Sunday, June 30, 2013

La Semana Pasada

 
Evita and my mom.
Evita showing her cousin her bellybutton at their first meeting.
Evita and Grammy (Daniel's mom)
One of my little brothers and our parents' parrot Marley.
The Super Moon from our front porch. I was regrettably too lazy to walk down to the beach for better pics.
Visiting with Daniel's grandma and grandpa.
Lots of pool time at grandpa's...
...followed by lots of nap time.
I don't know what to do with her hair these days.
Seriously, mom?
Eva and my Dad
This has been a very busy week for us, and it seems much longer than just one. We've been having loads of fun, though. Last Sunday Evita met her cousin Isla for the first time. On Monday we spent some time at the beach and went to the gym, where Eva played in her old familiar Kid's Club. On Tuesday we had our first playdate. On Wednesday we hung out with Grammy and Eva's great-grandparents. On Thursday we went shopping with my mom, who pretty much bought Eva a whole new wardrobe. On Friday we ate at my favorite restaurant (Sea Ranch), and on Saturday Eva had a SECOND first birthday party, which I'll write about later. I'll also write about the fishing we did sometime this week.
 
Eva and I miss her Daddy lots but we're so happy to be spending so much time with the rest of our family again. Tomorrow two of my best friends are arriving (one from New York and one from San Antonio). I'm so excited!
 
I hope everyone has a fabulous July!

Friday, June 28, 2013

26/52

It's hard to believe 2013 is halfway over. It seriously feels like yesterday I was conjuring up a recap of 2012. I always looked forward to this year because 13 is my favorite number. Despite a rough patch or two, it has treated me pretty well so far. I'm glad to be spending the half-year in Texas with my family. "Home" is always a good place to reflect on where you've been, and the paths that have led you back...

I love watching Evita play on the same beaches I grew on. It makes me think about how wonderful life is, and how fast it goes by. In the picture above, I can see the baby version of me in Eva's reflection- looking up from a time long gone.

She cries when we leave the beach now. She points at the water and tries to free herself from my arms.

This week Eva met her first (and only, so far) cousin for the first time. She started saying, "shoes, happy, grandpa, GG, and nana." She's also been trying to say "birdie."

I don't mean to be blogging so infrequently, and hope to get back on schedule next week. I have a lot of emails to respond to and other blogs to catch up on as well. I didn't even get a chance to pick a favorite portrait from last week's collection of projects. Oh well... 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Our Epic Playdate


A few months ago I wrote about what my idea of an epic playdate would be. Well, yesterday Evita and I had our first epic playdate of the summer. It may not have involved hiking through rainforests or surfing perfect waves, but it involved some pretty awesome people.

When I found out I was pregnant, I joined a private facebook group of mothers expecting babies in March 2012. For the last two years, we've been exchanging stories, asking each other for advice, and watching each other's bellies and babies grow. It may sound weird, but I think we know more about eachother than most of our best friends or even husbands know about us. We share gross stories, embarassing stories, and tearjerkers. We've lost a baby and lost a mama and have really been through a lot together. We've become great friends and pretty close for such a large group of women. Many of the mamas have met up in person, something I never thought I'd have the opportunity to do living first in Hawaii and then in Tanzania.

But... I'm currently visiting home (South Padre Island, TX) for a few weeks.

The other day, I posted a picture of Eva at the beach here on facebook. I got a message from one of my "March Mamas" asking if I was on South Padre Island. "Yes," I replied, "Why?" Well, it turned out, she was on her very first visit to the island! We made plans to meet up the following day, and it ended up being so much fun!!!
This was actually Evita and I's first mommy/daughter playdate with another mommy/daughter pair our age. It was so awesome to see the babies playing together after "knowing" eachother for so long but never having met in person. The girls fed eachother grilled cheese sandwiches and berries and danced to "All the Single Ladies." It was just so adorable. 
Anyway, sorry I haven't updated the blog in a few days. We've been having too much fun enjoying the beach and catching up with family and friends. I should be able to have more updates next week when things settle down.

Meanwhile, have you seen Dooce's idea of an epic playdate?
Pretty amazing. I would love to visit Arches National Park someday. :-)

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Hello, Dubai


 
Sorry if this post is a little jumbled and full of grammatical errors... I'm still super jet lagged.
Before my trip, I spent a lot of time researching the Dubai stopovers set up by Emirates Airlines, but could hardly find any information. All I knew is that Emirates sets up passengers with layovers over 7 hours (I think?) in a hotel room free of charge. Emirates didn't tell me what hotel I'd be staying in, or any similar useful information, so I thought I'd talk about it here incase anyone finds themselves in the same situation as me. I'm the type of person who can't just sit in an airport or hotel room when there is a whole new city waiting to be explored.

When I checked in for my flight at the Dar es Salaam Airport, I was given a hotel voucher for the Copthorne Hotel (aka the Millennium Airport Hotel) in Dubai. I'm pretty sure this is where all Emirates passengers are set up. I was asked whether I wanted to collect my luggage in Dubai or check it all the way through to Houston; I chose the latter. I was very happy to have this option since managing my carryon and my toddler was difficult enough. I already had a change of clothes in my carryon for both me and the baby.

We arrived in Dubai at about 11:20pm on Thursday night. I thought that Emirates Airlines had automatically processed my visa for me when I booked my flight and hotel, but after waiting in the long customs line I found out they had not. Instead, Emirates has a counter in front of the customs area where you have to apply and wait for your visa upon arrival. So I had to go back and wait another 20 minutes or so for my visa to be approved. After heading through customs, I grabbed some coffee (I basically never drink coffee) and headed to the airport shuttle. I arrived at my hotel around 12:40am, so for planning purposes it takes about an hour-and-a-half from arrival to hotel check-in. Hopefully it won't take me as long next time since I'll pick up my visa before waiting in the customs line.

I went up to the my room and dropped all my stuff off. I was still wearing Eva, who was wide awake at this point. I went back down to the lobby and looked around a bit. There was a little kiosk called "Sun Tours". (Side note: I just tried to find some sort of website for them, but I don't think they have one. There are a lot of "sun" tours in Dubai, but the ones I found on Google aren't the same ones as the one I went on.) A sign on the kiosk said the next tour would be from 7am-9am. I was super bummed, because my flight was set to depart at 9:05, and there was no way I'd make it. BUT, I remember someone commenting on a previous post on my blog saying they were able to do a tour in the middle of the night, so I went ahead and asked if that was really the only time available.

The lady at the kiosk told me she could set up a tour for whenever I wanted. She'd even do it right then and there. I decided to shower and get a couple hours of sleep first, so I scheduled my tour for 4:30 in the morning. The lady even provided me with a wake-up call, which was nice because there were NO CLOCKS in my hotel room. (Whaa???) Some other things you should know about the hotel:
  • There is no free WiFi. I believe you can purchase WiFi in the business center, but I didn't bother since I only spent about 3 hours in my hotel room.
  • The toiletries suck. The shampoo comes in a little packet, which I didn't even bother opening. There is no conditioner, either.
The hotel really wasn't that bad for being free though. I saw a sign for a swimming pool and bar open until 1am or something like that, but I didn't have time to check it out. The room comes with free breakfast too, but I was gone before then so I have no idea what that's like either. There is a gift shop and snack/drink counter that appears to be open all night. The hotel seems to really cater to people with these types of stopovers.

Anyway, back to the tour... 4:30am ended up being an awesome time to start the tour, in my opinion. The sun rises around 5am so I was able to watch all the colors change, etc. The tour was private and comfortable- just me and Eva in a Lexus sedan. You have the option of having the company find another person or two to accompany you on the tour and split the cost ($60), but with just a few hours notice and a schedule change they weren't able to in my case. I didn't mind, though... the money was worth it to me. I was able to tell the driver which sites I was most interested in seeing, and I was able to have him pull over and snap a few pictures of me here and there. I only posted one with me in it because I was running off very little sleep and look terrible in all of them. Vain, I know.

Dubai is a fascinating city. I'm looking forward to my next stopover on the way back to Tanzania in July. I'll be a little more prepared and I'm pretty sure I'll have time to go up the Burj Khalifa, which I'm super excited about.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

25/52

Evita roaming around the Dubai airport.
 
After a few days of traveling we finally made it safe and sound to Texas. Our stopover in Dubai was great and we were able to explore a bit of the city (sorry for the Instagram overload). I'll write more about it later. This week, Evita (who behaved surprisingly well on our 16-hour flight) learned how to say "thank you!" Too sweet.
 
My favorite portrait from last week was of this little boy and his pug playing with bubbles. You can find the entire collection of portraits here.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Guest Post: Defining my Happy

As you are reading this, I'm probably on a plane somewhere with a 15-month old... Yikes. I thought I'd use this opportunity to share a guest post from Jen at Defining My Happy... Enjoy!

Oh glorious summer, with your late night sun and endless melody of chirping crickets! How I heart thee. You know, summer growing up meant trips to the beach. Coming over the bridge to get to Isle of Palms (my mom's favorite beach spot), the ocean would greet us on the horizon at the highest spot on the bridge. That moment was when the excitement would begin-all of us kids shouting, "There it is! There's the ocean!" And my mom would smile and cruise on towards the holy grail. We'd stay out all day collecting sand dollars to bring home and then tiredly make our way back to the car, sun-kissed and sand covered. As we'd drive back over the bridge to go home, we'd turn and wave goodbye to the ocean. That was the ritual.
Folly Beach-My teenage haunt


The most awkward beach pic of me in existence. ha!



When I moved to the Midwest..oh, about six or seven years ago...I was firmly in the "anywhere but here" stage of life. I traded in beach life for unknown adventures in a foreign town. Summer fell to the least favorite season rank-mostly because Kansas is so. damn. dry. and hot! Dry heat and no oceans to be found. What did I get myself into? ;) Instead, I began a courtship with the other seasons. Fall, you slay me! Winter, how romantic! Spring, it's gorgeous! and then back to Summer. ugh. It pretty much continued that way over the last few years, especially with pregnancies and newborns.

*L did get to visit my old stomping grounds when he was 10 months old, but that was the only time.



But now? Now I have found a completely new appreciation for Summer. I'm not pregnant, my boys are out of the newborn vampire stage and now it's all rainbows and unicorns around here. It's still hot. and so. damn. dry. But there is a stirring in my soul round these parts. There is after all, something magical in the endless days and sticky nights. I am finding myself fantasizing about sidewalk lemonade stands, tents under the stars, pool days and ice cream trucks serenading me for blocks.





It all feels very adventurous and daring and fun. Just plain fun really. Yes, I'm a little sad that I can't share some of the summer traditions that I had with my boys like those lovely beach days, but I'm not going down without a fight.



Summer is my new jam.

Are you reigniting your summer flame too?



*Jennifer is a freelance writer for KC Baby and KC Parent Magazine. She's also been syndicated on BlogHer. She muses about life, marriage and the triumphs/tragedies of having two small children over at Defining My Happy
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