Saturday, December 17, 2011

Catching up

A Christmas Market in Vienna
It’s been a long time since we gave everyone an update on our adventures in Portugal. We have no excuses other than being busy with two small children and two jobs and four pets and some friendly visitors and traveling to interesting places and, and, and.

Port Wine Tasting with Kim and Patrick
October and November were good times to receive some friends and family in Portugal and to share the developments of Amelia and Tristan. In early October we had Gemma (Dan’s mom) here who came over to play with the grandkids. We also had our friends Kim and Patrick visit from Colorado who took the chance to explore Portugal and were able to visit with us for a few days. And then we had the chance to celebrate an early Thanksgiving with some family for the first time in several years as Grandpa Steve (Katrin’s dad) and Grandma Pam came over. It was great to have the chance to catch up with everyone and to see the kids play with some of their extended family members.
A Concert in Vienna
 In early December we decided to explore a little bit more of Europe and we flew to Vienna for a few days and then took a train from there to Prague. Our children remain enamored with traveling, especially Amelia who has now been in ten countries and is always talking of her next travel opportunity. As we schlepped all of our stuff down a flight of stairs to get on a bus to take us out to the plane in Barcelona and after being on the go for quite a while Amelia declared “I like taking a bus to get the plane because I am a traveler.”  The Christmas season was a great time to visit as the cities were lit up and revelers were everywhere and the famed Christmas markets were a fun adventure for the kids. The little ones weren’t used to the colder weather there but we got a bit lucky with temps in the low 40s and no rain. In Vienna we enjoyed touring the Spanish Riding School and walking through the gardens of the Schoenbrunn Palace and in Prague we mostly walked around saying “wow”. The innumerable spires, the old bridges across the river, the castle up on the hill and the general eclectic feel of the city left us breathless. 
Our Quaint Little Hotel Room in Prague
And the View from the Windows
We are now preparing for our next trip which will be to USA for the holidays. This year we’ll keep ourselves to the east coast where we’ll have the chance to visit old friends in DC, celebrate Christmas with family in New York, and ring in the new year in Miami.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Wheels on the Bus

This has been a huge hit for the last few weeks. Both kids like to pack their bags on go for a trip on our new bus. Unfortunately the bus has seen better days and may be taking a trip to the recycle bin soon, but it sure was fun while it lasted!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thank You Binky Fairy!

So perhaps writing that last sentence of that last post gave us the push we needed, but shortly thereafter the binky became a thing of the past. We had already told Amelia that when she was ready to give up the pacifier the binky fairy would come and take all of her binkys to give to new babies and would leave Amelia a present in return. She was excited about the idea, so we made a special little box to give them away in and for months she would wake up and say she was ready to give the binkys to the binky fairy, but every evening she would declare "I'm not ready!" and then pop it back in her mouth, and it was often a struggle to enforce the binky only when hurt or sleeping rule.

Then, one evening when Dan was away for business for a few days, Amelia was lying in my bed with me. We had just finished reading and getting ready for bed, and she wanted to sleep in my bed since Dadda was gone. Tristan had just settled down in his crib nearby, and I was likewise ready for sleep when I heard "Mommmmy, biiiiiinky!" in a rather unpleasant whine. So out of exhaustion I replied "If you want to stay in Mommy's bed, then you have to sleep without a binky tonight. If you want me to go get the binky, then you will sleep in your bed." I'll admit it was taking a risk pitting her love for me up against that piece of plastic, but it paid off, since she decided to stay. The next morning I put out two new wrapped puzzles on the coffee table before she got up, and I told her the binky fairy had brought them since she slept without the binky for one night, and there would be more when she decided to give them away. The second night, the was the same. No binky if she wanted to sleep in my bed, and another puzzle when she got up. The morning after the third night I had no more stash of presents, so I was going to tell her the binky fairy was saving the rest for when she gave them up for good. Then the doorbell rang and I went out to pick up the package that arrived...

When I came back in, a bleary eyed Amelia was shuffling down the stairs and rubbing her eyes she looked at me sleepily and said "Mommy, was that the binky fairy?"

I looked down at the box I was holding in my hands, knowing full well it contained a supply of dress-up clothes for Amelia I had ordered, and then back out the window at the departing delivery guy. "Why yes, it was the binky fairy," I declared.

"Do you have to give her all of my binkys?"

I seized my opportunity. "Well, if you are ready to give them to the new babies, and if you want to see what is in this present, then yes, I have to give her all of the binkys."

"Mommy, I'm ready now."

I grabbed our binky box and ran out the door and threw them into the glove compartment of my car (just in case), then ran back in. Amelia was so excited about all of the dress up clothes, and didn't asked for her binky once that day. The next day was the big test. She fell in the driveway and started crying for her binky. After I reminded her we gave them away, she was OK with that. We saw other babies with pacifiers and that was OK too. Then Dadda came home and she slept in her own bed without it (well, for most of the night). I guess she really was ready. I know I was.

Here are a few photos of our doctor, fairy, bride and her brother enjoying their gifts.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Kiddo Update

Tristan has been changing at an amazingly fast rate. He turned one on August 1 while we were in Turkey, so he got to open some presents before we left and then we did a cake and more presents when we got back. He thought the boxes were pretty fun, but his older sister soon helped him figure out that there were cool things *inside* them as well. He started taking a few tentative steps a few weeks later, and then in early September  he decide that it was time to start walking everywhere, so that is what he does now. As a result he seems to have forgotten how to climb backwards down steps, so now he stops at the top and screeches as loud as he can until someone comes to help him. When he does Amelia has started going over and saying "Tristan sit down and go like this," then she proceeds to show him how he is supposed to go down, what an amazing big sister! Of course at other times she walks over and snatches whatever he is playing with and leaves him screeching all on his own. He is communicating a little bit, with words like "more (pronounced "muh")," "uh-oh," and  "ja esta" (all done). He thinks that all animals say "quack-quack," and all cats are called Ba ba (one of our cat's names) but is starting to get the hang of "moo," meow," and "woof-woof." And he recently began to differentiate between "Mama" and "Dadda." While he doesn't say much, he definitely has opinions and understands a lot. If he hears the word good-bye he will wave at everyone and head to the door, or if you say it is time for nap or bed he is on his way up the stairs. He loves music, both making it and dancing to it, and I must admit there isn't much cuter in this world then a baby bopping up and down in their perception of rhythm.

Amelia seems to be growing up right in front of us. Some of the sophistication in her statements and memory truly amaze me, and I can't get anything by her anymore! She is going to preschool 3 mornings per week and her Portuguese is improving in leaps and bounds. Now when she is playing on her own I often hear her talking to her stuffed animals in either language. And she always keeps them separate except when she doesn't know a word in Portuguese she will just throw in the English one.  Pretty amazing. Now if only we could get rid of that binky!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Turkey Part 3 - Cirali

Arriving at the Antalya airport on the Mediterranean only one word entered my mind...HOT. That was all that could break through the 100+ degree temperature. We took a van along the coast to the sleepy village of Cirali, where we spent the first day or two trying to make sure the kids (and us, too) didn't overheat. So we mixed it up between time at the pool and naps in our air-conditioned room. We found that the best time to visit the beach was after the sun sunk below the hills, but there was still plenty of light (and warmth) left.
During our leisurely week in Cirali we spent a day on a sailboat trip swimming and snorkeling in uninhabited coves; we traipsed through Greek mythology with visits to the ruins of ancient Olympus and the eternal flames of Chimaera where fire spills from the earth on one of the hillsides above the town; we dined on fresh seafood and consumed copious amounts of ice cream; and, of course, we spent many hours relaxing in and around the pool.
It was great to watch Amelia become totally enamored with the water. While we had done swimming lessons at home, she wasn't thrilled with the fact that she had to follow specific activities, and she hated it when the teacher put her underwater. So in Cirali we bought her a pair of water wings and a pool noodle and after we convinced her to try them out the only way to get her to take a break from the pool was to bribe her with an ice cream sundae.
Tristan made many friends everywhere we went, and in particular some special friends with a couple who was staying at our hotel. The young woman was completely in love with him and would shriek and come running over whenever we were coming or going. They spent a lot of time with him, and when it was time for them to leave we wanted to check their bags to make sure he wasn't packed in one of them! They definitely helped give Dan and I some extra time to relax, and they even bought him this fancy baby pool toy.
I also got to spend one very special morning watching WWF biologists assist in the hatching of the endangered caretta caretta turtles (loggerhead turtles). The turtles lay their eggs under the sand in June and July, and then around 50 days later the tiny hatchlings emerge and make their way to the sea under the cover of darkness. WWF tries to prevent people from going onto the beach at night, but at dawn the biologists can sometimes be found opening the nests that have recently hatched to help along any stragglers, giving us tourists a chance to witness. I got to see them take out 5 babies who then heroically started their 30-yard journey to the ocean. It was amazing to watch the little guys struggle through the sand, though it ended quite anticlimactically when the biologist strode over without a word and picked them each up and popped them into his backpack. He later explained that there were seagulls waiting for a baby turtle buffet, so they would all be released at night when it was safer.After our very pleasant week on the coast, it was time time to say good-bye to Turkey. We had a wonderful trip, and you can find some photos posted here.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Bonus Turkey Footage - Tristan's Log

While you eagerly await the final installment of our trip report to Turkey, here is a little something to keep you interested. Since Tristan didn't seem quite as excited about everything as we were, and since his need for sleep is considerably higher than ours, we spent much of our trip trying to get him to sleep so we could do other things and he would remain a happy camper. So he basically turned our vacation into his own personal Dr. Seuss book of napping. Here is a photo journal of his trip:
Would you, could you on a boat?
Could you, would you with a goat?
Naps on planes, on cars, or in a cave,
And when I sleep through meals I don't misbehave.
On Mommy's back or Dadda's knee,
Try a hammock under a tree.
On the Palace lawn you say?
I could nap there everyday.
Yes, I can nap here OR there,
Say, I can nap ANYWHERE!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Turkey Part 2 - The Magic of Cappadocia

Arising in the darkness for our early flight from Istanbul to central Turkey, Dan and I were sneaking around the room trying to get everything packed up when Amelia sat up and cheerily said she was ready to go. No complaints or fussiness about the early departure made for an easy trip to the airport followed by another quick and bumpy flight, but with no incidents, then we arrived in Cappadocia.
By far one of the most magical places I have ever seen. With surreal landscapes that look like they are from some far off planet or possibly from somewhere in middle earth. I think I walked around with a look of awe on my face the entire 3 days we were there. I couldn't help but to keep poking Dan and saying "Wow, look at that." Luckily he also seemed impressed, and thus was willing to tolerate my giddiness.
We rented a car and drove to many of the sites in the area, including many cave churches and dwellings, entire underground cities, huge scenic valleys, old stopovers from the silk road, and fairy chimneys. We did not partake in one of the most popular activities in Cappadocia, hot-air ballooning at sunrise. While it looked like an amazing experience, we decided that getting the kids up at 5am (again) was probably not worth it. However, I did get up one morning just to watch the balloons fly over the valley, which was in itself a beautiful site. I sat on the terrace of our cave hotel with the early morning peace and silence being broken only by the occasional hissing of the burner from one of the dozens of balloons floating through the sky. I cannot possibly find the words to describe this amazing place and my enjoyment of it, and my pictures likewise do not do it justice, but hopefully they give you some idea. Watch for my last installment of our trip and the complete set of pictures, coming soon.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Turkey Part 1 - Istanbul

We started off our trip on Sunday, July 31st. What better way to start off our 8th year of marriage than by exploring a new country together as a family? We were packed, the dogs were at their "resort," the catsitter was all set, and we were off to Lisbon to begin our trip. Amelia was super excited to be travelling again (despite the initial, very understandable confusion about the fact that we probably would not see any actual turkeys in Turkey), and she recited each step of our plan with increasing exhilaration and volume (drop off the car, check-in and get our tickets, go through security, find our gate, get on the airplane, put on our seatbelts, start to move, go REALLY fast, GO UP IN THE SKY!!).

Our first flight was a quick hop to Madrid, and so far everything had gone exactly as planned, but then the turbulence struck, and struck, and struck again. I watched my exuberant little girl go from boisterous and thrilled to silent and green. Then we heard someone a few rows behind us throw-up, and then it was our turn. We had been saying it was OK if she needed to throw-up, we had the bag at the ready, but when the time came, she silently just opened her mouth and let it all out on the floor (though not without hitting both herself and me first). Thankfully she missed the iPad and all of our carry-ons beneath her seat, and I'm pretty sure she missed the feet of the person behind her (though it was close). We seemed to have packed every possible extra piece of clothing except an extra shirt for her, so our skinny almost three year old was sporting a bit of belly in her 1 year old brothers t-shirt for the rest of the trip. Luckily the first leg of the trip was the worst part of the whole two weeks, and everything else just got better and better. After a few hours in Madrid (and some time in the airport's great children's play area) Amelia remained enthusiastic and boarded the plane for an uneventful flight to Istanbul.
As we made our way from the Istanbul airport into town, the road followed a long park that stretched along the sea. We started to notice shadowy figures all along the park. As we got closer to the city we saw more and more and realized it was hundreds of people picnicking in the park, after midnight on a Sunday night. There were large families with children running everywhere and couples dining romantically. We thought at first it was the city's way of escaping the midsummer heat, but then we realized that the following morning was the start of Ramadan and everyone was feasting late into the night in the park before the fasting began in the morning. It was a beautiful way to enter a beautiful city.

We spent the next three days exploring Sultanahmet (the old part of the city), cruising the Bosporus, becoming totally overwhelmed in the Grand Bazaar, and eating some scrumptious food. We learned fast that Turkey is even more of a baby culture than Portugal, and while we love it in Portugal, it was a bit over the top in Turkey, to the extent that we could barely walk down the street with Tristan and Amelia without stopping every two feet as someone tousled their hair, pinched their cheeks, and asked them questions.

As an example, one day as Dan stayed with Tristan during an afternoon nap, Amelia and I decided to lose ourselves in the city. We wandered aimlessly and stopped to watch fountains and street dogs, she danced at the performance of a band, and before we set off back to our hotel we stopped for ice cream and sat outside the cafe on a bench to eat it. The group of young men working at the cafe were instantly smitten with the blond-haired little girl with ice cream on her nose. They all came out and handed her bags of gourmet chocolates and truffles from the shop in attempts to get her only to tell them her name (she demurely refused). At each restaurant the owner or waiter was always ready to whisk Tristan up at the slightest sign of boredom, and I don't think either of our children has ever had so much attention from so many people. They seemed to both revel in it and be overwhelmed by it at the same time.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Istanbul, and Dan and I for the first time in our travels together made a real effort to slow down and decide not to see everything. This was necessitated by the need to listen to our children's schedules, and it enabled us to take in the things we wanted to at times and at other times we were able to savor the feel of the city at its playgrounds and while sipping lemonade in a park while socializing with the local street animals (which were Amelia's favorite sites).

For now I think I have overstepped my allotted computer time and both children are awake and ready to go do something more interesting. Look for more tales from our travels in the next few days, and I will get pictures up on Picasa soon as well (I hope).

Saturday, July 23, 2011

More Daily Amelia-isms

1) While putting her to sleep at night she gets to cuddle on the rocking chair with me as long as she wants, but once she gets up it is time for bed. She keeps trying new tactics to get back up and cuddle again. The latest utterance, while getting misty eyed and lower-lip quivering "But mommy, I don't have any cuddle left in my tummy." Now who out there could say no to that?

2) Direct quote upon waking from her nap today, bed-headed, wearing only a diaper and a t-shirt and carrying a teddy bear: "Mommy, I want to go have a party." So off we go!

Monday, July 4, 2011


In June we finally made it to Salamanca, a trip we have been meaning to take for quite a while. It is a beautiful little Spanish town about a 3 hour drive from us. They are right on a river, making the town a great respite from the surrounding desert, and they have wonderful old university buildings and a beautiful cathedral. The huge square in the center of the old town functions as a social gathering point and is surrounded by restaurants and pedestrian areas. This coupled with the relaxed Spanish summer nights made for a great get-away. As usual, our little travelers were awesome and relished the 10pm dinners topped off with a stroll and an ice cream before retiring for the evening. Amelia was enthralled with our hotel room, and kept wanting to return there when we were done (ex)"ploring."

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I'll take the High Road...

First, we should apologize for not writing in so long. We only have one excuse…it’s summer. When the sun shines every day and it doesn’t get dark until 21:30, we find that time speeds by a little more quickly. Of course if you don't buy that excuse, our other two excuses are named Amelia and Tristan, they keep us pretty busy! But we did want to tell you about our trip at the end of May.

This was Tristan’s second plane trip, after going to the US for Xmas. He was a champ and travels as easily as Amelia, who has probably spent more time on airplanes than she has on changing tables (okay, that might not be true). But traveling with the kids was actually easy and even exciting. Amelia had been counting down on a calendar for the last month, and was super excited. Tristan seemed pretty excited, too, but he usually is. After traveling all across the US, a 3-hour direct flight from Lisbon to Edinburgh is really like a walk in the park.

For those of you who haven’t been to Scotland, it’s a gorgeous country. The rolling hills, rugged coast, thickening fog and flowing scotch combine to make a relaxing vacation. Especially appealing were the un-refurbished castles that quickly take you back to the 13th century. It’s remarkable how those Scots spent most of their time fighting one another, clan against clan, but I think the challenging landscape and challenging climate helped shape the rough-and-tumble culture.

We joined Karen and Kevin from Santa Barbara on this trip, and Liam and Julie came over from Portland. We had a remarkably comfortable home on the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond for a week, not much swimming (though Liam and Dan confirmed the water was VERY cold), but some hiking, exploring, and we were known to pop into the nearby pub for a pint or an espresso when it was raining (daily) or when the power went out (we experienced a pretty rough storm). And to top it all off, our babysitter was two doors down the hallway and she didn’t even mind Amelia yelling “Hey Grandma!” all day long which was then followed by whatever command she felt like doing at that moment.

We hope you all are enjoying summer as much as we are. It’s much easier to entertain young children when you can be outside and let them run around and use up their energy. We’ll try to update again soon, including telling you about our recent sojourn to Salamanca, Spain and our upcoming summer holiday in Turkey which will be in August. For more pictures of our Scotland trip, click here. Até já

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tristan's New Tricks

So the last two weeks have been quite busy for Tristan. He progressed from moving by slithering on his belly and pulling himself along with his arms while flailing his legs wildly behind him, so a full fledged crawl. In addition, he started pulling himself up on whatever he was able to crawl over to (the coffee table, our legs, a dog, etc.). So now he is truly able to explore the world and whatever he sets his sights on, which unfortunately so far seems to be the dogs' water bowl, the toilet brush, and anything that looks interesting to put in his mouth. He also seems to have developed a sixth sense, in that he is always able to anticipate the toy Amelia might want to play with next, and the instant he touches it she wants it. Amazing isn't it?

He figured out clapping just this last week or so as well, and he thinks it is really neat that he can start clapping at the dinner table and all of a sudden Amelia, Dan, and I are clapping along with him. He stops and starts and watches us follow along. Feel the power little man.

On the tooth front he went in a matter of days from four to six, with seven and eight on the cusp. I don't think he actually uses words yet, but I do wonder, since I hear a lot of ma ma ma ma when I come in the room, and he was giving us a lot of ba ba ba ba while playing with balls at Gymboree this week. Maybe one of these days I'll be able to decipher a definitive word.

We are off to Scotland tomorrow, Amelia is super excited to go on an airplane and see Grandma. Dan and I are super excited to have a live-in babysitter for a week! I'll get some new photos up of Tristan's new tricks and our travels when we return. Até !

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Little Minds at Work

Amelia has a couple of books where the main characters have a birthday, so lately she has been making cakes and then asking me to sing "Happy Birthday" (and the Portuguese equivalent). Yesterday she built a beautiful block cake and asked me to sing, and I obliged with rounds of "Parabéns a Você" and "Happy Birthday to Amelia."

When I was finished she said, "Now three for Mommy."

Having absolutely no idea what that meant, I questioned her: "Three what for Mommy? Three pieces of cake for me? Do you want me to sing Happy Birthday for Mommy?"

"Yes, three for Mommy."

Still confused I gave it a go and let out a weak "Happy Birthday to You" and was promptly interrupted.

"No, three."

"Three what, I don't understand?"

It went on like this for a while, until I finally got it, and correctly sang:

"Happy Birthday Three You,
Happy Birthday Three You,
Happy Birthday Dear Mommy,
Happy Birthday Three You."

Because as Amelia astutely observed, this is the proper encore after a round of "Happy Birthday Two You!"

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Noodle

As I was doing the dishes tonight, Amelia was playing along in her kitchen. She had some dried pasta and spaghetti noodles that she was cooking. I told her as soon as I was finished we were going upstairs to get ready for bed, so she put her things away and came over to me holding a spaghetti noodle.

"Can I take this one upstairs with me?" she asked.

"Of course" I responded, "You may bring that noodle upstairs to get ready for bed with you."

She looked at the noodle for another minute and then said "This one is beautiful!"

If only we all could find the beauty in a single noodle. Let's make that our goal for today.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Spring Update

So I know it has been awhile without any real news, but things here are going well. Spring has brought us some nice weather and lots of time outside. We've had our first visits to the beach for the year, set up the baby pool in the backyard, and spent a lot of time in the sandbox.

Now that Tristan can sit up he enjoys sitting in place and playing with various toys in his vicinity while occasionally laughing at his sister. When we place toys at a distance he can eventually get to them, but his crawling still leaves some coordination to be desired. All a work in progress. At this point in time he's about 3 months behind Amelia, who literally couldn't be held down. Tristan is still generally content to look around and enjoy his surroundings, and of course all of the activity of watching his sister. He also now got 4 teeth, working on 5, and is enjoying some of the new foods we are presenting him with (and others are of course flat out rejected).

The month of May will hopefully bring more sunshine and chances to explore the outdoors together. It will also bring a family vacation to Scotland to join Karen, Kevin, Liam and Julie. Amelia got the travel bug a little early in life and is now crossing days off the calendar until it is time to "get on airplane, with people and suitcases, and play blocks with Grandma!" That will be our next adventure to share with you.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Feeling Adventurous? Come over for Dinner.

So one week in April, Dan ended up having to go out to dinner a few nights with various visitors from work, it happened that one of those nights I tried something new in the kitchen. After coming home and seeing the pictures he told me he was glad he happened to be gone, but Amelia and I had fun, and they were pretty good!
That day our Senhora do Peixe came by and started our adventure. Definitely one of the perks of living here, having fresh fish show up in a truck at your door and you can choose what you want to cook for dinner. Though occasionally it gets chosen for you. As in this instance, when I chose some fish and then she decided to also give us some samples "for Amelia" along with instructions about how to cook them. So here are some photos of our "Pescadinhas de Rabo na Boca," which translates roughly into little fish with tail in mouth. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Traveling to the UK: the anti-Portugal

After trying for the last few days e-mailing and calling to make a reservation at a B&B for our upcoming trip in Scotland I am really starting to see why so many Brits end up here (I thought it was just the weather!). The welcoming attitude we experience everywhere we go in Portugal seems completely absent in the UK, especially the minute I mention "we will have a baby with us." We won't even have the two year old since she is going to do an overnight with Grandma. I have been refused because of:

1. They can not have us for liability reasons because the steps are too steep ("but he doesn't walk, or even crawl yet"..."but you will have to carry him up them").

2. They can not allow him in our room for fire code reasons (nice excuse to hide behind, just say what you mean already!)

3. They are worried about him breaking stuff ("though I am sure your baby is lovely, not all are"... I hung up after that).

4. The comfort of the other guests (at least this one was honest).

OK, I don't ever remember being bothered by children being present at places I stayed before I had my own, but I think this takes it a little far when a few of the places I found state largely on their Website "We do not allow children under 14 years of age." Are you serious, you think children can't behave themselves until they are 14? I think that when children are expected to behave badly, it is no wonder they live up to those expectations. I am thankful Amelia probably treats people better than some of these adults I was speaking to on the phone.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Daily Amelia-ism

I need to start writing these down, because they frequently crack me up, but then I can't recall them just a few days later. Maybe it is entering my 34th year, or more likely just lack of sleep, but anyway, this one had me going earlier this week.

We were unpacking groceries and Amelia saw the deli packages and wanted some for a snack, so I handed her a couple of pieces. She started in on her turkey and pipes up through her half-chewed bite"Turkey says gobble, gobble" which in itself always gets me going. Then she looks at me and says "Mommy, do you know what the salami says?" and I nearly lost it.

I'll try to bring you more as I remember.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

And the Winner is?

I know it wasn't me. Could have possibly been Tristan, or the dogs, or the peas. Yes, definitely the peas.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Just when you think things are looking down...

Our year got off to a bit of a sour start. The airline damaged our new double stroller in route, my computer turned itself off three days after we got home and declined to be coaxed into turning on again, and my car began refusing to go into reverse when turned on, or be shifted past first for the initial 5 or 10 minutes of driving. On top of that Amelia's lovely little infantario (preschool) was forced to close because of lack of enrollment. Unfortunately a common phenomenon at private centers in this current economy, but so sad for us and the wonderful teachers and staff they had there.

So I was feeling sorry for myself and thinking we were having a string of bad luck. Then I talked to a friend who's family is facing some very difficult medical issues, and that particular week she also had a baby with the chicken pox, and I figured the material things we were losing were so petty and insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Plus the car was fixable, the laptop was miraculously resurrected 2 weeks after its demise (though I still don't trust it and have the new one on its way), and the stroller still has issues but United has agreed to at least look at the repair costs, and even if they don't help out, I'll get over it.

As for the infantario, we looked at several others and weren't able to replicate the feel we had from the first, but then Amelia's teacher called us to get together one day and we ended up asking her to watch both kids part time until she is able to find a new job. She is awesome and Amelia *ADORES* her and it gives me the chance to a) practice my Portuguese on a regular basis with someone who is used to speaking slowly and clearly for 2 year olds and b) get back to a little work of my own. Not to mention we also now have a babysitter for the occasional night out, sem meninos!

So things were really actually looking up, and to top it off, today I went in for a consult with Tristan's hearing specialist who told us that his latest hearing test came back normal for both ears! She said that occasionally the ears haven't finished development before birth, but can keep developing for the first few months. She wants to recheck him when he is one year old, but is optimistic they will not regress. Now that is news I would have gladly thrown 100 laptops out the window to hear! What a marvelous start to 2011!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

3 out of 4 ain't bad

We finally made the trip down to Lisbon to the French Embassy to apply for Tristan's French passport. It was a pretty straightforward process. Since they are only open until noon Dan had to take the whole day off of work , so we decided to make a little trip out of it. We stayed over Friday night and had a relaxing lunch and an afternoon in the little indoor hotel pool, followed by a nice sushi dinner. Then Saturday morning we were off to the Lisbon Zoo, where Amelia had us make a beeline for the giraffes before we could pay attention to any other animals. She was also pretty excited about the gorillas, until one of the big ones pushed a little one out of the way right in front of her and she got pretty upset by it. She recovered well and enjoyed elephants, the antics of the orangutans, the big cats, and the little children's farm. Tristan slept his way through nearly the whole zoo, and Amelia slept the whole drive home, and now we still have another day with Dan home. Aren't 3-day weekends nice?

As a result of this trip, everyone in the family but me has two passports, and in order for me to get mine they require me to exhibit some proficiency in French. Judging by how long Portuguese has taken me it may be a while before I hit that landmark, but at least the kids have options for work and travel in the future!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

We're Home!

Happy New Year Everyone!

After a long and exciting trip to the US, we are now back in Portugal. It was wonderful to see everyone, and we know we are lucky to have such great little travelers. They were amazingly pleasant on the 11 hour flight from London to LA to start our trip, and I don't know how they transitioned the 8 hour time difference almost immediately. We hit the beach and Sea World in So Cal and spent some quality time with her cousin Coco, who is just a few months older than Amelia and visiting my mom's house. We then went up to Oregon and spent a week with my family and friends there, and Dan was amazed that the sun made a few appearances and we had surprisingly little of the wet stuff falling from the sky. Finally a week in Vermont with Dan's family and visits with many more friends.

We started thinking three weeks was a little long to be away from home, when about halfway through the third week Amelia asked for the "red car take to Mia's house." But she continued to be a trooper the whole way through. Visiting lots of people she didn't know or remember, having tons of fun with her cousins, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, and everyone else. She even decided she wanted to go to the circus with our friend Beth without Dan or I, and she loved it and apparently didn't miss us at all!

I knew the trip home would be the hardest part. An overnight flight to Europe followed by a few hour layover and another flight from Frankfurt to Porto, after a long (but fun) New Year's Eve party. It was looking dubious when on arrival to the airport they couldn't find Tristan's ticket in the system (though he had been on all of our previous tickets). After 30 minutes of waiting we had to rush to get through security where we watched them finish boarding our flight (thank goodness Burlington is quite a small airport). We were the last to get to the gate, and things started looking up when I handed the agent our boarding cards and she took one look and said "Oh, we've upgraded you all to first class for your flight to DC." We had a nice flight until the descent when Amelia turned to me and without a word threw up all over herself for the second time in her life. The flight attendant helped me clean up as best we could, and again in DC we were one of the last to board after hiking through Dulles and getting both kids cleaned and changed.

Luckily we had a row of 5 seats to ourselves and all got some, albeit limited, sleep on the flight to Frankfurt. Amelia waited until we were on the ground waiting to deplane before she threw up multiple times as we exited. Nice. Sorry United clean-up crew.

We all slept through much of our final flight, and made it home and since with no additional incidences. Dan managed to get up and go to work the next day while the kids and I collected the dogs and stocked the fridge. Now we just need to find places for all of the extra toys we brought home and our lives will be back in order. And after all that, Dan and I started planning out our next vacation last night, so I guess we weren't overly daunted after all.