Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Weekend in Ganja

We had another long weekend and decided to spend it exploring another city of Azerbaijan. We traveled a bit further than our previous trip to Naftalan, but thankfully didn't have any car trouble along the way! We headed to Ganja, the second largest city in Azerbaijan. It's slightly closer to the mountains and we enjoyed the cooler weather fresh air.

Along the way there is an old German town that's been converted to a hotel and restaurant. It was definitely an eye-catch to see a completely different type of building on the hillside with its own little village.

Sunday we drove south of Ganja to Lake Göygöl. The President of Azerbaijan has a residence right above the lake and apparently it only opened to tourists (including Azeris) a couple years ago. The lake was gorgeous and it would have been lovely if we could have done more hiking or camping around that area.

After arriving back in Ganja we ventured downtown for dinner and one of our favorite pastimes - fountain watching! Azerbaijan has lots of beautiful fountains and Madi has developed an obsession with them. Her sisters also seem to love them though so a lot of our time was spent watching these three run around giggling and having fun.

The weather on Monday was a bit rainy so we ducked inside a cafe for some lunch and then went back to fountain-watching. :-)

Our favorite fountains were at Gəncə Şəhər İcra Hakimiyyəti. (Thank you Instagram for having that as a location option for tagging a picture!) It was a beautiful buildings with massive fountains on either side. 

We also walked by Cümә Mosque and heard portions of what might have been a ceremony celebrating the Eid holiday.

We also saw this really cool door that I loved.

We had a (thankfully) uneventful trip home where I proceeded to sneak everyone's beloved stuffed animals into the wash after a weekend of getting them good and dirty. Then Olivia saw her pandas (plural because she has three). Don't worry though - she was reunited before bedtime. 


Saturday, September 10, 2016

Evelyn and Olivia: 14 Months

Both of you are improving loads in your walking! You are also both copying when we show you how to do something. You are also waving hello and goodbye to people and it's precious. You still have a blast going to the park and riding in the wagon and tricycle. You also both love the tunnels (as evidenced in the pictures for this month).

We've cut all bottles and you only get sippy cups of milk in the morning and evening. We were being lazy and continuing the bottle until our supply of formula from Norway finally ran out. You still get a pacifier at nap time and before we go to bed. We are being lazy and have no interest in cutting them right now and I'm just fine with that. You both love eating oatmeal, yogurt, cheese, pouches, pasta, and fruit (raspberries [for Evelyn], bananas, strawberries, peaches, nectarines, watermelon, and pineapple [for Olivia]).

You are both so loving and fun and happy. Nothing brings me as much joy as watching you interact with one another, but especially with your adoring big sister Madi. She loves making you both laugh and you have a ball with her! Laughter is of no shortage in our household and I love watching your relationships build.

Here are some special things we want to remember about both of you for this month -


- You're definitely walking lots, but more cautious than your sister. You like to hold your finger and walk around.
- You got two new bottom teeth this month bringing your total to eight (four top and four bottom). I truly think you've had a constant drip of drool and soaked top the entire month.
- You love your puppy dog stuffed animal that we used for monthly pictures. However, you don't care for the panda bear, but will snuggle any other stuffed animal. Perhaps it's because Olivia already laid claim to all pandas in the household?
- You prefer to grunt and kind of point to what you want rather than talk. No way girlfriend - we are pushing you to use actual words for things.
- You've started showing a love for stacking Lego Duplo blocks. You will sit there for a long time stacking and unstacking blocks and studying them.


- You are pretty much running these days. You also do not like to hold our hand or listen when we tell you not to walk somewhere or where you should walk. This combination makes going out with you tons of fun. #sarcasm #littlestinker
- You love your panda bear and could care less about your teddy bear that we used for your monthly pictures. You love him to much in fact that one did not suffice and you've captured both Evelyn and Madison's pandas, bringing your total to three pandas in your crib at bedtime.
- You are talking a lot more nowadays. Sometimes baby babble, but also real words. We got you to say "Madi" a couple times and you love calling all cats "Zaza"
- You are the animal lover. Including your affection for all cats (all called "Zaza" of course) you also ran straight towards our neighbors lovable schnauzer dog and giggled when he licked you.
- You still only have six teeth, but I'm sure you'll be getting more soon.


Thursday, September 1, 2016

Summer Wrap-up

I titled this post "Summer Wrap-up". It could also be called "I finally got a chance to sort through pictures on my phone and sit down and blog." But since the latter is pretty long, we will stick with the first option. ;-)

But truly, things have been a bit quiet over here on the blog during the summer. There are a few reasons for that, but the main one is lack of time to sit down and sort through pictures and write until after the girls are in bed and by then I'm exhausted and have barely seen my husband. The summer has been quiet and busy at the same time if that makes sense...

Anyway, Madi starts school next Tuesday (apparently the last one to start based on all the fabulous First Day pictures my friends are posting - can't wait for ours next week!) so I figured it was high time that I got it together and wrapped up the remainder of this past summer in Baku. 

  1. Madi loves pushing baby sisters on the swings. I love sitting on the bench with a cup of coffee observing. Win-win. 
  2. Evelyn started making a "stank face" and then 0.2 seconds later she smiles super big at you (usually).
  3. One Saturday afternoon the twins were napping and Jason and I were exhausted. He fell asleep in the Ikea kids tunnel (seriously) and I started falling asleep on the sofa. Madi apparently gave up on us playing with her because an hour later we found her asleep on the downstairs sofa. 
  4. Zoey the acrobat cat.
  5. Baku by night. We went out for our anniversary and got to see the Flame Towers alternating lights on the buildings. 
  6. Liv enjoying some time on the back patio.
  7. Madi with our amazing nanny Meri making her delicious pancakes.
  8. We've been making 1-2 fresh loaves a bread each week and are loving it!
  9. We also made homemade watermelon popsicles and enjoyed those on warm afternoons.

  1. We explored the fun area called Fountain Square one evening for dinner. I'm still not used to the spectacle that my fair-headed twins and toddler attracts. No, you may not pickup my child and move them by yours for a picture... oh, but it's okay for you to then move your child right next to mine and then take a picture :-/
  2. Zoey "helping" sort files.
  3. Madi falling asleep in the car after a long morning of playing. She cut naps this summer when she potty-trained, but sometimes the girl still needs it (despite what she thinks...)
  4. Olivia loves her Ikea panda!
  5. The twins have really started loving books over the summer. Their favorite are these small board books which are the perfect size, but they love flipping through any book. 
  6. Evelyn has started placing her food on her sippy cup or water bottle at mealtime and snack time. Sigh.
  7. Princess Madi is ready to walk Kitty and Hans.
  8. & 9. We decided to try a family sleepover with some friends of ours and it was a blast. We spied on the kids eating popcorn and watching a movie together happily upstairs. So we had some delicious mojitos and dice games downstairs!

Downtown Baku has a beautiful boulevard along the Caspian Sea full of restaurants and fountains and playgrounds. We decided one Saturday afternoon to visit an area with small carnival-type rides. All of the girls had a blast riding the train and carousel. Afterwards we grabbed a delicious dinner and headed home. 

  1. Jumperoos. Not just for babies!
  2. Olivia seriously loves the cats. She walks around saying "Za-Za" for both cats, but is starting to say "Ce-Za". Fortunately both are incredibly tolerable and Zoey let her snuggle her for a few minutes before calling it quits. 
  3. Madi's new friend from summer camp. When I picked her up and asked what she did all day, she'd tell me she played with him.
  4. All three girls having fun at the play area. 
  5. Twins enjoying mealtime! They are full of laughter and joy. 
  6. CeCe lounging.
  7. We decided to give teacher's gifts to the volunteers and staff at summer camp. I attempted to translate them into Azeri with the help of a friend. 
  8. Madi helped me stuff the gift bags and put candy in each one. She was excited to give them out and tell them she helped make them.
  9. Madi's first gold medal for winning a round of musical chairs at summer camp. She was elated! 

  1. Because when you find out there's a Cinnabon in your city, you drive around in circles for 20 min in the car locating it and grab a half dozen and indulge that evening with a cup of decaf and Baileys and pretend you're back in America. 
  2. Madi playing too hard at the pool and falling asleep after consuming a chocolate ice cream.
  3. Olivia and Evelyn having fun.
  4. Olivia looking bored at meal time.
  5. Church can be exhausting - ha! The timing is not ideal for naps and our schedules always get messed up on Sundays, but we are grateful there is a place to worship and be surrounded by fellow Believers. 
  6. Zoey not appreciating her snuggles from Madi.
  7. Teething is rough and it put this one out for a couple of days with fever. I enjoyed getting to cuddle of course since she never lets me otherwise.
  8. Madi and her bff Cooper had a day of fun before school started for him at the indoor play area. 
  9. Evelyn had a rough night (see above) and was throwing back her third cup of java before 9 am. 

And some Sundays all three girls fall asleep in the car on the way home from church, but wake up ready to roll as soon as get home. 10 minute power nap, right? This particular Sunday Madi asked me if they could all match when I said I was going  upstairs to get church clothes. Adorbs.

  1. Snuggles with Daddy. 
  2. CeCe has discovered a love for our curtains... 
  3. Evelyn...I have no words for that face - just the laughing-cry emoji. 
  4. Zoey... I have no words for that cat either.
  5. Princess Madi and her matching Princess Hans (we're still a bit gray in the gender area!)
  6. I got a chance to spend a morning with just Olivia and pretend I had a single baby. Apparently we had too much fun because as I was walking around I noticed it got quiet and I looked in the stroller and saw this. I removed the book she was holding from her hands before I took the picture, haha.
  7. Soaking up outdoor pooltime while we can! Madi loves swimming her little sisters around. 
  8. Dr Pepper. I have been on the hunt for Dr Pepper for Jason since we first arrived. I found a can or two at one store, but nothing more and nothing since June. And when I saw hunt, I mean I have been to seven different stores around Baku and no one has heard of it. Then I finally found a store with some! They only had two six packs and few single cans, but finding this at all is a win in my book. #happyhusband
  9. Movie night. These three keep us laughing and smiling when they play together in the evenings. They are so joyful. A sweet friend from Houston commented on this picture on my Facebook that we have the best views. She's so right! :-)

Since the summer is coming to a close, I knew I wanted a day to spend with just Madi. This girl is so sweet and my time is always split with someone or something and I wanted to be able to give her a day with my full attention. We started the morning off with Starbucks and fountains (fortunately I had a change of clothes on hand). Next we headed to pedicures and lunch before heading back home and hitting up the pool for a couple hours. It was a wonderful time and I'm excited for her to start at her preschool next week!

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