October 31, 2007

"Yoda, I am your mother."


These sweet words were uttered from beneath the dark helmet of Mama Vader. Jen and Lydia joined me today at work, as my props, for our annual Halloween costume party. LºVE receive honorable mention for her costume.

With the help of Cenzo's photography and a little Photoshop magic I was able to create the Dagobah montage above. Vader is being aggressive, Luke is clearly afraid of Vader, but Yoda could care less. (Click on the photo above to see a larger version in all it ridiculous glory.)

The force is strong in that one.

October 30, 2007

Lydia Violet Sings the "Yieeee" Song



This evening LºVE was being exceptionally vocal. I think she has heard her mama, and at times me, singing and has learned that it can be much fun. We sing mostly to her, to calm her when she's cranky and to entertain her when she's not.

Tonight she repaid us with a song of her own. Here she sings along with the psychedelic star that flashes and plays songs above her play mat. Enjoy.

The First Documented Day of Daycare


We apologize for not posting photography from yesterday's trip—our first—to the daycare. Needless to say, it was stressful, and we simply forgot to document the moment.

This morning I went at it alone, with Lydia Violet as my support. Today was the second day that I used an alarm clock, to wake myself up since that early morning nearly four months ago, when I went to the hospital to meet Jen, on LºVE's birthday. It was quite brisk, but I bundled her up and off we went.

The hand-off was painless. Our daycare provider, Marina, is absolutely awesome. I felt as if I was leaving LºVE with a family friend, and I guess she is.

The photos from left to right: 1) LºVE in her seat outside the day care with a plethora of toys and activities in the yard behind her, 2) Marina holding LºVE on my way out the door, and 3) On the way back to the car, one of Marina's four horses came trotting up to me. I am sure the horse wanted a snack, which I did not have.

I look forward to picking up my sweet baby girl at the end of the day.

October 29, 2007

Happy Birthday Dima!

In case you couldn't tell that's a cake in the guise of an apple. And that little green thing on the right is a smiling worm.

Fine Motor Skills

Here's L°VE trying to get her soscia/binky back in her mouth. Any day now she's sure to get it.

Halloween Family Portrait


It's Darth Mama, a VERY tall Luke Skywalker and Baby Yoda!

The Big Day Arrives

So, I didn't end up going to bed early. I couldn't fall asleep and I actually got really upset at the anticipation of taking Lydia Violet to daycare today. I've been avoiding talking about this too much I guess because, deep down inside, I knew it was going to be upsetting. And I haven't blogged about daycare or the conclusion of maternity leave for that very reason. Well, it all came pouring out last night after I'd packed up her bag and we had gotten in bed. I was worrying over whether I had forgotten anything and then the flood gates broke. Whew!

Dima and I talked about it and intellectually I knew it was all going to be okay. But emotionally I was a wreck. So, I got back out of bed and watched the second half of Superman Returns. Thank goodness for HBO. Otherwise, I would have ended up watching some dumb paid programing about an automatic vegetable peeler/callouse remover or something. The movie was a good brainless activity and it helped me chill out enough that I could get to sleep when I returned to bed. No good would have come of blogging in that state.

Now, why did I get so upset? I think it really comes down to habit. I've been used to spending, pretty much, 24/7 with Lydia Violet over the last 16 weeks. And now suddenly I'm not. I'm the Lydia Violet expert 'round these parts and I guess my biggest worry was/is leaving her with people that aren't. Not that they aren't childcare experts, they're just not Lydia Violet experts. I am.

I know her cries, her laughs. I know what songs to sing. I know what to say to her when changing her diaper so that's she gets excited, rather than upset, even in a cold room: Mokraya pelyonka, yucky, yucky, yucky. Shto eta? Soohaya pelyonka! (Wet diaper, yucky, yucky, yucky. What's this? Dry diaper!) I was worried that leaving her with people that are pretty much starting from scratch would result in a rough day for her. Aside from that, I guess I'm afraid of being lonely.

But this morning actually went smoother than anticipated. She was a little shocked to be woken up so early. (That's right, we had to wake her up, not the other way around. She's been sleeping record amounts lately.) She got a fresh diaper, got dressed, had a bottle, puked on herself, got changed and then we popped in the car seat. She squealed as I sang to her the whole way (we believe that this squealing is her early version of singing) and cooed and smiled as we handed her off. My eyes only welled up a tiny bit as we walked back to our cars. And then only after we were out the door and away from her. Now, I'm feeling okay. Though I am a bit teary as I write this.

I have plenty to do today to keep myself busy and I'm picking her up early today so we can have a bit of girl time before Papa gets home.

Deep breath. We did it. We survived the toughest part. Next hurdle... return to work from maternity leave. *sniff*

October 28, 2007

Big Day Tomorrow

We're off to bed early tonight in preparation for Lydia Violet's big day tomorrow. She starts daycare. I guess it's a big day for all of us. More on that later. 'Nite...

Frère Jacques

Lydia Violet is wearing another pair of purple pants from Aunt Anne & Uncle Jay. And we made up a song to go along. Sung to the tune of Frère Jacques it goes like this:

Ly-dia Violet
Ly-dia Violet
What are you wea-ring?
What are you wea-ring?
Are they pur-ple pants?
Yes, I think they a-re.
You're so cool!
You're so cool!

Grizzarkhov... the Freshmaker

Well, really, the Moneymaker.

You may have noticed I've been doing some experiments with advertising on the blog. I added Google Adsense about a month and a week ago. (Those are the little text ads on the right and at the bottom of the page. The ads relate to the content on the page. So, in the last 5 weeks you've seen ads for, blogging, baby products, Halloween, cats and today, much to my chagrin, bottled water.) I wanted to see what would happen. And, quite frankly, I was inspired by dooce.com's Heather Armstrong: "In October 2005 I began running enough ads on this website that my husband was able to quit his job and become a Stay at Home Father (SAHF) ... " she says. "This website now supports my family."

Now, I'm under no illusions that this blog can support our family (she says, secretly wishing that this blog could support her family), but maybe it could give us some extra cash, or pay for a vacation or, even better, daycare.

So far, I've made about $8.

So... no holding my breath on that whole supporting the family thing. Google doesn't even pay out until I hit $100. By that calculation and my current rate of earning I'll get a big fat $100 check around the time that Lydia Violet turns 18 months. (Now, I'm not math genius, so if I got those calculations wrong feel free to send me the correct ones.) What I do know is that that rate of earning is not going to pay for daycare.

The other experiment has been with Amazon Associates. And I've been linking to products on Amazon that I mention on the blog. I've essentially just set that up and so far had no success. I think I need to plan the whole Amazon thing out a bit more.

There you have it. It's been a learning experience and I'm not a blogging mogul... yet.

LºVE, Gregg Allman and Unknown Hippie Rocker


Just a few hours ago, Yoda stripped off her exterior and transformed herself into a sleeping beauty. We were at the Big Hunt in Washington, D.C. for Daniel and Carmen's Annual Themed Halloween party. This year's theme was Rock n Roll.

This year, was of course, LºVE's first Halloween party and in a D.C. bar no less. We, or shall I say, she was the hit of the town. All the way from our subway stop to Dupont Circle, through the streets of the City, to the bar, she got complemented. Our trio, Darth Mama, Mr. Skwalker and Yoda even got an ovation when we walked through the Big Hunt.

All in all a successful night. I am looking forward to next year.

October 27, 2007

Yoda and Mr. Skywalker

We're waiting for transport into the center of the City. Darth Mama, not pictured here, took this documented image of the teacher and his apprentice. The force is strong in this one. :-D

Podee on the Go

On the way home from Elochka B's 5th birthday party and Lydia is chowing down on her Podee. This thing is a life saver. Otherwise she be starving and bawling as I tried to hold a bottle at just the right angle, which would only make her gassy anyway. Love it, love it, love it.

October 26, 2007

I want this!


Maybe you've seen the commercial for this on TV. The FLY Fusion Pentop Computer. It's so totally cool. You write and, in layman's terms, when you sync it up with your computer it converts what you've written to typed text. So, say, if I was away from my computer, and I got a burning idea for a blog post, I could write my thoughts down on a piece of scrap paper while they were fresh in my mind and then when I got home I could upload it from the pen. Shazam! Again... so cool.

The geek gurl inside of me... must... have... this...

If you must have it too, you can buy it at Amazon.com

The fastest baby on the planet...Oh wait...

... it's the plane that's fast, not the baby.

We're at the National Air and Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center with Mischka and Carrie Z. That's the SR-71 Blackbird in the background—the fastest jet-propelled aircraft on the planet.

Check out my pimpin' style!

October 24, 2007

Merci Buckets!

Look at my new sippy-cup! I can't use it yet, but I still really like it. Thanks Uncle Dan!

Welcome Our Newest Blogger... Lydia Violet!

The latest news is that Lydia Violet is now publishing to the blog on her own. We're quite impressed with her proficiency at all things Web. She's quite advanced for a 15 week old. At any rate, you can now read her exclusive baby thoughts here at Grizzarkhov.

The FONZ Chapter of Lydia's Fan Club... Not to be Confused with Fonzie (eeeehhhhhh)

Today Lydia Violet visited her Uncle Dan at Friends of the National Zoo. Apparently Uncle Dan's friends are great fans of Lydia and the blog. And she is a great fan of them and the work they do. In fact, she enjoyed herself so much today that she's convinced her mama to join FONZ with a family membership. Now whenever we visit the zoo we get free parking! There are a whole host of other benefits too, not to mention we get to support great wildlife research with our donation.

We're looking forward to going back soon. Unfortunately, the much needed rain kept us from seeing all the cool animals today.

October 21, 2007

Another Comment About Bottled Water

My dad commented on my bottled water post below and I wanted to share:

Your environmental engineering professor dad fully supports this sentiment. In addition to all the good things you've said about the carbon footprint issue, it's good to remember that the drinking water industry in the U.S. is very heavily regulated, and almost without exception, produces very high quality drinking water. The same is not always true about the bottled water industry: either with the regulation or the quality!

So there you have it. You don't have to take it from me. Listen to a bonafide expert.

Sacked Out In the Baby Sac

BBQ

Sunday BBQ with members of the Galactica Quorum and their family. Pictured (clockwise from top left): Dima & Lydia, Brian, Nate & Megan.

Podee to the Rescue

Sometimes, when you don't have enough hands a Podee can come in "handy." It's a hands-free bottle. Today is little L°VE's first time using it and judging from the look on her face... it's a good thing.

L°VE the Tattooed Mama

Yesterday, during the Russian Bazaar at St. Johns R.O.C., I was in charge of the first shift at the face painting station. Here you can see how I temporarily immortalized our love for Lydia Violet (L°VE) on Jen's arm.

Kick the Bottled Water Habit

Carbon Conscious Consumer

Yes. I can't sleep for some reason, so I'm especially prolific tonight. After this I'm going to bed though.

I just made a pledge to kick my bottled water habit. I don't actually have much of a habit but I just pledged to eliminate the little one I might have. Whether you actually follow the link and make the pledge online is less important than just making the commitment to kick the habit. Here's why you should:

[From The New American Dream Carbon Conscious Consumer initiative] Everything we consume has a climate impact, but manufacturing and trucking water bottles to homes with clean tap water seems particularly wasteful. The Beverage Marketing Corporation reports that Americans consumed 31.2 billion liters of water in 2006 – nearly 9 liters per month for every man, woman, and child.

Manufacturing all those bottles requires 900,000 tons of plastic, the equivalent of more than 17 million barrels of oil, and emits more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide. Trucking around all those heavy bottles emits even more greenhouse gases. Beyond the climate impact there’s the massive waste – 86% of water bottles aren’t recycled -- and water bottling is also, ironically, a very water-intensive endeavor. The Pacific Institute tells us that it takes three liters of water to produce one liter of bottled water!

Take some steps:

  • Drink tap water.
  • If you feel the need, get a filter for your tap at home. It will quickly pay for itself in the savings you'll reap from cutting back on bottled water purchases.
  • Get a reusable water bottle. Either buy one or better yet, reuse an empty soda bottle. Keep it filled and keep it with you. (Be sure to keep it clean too.) Then you won't get stuck having to buy bottled water.

Go on... Kick the habit!

Can I Get an Upgrade?

When Dima and I were first getting to know each other—initially online and then by phone—everytime he wanted to take our budding relationship to the "next level" he'd say, "Can I get an upgrade?" First, we upgraded from e-mail to chat, then chat to phone calls, then clearly, from phone calls to finally meeting in person. Ultimately, I guess, we upgraded to becoming husband and wife and more recently, to being parents.

The lesson in this? Upgrades are necessary if you ever want to get anywhere. Well, the blog just underwent its first major upgrade? What do you think?

Warning, this post gets increasingly technical from here, but read on. You might learn something.

  1. 3-Column Layout: First, I've been experimenting with advertising, so I needed to increase my content area. I "upgraded" my plain ol' Minima template to a 3-column format thanks to tips by bizwiz at the Tips for New Bloggers blog. The easy to follow directions helped me breeze through that. The directions even included the changes necessary to upgrade the layout editor wireframe, so I can still easily add and edit page elements in Blogger. Very clever!
  2. Rotating Image Header: Next, I wanted to add a photo header, so I did some tinkering on my own using Blogger's "Rounders 4" template as a crib sheet. I got it to work but it felt like needed something more, so I used Freeyasoul's random rotating banner hack to make that happen. Right now I've got 3 Lydia Violet banners rotating every time you refresh the blog's page. Keep hitting F5 to refresh the page and you'll eventually see all three of them. She's such a cutie!
  3. Advertising Widgets: Finally, I added some cool widgets. The most recent is a Amazon.com search widget that lets you search for products right from Grizzarkhov. And if you make a purchase... well, we get a little kick back. Fun!

I'm feeling pretty proud of myself. Thanks to bizwiz and Freeyasoul for your help. I couldn't have done it without you.

October 20, 2007

The Neighbor Cat

Melba is an indoor cat. As she should be—free roaming domesticated cats can wreak havoc on local song bird populations. Anyway... the next door neighbor's cat was checking her out in the laundry room window. In this video Melba (from her position of "power" behind a glass window) lets him know exactly what she thinks of him trespassing on her territory. Score: 1 Melba, 0 neighbor cat.

P.S. You may need to turn the sound WAY up to hear her vocalizations.
P.P.S. Her whole display was much more impressive before I was able to grab the camera phone to record it. Trust me.

Russkiye Devuchki

The BFFs are at it again. They are all decked in their saraphani (their little traditional Russian dresses.). So far, they've been quite an attraction at the Russian Bazaar. Everyone wants their picture taken with them. Wouldn't you?

October 19, 2007

Jungle Swing

L°VE loves BFF Rose-Maya's Fischer-Price Rainforest Swing. It's got jungle rain noises interspersed with what sounds like gamalon chimes. It reminds me of Bali and puts her right to sleep... though I guess you wouldn't guess that from this picture.

October 17, 2007

clarification on the laugh...

It's not like she just started laughing. But in the last week or so it has matured into this new little gem of a laugh. Arnold Horshack-style.

the laugh, revealed

Lydia's laugh has surfaced in the last week or so. But today she had a full-on chuckle when Sonia set about entertaining her and Maya with some crazy noises. To be honest her laugh sort of reminds me of Arnold Horshack. See for yourself. Compare Lydia in the video to Arnold in this sound clip: http://tvland.classictvhits.com/WelcomeBackKotter/Sounds/WBKArnoldLaugh.wav

My BFF Rose Apparel

Dima created some shirts on spreadshirt.com for the girls. Today they modeled for us. How cute is that? I can't wait for the two of them to see these pictures when they're old enough to understand. Precious.







Avocado Ice Cream


Yes. That's right. It green and oh so delicious!

I got a ice cream maker earlier this year. Not the kind my mother had either. This one is electric and requires no rock salt. It can make a quart in 30 minutes or less.

After some unextraordinary success with the new machine, I was inspired to go off the reservation, as the CIA says. A few years ago Dima and I visited my friends Mike and Maggie in Elkins, West Virginia when his sister, Becca, was on hiatus from school in Costa Rica. milkshakes. And we drank them all weekend. Yum-my!

Looking fondly back on that avocado packed weekend I decided to try an experiment with the ice cream maker. Here are the results. If you can get over your puritanical ideas of what ice cream is "supposed to be" you will love this! If you can't, you're really missing out on a great treat! (Clearly this is not a low fat desert, and you won't find me eating any anytime soon. Dima and I started back on Weight Watchers on Monday.)

Makes about 1 quart

1 medium Hass avocado
1 small banana (or equal portion of)
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
a dash of salt


*Note: You can replace the banana with more avocado. If you do, you should add 2/3 cups of sugar to sweeten it up a bit. Also, sometimes I split the milk and heavy evenly, 1 cup each. The avocado already makes this really rich so you don't need the extra help from that additional 1/2 cup of heavy cream.


Pop the avocado and banana in a blender and puree. Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to freeze. Blend a few more seconds before pouring into the ice cream maker just to make sure everything is evenly distributed. Follow your ice cream maker's instructions for freezing.

It's really nice served with some Madelaines or these awesome little cake and cream rolls we get at the Korean market.

October 16, 2007

Dinner with Cousin/Uncle Mark

In downtown Silver Spring for dinner. We forced Lydia Violet on Mark and he couldn't say, "no." Awwwww...

All in Violet

L°VE is sporting a purple outfit from her great-aunt & uncle Anne & Jay today. Cutie girl! thank you Aunt & Uncle Anne & Jay.

October 15, 2007

blog action day

I'm a bit behind on my tasks today. But the day is not yet over so I can still post my Blog Action Day post. What is Blog Action Day?

"On October 15th - Blog Action Day, bloggers around the web will unite to put a single important issue on everyone's mind. In its inaugural year, Blog Action Day will be co-ordinating bloggers to tackle the issue of the environment."

So what to write about... I guess I'll muse on our efforts as a family to green our life. I've gone on and on here before about our new reusable grocery bags. Love them. And they save me three cents each at the checkout every time I use them at Giant. Again my biggest challenge with them is making sure I take them to the store with me.

What else? I was checking my Facebook profile and I've got an applet running there that keeps track of all my green acts. I need to update it but here's some of what I've got so far. (It's a bit of a random list. But that's how Facebook does it.)

  • I keep the lights in my house off except when necessary (It can be hazardous to your toes but worth the effort. Good for your electric bill and the environment.)

  • I donate the clothing I no longer wear

  • I vote for the environment

  • I put garbage in my pocket until I find a trash can

  • I wash my clothes in cold water

  • I get online statements, instead of paper ones

  • I keep the heat real low and wear more layers (This is tougher now with the baby. We need to figure out how to keep the house comfortable for her and still reduce our energy consumption.)

  • I use cloth shopping bags (Yah! Envirosax!)

  • I shut the water off when I'm brushing my teeth (I've been doing this as long as I can remember. My dad, an environmental engineer, once visited my class in elementary school and explained how much water you can conserve by doing this one simple thing. Up to eight gallons a day. It was burned into my brain then and I'm still doing it.)

  • I boycott products/businesses that are not green or ethical (Say no to Kleenex and Puffs!)

  • I use public transportation. (I ride the Metro to work every day. When I'm working.)

  • I use gdiapers for my daughter's bum (Well, I will use them when they fit her tush. Soon enough. She's growing like gang-busters.)

  • I do not own any personal motorized watercraft, aircraft, or a Hummer (I mean really...)

  • I recycle, even when it is not convenient (Yes. Ask Dima. I take recycling home with me when we're out and about. And by the way... if I have to take part in mandatory recycling in Montgomery County at home, why don't businesses? There should be recycling bins in every restaurant, mall, shopping center, etc.!)

  • I ride/walk more than drive

  • I read/learn a lot about environmental issues

  • I give money or volunteer time to green non-profits

  • I work for a green non-profit

  • Most of my light bulbs are compact flourescents (We're still making the switch on all of our light bulbs but it can make a huge difference.)

There are other things I/we do to help the environment and there are many more that I'm working toward (tankless water heater, a hybrid car, etc.) but the last minutes of the day are ticking away here so I'm going to wrap it up. Essentially what I'm saying is this: We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. And now especially, being a new mom, that Native American proverb is more than just a nifty saying to me.

Brass Ring... Captured

Lydia Violet has been involuntarily striking out at the little toys that hang over her head on her activity mat. But today! Today she reached out and grabbed the ladybug on purpose! Totally cool to see that look of determination on her little face. And once she did it, she did it again and again. She's a super genius, our little girl! (more)

October 13, 2007

At the Bistro

Jen, Mary, L°VE and I met at the Eastern Market in DC for lunch at Montmartre cafe. Just talked to Victor (see Mary with the phone to her ear?) and waiting on our food. It's a good day.

October 11, 2007

The Unsuccessful Crochet-er

I'm not sure why, but while on maternity leave (as if I didn't have enough to do) I decided to try to teach myself how to crochet. My dad's mother, my Annie, was a literal Wiz at crocheting. She made lovely, warm afghans and beautifully, delicate snowflakes and bells that we hung on our Christmas tree. She's been on my mind a great deal lately, so maybe that was what inspired me.

I am sad to say though, that no matter the extent of my inspiration, I have been unable to get the hang of it. I've mastered the chain stitch of course. Easy. But if I try to single crochet, or heaven forbid, double crochet, it all goes... as my English friend Rosie Bee would say, it all goes pear shaped. I even watched some crochet videos on YouTube, which helped, but didn't really convert me from novice to just better than a novice. This is all made even more complicated by the fact that I can't seem to concentrate enough to read a proper crochet pattern. Mommy brain, I guess.

So what to do? I may just take a class! But still, I must find hands free time to crochet. And with a 3 month old, house projects, endless mounds of laundry, etc., I'm afraid that kind of time is not easy to find. I'll be returning to work in 19 days. Perhaps I can start crocheting on the Metro. Thirty minutes-ish back and forth each day ought to give me enough concentrated time to lay down a few rows a day... no matter how slow and awkward I am, yes?

What Does BFF Rose Mean?

So you may be wondering, "What the heck is BFF Rose?" Well, there's a new ATT commerical about texting on cell phones. Watch and you'll see. The Grandma started it. ("IDK, My BFF, Rose.") Now Sonia and I can't stop calling the girls BFF Rose. It's not supposed to make sense. We're just weird.

BFF Roses II

Chillin' at Maya's crib.

BFF Roses

The BFFs take a spin around Brookside Gardens with their Mamas.

Ugg Baby Ugg

Lydia is sporting Audrey's Australian bootie gift. The Uggs make her feet look ginormous. And though I believe her feet are big for a girl her age, they really aren't as big as they seem in this picture. Thanks Auntie Audrey for the shoes! Way to get a girl's shoe habits started early!

October 9, 2007

Motor Vehicle Administration

No one but a baby has any right to look this happy at the MVA. L°VE is keeping me company while I update my driver's license with my new name.

October 7, 2007

Redskins/Hokie Nation

Mischka Z. & Lydia Violet show their team spirit! Though L°VE looks a little surprised by the whole thing.

October 2, 2007

Welcome Dima!

I'd like to welcome Dima to the blog. He's officially posting for himself these days. He's been blogging every once-in-a-while under the "jenanddima" username but just recently I created a user for him and now we can each blog under our own name... can you say geek! Anyway, his first official post can be seen here. Sing the theme to Gilligan's Island when you read it. He's a funny and clever man, my husband.

Bionic Baby... She's So Advanced

Lydia Violet is getting a jump on the other kids her age. At just about 3 months she's already walking and ... well, we can't say too much about her bionic powers. It's Top Secret. See for yourself.

Baby's Got a Brand New Activity Mat

Lydia Violet's Djadja Victor and Tyotya Mary got her this great new activity mat for her christening (via a Target gift card). She LOVES it. Watch carefully though. I think that star might be communicating with her ways we aren't able to understand.

The Movie Star & The Professor...

...here on Grizzarkhov Island.

October 1, 2007

Big Feet

Today Dima put some 12-24 month socks on Lydia... and they FIT! I'm assuming she'll grow into her feet.