Friday, August 29, 2014

Dear Zahara: 14 Months

Dear Zahara,

What a big month this has been. We've moved across the world! I am so proud of how easily and wonderfully you adapt to new surroundings. Without exaggeration, we have completely uprooted your whole life. It makes me a little sad that you won't remember all of the wonderful memories we've made up until now, but I am excited to start this new adventure with you in America.

You've had a few big milestones this month, but the biggest is that you are now walking! You took your first steps way back in July, but you were still mostly crawling all summer. Over the past few weeks you have become a lot more confident in walking. You still toddle around like a drunkard and it's absolutely adorable.

You don't have many full words yet, but you are clearly making yourself understood. You can say hi and bye; you say "baa" for ball and "waa" for water. You are great at using sign language for food, milk, and more. You also are learning your body parts, and will point to them when asked. You especially love wiggling your fingers and toes.

You are a giant ball of energy, and sometimes it is hard keeping up with you. But your sweet little giggle and baby hugs make it all worthwhile. Happy 14-months. We love you!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Turkish Baths in Harrogate

One of the items on my bucket list before leaving Harrogate was a visit to the Turkish Baths. Dan very thoughtfully gave me a gift certificate for Mother's Day. Initially I planned on going by myself, but when my friends said they were available to join me, I knew the experience would be that much better. Rachel, Becky, Vicky (not pictured) and I made a morning of it. No photos are allowed during the session, but we managed to sneak one in after the fact.

I've been to an authentic Turkish bath in Istanbul; I still maintain that was one of my top-ten most interesting life experiences. It was so unexpected and wonderful. Of course a lot of that had to do with the hamam we chose--if you are ever in Istanbul, you MUST visit Kilic Ali Pasa Hamami.

These baths were significantly different than the ones in Istanbul, but it was still relaxing and wonderful. This was more like a spa than a bath house. Bathers go through a series of rooms to open their pores and release toxins. First you visit the sauna, then the Tepidarium (warm room), then the Calidarium (hot room), and finally the Laconium (hottest room). In between each room you shower and take a dip in the plunge pool. It was freezing! It was really interesting how different the pool felt after each room. I thought that it would feel less cold after visiting hotter rooms, when in fact it was the opposite. The hotter the room I was in, the colder (and less pleasant) the plunge pool.

Plunge pool [source]

Before we knew it, our two-hour session was over. I left feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. The Turkish Baths are just one more thing to love about Harrogate.

Monday, August 18, 2014

My First and Last British Wedding

For three years I have been desperate to get invited to a British wedding. Why? Because of the hats! Do you remember the parade of incredible hats during the Royal wedding? It turns out, that wasn't unique. Brits love wearing intricate, colorful, huge hats and fascinators to formal events. I wore one during the Jubilee, but I wanted one more excuse before I left the country.

2012 Queen's Jubilee

I really lucked out when my friends Charity and Brock got engaged. Though they are both American, they live here in Harrogate and decided to get married here. The wedding was last week, just ten days before we leave England. Just in the nick of time! My friend Becky lent me the most amazing fascinator--I was ready!

The wedding took place at Rudding Park, which was recently voted one of the best hotels in England! The ceremony, performed by Brock's college roommate in an old chapel was stunning. Charity and Brock are both very traditional, and this suited them perfectly.

Guests threw bird seed at the happy couple as they exited the chapel.

Next up was the cocktail hour--always one of my favorite times at a wedding. The passed hors d'oeuvres were phenomenal. My favorites were the adorable little fish and chips served in a newspaper cone and the lush brownie bites.

Dinner and dancing followed. I had to sneak back home to put Zahara to bed (she was with a babysitter during the ceremony), so I missed the cake cutting and speeches. Apparently Charity's dad made everyone cry with his super emotional tribute to his daughter. Even Dan admitted getting choked up.

Charity and Brock took dance lessons for their first dance, and it really paid off. They were adorable. Nervous, but cute.

It was such a fun celebration, and a great way to end my time here in England. Congratulations Charity and Brock!