mark. And finally I found a path, a greenway by the art museum, along which grow dozens of great mulberry trees. So one weekday morning, before Chris's job interview, we went on a walk together and picked a couple of pounds of mulberries in less than 30 minutes.

My friend Eleonora was here for the Memorial Day weekend. She finally got a plane ticket and came here all the way from Florida. We didn't do much though because, as luck would have it, I got sick. Still, it was great to see her and to spend even just a couple of days with her. What we did was going on walks in the park and at the mall, the Farmer's Market and the flea market. And we took her foraging - to pick mulberries and strawberries.

Mark is growing. I don't remember if I mentioned that he got 2 molars already. There might be more on the way because he is very cranky. He's turning out to be quite a character! Very strong-willed and stubborn! But he has a good sense of humor too. For example, when he tries to do something he's not supposed to, I tell him "Нет! Нет! Нет!" You'd think that would work, right? No way! Instead, he turns to me with a sly smile and says in the same stern tone "Да! Да! Да!" He also learned to kiss over the last week. Now he kisses his toys and me, not so much his daddy though. He finally sleeps through the night - 10 hours straight! And he is at the point where he knows when it's bed time and he insists (!) on being put to bed.

Still doesn't walk independently, but he spends a lot of time learning about his toys and everything else around him. I think he's more of a contemplative type and an observer. Although he enjoys roaming around and pushing and pulling large toys and pieces of furniture. Yesterday he walked clear across the shopping plaza and into a book store where he browsed for a bit before heading out. That was a long walk! He likes sorting toys and putting them into boxes and bags. He also now likes taking the lids off of containers and putting them back on. His latest toy is a noise-maker set (a drum and some rattles) and he REALLY enjoys it.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Artsplosure 2008

This was a busy weekend. I guess, everyone tried to get their events out before the Memorial Day weekend because there were tons of things happening around Raleigh. In addition to the chicken tour, there was a festival at the Yeats Mill, a tour of homes, a tour of gardens, and the Artsplosure 2008. Last year we missed the Artsplosure festival because Mark was too little. This year we went.

Artsplosure is a big arts and crafts festival held in the city center, on Moore's Square, every year. It takes place over the entire weekend. In addition to artists and craftsmen presenting their work for everyone to see and buy, there are concerts, events for kids and adults, etc. We walked around a little bit looking at the artwork. We liked a lot of it, but unfortunately couldn't afford most everything. We did splurge on a couple of things. One was the silhouette of Mark done by Keith Donaldson ( By the way, he can do silhouettes from profile photos and mail the finished artwork to you. We also watched a pottery demostration - amazing stuff!

The other item was a 8x10 photo, called "It's Time to Glaze the Donuts" by Lorri Honeycutt. She is a photographer from Austin, TX. She's a very pleasant lady, very creative, and with a great sense of humor. I'm not going to try to describe her work, but you can see for yourself at . Hopefully, as our circumstances improve, I'll be able to buy some more of her very original work.

The last picture is of Mark asleep in the car on the way back from the Farmers' Market. As you can probably tell, he had one too many strawberries there :)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Chickens in Avent West

Avent West is our neighborhood and it's a very nice one! And I am not saying just because we are trying to sell the house. Actually, we'd prefer not to sell it and are keeping our fingers crossed. But that's another story... Back to the neighborhood though - I think I already mentioned that it's close to the downtown and to NCSU and to all the cool places. The neighbors all know each other. Most everyone is pretty laid back. There are lots of kids of all ages. Most people grow vegetables in their yards. And now we found out that some people even have chickens!

We went on a cleverly-named "Hen-side the Beltline - Tour de Coop" today for a couple of hours. So we visited 4 houses, or rather yards, since we didn't go inside the houses proper, whose owners keep chickens. Why do they do it? Presumably for fresh eggs, but also - for the fun of it. Apparently, chickens make pretty good pets (probably smarter than our cat). Mark didn't care much for the chickens, but he liked the dogs and cats.
Then we went to the mall just to kill time. You see, we had an open house today, so we had to get out of the way for a few hours. At the mall Mark tried several kiddie rides. He did ok, but was getting tired and sleepy-looking. When we got back home, we found out that he was actually sick, running a fever. We think it's a reaction to the shots he got last Thursday. But he's much better already! Oh, also, he's got a brand-new tooth. So now he has 7 teeth. And although he didn't gain much weight - still under 20lbs - he grew 2 inches in the last 3 months! And he's learning to climb the stairs.

Time Flies When Having Fun

... and now we have fun almost every day, except when Mark decides to be cranky. Chris goes to work and Mark and I stay home and go about playing with all our old toys and some new ones. The game mostly consists of throwing the toys around. But then there's the crocodile walker - now that's different! Sure it makes noise as you push it, but more importantly, it lets Mark walk on his own (read - Mommy gets to do things around the house). So we absolutely love this toy! Too bad it only occupies Mark for a few minutes at a time. Good thing we also have a cat that can be chased after, pulled by the tail, and scratched behind the ears...
We also go on walks - around the neighborhood, to the little park, to the playground, and to the big lake. The big lake is great because, well, it's big - lots of sand, water, dogs, ducks, babies of all ages...

On the days that we have a car, we go to a library, to a toy store where they let kids play with all the toys, to the ice-cream shop, and to other exciting and novel places...
And on the days when we are stuck indoors because it's raining and we don't have a car, we invite friends over for playdates. Last Friday we invited Louis and Maeli to check out our cool toys. Now we can't wait for the weather to really warm up so we can have pool playdates as well...

Catching Up

I just realized that I forgot to write about my parents' visit. Actually, they were here a couple of weeks ago and as usual, their visit was too short - just a day and a half. This time my brother was here too and he stayed a bit longer - for another day. Since it was so long ago, I don't remember exactly what we did. But I'm certain it included a lot of cooking by both me and Mom, lots of playtime for Mark, several long walks, a visit to the Farmers' Market, and ice-cream.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

No more Chinese food

Ugh, how many times do I have to re-learn the lesson for it to really set in? Never ever, under no circumstances, will I ever eat cheap Chinese food at malls' foodcourts. It's so horrible! Same goes for the fake Japanese food which is basically the same exact stuff.

Anyway, it's the Mother's Day and Chris baked cinnamon buns for me (what can I say - yummy!!!). Since the weather sucks today, we went to the mall for a walk and a change of scenery. And now Chris took Mark for a stroll outside and the rain is really coming down!

Anyway... Mark turned 15 months old last week. He's growing another tooth, #7. We continue working with the physical therapist and so far things are going very well. Last week Mark learned to kneel and go from sitting to kneeling. More than that, he now can pull himself up to standing. Better yet, he learned how to crawl! His preferred method of locomotion is still scooting on his behind or cruising. He's in this phase when he likes walking while pushing things - a stroller, a cart, a chair, anything really. Which is great because otherwise he refuses to walk independently and insists on holding onto us.

The house is still up for sale and we only had a handful of showings. It's very irritating since I have to clean up every night and straighten things up billion times throughout the day. Oh well, we'll see how it will all turn out. So far we've scheduled an open house for next Saturday - more cleaning!