Category Archives: Travel

End-of-summer update

Sorry for disappearing there.  It has been a crazy month.  We were out of town for two week-long trips and one weekend trip in the last four weeks.  First was our annual week at the beach with Roo’s family (posts about previous years here and here).  Then a weekend trip to New England for my cousin’s wedding.  And then we spent a week at my parents’ cabin on a lake in New England.

We just got back from that trip last Sunday.   A co-worker asked me when I returned to work if it had been relaxing, and I found myself laughing in her face.  I’m glad we went, but it was definitely not relaxing.  Balancing everyone’s needs was hard work–Tadpole has lots of energy and does best when we are out and about a lot, but Sprout does best when we’re home for her naps.  And Roo and I prefer to have some downtime to do things like lie in the hammock and read, but it’s hard to find time for that.  The cabin is lovely but rustic and not at all baby-proofed, so it was hard to put the newly-mobile baby down anywhere.  A week with a wiggly newly-mobile baby who cannot be easily put down is not a relaxing week.  And then there was the bit where Sprout woke up at 5am almost every morning, (and usually woke up her brother as well).

However, it’s a beautiful area, and we had some great adventures.  We went swimming almost every day and used multiple boats (motor boat, kayak, canoe, stand-up paddleboard).  Tadpole made friends with all of the people staying in neighboring cabins, learned to drive the motorboat, and became a more confident swimmer.  Sprout discovered that she hates her life jacket but made lots of friends with strangers on the airplane.  Roo read a lot and fit in a lot of swimming.  I got to see an aunt and cousin who I haven’t seen in years and jump off a rope swing.

Now we have a somewhat-gradual transition back to our school-year schedule.  This week Roo scrambled to get her classroom set up amid a hectic meeting schedule and Sprout started back at daycare.  Tadpole was at camp this week, and then he starts kindergarten on Monday!  For some individual updates:

Sprout

Her hair is now several inches long, and it still sticks straight up!  Our baby has changed from a mellow, go-with-the-flow newborn to a spunky, determined almost-nine-month old.  She insists on feeding herself, and completely refuses any baby food purees.  As in will not open her mouth and even grabs the spoon and forces it away.  She has started crawling for real, and pulling herself up and even climbed up a few steps the other day.  Her stubbornness plus her motor skills plus the fact that we haven’t really started baby-proofing mean that we’re in so much trouble!!! She has also developed some separation anxiety.  On the one hand, it’s nice to feel like we are special to her, and that she notices when we’re gone.  On the other hand, this coincides with her returning to the daycare where she hasn’t been in two+ months, so the timing is not ideal.

Tadpole

Tadpole continues to be alternately charming (like when he climbs onto my lap and snuggles in to read a book, or when he sings lullabies to his sister) and smart (he was keeping score during a game the other day and correctly added up 100+100+100+5+5 in his head) and infuriating (like when he licked the baby right after I asked him not to lick the baby).  He has recently become an entrepreneur; he has been going door-to-door selling his crayon drawings to our neighbors both at the cabin and at home.

I am excited and nervous about his transition to kindergarten.  He tends to go through a phase of testing limits whenever he starts in a new place.  I hope his teacher is able to set firm limits with him (which usually helps him settle down), and I want her to still love him even if they get off to a rocky start.  His teacher last year did a fabulous job with both of these things, but the one the year before really didn’t.  Fingers crossed.

Roo

Roo is getting ready for another school year.  She’s at the same school where she’s been for a number of years, but taking on a few new challenges this time around.

Me

I’m doing well.   My not-so-new job has been frustrating lately.  I continue to really like my co-workers, and the sessions that I have with clients have felt productive.  But I’ve also had a huge number of clients not showing up for their appointments lately.  I’m trying to remember that my clients have been assigned to this particular program because their lives are crazy and chaotic and they aren’t good at showing up for any kind of appointment.  But it still makes it hard to feel excited about coming to work some days.

I’m sad about the end of summer and of the more relaxed schedule that we’ve been able to have.  I’m not looking forward to hurried mornings and to not having time in the evenings for more than cleaning the house and packing all of our lunches. But I am excited about things settling down a little bit.  I haven’t gone running or to the climbing gym in several weeks, and haven’t been able to make many plans with friends because of all of our traveling.  So I’m looking forward to getting back into all of those things.  And I really like our regular old every-day life–early-morning snuggles with our fuzzy-duckling baby, bedtimes with the big grown-up boy, Friday night dinners out and Sunday evening dinners at home.

So that’s the news from here.  How are you?  Does your life change with the new school year?  How is that transition going in your family?

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Beach week

I apologize yet again for disappearing for a while there.  There has been a lot going on–a week which included three TTC-related procedures (more on that later), a week at the beach with Roo’s family, and general summer craziness.

For the last five or so years, Roo’s parents have rented a house and our family, plus Roo’s brother and his family, have stayed with them for a week.  I won’t go into the details here, but things were not so good in Roo’s family when she was growing up.  So it is an amazing sign of the work all four of them have done that this trip was ever possible.  And it is miraculous that we have done it for the last 5 years.  Roo and her brother have very different political and religious beliefs. But his family and ours have remarkably similar parenting styles, which ends up mattering a lot more when we are all spending time together. The college-age revolutionary that I was would probably not believe that this was possible, but it seems to be the case for us.

It was a hard week for Roo and me in certain ways.  We left for the beach the day after the third of the three procedures in one week, and there was a lot we were still sorting out about that.  And then Roo’s brother happened to mention that his preferred presidential candidate was Rick Santorum, which was difficult to figure out what to do with.  But we did a lot of swimming and playing in the sand.  And the advantage of having so many adults is that Roo and I got to go out on several dates after Tad was in bed.

Tadpole loves spending so much time with his relatives.  He loved having his uncle and his grandfather around (the obsession with men that I talked about here is alive and well).  He also has three cousins who were there (two girls, ages 6 1/2 and 5, and a boy age 2) and they got into all sorts of mischief together.  He and his next-oldest cousin spent lots of time playing imaginary games and building sand castles together.  Sometimes they would both have imaginary houses (in opposite corners of the front porch, for example) and “visit” each others’ houses.  And sometimes she would have a house and he would be the firefighter who came to put out fires in the house (you might be able to guess which kid picked out which plot…).

And then there were the moments when he was clearly experimenting with the power of being bigger than another kid.  One night the grown-ups were sitting over the remains of dinner.  We heard a scream from the room next door, where the kids where playing.  Then Tadpole came running into the room, giggling.  His younger cousin’s brand new fire truck was tucked under his arm, and the cousin was in hot pursuit.  Tad ducked and weaved around the adults like an NFL player, and went laughing into the kitchen, leaving his cousin in tears.  Sigh.

For Roo and me, it is also wonderful to connect with our nieces and nephew.  I went out into the ocean with my older niece for a long time one day, and we had so much fun.  She clung to me like a little monkey, and we talked about her upcoming school year and giggled when big waves came.  My nephew is working hard on learning to speak and on understanding the world, and he spent an evening dragging me around the house and pointing out things that are “dawt” (dark, i.e. the fireplace and the inside of his mouth).  And I had lots of little moments with my younger niece, including a long walk with her and Tad and my mother-in-law.

So that’s a brief update.  Thanks for checking back despite the dearth of recent posts (and isn’t “dearth” a great word?).

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Filed under Gender, Parenthood, Tadpole, Travel, TTC #2, Uncategorized

Florence!

We went for our HSG on Tuesday.  There’s a long post in the works about that, but I’m waiting to get Roo’s okay before I post it.  In the meantime, here are some more Italy pictures.

“Enough carrots, today prosciutto!”

From a menu: “Bread Goodness”

Our first of of the Duomo.

This cathedral is, as Tadpole would say, “hugenormous!”  We had seen pictures before, but didn’t really understand the size of it until we were standing in front of it.  It’s also an engineering marvel.  The walls were built in the 1300s, but at the time no one knew how the domed ceiling could be put on, since a dome that big had not been created since Roman times.  Filippo Brunelleschi, whose training was as a goldsmith, figured out how to make the dome in the 1400s, and did it without a wooden scaffolding holding the whole thing up.

We saw the real David, but could only take pictures of this one.

The David statue as another thing that I was not expecting to be wowed by.  But it was really really big and really really beautiful (even if one is not as into naked men as Michelangelo was…)

Inside the dome.

We climbed to the top of the dome and on our way up got a closer-up view of the frescoes on the ceiling.  There were some really beautiful bits, as well as some really disturbing pictures of hell.

The view from the top was definitely worth the climb up 400+ steps.

Don’t look down!

Pea pod decorations on the very top of the dome.

Mary Magdalene

This was one of my favorite pieces of art from the whole trip (and since Roo’s gig as an art teacher is what was paying for the trip, we saw a lot of art!).  It’s a very moving and contemporary-looking piece made by Donatello in the 1400s.

A closer view of the same statue

The Ponte Vecchio, a bridge which has held goldsmith shops since the 1300s

There were beautiful fountains like this on practically every corner–and most had potable water.

As vegetarians in Italy we ate an awful lot of meals that contained cheese+tomato+some form of white carb. But this was definitely one of the best! A lovely panino in a funky cafe that we were defintely not cool enough for.

The Pitti Palace

This enormous building contains seven different museums.  We made it through three of them before becoming completely overwhelmed.  In the Palatine Gallery, the walls were stuffed floor-to-ceiling with Renaissance artwork, plus there were paintings of various mythological scenes on the ceilings.  In the Costume Museum there were clothes that were hundreds of year old–including the clothes that several members of the Medici family had been buried in in the 1500s.  We never did find out why they dug them back up…

The Grotto in the gardens adjoining Pitti Palace

A sculpture from inside the Grotto

The sculptures in the Grotto were fascinating and strange and looked like they were part-stalactite.

One of the reasons for our trip–the Uffizi Gallery.  It was another huge palace stuffed with amazing artwork.  We weren’t allowed to take any pictures inside.

I love this sort of thing.  But I should also note that we were very lucky to find lots of folks whose English was far better than our Italian.

Beautiful Tuscan countryside on our way from Florence to Rome.

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Adventures big and small

ETA: I wrote this on Tuesday, but didn’t manage to post it then.  So here it is.

The photos from our trip are all on Roo’s computer, which she is using at the moment.  But I really will post pictures soon.  In the meantime, here are some thoughts about our trip.

It was wonderful to spend so much time with my sweetie!  We called the trip our “ten day date,” and it really felt like it.   I loved having adventures together and exploring unfamiliar cities.  I loved watching Roo’s excitement about the pieces of art that we saw, and learning from her about many different eras of art history.  I loved being able to do things on our schedule without having to worry about a little boy’s naptime or bedtime.  I loved eating out with my lovely spouse (though by the evening we were often too exhausted for much scintillating conversation–not unlike our lives at home!).

I felt like we made a really good team on this adventure.  The trip was wonderful, but also exhausting.  We wanted to make the most of our time (since who knows when we’ll be able to take a trip like this again), but that meant long busy days with miles of walking.  Plus trying to take in huge ornate palaces, stuffed with amazing artwork (as in all of the walls were covered floor-to-ceiling with Rennaisance masterpieces, and the ceilings were painted with mythical scenes as well).  And then there were lots of things that didn’t go the way we had planned, starting with the fact that Roo’s suitcase did not arrive in Venice with us…and when it did we were asked to go back to the airport to retrieve it because it had been “destroyed.”  It turned out to not be quite that bad, but it wasn’t usable anymore, so we did have to spend time wandering the alleyways of Venice in search of shop that would sell us a new suitcase.  Then there was our incredibly-disorganized travel agent who needed multiple phone calls to be convinced to send us our train tickets and the vouchers for day trips we had planned.  And she still got some of them wrong.  Despite all of the exhaustion and the snafoos and spending almost 24 hours a day together for 10 days, we didn’t have any arguments.  I remember some much more difficult times during pre-kid road trips.  I wonder if dealing with the everyday stresses and exhaustion of parenthood made the exhaustion and problems of travel seem small in comparison.

We missed our little boy desperately, especially during the first few days.  On our second night we both got a bit weepy over watching a little boy come up to the stage of some musicians who were playing in St. Mark’s Square (the main plaza in Venice).  If Tad had been there, he would have been right up there with the other little guy.  And in the airport waiting for our last flight home there were two adorable blonde boys, which made the two-hour wait to be reunited with our own little blonde boy feel endless.

These are the musicians in St. Mark’s Square. They happened to be playing a Sound of Music medly.

Tadpole seems to have managed the whole thing amazingly well.  He is full of stories about all of his adventures with his relatives, from feeding the ducks at the duck-pond to a bus adventure downtown.  Both grandmothers report that he generally didn’t seem upset and that he mostly behaved himself.  Since we have been home there have been several major meltdowns over minor things, and numerous instances of him trying to kick one or the other of us out–one night Mommy wasn’t allowed to read the bedtime stories, and another night Momma wasn’t even allowed in Tadpole’s room at bedtime.  It all seems very normal–and I’d certainly rather he have his meltdowns with us than with his grandparents!

We went directly from our school year routine to the trip, and when we got back it was suddenly summertime.  This means Roo spends most of Monday through Thursday having fun adventures with Tad, and we all get three-day weekends together.  Going back to work on Monday morning was rough, knowing that my two favorite people were going to the zoo together while I would be catching up on email and paperwork.  But I get off early on Tuesdays, and Tad and I had a lovely time today with a visit to the neighborhood farmers’ market, followed by a (buggy) picnic in the backyard.  We even discovered ripe raspberries on the bushes that have taken over an overgrown part of the yard.  And our little family of three spent about half an hour being silly and snuggly on Tad’s bed tonight.  One huge plus of the summer non-schedule is that we don’t have to wake Tad up at 6:30 every morning!  Which means silly, snuggly, up-past-his-bedtime evenings are much more doable.

It was wonderful to be away–and it’s also wonderful to be home again!

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Venice!

Here are a few of the pictures from the first city we visited, Venice.  In the interest of full disclosure, most of them were taken by Roo.  We felt so lucky to have this experience–thanks to Roo’s work for making it possible!  There’s a more wordy post about our travels percolating, but I thought I’d put this together in the meantime.

We really enjoyed our time in Venice, especially the afternoon that we spent just wandering the streets and alleyways.  Everywhere we turned was another postcard shot.  And it was fascinating to learn more about how people live in a city where there are canals instead of streets.

Unfortunately, lots of other people love Venice too.  There were several times when we looked around a restaurant and realized that every single customer there was speaking English.

Our first view of the Grand Canal (the wide canal that winds through the city)

There were fascinating alleyways like this everywhere

We saw lots of interesting window displays in all three cities that we visited. Some we beautiful and some were…interesting….
Despite signs like this, the majority of folks we ran into spoke far better English than I spoke Italian.
Angry mermaid graffiti!
St. Mark’s Square, with the bell tower and St. Mark’s Basilica in the background

The winged lion, a symbol of Venice

Gondoliers!

More of the Grand Canal

We took a day trip to three islands near Venice. One of them is Murano, which has been known for its glass-making for centuries.

The artist in the previous photo made a gorgeous horse sculpture in about 30 seconds.

The shore around Murano is littered with glass fragments.

We took this one for Tadpole, who has been fascinated by the idea of an ambulance boat.

This church, on the island of Torcello, had beautiful Byzantine mosaics dating from the 11th and 12th centuries. It was hard for us ‘Mericans to wrap our heads around the idea of something that old.

Gondolier with cell phone and cigarette

A mosaic on the side of an old palace, showing the glass-blowing process

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