Sunday, July 28, 2013

Home Sweet Home

Day 11: Sunday, June 23rd

What we did: 8 hr 8 minute flight from Barcelona to JFK followed by 2 hours of deplaning/bag finding/shuttle riding to get to an airport hotel for our overnight layover.  Due to the time change (6 hours backward) we arrived at the hotel at 3pm and had thought we’d go into New York City, but we were all too wiped.  Instead, we made a brief visit to a neighborhood park, ordered pizza, and then we were all passed out by 7pm (1am Barcelona time).

What was most memorable: Cora had a near perfect performance on the plane ride. (But of course THIS would be the plane ride she'd be perfect on, not the one where I was alone!) We had requested the bulkhead because there is an infant bassinet there.  Cora was too long for this (as I’d learned on the flight over) but the extra legroom still made this a good request for us to pursue.  We were in the two middle seats of the center four, but we had enough room to lay Cora at our feet for naps and also to let her play at our feet at other points.  She took two solid naps, played contentedly, and ate a lot, allowing us watch THREE full movies.  Seeing that I only got to watch 20 minutes of TV on the flight over, this was simply decadent.  She also made an about face and ended her nursing strike suddenly and completely, nursing repeatedly on the flight and for the rest of the day. 

Day 12: Monday, June 24th

What we did: Flight from JFK to New Orleans with Cora napping under our feet (after 12 days carting a baby around the world, my mothering standards had sunk this low.)  We had a few hours to unpack at home before I returned to the airport to retrieve one of my most prized possessions :)  This guy!

I was giddy and he was extra sweet at our reunion.  I carried all 43 lbs of him around for a while and got lots of hugs.  He was excited to meet his Barcelona friend, Fireman Sam and to be reunited with his daddy and sister.

THANK YOU Mom and Dad for taking such EXCELLENT care of Jack so we could have this special time.  Jacob and I are so lucky to have family on both sides who love our children so much.  And how cute is this?  Jack and his Grammy made a scrapbook of their adventures to share with us, so I got to see all the fun things he did while he was away.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Barcelona: Part Two

Day 9: Friday, June 21st

What we did: Breakfast at nearby café, a fennicular ride up to Montjuic to tour the castle (with Cora peacefully napping in the Ergo) and then a metro ride to the coastline and La Barconeleta for another recommended tucked away restaurant. 

Then more walking along the beach before back to the hotel for naps (which did happen!)  At this point, we’ve more than adjusted to the “European schedule” of late rising and late dinners. Tonight’s dinner was our first Trip Advisor fail (good quantity but not good quality), although interestingly, it was the first meal of the entire trip where Cora gorged herself. We had some conciliatory gelato to finish off the day.

What was most memorable: Barcelona has been a great opportunity to spend time together. 

We’ve covered a good deal of the city on foot or metro and that has given us a lot of time to talk and to just enjoy spending time together.  Jacob and I like to laugh about how many miles we’ve covered in foreign cities on foot, partly due to the economic factor (it’s free to walk), partly due to the exercise it affords, and partly due to the fact we feel it’s the best way to really see a city.  We’ve seen Paris, Munich, Berlin, Victoria, B.C, and Vancouver this way, and now we add Athens and Barcelona to that list.  We were supposed to be going to Athens, Rhodes, and Istanbul on this trip, but we pulled the plug on visiting Turkey due to the protests that seemed to be escalating in the weeks before our trip.  Jacob was already in Greece so I somewhat randomly switched the last half of our trip to Barcelona.  Even though several people we’ve encountered on our travels have led us to think that visiting Istanbul would have still been fine despite the protests, Barcelona has not disappointed.  It’s cosmopolitan, historic, beautiful, Mediterranean, friendly, exotic, balmy, and very interesting.  It also makes us REALLY WANT to spend time abroad with our family in the next few years.  

Day 10: Saturday, June 22nd

What we did: It was obvious this was the last full day of our trip.  We were slow to get out of bed, my hip was hurting from the walking and baby holding, and karma was not on our side as we had to turn back to the hotel twice for forgotten items.  But when we finally got going, we had a lovely day!!  We went to the Monestir de Pedralbes, a monastery in the hills surrounding the city.  Cora fell asleep again in the Ergo so we leisurely toured the quiet monastery. 

We had lunch at a unique bakery where I had a goat cheese tart and Jacob had a fish tart, followed by individual pieces of pie (which almost never happens as Jacob always makes me share.)  Back to the hotel for naps and packing and then we went out for one more night, all three of us dressing up for the occasion. 

Our hotel room with cool glass enclosed shower and remote control shades
We went to the market to buy treats for our trip home and then to our favorite restaurant of the trip, Teresa Carles, for more inventive vegetarian cuisine (and more dessert – back to sharing again). 

What was most memorable: Jacob was happy to make a morning detour to Carrefour, the large European shopping center (with bigger stores than Walmart).  We both like checking out grocery stores in new cities and this one was definitely different.  I remember shopping at Carrefour a few times when we lived in France – it’s where I got everything I needed for my little apartment.  Today, I needed batteries for my new pump since Cora was still on strike (now she is back to nursing at night and in her sleepy state post naps, but while awake? ... absolutely not!).  Jacob took the opportunity to take pictures of the store (which I told him was definitely not allowed and a little embarrassing, but he insisted.)  He was especially impressed with the alcohol section, the whole aisle of yogurts, and the Spanish hams hanging in the aisles.

Firetruck spotting

Sunday, July 14, 2013

13 month update

Cora at 13 months:

Talking: new words: doggie, duckie (we have baby ducks), a mimicked "thank you", and lots of "uh-ohs," "hi's/heys," "da-das", and "dja-dja" (Jack-Jack).  She knows ma-ma, but she only says it when she's really sleepy and hungry and it more means mama-milk.

Walking: She took her first steps a few days before her birthday but then went on pause during our trip (where she was mainly carried or strolled).  Then as soon as we got back, she took off and now toddles all over the place. This is the cute stage where we are still caught off guard by our "walking baby."

Habits: We had planned to work on her sleep habits post trip, but now she is pushing through all four molar teeth at once which is making her pretty uncomfortable.  This brings her teeth total to 12!  She usually naps twice, but has occasionally taken just one nap recently, but I think this is mainly due to discomfort from teething making it hard for her to settle down in the morning.

Words that seem most appropriate to describe Cora:
  • Expressive (lots of facial expressions) - don't believe me, just put a dog within her eyesight and see what happens

  • Gregarious (she is a people person at the moment)
  • Good natured during the day
  • A beast at night most of the time, but showing some promise this past month - for the first time ever, there were some 11 and 12 hour sleep stretches
  • Increasingly self righteous - she is starting to stand up for herself to Jack with shrieks and grabs and quick exits, as she crawls away clutching his toy
  • Confidence Booster - she lights up, shrieks, and high tails to either Jacob or I when we get back from work; she also cries big tears when we leave her :(
It still is hard for me to imagine Cora as a PERSON but she's slowly changing from a baby to her own distinct self.  I really love watching the changes - I'm always happy to just sit back and watch her or Jack play.  I also think she is just so beautiful and cute and I love how her personality is infectious and makes others smile :)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Spanish...Nursing Strike

Day 7: Wednesday, June 19th

What we did: Up at 4:15, drove one hour to airport, caught flight to Athens and then to Barcelona.  Took train and subway to hotel, arriving in early afternoon. Walked A LOT from hotel to Gothic quarter.  Jacob was wanting to kick himself for not doing any research on places to eat on Rhodes, so he spent time on Trip Advisor lining up recommended spots in Barcelona.  We tried a tapas place that he’d found and had a delicious spread of foods.  Cora sat on the table and mainly ate bread (with one piece of smoked salmon) and people-watched happily.  We then went to a recommended gelateria where Cora refused any gelato but was delighted to have four testing spoons which she played with all the way back to the hotel.  

We were finally able to FaceTime with Jack after not having steady Internet access in Rhodes.  He was grumpy from just waking up from a nap and seemed like he missed us but wasn’t quite sure what to do with those feelings :(  We know he’s been having a great time (swimming, Vacation Bible School, fire station visits, ice cream, the lists goes on), but I did feel a little guilty talking to him and hoping he wasn’t wondering why HE wasn’t with us on the trip.
What was most memorable: This day was HARD. Out of the blue, Cora went on a nursing strike. She nursed the evening before, but wouldn’t nurse when she woke up, nor before we got on the plane, nor any other time I tried throughout the day. This was majorly problematic because we were leaving a remote island at the crack of dawn to then spend the next 6 hours traveling through airports and I had NO PUMP!  I spent much of the morning in airplane/airport bathrooms trying to master the art of hand expressing but by the time we arrived in Barcelona, I was feeling pretty desperate.  When every trick I could think of wouldn’t work to get Cora to nurse, I headed out to find a pharmacy to buy a pump.  We’re not sure what is going on with Cora.  The list of possible reasons for a nursing strike include several that could be the culprit (lingering ear infection, major change in routine, overstimulation, teething, possible virus, etc.) but we don’t have a lot of options for fixing any of those while we travel.  She doesn’t have a fever and besides a drastic change in appetite (won’t nurse, will only take sips of water/breastmilk, and is pretty much only interested in bread), she seems happy!?!

Day 8: Thursday, June 20th

What we did: Spent the first hour having to upgrade to a better (and MUCH more expensive) electric pump because the nursing strike continues and I can feel mastitis coming on.  Once that was resolved, we walked past La Sagrada Familia and then down the Passeig de Gracia and La Rambla to window shop and people watch.  Cora spent two hours fighting a nap before passing out briefly.

We went to another Trip Advisor recommended restaurant, Teresa Carles, where I had my favorite treat of the trip: coconut water-watermelon-mint-agave syrup juice concoction, along with a delicious pear-gorgonzola pasta dish.  At this point, I really wasn't feeling well, but it was like a magic drink that restored my immunities and reenergized me :)  (Jacob didn't feel that was worth the $5.50 it cost.)  We then headed home for naps (that didn’t happen because we have an insomniac child on our hands) before heading to the Parc Guell where we had excellent views of Barcelona.  Our day then started to turn around with a peaceful stint at a playground and then dinner at another Trip Advisor rec: Tacos, Tacos, where Cora bonded deeply with the Elvis-loving owner.  More people watching and then Cora finally fell asleep at 10:00 and we got a chance to FaceTime again with a happier Jack.

What was most memorable: This was the day where Jacob (and I) were most tested by Cora’s presence. Up to this point it’s been obvious the trip is different than it would be without her here, but it’s been really enjoyable at the same time.  Well, after the long day yesterday of traveling and the nursing challenges, pushing a crying baby all over the city today made us feel the strain. We know we are pushing her limits, but she is showing an increasingly strong willed personality.  When neither the roomy stroller in the balmy city nor the quiet hotel room for 2 hours met her standard for naps, what else were we supposed to do? 

Luckily, things did turn around once we were back out in the evening.  Cora has LOVED the metro and makes friends on every ride.  She reaches out to strangers and gets smiles, hand shakes, and peek a boo games back.  She also really enjoyed her time at the playground along with the nachos and attention at dinner.  With her passed out in her stroller, I was able to get her to nurse as I put her down for bed!  Hopefully this means the 2 day nursing strike is over??

Monday, July 08, 2013

Island Life

Day 5: Monday, June 17th

What we did: After continuing our pattern of sleeping in, we enjoyed breakfast on our patio and took in the view.  

We then greased up every inch of Landry fair skin and headed to the beaches.  We first tried a local beach where Cora took a nap in the Ergo as we quickly realized a ‘walk on the beach’ wasn’t going to work as well on the rocky beach we’d chosen.

Once Cora woke up, we ventured out, or at least Cora and I did as Jacob played the role of baby and said it was too cold. I’m not normally one to swim in the ocean, but this was not like any ocean I’m used to.  (Probably because it’s a sea :) not an ocean) There were no waves and just translucent waters stretching out as far as you could see, so I did some swimming.  We then drove north and caught sight of an amazing beach with several layers of aqua and turquoise. 

 We walked down and each took turns swimming and I even got a short nap stretched out on a rock.  Then we came home for lunch and naps and then visited Lindos Town in the early evening, followed by dinner overlooking the water.

It was a tiny car!

What was most memorable: Swimming in the Aegean Sea!  

This was also the first night I got that homesick feeling I remember from childhood camps. It’s interesting how it hits at night and is nearly gone in the daytime.  I wasn’t missing home, just missing Jack.  If I let myself wallow in the feeling then I start to feel panicky because he’s just so far away and I can’t easily check on him. We don’t have Internet so we’re reliant on cafes with Wi-Fi and then have to factor in the time difference and try to catch him at home. 

Even though I know he’d love this part of the trip (the beach, the island, our place), I know we made the right decision not to bring him.  This is a win-win for all – he gets to have some well-deserved solo child time, he gets to spend special time with his grandparents and vice versa, we get to downgrade to just one child, thus allowing us to reconnect in a way that’s hard to do in our “real lives” managing jobs, house, and two children.  We also are getting to spend special time with Cora.  I was telling Jacob how knowing we want more children, this might be one of the few times Cora gets to be the “only” child.

So as we get to know Cora even better, here was a favorite memory of the night:
Cora, a little tired and a little done with being at the restaurant, starts to notice that she is sitting under a large tree that comes down a foot above her head.  She sees it so we point and say, “big tree Cora.”  Well, she starts in with her new favorite word “Whoa-wow!” with big eyes and a round mouth and starts pointing one hand and then looking up and pointing both hands.  She gets the attention of our table neighbors and shows him and then shows both the waiter and the owner who come by.  She has had us laughing a lot on this trip with all of her expressions :)

Day 6: Tuesday, June 18th

What we did: After another sunny breakfast on the patio, we followed the recommendation of our new friend Irene (or rather Cora’s new friend Irene from dinner the night before) to drive to the eastern side of the island to see the castle in Monolithia. Cora napped on the drive over, so we had a peaceful ride. 

The castle gave some pretty impressive views, perched on the tip of a cliff, overlooking the sea. 

We then drove down to Fourni Beach. This was a 15 minute drive down the mountain on a narrow road filled with hairpin turns and steep drop offs.  Every time we’d near a corner, I’d just pray there wasn’t a car coming the other way because it was impossible to see until the last minute and not really enough room for both cars to make the turn.  The beach was worth the anxiety inducing drive and we all had another swim.  Since we knew Jack would have loved the rocky beach, we spent time gathering the prettiest collection of rocks to bring home to him.  

It was like we were alone :)
Nope, there were definitely 3 of us :)
Naps for all and then another evening in Lindos Town.  There happened to be a rock concert in the town square so we picked a restaurant nearby. This led to a Jacob Landry: maître de show down when our bill had higher prices than what the menu had shown. The maître de said “oh that was our old menu.”  Jacob, a man mindful of his money, had been pushed to the limit by cover charges, charges for unrequested bread, and restaurants unwilling to give free tap water, so he stood his ground and we didn’t pay the higher rates.  A bit stressful, but the evening ended well with chocolate cheesecake on the square as our little techno baby danced away to the rock concert :)

What was most memorable: We stopped at a fruit stand on the way home from Monolithia to buy figs.  We only had 50 euro bills so I showed the girl at the stand and she nodded as if she had change.  She then realized she did not, so I went to put the figs back but she shook her head and said “Present.”  I was really touched by this act of kindness and so wished I had something to offer back.  But at that point all we had was smushed granola bars, wet towels, and baby books in the car, so I just smiled and accepted the kindness and have been on the lookout for how to pass it on.

Friday, July 05, 2013

The 4th in Pictures

The holiday was a good reason for a day trip to the Northshore ...

with a pit stop at Target for pool gear, first shoes for Cora, and an unplanned purchase of a "Sam" DVD for Jack.  Why pay for Netflix when all we watch is the same two Fireman Sam episodes?  Jack clutched his prize for the rest of the day.

We parked at the trailhead for the Tammany Trace bike trail. We made an accidental wrong turn which led us to the Covington Fire Station where we left with air in our tires, two fire helmets, and a smiling Jack. 

 We then rode 8 miles to the Mandeville Kids Konnection playground, well worth the ride in Jack and Cora's opinions.

 Cora high steps as she gets used to walking in her new shoes!

Cora SCREAMED the 5 miles back to Abita Springs. She couldn't nap on the bike and her usual relaxed biking demeanor changed to a "why are you torturing me on this horrible device with this awful thing strapped to my head?" But with a little mama's milk in her, she was back to her happy self as we had a picnic in the grass.

But then she was back to hating us when we put her in the splash zone. But then back to loving us when we let her play at the nearby park.  Jack especially loved the zipline there.

Cora tried her best to  nap in the Wee Rider (by leaning to the side and resting her helmet on my hand) but we felt she needed a real nap, so back at the starting point, we let her rest while we all cleaned up in the bathrooms.

All cleaned up and ready for a party!

The day ended with good company, lots of watermelon (thus the naked baby), and two exhausted kids.
Happy Fourth of July!