Saturday, June 29, 2013

Change of scenery


Day 4: Sunday, June 16th:

What we did: We had another picture perfect breakfast overlooking Athens.  Bread, homemade marmalade, dried fruit, fresh fruit, cheese, bacon, cheesy eggs, frittata, chocolate cake… Proving to my husband that I’m still hard core, I volunteered us to take the metro to the airport, rather than a cab.  This led us to more new friends thanks to Cora. 

We then flew to the island of Rhodes.  We weren’t paying attention to our seat assignments and, upon boarding, noticed we were sitting apart, so I graciously volunteered to let Jacob sit with Cora.  So I did get my quiet and reading after all!  (Though only on a 40 minute flight.We had been told that my missing suitcase would make it onto our flight to Rhodes, but it didn’t, so we were told to come back to the airport to meet the next Athens flight.  We spent the intervening hours exploring Rhodes Town, where there is a medieval walled city. 


We were turned off by the over-touristy nature of this area and hoped our VRBO.com find was more off the beaten path.  Was it ever!  After finally reuniting with my suitcase, we drove about 90 minutes around the island to the out of the way inland village of Askilipio. 


Our day ended with dinner in the village square.

What was most memorable: Askilipio is pretty idyllic!  Winding footpaths and alleys connect stucco houses on a hilltop, all situated around a small village square where the locals meet up in the evenings.  Our little house was recently redone and is very cute with an awesome little patio with a view of a river valley, olive grove, and views of the Aegean Sea.  Cora likes the new setting and SO WOULD JACK!  Speaking of him, I am missing him more and more each day.  The travel and Athens portion would not have been a good fit for a 3.5 year old, but he would love this island stop.  At our village square dinner, Cora continued to be very cute.  She has been making lots of “wow-whoa!” exclamations whenever she is excited along with lots of “uh-ohs” as she drops things she wants us to pick up.  She’s also being very clear that she loves dogs as she lights up, exclaims, points, laughs, and bounces every time she sees one.  Luckily there was one in the square and this kept her entertained throughout dinner.

The Mandolin - our island home

And in terms of memorable happenings, I won’t be forgetting that Cora threw up not once, but FOUR times, when we finally put her to bed this evening.  She had been crying, so I went in to get her and so all four of those times were while I was holding her and Jacob was running around looking for a washcloth.  By the time he got back, I was so drenched, we needed way more than a washcloth.  He was gagging, she was crying, but I couldn’t help but laugh as it was just a ridiculous picture!  After a bath, she was back to herself and finally (at 1am) ready for bed.  (In our defense, we don’t think the throw up was trip related as this is actually the seventh time she’s gotten sick over the past ten days and the first time on the trip.  We think her stomach isn't liking her ear infection medicine.)
 



Thursday, June 27, 2013

Athens!


Day 2: Friday, June 14th

Reunited
What we did: This day was a bit truncated because we lost 8 hours due to the time difference.  Cora finally fell asleep in the Rome airport and pretty much stayed asleep until we arrived, via cab, to our hotel in Athens.  The downside to this was that while I was exhausted and ready to finally sleep, she was ready to play.  So I pretty much dumped her, awake, into her “baby cot” and fell asleep on the bed.  She fell asleep again too and we both woke up, feeling refreshed and ready to see “da-dee”.  He arrived back at the hotel from his final day of MBA class lectures/tours/presentations and we got to go out with his classmates and professor for the final dinner.  Luckily, I’d thrown a change of clothes into my book bag because our luggage did not arrive in Athens with us.

What was most memorable: I’d heard less than stellar things about Athens, but my initial impressions were all very favorable.  Driving into the city was impressive – white buildings as far as the eye could see and two big hills – one with the Acropolis on top and the other where our hotel was located.  The closing dinner was at a rooftop restaurant on the slope of the Acropolis hill.  The weather was temperate and breezy and the views of the city and the lit Parthenon were awesome.  Plates of food kept arriving and I thought everything was delicious.  I thought my baby-led weaning baby would do me proud, but after eating a few bites of moussaka, she stuck to her bread for the rest of the night.  She continued to be Miss Charming, engaging the neighboring table and happily being passed from classmate to classmate and to our Greek hosts.  

We had made a major gamble that my suitcase would indeed arrive that evening (as I’d been told) and that the final diaper in my carry on would last us through the evening.  Well, there was no suitcase when we got back, so Cora spent the rest of the night in that same diaper until a pharmacy opened up the next morning.  Her sheets had to be changed, but not too much harm done.

Day 3: Saturday, June 15th:

What we did: On our full day in Athens, we started with breakfast on the picturesque terrace of our hotel with full views of the city.  We then set off on foot (a trademark of a Landry vacation) and walked to the Acropolis making a stop at a baby store to pick up a backup outfit for Cora since we were still wearing our one and only change of clothes.
We walked from that hill to the spot where this picture was taken!

We toured the Parthenon and other ruins and walked through the local market.  


This is "Elvis," a stowaway that Jacob found in his shoe.  We think that was a Cora move, but Jack appreciated seeing his friend's travels.  

We had a yummy lunch of lamb and Greek salad and then walked back to the hotel for rest.  Cora napped twice in the stroller and explored the ruins via the Ergo. Still without luggage and with the luggage department unable to tell us where my bag was, I went shopping at H&M for clothes while Jacob and Cora listened to street music. 

We then made a misguided metro trip to the port only to realize we’d not chosen a very picturesque spot.  We backtracked and walked around the city looking for dinner.  We figured Cora would fall asleep ... at any moment... and then we’d stop for dinner... but that never happened and we ended up with one MAD baby on our hands.  We learned that 11:00 p.m. is so far past Cora’s limit that she won’t even be distracted by food.  We made it through a delicious crepes dinner at a cafĂ© where she may or may not have peed on the street (was that puddle there before?) before getting the poor child into bed.

What was most memorable: I don’t like to make generalizations, but since this is a positive one, I will.  The Greek people seem to really love a baby (or at least this one!)  Cora spent her entire lunch not eating, but instead, reaching out to various diners wanting a handshake and an acknowledgement.  On the half hour subway ride, she made friends with all around her and even though not much English was spoken, one of her new friends was able to tell us that there was “no good eating” where we were headed, thus helping us know we should rewrite the dinner plan.  Waitresses and our hotel housekeeper just pick her up and walk off with her, which we decided we were okay with (we'll take free babysitting on this trip.)   

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Going International!

Thanks to Tulane's Executive MBA program, Jacob flew to Athens via Amsterdam on June 7th for an international course. The plan is for Cora and I to join him for two weeks of vacation while Jack has his own special adventures at "Grammy Camp" in SC.  Here's the run down on our adventures.

Day 0: Wednesday, June 12th

I can already tell that having Cora with us on this vacation is going to allow us an entirely different experience and perspective. She had me interacting way more with my fellow travelers than I would have on my own.

What happened: After spending a few days with my family, I left Jack for 12.5 days (!?!) in South Carolina at "Grammy Camp" (co-counselor: Big Papa), flew home to New Orleans, unpacked, repacked, ran errands, picked 68 blueberries off of our bush, and called Grammy Camp 3x to check in. Cora and I have just a one night NOLA stopover before our big flights tomorrow.

What was most memorable:


  • Saying goodbye to Jack, then leaving the security line and going to find him and my mom in the bathroom so I could say goodbye again (and get one more hug)
  • Travel Angel #1: My Myrtle Beach-Charlotte seat mate. At first glance, he didn't look like the most baby friendly guy, but he ended up spending his entire plane ride interacting with Cora and entertaining her.  And he even helped me realize she was about to throw up, allowing me to do a perfect catch in the barf bag.
  • Travel Angel #2: Charlotte-New Orleans US Airways flight attendant Greg Johnson - he plopped down beside me as we were getting settled to help settle Cora down and later came back by, took Cora on a walk and brought her back with a bag of cookies.

Day 1: Thursday, June 13th

What happened: Jacob and I had spent many hours searching for the “perfect” itinerary and had settled on me taking a one stop route through JFK to Athens, thus having as short an itinerary as possible since I’d be flying with Cora by myself. But we should have expected perfectly laid plans to not work out perfectly.  Due to delays, I was rerouted on a two stop itinerary through Atlanta and Rome.  In the end, it only added 3 hours to my trip, but it sent my luggage on a multi-day adventure.

What was most memorable: I almost need to thank Delta for the delays and rerouting because I don’t think there were better flight mates than the ones I ended up amongst. The only way Cora would go to sleep would be if I stood up and swayed with her in the Ergo. She’d nod off but then when I’d try to sit back down, she’d wake up and scream (because she was, after all, very tired.) For our 9 hour 18 minute flight, I didn’t get any sleep as Cora only slept for one 40 minute stretch and one fitful 1 hour stretch, most of which I was standing for. But it really wasn’t a bad trip because of the wonderful people around us.  Sitting beside us were a woman and her elderly mother on their way to Rome, who never got annoyed with Cora and kept remarking on how adorable her facial expressions were.  They would pick up things from my seat every time I approached, put up their trays for my cups, and talked to me.  Across the aisle were a retired military couple from Georgia and an older couple from Columbia, SC.  The men in these couples each took Cora on walks, let her hold their fingers, picked up things we dropped, gave her pretzels, and stood and talked with me while I was up with Cora. 

I was initially a little jealous of Jacob’s solo international flight.  The movies!  The reading!  The solitude! In 9 hours, I caught 20 minutes of a movie and read only 3 pages, but I also had the experience of interaction in a way I know I wouldn’t have if I’d been traveling alone.  I would have turned inward and Cora ensured I turned outward and we both got to see what lovely people our neighbors were.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Full is my heart

It's after 11pm and I should really go to bed, but I want to capture and record what is a very meaningful anniversary for me. Exactly one year ago right now, I was pretty much convinced that I was in labor.  I'd had regular contractions for much of the day and as I went to bed they were about every 10 minutes.  I was excited, but also didn't want to get my hopes up in case, once in bed, things slowed down.

But they didn't slow down and an intense, powerful, empowering night passed and we had our daughter. And now I'm crying thinking of what an amazing beginning that was for our family. Cora is such a beautiful, wonderful, happy little gift of a baby. Jacob and I (and usually Jack) are just so in love with her. She's nearly always smiling. She's so expressive. She's dramatic. She's funny. She's smart. She's loving. She's incredibly cute. She's increasingly determined and spirited.

It blows my mind to think of the amazing process of a baby being formed, born, growing, and changing. To know that one year ago, we had no real concept of this child.  And to know that we have no real concept of the child she will be one year from tonight. To look at Jack and see how much he's changed from the baby he was to the child he is now and to know the same will be true of Cora.  To know that the people they will one day become are being formed layer by layer by every one of their childhood experiences. I stand simply in awe of that process.  And so, so humbled by it.


This week has been a big one.  Cora took her first steps!  She took them to her daddy, going after the sippy cup he was holding up for her.  2 days later, she's taken as many as five at a time!  She also got her first ear infection. She also may now be saying "dog," "ball," and "baby," along with a lot of "uh-ohs" and "hi's".  She is intensely a mama's baby (as in don't even think about leaving her to go upstairs), but she lights up to 100 watts when she sees her daddy.



  
She is beautiful.
We call her "Flip" because of her sweet little hair do. 












I do a decent job of appreciating my children but I could do so much better. I'm grateful for birthdays and celebrations like tonight and tomorrow that give me the chance to refocus on what matters.





Saturday, June 01, 2013

Jack at 3.5 ... !!!


Biting my tongue (or rather crossing my fingers) to keep from writing the cliched line about where has time....

Here is my snapshot of what this little boy - my little boy - is like as he hits the 3.5 year mark.

Jack, in the mornings,... 
  • has a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde thing going.  He's sometimes super sweet, adorable, and snuggly in the morning and other times seems to have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed (or maybe not gotten enough sleep?)  He usually comes straight to our room with his striped pillow, "soft" blanket, and "a friend" and climbs in bed with us
  • has the loudest, fattest feet, which, when running down the upstairs hallway at 6:30am, have gotten us a few emails from our tenant
  • loves his daily "yum-yum," his baby word for oatmeal that seems to have stuck
  • makes a ridiculous mess with his "yum-yum" (and any food for that matter)
  • raises our blood pressure to get him to complete all the steps of his morning routine
Jack, throughout the day,...

  • believes in the power of positive thinking and talks in a very affirmative, it's-going-to-happen way to try to make the things he wants, reality.  For example, (with lots of intonation) "Mom, I have A  - GREAT  -  IDEA!  If I don't take a nap, and Cora is still asleep, I can watch ONE Fireman Sam.  Okay?  Okay Mom? 
  • calls us Mom and Dad occasionally (and usually intentionally to get our attention)
  • is likely to be loud, drop something, spill something, or wake someone up
  • can be convinced at any moment to sit down and read a book
  • likes to help ("let me get the step stool Mommy") and likes to do things himself 
  • ALWAYS is up for a game of Fireman Sam involving wearing fire helmets and climbing on makeshift engines to respond to emergencies 
  • would always be happy to eat some cheese, nuts and raisins, or any type of fruit
Jack, at night,... 

  • would be thrilled if it's possible to fit in a bike ride or park visit before dinner
  • likes to say his school blessing "Open Shut Them..." before dinner
  • can be picky about his dinner
  • can be motivated to clean up all his toys by referencing The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room - he gets a lot of satisfaction about making his space as clean as the bear cubs' space and he does a very thorough and organized job!
  • brushes his teeth with chocolate flavored Theodent toothpaste
  • has, just for kicks, been sleeping with his head at the foot of his bed for the last few weeks
  • likes to read books, say prayers, have his back rubbed and a song sung to him, a night light turned on, and a kiss given all before bedtime
  • if he gets up at any point, MUST be tucked back in.  He will cry if you suggest himself tucking himself back in.  "But I don't know how to tuck myself in..."
Jack Speak This Week
  • "Actually..." - this is one of his favorite words and he says it about 20x a day 
  • (To Grammy) "Normally, when you're not here, I get to brush my teeth all by myself first"
  • (When offered Mickey when Minnie Mouse couldn't be found) "But I don't sleep with Mickey usually"
  • (When I walk in the room after hearing Cora shrieking and ask what's going on:) "Not really much..."
  • "Daddy...I have a GREAT idea..."

You are opinionated and have your "moments," but you are an amazing gift from God, have a beautiful spirit, and brighten every day.  We love you!