Thursday, March 20, 2014

R&R Part 2

After leaving Las Vegas, we headed south to Austin, Texas to visit S's sister and her family.  E had been inquiring about when he would finally get to see his cousins on this trip, so he was super excited when the time came.  S's sister has two boys--one a year older than E, one a year younger--so when we got there, we just opened the back door and let them run wild.  Actually, they live on a cul-de-sac, which is awesome (seriously, I never really understood the cul-de-sac appeal until now!) so we actually opened the front door to let them run wild.  The boys spent a good deal of time riding scooters and bikes, digging in the dirt, playing in the sandbox, and pretty much doing any outdoor activity imaginable over the course of a week.  E's cousin O, celebrated his 1st birthday while we were there, and his party was held at a very hipster-friendly barn conversion/brick oven pizza place complete with picnic tables, hay bales and a wide open field for kite-flying and soccer.  Since we live in a high-rise apartment here in Adana, and since we used to live in the concrete jungle that is New York City, E didn't quite know what to do with himself and all that space.  Once he realized that no, cars weren't going to hit him, but yes, he could run and play, he was happy.  

E and his older cousin on a Dinosaur dig!

Having fun on bikes and scooters

More digging--the sandbox this time.

Kites and soccer
Chillin' in the hay
We also continued on our food journey while in Austin.  S and I consumed everything from Chipotle (more than once) Thai food (my all-time favorite cuisine) to BBQ and Tex-Mex.  Austin has some amazing Tex-Mex restaurants, obviously, so we just loosened our belts (well, S loosened his--I had the luxury of wearing stretchy maternity pants) and dove right in.  My mouth is watering at the memory...

Once our week in Austin was up, we rented a large SUV and drove to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to visit my family.  S's sister and the boys went with us for a few days, so we were traveling with three kiddos, which wasn't easy. I seriously don't know how people with 3, 4 or more kids do it.  Especially when they're all so young! Let's just say with all the bathroom breaks, emergency Wal-Mart stop (the only store we could find in the absolute sketchiest part of Texas) meal and gas stops, plus the numerous attempts to readjust the luggage strapped to the roof, our predicted seven hour drive turned into twelve.  Needless to say, by the time we arrived in Baton Rouge, we were all exhausted.  

S and E and I stayed with my parents, giving Nana and Grand daddy ample time to bond with the little ball of energy they call a grandson.   

Bedtime reading with Nana.
The first weekend in Baton Rouge happened to fall on Super Bowl Sunday, and my sister was gracious enough to host a Super Bowl party at her house.  Because she is an amazing cook, we feasted on gumbo, crawfish pasta, boudin, crab fingers, fried catfish, pralines and more.  I seriously couldn't get enough.  I think I ate my weight in gumbo and crab fingers alone.  Of course, the game itself was rather boring (except for the Bruno Mars half-time show--love him!) but the kids, of which there were seven at the party, had a blast chasing each other around the house with glow sticks.  

Homemade pralines...mmmmm

Delicious--my sister really out did herself

Part of our Super Bowl crew.

My dear friend J and her husband, W, drove down from Birmingham, Alabama that weekend too.  We met up in New Orleans the day before the Super Bowl, walked around the French Quarter, ate lunch (again, creole and cajun food is so amazing) and let the kids run around the park along the Mississippi river while looking at the boats.  We had planned to have beignets at Cafe du Monde, but it was way too crowded and kids were starting to meltdown all around us, so we called it a day.  After the weekend ended, S's sister drove back to Austin with her boys and my friend J departed for Birmingham.  It was so great spending time with them.  I hadn't seen J in nearly 3 years, so it was extra special to finally get to see her. And for her to drive all the way down only 7 weeks after having a baby makes her a superhero in my book, too! You rock J.  Love you, girl!

Me and J and her new baby, B!

Looking out at the Mighty Mississippi

S's sister and her boys

E trying to tip the street musician.  He didn't understand that he was
 supposed to put it in the box, lol.

Awww, these two...(J's older daughter, A)

The boys were wrestling and A was not having any of it!
Street performers in NOLA

The rest of the week was spent visiting family and friends all over Baton Rouge, including my grandmother who is having a lot of health issues lately.  Shopping excursions involved countless trips to Target and Carter's so my mom could go crazy buying baby clothes and summer clothes for E, and I stopped by the new Trader Joe's to pick up some old favorites. Yes, more food.  

E got to spend a lot of time with his cousins--my brother's daughter and my sister's twin daughters--plus he spent a lot of quality time with Nana and Grand daddy who spoiled him rotten.  A few days before we left, we took one final trip to New Orleans with my aunt and cousin, where I also got to see one of my oldest friend's and her kids during a quick trip to City Park.  That is where E had his first beignet.  I knew we would get him one eventually.  

Riding the carousel at the mall

Bath time with cousin C!

Yummy food at Deanie's

Cousin, Aunt and mom

Nana and E partying in Jackson Square

Beignets at Morning Call in City Park - NOLA

E's first beignet!  I think he liked it :)

E feeding the ducks with my friend's daughter.  Look at that sassy pose!

Me with one of my oldest friends--looking very preggers in this pic.

The geese are creeping up behind him

E and his cousins A and B; my sisters twins


Celebrating my grandmother's birthday

Cake and ice cream time!

E and my mom feeding a family friend's horse.
E reeeallly wanted to ride it, but it was pouring outside at the time.

All told, we were in the States for nearly one month, and even though that sounds like a lot of time, it didn't feel like enough.  But I guess that's to be expected when you're trying to cram tons of quality time into such a short time frame.  Before we knew it, it was time to go home.  

S had left a week before, so I flew back alone with E.  I was worried about taking such a long flight while being 7.5 months pregnant, but it was not as bad as I feared. E slept for more than half the trip and when he was awake, he was glued to the in-flight entertainment, particularly Puss In Boots.  We arrived back in Adana to a happy, smiling S and two snuggle deprived pets, whom we had missed dearly.

Monday, March 17, 2014

R&R Part 1

We recently spent a month back in the United States visiting family.  During the course of our trip, we visited four states, five cities and flew on more than a dozen airplanes, as we first trekked across the ocean back from Turkey, then crisscrossed the country to see our loved ones. 

The flight from Turkey to the U.S. was rather exhausting because due to miscommunication from the airline staff, we missed our final connection and we were forced to stay overnight in a hotel.  Thankfully, the airline footed the bill once they realized they were to blame (and because I might have played the 6-months-pregnant-traveling-with-a-toddler-we-are-all-exhausted card, but mostly because they were to blame) and we were on a flight out the next morning.  Oh, and did I mention that same airline lost our luggage too?  They did.  Luckily, S and I had the foresight to pack an extra outfit for each of us in the carry-on, so at least we were able to change our clothes during our overnight stay.  

Once we arrived to our final destination (Portland, Oregon) we checked into the hotel, made mad dashes for the showers and quickly got to S's mom's house where we were to enjoy a much-anticipated family dinner. Despite the fact that we were all exhausted, jet lagged and without luggage, we had a great time. E played his little heart out, but he started to go a little insane toward the end of the night due to the jet lag, so we quickly got him home for a good night's rest.  To our surprise, we got a call from the airline a few hours later saying they had located our luggage and it would be delivered to our hotel the following morning.  Awesome.  So, our next three days in Portland were quite relaxing.  Mandatory trips to Chipotle and Target were the first key events on the agenda, and they did not disappoint. We then ate our way through excellent Thai restaurants, diners and more.  I vowed to eat my way across American before we even left Turkey, and I was not backing down.  I was a pregnant woman on a mission.  S, the foodie that he is, was definitely on board with the idea.

We also took E to the Portland Children's Museum, which, if you ever go to Portland is a must.  It was huge! And there was SO MUCH for kids to do.  Seriously, we were there for nearly 4 hours and we barely scratched the surface.  We will definitely be going back next time. We also spent a lot of time just hanging out with S's mom and letting E play and get spoiled by her.  They were in heaven.

Playing at the Children's Museum

Just a sampling of our food choices in Portland, plus a view of Mount Hood from our flight.

Next, we winged our way down to Las Vegas for a visit with S's dad and step mom.  E has been obsessed with castles and kings and dragons since last Christmas, so S thought it would be a good idea to book a room at the Excalibur Hotel on the strip.  From the second we pulled up, E was in awe.  "Are we staying in that castle?!" he asked with enthusiasm.  Hundreds (and no, I am not being sarcastic when I say hundreds) of questions followed, including things like, "Where are all the princesses?" "Is there a dragon?" "Where does he sleep?" "What is his name" "Can we go see him?" "Where is the King?" "Does he have a horse?" You get the idea. We tried to answer as best we could, and in an effort to cull his curiosity, we reserved tickets for the Tournament of Kings dinner on our first night.  It is very similar to what you would find at Medieval Times--jousting, horses, kings, knights, dragons--and despite the fact that it was super pricey (isn't everything in Vegas) it was so worth it. E had his eyes glued to the arena for more than an hour.  After it ended, he asked to stay and see it again.  We explained that we couldn't, the horses were going to take a nap after all, so then he asked to go back the next night.  Of course it was a one time only event (S and I couldn't bear to eat that food another night), but since our room had a view of the horses stables near the parking lot, he was appeased with just watching the horses do their daily exercises.  We only spent a couple days in Vegas, mostly just walking around, shopping, visiting with S's family and of course, eating.  We are not gambling people, so the flashing lights of the casinos were all but lost on us.  But we love Vegas and always enjoy our time there.

Posing in front of the castle; E trying to steal a basketball at NY, NY;
 playing darts and E posing with S's parents

After two and a half days of family time and relaxation, we were on our way to our next destination--Austin, Texas!  Stay tuned...

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Long Time, No Blog; Baby Update

Well, hello again.  I can't believe it has been nearly two months since I last blogged, but I have a good excuse.  We recently spent an entire month on R&R back in the States, and we're just now getting back on track schedule-wise.  I intended to blog about our trip as soon as we got back, but a broken laptop prevented me from downloading the pictures I hoped to share.  Now I am in possession of a new laptop, but I am stuck in software download Hell as I wait for it to install and upload all my photos.  A month's worth of photos.  Which is a lot.  So yeah, it's taking a while.  

In the meantime, I figured I better jump on here and at least provide an update so no one would think I've dropped off the face of the earth.

All is going well on the baby front.  I'm just getting to the point where I can't get comfortable at night, therefore, I am not getting as much sleep as I like.  But, at 32 weeks, that's to be expected.  I am ALL belly at this point and have even noticed my body slowly shifting into the "pregnant waddle" as I walk down the street.  Tying my own shoes? Ha, it's pretty comical.  Slip-on shoes is where it's at.  The baby seems to be doing great, though.  I had a doctor's visit the day before we flew back to the States, and my next appointment is at the end of this week.  I was told by my doctor that things were progressing normally, and judging by the amount of kicking going on inside me, that appears to still be the case.  The kicking is actually a welcome comfort and puts my mind at ease on a daily basis.  

E is getting used to the idea of being a big brother.  There is still a lot he doesn't understand, but he is figuring it all out.  For instance, last weekend he was watching me put on a shirt and said, "Mommy, your belly is getting bigger and bigger." I responded with a cheerful, "That's right!  It's going to get bigger and bigger until D comes out." (Yes, we have already picked out a name).  But instead of a smile or enthusiastic "yay!" E burst into tears.  Real, heartbreaking, lip quivering tears.  I immediately rushed to him and asked why he was crying and he responded, "But...but...I love D and I don't want him to go away!"  He took my "D will come out" to mean he will come out and we would never see him again.  I don't know why he thought that, but he did and it nearly broke his heart.  Of course with my pregnancy hormones in overdrive, I started crying as I tried to comfort him, which only made him cry harder and pretty soon S was dealing with two sobbing babies.  

But when E is not crying out of confusion, he is nothing but loving.  He wants to kiss my belly and talk to D and tell me all about the things he will do to "help mommy when the baby comes."  I hope those feelings continue even after the birth, although I am sure jealousy will eventually rear its ugly head.  And of course, there are the questions.  The countless, endless, questions. E is a curious child by nature.  He can't do anything without asking a million questions.  When it comes to the baby, the questions only grow more frequent and complicated to answer.  Like which leg the baby is going to come out of, and where the doctor is going to make the hole.  Ummmmm.  You're two.  Am I supposed to answer that honestly? 

S and I have also been busy preparing for the little guy's arrival by stocking up on all things baby.  Remember when I said I found some baby items in storage here in Turkey, but that the rest of E's old baby things were still back in Maryland?  Well, we've been attempting to replace what we're missing.  We recently decided to turn E's bed back into a crib (we turned it into a toddler bed shortly after moving here) and put E in a twin bed.  E's not taking too kindly to the idea, so we're hoping to get it set up soon so there is a nice long period of adjustment.  We've even ordered E new "big boy" bedding and ordered new crib bedding for D.  Our original idea was to just have D in a pack n play since it will be so temporary (we leave Adana 7 months after he's born), but then we decided we couldn't give this baby the shaft, and quickly changed our minds.  We also have a new double jogging stroller and car seat on order through Amazon, plus we're slowly collecting things like tummy time mats, clothing for up to 6 months, blankets and more.  

Of course, you can only be prepared in theory.  Nothing every really prepares you for a newborn until you actually have him/her in your arms and the reality of the situation sets in. Add a toddler into the mix and I am sure there will be some pretty stressful moments in our early weeks.  But we are still excited for our family to be complete.  No, we will not be going for a third, especially not in an attempt to have a girl, which is a question I get asked a lot.  I am extremely happy with my boys.  And even though I jokingly tell people that S and I don't want to be outnumbered by having a third, it's only a half joke.  We really don't want to be outnumbered.  Two is enough for us!

So, that's it.  We're counting down the weeks and hoping all goes smoothly.  I'll be back soon with the details of our whirlwind R&R trip, including lots of pictures.