Charlie Update: 12 Days Old

Today is a big day. Charlie is 12 days old — and it is our first wedding anniversary with a baby in the world. We’re hoping that Charlie’s gift to us will be a couple of solid stretches of sleep tonight, which he has been getting a bit better at providing lately. He’s eating and growing really well, which makes his parents very happy, even though we may be a bit tired from the short stretches of space between feedings.

Charlie’s Auntie Emily came to visit from Seattle last week, which he fully enjoyed. She cooked us tons of food, including TWO different types of muffins. Delicious.

Other than that, our main excitement has been making trips to the pediatrician’s office, doing lots of baby laundry, and sleeping whenever we’re able to fit it in. Charlie is a joy and here are some photos to show how he’s grown and what he’s been up to lately (hint: lots of napping).

Charlie in the hospital on his first day in the world:
Charlie

Three red-headed conures showed up (for the first time) on the roof of the building next door to us on Charlie’s first day home in the apartment:
Welcome home, Charlie!

Straight-leg Charlie looking very peaceful:
Asleep in frog outfit

Sitting with Auntie Emily:
Sitting with Auntie Emily (crying)

Charlie and Daddy:
Charlie & Daddy

Flexing while sleeping:
Sleeping while flexing

More sleeping:
Charlie swaddled

Introducing Charles Emmett Zink

On Friday July 6th, we welcomed our son Charlie into the world.

Charlie came in at 7 lbs 2 oz and 20.5″ tall. He’s doing great — eating and sleeping like a champ. Mom and Dad are both doing well too.

We’ve got some more photos of him on Flickr.

Life in the city by the bay

Our California-grown baby has still not yet arrived (although we think he will be here very soon), so I’ve been spending my time doing very important tasks like creating photo slideshows of our life in California over the past 1.5 years. Here is a montage of photos that captures visits from friends and family, road trips in CA, and other adventures from our time down here. All photos are in chronological order. Stay tuned for another slideshow once Baby Z is in the world with us!

Baby Z is due today! Where is he?

Today is the Littlest Zink’s due date, but he is still hanging out in my belly. Must be comfy in there. We’re glad he is fully baked, but we’re also getting anxious to meet him and mama is getting anxious to be able to reach her feet comfortably again. As our nephew Spencer would say, “Baby, c’MON.”

In the meantime, here are a few recent belly shots from the last two weeks.

Baby bump at 40 weeks:

Baby bump at 39 weeks:

Deep Breaths in Big Sur

Yesterday was my last full day in the office prior to the Littlest Zink’s arrival, so now I have some time to focus on things like baby-prep errands, naps, nesting, and catching up on our blog! So here we go …

This post will focus on a road-trip adventure Dan and I took in early April, when we drove down the coast for two nights in Big Sur. Big Sur is about three hours south of San Francisco and the coastline surrounding the whole area is completely breathtaking. The photo below is one of my favorites and features what Dan and I dubbed the definition of “happy cows.”

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Abby and Dan with happy cows in the background:
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We stayed at a gorgeous place called Ventana Inn & Spa. It was completely relaxing, with beautiful grounds that featured chairs and hammocks for lounging, along with hot baths, walking trails, and even a few wild turkeys. It was totally quiet there and we spent a lot of time kicking back with good books and admiring the views. Just what we needed.
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On our last morning in Big Sur, we sought out a hiking trail in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park that leads to a beach featuring a waterfall that falls into the sea. It was pretty cool, although it made me question my readiness to actually become a parent because there were so many kids on this particular hiking trail that I was a bit overwhelmed by all of the jumping-off-rockwalls-lining-the-trail and shouting, etc. I am sure these are the things you become acclimated to as a parent, but after our short hike, I was ready to return to the car for more scenic (and quiet) driving home.
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More scenic shots from the drive home, including one of my (very-small-looking) baby bump from a couple of months ago.

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Something NEW to declare

Hello, friends. After over a year of neglect, we are resurrecting this blog and giving it a new focus. Instead of travel stories, we will be sharing news of our baby-to-be and stories about him once he joins us this summer. That’s right. We are expecting a baby boy the first week of July. We are very excited — and now that we have little onesies, a carseat, swaddle blankets, and a bouncy chair in our apartment, it is all feeling very real. All of that, plus my very real and growing belly (as shown below):

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The above photo was taken this afternoon in the park across the street from our apartment in Pacific Heights. We’re approaching our one-year mark in this apartment, and recently passed our one-year mark in San Francisco in late February. The time has flown by and we are having a blast living here. It’s a great city with tons of great food to sample, interesting neighborhoods to explore, and beautiful nature to discover. We will also try to update this blog with some of our California adventures and experiences from the past year.

For now, I’ll just say hello to anyone who is still reading this blog and please look forward to more regular updates about life in California and life as parents-to-be. Soon enough, you can look forward to photos of our little dude.

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The first six weeks in SF

Somehow we have already been in San Francisco for six weeks! It’s hard for us to believe that we arrived here that long ago – but in other ways we feel like we’ve been here forever. Even though I (Abby) have all the time in the world right now, I have not been good about firing up this blog again, so I am going to start with some observations from the past six weeks and we’ll take it from there.

  • Ohmygod it’s sunny! This was our first thought on our first day here after leaving a grey-skyed Seattle and driving through a couple of snowstorms on our way down. It was cold, but sunny, which was a welcome change for a couple of Seattleites who had just escaped winter. (Since then, we’ve had our fair share of days of rain, but no matter.)
  • We must remember how to jaywalk – or at least cross the street when there’s a red hand but no cars coming. I find myself standing at intersections all the time while people flow past me.
  • There are a lot of dogs in this city – and many people walk their dogs without a leash. The owner is always close by, but this is something you don’t see a lot of in Seattle.
  • The food is amazing! We have been eating a TON and enjoying almost all of it. Very fresh produce and a culture that takes its food very seriously.
  • People are quite nice here. We feel very fortunate to have been welcomed warmly by a group of people who are connected to an old friend of Dan’s. They have brought us rock-climbing, wine tasting, and more! I’ve also loved reconnecting with old high-school friends Shannon and Wendy.
  • Wine country is so close! We’ve been out to Sonoma twice already (once with my aunt Meg and once with Casey) and it’s so easy to get there. Another bonus is that it’s supposed to be warm and sunny there during the summer, when we hear it will likely be cold and foggy in SF.
  • There are many places to get good coffee. Blue Bottle is probably my favorite so far, but we also discovered this North Beach café that roasts its own beans.

In other news, we have found a place to live (still in temporary housing now) and will move in with all of our stuff on April 13. Woohoo! Dan has been working a lot, but the commute itself is not as bad as we feared it might be. He has a comfortable bus to ride that takes pretty reliably one hour each way.

Beach w/ graffiti:
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Top of DeYoung Museum:
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Cupcakes:
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North Beach coffeeshop:
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Casey & Abby on bus:
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First day of wandering the city:
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Ao Thong Nai Pan Noi – Our beachfront paradise

OK, we’ve got to be honest with you. Our plans to permanently move to Santhiya Resort didn’t work out. Maybe it was for cultural reasons, maybe the lack of a long-term Thai visa, or perhaps it was the hotel’s unwillingness to give us room and board for free. In any case, after two wonderful nights, we decided to move on to a new hotel on the other side of a rock outcrop in the bay. Our new home was Rasanandra, a new boutique luxury hotel in the center of a larger beach: Ao Thong Nai Pan Noi. Santhiya is technically part of this beach as well, but the rock outcrop separates it from the strip of accomodation on the other side, which included our new place.

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The modern pool at Rasanandra. The benches on the side had buttons that turned on jets.

Upon arrival, we received the typical coconut-milk welcome drinks (western culture really needs to adopt this custom), and were led to our room. The room was amazing — modern in design, clean, it included a small private pool (as all rooms at this hotel do), and oddly — free alcohol. We had a selection of gin, rum, and whiskey, which we were informed would be refilled daily. Strangely, the mixers (tonic, cola, etc.) were in the mini-bar for a charge. Still a pretty good deal. As the cheapskates we are, we bought tonic from the local store down the street and mixed some drinks.

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Free booze

The hotel was amazing. From the pool, to the excellent restaurant, to the complimentary beach snacks (courtesy of the chef), this place was top-notch. Over the course of four days, we were continually asked by the hotel and restaurant managers if there was anything they could do better. There wasn’t.

The beach was great too. Many Thai beach areas are over-developed:

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Parts of Chewang Beach are not so relaxing. Careful with those power lines!

Or underdeveloped (no services). This strip was perfect. There was a selection of good local restaurants and bars at the other guesthouses along the beach, along with a couple convenience stores, an ATM, and laundry services. The sand was white and pure, and extended far out into the water (no rocks). We were in heaven.

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Looking north from our hotel

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The beach in front of our hotel

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The palm tree that we sat beneath in front of our hotel one afternoon

The one last thing worth mentioning during a trip to Ko Phangan are the infamous “full moon parties”. Our little beach was way too chill for serious ravers, and the moon wasn’t full while we were there, but we still got a taste of the action. The “Beach Club” bar down the beach had a fire dancing show (free for anyone to watch) one of the nights we were there. Abby and I had no idea what to expect, but were mesmerized when it started and stayed for a full hour. We will always associate this scene with the Lady GaGa’s “Poker Face”. Definitely worth seeing, even if, like us, you’re not into the rave scene.

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Fire dancing

Our new life on Ko Phangan

Dear Family & Friends,

This is not an easy blog post for us to write, but we wanted to share our news with all of you right away. It is with mixed emotions that we are writing to let you know that we will not be returning home to Seattle from Koh Phangan. The resort that we have called home for the past two nights is simply too wonderful for us to ever leave, so we have decided not to. This is not a decision we made with haste. We treasure our family and friends and the time that we get to spend with all of you. That is why we hope you will all come visit us in our Sea-View Villa at the Santhiya Resort. It has a separate sitting room with a daybed (where we are sitting right now) that would make very comfortable guest quarters. Although we hear it is currently 100 degrees in Seattle, we all know how gray the winter months can be — and that would be the perfect time for you to come visit us on Koh Phangan.

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These wooden buggies transport visitors from their villas to the main lodge/pool area.

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The daybed in our villa, with walkway connecting to bedroom area.

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Interior of our villa, with outdoor bathroom visible through windows behind Abby.

Upon arrival at our new home, you will be treated to a welcome massage and can arrange for a 1.5 hour Thai massage that will cost you a mere US $45. We indulged in such a massage yesterday and cannot remember a time when we felt more relaxed. The lovely ladies who stretched, kneaded, and pulled our muscles chuckled at us at the end of our massage as we lay on our beds underneath the open windows, arms outstretched and unable to move right away after such a luxurious experience. We know you will enjoy this as well when you come to visit us.

Although best known for its epic Full Moon Parties, which involve all sorts of hallucinogenic drugs and “fire dancing,” Koh Phagnan also boasts a beautiful and secluded set of beaches called Ao Thong Nai Pan Yai & Noi. This is where our new home is located on the island. After an almost one-hour journey from the public ferry pier that took us over mountainous dirt roads, with portions so steep that our driver had to turn off the A/C before powering up the craggy rocks, you will arrive at our most lovely resort home with villas tucked away into the jungle. You may also choose to take the resort’s power speedboat directly from the pier, but we recommend the van ride because it really makes you feel like you have embarked upon a daring journey and earned your welcome drink upon arrival at this remote destination.

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Upper eating area at main lodge building.

After dropping off your bags in our villa, we will take you down to the lovely beach for a Beer Chang on one of their tables in the sand. You may remark, like Dan did, that you feel like you are in a James Bond movie. We predict that you will sit for a few moments without even speaking and share the feeling we had of being so extremely lucky in life to be in such a beautiful place with someone you love.

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Beach bar & restaurant area.

And finally, we will reserve a table on the beach for the dinner we will all share during your visit. This is truly an experience you won’t forget. How many times have you sat at a table IN the sand with your shoes off and a torch by your side?

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Dinner on the beach on our second and final night at Santhiya.

Although we will miss Seattle and everyday contact with all of you, we know that our visits together will be even more special in the future because we can share the experience of our new home with you. We have not yet figured out the financial logistics of our decision, but we are hoping that the hotel will let us trade gardening time for permanent residency. If not, we will be collecting donations from our loyal readers. We can’t wait to welcome you to our new home in Koh Phangan!

Love, Abby & Dan

Sawasdee Khrab, Koh Samui!

After nearly 24 hours of travel, we made it all the way from Seattle to Koh Samui, Thailand. The flight was easier than expected, especially since we were able to get a pretty good night of sleep on our red-eye from Seattle to Taipei.

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Taiwanese airport food

Once we landed on the island, we took a taxi from the tiny airport (complete with an open-air luggage carousel) to our hotel just north of Chaweng beach. Here, we were upgraded to an ocean-facing villa, specially decked out for our honeymoon.

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What a way to start the trip! The hotel (Nora Beach Resort) is wonderful, and despite some overcast skies up in Bangkok, there’s no sign of any monsoon down here, but I won’t go on about that since I don’t want to jinx us. We did a little exploring on foot that first night, walking down to Chaweng beach for dinner. Jet-lag quickly set in though, making it an early night for us.

Jet-lag does have its upside, as we woke up first thing Monday morning in time to enjoy a beautiful sunrise on the beach with a cup of coffee.

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