Paw Patrol to the rescue!

Somehow I let a whole month pass without even attempting to write a blog post. Oops!

May was a wonderful month here. There were multiple local holidays, including Memorial Day, so we had long weekends and several short weeks. Glorious!  Instead of doing something really cool, or travel to a beautiful destination, we made the adult decision and took advantage of the first long weekend to try the 3-day potty training method with Abby. We debated the idea for a bit but she was showing signs of readiness so we cleared our schedules, read helpful tips on the internet, and purchased supplies.

The first day was absolutely terrible. The book we were trying to follow recommended having your child spend the whole day indoors, completely naked/bottomless, and you watch them like a hawk every second to catch them going to the bathroom, then whisk them off to the potty. Constantly watching your child is actually exhausting and tedious. By 10am JR and I were looking at each other and wondering how we’d survive the entire day. JR kept a running tally and by the end of the day the score was Abby 7 and Parents 7. A 50/50 split but that’s still a lot of Clorox and we were not mentally prepared.

Luckily, we turned a corner on day 2. We threw out the idea of going naked and went with some “big-girl” underwear. Abby is a huge fan of the show Paw Patrol, so we gave her some special Paw Patrol underwear and made a big deal about keeping them dry. Suddenly things started to click for her!

Yeah Paw Patrol!

paw patrol

 

Of course, there were still a few accidents that day but nothing like the catastrophe of the first day.

Day 3 was even better and we couldn’t believe how quickly Abby took to the sudden change. After about a week it felt like we could safely say she was potty trained (we’re using pull-ups for nap and at night, although sometimes I think she could skip those, but I’m not willing to risk it and deal with the potential mess).

Another big milestone for our girl – she turned 2! We celebrated by having a joint party with our friend’s daughter. I didn’t get any good pictures of the birthday girl, but there is a video of Abby on my lap while everyone is singing Happy Birthday, and at that exact moment she stuck her fist in her cake. It didn’t mess it up too much, but she was furious that her hand was covered in frosting. All eyes were on us and I didn’t have any way to clean her up, so I first tried to wipe it off in my hand, and then I resorted to sticking her fist in my mouth and licking the frosting off myself. Put that in the “sentences I never expected to write” column. The party was great fun and thanks to the hard work and creative mind of my dear friend Elizabeth, minimal effort on my part! A win all around.  🙂

Over Memorial Day weekend, we met up with friends of ours and their two kids in Borjomi, a town about 2 hours away. Shortly after we arrived at the hotel, it started pouring down rain while we ate lunch. Abby took a long nap (and so did we) and when she woke up we went down to the pool.  She was totally uninterested, but she sure did look cute in her swimsuit! The rain stopped so we spent some time walking around the hotel grounds and playing at the playground before heading downtown with our friends.  It’s a smallish town but there is an amusement park, cable car, and some restaurants and cafes.

swimsuitborjomi 2borjomi 1

We hopped on the cable car and enjoyed beautiful views of the city and waterfall. On on our ride back down the attendant wanted to smoke, and being so thoughtful to the children and passengers on board, he just stood with the door partially open and blew his smoke outside -while the car was moving. A great comfort, really. Below is a picture I found online that illustrates the open door, now just imagine it looking that way as we traveled back down the mountain.

borjomi 4

We had a nice dinner in town and then returned to our hotel for a fantastic night of sleep. We splurged on the deluxe suite so Abby’s pack n’ play was set up in a separate room and that meant peace and quiet for all.

Since we were off on Monday for Memorial Day and we still had our nanny working, JR and I drove to an ancient rock/cave town called Uplistsikhe (good luck pronouncing that!), a few kilometers away from the town of Gori. It’s one of the oldest urban settlements in Georgia and dates back to the Early Iron Age which is around 1200-550 B.C.E. (thanks Wikipedia!).

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up 2 up 4 up 5

Most of our time has been spent enjoying the warmer weather (although this past week has been all rain and cold) and playing outside. When it was finally warm enough to bring out the water table and our baby pool, a few of the neighborhood kids came over to play. We set up the other pool and even more kids showed up. We had a great time, but made the mistake of storing the pools on our back patio. The wind here is insane, and it’s especially bad in our neighborhood because we’re up on a hill. The little round pool blew away one night and hasn’t been seen since!

pool 1 pool 2

Hello, Gorgeous

Isn’t she lovely?

mixer

I am finally – FINALLY – the proud owner of a Kitchen Aid Mixer!

JR was completely against this purchase since I first brought up the idea approximately forever ago. The truth is I didn’t have much going for me to justify the expense. I’m not exactly known for my skills in the kitchen and in our previous apartments, there was nowhere to store another big kitchen appliance. So I let my dream fade away for a long time, but then our neighbors started showing up at our door with freshly baked goods. Breads, hot pretzels, scones, you name it, Rachel bakes it (she has an awesome food blog: http://www.tastychao.com). And you know what she uses?  A Kitchen Aid Mixer. Suddenly, JR started to see the light. Or he just wanted me to shut up about it.  Either way, our very own mixer arrived via Amazon and we are BOTH loving it.

The new mixer timed up perfectly with our newest Netflix obsession, The Great British Bake Off. Although neither of us are big fans of cooking show competitions, we watched Season 1 of this show and highly recommend it. It was enjoyable and relaxing, and made us want to bake! The competitors were all so friendly to each other and it was a definite change from the normal American reality shows. Only one season is available online, so once we were finished we tried to watch other cooking shows like Iron Chef and and Chopped, but the yelling and hysteria didn’t do it for us.  We just like watching friendly Brits bake in the English countryside.

The very first recipe I tried with my mixer was a knock-off Macaroni Grill rosemary bread. It didn’t look exactly like it should have, but it tasted delicious. And I made bread – from scratch!

bread

Inspired by Rachel, we made soft pretzels. So good. And not as hard as I feared, although it’s tricky to cook them all the way through without burning the tops and bottoms.

soft pretzels

In the 3-ish weeks we’ve had the mixer we’ve also made pizza dough, pumpkin bread, cupcakes, and strawberry muffins. I’m in love!

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Lest you think I’m suddenly a baking pro, there have been some failures. Some big ones. I tried to make a strawberry layer cake and when I went to flip it onto the cooling rack, it completely fell apart. I’m a work in progress.

cake

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We took a break from the kitchen the other weekend long enough to make a day trip to Gori, birthplace of Joseph Stalin. There is a small museum that includes his childhood home, pictures, some of his personal belongings, and even his private, armored train car. The entrance fee was around 10 lari and included a tour guide. Our guide was Giorgi and he was really great, patient in answering our questions and saving me from knocking over an exhibit while I was holding Abby (oops). It’s hard to describe the feelings towards Stalin in Georgia, particularly in Gori, given his notorious place in history. As Giorgi explained, it’s not that they’re celebrating the man but rather they recognize the large role Stalin played in world history and especially the country of Georgia.  We thought Giorgi did a great job of presenting the basic facts about his childhood, rise to power in the Soviet Union, and the dark side of his leadership.

stalin 1 stalin 2 Stalin 3

Word of warning – the museum is not heated and even on a mild day in February, it was frigid inside.  It was so cold we could see Giorgi’s breath during the tour.

stalin train
Stalin was apparently very afraid of flying, so he used this train car to travel to Potsdam and Yalta to meet with the Allied leaders during World War II. The train car is bullet proof and included its original furniture and fixtures.

After walking through the museum and Stalin’s train car, we finished the tour at his childhood home. The small house, where Stalin’s parents rented a single room, stands in its original location with a monument-like structure built around it. Giorgi opened the door and invited us to look around the inside, which he said remains just as it was when Stalin lived there (I’m a bit skeptical). Abby was not content to stand within the small roped off entrance, so Giorgi lifted the rope for her and invited her to climb right up onto Stalin’s bed. Weird, but we went with it long enough to take a photo.

stalin house stalin house 2

 

abby stalin
Again, I’m not sure I believe this was really Stalin’s childhood bed, but pretty weird either way.