Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgivukkah!

Happy Thanksgivukkah, my friends! What's that, you ask? It's a magical time in history when the first night of the Jewish festival of Chanukah coincides with the American holiday Thanksgiving. According to the Daily Mail, the last time this happened was in 1888; the next instance will be in 79,043 years. So, light the menorah; spin the dreidel; and stuff your face with turkey and pumpkin pie!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Bouncing Around Boston

After an amazing time in Dallas, it was time for Zoey to see the other half of her family. Dan left earlier in the week to go to Washington, DC for work, so he was flying to Boston from there. That left Zoey and me to take our first solo flight. I'm happy to say it went really well! My dad took us to the airport and managed to get a pass to take us all the way to the gate. I think we would have been fine on our own, but I'm not sure my dad was ready to say goodbye yet. It was very sweet.

Zoey's babushka and dedushka (Russian for grandmother and grandfather) met us at the airport. They barely said hi to me before grabbing her and smothering her in kisses :) The last time they saw her she was only five days old! She's practically a whole new person. I absolutely love watching my super manly father-in-law melt to pieces around her.

Our time in Boston was filled with family. We were lucky enough to introduce Zahara to two more great-grandparents. The timing could not have been better. Dan's grandfather, David, was 95 years old and not in great health. We talked to him regularly through Skype, and he always asked about Zoey. I really think he was holding on until he could see her in person. Sadly, David passed away a few days after we left Boston. While we are mourning the loss of such an amazing grandfather, we are heartened that our last memories of him are of him holding his great-granddaughter.

Seeing Zoey with both of Dan's grandparents is something I'll always treasure.

The next day my in-laws threw a fantastic brunch for Zoey. I had the best time seeing all of the aunts, uncles and cousins. It's been far too long since we've been together. And, I finally got to meet our cousins' kids! It's so fun that they are all less than two years apart.

Nina and Sasha (the two babes) are SO squeezable! The Levin genes run pretty strong...don't they all three resemble each other?

Zoey especially loved playing with Jim and Paul.

We had a very, very relaxing time in Boston. My mother-in-law was literally waiting outside our door in the morning waiting to play with Zahara. My father-in-law was carrying her in the Ergo 90% of the time, and my sister-in-law was reading or playing with her the rest of the time. They were so generous with their love and time, in fact, that they gifted us a couples massage and a night at the movies! On our own! Without the baby! (Was that too many exclamation points?)

Our trip to the states was an unqualified success. It was bittersweet boarding the plane back home. I'm happy to be back, but I am already missing the quality time with friends and family. Thanks for all the great memories! Let's do it again soon!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Zoey Does Dallas

In addition to the amazing Fakesgiving my parents hosted, Zoey also got some quality time with some of mine, and my parents' oldest friends. It was incredible seeing some people I haven't seen since high school. Now, all my friends have kids, and many of my parents' friends have grandkids. I feel so old!

I got to spend some quality time with one of my high school best friends, Lee. Lee and I were inseparable for years. We spent more time at each others houses' than anywhere else. I haven't seen Lee for at least six or seven years, so this was the first time I got to meet his beautiful daughter Charlotte. She took a while to warm up to us, but once she did she was non-stop! I loved her sass. At one point she was doing something that Lee didn't want her to do. She put her fingers over her lips and said, "Shh, daddy. Don't interrupt me while I'm doing something." Ha!

I also caught up with two of my oldest friends: Sarah and Jenny. I've known these girls since we were four. We were the three amigos. We did absolutely everything together, including making up stories and pretending to deliver the news to an audience of our parents. Our most persistent news story involved the Chinese government cutting off the pigtails of little girls. What can I say? We were weird. And now we've all got kids. In fact, Jenny's baking number two!

Elias, Emma, Zahara

Sarah and Elias; Jenny and Emma; me and Zoey

Elias and Emma were adorable. Emma and Zoey became fast friends. I was so proud of Sarah who made a special effort to see us. It was her first time driving alone with Elias, and she did so well!

Zoey: "So a priest and a rabbi walk into a bar."

Rounding out our special trip to Dallas was a fantastic "Sip-and-See" that my parents threw for Zoey. It was a wonderful party where people could sip on wine and see Zoey. Get it? They really went all out with fantastic desserts, decorations and wine. So many people showed up. I felt terrible that Zoey slept or cried most of the party, but what are you going to do? Babies are so unpredictable. At least she's a cute crier :)

"Meet Zahara Jane"

Sleeping Beauty

In addition to the parties and visits, we spent some great quality time with my family. It was so nice seeing my mom, dad and Bradi fall to pieces around Zahara. Watching them read and play with her were really the highlights of the trip. The week went way too quickly. Let's do it again soon!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Back in the U.S.A.

Hi, friends! Sorry for the long delay in posting. I've missed you. Have you missed me? It's been a busy few weeks, actually. We finally got Zoey's passport and were able to make our first transatlantic trip with a baby. I was really dreading the flights, but they went really well! Zoey is already such a great traveler :) Good thing, since her mum and dad plan on taking her everywhere.

We made two stops on this trip: Dallas and Boston. We saw tons of friends and family in both cities, and Zoey was lucky enough to meet four great-grandparents! Isn't that amazing? We got some great pictures and movies with four generations. Such a special memory.

Anyone who knows me, or has read this blog for a while, knows that I absolutely love Thanksgiving (see here, here and here). I'm a big believer that the holiday doesn't necessarily need to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, but can instead be celebrated anytime you want. My family does a "Fakesgiving" every year since we're rarely in the same place for actual Thanksgiving. This year was no exception. My parents threw one heck of a party and my whole family came. Literally. My entire family--both my mom's side and dad's side--were present. All of my aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents were sitting around one table. It was magical.

Zoey had the best time meeting all her family. It's been a while since we've all been together--probably since our wedding five years ago--so this was really special.

Cousin Larin and Aunt Bradi

Great Uncle Bubba

Cousins Marina and Merrill

As luck would have it, my good friends Sarah and Kyle, and their too-cute-for-words daughter Pearl, happened to be in Dallas the same time we were. We got to hang out with them on Thanksgiving and the next night. Of course Pearl and Zoey were instant friends.

It was a jam-packed week full of good food and good friends. Stay tuned for part two of my Dallas recap tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Zee versus Zed

Did you know that in England (and many other countries in the world), the letter "z" is pronounced zed? This actually comes up quite a bit in conversation because my home address contains this letter. Whenever I am giving my address to Brits (e.g. the phone company or delivery people), I have to say zed. Additionally, I now have a daughter whose first name begins with that letter. What am I supposed to tell her? Does her name start with a zed or a zee? It's all so confusing.

Really though, it's obviously meant to be zee. Sure, zed came first and is most likely based on the original Greek zeta, but we're American, darn it. We say zee

I'll give you three reasons why it should be pronounced zee versus zed:
  • The alphabet song
    • Sing the alphabet song to yourself. Go ahead. When you get to the end what sounds better? W, X, Y and Zed or W, X, Y and Zee? Zee rhymes. Zed just sounds silly.
  • ZZ Top
    • Are we really supposed to say Zed Zed Top?
  • Jay Z
    • Aren't Beyonce and her husband Jay Zed adorable? No. but Beyonce and Jay Zee are.
This post was brought to you by the letter Z.
Also, thanks to Randy and Chris for their contributions to this post.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Happy November, everyone. Can you believe it's already fall? Where has this year gone? Last week we celebrated Zahara's first Halloween. I've been looking forward to this for years. Anyone who knows me knows I have a HUGE sweet tooth. Just check out my sweet tooth traveler posts as proof. Halloween seemed like the perfect gig. Free candy! All I had to do was have a baby :) These next few years are the best when she's still too young to eat her spoils. I guess Dan and I will have to step in and help her out.

On the Friday before Halloween, we went to carnival put on by Dan's work. It was a really cute event, with arts and crafts and interactive games for all ages. Zoey was a bit young for most of it, but we had a good time catching up with friends and their adorable kiddos.

We also visited a pumpkin patch. Zoey can't quite sit on her own yet, so it was hilarious trying to get a perfect picture. Dan and I took turns setting her down, then very slowly pulling our hands away while the other person snapped a quick photo. Sometimes it worked, but most of the time we ended up with this. Thankfully the ground was soft and Zoey didn't seem to mind at all.

Help, I've fallen and I can't get up!

This was the best shot we got. Doesn't it kind of look like those cheesy senior portraits?

On actual Halloween, we went trick-or-treating on base. There were more than two hundred kids and nearly fifty offices who participated. Zoey dressed as a little bumble bee, courtesy of my Aunt Pam. It was a really cute crochet cocoon and a matching hat with antennae. She looked absolutely adorable.

We went with my friend Rachel and her adorable 10-week-old Tom. I'm not sure that Tom was crazy about his costume, but he looked so stinking cute as a little bear. The tiny tail killed me.

How was your Halloween? What did you dress up as? How much candy have you already eaten? I like savoring mine so that it lasts longer, but my will power is not as good as it used to be. This stash is going faster than I'd like to admit.