Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Eight Year Anniversary

Today is our actual wedding anniversary, but we went out last Saturday night to celebrate. Our amazing nanny Meri watched the girls and we knew they were in good hands.

We headed downtown to the Hilton hotel and started the evening at the 360 Bar. It's a rotating bar so you get to see the landscape of downtown Baku from every angle. It was really neat to see! The drinks and appetizers were delicious.

Afterwards we headed down one floor to the Sky Cafe and enjoyed more delicious drinks and dinner outside. We got to see the sunset and the Flame Towers light up.

Once we were finished we just walked around the boulevard for a bit before heading back. It was wonderful to get to spend the evening with Jason and for us to have a chance to visit and re-connect without interruptions.

And to keep with our yearly anniversary picture here's a fabulous 2016 - 12 wonderful years together and 8 incredible and adventurous years as husband and wife. :-)

Previous anniversary celebrations: 2015  2014  2013  2012  2011


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Evelyn and Olivia: 13 Months

I feel like these girls have jumped leaps and bounds since their First Birthday! Both have started walking (Liv especially, Evy just a couple small steps) and are both talking up a storm. We've cut all of their bottles except the bedtime one and they are using sippy cups during the day and drinking milk. They still have one nap a day maybe 1-2 hours depending on what time they wake up. Both love to dance and clap and are incredibly happy and easy going babies.

Evelyn Grace

- Evy still loves to smile and laugh. It doesn't take much to get her to smile and her whole face lights up. It's that kind of contagious smile that you can't help but smile back.
- Along with her smile she's also perfected what we call "the stank face". Girlfriend has got a serious scowl. And the best is she will scowl at you and then smile really big 0.4 seconds later - ha!
- Evy got two more top teeth (six total) and is drooling like crazy, but I haven't seen anymore quite yet.
- Evy still won't snuggle with us, but she loves to snuggle her puppy that she sleeps with every night. She'll carry puppy around and then lay her head on him. So precious!
- She took her first steps just a couple days after Liv, but still hasn't taken off like Liv. Her balance is actually better than Liv and she can stand up on her own, but still seems hesitant to walk.

Olivia Ann

- Liv is laughing and smiling so much these days! It's still hard to capture because she's kind of shy about it and turns her head away when she smiling and laughing.
- She's gotten a bit more clingy and doesn't like it when I leave the room. She's whining until I hold her and then she snuggles her head into my chest like she's in her favorite place in the world.
- Liv also has a stuffed animal she loves to snuggle with and play with - her panda! She will go walking around with it as well and whine for him.
- She had five teeth before her first birthday and finally got the fourth top tooth (also six total). Less drool, but probably more teeth soon.
- Liv decided to take her first steps last Saturday and since then has been walking more and more. She's taking off and doing really well!
- She is talking a lot and loves to see the cats and has started saying "zaza" for Zoey (who we call "zozo" a lot) and can say CeCe. She lights up when she sees them.


Monday, August 1, 2016

Germany Road Trip

We had an amazing time in Germany! The best part by far was getting to meet up with our friends from Norway, the Kolesar family, and spend a week seeing different parts of Germany (and collecting Starbucks mugs of course!) and watching the kids have a blast.

We all flew in to Frankfurt and met up that evening at our shared house in Darmstadt. The next morning we drove down to Heidelberg to visit Märchenparadies, a small amusement park for kids under 10. It was perfect for our gang (ages 3-5). They could ride all of the rides and had a blast playing there all day!

The next day called for rain in the forecast so we headed north to Mainz for an indoor play area. We spent about half of the day there and everyone had a good time running around.

We had lots of fun, naps in the car, and a side trip to Mannheim for dinner (and a mug of course) one afternoon.

On Friday we headed to a nearby castle, Frankenstein Castle (the inspiration for the book), before making our longest drive over to the Cologne/Dusseldorf area.

Unfortunately we couldn't find a place to fit all nine of us so we had to stay in separate places. Our crew went to the zoo Saturday morning and we met up with the Kolesar family for dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe and a quick viewing of the Cologne Cathedral.

Jason also picked up a rental car Saturday to drive himself down to Nurburg so that he could spend the day driving on the Nurburgring - something he has wanted to do since we moved to Europe. He had a great time driving on the track and you can see his video here.

While Jason was away, I managed to get all the girls loaded up and head to meet Kara and the boys at the Wild Park in Dusseldorf. We couldn't find any stores open, but fortunately Kara had some pears and the kids had so much fun feeding the deer. One portion of the park they were roaming free and the kids had four or five surrounding them wanting pieces of pear. Afterwards the kids played at the playground.

The top left photo is probably my favorite from the trip! These kids are amazing and Madi loved spending time with Caleb and Ty!

That evening we grabbed dinner close to our apartment in Cologne and went to a park nearby. Madi had no fear on the rope swing and the girls enjoyed crawling around!

Monday morning we met up at Nordpark in Dusseldorf. Kara and I walked around the park for a bit with the babies and Jason played with the olders. The park was beautiful and we enjoyed a relaxing morning.

That afternoon we pushed our girls and visited Legoland and SeaLife Center since Madi had been asking for Legos and fishes. We learned that Olivia loves watching the fish as she screamed every time we tried to move her - HA!

We met back up with Kara and her boys for dinner and a very sad goodbye. After Caleb started crying, Kara and I were goners, and shortly after Madi seemed to understand what was happening and started crying and saying she wanted her boys back. Being blunt - it sucked. There are so many wonderful things to being an expat, but making friends across the world and then having to see them infrequently and say goodbye is tough. I'm so thankful for the time that we had together and for great friends like Kara, who also have a Starbucks mug obsession and plan road trips around collecting them. ;-)

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