Friday, August 24, 2012

Zookeeper's Log- Another week bites the dust!

Well, it looks like the blog has officially been relegated to only Fridays for the time being. Good news is I’m getting a lot of work done, bad news is I’m working a lot J

So this week with the kids… where to start?

Last Saturday Miles and I had a ‘hot date’ to the water park. It was a lot of fun. I’ve discovered that I can talk my timid kid into most things as long as it’s just him and I and we take our time… so we went down some waterslides! The first one we went down was smaller and slower but it was part of a big super intense pool with water squirting everywhere etc. Last time we went he wouldn’t even get in the pool… this time I got him down a slide! After that we went on the lazy river together and ‘looked for animals’. Along the lazy river we passed these crazy tube slides that were super high and what does Miles say? “I want to go down those!” Um, really? Ok.

We put on his water wings, grabbed our double tube and climbed up the six flights of stairs (yes, it was huge). He hesitated at the top, but I got him in the tube and off we went. Holy cow it was fast! It was fast for me! We were flying and shot out of the bottom… moving so fast we skidded across the water! He wasn’t a fan of the speed, but was a good sport about it. Don’t think I’ll be getting him on it again, but I’ll at least get a picture of it to show everyone.  Overall we had an awesome time… so much fun we are going again tomorrow!

Miles has also been a little terror with Ellis. He really likes to make her angry. His new favorite 'game' is to put a cool toy in front of her and as soon as she moves for it he rips it out of her hands and roars at her. After a full day of causing mischief, he goes ahead and does this unprompted! So he must like her at least a little.

Ellis is her super cute self. She is standing so well now and looks so comfortable moving about. She can stand holding onto just one of my hands, squat down to pick something up and stand back up no problem! Ryan and I kept talking about how she was so much further behind in crawling etc than Miles was at the same age… well now I think she is a lot further than he was.  Crazy! She also gave me two nights of 11.5 hrs of sleep straight! Granted I still woke up every 2hrs… but she was happier J Now she’s waking up at least once, but still way better than what she was doing before.

Other news for the week… we caught a chameleon in the pool! Super cool… we fished him out with the pasta strainer and the instantly turned a light ashy color with black spots trying to match it! I didn’t get a good picture of it at the time, but you can still kind of see the spots here.

I think that is all for now… my parents come out to visit on Monday hooray! Then the following week we head home! 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Zookeeper's Log: You make me happy when skies are gray...

Ah the weekly animal update…

What is there to report this week? Well, Ellis is becoming a giant. She is huge. She can also stand up quickly at anything and has found a new love for all things food (or all these that look like food, ie bugs). She is extremely difficult to get pictures of these days. On top of her quick movements, she has started to ‘cheesey smile’ like her brother… great. Here are a few of the better photos from a mini shoot this morning.

She is a total ham (again, just like her brother). If you laugh at something she does she will get the biggest grin and continue to do it over and over… she loves making people giggle. She also loves to dance! I let Miles watch a show (Super Why) during dinner and when the songs come on all three of us are arms in the air bouncing… one of my favorite times of the day!

Also, despite having still not cut any of her teeth she’s been working on, she has slept one 8.5 hr stretch for the past two nights! So proud of her!  Unfortunately Mr. Miles has been waking me up instead! For some reason the past two nights he’s liked to ‘snuggle’ which isn’t as snuggly as it sounds. And wakes me up a ridiculous number of times. But hey, he’s adorable so I let it slide.

Miles loves to run. Like all the time. I don’t know where he got it (maybe the Olympic trials?) but he’s started doing an actual track start, which is hilarious. What is even more hilarious is how serious he gets when I say “ready, set, go!” Sometimes he needs a few extra seconds of ‘focus’ before he takes off. I love it.

Mr. Miles has also become quite the smarty pants. My favorite Milesism of the day, he put his finger to his cheek and looked up to the sky (the thinking position) and said “Hmmmm…. Let me think, let me think. It’s 7 o’clock which means… its time for a snack!” I don’t know how he was only 10 minutes off on the time, but his little let me think act was beyond adorable. I’ll try to catch it on video. Also, having now mastered the English language he’s decided to start speaking Spanish! A few of the shows he watches has some Spanish, but I didn’t think he was actually picking any of it up. I was so wrong. Sitting and playing with blocks this morning he starts counting them “Uno, dos, trees, taco, sink”… close enough for me! I was shocked. I still am shocked! He is extremely difficult to get pictures of these days too… here is his photo shoot from this morning.

Yup… my kids are nothing alike. Little goobers.

 That is all for now… just one week before my parents come out to play and only 2.5 wks before we get to come home! Can’t wait!

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Olympics and The Stadium (Kourion Part III)

Another Olympic Summer games have come to a close… once again I didn’t get to see a single thing. I know the Olympics aren’t for everyone, but the summer games are something I look forward to every four years. Having done club gymnastics as a kid, diving through high school, swimming into college (briefly), track through college (now coaching high school) and currently doing triathlons, the Summer Games are my thing.

Four years ago I was in the middle of nowhere (NE BC) in a cabin with no internet, no tv and no phone. This time I fared slightly better in that I got to listen to the BBC radio on the way to and from work, getting ample highlights and the occasional live feed of the odd event. Did I really miss much? I’m sure I did, but it wasn’t all a loss… I did get to listen to the men’s 100 meter final live which is more than NBC provided (so I hear).  Mark my words: in Brazil I will be there front and center (Rachel I’m holding you to it!).

So, since I could not celebrate the Olympics while watching it we celebrated in our own little ways. Ellis sported her USA gymnastics shirt almost every day (I wish I could have bought it in every size because she’s almost grown out of it!), and I took Miles to ‘the Stadium’ a few times… which brings me to the next part of my post: City State of Kourion Part III, The Stadium.

I first went to the Stadium with Ryan, Paige and Kathy when we toured Kourion and the Temple of Apollo. It was amazing standing in a place where the first ‘Olympic’ events took place. Of course I asked how long it was which Frank replied “one stadia”… oh ya. That’s almost 200m for those of you who don’t know (I didn’t). In this very place people raced, threw javelin, weight throws, long jumps… it is something I’ve always loved about track and field. It is such a pure and simple sport. If you can run the fastest, jump the farthest/highest, throw the farthest you are the victor. I love this sport. And watching Miles run as fast as he could up and down this ancient stadium, having the time of his life and running for no other reason than it is the most fun thing he can imagine to do in that moment, reminded me how much I love it. Perhaps more so than the Olympic games ever could. I remember my friend Dave, a few years ago, telling me about how he was finding the joy in running again. Running to the store etc and just enjoying it. Watching Miles who has nothing but joy when he runs really brings the point home. It is inspiring to see.

Speaking of inspiration… the Olympics always renew my desire and drive to pursue my athletic goals. In the past, it has been these events that restart my workout routines, renew my excitement for competition etc. This year, however, I have been fortunate enough to have that inspiration continually provided before the games began by some amazing friends. For that, I would like to thank them and recognize their amazing accomplishments.

Dave, whom I already mentioned, always shows such a joy and enthusiasm for running (and triathlons) and spreads that enthusiasm both in his work and in his personal life.

Amy, one of the most hardworking women I have ever met. She placed fourth this year at the Olympic Trials in the Woman’s Hammer Throw with an awesome PR. I was so lucky to get to watch the competition (it was at the Nike Campus so the sports bar downtown was playing it!). I cannot wait to see what she accomplishes in the next four years.

Bethany, who’s honest account of her past year in running inspires me every time I read about it. I love her blog ( She is so open, hardworking and an amazing athlete. She represented the US on the National Cross-country team this year, and was a fraction of a second from qualifying for the Olympic Trials in the 3000m steeple chase. I cannot wait to see, and read, about what she accomplishes over the next four years as well.

Curly, who after a long hiatus from running and two kids, started training again. I don’t know his initial motivation, but watching him (through his facebook posts) drop some major weight (I believe around 20 lbs?!) and then seeing he’s running 19 miles at an average 6:44 pace (10 of which were at 6-6:10 pace)! It is amazing to see and I can’t wait to hear how he does in his upcoming marathon.

And my friend, Mel. Two weeks after having her second baby, while I’m still lounging about, she is out logging miles. Seeing her out there running, often with her newborn and 2 year old in tow, is so amazingly inspiring. I know how exhausting having these little ones can be, and it is so much easier to just relax when you have a spare moment, but she gets up and goes.

I cannot begin to express how inspirational each of these people are. Thank you all for motivating me. Any accomplishments I have in the future will be in big part due to you. I hope someday to be as inspirational as you all are.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Zookeeper's Log- Ice Cream, Horses and Bugs, Oh My!

Not only has this been the week of no blog posts, but a huge week of ‘firsts’ for Miles and Ellis!

Last weekend we decided to head up to the tippy top of Mt. Olympus in the Troodos Mountains. At around 6k feet, it is the highest point on the mountain and even has a chair lift for skiing in the winter! I had never been there, and google maps said it was only one hour away so off we went. So glad we did… it was amazing! I didn’t get any pictures of the towns or the forest because I was driving and dealing with both kiddos on my own, but I will try to make it back before we leave. It reminded me a lot of the high desert forests in the Sierras. We even managed to get stuck in a thunderstorm with a downpour for 20 mins! Such an amazing relief from the heat down here on the coast.

So, onto the firsts… Miles got to have his very first ice cream cone. It was pretty amazing for all of us. He also got to ride is very first horse! If you know Miles, you’d know what a huge deal this is. He is a very timid kid. It is really difficult to get him to try new things (think swimming in the pool). Once he does it he loves it and wants to do it over and over again, but I never thought in a million years I’d actually get the kid on a horse!

The last time he saw a horse in person was almost a year ago and not surprisingly was terrified. The things are huge. We drove by the horses and donkeys and I pointed them out from the car. Miles got super excited and when I asked if he wanted to ride one practically jumped out of his seat. I figured we’d get over to them and it would take a lot of negotiating just to get him to pet one… I was so wrong. We walked up and this kid had no fear! He wanted to touch them all and within 2 minutes had picked out his favorite one that he wanted to ride.

Two euro to put your kid on the horse and take a picture, so that is what we did. I figured the second I tried to let go of him up there he’d want down… nope. Put him up there, took some pictures and what does he say? “Make him walk!” Ok, guess we’ll pay the 6 euro for the 10 minute ride! He rode the entire time all by himself. He kept saying “I’m perfect on this horse” “this is a good horse!”. I am still amazed. My baby boy is growing up! I am so proud of him!

Now on to little Miss Ellis! She is a crazy fast crawler now and has recently discovered that there are more rooms she can disappear into and there are some stairs she can try to climb. Miles was never into climbing, but this girl is all about it. I catch her on top of things seconds before she starts to topple. I can’t take my eyes off of the trouble maker. Standing is now no problem for her (still holding on to stuff). She practically tackles me when I get home from work… speed crawls to me and stands up holding on to my leg and grunts/growls until I pick her up. Yes, other than the occasional crying ‘mama’ the only things she says are the sounds her brother makes to try to make her cry (think dinosaur, lion, squeals). Ellis now thinks that is an appropriate way to communicate. Joy J With all of her crawling around we’ve officially entered the ‘blurry picture’ stage of life. She is so hard to catch!


She has also figured out how to ‘carry’ things with her. Miles use to do this weird one-armed crawl. Ellis just sticks things in her mouth and crawls around like a puppy. I’ll have to get a better picture, but brother’s headphones are one of her favorite chew toys/crawling companions.

She has also become a champion eater. This little girl is definitely not wasting away any time soon. Sadly she is working on cutting 6 teeth. Yes, 6 at once. Awful. She is a little trooper though… she is definitely in pain but handles it all in stride. Just fussier and at night she wakes up wanting something to chew on every 30 min until around 11ish but then sleeps longer stretches. Since I’m up that late anyways it hasn’t been too difficult.  She too, is growing up so fast! She is so big now… sad.

Finally, the bugs. Grandma, you may want to stop reading now!

It has been so hot and humid here this week that the bugs have officially moved in. It is awful. Twice this week I woke up to full on ant infestations (I’m talking hundreds). We’ve captured and released two cockroaches from the bathroom. One I saw when going in there in the morning and not knowing how to kill it his life was spared. Miles loved it (see picture). The other was living in the bath toy holder and Miles dumped it out on himself while in the tub… disgusting! I was so confused because some of his bath toys are plastic bugs, one of which is a cockroach. I am so glad I was already out of the tub! I should also add that a few weeks ago when going back to bed I saw a cockroach run from under Ellis’ door into Miles’ room. I literally stood there for 10 minutes trying to decide which room was the best option for me to sleep in… And lastly, we’ve found two monster spiders of the same species. I’m pretty confident they aren’t deadly, but they are very large and scary looking so may be pretty toxic… I hope we don’t find out. One was living in a towel on Miles’ bedroom floor. The other in Ellis’ shorts I left in the bathroom overnight. They both survived and got moved outside as well. Again, Miles loved them.

Such is life. I hope it cools down here soon! For us and to get the bugs out!
Oh! And Ellis turned 8 months old this week! I can’t believe she is getting so old so quickly! She’ll be one before we know it!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The week with no posts...

Wow... it is already Thursday and I have not done a single blog post! I am so sorry! Now here is my excuse :)

Life has gotten beyond crazy around here. I'm hoping I survive it for a few more weeks! Here is the schedule I've been doing everyday:

6a (sometimes 5:30)- up with Miles, Ellis follows shortly after
Breakfast, dressed, play

8a- leave for work
Stare at bone fragments for 8+hours....

4:30p- leave work to be home by 5p
Dinner, play, bath bed

7:30p- Both kids asleep (usually) and now my 'work day' begins. 
Reports, conference calls, proposals all for my job back home.

12ish- prep for the next days work and clean up my notes

1a- hopefully in bed and hopefully asleep... Ellis usually wakes up at least once before 6a when the fun begins all over again!

I use to think my life was crazy, but now I know it is. So, there you have it. No blogs, despite having lots to say, because I just haven't had the time. I'm neglecting work as we speak just to post this! I have, however, looked at and catalogued  38,114 bones so far. Don't worry, I will have the zookeeper's log up tomorrow. 

And, so this blog isn't completely devoid of some unique Cyprus experience, I saw both an ATV and a tractor driving in the middle of downtown during rush hour today.... you don't see that in Seattle! Also, it has been beyond hot here lately. And humid. I'm pretty sure I sweat a good 3 liters of water a day... no matter how much I drink I feel like I'm always at a deficit. Word on the street is that in a week or two the temps will start going the other way. I cannot wait to get back to mild Seattle weather!

Lastly... we are coming home earlier than expected! I've been making really good time with the bones and we will be back Sept 6th instead of the 21st!!! So excited!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Zookeeper's Log- A new addition to the family

Well, another week has passed. This was an exceptionally trying one, as I have been putting in as many hours as possible trying to get the bones done and then having the kids on my own during the evening and weekends (which started today for us as it is Kelsey’s birthday). I have to admit, taking care of the kids on my own for three days is more than a little daunting. I’m telling myself it only seems so stressful because my time away from them is very busy as well and there really is no down time in my day or week. Well, that is not entirely true… 7:30p and I’m free (minus the times E wakes up). But I digress… this post is not suppose to be about me, but about the kids!

It has been a crazy week for them. It started off last weekend with a serious of very unfortunate accidents for Miles. All of the hitting the head variety. Here is one particularly nice knot to show off. The bonk that led to this actually was not very bad, but I think its because he had hit that same spot hard two times previously. So he bounced into a wall (which is concrete), rolled off the couch, fell backwards off the bed onto the tile floor and ultimately hitting the back of his head on the wall, and finally got an elbow to the forehead while wrestling. Bad week for his head. I made the comment that he must be growing and hence the lack of coordination… today I realized he doesn’t fit in several of his pants. Just to reinforce the suspicion, today he fell off of his chair (backwards), fell off of the couch and hit his hip, fell backwards off of the steps outside twice (once hitting the same hip again), and fell off of a laundry basket he was standing on. Ok kid, I get the point. You are crazy and uncoordinated right now… stop getting hurt! Poor guy.

Ellis is not doing much better in the ‘bonk’ department. While she only really got the crawling thing down last week she has already moved onto standing up on things. Particularly things that like to slide out from under her. Remember we are on tile. These kids are going to give me a heart attack. This picture was actually from the beginning on the week and her skills are already far surpassed this stage, but until I get another picture…

Here are some photos from our last weekend at the beach before Ryan left. Ellis has become quite the beach bum… her and Ryan make quite the pair. Miles must be the only kid on earth who does not like the beach. He likes digging, but hates if sand touches his feet and will rarely touch the water.

Oh, speaking of Miles… he is potty trained! No diapers all week (except at night) and only two accidents. So proud of him. He has definitely consumed more sugar than any 2 year old ever should, but we’re phasing it out and he still seems to be getting the point. Hooray! Just in time to start preschool when we get home!!!

Also, I’ve been sleeping in his room now with him (this is what I walk into at night)… How did princess Ellis end up with the largest room all to herself!?! It is actually the first time she has slept alone in a room at night. It’s the only time I’ve ever not slept in the room with her unless I’ve been out of town. It was surprisingly difficult for me. I kept thinking I’d hear her and wake up to go check on her… of course she was out. So I woke up every hour just for fun, basically. Last night, after her waking up every 1.5hrs until midnight I ended up passing out until 6a… I don’t know if she woke up or not but I guess if she did she wasn’t that angry about me not getting her :/ Sad that I felt beyond refreshed after 6hrs of sleep J

Lastly, we got a new pet! Miles and Ellis are both in love. Miles calls him “Mr. Green”. They both spent over two hours just playing on him (well, Ellis spent two hours trying to eat his eyes). Miles even floated around on him in the pool for a while. Definitely a good addition to the family J

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Phanourios Cake

The other day, while sorting bones at the museum, I was served this small piece of what looked like coffee cake. Antonios (the museum director and one of the most interesting people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting) brought it out to me saying his wife had baked it, they have it often. Here is the story he then told of the Phanourios cake (in his words):

My wife bakes it often. You lose something, bake this pie and it will return to you.
Usually some gold thing or something (gesturing to neck/necklace).
We have it at least three times a month!

You feed it to seven women, married women, not single, for Phanourios' mother. 

Not sure how to explain it in English... (long pause).
There is no happiness after death, but this, this makes her happy. Brings joy to (gestures to the sky). 

I quite like this story. The cake was delicious too. I was even more curious about it because it was to honor the martyr Phanourios. My hippo species is Phanourios minutus, and the connection struck a cord. So, here is what else I found regarding the tradition, the martyr and the cake:

About the martyr-- not much is known. Ok, thats not all too helpful. His holy icon (classifying him as a martyr) was discovered in 1500 among the ruins of an ancient church in Rhodes. His name, Phanourios, translates to "the Newly Revealed".  People pray to him to help them recover things that have been lost, and because he answers prayers so frequently, the custom of baking a cake (a Phanouropita or "Phanourios Cake") rose as a thanks-offering. Apparently the "thanks" is preemptive :)

The tradition began in Rhodes, where the icon was discovered, and spread throughout Greece. In Crete there are three monasteries and dozens of churches named after him. In places like Crete and Cyprus, young women bake Phanouropita to ask Phanourios' help in finding a husband. In Skiathos, it is baked by a woman who wants a husband for her daughter and in Florina unmarried women place a piece under their pillow hoping to dream of their future husband. 


I couldn't find much about offering it to married women for Phanourios' mother, but I quite like that part. It's nice to have been a part of such a local custom and to know that I had part in bringing happiness where there is none.