Friday, March 17, 2017

Jason's Birthday

Since we get to spend Jason's actual birthday (tomorrow) flying all day, we celebrated early. Jason had to work late Thursday night so we took advantage of the extra time to make cards and a small cake for him. I painstakingly wrote "Happy Birthday" on it with the difficult icing pens...alas, I had to chase two toddlers around leaving the pre-schooler unsupervised and it quickly disappeared - HA! Evy helped put a couple sprinkles on the cake as well, but Liv just ate them. Girl after my own heart.



We cooked Jason's favorite meal Friday night and enjoyed some movie time before finishing packing for our trip. Low key, but we will have a couple of weeks holiday to spend together and celebrate!



Happy Birthday Jason!! You constantly amaze me with your honesty, hard work ethic, love and compassion. We are truly blessed to have you leading our family and I am honored to be your helpmate. We love you so much!


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Exploring Azerbaijan: Novruz

The past month has been leading up to next week's holiday - Novruz, one of the biggest celebrations here in Azerbaijan. While we won't be here for the local festivities, we've had a touch of the fun at our compound, Madi's school, and at home.

Our sweet nanny Meri bringing the girls samani for the table and homemade pakhlava and shekebura. Both were amazing and the girls loved playing with out new table decor throughout the week.



Earlier in the week our compound hosted a Novruz festival. They had the same pastries along with the traditional dried fruit and nuts. They had rice and kebabs plus entertainment throughout the night, including the traditional fire jumping. We didn't make it to that portion because of bedtime, but maybe next year! The girls had fun running around, dancing, and getting their faces painted.



Throughout the week Madi has been learning about Novruz and the children have been bringing in sweets to go in the class khoncha. Today was a half day and they children were allowed to wear the traditional Azeri attire. The children also made their own pakhlava!




Happy Novruz Azerbaijan!

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Lately.

I feel like a broken record saying "Where did the month go and I haven't blogged!" However, this month I have more legitimate excuses. We had visitors the beginning of the month and spent the time exploring a few things around Baku. Then the day after they departed our house started getting packed to move to a new compound and obv new house. All last week was spent packing, unpacking, organizing, and setting up the new digs. All that's left is hanging pictures and a few other small things and I'll post pics. Until then here's a sneak peek.


However, we've tried to get out a bit still with the girls and take a break. And we've had lots of sweet friends drop over meals and house warming gifts (as evident in the number of food pictures this month, haha).

We've had some great weather lately which meant a visit to the football pitch was needed. Madi was not happy that Olivia loved carrying the ball around and Evelyn proved to be a pretty good dribbler.

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A Norwegian coffee date with a friend who also moved from Norway to Azerbaijan. And delicious gifts our friends from Norway bought when they came to visit us.



Only our fellow Baku friends will appreciate this next picture - avocados are expensive and hard to time here because if you wait until they are dark, then they are bad. You can't go off color, but rather feel. And this is the best timing I've had in the 10 months we've been here - ha!


Madi has started dressing herself for school. Sometimes that means wearing clothes backwards. Love this girl and her independence.


The cats "assisting" during the moving process. Zoey climbing in boxes and CeCe hiding under the covers.



Some much needed cookies and baileys to survive the moving process and celebrate the last night in our old house.


My sweet friends Rochelle, Reba, and Tricia surprised me on our first day in the house with sweets and wine. Tricia also spent the whole day earlier in the week helping us unpack and playing with the girls. She was such a big help and I am going to miss her being close to her and my other girlfriends from our previous compound. My friend Jessie came over the next day for a play date and brought us champagne and my favorite American treat from her recent trip to the States.



We got out of the house that evening to meet friends for dinner at a new restaurant in Fountain Square and afterwards visited the Merry-go-Round and McD for the girls first ice cream cone. I'd say they were a fan, hehe.


The second half of this month will be flying by quicker than expected as well because we leave Saturday for holiday. We've been exhausted between moving and Jason's workload and we are both ready to relax! :-)

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Friday, March 10, 2017

Evelyn and Olivia: 20 Months

Happy 20 months sweet girls! You are both so independent and fun. Your different personalities are becoming more and more evident and it's really neat. You have all your teeth except the two-year molars. You've both been chewing on your hands, drooling, and a bit grumpy off-and-on. You both love your big sister so much and get excited when you see her. Olivia said "Madi" once, but we haven't been able to get her to say it again. You both call water "bubble" and I think it's pretty cute. :-)


Evelyn has been a bit clingy this month (I think due to teething). She will act like she wants to be picked up, but then she doesn't want to cuddle. She's quite confusing! She doesn't like playing independently as much as Olivia, which suits Madi just fine as the two of them play together well. She's also been caught quite a few times going up the stairs by herself.


Olivia has also finally been able to say "yeah" and both of you are still saying "okay". If we ask Olivia where something or someone is and she doesn't know she lifts up her hands (palms up) gesturing like she doesn't know and says "I-in-oh" for "I don't know". It's pretty adorable and we may be abusing it. ;-) Olivia also has started playing independently really well. She will sit for a long time playing with necklaces or our ABC cookies game. She's also taking a couple steps up the stairs without holding on to anything.


Both of the girls love laughing and throw their head back to laugh. They love merry-go-rounds and running around. It's getting difficult to get out the door to take Madi to school because both of you are at the door wanting to go outside as well. We've spent a lot of time at playgrounds, parks, and walking around downtown.

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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Exploring Azerbaijan: Visitors and the Mud Volcanoes

We got to play host to our good friend Ron and Joy the first weekend in March. We had limited time and packed it with some repeat and some new activities in Baku. We started our first full-day with the traditional Azeri breakfast in Old City (our favorite thing to do with guests!). 



Afterwards we did a walking tour around Old City with the (in)famous Fuad, a local expert guide. It was really neat to hear the history of some of the buildings we see regularly. We grabbed a quick lunch and headed to the Heyder Aliyev Center. 


We got a babysitter that evening and headed to the Hilton for dinner and drinks in the 360 Bar. It rotates and gives a wonderful overview of the city, including the Flame Towers at night. We weren't able to get any good shots because of the lighting and we forgot to get a picture of any of us. :-/

Saturday we headed outside Baku to find the Qobustan carvings and mud volcanoes. The weather was perfect to playing outside and Madi loved playing in the mud volcanoes. 






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We made a quick stop at the house and got back in the car to visit the Boulevard. We took the train along a good portion before heading to dinner and finally ending the evening with a Merry-go-Round ride. Our guests had to leave early the next morning, but we were so happy for the time we got to spend with them in Baku!


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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

February Re-cap

Oh hey there March! You kind of crept up a bit unexpectedly so probably should crank out a February Re-cap sooner rather than later. ;-)

We had a lot of fun in February and a couple opposing climates mixed into the month. Towards the the beginning/middle of the month there were a couple snow days and then the final weekend of February we were outside enjoying the sun!

Here's some of the fun we've been up to this short month -



1. Goofing around with Madi and taking selfies. Love that girl!
2. CeCe engulfed in the massive arm chair on our second floor. Man I'm going to miss that gorgeous furniture when we move houses next week... ha!
3. Zoey having a rough day and burying her head in the bar stool.
4. Delicious salmon salads.
5. The girls discovering that mom and dad could pull them around in decorative baskets.
6. DIY pizza on Friday nights.
7. Mischief. I solemnly swear I am up to no good. ;-)
8. Zoey taking a nap in the doll crib and Madi tucking her in with a blanket so she stays warm.
9. The girls have played pretend sleeping tons this month and Olivia will squint her eyes closed.

Afternoons and meal times are pretty quiet around these parts...

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1. Grocery shopping solo with the twins when our nanny was sick. They decided it was a perfect opportunity to play "throw the stuffed animal out of the cart" game to pass the time and entertain the store. Workout done.
2. Beautiful flowers from a dear friend to encourage me having a rough few days. She and I got to be close and it was not easy saying goodbye to her.
3. My girls didn't want to say goodbye to her sweet daughter Maya either!
4. Homemade nachos with homemade salsa and fiesta ranch dip. Yum.
5. Snuggle cats - unfortunately it was short-lived as my phone fell onto the floor causing Zoey to jump onto CeCe in surprise causing CeCe to hiss and swat at Zoey causing Zoey to leap backwards onto the floor and poof. My bad...
6. Egg-free chocolate chip cookies. They tasted great and it was wonderful for Liv to have a treat. :-)
7. Drinking milk from cereal - life skills.
8. Playing at the playground.
9. Snow day!!

Sass. Olivia has started swinging her hips a lot and walking with attitude. Obv from Jason.

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Slow motion snow fall from our third floor balcony.

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1. More bedtime pretend play. Madi tucking Evy in with her stuffed animal "Ta-ta" and giving her hugs goodnight.
2. Zoey is tolerating the twins more and more and has even been caught snuggling. Olivia has turned out to be a blanket snob and refuses to share with you instead pulling it all up onto her and leaving you cold and blanket-less.
3. We had lunch in Fountain Square and visited the Merry-Go-Round. Gone are the days when we could let just Madi ride and keep her sisters strapped in the stroller.
4. We've found a delicious guy who sells pork products (hard to come by here) and enjoyed a breakfast with eggs and sausage rolls.
5. Date night! Our neighbor is an amazing babysitter and we've been taking advantage of this sweet spot of going out that we are currently in - Madi is old enough to know we are coming home and babysitters are fun and the twins are happy having one another and especially Madi and are over their separation anxiety for the most part. Anyone want to go out?! ;-)
6. Enjoying the unusually warm weather we got the last weekend in February.
7. Zoey tired from a long day of reigning her kingdom.
8. Madi is ready for Mardi Gras!! Man do I miss King Cake.
9. Olivia had some illness this past week that she's thankfully over now, but we slept her in our room to keep an eye on her. I don't think she minded. :-)


This past Friday Jason had a late afternoon meeting and we decided we would try a new park downtown to pass the time until he was finished working. The park was a major success and we spent 2.5 hours there!! I have never stayed at a park so long and we had to drag the girls away to dinner.

Liv and Evy are big enough that they could climb the stairs and slide with little to no help from me. Madi made a new friend right away and the two of them played for over an hour on the swings, see-saw, and slide despite not being able to speak one word to each other since there was no common language. Kids are amazing and we can learn so much from them!

After we dragged them away begrudgingly we had dinner and wandered through the mall for a bit.



And finally we'll end the February re-cap with this video. We've been invited to a few children's birthday parties here in Baku and despite staying until 9 pm (or later) we've yet to make it to the cake cutting. My goal is to last until the cake for a toddler's birthday party. We've proven to be too lame thus far - ha! But before Madi crashed around 915 pm, I did capture her on video busting a move on the dance floor. She's far more social than her parents, haha.

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