Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

We've only seen a couple of indicators of Halloween in Italy. A few displays in shop windows, a few costumes for sale, and that's all. Apparently the Italians have started to celebrate it and some kids may trick or treat, but it is only a "commercial" holiday.

The closest thing, which really had nothing to do with the holiday, was the pan handlers dressed up- as angels, a pharaoh, and Pinocchio. We saw them outside the Verona Arena. Scarlett wanted to see them up close, until they moved and scared her.

Tomorrow is All Saints Day, which is a celebrated holiday here in Italy, and then November 2nd is The Day of the Dead.

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Travelling Boots

Ok, It's a funny photo of me, but when in Rome...

Actually, we're in Venice on check out day, just outside of our apartment. I've been calling these my traveling boots because they're too big for my suitcase, so I wear them everyday we travel between cities.

And I had to buy boots because everyone woman in Rome was wearing a pair and I think these were the only boots in Italy in my size (41) that were under 100 euro. I bought them from a great market in Testaccio-just across the river from where we stayed in Rome.

Happy travels!

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Italians do love their babies. And our daughter.

There are a lot of babies here. Mainly in strollers (up to about 3 years old it seems). They usually seem sleepy, docile, sucking on a soother. Or running around a park. And there are lots of baby and children's stores.

With all of that, Scarlett has been on the receiving end of a lot of attention.

The Bakery women have given her bread sticks and sweet buns.

The street vendor forcibly gave Scott a rubber toy (quickly discarded).

A lady on our vaporetto to Murano played peek-a-boo and games with Scarlett for 20 minutes, before giving her a "chuppa chuppa" key chain.

She kept saying "Bella" to Scarlett and saying she either had a beautiful smile or teeth?!

Scarlett was given a balloon-good marketing ploy-of course we bought a sweater from the guy.

Many random seniors have patted her head, squeezed her leg or foot, etc...

At our latest B&B, the stuffed animals and animal mug have appeared.

They either treat their children well, or our daughter is being spoiled by the Italians.

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Time Warp 2

Not that we weren't confused enough by time, but we just had a time change last night. We managed to double set our time back, and thought we were getting up on time, but were almost late for our pre-arranged breakfast time. (It was only for 9 am- you'd think we could manage that!).

So, is it now a 7 hour time difference from home? Or 8 hour? Or 9?

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Time Warp

We have no Internet, no TV, and no Clocks.

We dry our laundry on a line or on a rack.

We can listen to tapes like Harry Belafonte, Huey Lewis, or Barbara Streisand. Yes, I said tapes.

No cars, no scooters, no buses.

I brought a map that must be from the 50's. And it's accurate.

Scott's GPS thinks we are still in Rome. (We're in Venice.)

Our apartment is full of antiques and dark wood furniture, and a huge wardrobe. Marble stairs on the entrance way up.

We love it like this, and it feels so authentic. But I'm not certain if all of Venice is like this, or if it is unique to this apartment. The only thing I can tell for sure is that everyone does their laundry this way. I'm secretly convinced that the tourism board pays the locals to hang their prettiest and most colorful laundry to amuse people like me. Tourists.

Truthfully, there is Internet in our apartment but we can't access it without having a wireless router. These new fangled devices. At least the iPhone tells time.

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Sleepless in Serenissima

Or, Sleepless in Rome, Jet Lag, Sleep Schedules, Sleep(less) Schedules.

As I'm writing this, it is magical day 8, which means an end to the jet lag. If you follow the theory of one day per hour of time change. My hopes aren't too high, but we'll see if it gets better.

Fortunately, we are distracted from the jet lag by all of the amazing sights. It is impossible to look in any direction in Venice and not be in awe. Yesterday alone was San Marco square, too many churches to list, fish stands, fruit stands, bakeries, pigeons, dogs, restaurants, and of course, canals and water everywhere.

But to address the sleep schedule, because if I know parents, we talk about sleep on a daily basis, whether traveling or not. Let us say, we must be flexible.

Last night was Scarlett's best sleep- from 8 pm to 6 am with only light awakenings. But now it is 11 am and she's back asleep and we didn't even leave the apartment.

Last night was the first without a party and meal somewhere between 1 am to 5 am. (By meal, I mean yogurt, juice, etc.). Typically sleep can happen in 2-4 hour increments.

Scarlett has woken up as early as 5 am, or as late as 9:30/10. Which means we leave the house as early as 8 am or as late as noon. She'll usually nap-again as early as 11 am, or late in the afternoon. Or skip her nap, like yesterday. Somedays we have had long naps (over 3 hours) followed by a nap in the Ergo. We usually try to be "home" around lunchtime.

That means we usually manage a destination/tour/adventure in the morning, and then head out again in the late afternoon.

And bedtime- she's fallen asleep as early as 6 pm, once at 8 pm during dinner at a patio restaurant, or up until midnight!

Any routine there? Add to it all the fact that Scott and I are also jet lagged and wide awake at odd hours, and you have our sleep schedule! We have been using melatonin, and super EFA's to try to balance things out.

Maybe we'll cut out the after dinner espresso next...

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Scarlett's Traveling Tips and Tidbits

Our daughter is traveling like a pro-we've only had a few mishaps so far, and none major!

I'm sure I'll post in more detail later on, but so far some of the things revolving around traveling with a toddler are:

Getting a leg trapped in the Calgary airport passenger waiting seats. (oops. We thought we may have to call the fire department but Scarlett escaped with only two monster bruises on her knee). TIP-pack the arnica in your carry-on, not in your checked luggage, as I did!

Drinking so much juice, water, and milk between the hours of 6 pm to 12 am on the first day of travels, that roughly equalled the normal amount consumed in a 48 hour period, and then eventually flooding out of the diaper, through her pants, onto the plane seat.

Getting fast tracked in Heathrow. Guess there are bonuses to flying with a little one! And the ergo was definitely a happy purchase once we had to boogie through that airport.

Being stuck on the tarmac in Heathrow for over 2 extra hours while they fixed our plane-what toddler wouldn't love that? Then once she fell asleep, the airline attendant made me move her into her own seat even though she's under 2 and was strapped to me with the seat belt! Scarlett screamed about that, and I was none too pleased with the attendant. Eventually her new dollar store magna doodle type toy, distracted her.

TIP - pack lots of new and cheap toys when traveling with a toddler. Ones that we can lose and won't be upset, but will distract her for hours. And again, our iPad was a pretty good distraction. And snacks.

We've been welcomed to Italy-waved into the country by customs and security in fact. Scarlett's sunny smile is earning her extra attention by some. Like fellow tour participants at the Vatican, the deli man offering her prosciutto, strangers playing peek-a-boo.

What else happened? Second diaper flood on the second flight, although I no longer had a spare change of clothes. Jet lag of course, both up until midnight and then with two 4:30 am wake-ups. Scarlett is faring better than us with the time change. She has danced around our table when we ate out at our local pizzeria. Played with the locals at a children's playground, and endured a 3 hour tour of the Vatican, ended with sleeping in the carrier in St. Peter's Basilica. And ate gelato-both nutella and strawberry flavors.

Needless to say we are enjoying Rome. We've been exploring our little neighborhood, Trastavere, exposed ourselves to the craziness of the Vatican today, and look forward to more food and sights and ruins in the next couple of days. As I said earlier, hopefully more details to come!

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Carrier Addiction

I've heard it can happen-if you baby wear, you may end up addicted to baby carriers-wraps, slings, carriers, etc. It has happened to me and I'm not even a die-hard baby wearer. I don't even have a baby any more-she's a big girl! However, with our upcoming trip, I broke down and bought an Ergo today, in hopes that it may restrain her in airports, museums, and train stations.

I had just nicely gotten home and unpacked from our shopping trip and was about to try on my standard, burgundy ergo, when I checked my email and found one from the seller of an unused black organic with embroidery ergo, selling for the same price. Ooops.

You know you have a problem when you start to think about buying the second one and running around town to do so, and making up excuses for why you should be able to return an item that is "final sale". I decided to be rational and not buy the beautiful black one.

Now we have a new ergo and when we got around to putting it on, Scarlett refused to go in it. I'll try again after her nap. She sat in it so nicely when we tried it on in the store.

I've heard that people love their ergos (and beco's even more), so I hope we develop that relationship over the next several weeks. I feel a little like I'm betraying my old wraps since I have left them behind. Maybe there is one true love for every stage of babyhood.

For instance, we bought our soft and stretchy Baby Buddha wrap when Scarlett was only days old. And loved that one until Scarlett was around 6-9 months old. I'm sure that we used it daily, for naps, walks, chores, cranky time, non-cranky time, everything. Then came the Hotsling, which I've seen used from newborns up, but I loved it for the hip carry stage. Finally we had a true wrap-an Ellaroo. Admittedly the least used of them all, but still helpful when I could strap her on my back, until she figured out how to wriggle out. We used it most around the one year mark and up to about a year and a half. If I had used it more, I would probably feel more comfortable with the tying and wrapping.

That's all we own. So maybe I'm not too bad because I have heard of some moms that own in excess of a dozen. We will either have many options of how to carry any future babies, or a few items to sell on Kijiji! (I've heard they keep their value-thank goodness!).

Wish me luck getting my big girl into her new carrier!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

One More Book, please!

Leaving the office these days feels almost like a drawn out bedtime routine.

One more book. (Repeated 4-5 times)

Another drink of water.

Color a little.

Gather the guys (stuffed animals, miniature animals, dolls...)

Play with the toys.

Help a little behind the desk.

Grab a facecloth, climb onto a table.

Climb up on the chair and Draw on the Buddha board.

Hug Daddy good bye.

Another book, please.

Wave good bye to everybody. And finally, run down the hallway to push the elevator button.

I thought our work transition would take 10-15 minutes; instead we just hang out at the office for 30-45 minutes extra. I guess the toys at the office must be super exciting! And lots of good books.

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Planning Italy-Trains, Cars, and Museums

Happy Thanksgiving and 10-10-10 day. We are in between company and still squeezing in as much holiday planning as we can. Tomorrow will be our thanksgiving!

In case I haven't lost you with my planning, I thought I'd share some great sites. We've finished booking our accommodations and have moved onto transportation and excursions...

We booked a train from Rome to Venice and look forward to seeing the countryside at 250km/hr! The main website to book trains is:

With some really useful tips on:

We had no problem booking with my credit card, although the seat 61 site makes reference to many problems with different cards. Just no Amex, and it did keep switching me from English to Italian. It is worth booking ahead, as we just saved 30% by booking at least 15 days in advance. (or you can save 15% by booking 7 days in advance). The train system in Italy sounds pretty self-serve, from buying tickets to validating them, to finding your own seat. We have assigned seats and hope it all goes smoothly.

Our trip will be half car-less, and half with car. Scott's gearing up for some crazy driving. Train travel is highly recommended in Italy, but we have too many pieces to connect, and have opted for a car for the second half.

For tours/excursions, we're trying to keep our days relatively unscheduled since we have a toddler and are unsure how the travels will go. However, we have booked some essential tours and booked them directly through the sites:

We decided that we must tour the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St Peters. We are going with a guided tour, booked at Rumor has it, booking in advance may help to save some time waiting in lines.

We also booked our museum tickets for when we day trip to Florence. The site let us book tickets for both the Uffizi and Accademia. If you've been to Florence, you may think it's a shame that this is all we will be seeing, but we've decided to limit Florence to a day. I originally thought the lines would be too much to endure, and now I'm thinking that these 2 sites will be more than enough. Plus, a nice walk through town of course.

That's all we've planned to do so far! We've checked out expedia, and tours available through our travel agent, and may find some last minutes ones to do when we are there. Otherwise, we expect to spend our days relatively self directed.

Since a good chunk of our positive experience of our trip will be the anticipation of it, I'll try to squeeze as much anticipation as possible into the days leading up to our departure!

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Nature Abhors a Vacuum

I expanded my hours at work. I am now at the office an extra 4-6 hours per week. My intention is that I will see clients in this time, but at the moment it is still very lightly booked and as a result, I have all this new time available to me. I am plugging through a few things that I've needed to get done, and generally really liking this space that I have. For the moment. Because it is like time that has just been handed to me as a gift.

I keep thinking of the silly idiom, Nature Abhors a Vacuum. Of course my vacuum consisting of this wonderful time in my schedule will soon be filled, so I am trying to enjoy it.

I remember the first time someone handed this advice to me- to be cautious of the nature of our universe to fill the void. It was in the form of relationship advice. 'Tis better to be single until you recover & heal, and to learn the lessons that you need to, then to let nature fill the vacuum that was left behind from the past relationship. (I paraphrase). Or you can learn the lessons on the next time around!

I will say that it is good to be aware that this is how the universe works. It can also be used to your benefit-if there is something you want or are missing in your life, just make the space for it and believe it will appear, and poof! There it should be. (Now if I could only make that work on demand).

I have momentarily created some space for myself, and it has been good for my sanity. I am taking note and trying to learn my lesson. When this time becomes filled, then I will probably need to carve out some more "me-time" without disguising it as work! Whether we are stay at home, or work out of the home parents, we all need to carve out some personal time and space. Doesn't that sound so simple?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Heading to Halloween

A spooky day at Calaway Park. Here's Scott and Scarlett. We even made it through the haunted house!

However, Scarlett is not too sure what to make of the train ride.
We haven't thought about Halloween costumes for this year. Or even if we should dress up since we'll be away.
What about you? Who's dressing up for the 31st? Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Italy Planning 2

We turned over the calendar yesterday to our new month, and I had a day of panic. Now I can see the days that we're on holiday. I'm scrambling to accomplish some more planning, before we wind up boarding the plane!

When I last blogged about Italy, we had only our Rome accommodation booked. In case anybody wants to copy what we're planning to do, here's our plan, and some resources.

We plan to travel from Rome to Venice by train, and then get on a boat and head to Venice. I've still been using VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner) and found our Venetian rental on this site. (Again, very efficient email replies, smooth booking process.) I don't know what happens between train, getting onto a boat and discovering Venice. Still need to figure that out.

In Venice, we have decided to stay in an area called Castello. If I've read the travel books and website correctly, it is a little off the beaten tourist path, sound familiar? It has some green space/parks, which are both rare on Venice, and hopefully a space in which we can turn Scarlett loose. We're close to the vaporetto-it sounds so exciting-and markets, but still close enough to the tourist sites that we should be fine on foot. I'm looking forward to hanging out our laundry on the line to dry.

Venice sounds dark and moody, and I've read that it is best to discover in the middle of the night. We will wait and see how the sleeping habits and naps go, and perhaps we will be roaming and lost in Venice at 3 am.

Next my travel plans turn a little foggy. I've booked Como at the end of our trip-entirely work related-but now we have 5 days left between Venice and Como, and about 2 weeks worth of things we want to see. I want to go to Verona and urged on by everyone who's been to Italy, we decide to include Tuscany. Plus Pisa, Florence, Cinque Terre... I've picked Lucca to act as a base in Tuscany, and that's where my frustrations begin. No replies to emails. I'm scared to pick up the phone because my Italian will rely entirely on body language. So there's been a lot of reading and internet searching. And I must embrace La Dolce Vita, si?

I have found the site, which has been very useful, especially for B&B type places. And I'm back to contacting places recommended in my preferred travel book (Italy spend less see more) and shockingly, it's working.

I just booked 2 nights in Verona at a small B&B and all that's left is the last 3 days in Lucca. Or somewhere else if it doesn't work. I am a budget traveller and I hope that means when I sit in my room, I know I'm in Italy. Or that I'm staying with some friendly Italians in their 3 room hotel... I also hope that my budget accommodations still come with a private bath, and enough quiet that Scarlett can sleep in the middle of the day. I shall report later on how it all turns out!

As for now, the siesta has ended and the sun is inviting us outside. Italy planning will have to wait for now.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Fall Friday

A bit of an odd Friday for us, but it was complete with a long play in the sunny backyard amongst the leaves. Raking leaves. Piling leaves. Jumping in leaves. Getting buried in leaves. Finding leaves in a diaper hours later.

Watch out for those pokey sticks protruding from the fire pit! (If you think Fisher Price is dangerous, you should check out our backyard).

Enjoy the warm and sunny weekend!