Saturday, June 27, 2009

Drum circle

Do you know how long Mark can drum non-stop? 2 hrs and 5 minutes! And the only reason he stopped (we were at the Durham Life & Science museum) was because he fell down and scraped his knee.

And that's on top of whatever drumming he does at home (although not so much now since he figured that his toy drum is not the real thing). And on top of watching a DVD called "Blast" (more drumming) daily. And on top of going to concerts on most Thursdays and Sundays.

So I found out about drum circles in the area. Fortunately, there's a drum circle meeting every Wednesday evening at a park not far away. Mark absolutely loved it even though he never cared for african drums before.

Now, a drum circle is just that - a bunch of people of various ages and abilities drumming and/or trying to drum. Mark was the youngest, but that didn't bother him at all. Surprisingly, Chris tried drumming and got totally into it. He was really good too. I tried, but obviously Mark doesn't get his love of drumming from me :) Fortunately, they did have hoola-hoops.

Father's Day Weekend - Surf and Turf

Surf - Pine Knolls aquarium (Mark loves turtles and "big fish"), the beach (crowded and Mark didn't care to swim at all), and a dinner of fried seafood at Crabby Patty's on the way back (great shrimp po-boy).

Turf - a picnick at Duke Gardens, yummy watermelon, Mark rolling on the grass and playing chase with Chris.

More of the Marbles

Yep, we go to the Marbles pretty much every week now. Usually Mark spends all his time playing with a train set and drumming. But I guess after a few weeks of that he got bored and decided to diversify. It turned out very well:

Here Mark is filing away. He really likes playing with the real instruments - a handsaw, a file and a screwdriver. The file is the most manageable of all, especially compared to the saw. So he pretends that a file is a saw.

Here Mark is building a tower of blocks. Now, this doesn't happen every day! But on this particular day there was a little boy of about 4 building some pretty sophisticated towers in the blocks area and Mark wanted to join him. So he ended up building a pretty impressive tower all by himself!

Finally, Mark's playing with water! Again, not something that happens every day. For now he doesn't even want to go to the pool any more. When asked what doesn't he like about the pool, Mark says "Water!". But last time at Marbles he played with the rubber duck and other toys and didn't complain at all after getting his T-shirt all wet.

New Hope Valley Railroad

A couple of weeks ago we went for a ride on a New Hope Valley Railroad. Apparently, all this time we were in the driving distance from a REAL railroad with REAL engines that one can tour. The place is not a replica, nor is it a scale model. As I said, it's a real railroad and everything is real. It only runs one weekend a month and is staffed by volunteers which is even better since they are just too happy to answer questions and show us around.

The ride lasts for about an hour - 30 mins there and 30 mins back. It's not fast and not especially scenic. Actually, I guess it can be quite boring unless you're into trains. The most exciting things along the line are

  • The train blowing a whistle at each railroad crossing
  • The train going over a bridge that is so narrow that if you look straight down from the window, it appears as if the train floats on air. (I forgot the technical name of this kind of bridge)
  • The engine getting disconnected from the train at the mid-point and then backtracking and reconnecting to the train from the other end, so that it can pull the train back to the station.
But if you're into trains like Mark is, there's a lot more excitement to be had - all the sounds and the rocking of the train car, a glimps of tracks through the floorboards and the swaying of the couplings between the cars.

And after the train ride was over, there was a giant model railroad to check out, bluegrass music to listen to and a hotdog to munch on. In short, it was a great experience!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

A Day in Wytheville, VA

We had to drive to Wytheville, VA today to pick up Tim. It's about 3 hours from Raleigh. So I figured driving all the way there and all the way back, we might as well find something interesting to do there for a couple of hours.

The drive was pretty boring until we got to the mountains. The approach to Wytheville didn't look all that promising either - just more of the sprawl - gas stations, auto shops, Starbucks, etc. The historic downtown looked better and livelier with all the mom-and-pop shops. But we didn't stop to admire the downtown.

Instead, we drove through the town and out into the mountains... off the road and through the ruts... then steep left... a few more miles down a narrow gravel road... and we finally got to our destination - Beagle Ridge Herb Farm.

We had a little tour of the farm and its herb gardens and then had a picnic (yeah, we're really on a roll with the whole picnic thing). If we had more time (and were properly dressed), we might have went on a hike along one of the many trails. But by then Mark was pretty tired and it was too hot anyway.

So we got back on the road and drove a few more miles back into the town and onto the highway... off the main road... past some cows... then steep left (what's up with steep left turns in Wytheville anyway) and to the Pleasant Hill Farm - a pick-your-own flowers farm.

We spent over an hour there picking flowers and just walking around, admiring the views and the little baby duck and the white pigeons. Mark absolutely loved the place and kept running around it, smelling flowers and acting silly.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Funny Stuff Mark's Been Saying Lately

Mark is very talkative. Actually, he pretty much doesn't stay quiet unless he's asleep. Well, when we're out and about he's pretty quiet too, until he gets comfortable around new people.

He speaks both Russian and English equally well. It's really pretty amazing to hear him switching from one language to another effortlessly and without giving it a second thought. He speaks Russian to me and English to Chris. If he hears me speaking English to people, he speaks English to them as well. When I speak Russian to people, he speaks Russian to them too.

Sometimes he tries speaking English to me, but I always reply in Russian and sometimes even ask him to translate for me 'cause "mama doesn't understand English all that well". It works too! The other day all three of us were in the car and I said something to Mark in Russian. He immediately repeated it in English for his Dad.

Today we went to watch a train go by (something we do fairly regularly). While waiting for the train, Mark said "I wait for train every day! I want to wait for train every day!"/ Я ждать поезд каждый день! Я хочу ждать поезд каждый день!

A little while later, still with his "every day" theme he shared his ideal daily schedule with me: "I want тортик every day AND concert every day AND wait for train every day AND play with Sasha every day" (Sasha is a boy from Mark's daycare). / Я хочу тортик каждый день И концерт каждый день И ждать паровозик каждый день И играть с Саша каждый день.

On new - real - drumsticks: "Grandpa gifted Mark drumsticks"/Деда подарил палки Марку.

On a little bouncy ball he borrowed from his girl friend some weeks ago and re-discovered today: "This little big ball Maeli gifted to Mark" / Этот большой маленький мяч Майли подарила Марку.

A small mosquito bite on Mark's leg gets this commentary: "It's bruise... No, no bruise... It's bite... Small mosquito bit Mark... Not very good mosquito." / Это синяк... Нет, нет синяк... Это укус... Комарик укусил Марка... Не очень хороший комарик.

Mark loves pretend cooking, only prefers real ingredients. His favorite dish for now - cake and muffins. So he goes "I want one egg and two cups... want make muffin for Emi" (Emily is another one of his friends). / Я хочу один яйцо и де чашки... хочу печь кекс Эми.

But the top prize goes to his statement on the pleasures of drumming (and he drums every day): "This is good day for drumming! Very good day for drumming!" / Хороший день барабанить! Очень хороший день барабанить!