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The slow life…

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I take a daily walk along the Batumi Boulevard which is down the street from our house. People have been enjoying it since 1881!

It has been a few weeks since I have written. Time goes fast somehow when you are doing absolutely nothing! Each day I wake up, we have breakfast at home, and then we wonder what we should do for the day. Luckily, there is no shortage of things to do in Batumi in the summer these days! Will write more about that later.

A quiet garden path along the boulevard.

It is really nice to just slow down and enjoy each day. I worry I may have a hard time going back to work now that I am getting used to the lazy life. Of course, back home when my husband (and everyone else) was going to work each day and I was home alone…that was no fun. It is much better when you have company. Alone, I was getting bored. However, my baby is now 8.5 months and can do a lot more than he could before. Also, it was winter/spring before and life is always easier in the summer!

Am sure life will get busy and hectic once again so for now, we are just enjoying the slow life. So glad we chose to do this as we may never get such an opportunity again. Hope we keep making the most of each day!

The Collonades.

The bamboo forest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lots of public art along this 7km stretch.

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Booming Batumi…

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The upside down restaurant. A crazy Batumi building.

So, last week we packed up our things and our baby and took some long hellish flights to finally land in the Republic of Georgia-my husband’s homeland! It was not an easy journey and we expected our little one to give us a hard time but it turned out that he was pretty easy and slept most of the way despite plane changes and airport layovers.

We landed in the middle of the night at the Tbilisi airport, were out one suitcase that the first airline promised to get to us soon, and were met by my husband’s family. They were excited to see us and had a nice comfortable car (that we shipped over to them about 5 years ago) for the long drive to their city-Batumi. They refused to stay at a hotel as they were excited to get us home.

Tower with Ferris Wheel embedded in it.

Batumi is a city on the Black Sea and it is a very interesting place. It is a strange mix that draws tourists as there is something for everyone. Now, I have not been in the country since 2011 so was quite surprised to see all the changes. I knew of them from the internet but seeing them is surreal. The city is WAY different! There are now many skyscrapers, more crazy buildings (which there always were but now there are more and they are more crazy…hahaha…just check out the photos!), more casinos, more hotels, way more Russian and other tourists, more shops, more restaurants, more clubs etc etc etc…you get the picture. It is crazy to see how much change took place in 7 years.

Restaurant at the top!

After we got a bit settled in at our flat (which we purchased last year…perfect timing!) and did some visiting with family I decided to slip away and take a long walk with the baby to rediscover all my old haunts. Some are still there and some are gone. I was hit by nostalgia seeing my old flat (which is now behind an iron gate and for sale…maybe by the French-Georgian owner that rented it to me?) and my old neighbourhood in Old Batumi. I had a great time in this crazy city which is now booming like never before. I think Saakashvili’s vision is coming to pass…though perhaps not exactly as he hoped. My walk about made me realize how much I have changed as well. Though I wish some things would remain the same, life is not like that and will stop for no one so you better get on with it and enjoy while you can.

I definitely look forward to discovering this mad city and country all over again this next month or so. Will try to share some posts and photos often!

I am 36 now…

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I just had my birthday a few weeks ago. I am 36. It was not a good birthday. In fact, it was the most miserable one ever. But, it is just a day and it will not define my year. I have been a bit lazy with this blog due to the recent changes in the family but will make an effort to get back to it! The good news is that I have put together my list of 36 things to do this year. If all goes well, should be a great year.

Onwards…

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It has been a little over 3 weeks since my father passed. In some ways it feels like years. So much has happened and so many emotions have coursed through me in this last while. Writing my last post last week really did help me a lot. I realize writing has always been a great tool for me. It was in this last post that I quoted a Robert Herrick poem about making the most of time. I have been thinking a lot about the poem and how to apply the message to my life.

I am not sure yet, in the grande scheme of things, of how to live up to this message but, in the short term, I have decided we will move to eastern Europe for the rest of the summer after all. My siblings promised to take turns living with my mother (who will be upset to see her grandchild go off with us) and we will be back in a few months for another short stay before starting work. The good news is that mom will be taking a trip with one of my sisters for a few weeks as well. I think it will do her a lot of good.

It is hard but we all must move forward in this new life of ours-our life without our father. This has been my first real experience with death in the family and it is horrible but, I must remember, something that almost everyone must go through at some point. For all those who are left behind, I wish them comfort. To all those who have moved on, I wish them peace. But again, the most important thing of all, is to live, live, live, and live before it is too late.

The unthinkable…

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The last few weeks have been tough. The unthinkable happened. My father passed away unexpectedly in the night. Our family is heartbroken, shocked, and will be picking up the pieces for a long time. My dear dad left us far too soon and with no warning at all. By some strange coincidence all of us (his adult children)-except one-were nearby. Seeing my aunts and uncles, cousins, family friends, and his friends cry broke my heart further. People were standing at his funeral as every available seat was taken. All my siblings had the courage to say a few words but I could not as I knew I would not be able to say a word without falling apart. My poor mom is still in shock and we all cling to her and support her in the ways we know how. I cry every day and it is impossible not to think of him. He was the fabric that was woven into the tapestry of my life that has now been ripped out…which can no longer been seen or touched but left to memory, photos, and videos. We all have a thousand what ifs and if onlys on our minds. Friends and family came for weeks to offer comfort, food, and some had advice on how to cope as they had gone through the same in the recent past. It was comforting at times and hellish at times to receive these visitors. Now things are settling down but nothing is the same. A new chapter in life is starting. One I never wanted to deal with  and always dreaded. One I thought was far away. One without my dad. My dad who has always been there. The one who was proud of me at times, angry at me at times, but who always loved me. I do not know what life will be like after this. So far it has been dark and grey. I know time will heal, the good memories will stay, that he is at peace, and that everyone must deal with this at some point in their lives but I wish we had more time. We had so many plans for this year and so many things that we were looking forward to as a family that will now never come to pass. The course of our lives is altered but an important lesson has been learned. Life is short…so live it well and “gather ye rosebuds while ye may.”

The flights are booked…

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Alright, it is official! A few months ago I wrote this post indicating we may move to Eastern Europe in May until October when my parental leave ends. Well, things have changed. We have decided I will return to work early (in September) and let my husband take the last two months of our paid parental leave. Before that, he is going to take some unpaid time and we are going to make the move to Europe at the end of June for the rest of the summer.

This week I booked our tickets. A “direct” flight (which means 1-2 plane changes etc) to his country would cost us $5,000 or more. So, I was able to work out that we could first fly to France and book a separate flight to Georgia and save over $2,000! This $2,000 can come in handy in many ways. For example, I suggested to the husband that, on the way back, we take some time in France to enjoy. So, we look forward to a fun roadtrip at the end of August. I am thinking that the south of France and the French Riviera sound perfect. Too bad it is high season!

Anyway, I am definitely looking forward to enjoying two months of quality time. There may never be an opportunity to do this again (although I am sure I will try hard to find one!).

Roadtrip 2018: The Oregon Coast & Portland!

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My favourite breakfast.

I love a good roadtrip. You never know what you will see along the way or what may happen. It was a last minute decision to pack up and take a roadtrip to the Oregon coast last weekend to celebrate Mother’s Day (and since my husband had a few days off). It was our first trip with our baby as well (who was a pretty good boy most of the time!). We also brought along some family to hang out with (one of them had some bad news in the last few days and there is nothing like a trip to get your mind off things!).

We started by driving to Eugene where we spent the night. We had a really late start in the day as we made the choice to go on the trip earlier that day so not much else happened that day. We just wanted to get an early start at the coast the next day or we would have skipped Eugene entirely. Our hotel had a cool lobby and their restaurant overlooked the river and had delicious heuvos rancheros which I just devoured. Totally my favourite breakfast.

What an amazing landscape!

We then headed west for an hour or so to get the the Oregon coast. There, we made our way to Dunes City where Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area starts. This is the coolest place and the dunes were better than the ones in Egypt. The sand is really nice here. We rented some ATVs and had a real adventure. I have to admit I was a bit scared at first of a few things: 1). tipping over 2). falling over a dune cliff which is very hard to detect 3). not being able to control the ATV or get up hills BUT as I got more comfortable I was able to relax, speed up hills, go near the edge of dune cliffs and not damage the ATV or myself. I loved the adventure/adrenaline but also the scenery. It is a neat landscape. If you want, you can drive all the way to the beach but it was too far to do within the time we rented for.

The iconic doughnut shop!

Once we finished up we planned to have local wine and a picnic lunch on the beach. However, it suddenly grew colder, windier, and cloudy. I was a bit annoyed as the forecast indicated it would be a hot weekend. So, we had lunch in town instead and then drove north up the coast. We drove through cute beach towns, stopped to see scenic views, saw some lighthouses, and the Devil’s Churn etc. It was very beautiful. We wanted to go to Cannon Beach since one of our family members had never been but it started to rain so we figured there would be no point. However, if you have never been there, it is worth a visit! Anyway, we also wanted to tour the Tillamook Cheese Factory but it was closed so we decided to head over to Portland for the night. We got there pretty late and despite plans to eat somewhere cool, we ended up being tired and ordered pizza and went to bed.

The next day we hung out in Portland before heading home. I decided I wanted to splurge as a new mother and have something yummy. Having never been to the famous Voodoo doughnuts, I decided it was time for a visit. The day was beautiful (of course we needed the day before to be nice but it wasn’t!). Luckily there was only a small line but by the time we got to the front I knew what I wanted. I chose TWO doughnuts. The first was chocolate peanut. This was the cheaper one and only okay. Any place could have made this one. The second was the next level in price and was awesome. It was a vanilla base and was drizzled with chocolate and caramel and had a lot of peanut butter on it or in it (yes, I have been loving peanut butter lately!). That doughnut was totally worth it!

You can fill this up for over $100 for your next party.

After that we wandered over to an outdoor market that was taking place. All this was going on while dealing with many panhandlers. Portland has A LOT of them. The streets are also filthy compared to many cities around where I live. Anyway, there was a lot of nonsense for sale at the market. Things I think only tourists would buy so not sure how they stay open all year. We did come upon a caricature artist and my husband had his drawing done. The woman was from Korea and had been trained there. She did an amazing job. Yesterday I just picked up a cool frame from a second hand shop for it.

After the market we were ready for a late lunch. We headed over to Burnside Brewery on the recommendation of someone at the market. They were only serving brunch-but had burgers too so that worked for us. We chilled at the restaurant and then made our way back home with a few other shopping stops along the way for family members who needed this or that.

It was a nice weekend and so great to get away even for just a bit. Afterwards my husband said he felt refreshed and ready to go back to work. He said a short break makes him appreciate and enjoy his job more.

I also learned a few things about traveling with a baby. 1). I totally overpacked. 2). Long hours in the carseat can be hell-bring more toys and learn more songs! 3). Need to get that fold-able portable highchair so it is easier to feed our little guy.