Happy New Year! Chaya recently learned to toast and say “cheers”. She rang in the new year with style – sipping a pomegranate spritzer and then indulging in a bubble bath. She knows how to live!!
She loved the holidays. She played at the beach in Florida over Thanksgiving. Then, trampled through the snow in Flagstaff, AZ on Christmas. She also loved helping Serena make Christmas cookies.
Hands down, her favorite gifts were her new tunnel and her kitty cat whom she affectionately refers to as Meow Meow. It is fair to say she is obsessed with her cat. She wakes up saying Meow Meow, insists on wearing her cat t-shirt and feeds him several times a day.
Chaya’s other obsession is her new baby cousin, Imala, whom she loves to hug and kiss. She really is a lover . After meow meow, her favorite saying is “more mala please.”
In fact, we just received an e-mail from the parent of a kid in her daycare who recounted how Chaya’s hugs and kisses helped her little one ease back into the daycare routine after the holidays.
Other than loving friends, she is learning her colors, attempting to eat with chopsticks and taking care of her baby dolls. The best is her new passion for Ethiopian food. Much to our delight a new Ethiopian restaurant opened here in New Orleans and she loves dipping her injira bread into the spicy food. Amazing!
We are so in love! We fall in love with her over and over again each day! She is such a lover herself, smiling at and blowing kisses to everyone. Her laugh is intoxicating and she has a language all her own. It includes a fair amount of understandable words – apple, please, more, pickle – and a lot of her own babbling. Munya Munya means dog or cat. Baba means grandpa. JKBFjegfkBKFUGO means, damn, I am having fun!!!
Chaya has progressed from walking to running, from bouncing to dancing and from eating with her fingers to demanding a fork. She even puts herself to bed now. The other day she took my finger and Jason’s and walked us to the bed, layed herself down and closed her eyes. For those of you who have indulged in our night time rituals you know this is a HUGE step for Chaya and for us.
Here is our favorite 15 month old in action:
Our friend Luz has spent the past two weeks with us in New Orleans while doing a rotation at Tulane Hospital. On one of our recent car rides home from the park, she interviewed a sweaty Chaya Leo. Here is what Chaya had to say:
Our first summer in New Orleans has been amazing! From jazz to jumbalya, the bayou to beignets, swimming pools to snowballs, Chaya has had a blast exploring her new home! We can hear the click and clatter of the streetcar from our condo. It’s remisnicsent of the subway but much less invasive. We’ve been lucky enough to meet some wonderful people who have quickly become friends. New Orleans really is a small big town where you can meet someone at the playground one day, and be sitting next to them in yoga the next. It’s sweet and definitely has made our transition easier.
Chaya turned one on July 31st and celebrated with her grandparents and great grandparents. She indulged in all things good – cupcakes, ice cream and chocolate!! The next day, she was serenaded by a jazz band – watch below.
Since her birthday, she has been walking and at moments, running. Talking and laughing. Her favorite words are “hot”, “this” and “baby”. She really is so much fun! Over the course of the summer she fell in love with watermelon, cherries and peaches. She started daycare last week in anticipation of Serena returning to work. It was an exciting and sad moment as it marked the end of a magical year and the beginning of life with friends and other caregivers.
She is keeping it real by continuing to enjoy life’s simple pleasures such as spinning on Jason’s office chair.
Jason is full into the swing of his intern year of residency. The stories he tells are intense and reflect the complicated reality of life in New Orleans five years post Katrina and in the immediate aftermath of the nation’s largest natural disaster. For example, outpatient services are still provided out of the old Lord & Taylor department store donated to the city immediately after hurricane Katrina. Patients admitted to the hospital are wheeled around in wooden wheelchairs. Despite massive media coverage around the oil spill and the 5th anniversary of Katrina the underserved here in New Orleans remain, underserved.
Serena has connected with an amazing group of mom’s who have introduced Chaya to many -a -wonderful thing in New Orleans and Serena to a multitude of contacts to facilitate her job search. The entrepreneurial energy here in New Orleans is high and the possibility of what could be, continues to excite Serena.
It’s been a long time since our last post but I think being in nine cities in the past two months is more than a fair excuse. From the South of France we surprised Serena’s dad in New York City on his 70th birthday. Then, we made our way to New Orleans to look for a place to live. From New Orleans we flew to Seattle, drove to Serena’s brothers’ wedding in Wenatchee, and drove back to Seattle to visit friends and family. Next came Burlington and Jason’s graduation from medical school – a sweet reunion with friends and family. From Burlington to Belchertown to Boston visiting more people. After the northeast we felt nostalgic for the beach so we made our way down to Delray to spend a little more time with Jason’s family and then, finally, to New Orleans. Little Chaya Leo has been on 14 flights in her short life! Somewhere between flights 11-12 we found ourselves running across the airport, bags flailing, hearts pounding, stress ooozing. We looked at eachother and then at Chaya. She was laughing. She gives us such great perspective on life. It is all about the adventure!!
Here are some snapshots from our most recent adventure:
What does one do in a small French seaside town for one month?
Other funny moments:
- Chaya gleefully eating couscous for the first time and half of the restaurant watching and laughing in adoration.
- Jason trying to receive his residency contract from Fed Ex and then trying to fax it to the U.S. via an Algerian run internet cafe where no one can understand his hand writing..
- Serena’s pursuit of a hip French restaurant that landed us in the Warner Brother’s Cafe (an American knock off with crappy hamburgers, french fries, and terrible pasta) – apparently the French think it is hip.
- The wonderful people of La Ciotat.
- Strolling along the waterfront with Chaya Leo in her pushcart.
- Dining on our deck.
- The sea breeze.
- Ascending the stairs of our fifth floor walk-up.
- Asif and Melanie not being able to make it through the ash to celebrate Asif’s 70th in France as planned.
- The three mosquitoes that hovered over and attacked us every night.
- Our inability to understand French business hours of operation.
We have been amazingly lucky to have this month together and as it winds down,we await, with much anticipation, Serena’s brother’s wedding, Jason’s graduation and the beginning of our new life in New Orleans.