Monday, February 27, 2017

Our life lately

Lately, I've been posting more informational posts about Baku, but I would like to give you all a little update on us.
This morning, a FB post memory popped up in my feed today. It was from 2 years ago, when we found out our assignment to Baku, Azerbaijan. We didn't really know what to expect as we had never heard anything about this country, and were just hoping that it would be nicer than our previous post, Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. We have been in Baku for about 5.5 months now and are very happy here.
We have very little to complain about. Of course, it's not Germany and life is not as easy as it is in the US, but it's a pretty good place to live, especially compared to many other posts we could have been sent to.
Since the cost of living is generally lower than it is in the US or Germany, we are able to have a comfortable life here while still reaching our savings goals - yay!

We really love the city. It is such a beautiful city, they call it the "Paris of the East" for a reason (there are 21 more "Parises of the East," but of course, Baku is the one and only true "Paris of the East").
There are many small parks throughout the city where William can run around, wave at everybody, and chase the birds.
We love that there are so many things to see and do in the city as well as outside of Baku, and usually prices are very reasonable.

The downtown area is full of these beautiful buildings, hence the title "Paris of the East"

This is the first time we live a city life. We live about a 10-minute walk away from the embassy, and it only takes about 20 minutes to walk to the main downtown area, and 5 more minutes to walk to the Boulevard. An Uber taxi ride to the downtown area takes about 4 minutes and only costs about $1.

We also really like our new home. When we first arrived, I was not too sure about our apartment that we were assigned to. We never saw any pictures of it before our arrival, so we weren't really sure what to expect. When we entered the house, it wasn't love at first sight, but after decorating it with our stuff, moving around furniture (not our own), hanging pictures and new paintings that we bought here, it has become a very cozy apartment.
Something that we really like about our apartment is that it feels very private. It feels a lot more private than our row house in Jeddah. Well, except the loud noise from the kids from upstairs running around at night and sometimes even waking up William #apartmentlife

After - I'm not a fan of the government furniture, especially the green-gold corduroy-like couches, but I think I did decent job working with the furniture (or rather drawing attention away from them)

Melissa: I'm still staying at home with William. I recently applied and got interviewed for a position at the embassy to slowly go back to working. Although we both like to have more of a "traditional" family, I feel it's good to stay at least a little bit connected to the work field.
Unfortunately, with the recently ordered hiring freeze, embassies around the world can't post any new position openings, interview people, and offer a job. By the time this freeze is over and I get a security clearance, we're probably already moving again :-/ Oh well...
But besides that, I'm very happy here. I enjoy being at home, spending time with William, cooking and baking, and making Anthon happy with good food.

Korean food is among our favorite cuisines. Unfortunately, there is no Korean restaurant here, so I'm learning to make more and more Korean dishes

Anthon and I have been married for almost 7 years now - crazy! We still have a wonderful relationship and we both feel that we lucked out. We share our love for cooking, baking, making music and traveling. Something that I love about our relationship is that it is so drama-free. We are both pretty easy going and we're good at communicating with each other. So, we hardly ever argue, and if we do, then it's usually over within an hour and we end up cuddling again :-)

Anthon really likes his job as the Facility Manager of the embassy. He likes his co-workers and we hang out with many of them on a personal basis. Luckily, there are several people that live very close to where we live, which makes it easy to hang out.
Anthon and I have been interested in cooking for a while, but recently, Anthon decided to take his cooking skills to a new level and he now follows several food vlogs for inspiration. He bought a very nice pan a few weeks ago, and has been working on mainly egg dishes so far #wewillneverbeskinny

Hanging out with co-workers and making Russian Pelmeni for the first time

                                     Besides being the best husband, he's also a great "Papa" 💕

It was Anthon's birthday yesterday! 

Most foreign service people, and just expats in general, have a house help and I swore to myself a while ago that I would never get one. I like being at home and I actually like doing household chores.
But when we first got here, William was still soooooo clingy and whiny and it was difficult to get much done. In addition to that, we were looking for a babysitter who could watch William when we go out for our weekly date night, when I need to go to the orthodontist every 2 weeks, and other occasions.
So, after talking to many embassy folks, we decided to give it a try and hire a house help. Most, if not all expat couples and families here have some kind of house help, nanny or even a driver.
I honestly wasn't sure if I would like having somebody at my house all the time (more like 3 days and 2 nights/week), but our house help has been a huge blessing. It feels like having a good friend or a favorite aunt with me during the day, so I don't feel lonely here. She also helps me understand the culture better, negotiates prices for me when we're out and about, and helps with translation. We are both a taurus and understand each other's character very well, and have a very similar work ethic, which helps a lot. We both do whatever needs to be done in the house. I think we have found a good balance of working together while having a lot of fun with each other.
Since I don't have to worry about some chores now, I do get to spend a lot more time with William, which is great. William might be a single child, but he always has somebody to play with :-)

I was a little worried at first that I would loose "my purpose" as a house wife, but I'm surprised that 4 hands are almost not enough to run a household. There is always more to be done. Story of every housewife's life :-)
We had to adjust our budget for having a house help, which is not super cheap here, and sometimes we miss having that money more to spend, but it's still so worth it to have her. She has become part of our family and calls us her "children" :-) We love her!


William is 22 months old now. I feel like he's finally getting a little easier. Until recently, he was soooo clingy. He wanted to be held all the time and could not play by himself, but he's getting much better, and he's starting to be able to keep himself busy while mommy is cooking or taking a shower.
And that's when people hint to us to start thinking about the next one. But we are not there yet.... like zero. William has been a real tough baby, and I don't think it's only because we are first time parents. We've been around other kids a lot and I think William was just not a chill baby. Every time I see a cute baby, I just think to myself how glad I am that this stage is over. We're not sure if we want to go through all this again... at least at this point.
It's honestly getting pretty annoying to hear all these hints about a second baby.
It is one of the most personal decisions that you make as a couple, and for us, annoying (but I know well-meant) comments are not going to influence our decision.
So, if you see me the next time and I have a little tummy, it's probably just fat from all the taste testing of Anthon's new dishes, and the good food here in Azerbaijan. Especially the delicious traditional Azeri bread "Tendir" and honey, and the doughnut-like "Poncik".

Ponçik - sooo yummy when they're fresh, and they only cost $0.08 each!
It's so hard to resist when I walk by a stand that sells them... so, I usually just give in :-)

So, here are a few things that William likes right now at 22 months:

- rice, apples, pomegranate seeds, salami
- counting 1,2,3 and saying "wooow"
- kissing (he gives us kisses aaaaall the time and makes a loud and long "muah" sound with it)
- waving at everybody and say "bye-bye"
- pretend phone calls consisting of two words: Hello (which he pronounces as "anno?") and Bye-Bye
- kicking his soccer ball in the park, puzzles
- rhythms (he claps a certain rhythm all the time, and imitates the beat of every music he hears)
- massages: we massage him with oil every night after his bath and before bed. That's pretty much the only time he will stay still for longer than 5 seconds. He just lays there, totally relaxed. He especially likes foot massages
- walking in mommy's shoes
- climbing on tables
- Ipad (it's been a life-saver on car rides, flights, eating out, etc)

The climbing phase has officially begun. I was even right there cooking and didn't notice that he had climbed up. He's sooo quick and quiet! Oh boy! 


This is how he dances :-)

1, 2, 3


And a few other silly things

What William doesn't like:
- potatoes (any shape, trust me, I've tried to feed him soooo many different potato dishes, different shapes and textures, different seasonings, but he will not eat potatoes)
- actually most foods, he is such a picky eater, he doesn't even eat pancakes, muffins or bananas which most children love
- diaper changes, especially his pants on during diaper changes (he will kick them off like a crazy rodeo horse), getting dressed, brushing his teeth, being put in a stroller (we call him our little free-range chicken)
- sitting still (3 seconds is his max)
- and as we found out last weekend, he doesn't care about carousels either :-)

Anthon put him on so many different things, but he just didn't like it :-)

But besides that, he's a really cute boy. It's cute to see how much affection kids can already show at such a young age. And it's amazing to see how fast they learn things. Sometimes, when I buy toys like puzzles that I bought two weeks ago, I oftentimes think that it will take him a while to get the hang of it and play with them, but then you give it to him and he just starts putting the pieces into the right places.

So yeah, this was a little update on us.
We are excited to travel to Tbilisi, Georgia next month for a week and see what the city is like. Anthon's parents are going to fly out to Tbilisi to meet us there, which will be fun. We have heard many good things about the city and the food there and can't wait to try some fresh Khachapuri. We've been to a Georgian restaurant here in Baku once and really liked the food.
This spring, we're also going on a longer trip to Germany, Italy and Southern France, which I think is going to be one of our most awesome vacations ever. I've always wanted to see the lavender fields in the Provence and see the cities along the Cote-d'Azur.
So, if you have any sightseeing or food recommendations for any of these places, please let us know!

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