Friday, 31 October 2014

Pumpkin Decorating

Happy Halloween! It is remarkable what a difference a year makes. Last year, we were propping Zahara up in the pumpkin patch trying to get one shot of her sitting upright. This year Zahara decorated her first pumpkin!

We got washable paint and let her go. The results were mixed. Of course the first thing she did was put the red paint in her mouth. But after that, she seemed to get the hang of it.

We made a "Z" out of painters tape with the idea of peeling it off when the paint dried. Unfortunately, the pumpkin got wet. It turns out washable paint doesn't mix well with rain. At least we had fun!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Dear Zahara: 15-16 Months

Dear Zahara,

Most of the craziness of our move is mostly behind us now. We finished our travels across the United States in mid-September and have spent these last few weeks getting settled into our new home and new routine.

It took us a little while and mummy and daddy were pretty stressed, but we found you a great daycare! You started full-time October 6th. You are in Ms. Christina's house with three other children who are all right around your age (you are the youngest by a couple of months). I was really nervous, but at the end of the first day Ms. Christina said it was the best first day she had seen in her 20+ years of working. The second day was terrible and you cried most of the day, but by the third day you were fine again. You seem to be doing really well there and are enjoying playing with new friends.

First day of daycare

You are developing so quickly, it's hard to keep up! You don't even walk now, you run! You also learned to stomp your feet, which you love to do while dancing. You've got more words by the minute, and said your first two-syllable word: apple!

Apple picking in Maryland

You've got four more teeth coming at the moment (yuk!), which will bring your total to 16. Quite a mouthful! You didn't love your first time at the dentist, though she said everything looks great.

We visited the zoo for the first time, and you were in love! I think this face says it all. This is you seeing a sloth bear for the first time.

It's been a hard transition moving from England, but seeing you experience new things and watching you grow here has made it all worthwhile. We love you to the moon and back!

Monday, 27 October 2014

Date Night

Last week marked a huge milestone in my life: it was the first night I've spent away from Zahara since she was born. In the 15+ months that she's been alive, I have been there every single day and night. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love being her mum and really do cherish our time together. But, let's be honest, I needed a night out with my husband.

It's not that I didn't want to leave Zahara earlier, but logistics made it impossible. Until very recently I lived across an ocean from any family. Even now, we're still a plane ride away from both sets of grandparents. Luckily for us, my wonderful in-laws came to visit last week and let us have a night to ourselves. 

A little blurry, but focused on what counts: the drinks

Zahara was amazing! She was the perfect baby, is what my mother-in-law said! As for Dan and I, we had an incredible night out. We went to a movie (Gone Girl--LOVED IT!), out to dinner and drinks; and even stayed in a hotel. Pure luxury!

Though we were only a 15-minute drive away, and we were gone for less than 18 hours, this was a huge step forward. It was a practice run for when we leave next month on a four-night cruise! Hooray for grandparents!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

What We've Been Up To: Part 2

Here are some more highlights from our last couple of months. See Part 1 here.

San Francisco/Sonoma:

An all-garlic restaurant; not for the faint of heart (or vampires)
Pier 39 in San Francisco
Harrogate friends at Alisha's brewery!

Hanging out with the Barrs!


Celebrating our 6th anniversary

San Antonio:

Zahara reading with her great-grandmother

Great-grandfather Pop Art, Great-uncle Rand, and Z

Moving Home:
Such a pro at air travel

Thank goodness for good friends

Jewish Holidays:

Dan's homemade challah

Apple Picking:

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

What We've Been Up To: Part 1

Hi friends! Wow, it's been a while. I finally am starting to feel a bit more settled. The boxes are all unpacked and we're getting into a new routine. So much has happened since I last posted:
  • a move across the world
  • visiting six cities in three time zones (not including Harrogate or Washington, DC)
  • moving into our new/old house
  • Zahara starting day care
  • Dan starting work
  • Me starting the job hunt in earnest
  • Zahara's first time at the zoo
  • The Jewish high holidays
I can't possibly post about all of those things...I'm just way too behind. Instead, I'll post a few highlight pictures. I have no idea where this blog will go in the future, but I do know that I love it and hope to continue recording my adventures and memories here. 

Our Move:
Rachel and Chris hosted an amazing farewell party for us in Harrogate
Had one last glass of fizz with the girls (missed you Kristiina and Vicky!)

Cape Cod and Boston, Massachusetts:
Relaxing in Cape Cod

Visiting cousin Nina

Seattle Duck Tour

...more to come in Part 2

Friday, 29 August 2014

Dear Zahara: 14 Months

Dear Zahara,

What a big month this has been. We've moved across the world! I am so proud of how easily and wonderfully you adapt to new surroundings. Without exaggeration, we have completely uprooted your whole life. It makes me a little sad that you won't remember all of the wonderful memories we've made up until now, but I am excited to start this new adventure with you in America.

You've had a few big milestones this month, but the biggest is that you are now walking! You took your first steps way back in July, but you were still mostly crawling all summer. Over the past few weeks you have become a lot more confident in walking. You still toddle around like a drunkard and it's absolutely adorable.

You don't have many full words yet, but you are clearly making yourself understood. You can say hi and bye; you say "baa" for ball and "waa" for water. You are great at using sign language for food, milk, and more. You also are learning your body parts, and will point to them when asked. You especially love wiggling your fingers and toes.

You are a giant ball of energy, and sometimes it is hard keeping up with you. But your sweet little giggle and baby hugs make it all worthwhile. Happy 14-months. We love you!

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Turkish Baths in Harrogate

One of the items on my bucket list before leaving Harrogate was a visit to the Turkish Baths. Dan very thoughtfully gave me a gift certificate for Mother's Day. Initially I planned on going by myself, but when my friends said they were available to join me, I knew the experience would be that much better. Rachel, Becky, Vicky (not pictured) and I made a morning of it. No photos are allowed during the session, but we managed to sneak one in after the fact.

I've been to an authentic Turkish bath in Istanbul; I still maintain that was one of my top-ten most interesting life experiences. It was so unexpected and wonderful. Of course a lot of that had to do with the hamam we chose--if you are ever in Istanbul, you MUST visit Kilic Ali Pasa Hamami.

These baths were significantly different than the ones in Istanbul, but it was still relaxing and wonderful. This was more like a spa than a bath house. Bathers go through a series of rooms to open their pores and release toxins. First you visit the sauna, then the Tepidarium (warm room), then the Calidarium (hot room), and finally the Laconium (hottest room). In between each room you shower and take a dip in the plunge pool. It was freezing! It was really interesting how different the pool felt after each room. I thought that it would feel less cold after visiting hotter rooms, when in fact it was the opposite. The hotter the room I was in, the colder (and less pleasant) the plunge pool.

Plunge pool [source]

Before we knew it, our two-hour session was over. I left feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. The Turkish Baths are just one more thing to love about Harrogate.