Thursday, December 27, 2012

Our Cozy Christmas

This year, we celebrated our first Christmas as a threesome. We didn't go away like last year, we weren't surrounded by our families, we didn't even exchange gifts (the little bug scored big with some gifts friends and family sent from home, though). It was just the three of us, and it was perfect. As much as I missed waking up in a bustling house filled with all the cousins and siblings and opening presents, and spending the day in pjs and eating delicious treats... I loved every minute of our holiday here in Belgium.

We took a walk, baked cookies, watched a Breaking Bad marathon (we may or may not have watched the entire first season). We skyped with our families, which included an incredible moment of four generations of women (my grandmother, mother, myself and Ina) talking and marvelling at the fact that we can all be together, while a million miles apart. We ate a wonderful dinner, and went to bed early with full bellies and a happy baby.

Santa brought breakfast

Thanks Auntie Annie!

sleeping snuggly bug

merry christmas!

We hope you had a wonderful Christmas filled with love, laughter and joy, and that Santa brought lots of goodies for you. 

Now... onto new adventures in the new year! 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

On old friends...

In the summer of 2001, before I left home for college, I sent my friend Allyson a journal in the mail with a letter written inside it. A couple months later, after I was settled into my dorm room, I received an envelope in the mail with that same little book and a letter from her written on the next couple of pages. This went on for a few years between San Diego and Santa Barbara - not weekly, or even monthly, but a few times a year this little book would make its journey, filled with secrets, love and heartache, confessions, inspirational quotes, doodles and photos. The last entry was dated in 2008, after a five year hiatus. I was living in New York at the time, and found the book in a box of old stuff. I sent it off to her for old times sake... and then, consumed by life and work and love, forgot about it.

Yesterday, we received a gigantic box in the mail... sweet gifts for the baby, awesome gifts for Didz and I, and at the bottom of the box, the book. That same old journal, filled with stories and memories from so many years ago. More than ten years later, I still remember drawing those doodles, sharing those secrets and insecurities with my dear friend when I was searching for balance and happiness in my life while floating through my first years of university trying to figure out where I belonged. Now, a decade later, I know I am exactly where I belong and am so grateful for my friendship with Allyson that has stood the test of time - even when we're cities, states and even countries apart.

I think she summed it perfectly: "Our friendship is like a super soft awesome college tee that's been washed and beloved for years and years..."


Thank you, dear Allyson. Missing you, and all my friends across the world this holiday season. I am looking forward to some fantastic reunions in the new year...

Monday, December 17, 2012

Weekend Bits

The Christmas Market opened in our town last week, so the highlight of our weekend was spending an evening wandering through the crowds, exploring the trinkets in the stalls, meeting our friend Pieter for some hot gluhwein and catching up with him while listening to traditional Belgian Christmas music performed by a choir of old men.

bustling market.

hottie hubby. heatlamp. hotwine.

a whole stall dedicated to boozy hot cocoa
Someone had too much ChocoWhiskey... 

We're planning on leaving Belgium in the next few months (that's a different post altogether, and there's still a lot of question marks to work out), but I've started to walk around town a little slower, looking around a little closer, trying to soak up every memory of this place before we go. Christmastime in Leuven is right at the top of things I'll miss about living here.

Meanwhile, Didz is singing along to The Band and dancing with Ina... he says he's "building a musical sand castle in her brain." I don't know what that means, but I sure do love it.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

8 Weeks

Dear Didzette,

The other morning, when you woke us up bright and early (or rather, still dark and really early), and we weren't ready to get out of bed yet, we brought you into bed with us. I sat there, in bed with my two favorite people in the whole world, completely in love and completely in awe of how much you've grown in just 8 weeks. You're almost like a real person!

To be honest, though, this week hasn't been your best. Don't get me wrong, you're still cute as the Dickens, but you've been a little bit of a brat this week. You wake up so happy and smiley, and it just goes downhill from there. By late afternoon you're one cranky little bug. I know you're going through so much developmental change, it must be really overwhelming for you... you're taking it all in, trying to figure out what the heck is going on, growing and learning. I don't blame you for getting a little cranky.

You're still sleeping well (7 whole hours in a row the other night - whoop!), so please don't go regressing there. And you're eating pretty well - though when you're cranky in the afternoons you're totally anti-boob and will only eat if your daddy gives you a bottle. But all in all we're doing alright. You'll get over this little phase soon.

Just as long as you keep giving me those huge toothless grins first thing in the morning, we'll be ok.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Weekend Bits

Our weekend began with a lunch date... Yes, there was a tiny person with us, so some people might not consider that a real date, but there was wine. And life-changing mushroom ravioli. And a person who served it to us. And we didn't have to do the dishes. So it was a date.

There was also tree decorating, and soup making, and cranky baby soothing, and movie watching and music and mulled wine... 

ready to deck the halls

disco window


pa rum pum pum pum

...not a bad weekend at all. Have a wonderful week!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Two things

1. The bug is losing her newborn baby hair (especially in the front), making her look like an old man with a comb-over. By far the cutest comb-over I've ever seen... but still...

2. Women always make a big deal about losing the baby weight. I've decided to keep mine. Because if losing the baby weight means losing her favorite snuggle spot, I want nothing to do with that...

That's all.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Shaggy Dog

There's an old, scruffy, shaggy dog who belongs to my favorite flower shop. He cruises up and down the little cobblestone street, overseeing all the activity from the fish shop to the cheese shop like a boss... 

My favorite time of day, however, is when he visits the pasta shop next door...

It's like a scene straight out of Lady and the Tramp... the fat Italian chef always throws him some scraps. I just hope good ol' Shags is lucky enough to score a spaghetti kiss from his own Lady one of these days.

I hope you had a wonderful weekend! Ours was spent drinking hot mulled wine and nuzzling the little bug (who, in the past couple days has totally mastered her heart-melting smile). This morning, we woke up to snowfall (which turned into a sopping rain)... but the arrival of snow means I'm going into hibernation for yet another winter. Send wine. And cookies.

So long friends, wake me up when Spring is upon us... :)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Six Weeks

Dear Didzette,

You're six weeks old today, and are soaking up your last cuddles and lullabies and dances with your grandparents. They leave tomorrow, and it will break my heart a little to see them go... and you might not know what's happening, but I know you'll miss them, too. You've had so much fun dancing with my dad and listening to his crazy made-up stories and songs about hunting hippopotamus. My mom has a magical touch that calms you down when you're fussy and she's been buying you the cutest little outfits (like our favorite green polka dot pjs). They've gotten to see you smile and cry and wiggle around and sleep so sweetly, and I know they'll miss you terribly. We'll be sure to chat with them over Skype as much as possible so you wouldn't forget them... and we'll plan to visit them as soon as we can.

You're such a sweet little bug. We're loving every minute with you - even the long, sleepless nights (though let's work on those, ok?)... now let's get back to snuggling.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is our second Belgian Thanksgiving - so much has happened since last November, and we have SO much to be thankful for. This year, my parents and brother are in town celebrating with us. I am so happy to have them here. Our little turkey has been passed from one set of arms to the next... until it's time to change her diaper (somehow she always ends up back with her mama). But we've all been dancing and catching up and preparing this afternoon's feast together...

Thinking of all our friends and family back home, and wishing all of you a very 
Happy Thanksgiving!

*enjoy Ina's Thanksgiving boogie... (forgive my shoddy one-handed editing skills while holding a sleeping baby). 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Passport Pictures and Piano Man

Yesterday we took Ina to get passport pictures taken. It might have been one of the funnier experiences we've had as new parents... trying to hold her head up, while simultaneously trying to keep her arms (which tend to flail around with a mind of their own) out of the shot, while trying to listen to the instructions of the photographer to move over and hold her higher and keep her still... it was hilarious. I only wish we had ordered a whole set of photos including the outtakes instead of just the final shot. There were some gems in there, I'm sure.

When we left the photo shop, we came across the most amazing street musician who was playing a piano he had wheeled out onto the sidewalk. It made me feel like dancing on a cold, gray November day.

Have a wonderful weekend!


she totally looks like a threat to homeland security, amiright?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Happy Birthday, Dede Gug!

Happy Birthday, Gug!
We can't wait to celebrate with you when you get here next week... Ina can't wait to kick it with her uncle, and Didz can't wait to have a drinking buddy around (apparently I'm no fun anymore).  

See you soon! 
We love you!
Go Lakers!

PS our itty bitty Lakers fan loves her gear... Thanks! 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Two Weeks

Dear Didzette,

You're two weeks old today. It's such a tiny amount of time in the grand scheme of your life, but we're going to celebrate it anyway. I'm completely in awe of you, and how much you've changed in just two short weeks. I can spend hours staring at your perfectly teeny little features, threatening to eat every single one of your toes when you aren't looking.

You're so alert and awake and interested in the world around you, and you seem to be studying us as much as we're studying you. We're starting to figure you out, little bug. That is to say, we're figuring out that there is no way to figure you out - every day brings something new, and when we think we're getting the hang of this parenting gig you throw a curve ball at us. Some days you're attached to my boob incessantly, other days you nap so soundly I can hardly wake you to feed. There are moments when you yelp something quite vicious, but that's rare. Usually you're a happy, mellow baby.

You've been practicing your facial expressions lately - furrowing your brow, suspiciously giving us a sideways glance, puckering up your lips, and my personal favorite: your smile (yeah, sure, maybe it's just gas, but that little smile makes me *swoon*).

I hope you've been happy with us, bug. We're still learning... and we will be for years and years to come. Be patient with us, and we'll figure it all out along the way.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Thank you, Bobbie.

The most beautiful bouquet of flowers arrived yesterday... along with a bunch of beer. Bobbie, dearest, you know just what we needed. Flowers for mama, beers for papa. You're the best.

We miss you so.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Weekend Bits

grey skies, fresh freesias

"Remember what our Saturday nights used to be like?" Didz asked me at 3am while changing Ina's diaper... this was followed quickly by, "How can so much poo come out of such a tiny little creature??"

We're learning. We're adjusting. We're trying to laugh... a lot. I mean, if we can't have a sense of humor about explosive baby poop, we're pretty much hopeless, right?

This weekend the weather turned really chilly - colder than it's been thus far, and though we ventured out for a few walks around town, it was perfect for warm soup, and curling up on the couch, watching movies... and changing diapers.

carrot ginger soup
ina waving hello
ready for an afternoon stroll
family portrait
post market lunchtime spread

Thank you for all your messages and emails and comments welcoming our little Didzette into the world... Have a wonderful week! 

Friday, October 26, 2012

She's here.

She's here. And she's awesome. 

Ina Aurelija is eight days old today. These past eight days have been like nothing I've ever experienced before - the physical strain on my body, the emotional avalanche of hormones and sleeplessness, the heart-bursting love and unimaginable tenderness and joy that I've felt - it's all a little too much to put into words... (especially since my brain is having a hell of a time stringing together the most basic sentences).

To put it simply, I've fallen more deeply in love with Didz than I ever thought possible, and this little girl has completed my life. Didz taken such good care of us, and every time he holds our little goose my heart melts a little more... And Ina is just the absolute greatest thing on earth. It's only been a week, but already I can't imagine my life without her... and already I'm terrified of her growing up. I'm afraid I'll blink and these 8 days will be years, and then just as suddenly she'll be eighteen and moving out to take on the world by herself. I can't bear it. So for now, we're spending hours and hours snuggling, and breathing in her intoxicating new baby smell, and going on walks through town to enjoy the crisp fall air and curling up on the couch and falling madly in love with our little girl...

We'll continue to share our stories... but for now Mama needs a nap.

(for our non-lithuanian friends: Ina is pronounced "in-a"... not "ee-na" or "eye-na")

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Little Welcome Basket

With my dear Mama arriving next week to meet her granddaughter and help us out for a little while, I thought I'd prepare a little "Welcome to Leuven" basket to leave at her apartment rental when she arrives. We got unbelievably lucky and were able to rent the place right downstairs from us - so we're going to be neighbors! It really couldn't have worked out better. She'll be steps away when we need her (especially at meal times - nothing beats Mama's home cooking!), but we'll all have our own space so we won't be crowded and feel like we're on top of each other all the time.

Her welcome basket includes:

* some basic toiletries, soaps, and shampoo (so there'd be more room in her suitcase for baby gifts, obviously)
* a Belgian SIM card for her phone (so I could call her in a panic when the baby doesn't stop crying and I don't know what to do)
* a BAGGU shopping bag for all her trips to the market
* a bottle of wine (duh)
* a few different varieties of Belgian chocolate (that I'm hoping she'll share with me)
*a map of Leuven titled "Where's Mama?" on which I marked the location of the butcher, the cheese shop, the wine shop, grocery store and a couple of my favorite bakeries and cafes
*and a couple other little things to make her feel welcome

And since I've been doing anything I can to distract me from contractions and the fact that this baby is coming very soon, I decorated a fringe-fabulous box with crepe paper to tuck all her treats in (don't even ask how long that took).

Can't wait for her to get here... and share that chocolate and wine with me :)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sunday Morning Crepes

I grew up with a crepe-making Mama. They were not a daily breakfast - usually reserved for the morning of a big exam or the morning after a sleepover to impress my friends (I'm fairly convinced the only reason Annie became my friend in high school was so she could eat Mama's crepes every weekend). They're my ultimate comfort food and when she comes to town next week she'll be crepe-ing up a storm around here... She even asked if she should pack her crepe pan :)

Luckily, when Mama's on the other side of the world, I have this guy:

He's pretty good, too.

Some favorite crepe fillings include:

* chopped apples cooked down with cinnamon + sugar
* caramelized bananas
* mixed berry compote with a squeeze of lemon + a dusting of powdered sugar
* chicken, herbed goat cheese, spinach + zucchini (great way to use up a leftover roast chicken)

We tend to use whatever we have around... usually something fruity (though Didz would happily go to town with a plain crepe and a jar of Nutella), or if we sleep in and wake up around lunchtime a savory crepe with chicken or mushrooms does the trick (though starting in a few days sleeping in will be a thing of the past).

Have a wonderful week... and don't be surprised if things go silent around here, we're kinda expecting someone :)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Weekend Bits

Whew! What a weekend. It felt like Didz's birthday celebrations just went on and on and on for days (and nights) on end. A few of our friends who moved away after graduation came back for the weekend from London, Cologne and Vancouver, so we were thrilled to see them and catch up over meals and drinks and laughs. I stayed up waaay past my bedtime every night, enjoying their company and hanging out with the birthday boy... Needless to say I am completely exhausted and am looking forward to a quiet week.

a very enthusiastic birthday cake!
caramelized banana crepes.
the boys are back in town.
a very delicious fall soup

I hope you had a wonderful weekend filled with friends, food and fun, too... and Happy Canadian (cough*fake*cough) Thanksgiving to our friends and family back in Toronto!