Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Lake Quinault Adventure!

I apologize for the lack of a blog over the past few months... I hate to admit it, but I'm still not even completely unpacked from our trip this summer! In short, no downtime before things picked back up and got crazy again. But alas, I feel I should pick it back up and at minimum log our mini adventures! So here is the most recent one...

Months ago I purchased a Groupon for two nights at the Lake Quinault Lodge out on the Olympic Peninsula. As seems to be the case with all Groupon purchases, the expiration date snuck up on me and we had to use it ASAP! So we picked the only free weekend we had (yes, we only had one weekend free for the months of September, October, November and December... sad). Luck was on our side, though and it was a beautiful, non rainy weekend! That is saying a lot for visiting a rainforest in the Pacific Northwest mid-November :)

The drive out was a bit rough. Miss Ellis is on a nap in the car strike, so it made the 3hrs during nap time very, well, interesting. But we made it. Got a beautiful room with a lake view and within 5 minutes of being there Miles took a header off of the bed. We thought he may have broken his nose, but fortunately its just roughed up (third head injury in two weeks). The whole family got to share a room for the second time ever (first was our fantastic overnight in London). Things went great! Ellis didn't really sleep well, but it didn't seem to bother Miles much. In fact, the nights were one of my favorite times of the trip because Miles would spend a good hour every night in bed resting his hand on my cheek and saying "I love you", rubbing my hair, my back and giving me hugs and kisses. I knew he was a sweet kid, but his sweetness amplifies when he's sleepy.

Come morning, Miles was super excited to test out his very new hiking backpack... complete with his own camelpak! Both kiddos were up and ready to go very early, so we bundled up and took to the mountains. 

While it was nice and clear, it was cold! Thankfully we all had enough layers. I think Ellis was so stunned by the cold that she didn't dare complain about being stuck in the backpack for so long. Miles was definitely not a fan of the cold and showed it by being more than a little whiny. But he was still adorable. 

We ended up doing ~2.5 mile loop that took us by a few water falls. The bridges were icy and we had a few slips and falls. Overall, Miles is much more balanced than I am so he did ok :) The second half of the hike Miles decided he wanted to call out to the animals and see if they would come out of the trees to visit. By this point he was too cold to walk as well, so Ryan was carrying him... quite entertaining watching Ryan carry him for a mile or so with Miles making dinosaur, bear and lion noises as loud as he could right into Ryan's ear. Well, I found it entertaining. 

I think Ryan and I were both surprised at how much of a workout a 2+ mile hike would be when it involves carrying the kiddos! We were both a little more pooped that we anticipated and all of us were super cold and ready to go warm up. Thanks to our little monsters being early risers, by the time we got done with our hike they were still serving breakfast at the lodge. In we went for some food and, of course, some hot chocolate. Miles' favorite (note red nose from previously mentioned face plant): 

After warming up and filling the bellies we ventured out to take a drive and look for some animals. Miles was very helpful in "calling for them". You see, they were high up in the mountains eating (according to little Mr. Man) so he needed to tell them to come down and visit... Surprisingly it worked! We got to see a ton of elk up close! Some right on the road... so lucky. Along the way we visited some awesome waterfalls, played "Pooh" sticks (as in Whinny the Pooh, not poop poo), and Ryan managed to find something to climb.

Along our stope was one of the biggest Red Cedars! I realized I didn't get a full picture of the base of the tree, but seeing Ryan and Miles standing in the center of it gives you a good idea of its size. Mr. Miles could walk all the way through.

Amazingly, after our drive, the entire family got a nice long nap! Shocking with two kiddos in the same room. We woke up just in time to get out to the lake before the sun set and got some quality rock throwing time in.

We ended the day with a long game of hide and seek in the grocery store while waiting for some pizza. Enjoying the yummy pizza dinner as a picnic in our room. And... watching Ellis walk across the room for the first time!!! Thats right, we have a walker! She has been taking the occasional step for months, but this is the first time she just decided to waltz across the room like it ain't no thang. Granted, she's only done it one other time in since, so she clearly is in no rush :)

Overall, the Lake Quinault Lodge was amazing. I was super impressed at how kid friendly it was. Especially all of the well maintained, large and mostly paved hiking trails. We will most definitely be going back! Besides, who doesn't want to end their day with a view like this!?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Wopschalls and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day(s)

Oh my, were to begin? At the beginning I suppose...

Our travel day back to Seattle was already daunting, but we were very happy that we were on a non-stop from London to Seattle this time... cutting out one plane change and about 7hrs from our travels to get out to Cyprus. We were scheduled on a 10a (Cyprus time) flight to London (length 5hrs), then had a 1.5hr layover in Heathrow followed by a 9.5hr direct flight to Seattle. I was not looking forward to the 9.5 hr flight, but with home on the other end nothing could dampen my spirits. Or so I thought.

Everything that could go wrong did, and then some. Here is the story of our truly terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days trying to make it back home:

The day started great. We were all packed early the night before, kids were getting good rest, we didn't need to leave the house until 7a, and with early 6a risers that was perfect. Started with a 1.5hr drive to the airport in Cyprus where we offloaded our massive amount of luggage. And I do mean massive. We had six bags, four of which were over weight and two oversized, plus our two car seats. It does seem extreme, but with two small kids out of the country for three months it was pretty unavoidable. Both kids went through a few clothes sizes while out there, so I had to pack several different wardrobes (nightmare). So, we finagle all of our bags inside and check in at Cyprus Air. Hurdle number one... they want to charge us 450 euro for the bags... that is more than the ticket price for a passenger.

On our way out to Cyprus, we were charged $40/extra bag, $60 if it was over weight, car seats are always free.  So that ended up being $180, probably around 150ish euro. We paid that once and our bags were checked all the way through to Cyprus, successfully making it on one domestic and two international flights.

So, 450 euro, nothing we could do about it... Then they inform us that 1) they cannot check our bags all the way through to Seattle, we would have to reclaim them in London, recheck them, and 2) then pay for the excess bag/weight fee on British Air which, the lady informed me, is usually more expensive than theirs. Fan-freaking-tastic. I informed them that we only had an hour an a half to make our connection and that was not enough time to go through customs, reclaim our luggage, transfer that insane amount of luggage plus two kids to then recheck our bags and get back through security. Her response "An hour and a half is more than enough time". I would like to see her try. They did take pity on us though and she called her supervisor, managing to get our excess baggage fee down to 150 euro! That was quite nice of them. She said the fees are so high to encourage people to only bring one bag, but obviously with two kids and staying in the country so long it became absurd to pay such high prices. Nice that at least that was recognized. We tried everything we could to get our luggage checked through... requested that we sign a waiver relieving Cyprus Air of all responsibility for delayed or lost luggage... nothing. Not much we could do.

So, we head through security and get on our flight. Before getting on we talked to the gate agent and they made a note (whatever that means) to try to have a British Air representative meet us at the gate in London to help with our transition. At least its something. We leave our stroller at the gate, where they take it down and bring it back up for you when you offload from the plane, get in our seats and we're off.

We didn't have seats together on this flight, but ended up getting people to trade with us pretty easily. Turns out most people don't want to sit next to a toddler and infant for 5hrs :) The flight itself was pretty uneventful. Miles watched shows on his iPad the entire time (er, I mean our iPad, I forget who actually owns it sometimes), Ellis napped a little, played a little. She was a lot more difficult than on the way out, only because she is so much bigger and physical. She wants to crawl, jump, play, and I spent most of the flight as a personal jungle gym. She really beat me up. But I expected as much. And she did much better than I anticipated.

Now the fun part begins. We get to London. I ask people where to pick up our stroller, everyone says it will come out with our bags. Ya, no, that doesn't sound right. In fact, I'm pretty certain they are wrong. Sadly, our connection is so short I don't want to wait around and waste precious time for a stroller that may not show up. We make the decision to just go get our bags and get moving. We ask a customer service agent if there is someone who could help us, nope. The problem is we have to change terminals and it seems like customer service people only want to service you if you are in their terminal... go figure. We make it claim our luggage... at the luggage carousel Ryan gets the bags off while I run and talk to the British Airways baggage service center to get assistance, again I am denied assistance. He gives me directions on where we have to go and how to get there, but he cannot help and there is no one he can call. Ok, not much we can do but keep moving.

We get two trolleys, load them up... and I mean load them up, 3-4 bags on each (two on each are overweight) the things are unwieldy to say the least. I have Ellis strapped to me along with the diaper bag which is doubling as snack/toy/carryon and is heavy. Ryan has his backpack which has two computers and 3 or so books, also ridiculously heavy. We don't see the stroller and decide we need to cut our losses because it likely isn't coming. If all we lose is a $15 umbrella stroller and we make it on the flight it is totally worth it. So we ditch the stroller and ask Miles if he can run and stay with us. Boy I bet we were a sight. I have Ellis and my large cart while yelling out instructions to Miles that sounded like "Go fast. Miles, stop! This way. That way. Miles, slow down. Stay by Mama, Miles. Miles, watch out you can't be that close to Mama, she'll bump you. Slow down, Miles. Miles, we have to go fast, can you go super fast?" Ugh, that poor kid. He's probably never been so confused in his life. He did fantastic though. Ryan has his massive backpack on, a huge overloaded trolly and is dragging two car seats. One car seat is in a bag with wheels (thank goodness), and the other stacked on top. Problem is whenever you try to turn a corner the top one falls off. Probably not a big deal if you weren't also trying to manhandle an overweight trolly.

Other bonus? Apparently Heathrow airport has this thing for sloping hallways. Trolleys are designed to be easily maneuvered in any direction. Sloping hallway plus 'easy' to maneuver trolly plus trying to steer with one hand equals a disaster of trolly meets wall repeatedly.

So, we have our trolleys, our two year old running like a mad man, both of us stressed beyond belief, trying to find our way to the international terminal in Heathrow. We were told to get on the elevator and take it to get on a train to the next terminal. Get on the elevator, get off on the wrong floor. Sounds like it wouldn't be a huge deal except that to get back on there were a lot of people waiting, and with two large trolleys plus a two year old to wrangle, by the time an elevator opened and we managed to get our stuff over in that direction either it was full or already closed because we took to long. After missing three elevators because of this I had mini-meltdown number one and the tears came. The next one I said, screw it, I don't care what it takes we are getting on. It looked full, the door was closing but I rammed my way in and held the door long enough to get Ryan on. It was crammed, I'm sure I seemed rude, but I'm also sure my red blotchy face and Ryan's look of anger/stress stopped anyone from saying anything.

We make it down to the train only to discover that you cannot bring the trolleys through. Not just you can't take them on the train, but you cannot even take them on the platform. Mini-meltdown number 2. Twenty feet is as good as a mile when you have so many large heavy bags and two kids. We are so fortunate that there was a super nice customer service guy that helped us unload our stuff from the trolleys, put them on the platform and then when the train came quickly load it up with us. We made it on, knowing that when the train stopped we'd just have to get everything off as quickly as possible. That 3 minute train ride was the longest three minutes of my life.

We arrive, and again, are lucky enough to have some other passenger help us unload our bags and then a customer service guy at the next terminal grab two trolleys and bring them over for us. It seemed the closer we got the nicer people were. We quickly get up to departures, I leave Ryan with the trolleys and run to find anyone at British Air that could help us. Every person was helping someone else except one guy who was assisting another worker. I tell him our situation and he moves to an open spot to help us. He tells me its not looking good but he'd try everything he could.

Miles in Heathrow... such a trooper.
How did I end up finding the most helpful and nice employee ever? I don't know, but he made the most stressful terrible situation infinitely better. Because of him I will be a British Air customer for life. He started checking bags immediately, did the car seats first so Ryan could run them to the oversize luggage drop while he did the rest. Called the flight, was trying everything to get them to hold for us, getting constant updates on the situation. Essentially, we only had 5 minutes before it closed and needed to move now. We go to pay for our extra luggage, they don't take mastercard (our BECU card which we've been using exclusively). I didn't even know if we had enough money in our Wellsfargo (a VISA) but we tried it anyways. Those are the only cards Ryan has on him. No luck. I go to look for my wallet with any number of workable credit cards and its not there. This is when I remember that in the airport in Cyprus I made the last minute decision to move my large wallet to a checked bag to save space. After all, I had my passport, cash and BECU card on me... nothing else I would need. Wrong. And yes, we had just sent all of our checked bags down to the abyss mere minutes ago. I run to an ATM to take cash out from BECU... transaction declined. We're in another foreign country so our account was flagged and frozen. Ryan tries to get money out at a travel exchange kiosk but they only can give 200 pounds per customer and our fee is 350 pounds. They won't give me any cash because they know I'm with him and that is considered the same customer? I'm still confused by her reasoning. But regardless, even if we'd been able to get the cash that minute, the flight was closing in two and we had no way of making it.

At this point I resigned to our fate and became instantly less stressed. At least we weren't rushing anymore and there was nothing we could do. The insanity was over. Our amazing British Air employee continued to be amazing and set us up with a new ticketing agent to help book us on a new flight the next day. He waived all ticket change fees and any price difference fees. He also said that because the bags were in the system we could just leave them there and when we got checked into our new flight they would get transferred over, so we didn't have to deal with getting all of that stuff to and from a hotel. Huge help. I also managed to get ahold of BECU, confirmed it was us in London and got our block removed, so we could have money again. Also helpful.

Still trying to get everything sorted out. No idea how long
we sat here in Heathrow for.
They tried everything they could to get us on a flight that night. We almost got on a flight to Vancouver, BC and then down to Seattle, but they couldn't confirm three seats so it was a no go. They also couldn't get us on the non-stop to Seattle the following day because it was way oversold. Our best option was to stay the night, go to Chicago in the morning and then on to Seattle from there. The flight to Chicago is 9hrs (yes, just 30 minutes shorter than going all the way to Seattle), then from Chicago to Seattle 4hrs. So, we would be leaving 5hrs before the non-stop flight and getting in one hour later. More than frustrating, but at least we would be home.

My new best friend at British Airways surprised us again and booked a hotel for us, free of charge, and gave us bus vouchers, dinner vouchers and breakfast vouchers. What an amazing individual. British Air had zero responsibility for us missing our flight. We booked all of our travel through American Air, so they set up the layover times, and it was Cyprus Air that wouldn't check our bags through. Yet, British Air took care of all of our accommodations, rebooking and we ended up not having to pay for our excess baggage. Simply amazing.

Miles super excited to get to eat dinner in bed!
If all of that weren't enough, our story continues. We make it to the hotel (via bus ride where at one point Miles flew off the seat and hit his head on the partition... thankfully no bump despite the hit looking bad). Check in, get room service. The hotel is really nice, way nicer than I would have booked for us. I was worried about us getting the kids to sleep in the same room, but everyone was so tired they passed right out (it was three hours past their bedtime). Ryan had been feeling not very good starting at the London airport, but we figured it was mostly from the stress/craziness we just experienced. Wrong. Not more than 15 minutes after getting the kids to sleep Ryan is up getting sick in the bathroom. Joy. Two hours later, Ellis starts :( Both are violently ill. Ryan makes it to and from the bathroom ok, but with Ellis there is only a couple of seconds of warning where she sounds like she's gagging before she throws up. So, I slept with her in my arms (if you can call it sleep) and every time she was about to throw up I'd sit up and lean her over some towels I had down, trying to keep as much of it off of her and myself as possible. Yes, it is as glamorous as it sounds. Somehow, Miles slept straight through the awful evening.

Morning comes and Ryan, while feel understandably very very weak, dehydrated and hungry, seems to be passed the vomiting stage as does Ellis. Whatever it was was fast and furious. I was so thankful because what was our option? Staying in London another day and sitting in a hotel room while everyone got sick? Terrible. So we head down to get breakfast, plans to continue on to the airport and see if everyone is still feeling good enough to fly. A few steps outside of our hotel room and it hits me. My turn for all of the fun. I get sick (thankfully just made it back inside the room). The night before Ryan only got sick every 2-3hrs and 'felt fine' in between. I was feeling much better, and that combined with the fact that if my sickness only lasted as long as it did with Ryan and Ellis (around 8-9hrs) then we wouldn't even been halfway through the first flight and it would be over, we decided to keep on moving. I was watching Miles like a hawk, waiting for it to hit him too, figuring it would be inevitable and at any moment.

We make it to the airport, Miles is still good, I'm not feeling great, but one trip to the bathroom and I'm doing ok enough. Our flight is delayed so we are stuck for what feels like forever in the hot little holding room before boarding. At this point I should add that while I packed two changes of clothes for the kids (stuff always happens while traveling) I never thought to pack anything extra for Ryan and I. The day before on the plane Miles had peed on me (missed the toilet in the plane and due to the size of the bathroom if it wasn't in the toilet it was on me), Ellis pooped on me and, as you may recall, spent the night vomiting in my arms. So, at this point I had pee, poop and baby vomit on my clothes while being sick myself.

We get on the plane. Miles has been saying his tummy hurts for some time now and is a terrible mood, so I'm expecting him to lose it at any moment. Ryan is, understandably, beyond tired and stilling feeling gross... sadly he is the one that is 'doing the best' at that very moment. Right after take off I need to bolt for the bathroom. I then spend the next 9 hrs rushing to the bathroom frequently. I don't know how frequently because it would have been obscene to keep track. At some points I would only be in my seat for 5 minutes before rushing back. More than a few times I'd get an exhausted Ellis asleep in my arms only to have to throw her at an exhausted Ryan to then run to the bathroom, waking her up and making us all more miserable. On only one occasion I didn't make it to the bathroom... it was the one time Miles was coming with me to go potty. It was occupied and there was no helping it. Luckily there was a half full garbage bag right by me that I could use. Miles was worried and I think it was the first time that the flight attendants realized I was sick. Two hours into the flight I was ready to quit. About four hours into the flight, things got even better....

Ryan broke out in either hives or a terrible rash. He noticed it on his arms first, then realized it was all over his chest and back. Like, bad. Real bad. When he saw it on his arms he'd asked the flight attendants if they had Benadryl he could have and they said they did not. After seeing it on his chest and back I went to talk to them to relay the potential seriousness of the situation. Turns out they do have kits with Benadryl, but as non-physicians they are not allowed to open them and give it to people. So, they had to call for a doctor on the plane. Yes, we were those people. You hear the announcement "we have a passenger with a medical condition, if there is a doctor on the plane could you please press your call button?". And everyone wonders if there is someone suffering a heart attack or going into shock and if something crazy is about to go down. Nope, turns out we just need some one to open the Benadryl. It instantly helps, but also makes him crazy tired. Not fun when you have a wife throwing a baby at you so she can go throw up.

So, we were a mess. I can only imagine what these people thought. Ryan breaking out into a crazy rash and me puking in their garbage bags. What fun.

Our flight finally ends. When entering the US you are required to reclaim your bags and recheck them. How excited do you think we were for that!? At least they have a process in place where the rechecking is located directly by the claim area. Also, when we get to the baggage area there are porters with huge trolleys that are there to help. So excited to see them. The lady said you were supposed to tip them, all I had in US dollars was a twenty, but I was happy to give it to him if he'd cart all of our stuff out for us.

We're waiting for bags. Don't see ours. Oh, that is all the bags from our flight. The porter talks to some people and we find out our luggage didn't make it out from London. At this point, who cares. We are so over it. Both of us are like, "whatever". The car seats didn't make it either which is a slightly bigger problem, but like I said, we were over it. We head to our new flight... wishing we hadn't lost our stroller because Miles is exhausted and would have done much better not walking (but did amazing for such an over tired little guy). I had just enough time to get a call into my sister and grandma. One of them was going to pick us up at the airport but they didn't have our flight info, time, anything. I get both of their voicemails so I leave a long message with my sister, Kalimar, that is something crazy like this:

"So we get in at 5:30p, if you could pick us up. We don't have our baggage, it was lost, so we don't have car seats. So we need you to pick us up with car seats, but you can't use yours because we've all been violently ill and I don't want your kids to get sick. So, could you go buy us two new car seats and either help Grandma get them set up so she can pick us up or you set them up and pick us up? Space isn't a problem, we don't have bags anymore, so bring any car. Ok, hope you get this and can figure something out..."

More or less. We get on the flight and despite one quick trip to the bathroom at the very beginning, it went surprisingly well. I was over the throw up stage (joy!), Miles and Ellis passed out before the flight even took off. It was 3am to them, after all. Ryan, Miles and Ellis all slept the entire four hour flight and I slept most of it. At the start of the flight I felt so awful and was so over everything that I'd already planned for us to stay the night at my parents because I couldn't fathom driving the extra 20minutes to our own house. Thankfully, by the time we landed I felt good enough and was excited enough to where that wasn't the case anymore. We had made it home.

Ryan was getting a crazy rash again... oh boy, but we found some Benadryl at the airport in Seattle. I was expecting Ellis and I to get the same rash, but we never did. Miles still has not thrown up (thankfully!) so I think we are almost out of the woods there too. I don't know how he managed to avoid it but am so so incredibly thankful for that. We left our address for our bags to be delivered, we got one today, I think two or three are coming tomorrow... they are all on different flights which is odd, but again, I'm over it. We're home and it is glorious. My bed is literally heaven. Nothing has ever felt so good as sleeping on it after being on a crapy springy one for 2+months. Also, seeing how happy Miles is to be home warms my heart. He insisted on sleeping with all of his trucks last night and has been so happy and full of smiles. He can't get enough of bjax and mj. Ellis is terrified of the dogs, but definitely loves her crib after sleeping on a pack n play for months! And, despite being jet lagged and recovering from a crazy sickness is still all smiles (see her modeling her new shark hoody below).

There it is. Our story. Barring injury or death I don't see how it could have gotten much worse. But its over and now we get to laugh about it right?

I should also add... during our travels Miss Ellis turned 9 months old! What a way to spend your 9 month birthday little lady!

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 (bnickless.wordpress.com). 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!