Malta & Sicily

As I was still getting used to work, C and Hannah were settling into life in our new home.  We still had no furniture (with the exception of a second-hand mattress and early 2000’s TV) and only very basic kitchen essentials.  It was cold and dreary in England with the sun rising at 9am and setting by 4pm.  We were feeling unsettled and itching for some sun.  So C suggested we head south to the Mediterranean, specifically Malta and Sicily.  In all honesty, I hadn’t ever really considered either destination but we went for it.

We boarded an Air Malta flight from London arriving in Valletta.  It was a pretty basic flight but they did serve food and drinks for no additional charge which is becoming more and more rare these days, particularly on inexpensive European carriers.  We had decided to stay in Valletta and not venture out of the city.  Malta has some beautiful islands, beaches, snorkeling & diving spots, but it was February and we were only there a short period of time.  Valletta is quite compact and although beautiful, we found 2 days to be plenty of time to see the sights.

Our Airbnb was a traditional Maltese house made of stone with tile floors and an enclosed balcony overlooking the street.  Interestingly enough the toilets were in the back spiral stairway not truly “inside” the house.  Our hostess was great, even arranging for airport transportation for us.  The only con was there was a small shop across the street that received early morning deliveries which woke us earlier than we’d have liked.

IMG_3350

IMG_3282

IMG_3279

IMG_3253

Valletta is a port city with a lot of very interesting history, particularly as a strategic base for British soldiers during WWII.  You can see glimpses of it’s colonial past in its red phone booths and English speaking population.  Our first afternoon and evening we explored the area near our Airbnb, picked up a takeaway dinner and just took in the sights.  Hannah was particularly fond of the phone booths and insisted on going into any and all she found.  We also walked down to the Fort St Elmo and found some cats to play with chase.  A stop off for gelato on the way home was the perfect night cap.

IMG_3258 IMG_3260

IMG_3265

IMG_3273

Our only full day was spent exploring St. John’s Co-Cathedral.  Pictures and words cannot do justice to the beauty and intricate detail of this church.  Unfortunately, the two year old decided to be a two year old but C chased her while I gawked at gold painted ceilings and marble detailing.  We then walked to see the underground tunnels but they were closed for an unknown reason…probably had something to do with the Turkish diplomats visiting.  (Or I assume that because there were a bunch of fancy black cars flying the Turkish flag, lots of police and cordoned off areas.)  Instead we wandered down from the waterfront to the Lower Barrakka Gardens and found a playground with gorgeous views of the water and port.

IMG_0448

IMG_0450

IMG_0452

IMG_0459

IMG_0461

IMG_0470

IMG_0472

IMG_0482

IMG_0483

IMG_0486

After nap we wandered through the main shopping drag to the famous, and somewhat controversial, city gate.  Then we made our way to the Upper Barrakka Gardens, which were closed off earlier in the day.   We had decided on pizza and pasta for dinner and found a well rated restaurant close to the Airbnb, Sotto Pizzeria.  We walked in to an empty restaurant as they had just opened for dinner, but were quickly told they had no tables as they were full with reservations for the evening.  They did offer takeaway though, so we opted for that.  C had read good reviews on their tiramisu so asked for an order of it to go with our dinner.  Unfortunately you cannot get it for takeaway as they bake it into ceramic cups.  He really wanted to try it so we ate desert while waiting for our dinner to be ready.  It was delicious!  And dinner was good too.

IMG_3309

IMG_3317

 

IMG_3321

IMG_3329

IMG_0494

IMG_0496

IMG_3341

Our last morning we ate a delicious breakfast at a cute cafe, 67 Kapitali, then caught a ride back to the airport.  We boarded a Ryan Air flight to Catania Sicily.  It was our first experience with Ryan Air and it actually wasn’t bad.  My only complaint was the flight attendant made us put Hannah’s blanket up in the overhead bin for takeoff and landing since we were in the bulkhead row.  I mean, the thing is a baby blanket so weighs a few ounces and is only a couple feet long but I wasn’t going to pick a fight.

IMG_0508

IMG_0515

IMG_3349

IMG_3352

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We weren’t able to find an Airbnb we liked in Catania but I did find a serviced apartment rental that looked good.  And it was great!  We had a rooftop deck, great views of the city and a rather comfy bed.  However, the lodging was the best part of Catania, we found.  We wandered the city visiting a park which had seen better days.  It had an okay playground but it was a bit crowded.  The one upside was there was some sort of celebration where all the kids were dressed up in costume and throwing confetti everywhere.  It was a sight to see Hannah covered in confetti and chasing after the local kids.  The city overall was a bit tired, dirty and just not terribly interesting for us.  Honestly, I wouldn’t return to Catania, but maybe a different city in Sicily.

IMG_3365

IMG_3366

IMG_3367

IMG_0523

IMG_3379

IMG_3392

IMG_3396

IMG_3403

It was a fun trip but we were ready to get home because our things were being delivered from the states shortly after our return.

Cheers!

Lisbon, Portugal

IMG_0374

It did not take long for us to start planning travel in and around the UK and Europe once we had all arrived.  We were going to be waiting a few more weeks for our furniture and boxes to arrive so decided to hop off to Portugal for several days.  It was a location we had on our list last time we lived abroad but never got the time to visit.

We had a fairly uneventful flight with minimal toddler tantrums and were able to quickly grab a taxi after getting our luggage.  Our Airbnb was located on a hill overlooking the city so it was great to have the taxi rather than public transport + walking as we often do.  The cab driver was also great, giving us recommendations on places to see and eat as well as talking with Hannah.  When we arrived at our Airbnb, I was instantly impressed.  It was billed as child friendly and was it ever.  It had a toy room, y’all.  It was stocked with baby/toddler toys, a bath, high chair, books, child friendly dishes & utensils.  Not to mention spacious and great views over the city to the water.

Living room

Guest bedroom View from the living room

Some light reading ;-)

The master bedroom

The playroom

Cute little patio (that is totally not kid safe!)

Unfortunately we realized we had made a rookie mistake and completely forgot to pack electric adaptors for European plugs.  Oops!  We messaged our host for recommendations of a place to purchase some.  It was Sunday so we assumed many stores would be closed or closing early.  We didn’t hear back for a while so decided to head off on our own to try and located something.  Yeah….that didn’t go so well.  After traipsing up and down streets for 30 minutes with no luck, we finally found a tourist information spot so popped in and asked the lady at the desk for advice.  She directed us to a music/electronics store in a shopping center about 10 minutes walk away.  We stopped off at a beautiful square before heading that direction.  We found 2 adaptors and quickly left to make our way back to the apartment.  Only to find the apartment was less than 10 minutes from the store.  It was late so we fixed Hannah a simple dinner from groceries we’d purchased earlier in the day and put her to bed.  C and I were so tired we ate cereal for dinner and called it a night.

IMG_3075 IMG_3078 IMG_3082

The next day we ventured across the city to find a place to play for Hannah.  It was bit of a hike but we found the beautiful park, Jardim de Estrela, which had a pretty good playground.  She had lots of fun playing with the sand/rocks and generally making a mess, ha.  We were near Mercado de Campo de Orique, so stopped off there for lunch. It was nice because you could grab meat, produce, bread, and prepared foods then grab a seat in the center and eat.  We were there fairly early on a weekday so it was not very busy (which honestly was nice with a toddler to look after).  That afternoon we lazed around the apartment planning out the next couple days.

IMG_3094

IMG_3097

IMG_3099

IMG_3101

IMG_3103

IMG_3106

IMG_3107

Our third day called for rain so we went to the Lisbon Oceanarium.  It is a bit outside of the city center so we took the metro then walked the remainder.  It started raining, no pouring, on us about 5 minutes into the 15 minute walk.  We arrived pretty soaked.  It was a really neat aquarium with a large center tank that you kept coming back to on different levels.  There were also penguins and otters in addition to the usual aquarium fish assortment.  We all enjoyed it and learned our lesson about walking in the rain so opted for a cab back to the apartment :-)

IMG_3108

IMG_3113

IMG_0405

IMG_0416

IMG_0423

IMG_0424

IMG_0427

Our final full day we went to the Castelo de S. Jorge perched atop the hill where our Airbnb was located.  The grounds were beautiful and offered amazing views over the city and beyond.  We walked some of the ramparts, through the gardens and came across several peacocks.  Hannah loved seeing the peacocks but only from a safe distance.  Instead of walking directly back to the apartment, we turned the other direction to wander the narrow cobblestoned streets of the Alfama neighborhood.  It was filled with cute colorful homes.  We stopped in at Pois Cafe for lunch and it was great.  They offered Hannah a stuffed dragon to keep her company and paper and crayons to color.  They also had board games, various books and sofas to lounge on.  Naptime for Hannah meant downtime for me to read and enjoy a glass of wine.  Since it was our last night we splurged on a nicer dinner at Le Petite Cafe.  We actually had plans for another restaurant but it was closed.  We got there early so we were the only people in the restaurant apart from the waitstaff but it was perfect.  I had a delicious duck dish and C enjoyed a Brazilian style steak.  Hannah enjoyed eating off both our plates.

IMG_0431

IMG_0433

IMG_0445

IMG_3179

IMG_3150

IMG_3151

IMG_3180

IMG_3159

IMG_3161

IMG_3172

IMG_3177

Before heading to the airport on the last day I convinced C we had to search out the famed Portuguese pastry, Pastel de nata.  There are many opinions on the “best” pastel in Lisbon, but we only had time to try one.  We went with Manteigaria based on reviews and were not disappointed.  The woman behind the counter convinced us to get a couple extras and I’m glad she did.  They were great warm with a bit of cinnamon sprinkled atop.  Yum!

IMG_3187 IMG_3192

Our first trip definitely had a couple bumps in the road, but overall we had a great time and found Lisbon to be a great city.  There was a lot we wanted to do but did not get around to it all.  Perhaps we will just have to go back :-)  But then again, there are so many new places to see.  Decisions, decisions.

IMG_3195

Cheers!

Reunited!

One early morning I rolled out of bed, packed up the car and drove off to Heathrow bound for NYC.  The day had finally come that we would all be reunited again!  Rather than making an epic (and potentially disastrous) flight from Texas to London with a 2 year old, we planned to meet up in NYC, visit with C’s family then take the “short” flight from there.  We flew into different airports so I grabbed the rental car and drove to pick up the rest of my family. It was not fun because of construction at the airport but we finally were all together again.  We loaded up in the car and headed to see C’s aunt & uncle.

We received a warm welcome and settled in for catching up conversations.  That night we had a great dinner at one of their favorite haunts but Hannah was pretty antsy the entire time.  We traded off child duties throughout to allow each other to eat.  The next day we enjoyed a lazy morning, late breakfast/brunch then decided it was time to head off to the Airbnb we’d rented near the airport.  It had started snowing so driving was less than fun…in fact, at times it was downright scary.  But we finally made it and tucked in for the night.

Enjoying a real snowfall!

Enjoying a real snowfall!

The following morning we woke up to a winter wonderland.  Thankfully the neighbor to our Airbnb cleaned off the stoop and walkway so we were able to make it to the car.  We left for the airport with excitement and apprehension.  We had purposely planned for a daytime flight vs a redeye knowing that there was little chance of Hannah sleeping on the plane.  If she missed a nap it’d be difficult but not as bad as missing an entire night of sleep.  Well, it worked…kind of.  We chose three seats of 4 seats in the middle section leaving one open amongst us, hoping no one would chose a middle middle seat. No such luck.  Several hours and lots of snacks, videos, games, books, walks later we were nearing a meltdown of epic proportions.  We tried our best to head it off, but nevertheless, the toddler took over.  Hannah started fussing, then whining, then crying.  She finally fell asleep between the two of us as we frantically tried to make her comfortable/ensure that she stayed asleep.  Despite our best efforts she slept about 30 minutes then woke up cranky as can be.    We were able to distract her with more snacks and the iPad (thank goodness for handheld technology!).  She was calm for a bit then it was time to land…aka buckle the seat belt, put everything away….cue another meltdown.  This time she was so upset the flight attendant took notice and suggested we offer her something to eat or drink to “help her ears.”  Thanks bud, but that’s not the issue here…we are doing everything we can to calm down an overtired, overstimulated, cranky 2 year old…not our first rodeo (insert eye roll).  To his defense he did bring her some “premium” snacks to munch on to help calm her.  It worked, kinda sorta, and we were finally on the ground.

Thank goodness for headphones, shows and games on the computer/iPad

Thank goodness for headphones, shows and games on the computer/iPad

Finally asleep!

Finally asleep!

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure if our plan to fly during the day was the best option.  It was not pretty, but we made it and only got a few side eye glances from surrounding passengers.  After a couple long days of travel we were all together in England to truly start our new adventure.

Exhausted toddler + exhausted mama

Exhausted toddler + exhausted mama

Embarking solo – weeks 2 and 3

After the quick trip to the states for Christmas, I flew back to the UK solo again.  I had about two more weeks alone to get various things done with the most important items being secure a house and start working.  Well, in the UK many places completely shut down the week between Christmas and New Year’s.  That meant the letting agency with the house we were really interested in was closed and I would get no answer until after January 3rd.  So I set up a few last minute viewings on other potential properties with letting agencies that were actually open to see other options while waiting.

But the Brits weren’t the only ones taking time off.  Many people/offices at work were also closed or had very limited hours meaning not much was getting done on that front either.  I accomplished what I could but meant I had a lot of down time.  I took advantage of that and did a bit of sightseeing locally including an amazing cathedral, beautiful gardens and some yummy food.  I also caught up on sleep and reading.

Interior of Ely Cathedral

Interior of Ely Cathedral

Ely Cathedral

Ely Cathedral

Ely Cathedral

Ely Cathedral

Abbey Gardens

Abbey Gardens

Abbey Gardens

Abbey Gardens

Bury St Edmonds

Bury St Edmonds

 

They day before my first scheduled shift I got word that I would indeed get to start seeing patients, albeit without computer access.  Most of our stuff is still on paper so it wasn’t a big inconvenience.  My first shift was New Year’s Eve followed by New Year’s Day.  Thankfully things weren’t too crazy and I was able to settle in fairly well.

After the holiday weekend I had some bad news.  The owner of the house we were pinning our hopes on decided she wasn’t comfortable with tenants who had a dog despite saying “pets considered” in the ad.  We were bummed but continued looking.  C suggested we offer higher monthly rent or deposit to help ease her fears.  I scoffed at the idea but asked the letting agency anyway.  Sure enough, they accepted our offer!

The next day I flew across the pond yet again to meet up with C & H and officially start our great big adventure together.

Embarking solo – Week 1

For various reasons I started the move off by myself with C and Hannah staying behind in Texas.  I actually did not feel much anxiety about leaving until the night before my flight was scheduled to leave.  I have taken trips away a couple times now and they’ve been fine.  But knowing that I would be gone for almost 3 weeks with only a short visit at Christmas to break it up was tough to swallow.  I shed a few tears at the airport saying goodbye.  Hannah was fine but mostly because she didn’t truly understand what was happening.

The flight across the pond was uneventful but uncomfortable.  I didn’t sleep much but did get some reading and movies in.  My first week was a bit chaotic.  I checked into my temporary lodging which had been setup for me.  It was an extremely convenient location, but very basic.  Essentially a bed, tv, bathroom, mini fridge and microwave.  Not exactly glamorous but it would do.  As it was the week before Christmas there was a lot of things that weren’t open, had limited hours or people who weren’t even in their offices.  Thankfully I was able to get my ID card the 2nd day there meaning I had access to everything I needed and the ability travel freely.  I rented a car for a couple days to get around while looking for a car to purchase.  I also attempted to set up several house showings.  However, most of the letting agencies I spoke with couldn’t let me view anything until after Christmas, or even after New Years!  Thankfully I was able to get one set up for that same week and another for the following week.

My super snazzy hotel room - home for 3 weeks

My super snazzy hotel room – home for 3 weeks

English countryside at dusk (at 3:30 pm...ugh)

English countryside at dusk (at 3:30 pm…ugh)

Life living solo in a hotel = takeaway Thai food, a glass of wine and FB surfing

Life living solo in a hotel = takeaway Thai food, a glass of wine and FB surfing

In addition to searching for a house and car, I needed to set up a bank account, get car insurance and work on everything needed to start my job.  It turns out we never closed our bank account from our previous time overseas.  We thought they might have closed it due to inactivity, but low and behold, I walked into a branch, gave them my account information and ID card and sure enough there was a teeny tiny balance still there.  Whew!

A coworker’s wife had a lead on a car that her mechanic was selling so I set up a time to go see and test drive it.  Well, the shop was in a heavy traffic area so I let him drive while I sat.  It had only been 2 or 3 days since I’d started driving on the “wrong” side of the road again so I felt much more comfortable with him driving.  The car looked good and was a good price so I agreed to purchase it.  Two days later I returned to hand over the money and get the keys.  Thankfully another coworker was kind enough to schlep me to the mechanic’s shop in order to get the car.

My new ride

My new ride

That same week I was able to view one property.  Turns out it was a perfect size, great location and had assigned parking (which can be difficult in the area we wanted to live).  I phoned up the letting agent and told them we were very interested in the property.  The landlord and agreed to “consider” pets so the agent presented our information to her for approval.  This was a Thursday afternoon.  They were closed the next day until after New Years.  Which meant we had to wait….for 10 days.

The street with the house I viewed

The street with the house I viewed

Alas, the next day was Friday which mean I was heading home!

Cheers

Radio Silence

About a month ago I posted the news that I was back in the UK and the rest of the family would be joining shortly.  I had planned to write about the process of finding a house, car, bank, etc and setting up life in a new country.  I thought about creating separate posts for separate topics related to moving overseas with a toddler, dog and 2 adults.  But, I haven’t done any of those things.  Here we are near the end of January and it’s been silence in this space.

Why?  Not for a lack of thoughts, to be honest.  But more so because life has been less than glamorous, a bit tiring (okay very tiring), stressful and sometimes just plain hard.  There has been a lot of stress, frustration, fear and self-doubt in the recent weeks.  I knew it would not be an easy process or else a lot more people would do it.  We have hit more road blocks and issues than anticipated leading to more angst than expected.  However, I can happily report that the road is straightening out a bit, the potholes are becoming fewer and life is getting a little easier.  In the coming days and weeks I’ll be writing a few posts detailing our experiences and getting up to speed with life across the pond. But for now, I have an important appointment with my pillow.

Cheers

We’re Baack!

You may recall that just over 3 years ago we returned stateside, sad that the adventure was over so quickly, but grateful for the opportunity.  Well, we are even more grateful now because we are back in the UK…I am at least.  Long story short, I received a very unexpected email in the fall that there was a new position approved.  I first checked with C on his thoughts honestly expecting him to shoot it down.  To my surprise, he said go for it.  After several weeks of conversations and deep thinking, I said yes!  Fast forward 2 long months and I boarded a plane to England.

js-9

For various reasons, I am out here before the rest of my little family.  That is a blessing and curse.  First, it allows me to get things situated for everyone such as a car, a house, a bank account, etc.  It is nice to do those things relatively unencumbered by a toddler.  It’s also allowed me flexibility in doing all the tasks I need to start working including trainings, meetings, visiting random offices asking for things.  However, it also means I am alone in a different, albeit familiar, country around the holidays.  There are some people here from my first “visit” that I know, and they have been super helpful, but it isn’t the same as close friends and family.   I’ve also met some great new people who have provided tons of guidance and advice for which I am eternally grateful.

So, here I am, in my temporary lodging counting down the days until my people are here with me.  I hope to post semi-regularly depending on availability of topics and time.  Come follow our adventure (again)!

js-13

Fall Family Fun

Despite the fact that mother nature still thinks its summer, our little family has been enjoying the various fall offerings around here.  Like every fall, we have attended numerous TCU football games.  It’s been a tough season with ugly wins and even uglier losses but we’ve stuck it out.  Last weekend we took Hannah to the game with us.  She hadn’t been all season and we really weren’t sure how she’d do.  She loved it!  Had fun at the tailgate sitting with the adults, eating junk food and raking in the oohs and aahs.  Then she enjoyed going into the stadium, seeing all the fanfare and cheering on the Horned Frogs.  As any true TCU toddler should be able to do, she said “Go Frogs” “TCU” “football” and “touchdown” quite well!  And she clapped, danced and cheered along with the crowd.

img_1988 img_2063

The Arboretum hosts an amazing pumpkin patch every year complete with pumpkin houses, pumpkin carriages and all sorts of other pumpkin decor.  A few weeks ago, we joined friends for a Sunday morning (along with seemingly half of the metroplex) to see the pumpkin village.  It was a warm but nice day and we had fun taking various photos amongst the pumpkins.  We also took a break to sit and eat snacks including homemade cinnamon rolls and mimosas under the trees.  Despite the crowds we had a great time and hope to make a tradition of it!

img_0255

She was pretty upset that a stranger had mommy’s camera and was taking her picture with it :-D

img_0195 img_0212 img_0226 img_0237

Hannah has really gotten into pumpkins this fall so on top of the Arboretum we took her to a local pumpkin patch that was full of pumpkins, cutout characters, mazes, bounce houses and more.  She was much more interested in the toys and play structures than the pumpkins.  She even tried out a bounce house for the first time and thought it was pretty cool despite her inability to actually jump. :-)

Playing at the pumpkin patch

Playing at the pumpkin patch

I've got this mom

I’ve got this mom

Bounce house fun

Bounce house fun

Mom and dad even got some quality time with just each other.  We took our first real trip away from Hannah since she was born.  Apparently all our trips prior to this point were with her (or me solo).  We dropped her off with the grandparents and hopped in the car for a roadtrip to the Texas Wine Country.  C’s aunt, uncle and cousins live that direction so we took the opportunity to visit.  The next day we spent time wine tasting a various tasting rooms along the main drag.  It was nice spending time just the two of us.  However, come Sunday afternoon we were so ready to see our munchkin again.

Wine, wine, wine

Wine, wine, wine

Our little picnic snack halfway through our wine adventures

Our little picnic snack halfway through our wine adventures

I kinda like this guy

I kinda like this guy

Last stop of the day - a little something for both of us!

Last stop of the day – a little something for both of us!

We may or may not have stopped at the baby store and bought a new diaper :-)

We may or may not have stopped at the baby store and bought a new diaper :-)

Grabbed cocktails at this super cool place with an amazing patio!

Grabbed cocktails at this super cool place with an amazing patio!

And you can’t celebrate fall without Halloween, right?  Several of our neighbors go all out decorating for Halloween with large inflatables, pumpkins, cutouts, lights…you name it.  So all Hannah has been able to talk about is Halloween!  She finally got to dress up and go trick or treating tonight and really seemed to love it.  However, after several houses she was done and ready to go home.  Then of course, about 5 minutes after being home she was ready to “find” Halloween again.

Our little cheerleader :-D

Our little cheerleader :-D

img_2107

She wasn't afraid to go up to doors and say "Happy Halloween!"

She wasn’t afraid to go up to doors and say “Happy Halloween!”

Checking out her loot

Checking out her loot

Of course, fall around here also means a big birthday.  But more on that in a separate post.

Cheers

Anybody Home?

Oh hey!  Anyone still out there reading my tiny corner of the internet?  If not, I wouldn’t blame anyone seeing as it’s been over a YEAR since I’ve blogged.  Yikes!!  I have the usual excuses: work, child, husband, life, lack of motivation, etc.  However, we are coming up on Hannah’s 2nd birthday and I started going back through photos of the last year.  I quickly realized I have TONS of photos but not many documented stories behind them. Sure I remember a lot of the memories just by looking at the pictures, but let’s be honest, that won’t always be the case.  So it’s time to start documenting again and I’m going to do it here.  If you want to follow along – fabulous!  If not, that’s cool too, it’ll serve as my own little journaling space.  :-) It’s getting late at night and I’ve been up since before the sun so I’m not posting anything of substance tonight, but check back in a few days to see what I have come up with.

Cheers!img_0190

From Sydney to Columbus

After we got back from our Australia and New Zealand tour we attempted to settle back into our routine again.  It took about a week of midnight play sessions and zombie-like days for all of us to adjust to the time zone but we managed!  The next big trip on the agenda came in mid-July and was just Hannah and I going to Ohio to visit one of my dearest friends from the TCU days, Emily.

We flew up on a Thursday and Hannah did pretty well.  I had the option to upgrade to a first class seat for a small fee which I decided to take advantage of.  I thought it would be nice to have the space and food seeing as Hannah was traveling as a lap infant.  However, it wasn’t really worth it.  I didn’t get the chance to eat because I was either entertaining her or trying to not wake her up.  I did, however enjoy some nuts and a warm chocolate chip cookie!

Playing in the airport playspace

Playing in the airport playspace – this little girl adored Hannah

Thank God for a carrier and a baby who enjoys being worn! Best travel tool ever!

Thank God for our Boba carrier and a baby who enjoys being worn! Best travel tool ever!

Em has a daughter, Grace, who is a few months older than Hannah and I was so excited for them to see each other again. Our last visit with each other was Emily’s visit when Hannah was only weeks old.  Obviously much had changed in the months since then!  At first Grace wasn’t too sure about this smaller version of herself taking her toys, crawling around her house and stealing her mom’s attention.  By the end of the weekend though she warmed up a bit.

Hannah and Gracie

Hannah and Gracie

Our first day was low key as we had arrived later in the afternoon.  We let the girls play while the mommas caught up on life and gossip.  We stayed up way too late just chatting.  The next morning we planned to have lunch then take the girls to a splash pad.  We hadn’t really planned well and didn’t bring any water friendly clothing or swim diapers.  That didn’t stop us from letting them get into the fountains though!  Grace loved it!  Hannah was pretty excited too, but was a bit hesitant about the water shooting up from the ground.  After the splash pad we headed down the road to COSI which had a great play space for younger kids.  The girls crawled all over sticking various toys in their mouths, nearly avoiding getting trampled by other children, going down slides and various other activities.  They also had a water play area with a few water tables, one specifically for infants.  It was so great watching them explore and have fun.  We may or may not have played a little long distance prank on C involving a fake x-ray and dress up bandages…. 😉

Splash pad fun

Splash pad fun

Gracie loved it!

Gracie loved it!

Hannah took just a little more convincing

Hannah took just a little more convincing

Our little head injury patient

Our little head injury patient at COSI

Fun on the playmats

Fun on the playmats

Water table

Water table

She had to go all the way to Ohio to sit on a saddle for the first time

She had to go all the way to Ohio to sit on a saddle for the first time

Having fun with Ms Gracie

Having fun with Ms Gracie

DSC_1776

After all that excitement we were all pretty tired.  It was a low key night back at the house with takeout food and a rousing game of Phase 10 after the girls were asleep.  Party animals, I know.  However, the next morning we were treated to some delicious homemade cinnamon rolls thanks to Emily’s stepmom (who runs a fabulous bakery out of her home).  We were more than happy to taste test her newest product before it hit store shelves!  We needed full bellies for our afternoon at the neighborhood pool.  Their town has a really neat pool complex with a zero entry pool and play area for younger kids, full lap pool and lazy river plus lots of grassy sitting area and picnic tables.  We spent several hours in and out of the water and we all had a great time.  Hannah crashed when we got back to their house taking a much needed nap.

Takes me back to college

Takes me back to college

Holy deliciousness batman!

Holy deliciousness batman!

Excited for pool time!

Excited for pool time!

She loved the water

She loved the water

Yep, that's my daughter trying to take out one of my best friends' daughter... proud mama here...

Yep, that’s my daughter trying to take out one of my best friends’ daughter… proud mama here…

Love love love

Love love love

See?  They do like each other

See? They do like each other

Em and Gracie

Em and Gracie

This is what exhausted looks like

This is what exhausted looks like

That evening Matt, Emily’s husband, showed off his grilling chops and helped us make a great summertime dinner which we enjoyed on the back patio.  Hannah woke up from her nap in time to enjoy some of my grilled chicken then play with their water table.  After dinner she had her first experience with a swing.  She wasn’t too sure about all of it and whined nervously until we took her out.

Swinging

Swinging

Our final day was spent shopping.  We started off browsing at Paper Source which is a dangerous place for me then hit up a few other stores.  I also made it a priority to get ice cream from Jeni’s because ice cream….

She really really wanted to try that ice cream but I selfishly kept it all to myself

She really really wanted to try that ice cream but I selfishly kept it all to myself

Hannah's first trip to Jeni's, but definitely not her last

Hannah’s first trip to Jeni’s, but definitely not her last

After a nap it was time for us to head home.  Our flight back was blissfully uneventful with the exception of Hannah throwing her food packet at the poor gentlemen next to us about 3 times despite my best efforts to catch it.  Thankfully he was a pilot and very sweet.  As always, it was so fun spending time with Emily.  I’m so happy we have girls close in age and can’t wait to watch them grow up together.  I only wish she lived in Texas :-)

Flying home

Heading home