Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Dear Zahara: 22 Months

Dear Zahara,

Happy 22-month birthday! You are hilarious, you know that? You are so imaginative, talkative and affectionate. I love hearing your stories about fire-breathing dragons who live in castles. And I love your proud proclamations like, "I did it," "I see it," and "I know it."

Now that the weather is finally nicer, you love playing outside and going for walks around the neighborhood. Slides and swings are lots of fun, but you get so mad if anyone else is on your playground.

You're a pro at the alphabet now. You know every letter and love pointing them out. Your favorite letters are on stop signs. We can't pass one without you commenting. I love hearing you sing the alphabet song to yourself. You jumble the middle a bit, but it's a pretty good start for a 22-month-old.

In fact, you sing lots of songs now. My favorite is probably hearing you sing Old MacDonald. You make the best face as you say "E-I-E-I-O." Second favorite is Down By the Bay because you laugh at all the rhymes and say how funny they are.

Bedtimes have gotten a lot easier, for the most part. We discovered that if we ask you to show us how you go to sleep, you'll lie down on your own. It's a weird little loophole, but it seems to be working. In fact, the last few nights you've asked me to put you in your crib, cover you with a blanket and sing Hush Little Baby. I'm happy to oblige.

Your imagination is constantly on display. Whether you are having a tea party with your stuffed animals, pretending to be on a rocket ship to the moon, or hopping like a bunny, you are constantly finding new ways to entertain yourself (and mummy and daddy!). Keep it up, little girl! We love you!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

First Haircut

One of the first things people always comment on when meeting Zahara for the first time is how much hair she has. She was born with a full head and it just kept on growing. Her hair is beautiful and soft with a tiny curl at the end, but it had gotten way too long. We could barely keep it out of her face; it was a struggle every morning.

A couple of weeks ago when all four grandparents were together in Dallas we took Zahara for her first haircut. It was a fun little place that specializes in kids' cuts. Zoey sat in a fun chair and watched cartoons while the stylist worked.

I wanted to be surprised by the final result, and there were so many people crowded around her already, so my dad and I sat in the waiting room up front. I'm glad I wasn't watching because the stylist took off way more hair than I anticipated. I probably would have freaked out.

The end result is amazing though. What a difference! I just can't get over what a little girl she looks like. There is just no trace of a baby in there at all.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Crock-Pot Freezer Meals

Today is my first day of work! To make the transition as easy as possible I spent last week prepping some crock-pot freezer meals that I can make for dinners over the next few weeks. I only recently learned about crock-pot freezer meals where you put all the raw ingredients into a Ziplock bag and store it in the freezer until it is time to cook; I thought I'd give it a whirl. Of course I took to Pinterest to find some good recipes.

I found a ton of great recipes from the New Leaf Wellness site. This site is the best for a beginner. The author has great tips on how to get started, delicious recipes and even shopping lists.

Here is what I made:

They were incredibly easy to make. I even made a printable label so that I what's what. Feel free to use it for your own freezer meals.

 I can't vouch for how they taste yet, but I'll keep you posted.

Update 1:
I made the honey sesame chicken and it was delicious. I thawed the bag the night before in the fridge and dumped it all in to the crockpot in the morning. It couldn't have been easier. The chicken shredded during cooking, so I just gently pulled it apart when it was done and served it over a bowl of rice. The only downside is that the dish cooks cook for around 4.5 hours, so it isn't really a dish I can make while at work. Still, it's easy and tasty and I'll definitely be making it again.

Update 2:
The pot roast was marginally successful. It was super easy. I forgot to thaw the bag the night before so I threw the whole thing in the crockpot frozen. The directions say to cook for 10-12 hours, so I started at 10.5 and decided to see how it went. The meat pulled right apart with a fork but it was a little dry. I loved the flavor though and thought they would make the perfect filling for tamales. Turns out, I was right! I will definitely make the recipe again, if only to make tamales. I'll post the recipe soon.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Closet Mini-Makeover and New Job

I don't think I've mentioned it yet, but I recently got a new job! I've very, very excited about it, and just a little bit nervous. It's crazy to think that I have never had a full-time job and a baby. Isn't that nuts?! The last time I was working an office job was before we moved to England--a lifetime ago.

This is an amazing opportunity for me, and something that I have been working very hard to achieve since we returned. However, it will be an enormous lifestyle change. Zahara has already been in an in-home day care for several months and is absolutely thriving. We love it there. But, right now, I do a lot of house-management tasks while Dan does all the heavy-lifting by working full-time and doing all the daycare drop-offs and pick-ups. I do the laundry, pay bills, make dinners and lunches and tidy the house. Obviously, we'll have to re-adjust our responsibilities now that I won't be home during the days. It just means our weekends and evenings will be a lot more packed with chores.

So what does that have to do with a closet makeover? I'm doing everything I can to make my transition back to work as seamless as possible. My friend Dani came over one day and helped me sort through every single item of clothes in my closet to help build my new office attire. When she left, I took the opportunity to organize my side of the closet in a way that will hopefully make getting ready in the morning a breeze. Every little bit helps, right?

Hold on to your hats: here are the super amazing before and afters {slight sarcasm}:




Ok, so it may not be life-changing, but it's the little things that make me happy. Anyone else doing some spring cleaning or organizing?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Treats from Japan

Remember a few weeks ago when I posted my thoughts on Try the World? It's a company that sends you treats from around the world. Well, a friend of mine who used to live in England with me and has since moved to Japan posted a comment saying that there was no need to pay for this service when I have so many friends who live around the world. She then volunteered to send me a fun Japanese treat!

And, here's what I just got in the mail: apple pie flavored Kit Kats! Aren't my friends awesome?

So what do apple pie Kit Kats taste like? Short answer: not bad. They have a bit of a weird fake-apple taste, but I kind of like it. They remind me a lot of those caramel apple pops you get at Halloween. Dan said the Kit Kats remind him of Turkish apple tea. Either way, they are fun. Thanks so much, Kathleen!

Now who wants to help me think of something cool to send her in return?

Friday, April 10, 2015

Measuring Up

I showed you the other day how I made a growth chart for Zahara, and today I'll show you how we use it. We have only officially measured Zahara once, but she loves this ruler so much she asks to "see the numbers" almost every night. She loves standing with her back to the ruler and asking me to "color her." Then it's either my turn or one of her stuffed animals'. I love watching her use her imagination and imitate things we do.

We debated the best way to mark Zahara's height. We wanted it to stand out from the ruler marks, but not be too obnoxious. There are no immediate plans--family, read that first part again--but eventually there might be another family member whose height we'd like to mark. So we wanted something that would be unique for Zahara, with the same color marking her height all the way through. A future sibling could then get another color without causing confusion.

Testing colors

We tested a few colors of permanent marker, plus two different nail polishes on the back of the ruler. The nail polish was actually Dan's idea. You can see that the Sharpie marks are barely visible, but the pink nail polish stands out well. I liked the silver too, Dan voted for pink, so I happily agreed.

March 27, 2015; 21 months

Once we measured Zahara, we used the purple Sharpie to write the date and number of months. We actually debated for a while about what to write and it what format. We chose this format to give the most information in the cleanest form.

I definitely am not trying to rush time, but I can't wait to see her grow along the ruler over the years.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

500th Post!

Guys, this is a big one. A huge milestone. 500 blog posts! It is hard to put into words how much has happened since I started this blog in 2011, but here's a sampling: two transatlantic moves; a career sabbatical; picking up new hobbies; exploring the world; and having a baby, just to name a few.

I hope to continue writing about travel, cooking, DIY projects, and of course my sweet little baby. I'd love to do a visual overhaul of the blog, but that's not my forte. Any graphic designers want to help me create a new banner? I'll pay you in cookies :)

As we always do on these milestone posts, let's look at some of my blog stats.

Once again, I want to know more about you. Can you check a few boxes for me? I'd love to know your thoughts.

Thank you so much for your continued support of this little hobby of mine. Here's to the next 500 posts!

See my other blog milestones:
100 Posts
200 Posts
300 Posts
400 Posts