Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Novel

Because of the ridiculous amount of things I want to describe and mention about my recent 10 day trip to Ireland and Denmark, I have decided to create a legend of sorts. This way, it may be lass overwhelming to you, and more organized for me.

Traveling with Baby

After visiting 2 countries and 4+ different cites and experiencing a wedding from a completely different culture and seeing 8 friends from college, the first question I get, everytime, is "How was traveling with the baby?" Exotic trips to Europe aren't foreign to anyone, most have been there done that, but traveling with a 9 month old, now THAT is interesting.

First, I will begin with what went wrong (since that's what everyone really wants to hear...) I realized quickly, but not soon enough, I did not pack correctly for the first set of plane rides. I had plenty of food, diapers and toys, but I forgot a diaper-changing mat, an extra change of clothes and the Bjorn. Airports are dirty. And when you are traveling for 16 hours or so, the kid has got to get down and crawl at some point, and the diapers claim to only last 12 hours, so a change has got to happen as well. Needless to say, by the time we landed in Dublin, the kid was disgusting (I was tempted to burn the clothes, if they weren't so gosh-darn cute).
The biggest thing that went wrong? The people we sat next to on the 7 hour flight from Chicago to Dublin. They were weird. And gross. And loud. And by "they" I generally just mean the dad. The others were just weird, but tolerable. I, personally, dry heaved at least 3 times just from observing this man's general behavior. He had little tiny hands, and huge facial features. And picked his nose until it was bloody...ugh, I could go on, but I think the picture has been painted.

At one point, all the internal lights were out, the attendants were done with all their business and 90% of the plane was asleep. Brock, too, was uncomfortably asleep in Matt's lap, and had been for a couple hours or so, when all of a sudden: crunch, Crunch, CRunch, CRUNch,
CRUNCH! this guy had opened a bag of those hard as a rock, kettle cooked potato chips from Panera! Brock, of course, woke up in a tizzy and started wailing. Matt became unbelievably paniked, and I quickly scooped up the boy and stood up to rock him back into slumber. I truly believe they [he] cost us $150 and 4 years of my sanity. We were in such a hurry to get off the plane, away from them, we left a bottle nipple, some of Brock's snacks and most importantly, the baby plane ticket (thus having to repurchase it for the flight back). And to make matters worse, they cut us in de-boarding the plane. That should get it's own pet peeve post; planes are de-boarded in order, it's a fact.
I would also like to add, Brock now hates traveling. I am sure of it. He hates Ireland. He hates Denmark. He hates planes, trains and automobiles. To him, these things all equal confinement. I am not sure he will ever be able to ride in that little Chicco umbrella stroller ever again. EVER.
As far was what went "right". Well, that really depends on how you look at it. To the outsider, yes, everything went right. We received numerous compliments on the behavior of our child on flight (behavior = silence). But these people were not trying to contain this child. He insists on seeing everything, touching everything, crawling everywhere, standing, sitting, biting, digging his nails into my arm, jabbing his foot into my stomach, pulling my hair, going to dad, going back to mom, reaching for the beverage cart, reaching for the overhead light, pulling dad's hair... in other words, compliment deserving flight for others equals hell for us. The relief one feels when the baby finally succumbs to sleep is indescribable. This relief is magnified by hundreds, when traveling in the bulkhead seat of the aircraft because a bassinet attaches firmly to the wall in front of you. Amazing.
All in all, I would do it again. Having my baby with me for the 10 days made things absolutely more difficult, but outweighed the consequences of leaving him home. (And, not to mention, he makes for much more beautiful and fun vacation photos.)

Vacation

Here are a few photos from the entire vacation...really, we took 800+ pictures, these are just some highlights.

A Danish Wedding

A few photos to suffice for now...

American or European?

This being my first trip to Europe, it became abundantly clear that I carry both European and American traits therefore I could survive in either culture. (Thank goodness. You never know when one may suddenly HAVE to move to Europe...)


The ways in which I am American:I like Air Conditioning, a lot. I don't care if it never gets above 70 degrees in your country; I run hot. When indoors, without air movement, 68 feels like a sweltering 85. Which brings me to my next point. If you insist on abandoning the option of A/C, please, please install a ceiling fan. And then, on top of all of this, the beds only had a duvet type cover, no sheets! Great idea, lets try to get accustomed to a new sleep schedule in a completely different time zone with a baby in a sweltering room, without a fan or A/C and use a down comforter as bedding. No wonder I spent the entire trip sleep deprived and dehydrated. (Luckily, as long as I am fed, these 2 things will not make me cranky.)

The cars don't have A/C either. And they are small. Let's get real here, I am an American, I need a luxury vehicle. I need four doors. I need heating and cooling. I need space for all my belongings and your belongings, and my kids and my dogs, right!? One of the rented cars even had automatic windows in the front and manual in the back!! Who even knew that was an option? I also prefer the right side of the road. Why is it called the right side if it isn't the RIGHT side? And, if the car is going to be an automatic, it should drive like an automatic.


The ways in which I am European:Coffee. In the first 10 minutes of walking around Dublin, I got extremely overwhelmed with the number of coffee shop options. Literally, every 3 stores/restaurants was a coffeehouse or cafe. The situation was similar in Denmark. In fact, the fancy latte's and mocha's in Denmark were cheaper than a coke! Here: 16oz Coke=$1, 16oz Latte=$4. There: 16oz Coke=54 Kroner, 16oz Latte=31 Kroner. What!? (Though, the 54 kroner was THE most expensive soda we purchased from an Italian Deli, that put Bella Napoli to shame *sorry*, and translates to almost $20!) I must admit, I was a bit horrified to hear these 2 American girls walking behind us in Dublin say, "We need to ask someone where that Starbucks is, again." Starbucks? What are you doing here if you are not going to try Irish coffee? (Though, I guess this would be a good point to mention that we did eat at McDonald's in both Ireland and Denmark. To my defense, in Ireland, we got a free green Coca-Cola glass souvenier and in Denmark, like America, it is pretty much the only option off the highway.)

These people are laid-back. Despite huge crowds in the central parts of both Copenhagen and Dublin, I never felt the kind of anxiousness I do in America. I loved it. The Irish were the kindest people I have ever, ever encountered. I did not meet one, single grumpy or impatient Irishman. They bent over backwards for us. On our first bus-ride from the airport to our hotel, we asked the people in front of us how to identify our stop. Everyone sitting around us made sure the whole time that we knew exactly where we were going, one boy even picked up my bag to carry it down to the exit (all the buses are double-decker, and if you're not quick to load - which we weren't with 3 huge bags, a stroller, 2 backpacks, a shoulder bag and a baby - you will be sitting in the upper portion.) The Danes were generally just as kind, with the exception of the cab-drivers. They are nuts. If I continue with the cab experience this post will get entirely too long...

Either way, I love both cultures, and enjoyed observing and experiencing the differences.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A HAPPY Birthday, indeed.

The day just started off happy. Matt brought Brock and a bottle to me, so I got to give breakfast in bed. Then to add to my happiness, Brock fell right back to sleep. We then walked over to Starbucks for my iced caramel latte which never fails to make me happy. And I would like to mention it was probably the best one I've had in a while - so, shout out to this morning's barista.

For lunch, Brock & I met Matt at Ninfa's, and we all know how happy those tortilla's make anyone who takes a single bite. Mmmmm. From there we went to the fountain park in Crown Center to join Alexander and Annora. Got to admit, those fountains made Brock very UNhappy. Haha, sometimes sad is cuter than happy - wish we got his reaction on film. I then popped into Halls before heading home and bought myself a happy pair of birthday shoes:

We finished the night at Hibachi for some wonderful Japanese food and entertainment (their salad dressing IS happiness). I think there were 9 of us in attendance, so we successfully avoided having to share a table with strangers. And after dinner, a few continued on to my house for the after party! Which ended at 1:11am. What a happy day.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Climber.

video
This is one tidbit of an example of how much Brock loves to climb. He climbs out of the pool. He climbs the stairs at least 6 times daily. He even made it on top of the coffee table/ottoman - no idea how he accomplished that one, there is absolutely nothing to grip. And he attempts to climb just about everything else.

It's just a good thing that once he makes it to the top, he does not attempt to come back down on his own, on the stairs anyway (don't ask how we know this...)