13 Years

Athletes train for years, waking up early, maintaining strict diets and painstaking physical regimes for the possibility of a moment of glory. Physicians, lawyers, artists all spend countless hours on their crafts for that moment where they save a life, break a big case or create a piece of work that will touch people for hundreds of years to come.

Marriage is something like all of that too. There is work, refining, learning and adjusting. But there are moments that are so profound and so incredible, that is makes all of the difficulties easily worth it. There are the great moments together, moving to a new country, traveling the world, reaching milestones or welcoming a new life. And there are the greater moments, talking about insecurities and fears in the dark at night, having breakfast we made together in the garden, picking out groceries, singing together in the car, talking about our past and our future. There is an easy feeling. Like sitting besides a creek in the middle of nowhere and a light breeze is in the air. And that moment is, for a little while, all that exists. The years have taught me that love can be as calm and still as that feeling and it is a lesson I am grateful for.

Happy anniversary, saathi. Let’s take a walk down memory lane.

Year 1 - Michigan
Year One
Year 2
Year Two
year 3-canada
Year Three
Year 4 - Baltimore
Year Four
Year 5 - Turkey
Year Five
Year - Spain
Year Six
Year 7 2
Year Seven
Year 8
Year Eight
Year 9 - Wales
Year Nine
Year 10 Ecuador
Year Ten
Year 11
Year Eleven
family pic 1
Year Twelve

Colombia – Pictures and More Pictures

Most of our time in Colombia was spent with our tour group. It was our first time doing a vacation like this and overall, I think I would do it again. A tour group will indefinitely have a variety of personalities who all bring their own level of entertainment to the experience.

I’ve been meaning to write a great post about all our adventures and my feelings throughout the trip but if I keep waiting to do that, this post will never go up so instead, here is a photo dump with commentary thrown in.

As you may be able to guess, the next two pictures are from the Gold Museum. Although I found this museum generally boring, there were some really beautiful displays.

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There was a Turkish guy in our group who was just going for it with the different street food. It was inspiring to see him wanting to try everything. His thought was, “When else are you going to get the chance to try this particular thing? Go for it!” We were wise to follow his lead.

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Make your own candy waffles (no idea on the real name) on the side of the road.

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The Botero Museum- I liked this a lot more than the Gold Museum. Beautiful architecture and some very fun pieces.

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No trip is complete without some good reading. I found the Martian a bit technical but still good. Career Evil was so gruesome! Definitely my least favorite in this detective series.

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Bogota by night. We were a few blocks from a really swanky area. It was fun walking around but these shops were wayy out of our price range. We found a great little Food Truck lot and then… we went and watched Star Wars! We were exhausted after a long day and nothing sounded better than sitting back and watching a movie. Since I’m not a big Star Wars fanatic, I just watched the movie for basic entertainment value and it delivered on that front.

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The next day we had a very early morning as we made our way to Cartagena. We stayed at the Hotel Caribe where some Obama staffers also notoriously stayed. Despite its sordid history, the hotel was beautiful.

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We had lunch in this charming Middle Eastern restaurant (with very subpar food).

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Fort in the old city.

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When I saw all the trinkets while we were there, I thought they were a bit gaudy and didn’t end up getting any. Now that I’m looking at the pictures, I really wish I had!

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And how did I pass up these kicks?!

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There were beautiful lights all over the city.

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We kept seeing lots of local people eating this dish and finally found a courtyard where there were endless tables selling it. We pulled a chair up to a plastic table and ate as some people danced in the middle of the courtyard.

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A breakfast guest.

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An early morning canoe trip through the mangroves.

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Followed by fresh coconut water.

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And some fresh coconut meat.

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Our guide asked us if we wanted to have lunch on the beach. Fresh lobsters and crabs from the sea? Um, yes!

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The feast was worth the wait.

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Even the food courts had stunning views.

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Got to spend some quality time on the beach. We lounged, avoided getting massages and read until it started to get chilly in the evening. Then we took a walk and welcomed the sunset.

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We finished our stay with a cab back to the old city to have dinner in a courtyard across a beautiful church. We watched a couple get married, musicians playing instruments and children running around. The sunset and the romantic dinner were such a perfect cap to our quick but wonderful stay in Colombia.

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Colombia! – The Colors

How was your New Year’s Eve? I went over to a neighbor’s house for a fun party and it was awesome to have a two minute commute walking home when it was all said and done. If this weekend was any indication of things to come, it is going to be an awesome year! On Friday, we went to a birthday party for our dear friends’ daughters and later we met up with my cousins who were in town from New Jersey and Michigan. It was such great day of spending time with great people and watching Nouri have fun discovering new houses and people. Saturday we had a family day filled with pancake breakfast, shopping and hanging out at and on Sunday we had some more friends over. It was a perfect weekend full of people we care about. Hoping there is much more of that in 2016!

Now, back to Colombia! I wanted to share some pictures and will do that over a few posts.

Our trip was just five days and was in and out. It’s hard to know what we would do in the future, but five days is too short for a good holiday! But the idea of being away from Nouri longer than that is also hard to swallow. Maybe the best compromise is to take a nanny (er, Khala) with you on vacation? Then you can do the things that aren’t as kid friendly but still get to cuddle them at night?

When I was looking at our pictures, a few broad categories jumped out to me- one of them being COLOR. There were so many beautiful pictures of the vibrant buildings that were all over Bogota and Cartagena, the two cities that we visited.

A walk through Bogota quickly reveals the rich graffiti culture in the city. Artists have actually relocated to Bogota from all over the world to share their craft on the building walls. Police do not fine or remove the artist’s work and the artists have a code among each other not to paint over someone else’s work. The result is stunning political, comedic and historic pieces throughout the city.

Cartagena’s caribbean vibe is very different from Bogota but it too pops with color and architectural treasures. The Colonial era old town is full of narrow streets and beautiful structures with integrate balconies and doors in beautifully preserved or restored buildings.

Here are some pictures of the buildings in the two cities. Can you tell which city you are looking at?

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Reflections from 2015

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I can’t believe we are about to enter the sixteenth year of 2000. Doesn’t it feel like just yesterday that we were partying like it was 1999?

2015, seemingly like every year, was full of so many changes, ups and downs and adventures.

In 2015, I lost two people I loved dearly. My aunt passed away from ALS and my Nani passed away from ongoing complications from a stroke she suffered several years back. It is a morbid thought but with every year that passes, I know that the following year when I go through this same exercise, there will be new names to add to the list. Some will be young and some will be old, some expected and others all that much more painful because they should not have been on such a list at such an age. Always a reminder to love those who you love fiercely and without reservation.

This past year was our first full year as parents. We observed so many firsts with Nouri and she keeps racking them up. The first year of a baby’s life is such a wonder to observe. We saw Nouri go on her first plane ride, eat her first foods, get her first passport, take her first steps and so much more. It has been so fun to settle into the rhythms of our slightly more domestic life.

We took some big trips to Iceland, the UK and Colombia and lots of little trips to Michigan, New York and all around the DMV area. We learned about the challenges of traveling with a baby and the challenges of traveling without one.

We also bought our first house! After so many years of being married and by what all means felt like after waiting too long, we took the plunge into owning a tiny part of the American dream. This is the fifth place we have lived in since moving to DC and I’m looking forward to staying put for a little bit.

And now we look forward to 2016.  Tonight we will celebrate with neighbors and bring in another year together. The next months are going to be filled with lots of changes that I am excited to share with all of you soon. My hope for 2016 is to strive to be a better person, to nurture my family, to transform our house into a comfy home, to surround myself with people who inspire me and make me laugh, to consume less and to give more, to elect Bernie as our next president, to work for justice, to grow my hair long, to take more bike rides, to be a good role model for Nouri and to become more of the person I have hoped to be.

Hoping that you and your families all have a great evening and a Happy New Year!

Traveling Without a Baby

Last week we returned from our trip to Colombia. I had booked this trip much earlier in the year thinking that by the time Nouri was one, we would be ready for a break and a little adults-only time. As the trip neared, we started to get worried that we wouldn’t enjoy it without having Nouri around. Although we ended up missing her a lot, I am so glad that we took some time to ourselves. It was reassuring that throughout the trip I was constantly thinking, “Definitely couldn’t do this with a baby!” From uneven sidewalks, to long travel days, to excursions down rivers and up forts, there were so many things that would have been downright impossible with a baby in tow.

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As the trip was approaching, we became nervous that Nouri would take her first steps while we were away. She was showing all the signs of being ready to walk but wasn’t making that final push. Luckily, about five days before we were set to leave, she took a few steps. Two days later, she was full fledged walking all over the place. Her Aunties told us that she had spent all day in daycare just walking from one place to another. Once she figured out she could do it, she was a baby on a mission! I’m so glad that we are able to be there for that awesome milestone!

We had also worried a lot about how Nouri would cope without us. Would she cry at night when she realized that she wasn’t going to see us that day? Or maybe the next morning when she woke up and realized that we weren’t there to cuddle her? Or just all day long?

Nope!

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We got picture after picture of her laughing it up with her Khala (maternal sister). They had a ton of fun together going on outings, trying new foods and getting lots of cuddles in. I’m so happy that my sister was willing to take time off work so we could have out little adventure. (And I don’t think she minded toooo much since she got all that time soaking up Nouri.)

There is a certain narcism in being parents. I have seen parents who actually want their kids to cry when they leave, as if they will prove that the kid loves them. Not healthy! Of course I want my baby to be attached to me and think I’m awesome. But I also want her to feel safe and comfortable in different situations because we have helped show her that the world is a safe and loving place. That is a lot of weight for a 13 month old but I do think babies respond to the environment we create for them. So even though it was weird to us that she didn’t notice we were gone at all, I felt strangely proud of that little independent firecracker.

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We got home really late on the night we got back so we had to wait until the next morning to see Nouri. When she woke up, I expected a big smile, maybe even a laugh. Or maybe tears of anger for leaving her?

Nope!

Nouri just put up her arms like she always does, I picked her up and she snuggled into my shoulder. It was like we had never left. A friend of mine told me that babies don’t really have a grasp on time, so you could have been gone an hour or ten days but they won’t really know the difference. After this experience, I believe that.

It was harder than I expected to finally leave Nouri but I’m so glad we did. We learned that it is ok to be away from your kid. The world doesn’t stop, they don’t fall apart and it is such a healthy thing to do. We also learned that We. Love. Nouri. So. Much. So even though it was awesome to have the new experiences that we did, we realized that we really, really love our life as being parents to her. When I booked this trip almost a year ago, I had thought that I would be in desperate need of a break. That parenting would steam roll us and we would have to go on some sort of trip to rediscover ourselves. Thankfully, that hasn’t been the case and the trip reaffirmed for us how grateful we are to have Nouri and how much we value our everyday domestic life.

I hope this helps someone who may be thinking of taking a solo or kid-free trip. Over the next week I will share pictures and stories from the trip. See you then!