Monday, June 28, 2010

we made it!

But just barely. There was a point in the flight when I had just pulled the last toy out of the carry on bag (and Georgia summarily threw on the floor with an insulted shriek...) and I glanced at my watch to see how much time we had left. I honestly, sincerely thought that my watch was broken because it said that the flight wasn't even half way over. I decided, judging by my level of mental and physcial exhaustion + the fact that we had no entertainment or snack food left in the carry-on, that we had about 2 hours left to go in our 9 hour flight. It was only when they flashed the flight info up on the screen between films that I realized that my watch was fine. I was nearly dead from the effort of entertaining the two girls- although mainly from trying to keep my favorite screamy toddler happy- and just had nothing left for the remaining 5 hours in the airplane. I prayed that atleast one of the children would fall to sleep but no luck. And the bitchy stewardesses made it very clear that they preferred to have the baby screeching in her seat to wandering up and down the aisle (which I find baffling but, OK! I'm sort of immune to her high-pitched wailing and was just trying to look out for the delicate ears of my fellow travellers.) It was a Very Horrible Flight and I thank the heavens that I don't have to do the return trip for seven weeks or I might do something desperate like run away and join the circus.

So we are here and atleast the jet lag seems to have been easy. We are up early but no earlier than on vacation in Italy. Georgia did do an extended scream fest between 3:30 am and 5 on Saturday night, but all the family was off at a wedding that night so I just let her scream her heart out. Ella slept through it and I have perfected the art of blocking the noise with a pillow over my head. She did good last night so I think we are sorted.

We did have a fantastic weekend of family fun which is exactly why I come here with the girls for so long each summer. It was my nieces 1st birthday and since her mom is pregnant again (brave girl...) my sister and I threw a party. We had bunting up and balloons everywhere, a homemade ice cream cake, brats on the grill and potato salad, a slip-and-slide, water guns, and a pinata! My favorite part was having my first brat of the summer- soooo good! I had mine on a wheat bun with grainy mustard and sauerkraut. Now tell me that I am not a Wisconsin girl through and through.

While the kids spent the afternoon running from from one water game to the next (hello killer humidity! I had forgotten how hot 'hot' could get) the grown-ups did their best to keep cool as well. We decided that hydration was the key and sucked down several pitchers of this fantastic punch:

Watermelon and Vodka Cooler

Muddle three branches of mint with a spoonful of sugar in the bottm of a pitcher. Throw in a big handful of ice cubes and pour a 1/2 cup of vodka over the top. Add 2 cups of pureed watermelon, a 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice, 4 shakes of bitters, and 1 1/2 cups of ginger ale. Serve and beware of the danger of getting PHENOMENALLY drunk since you barely taste the alcohol.

Hello summer! Next up: forcing my mother into making a decision on dining room curtains after "thinking about it" for the past year. Getting Ella into swimming lessons. Most importantly- finding an adapter for my computer as the one I brought along is mysteriously incompatible with the computer plug. When did 'universal' start meaning "everything but my damn computer"? Photos to follow.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Chia Laguna Beach

Originally uploaded by nicole_gt

Here is a lovely photo of me and girls on the beach in Sardaigne at Chia Laguna. There was hardly a person on the entire beach when we arrived and it was just perfect- a bit sauvage, with crystal clear turquoise water, rocks tumbling down to the sea for Ella to climb on, white sand, and at the far end, a little fresh water creek where we could wade. There was even a little bar on the other side of the creek, normally reserved for people staying at the big hotel hidden behind the hill, but since there was almost no one there, we managed to finagle a few lounge chairs and had cold drinks brought down to us when it got a bit too hot in the sun. A perfect day!

Big disclaimer- it started out Badly. The sky was cloudy and gray, so we put the kids in the car to do a bit of exploring. We headed up into the hills and after about 5 miles, Ella started looking green, we pulled over, and she vomited everywhere. We figured we weren't too far from the next town, so we wiped her down and carried on. Turns out that June 2 was a national holiday and everything in town was closed. After an extended game of charades with the old men propped up against a wall in the town square, we managed to find a small grocery store/tobacco shop open and I got some crackers and juice for in the car. We managed to make it to this beach without any further body fluids escaping from either girl. Oh- I almost forgot. We didn't remember to put diapers in the diaper bag so we were even more desperately in need of that grocer shop by the time we reached the town due to a poo-nami from Georgia. Oh, travelling with kids is SO MUCH FUN!


All in all we managed to have a great vacation in Sardaigne. Clearly, it was not as relaxing as a child-free holiday; in fact, I might go so far as to say that I was more tired when I came home than I was when I left. BUT it was so nice to see the sun and lay on the beach and just do vacation-y things that it was worth it. Ella had a great time. She asked (several times) if we could move to Italy. Georgia ate like a champ and I think she probably downed her body weight in pasta. B was enjoying himself so much that he tried to change our plane tickets so that we could stay a bit longer. Unfortunately we had flown with Meridiana, the Sardinian airline, and it was impossible to get anyone on the phone. When we asked the hotel travel agent if she could sort it out, she spent 6 hours on the phone for us and then gave up, saying, 'Well, they are Italian. Too bad you didn't fly with AirFrance.'

The hotel where we stayed was fantastic for the kids. The kids club was just amazing, as were the girls who worked there. Ella did bowling, tennis, 'trampolini', art projects, swimming, baking- you name it. We took both Georgia and Ella every single day so that we could have some free time. There was also a kids restaurant with tiny tables and chairs, small plastic dishes and silverware, and special healthy kids meals all of it served at times that worked for the kids. We went every night for dinner and then took the girls back to the villa for baths, bottles, and bed. Then, a very sweet lady named Cristina came every night to stay with the girls while B and I took advantage of all the different restaurants and had lovely dinners en tete-a-tete. Almost all the restaurants were open air so we could spend a relaxing couple of hours eating and talking and drinking wine, watching the stars and listening to the waves on the beach. Originally, we didn't think that we would get the babysitter every night (mainly since it cost a fortune!) but in the end, we were having such a nice time every evening that we figured it was worth the cost.

We needed a bit of a treat by the end of the day since the mornings were so rough.

Now, we had what was called a family bungalow. It was nice. It had two rooms, separated by a sliding door. The front part was a living room which we used for the girls. Ella slept on the sofa bed and the hotel brought us a cot for Georgia. The other room was the bedroom and B and I slept there. HOWEVER the floors were tile and the noise from Georgia waking up at 6 am was so loud that none of us really slept much later than that. And since Ella was in the same room, Georgia would laugh and shout 'Ella! Ella! Hey! Ella!' until Ella started to play with her. Normally at home, we can ignore Georgia until she falls back asleep for another hour or so, but it was impossible while in this hotel room. My God! 6 am wake-ups while on vacation! It was horrible. Needless to say, we were pretty much the first people at breakfast everyday.

After doing a tour around the resort, we realized that some of the other areas had nicer bungalows but I didn't look into it enough to notice that when I was booking. It would have been nice to stay in one of the places that had grassy lawns in front of each bungalow so I could have laid out on a lounge chair while Georgia napped (we only had a terrasse). We might have also liked the two-story bungalow so that the girls were a bit further from our room. Oh well. This hotel is so well set up for families that I definitely think that we will go back. It was pricey but I think that we got our money's worth. The only thing that was disappointing about this holiday is that we really didn't see much of Sardinia! We only left the hotel that one morning and saw a bit of countryside on the drive to and from the airport. Apparently it takes ages to drive all around the island- B's dad took an entire month to see all of the island when he visited a few years ago. Anyways, that is the sort of ambitious plan that I would not attempt until the girls are much older.

Oh, and since the first day of vacation was Mothers' Day, the girls surprised me with a brand-new camera! Its a Nikon D5000 which is not one of the models that I had asked for, but I am getting the hang of it. Even with only a quick read through the instruction manual, I managed to take some gorgeous photos of the girls. I think it will work out, although I will probably still be figuring out all the buttons for the next few months. I have two photos in frames on the ledge above my desk and I sit here every evening looking at them and sighing happily, remembering what fun we had.

Of course, now I am in the midst of frantically preparing for our NEXT vacation and am wondering why I am so hot on travelling. Really, what would please me most at this point in my life, is an entire week of calm. No appointments, no schedule, no 7 am wake-up call(or, while we are dreaming, 8 am or even 9 am), no responsibilities at all so that I don't even have a shadow of guilt clouding my relaxing days. Ahhh. I am doing a great big exhale, letting all the stress out, just imagining it.

I can tell you with 100% certainty that my 7 weeks in Wisconsin will not contain any days like that. But a girl can dream, right?

Enough of that. Its back to the salt mines for me. I need to dash out and find a portable DVD player with atleast 5 hours of battery life for the plane ride over. Stupid f*-ing Delta has taken over the direct flight between Paris and MSP and is using some old jalopy without individual TV monitors. Hell, this plane is so old it probably still has a smoking section. I could care less really except that the flight to Sardaigne did teach me one good lesson and that was that Georgia is a rather difficult traveller (uhm, okay, a rather Screamy Traveller). I'm going to need to pack every entertainment known to toddler-kind to survive without an extended screaming fit in midair. I beg you all, start lighting candles for us now. Divine intervention may be my only real option.

Have been trying to slow down and just smell the flowers, but its hard! We had a few days of readjustment after vacation, houseguests for a week, school fete (and I sang in English with the kids!), Fathers' Day, and now its the last days before we leave on summer holidays with so much to pack in. Trying to make appointments and shop and pack and, like I said, just enjoy being here before we are there. Proper posts are in the writing and I will post them as soon as I squeeze out a few moments of calm.
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