23 February 2009

Nathan's bedtime routine

Here's a warm and fuzzy entry to commemorate Nathan's achievement of 18 months (last week on the 16th). It may be a little too cutesy and sentimental for some of you, but I figure Nathan's grandparents will appreciate all these mushy little details. After all, this is where I'm documenting Nathan's childhood and the family adventures I never want to forget.


Nathan always lets us know he's ready to go to bed by walking up to us, wherever we happen to be, and tilting his body sideways as if he's lying down. So I ask him, "Are you ready to sleep? Ok, let's go brush your teeth." He usually takes my hand and we walk to the bathroom together. He gets excited about brushing his teeth because his toothbrush has a panda bear on it, and the toothpaste features a really weird-looking character that he has decided is a "kodoh" (kangaroo), although it looks more like a yellow lizard standing upright to me. Plus, the toothpaste is banana-flavored, which again seems bizarre, but he loves it!

After brushing his teeth, Nathan gives Daddy a kiss and a wave, then we go to his room and he lies down right away on his bed. I turn off the light and lie down with him so he can nurse to sleep. Most nights I sing to him. The set list typically includes songs like the traditional Irish ballad "O Danny Boy," "Feed the Birds" from Mary Poppins, "Goodnight, My Someone" from The Music Man, and his favorite, "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" (once he asked me to sing that one about 10 times before he drifted off).

But there are nights when he doesn't want me to sing, and a single note will barely escape my lips before he unlatches, shakes his head and says firmly, "No, no." On these nights, all he wants is for me to help him say goodnight to everyone and everything we can possibly think of, a la Margaret Wise Brown's classic children's book Goodnight, Moon -- although he's never even read it. He likes to start with the things he sees every day from our windows/balconies: "Goodnight dogs. Goodnight birds. Goodnight trees. Goodnight cars. Goodnight sun." We go on and on, and he uses his words and signs to me in the darkness to list which things we should bid goodnight next. "Goodnight cup. Goodnight spoon. Goodnight cereal. Goodnight bath tub. Goodnight water. Goodnight [rubber] duck. Goodnight kodoh. Goodnight towel." Sometimes this is enough. But if his eyelids aren't heavy yet, he'll press me for more. "Goodnight shoes. Goodnight clothes. Goodnight books. Goodnight toys." Occasionally, he wants me to say goodnight to several specific books and toys, as well. And he never forgets to say goodnight to Santa!

Nathan hates being covered by a blanket, so I can't put one on him until he's fast asleep, otherwise he'll get frustrated and wake himself trying to kick it off. He also likes to remove his socks before falling asleep. In this regard, he definitely takes after Jarred, who always gets warm in bed and can't sleep without a fan or he'll wake up all sweaty. I, on the other hand, am always freezing at night and can't curl up tightly enough!

A few hours after falling asleep in his bed, Nathan awakes and sneaks into our room. He used to wake up crying and disoriented, and once in a while, I'd see him practically sleepwalk down the hall into the living room and then just stand there in a daze. But now he doesn't cry, and more frequently than not, he doesn't even disturb us as he climbs onto our bed and snuggles up with me so he can nurse back to sleep. My little angel.

These are the moments I will cherish forever.

18 February 2009

Inaccurate weather reports! (in case you care)

It has come to our attention that the weather web site to which we've linked on this blog (wunderground.com) does not tend to reflect the weather conditions we experience firsthand here in Yerevan. I'm not sure if this is because their information is based on readings at the airport (well outside the city) or if it's because they're just not a great site. So I'm considering changing the link to a different weather site -- the question is, which one?

There are several sites with Yerevan weather info, and I've narrowed it down to two. Each has its pros and cons, though, so I'll leave it to our readers to decide. Please respond to the above poll sometime in the next couple weeks.

Following is some info on the 'candidates.'

Option #1: Meteo-TV.am, a local station. PROS: They provide detailed forecast information for all the Marzes (regions); since they are local, I trust their information will be more accurate; they have weather report videos featuring an attractive woman (that's a pro for some of you, right?). CONS: All temperatures are given in Celsius with no Fahrenheit conversion (for our fellow Yankees); they give forecasts for only the next 24 hours; the woman in the video gives the report only in Armenian.

Option #2: CNN.com/weather for Yerevan. PROS: Nice layout with pretty graphics; extended forecast (10 days); unit conversion option available. CONS: The forecast is for Yerevan only; CNN is not actually the one providing the information (they get it from Accuweather.com, and I have no idea where they take their readings); the satellite map shows southeast Asia -- um, do they know where Armenia is?

Option #3: If you think neither of these sites is the way to go, you can vote to keep wunderground.com as our weather link, even though I'm looking at it now and comparing it to the thermometer on our balcony...wunderground says it's -3C (27F), when it's actually 5C (41F). That's a big difference! Please know if this option wins the most votes, I will still continue looking for a better site.

Finally, option #4: None of the above. (If you choose this option, you have to give me a better suggestion!)

And for those of you thinking, "Wow, what a nerd! Who even cares about this stuff?" A) Yes, I am a nerd, and I'm not ashamed to say it. And B) My intended audience is not only family and friends who might want to check up on us, but also anyone who may have plans to travel to this part of the world for business or pleasure; as there is relatively little information on this country out there (compared to what is available for say, Orlando), I feel it is my duty as the humble webmistress of this blog to provide the most accurate information I possibly can. Besides, if you care so little, why did you bother reading all the way to the end of this post?


15 February 2009

Another history lesson

Yesterday after breakfast we decided to go across town and check out Erebouni Fortress and museum. It was a beautiful day (we didn't even need jackets) and we were glad to have a chance to see the southeastern part of the city...we just never made it that far before.

Our taxi drove through Republic Square, and took us south past the statue of the legendary Satsuni Davit -- the Hercules of Armenian folklore -- in front of the central train station. We turned left onto Erebouni Poghota, and there, straight ahead, Karmir Blur ("Red Hill") stood towering over the street and surrounding buildings, crowned by the stone walls of an ancient citadel.

Our tour guide at the museum, Sophia, showed us a model of the fortress as archeologists believe it looked in the height of its glory, and I was particularly impressed at seeing the actual cuneiform tablets considered to be the 'birth certificates' of Yerevan, proclaiming the city's founding in 782 B.C. (nearly three decades before the date on which Romulus and Remus are traditionally said to have founded Rome). The name Erebouni changed over time and eventually became Yerevan. Some of the other ancient artifacts on display were an iron sword, beaded jewelry, enormous clay jugs used for making and storing beer and wine, silver coins, a potter's wheel, and some amazingly well-preserved grape seeds, wheat, barley, and peas.

The fortress itself had been in ruins for centuries, and archaeological excavation and reconstruction have been in progress since only the mid-20th century. From what we saw, it seems there is a severe lack of funding for the project, not only for the scientific and historical aspects, but for security measures to protect the site from vandals and littering.

In any case, our visit was very worthwhile. From the top of the hill, we had a most advantageous view of the country, which is clearly why King Argishti I chose this spot to construct his palace and military stronghold more than 2,700 years ago.

A reconstructed portico with remnants of the original frescoes near the citadel entrance

Walking toward the citadel entrance

We "discovered" this cuneiform tablet in one of the fortress walls

What's left of a Zoroastrian (I think) temple within the complex

Cautiously navigating the ruins

These and dozens of other stone-walled rooms emerge from the hill as if reborn

The museum entrance at the foot of the hill

See additional photos in our online album!

To read more about Erebouni Fortress, see the Armeniapedia page on the subject. There are no pictures, but there's a good deal of information on the layout and design of the fortress.

You can see an aerial photograph and satellite image of the fortress here.

ADDENDUM: I should probably mention for posterity that this was Nathan's very first museum visit. What did he think of it, you ask? Well, less than halfway through the tour, he pooped. (And in Armenia, there are almost no public restrooms, let alone diaper-changing stations, so we had to bring him to the museum staff lounge to change!)

14 February 2009

A Valentine's Day serenade from Nathan

Jarred bought this toy guitar for Nathan a few weeks ago. Add that to his little drums, electronic keyboard, and xylophone, and we now have enough instruments to start a band! (All that's missing is more babies to play them all.)

Happy Valentine's Day! Enjoy the latest batch of photos in our February Photobucket album.

12 February 2009

My 11 Year Old Class

To finish the chapter on energy transfer, I took what was supposed to be a 3 minute in-class demonstration a little overboard and turned it into a week-long project. My 11 year olds are brilliant and designed a Machine in the style of Rube Goldberg to model transfers of potential energy to kinetic energy. Human enery was a topic in the chapter so they had to include some form of human energy in the middle of the machine.

I slowed some parts down because from beginning to end is only like 25 seconds. Since so much work went into the machine, I slowed some parts down which actually, created a dramtic effect to some stunts. The bottle on the end which touched the scale used to pour into the scale raising it enough to raise the incline and dislodge the baseball but that was a mess! So, pulleys were the backups.
Also, the end, the students were all standing in front of the message and we couldnt see, so we drew open the doors again with no students in the way. Kids!

Check it out! Oh, and there is a string attached to the globe which pulls the first lego down. and there is a string attached to the bag running along a cable in the end. The poor quality makes it so you cant see it.

05 February 2009

young love

Last night the PTA held a fundraising event at the school. A few of the high school girls had volunteered to babysit any young children who came with their parents, so Jarred and I could both attend. We put Nathan in the Music room with the other kids and were able to spend a good deal of time talking with the parents and PTA officers without interruption. At one point in the evening, I peeked into the Music room to check on Nathan and saw him sitting on the floor with a little girl who looked to be about 2 years old. She was wearing a lovely, plaid dress and had a red ribbon in her long, blond hair. They were sitting face-to-face, quite still, and looking at one another very seriously. Then they both leaned in and kissed each other on the lips! Too bad I didn't have my camera... =)

01 February 2009

Changes to the blog

I've been making a lot of changes to our blog in the past month in an attempt to improve its appearance and usefulness to visitors. I think it's done (for now), so let me point out everything for those who may not have noticed.

1) I've moved "See Also..." (links to family photos and videos) to the top right side of the page so it's easier to find.

2) Below "See Also..." I've added a gadget that shows our local time, in case you're thinking of calling and want to know if we're likely to be awake or even at home. Unfortunately, it also contains site-related advertising, which I hope isn't too bothersome to anyone because I can't really get rid of it. It's a small price to pay for this handy feature. On the bright side, it may just lead you to your Armenian dream girl!

3) Under our profile and the archive of entries, there is now a short list of recommended resources for anyone who is seriously considering a visit to Hayastani Hanrapetutyun (the Republic of Armenia). These are very general sources of information, and we can certainly provide the contact info of more personalized or specific tour sites/agencies, hotels, hostels, and so on, to anyone who expresses interest.

4) Settings have been updated so that the main page displays only the 15 most recent entries. This means the page is smaller and will take less time to load. If you want to read older posts, please make use of the archive on the right side of the page, which is organized by date from newest to oldest, top to bottom.

5) Finally, you can refer to our mailing address anytime by scrolling to the very bottom of the page. Thanks to my mom for the suggestion!