Friday, September 30, 2011

Who Loves Shoes?

Madelyn has inherited my love of shoes.  She gets so excited when she gets a new pair of shoes that she insists on wearing them around the house.

A story that I left out from our visit to Turkey was from the market that we stopped and shopped in.  I couldn't resist buying a hand embroidered top for Madelyn and also a little Turkish dancer costume.  During the shopping my dad took Madelyn around for a little bit and he came back to Justin and I to let us know that Madelyn wanted a pair of shoes to match her little dancer costume.  With delight he went and bought Madelyn the first gift that he has picked out on his own.
Madelyn was thrilled - she insisted on wearing them around even though they are a little difficult for her to walk in.

Of course we packed them away until we got back from our trip, and they were in the piles of things on the bed in Madelyn's room waiting to be put away until tonight when Madelyn found them.  With delight she wanted to put them on and walk around the house.  Although I was getting her ready for bed I couldn't resist letting her and capturing a few pictures.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What Kind of Dog?

I love Aubrey.  She's a great dog with only a few faults.  Most importantly she loves people and she is great with Madelyn.  However...

Tonight I made popcorn - over the stove and then topped with lots of butter and popcorn.  However, when transferring the popcorn from the popper to the bowl I spilled some popcorn on the floor.  Aubrey refused to eat the popcorn because it wasn't salted and buttered yet.  I mean, really?  What kind of dog needs her popcorn salted and buttered.  Sigh.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Settling Back In

Good news...Madelyn seems to finally be over her jet lag.  It took her spending a night with her grandparents on Saturday for her to decide that she was ready to sleep when it is dark outside for the whole night.  However, she came home and slept all night last night we are feeling pretty successful.  That being said, we are going to go easy on the travel for a little while.

Although Madelyn's vocabulary is not extremely extensive, she added two new very important words over the last week.  Her first breakthrough word is "no."  We knew it was coming...she's been saying "yes" for almost as long as she's been talking so it stands to reason that "no" would make an appearance sooner or later.  In many ways this is a good breakthrough because now she can answer questions with a negative instead of screaming or throwing a tantrum.  However, she is very expressive in her "no" answers.  It involves head shaking and hand waving as well.  It is often difficult not to laugh at her.

The second important word that Madelyn added to her vocabulary is "Aubrey."  We have been encouraging her to learn Aubrey's name, or to say dog or puppy or something to refer to Aubrey other then shouting "ba!" and pointing.  She didn't appear to be making progress, but the first time she saw Aubrey after we got back she started saying Aubrey's name and she hasn't stopped.  She asks about Aubrey all the time, and wants to hold her and pet her all the time.  Aubrey generally seems pretty happy to see Madelyn as well.

So, now that vacation is over we are settling into our fall groove.  I'm sad to see summer go, but I know that fall and winter have good things in store for us.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Crete and Home Again

Our final port of call was one the island of Crete - at the main port in Chania.  The first place that we went was up in the hills surrounding the port which made for some stunning pictures.  The ruins of the wall were from back in Roman times, although there were a lot of ruins from different periods since the port has been overrun by several different empires in its history, and near our first stop was a current excavation site and so some of the information about which ruins were from which time period got a little jumbled for me.  Crete engendered some good feelings for me because after several days in mid-90 degree temperatures the low 80s that we experienced on Crete were a relief!  However, retrospectively 3 straight days of bus tours was pushing Madelyn's limits.  The beaches (at which we were only able to stop for about 15 minutes) were amazing - the sand was soft, the water was clear...I could have easily spent a good long week vacationing there.  Maybe another time...

We stopped in a village where Mom, Becci, Micah, and I had some coffee at a local cafe.  Becky and Micah ordered Greek coffee, while Becci and I thought a Frappe sounded pretty safe (of course there weren't any descriptions so we really had no idea what we were ordering).  Becci and I got sweet iced coffees with some sort of foam that were really good.  Micah and Mom got very strong hot coffee that was sweetened as well...Becci and I were pretty happy with our choice. The tour ended with some shopping time in the main shopping area of Chania which our tour guide called the "Venice Without Water."  With the narrow crowded streets and stalls and shops on top of each other Justin and I both agreed that we could see some resemblance.  The port did undergo a period of rule under the Venetians, so it isn't surprising that some influence was evident.  We did manage to buy some local olive oil in while we were in Crete - it is one of the four largest olive oil producers in the world.  The others being Italy, Greece (mainland), and Turkey.  Becci and Micah actually got olive oil in both Turkey and Crete, so it will be interesting to hear from them if they noticed any difference.

This trip had a good mix of busyness and relaxation.  We always were back on the ship for some relaxation time, and we had 2 at sea days that were a much more low key pace.  One of the things that was nice was that we had formal dinners every evening in the main dining room.  Although only two nights required actual formal attire, every night you "dressed" for dinner - something we don't really ever do at home.  2 hour formal dinners were a bit long for Madelyn, so Justin and I, but mostly my Dad, took turns walking around with Madelyn between courses.  Dad and Madelyn met a significant number of other people that way (other cruisers and the majority of the waiters in the resturant).  On the last night many of them stopped by to say goodbye to Madelyn.  I think she really enjoyed those times with her Grandpa and was pretty sad the last few days when Grandpa wasn't around to take her places and explain everything to her.  I think she misses everyone being together in general - she keeps asking me where everyone is :)

The last formal night I got a couple of pictures of my parents, dressed up to celebrate 30 fantastic years of marriage.  Congrats Mom and Dad and thank you!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Jet Lag...

I don't think I have ever truly appreciated the difficulties of jet lag until dealing with jet lag in a toddler.  Usually coming back I have done pretty well, just sleeping an extra few hours the night that we get back and then getting back to a pretty regular routine, however Madelyn has had more struggles today than anticipated.  We all crashed when we got back from the airport at about 8:30 last night and all was well until 2:30 am when Madelyn appeared to think "it's 9:30 am in Italy - isn't it time to get up?"  After getting her to go back to sleep off and on I finally gave up at 6:30 when Justin left for work and figured we were probably both most awake in the morning so we should try to get laundry and grocery shopping done early before we crashed.  I think in part her difficulty adjusting was because she slept so much of the flight home - she slept for about 5 hours, but I figured that it was easier to deal with her asleep on the plane and cranky and awake at home, and retrospectively I still think that was the best solution.   As well as she handled the long flight on the way to Europe, she was even better on the way home.  She was happy and engaged while she was awake and she slept for a lot of the flight.  She had about a 5 minute meltdown about 7 hours into the flight but then decided to go back to sleep, and then again cried for about 5 minutes when we began our initial descent and her ears hurt.  She was so tired that she wasn't accepting anything we gave her to swallow to help with her ears, but as she woke up she calmed down.   Overall we had less then 20 minutes of real fussiness on the flight, which is pretty good for a nine hour flight.  I let her go to bed about an hour early tonight - she wasn't really functioning any longer and just kept pointing to her room and saying "night night."  She made her desires pretty clear.

To combat the very strong urge to go to sleep I thought I would post some of the other pictures from our trip.  Hopefully this will help me reach my goal of making it until at least 8:30 before I crash tonight.

I only managed a post after Messina (in Sicily) and I will post pictures from our other stops, but with the time crunch this picture of Becci got left out and I thought that it captured her feelings on all of my picture taking well, besides having a nice glimpse of the area surrounding the port.
After stopping in Messina (in Sicily) our next port was Athens, Greece.  I was really looking forward to Athens - the Parthenon and the Acropolis are things you grow up seeing and learning about in history books and it was pretty amazing to actually see it in person.  Madelyn had a somewhat rough morning in part due to the fact that we were up and off the ship by 7:30 for this tour and also in part because it was over 90 degrees and humid that day as well.  Then, my parents were going to head back to the ship with Madelyn and Becci, Micah, Justin and I were going to get off the bus to do some shopping and exploring of Athens on our own, but somehow we missed the opportunity and ended up back at the ship with everyone else.  It ended up being nice to spend the afternoon relaxing with a pool and air conditioning instead of out in the heat of the afternoon.

These two pictures are of Dad, Madelyn, and Micah on Mars Hill (which is incidentally actually a hill) where Paul gave his famous sermon where he referenced the idol to an unknown god.  The guys and Madelyn took this side trip without Mom, Becci, and I.  It was hot and a long way up...

I had the fewest expectations about Ephesus I think, maybe because I didn't really know what to expect.  However, it was definitely my favorite tour and made me very interested in getting back to Turkey some day.  Fortunately, Justin is pretty sure that we need to go back as well.  In the morning we saw the ancient ruins from the Ephesus of Biblical times (the city has actually been moved several times; it was near the sea when it was built but is now five miles away)  Then we had lunch and went shopping in a village near Ephesus, and finally ended the day at a place where they make carpets by hand.  We found out that for a mere $35,000 we could own a silk handmade Turkish carpet that would be big enough to cover the floor in a large room.  We didn't come home with any carpets.  That is also where we got to have Turkish coffee which was amazing.  The day was a good mix of relaxing and sight seeing.  Here are a few pictures from Ephesus.

This was a symbol that was used by Christians to signal houses where other Christians were welcome to gather.
 In the upper left of this picture you can see what is left of the library of Celsus, which was one of the great ancient libraries.

The morning light made it tough to get a picture of the ampitheater, but hopefully this captures it a little bit.

This is already a pretty long post and my ability to keep my eyes open is rapidly dwindling.  I will finish posting about the trip another night when my eyes aren't so heavy and hopefully we have all readjusted to Minnesota time :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Over the past 3 days in Italy we have come to realize how limited our understanding is of Italian. That being said we are having an excellent time. The flight from Amsterdam to Rome was relatively short and uneventful. Dad was asleep by the time we took off and Justin wasn't far behind him. Mom and I didn't get much sleep but we did manage to get Madelyn to sleep, which was good for her. Aside from a first night adjustment of being awake from 1:0-2:30 am, Madelyn seems to be adjusting to the time change better than I am. She slept all night last night and was not ready to get up in the morning.

On Saturday we attempted to visit the Colosseum since our desk clerk at the hotel told us it was open until 7:00 pm, but as it turns out it close at 6:00 pm. So, we walked around the outside and went around the outside of the Roman Forum, and then had dinner and went back to the hotel. The
only unfortunate event of the night was when we burned out the CD player that we brought with us so we are music-less for Madelyn's sleeping, but we seem to have done alright so far.

Sunday morning we got up early and went to the Colosseum – it was open this time. Madelyn appropriately oohed and ahhed, but also fell asleep in the backpack carrier Becci and Micah carried. Then it was back to the hotel and to the ship.

Today we had our first stop of the cruise in Messina, Sicily. Our excursion took us to a cathedral in Messina and the Astronomical Clock. Madelyn fell asleep while I was carrying her around the cathedral and attached museum, so I missed the noon show of the clock because I was sitting in the shade, however the clock was on the fritz so it sounded like I didn't miss too much. We also went to see Christ the King Cathedral which overlooks the Straight of Messina.

Becci, Micah, Justin and I also completed a little shopping around Messina not far from where the ship was. The weather has been beautiful, and Madelyn has been an outstanding traveler. However, the internet on the ship is pretty slow and expensive, so I am not sure when this post is going to make it up or if any of the related pictures will be uploaded. We will give this a try!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

On our way!

I'm writing a quick update from amsterdam while we wait to board our flight for Rome.  Madelyn did sleep for about 3.5 hours of the flight so that was pretty good, but she was pretty sad when she woke up at 2 am not in her own bed. I can relate to that feeling.  We're all pretty tired but happy to have made it this far.  I can't get the flight picture to load right now but will try again later :)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Controversial Thursday

Ok, I stole the idea of a controversial post from a friend's blog, but recently a co-worker and I talked about child harnesses or "leashes" and I am not really sure what I think about them.  On the one hand, leashing your child seems a little uncomfortable, but on the other hand it allows safety and freedom for active toddlers.  I think it would be hard to say they are never a good idea.

Here are some examples of a few of these harnesses I found on Amazon:
Monkey Harness Child Safety Leash
Monkey Harness
Mommy's Helper
I even found an "electronic child leash" which emits a signal instead of actually having a physical connection between parent and child:
Electronic Child Leash

I found an article in the NY Times from this past March about a Parenting Magazine article that caused a lot of controversy and many letters from upset readers.  The article is titled "Are Leashes for Children?" and it also sparked a lot of heated debate.  You can click on the link to go to the article if you are interested.  What about you?  What do you think?