Saturday, 20 September 2014

Disney Right Now

Dear Pia and Rafa,

We took loads of photos at DisneyWorld this weekend, but we used the SLR so it may take more than a day to upload. I just wanted to check in with photos from this very minute because I think they sum it up best. 

I love you,


Friday, 19 September 2014

Later Charleston

Dear Pia (belle) and Rafa,

Things are wrapping up here in Charleston. We're pulling out the suitcase and getting ready for our next big adventure: DisneyWorld. Since Pia is turning 3 in a couple weeks, we're heading to DisneyWorld on the way home from OpaGigis and we're meeting Papa there. I'm not sure which one of those things is more exciting, but it's going to be good. 

It's nice to have something so special to look forward to when we say goodbye to OpaGigi. You've both gotten a whole lotta love these past two weeks and it will be hard saying goodbye. Pia has become Opa's girl. You've helped him fix up the house, paint the walls, and polish the cars. Lately, Mama, Gigi and Rafa go out and you go with Opa. Wherever, whatever, it doesn't matter. You're always in.

Though you're always happy to see Gigi again and run into her arms at the sight. You like Rafa too and are becoming very helpful as the best big sister ever. You watch him, entertain him and even help him with his paci. You never fail to get smiles from him.

To prepare for DianeyWorld, Gigi and I promised you we'd get your nails done. Your Gigi has been doing daily touch ups on the hot pink nails she gave you in her "salon" last week, but a girl that loves polish this much might as well go the full length, so Gigi treated you (and me-and even sacrificed her manicure by holding Rafa for us!) to a manicure. You picked yellow with yellow sparkles and then said it was to match your Belle dress. You've been Belle every day for two weeks, so I figure that was pretty clever. Your toes were shinning silver and your thumbs got little pink flowers. I asked you to show me for the camera and this is what I got. Typical. Rafa, as always is in awe of you.

We couldn't leave Charleston without one final stop at Sweet CeCe's. When OpaGigi ce back from a meeting at 7:30, we headed straight over. Some Mamas would be putting their kids to bed around that time. This Mama takes them out to ice cream. Opa is on a no-sugar kick, but he gets treats once in awhile so even Opa shared a Pia concoction this time.
Then you giggled your face off on the joggle board.

Rafa slept in a cuddly sort of way.

And you held OpaGigis hands all the way home. 

A whole lotta love going on around here. I think we're all pretty excited to live a car ride (a 10 hour car ride, but a car ride) from OpaGigi. This way we know we'll see them again soon.

I love you,


Charleston Adventures w Mama

Dear Pia,

You and I had yet another girls date. This one was impromptu and meant to be only a few minutes down the street to get our usual coffee and croissant. But when we got there you said you didn't like that croissant (fair enough, it wasn't very good) so we kept walking. Rafa was at home in Gigi's good hands and we had the world at our feet. 

We walked onto East Bay and found the Balehouse where they served "Molton Lava Mocha"s and "strawberries and cream" muffins. You were pretty excited about the muffin and dove right in... careful not to get any on your dress or hands for that matter.

When we walked out, we saw the pineapple fountain so went for a plunge. And just as you were calling it quits, you saw the trolley stop in front of us and demanded a ride. The driver said it would be 30 mins max round trip, so why not? Rafa was home with Gigi and two bottles and we were due an adventure. So we climbed aboard. Just us and the homeless guys.

When we rocked up to the Children's Museum, you pulled the bell and we jumped off...just for a few minutes we said. 

But the CML was closed so we were stuck on the North end of town with no trolley. We walked a bit towards King Street and it didn't take us long to find purpose: in a cupcake shop of course. 

You picked a giant red velvet cupcake with an ice cream like swirl topped with a red heart. Duh. 

We meant to take it home to share and so we walked a little further before making it to the perfect cupcake spot...and HAD to stop.
You were a very good eater, though not very good at sharing with anyone but the floor. The floor got three quarters of it. Probably for the best!

And so, with our newly induced sugar high, we walked down King Street. I was very thirsty and guessed you might be too after all that cupcake so we popped into a sweet shop for water (okay we went in for the free praline sample AND water). You took one look at the walls lined with Candy and declared: "I don't like this sugar. Aunt Susie likes sugar. I like cookies!" Swinging your arms out wide and turning a full 360 to ensure I got the full impact of the statement.
Ok, so no candy. More for me. 
Back at home we played a bit with Rafa until it was dinner time. We decided on an early dinner at Gigi's favourite sushi spot before OpaGigi's meeting. We would walk home just down King Street, no further than we walked this morning without a pram. Simple, right?

And then it started to rain. It was midway through dinner and OpaGigi insisted we call a taxi to take us back home when they went to the meeting. Being pretty familiar with rain, I thought the whole thing a bit silly, but agreed because there was precious cargo.

Then OpaGigi left for their meeting and we waited for our taxi. The rain didn't stop.  "The roads are flooded, it will be another 30 minutes" the restaurant hostess told us a while after OpaGigi left. "Should I just walk it? It's only 25 minutes to walk." I asked when the rain seemed to lighten up a bit and there was still no sign of a taxi. "I wouldn't do that" she said checking a weather radar app on her phone and holding it out to me, "it's going to hit us again in 15 minutes."

So we waited another 20 minutes until the hostess returned. "I'm so sorry, I just called to check on your cab and they said the roads are flooded and they can't take any appointments. I tried every company in town and same thing. I'm sorry!" 

It looked wet out there, but we didn't have much of a choice so we braved it. After two blocks we were already starting to get soaked. You got cold so I took off my sweater and gave it to you, which left me pretty bare in my white camisole. I put on at shirt we bought Papa earlier that day, re-covered Rafa with all we had (a muslin), and carried on. A few doors later and we ducked under cover.
That's when I started texting OpaGigi. Just to let them know where we were walking should they be done and want to rescue us. They weren't done.

We walked a few more doors, rain dripping from our noses, and ducked under cover again. By now, we'd walked 2.5 blocks and it was clear the Adien & Anais solution wasn't going to hold up. I wasn't getting texts back from OpaGigi (I had the meeting time mixed up, they were still in there with phones off) and there were still no taxis in sight. We hid under cover waiting for the rain to let up, but this wasn't that kind of rain. It just kept coming stronger. By now the streets were running with water and we were watching the cars splash through puddles.... And then we saw it: Cookies on King.

A tiny, empty, cookie shop just across the intersection that offered warm cookies and cold milk. I had stories in my bag and there were huge queen chairs in the window. Our saving grace. You picked out a cookie for me and you and we did just that. Cookies, milk and stories until OpaGigi saw our texts and Opa came rushing to our rescue in his big red Model A truck. 

But by then all was right with the world and there was no rush. Cookies and milk sort of have a way of making any day seem warm and fuzzy. Specially when they're shared with you and Rafa.

I love you,


Rafa's Beach Day

Dear Rafa,

You are quickly becoming the beach dude you were born to be. It seems such a drastic change from the rainy life I've lived the past 15 years, that it's hard to believe this is all you've ever known. You've got it pretty good kid.

But then, I guess you know that.

I love you, 


Monday, 15 September 2014

Gigi's Spa

Dear Pia,

Your Gigi treated you to a special spa day. It started with a nail salon she set up at your table in the kitchen, complete with mini-fan to dry your hot pink nails (which you insist are touched up daily-even to Opa who explains each day that nail polish is really more a Gigi specialty).

After you approved of your nails and had proudly showed them off to all, we headed out to the hair salon. As it was your spa day, we opted for the shampoo, but you were a bit, well, terrified. A few tears later you were safely in your red car and watching Tangled on TV while our Suthurn Chav did your hair speaking broken English all the while. Whatever the means, we all approved of the outcome.

Then Gigi took you to a special shop full of frills and sparkles and let you pick your outfit for the day. You chose this of course.

Which is apparently your princess costum outside the house, because your dresses have to stay inside (mainly).

Today you wore it all though Second Saturday on Kings Street, and got more attention than the musicians there trying to. A tour guide stopped to bow and others in his group followed suit.

This musician serenaded you: "You're the cutest thing I ever did see-ee-ee..." But that made you a bit shy.

Still you managed a few dollars into his guitar case, very timidly and with Gigis help.

I love your royal highness,



Dear Pia,

Life after Aunt Susie and Uncle Bonkers has returned to normal at OpaGigi's house. You and I went on a morning croissant date to the local coffee shop.

We sent this photo to Papa because while walking home you suddenly declared, "Papa has never seen my belle dress!"
Rafa has gotten pretty good at using his hands to keep the chupete in and even suck his fingers.
Opa took over the tedious job of feeding you sugar... It's tough, but someone's got to do it.
And we acquainted ourselves with the Lowcountry Children's Museum where there is a whole castle inside the AC.
Some water play...
And books of course. You always find the books.
I love that about you. 

I love you,


Sunday, 14 September 2014

Grin and Coo

Dear Rafa,

We already knew you were the best sleeper in the whole wide world of baby-dom, but this week you surpassed your own triumphs. For two nights running you gave me 6+ Hours of straght sleep. One night, you slept 7 whole hours. I've not felt this good in months. Like, 9 of them.

Of course by now we're back to normal sleeping patterns, which is still nothing to complain about. But all this sleep is certainly paying off. You are growing so much and you are learning all along the way. 

During the day you're awake more and more. We love to see you respond to our goofy baby talk. (Sorry buddy, but your responses are really only encouraging us.)  You smile, you coo and you wiggle your arms and legs in excitement. I'm beside myself with pride. 

I love you,


Shopping with Gigi

Dear Pia,

You and Gigi love to play shopping. Right this moment, Gigi is "playing" the crazy neighborhood lady shopping in your store with a snake for a scarf (she's a Floridian, she can't be blamed). There's an old banana and Gigi asked if it was on sale. You agreed. "For how much?" She asked holding the soggy blackened banana up with her pinching fingers.

"Three-two-hundred dollahs." You replied. (A bit unsure of your words at first but feeling better about it once you got to the dollars bit.)

"Three-two-hundred-dollars!?" Gigi asked? "That's an expensive banana. Can I get a better discount? How about five cents?"

"Otay, yea, five cents, yea!" You nodded your head in agreement.

Gigi and I think you're the best discount giver ever.

I love you,


Friday, 12 September 2014

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Aunt Candy and Uncle Bonkers

Dear Pia,

This week you and Rafa met your Aunt Candy and Uncle Bonkers for the first time. Aunt Candy came right in with treats for you and it was about 10 minutes before you had her by the finger, dragging her through the house to play. Rafa was a little less animated at first, but at dinner time he came alive (as babies do). So while you played with Aunt Susie and I made dinner with Gigi, he got held by Uncle Bonkers, the Baby Whisperer, who put him straight to sleep.

Aunt Candy was determined to live up to her name with fulfilling all of your candy-coated dreams, but when I told her you are relatively green in the candy department and to please go easy, she obliged and switched to showering you with Frozen paraphernalia and then this:

Aunt Candy worked on Rafa's smiles and coos and she was getting some pretty good success, though, of course, none caught on camera.

She did however, manage to get some sugar into you, which (shocking, I know) instantly turned you from a sweet reserved little princess into a crazy toddler bouncing around the kitchen and screaming. And while that did help me prove my point about why American kids are C-R-A-Z-Y, it wasn't really what we wanted to deal with right before dinner. Luckily, Aunt Candy knew just how to take care of that behavior.

You'd been carrying around a couple snakes you found (one plastic, one stuffed) lying about the house for a few days when Opa declared we were going to the zoo to see some real live snakes. Cue Charlestowne Landing, the first ground reached by English settlers. After a bit of a scuffle with the lady who was reluctant to give us an extra map (they don't come free with annual pass purchases apparently), we visited the museum where you slept and Rafa nursed waiting for the oldies to get their fix. Finally we made our way through the heat to the animals and you saw your very first Buffalo, some deer, some scary wolves and fugly turkeys. But only one pretend snake. The good news was you didn't much care, cause you had your people and your people had you and all was good.

Your Uncle Bonkers is quite the chef and we made him work night and day once we tasted his cooking. He is the original Sweedish Pancake man so we got our fill of those (you had 3, I had 6!!) then tasted scrummy cornbread, pizzas and omelets.

Basically we sat at the kitchen island while he cooked and Aunt Candy served. Life was getting pretty good there for awhile. Add the buckets of Candy Aunt Candy gathered for us and it was all a little too good.

We made sure to take them out a bit too. We visited SNOB, for the best grits in town and then stopped off at Sweet CeCe's for dessert... obviously.

When we told you we were going there, you declared, "I know the way!" and so we followed and you showed them the way in. When you saw the sign, you were so excited about it you did a dance right there on the sidewalk. "Worth the price of admission" Uncle Bonkers declared, but I liked how you finished your chocolate fro-yo with chocolate chips, m&ms and sprinkles (your standard) and then walked all the way home without your feet ever touching the ground best.

And this:

I guess your Uncle Bonkers and Aunt Candy were happy to finally get to see you and your bother. And I know we were very happy to get to see them!

I love you,


Belle in Charleston

Dear Pia and Rafa,

Aside from the obvious reason for traveling 10 hours to Charleston, we really wanted to come so that you could meet your Aunt Candy and Uncle Bonkers when they visited OpaGigi.  When we got in on Thursday night, we had some time to kill before they arrived on Sunday. We spent our days running through the house re-familiarizing ourselves with the toys and the loved-ones that live here. 

Rafa and I worked hard at capturing that smile on camera by Auntie Ali's request. But mostly we got other this one.

Pia was a good helper to Opa who expertly painted the walls amidst their redecorating. Sometimes you had to stop for refreshments.

(And if I didn't watch you closely, that usually meant nibbling a few bites off an apple before putting it back to try the next one in the bowl. I think to reenact Snow White again and again.)

Usually Pia was Belle, but sometimes she was Ariel or Quern Elsa (though the long gown was a bit of a safety hazard so your Gigi rightly ruled it out.). Mostly the princesses had to stay inside the house, but on occasion, we let her inner-princess shine. This week marked the reinstatement of the afternoon nap. But only while we were on the go. Great for Pia & Rafa, but a little less good for Mama. (Where's my nap?!) ;)

Your Opa reinstated the clock tradition of RUNNING to catch the clock each time it "dings". You were almost in tears if we almost missed it, so we all played along.  As the days passed, this usually amounted to Pia screaming at the sound of the clock and dragging whomever was with her to hear it ding and then declaring, "Opa missed it!". Poor Opa, he was probably crying in his room at the thought. 

Gigi taught Pia how to play a game of "he loves me" and so they spent each morning picking flower petals and discussing the people who loved them.

In the daytime we did what we do in Charleston. Gigi showed Us a big fountain to play in:

She also took us to Target:

Pia dressed up the baby Prince....which Rafa liked this much:

(Sorry buddy, but there's probably plenty more where that came from.) but Big Sister Pia isn't all bad. She's good for cuddle puddles too.

Then Opa Gigi gave Pia and I a special treat and let us have our girls date. We went to Sullivan's Island to play on the beach. To you, that meant, running up and down the huge beach (low tide!) and when that wasn't enough, chucking the floatie into the wind so we could chase that up and down the beach. Eventually we wrapped up and went for a special treat on the way home.

Sweet CeCe's. Since then we've become regulars. Obviously.

By the time we made it home, Aunt Candy and Uncle Bonkers were in. And that, my darlings, deserves a post for itself!

I love you,