Wednesday, January 31, 2018

January Happenings

This month had a lot of changes and milestones in it. It also flew by quickly and I sit here in disbelief that tomorrow is February 1st.

The biggest thing that happened this month was the twins finished potty training and started Montessori! It was not an easy task undertaking two toddlers to use the potty, but they have done pretty brilliant and I am super proud of them.

They've also done really well adjusting to school! We did a slow transition the first couple of weeks so there was lots of time for the playground at home. However now they are staying through lunch and outdoor playground time!

  1. We started Jan 1 with the traditional Southern black-eyed peas and cornbread. Yum!
  2. I brought the girls back Dunkin Donuts from my girl's trip to Georgia. Delicious, but caused Evy to ask for donuts regularly for about a week after they were gone and cry huge tears when I said I didn't have any.
  3. Playground snack time during their transition to school.
  4. We support bowl slurping.
  5. I have a posse of monkeys.
  6. Especially this one...
  7. Liv snuggles.
  8. Evy cuddles with Tata and baby turtle.
  9. A bonus drop off with Dad to school one morning.

I have no idea what Olivia is singing... but she's dang adorable. 

  1. "Take our picture Mom! Cheese!!"
  2. School is exhausting. So much so that she fell asleep with a chicken nugget in her mouth...
  3. It's been super cold here (finally feeling like winter!) so we've done loads of soups in the crockpot. Beef and vegetable stew. 
  4. But the cold hasn't stopped these three from playing outdoors and jumping like crazy!
  5. Or taking their car for a spin. :-)
  6. And there's been our share of snuggles... and Moana. (Their current obsession.)
  7. We splurged and took the girls to Wonderland after school one day. Ball pit heaven.
  8. More ball pit heaven.
  9. We officially started swim lessons for the twins, and had some rest and snack before they started. Madi is still a pro and the twins have only had one lesson, but Evy loved it and Liv (who is normally our water baby) was a bit apprehensive about the cold pool, but still gave it a good try. 

One of the things we love about living overseas is experiencing different cultures. The traditional Azeri breakfast in Old City is definitely my favorite thing to do when we have visitors. One weekend we decided to go ahead with the girls and then walk around Old City afterwards (and ended up buying two carpets, which I love!). Tea is part of the culture here in a way that us Americans don't understand. Tea is had with guests and served with sweets and it's not unusual to see babies with tea instead of milk or juice in their bottles. The waiter automatically set tea glasses out for the girls when we ordered a pot and they all had some. Olivia loves it the most, but the others drank most of a glass as well. 

  1. Exhausted butterfly after a birthday party. 
  2. Another exhausted butterfly after the same birthday party. 
  3. A sounds asleep kitten after the birthday party. Sigh. This was no bueno for bedtime.
  4. We were a bit ambitious on the sizing of our letter S and have discovered we are sorely short of wine corks to finish this DIY project.
  5. Cats co-habitating. This might not seem unusual given I have previously posted pictures of these two snuggled together. However, this is major people. Around the end of November their fighting escalated to the point where they could not be in the same room together. We have kept them separated with failed attempts to re-introduce them all during December. CeCe would hiss and growl as soon as she saw Zoey and Zoey would follow her and attack after being hissed at until she chased CeCe and cornered her. It has been awful. I finally got them to the vet and was told there is nothing physical so it's behavioral and no other assistance. I finally said I'd had it and have forced them to get along by watching them closely and verbally reprimanding when they begin to fight. It's been so-so. They aren't back to normal - more like a divorced couple co-habitating and tolerating the others presence so long as they don't come close. Any tips or advice is greatly appreciated!!
  6. I got spoiled with a spa day all to myself - a scrub, massage, and facial along with hot tub relaxing beforehand. It was bliss!
  7. How I'm spending my current free time. :-) I was thankful to get back to Bible study on Thursdays.
  8. Jason leaving sweet notes for his girls on their backpacks. 
  9. Olivia decided to finish the month off with a bang. I was called yesterday on my way to school and asked to hurry because Olivia had fallen and needed to go to the doctor. I was able to leave her sisters at school for a bit longer and take her over to the doctor where we opted for glue over stitches. She handled it like a champ and impressed the staff by calling them doctors, listening to their instructions, and telling them exactly how she was climbing a wall on the playground and slipped and fell and cut her chin on the bench and there was blood on her shirt and coat. She was the talk of the ER!

Our girls go through phases... they recently re-discovered this precious Llama Llama book that was given to them twins on their first birthday. Now it's become our nightly routine to read and do the motions before bedtime (like a million times) :-)


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Shahdag Snow

We visited Shahdag last year around this same time for a weekend of snow and sledding. Madi had been asking to try skiing since last year (and continued to ask at different times throughout the year) so we figured we would head up and let her try a lesson while we took the other girls sledding. It was much more enjoyable this year as the girls were older and able to move easier in their snow gear.

We arrived Saturday morning and only stayed one night. We went sledding and swimming that afternoon and on Sunday Madi went skiing while we continued sledding before heading back to Baku. It was cold and lovely with fresh powder!

And our little skier!

My favorite view - fresh powder on the dusting the trees. :-)

Thanks for the lovely time Shahdag!


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Evelyn and Olivia: 2.5 Years

It seems unreal to think that we no longer have babies in the house. We have full-fledged toddlers who are quite good at communicating their needs and wants verbally. Madi was also great at communicating with us around this age when I look back at her post, but it still amazes me no less with the twins.

- Both of you are saying "I love you" without prompting. You also have a way of saying that Mommy is pretty or beautiful just after I've scolded you or corrected you which of course defuses whatever it is I was going to scold you about.
- Once Madi was out of school for winter break we started potty training... You are both doing really good and we've had a few outings with no accidents! (Your teachers probably wonder why you ask for marshmallows after every potty time though, haha.)
- Both of you know lots of colors, animals, and some shapes. You can also sing the ABC's.
- There is lots of singing in the car and the amount of songs you girls know is shocking. Granted you do spend a decent bit of time in the car (and significantly more than Madi did at the same age) so it shouldn't be surprising.

- You both inherited Madi's intense focus and concentration for movies. You both easily sit through an entire film without getting antsy. You love Trolls, Minions (and the Despicable Me movies with minions), and anything princess.
- Olivia especially loves blocks and continues to independently play Legos regularly. Evelyn still loves cars, but also has recently started loving playing with dolls and dressing them. Both of you love animals of any kind.
- You are both fantastic at jumping and love the big trampoline and bouncy house.
- We did family pictures this fall and you both did amazing! We got some great shots and Alisha was able to capture the beautiful, but sometimes elusive Olivia smile. :-)

- Evelyn has a zoo in her bed and will sleep with no less than ten stuffed animals (the most important still being Tom Cat - now renames to be TaTa). Olivia has gone from three Ikea pandas down to two and (similar to Madi at this age) can tell the difference between them. She throws the impostor panda out of bed along with any other stuffed animals that dared try and seek refuge there.
- Speaking of beds... we were fortunate that Madi never had an interest in climbing out of her crib thereby remaining in one until she was almost three (and I have no shame in that decision). We were not quite so fortunate with you two mischievous toddlers. You started climbing out and we've swapped you to toddler beds as a result.
- There was still a decent bit of traveling done since your second birthday and the flight count is up to 51 flight segments and 15 countries. :-) You both continue to be great travelers though and we are starting to get to the point where it's easier and less cumbersome to travel as a family of five (but also more expensive ever since you turned two - ha!)

Evelyn and Olivia,

I love you so much more than I could ever express. You are both kind and loving and full of laughter. My favorite activity is watching all three of my girls play together and love on each other. You are going to be best friends and that's so special. You are both also sharp like your big sister and I think once you all join forces that Daddy and I will have to even more alert. I am blessed to have gotten to spend so much time at home with you while I'm still not working, but I know that you are both ready for the challenge and interaction of preschool. I'm thankful that your big sister will also be close by and that you will only be going part time.

Love you now and always sweet girls,


Friday, January 5, 2018

Georgia Girl's Trip

When my friend Jessie mentioned casually that she was planning to drive to Georgia for a few days, I immediately invited myself to go along. We got two other girlfriends Christine and Rachel to join our group and headed out New Year's Day to make the drive.

We arrived safely in Tbilisi and after dropping our stuff at the apartment headed out to explore and eat some delicious food. Since this was a repeat visit to Tbilisi for all of us we spent our couple of days there just relaxing and laughing and eating and drinking. It was lovely!

We headed to G Vino for dinner and enjoyed a wonderful tapas-style dinner with wine. Afterwards we headed to Rachel and Christine's favorite ice cream spot.

The next morning we stopped by the I ❤️ Tbilisi sign while it wasn't crowded and then headed to breakfast. Then we did some shopping and walking before heading to a hidden gem Rachel knew about in a less touristy area called Pasanauri. We had a private room and while the service wasn't spectacular the food more than made up for the waits. We were so busy stuffing our faces we did not capture any pictures of the khinkali or beans in clay pot. But everything was so delicious!

The walk home went through street markets and Christmas activities and we made sure to get a picture with Santa. We also asked some locals about the history of a monument and got to learn some of the hardships Georgia endured under the reign of the Soviet Union. 

Our last day we had breakfast as a group before heading off in different directions to walk, shop, read, and whatever else we felt like doing. I enjoyed just walking the city with Rachel and picking up my first selfie stick and a couple presents for the girls.

We joined back up again at the apartment and headed to dinner at Jessie and my favorite restaurant - Schuchmann's Wine Bar and Restaurant. The meal was full of laughter and amazing wine and food. We had bottles of white Tvishi and red Khvanchkara wine, ordered the white tomato cream soup, Gerogian salad (tomatoes, cucumbers, and the most delicious walnut sauce), khachapuri (my personal favorite thing to get in Georgia), lamb bbq, bahze with elargi balls (chicken walnut roll with some sort of yummy fried ball thing), odjakhuri (my entree choice and literally the best pork I have ever tasted in my life!), and fruit with champagne sorbet. YUM! 😋  Seriously, if you ever visit Tbilisi you have to do here - ask for David and Dima to be your waiters and tell the manager Dmitri that I recommended you go - we are tight. Hahaha!

Earlier in the afternoon I had seen these chimney cakes (also called trdelnik) that I'd had in Eastern Europe Christmas markets. Jessie and I grabbed a place in line and got the last of the evening!

The next day we loaded up the car and made the drive back to Baku. It was such a treat to get some time away with girlfriends and to enjoy the delicious food and wine in Tbsili, Georgia!

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