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:

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

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.”


Abby and Dan with happy cows in the background:

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.

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.

More scenic shots from the drive home, including one of my (very-small-looking) baby bump from a couple of months ago.



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):


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.



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:

Top of DeYoung Museum:


North Beach coffeeshop:

Casey & Abby on bus:

First day of wandering the city:

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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?

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

Seattle to Chicago in 4 Minutes

About a month ago, Dan and I decided to go visit his parents and some friends in Chicago. Seeing as we are all about time these days — and had several other family members and friends that we wanted to see between here and the Midwest — we decided to make it a road trip. So we packed up the Civic and set out on Friday, February 13. Although we weren’t sure about the logic of taking a 5,000-mile road-trip in the middle of winter, we got very lucky with the road conditions and passed through only two mild snowstorms.

We were equipped with a Magellan Roadmate that was Dan’s birthday gift from his parents this year, as well as Dan’s iPhone. Between these two gadgets, we were able to keep an eye on the weather, find non-fast-food restaurants in random towns, and entertain ourselves with a range of podcasts (a few favorites: Stuff You Should Know and the New Yorker’s Fiction Podcast).

Between Seattle and Chicago, we visited one of my dear college friends, several members of the Beller clan, and also stopped by Dan’s alma mater, the University of Illinois. It was a great trip and we documented much of it in the video below. Stay tuned for another short video of our return trip.

(Hint: The video quality is better if you hit the red “HQ” button.)

On the road again…

After a couple of months back in Seattle, Dan and I are once again on the road. We set out this morning in the Civic on a road trip to Chicago, where we will spend a few days with Dan’s family. On the way, we are making a few brief stops to visit friends and some members of the Beller clan. Instead of four months, this trip will be limited to about two weeks and will not require the use of passports. We have also left the backpacks at home and are traveling with our roller suitcases instead. It was a funny feeling to check into our hotel this evening in Boise. This marks our first night in a hotel since the big trip and it’s hard not to fall back into the immediate room assessment of noise level, cleanliness, and safety. I’m happy to report that Boise’s lovely Shilo Inn meets our requirements on all fronts.

Our trip commenced at about 8:00a.m. and after stops in Yakima, Wash., and Pendleton, Ore., we pulled into Boise around 5:30p.m. It was a very scenic drive and showcased the differences between mountainous/green Western Washington and low-lying/dry Eastern Washington. The weather posed no problems for us and we’re hoping it continues to cooperate for the rest of our drive. To top off our evening, Dan had secretly researched Boise restaurants prior to our departure, so we easily located and enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Le Cafe de Paris in downtown Boise.

Abby taking photos at a viewpoint on I-82 north of Yakima

Another shot from the viewpoint on I-82 north of Yakima

Abby posing in front of the diner where we ate lunch in Pendleton, Oregon

I-84, East of Pendleton

I-84, driving out of a mountain range

I-84 rest stop

In Europe, even the police are stylish

Over the course of our six weeks in Europe, we observed many fashion trends that I thought would be of interest to our readers at home. I’m also curious to see whether some of these trends will make the jump across the Atlantic and turn up on our own streets and in our own shop windows. I’ve done some research since we returned home and at least a few of the trends shown below are already making an appearance stateside — with a bit of controversy, in some cases.

In this post, I’ll cover the following trends:

  • Wedding couture
  • Men in orange pants
  • Italian police apparel
  • Drop-crotch pants
  • Stirrup pants

Wedding couture
While walking around Rome (our first stop in Italy) on a beautiful weekend afternoon, we spotted several soon-to-be-married couples posing for photos in their full wedding attire. It was hard not to notice a trend of quite over-the-top outfits, such as dresses with many layers of cascading ruffles and suits fashioned out of shiny, sharkskin-inspired material. While not my personal style, these were still swank pieces and definitely constituted a “look.”

A couple poses in Rome on their wedding day.

Men in orange pants
It was in Florence, Italy, that I began to notice the trend of men wearing bright orange — and sometimes yellow — trousers. Throughout our time in Italy I continued to spot very stylish, middle-aged men who pulled off the look with panache. The whole idea reminded me a bit of Nantucket red pants in the way this look gave an air of relaxed class.

Fashionable orange trousers in Milan. (Here’s another great photo from The Sartorialist’s blog.)

Italian police apparel
I was impressed by the stylish uniforms and accessories that the Italian police force wore and thought the overall look was completely fitting. The photo below is a representative sample of what we saw all over Italy — white leather bag, white leather belt with hooks for various tools, and dapper white hats. Also, take note of the civilized white leather gun holster. In this traveler’s opinion, the attire of the Italian police force puts our American counterparts to shame in terms of style and polish.
Street police in Florence. We’re fairly certain this was a friendly encounter between police and casual walkers.

Drop-crotch pants
Perhaps the most interesting trend was that of drop-crotch pants. I started noticing these in Italy, but continued to spot them all over Spain and also sporadically in France. This look is basically a pair of pants that fits snugly at the waist, as well as from approximately knee to ankle, but has a crotch that is dropped at times almost to the knee. Like the orange trousers, this was a look that some very stylish women wore with an urban flair (see photo below). Other examples were less elegant, but still trendy, such as the hordes of teenage girls in Granada, Spain, who were all sporting this look in denim. I spotted drop-crotch pants in store windows ranging from fashion-forward Zara to the many chains selling inexpensive and trendy clothing geared toward teenagers. Curious about whether we’ll soon see this trend in the United States — and also fairly certain that Seattle would not be the first place to herald its arrival — I contacted three different friends in New York to find out if this was something they had seen out on the streets of their city. As it turns out, none of my friends had noticed the trend, but I did a bit of online research and found several  mentions. Interestingly, it appears the trend is also popping up in men’s fashion. The look has been met with a fair bit of controversy and it remains to be seen whether these pants will make a real mark in the United States. In my opinion, certain individuals can rock the look effectively, but I have never seen it work on a woman in denim.

A fashionable example of drop-crotch pants in Florence.

Stirrup pants
One final trend to mention is that of stirrup pants — one of the most-loved fashion staples of my youth. In Sevilla, Spain, I spotted a window display highlighting stirrup pants. I’m curious to see if my formerly beloved stirrup pants make it back to the style pages of the United States. What I can say for sure is that this mannequin has a much better look than the one I sported in 1986 — blue cotton stirrup pants tucked into my high-top Reeboks. Believe it or not, I was at the height of ten-year-old fashion in Seattle.

A window display features stirrup pants in Sevilla.