Thursday, April 19, 2007

Third Time's A Charm!

This is counterintuitive but Lyra has adjusted back to East Coast time BEAUTIFULLY. In fact, she is in much better shape than when we left for our trip. She got two molars, her lower canine and her second upper canine so that all explains her foul mood last Sunday. But ever since then, she *WANTS* to sleep in her crib! To go in there AWAKE! She is our first child who has wanted to do this before age three! This is such a foreign experience....

I actually told Lyra she was going to her crib on Monday as something of a threat because everyone was losing it during the bedtime story and I was about to have a breakdown. She smiled and whimpered a bit. So I took her to her bedroom turned on some 18th century folk music, shut out the light and kissed her night-night. Lyra squawked once and then went to sleep.(!)

On Tuesday night, I put Lyra to bed first and she woke up later when I put Eva to bed. So I got her out of the crib, let her kiss Eva goodnight and then I kissed her and put her back to bed AND SHE WENT! Just curled up in that cute little child's pose and went to sleep! It is good this trend started because last night, Will was up from midnight on because his ear was totally blocked and wouldn't pop. Poor boy, it hurt so bad! But at least he wasn't tag teaming me with Lyra. I am sure there will new and different obstacles later but who cares?

So why the heck am I up now! Nighty-night! :)

Monday, April 16, 2007

More Thoughts on Our Trip

Differences between Italy (probably other places in Europe too) and the US:

- Motorscooters and cars that are smaller than my purse (because gas is probably $10/gal)

- People look happy to see you arrive with a child no matter where you are as opposed to here in the US (Please God, don't let them be in my row/near my table/)

- When checking out in the store, the cashier puts your change on a little plate on the counter rather than in your hand. IMO, this is brilliant and far preferably to having some ding-dong behind the counter put the bills in my hand and carefully arrange the coins on top of the bills so I pretty much can't do ANYTHING without spilling my change everywhere.

- Great coffee!

- Great wine! I love that the wine bars give you a little plate of snacks to eat with your wine so you don't accidentally end up three sheets to the wind.

- Reasonable portion sizes in the restaurants. There was no need to feel bad about throwing away half my entree (since there would have been nowhere to keep it in the hotel room) but I still had plenty to eat.

- Hotels charge extra for every amenity and food is horrendously expensive (see kid's meal post below).

I can't believe our trip is over and I've been back almost a week! With the nor'easter last weekend and gale force winds this week, I am ready to either fly back to Italy or have summer start NOW.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Time to go Home

Lyra did great on the flights, much to my relief and the relief of those around us. She didn't like airplane food but she sure liked all the time she had being held by Bill and me. We missed Will and Eva so it was definitely time to go home and figure out how our next trip to Italy can include the whole family.
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Lyra is a Night Owl

We ate dinner at Fischetteria Beltrami, near the Spanish Steps. Cherie and Frank both liked it and we had a great meal there too! The bread was great, so was the wine and the service was, how shall I say it....relaxed. Lyra had the tonnarelli carbonara and tiramisu. I will have to try making that at home. The only downside was the cars and motorscooters drove within mere inches of the table. Lyra really wanted to run around but we couldn't let her.
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St. Peter's Basilica

On the day where Bill and I got to go on a tour together, we had a choice of going to St. Peter's Basilica or to Ancient Rome. We chose Ancient Rome. But then on the way to dinner, someone told us that the St. Peter's tour was just fascinating and that we definitely couldn't go home without seeing it. Soooo, we did!

On Friday, Bill had meetings all morning and through lunch. I went shopping and then met him at the yummy gelato place in the afternoon. I proceeded to haul Bill around to all the places I got to see that he didn't, such as Piazza Navonna and the Pantheon. We made it out to St. Peter's late in the afternoon. I wish there was a way to photograph this to capture the humongosity of it (is "humongosity" even a word? But you know what I mean!). It makes the National Cathedral look small.

We did get to rub St. Peter's foot. His foot is worn nearly smooth from centuries of people rubbing it. We also walked through the tombs below. Some of the earliest popes are buried there and one is really awestruck by the weight of centuries of faith and tradition. Two preserved popes are upstairs and people were photographing them. That seemed to me to bedisrespectful somehow but I was clearly in the miniority!

Michelangelo's Pieta (last photo in this post) is just beautiful.

We were unsuccessful in finding a taxi back to the Spanish steps so we WALKED. That is a long way to walk carrying a baby and we had to run a long gauntlet of street vendors selling the same Prada knockoff bags, belts, and watches. We were glad to hit a wine bar after that.

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Lyra woke up

Lyra was the ultimate travel baby. She spent a good deal of time in the backpack and, on the last day, the sling. She rarely cried. Everyone told her how bellissima she was and she learned an Italian word....GELATO! Everytime we said the word or walked by a gelateria, she would cry and reach out for it.

To those of you who recommended Gelateria di San Crispino near Trevi Fountain, THANK YOU! That truly was the best gelato I've ever had! Lyra liked it too but she is not exactly a discriminating consumer where ice cream is concerned.
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It wouldn't be a visit to Rome without...

seeing the Colosseum! This thing is as large and solidly constructed as any modern sports stadium. It had aqueducts bringing water to built-in water fountains and even a tent covering over the top. Apparently wine was not permitted inside. Our guide said it only took 8 years to build. That doesn't seem very long to me considering how enormous the Colosseum is but I guess there was no shortage of slave labor.

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Vatican Museum

I am having a lot of trouble with Picasa and Blogger. The photo blog process used to be fatastically simple and "improvements" on blogger have made me want to throw in the towel. So hopefully you can see some of these photos. We had a private tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel. Look how small I lok next to the entrance! The enormity of these galleries and the amount of art crammed into them is just extraordinary. The gallery of maps was my favorite although our photos from that one did not come out well. The Sistine Chapel is truly a marvel. And just when we thought we'd seen it all, we went to St. Peter's Basilica. More on that in a bit.

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Palazzo di Colonna

We had dinner at the Palazzo di Colonna on Wednesday night. The galleries are open to the public on Saturdays and for private events. It has been the private residence of the Colonna family for centuries.

I have never seen anything as opulent as this and the religious buildings we have visited here. Where those columns are, there are a few marble steps, one of which has a cannonball embedded in it. Unfortunately, I could not find anyone who could tell me the story behind that!

World's Most Expensive Kid's Meal

Our hotel was just lovely and kid-friendly in that everyone just cooed all over Lyra, brought her a high chair at breakfast and lunch, and was totally patient with the mess on the floors created at each meal.

However, come dinner time on Wednesday evening, the restaurant was not open in time to feed her before we went out (Latin time?) and so I tried ordering her some plain pasta through room service so I could get a shower before going out. That was almost 40 EURO! You do the math.... But what a lovely presentation! She did eat it, despite her expression here. And Bill did get the check adjusted somewhat. But still, the investment required immortalization via photo.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Where's the Ducky? There it is!

Lyra thinks the bidet is her own private sink to play in. EEEWWWWWW!

Her babysitter will be here any minute! Wish us luck.... Arrivederci!

Lunch at Last

Lyra slept all day and through most of lunch. We ate at a restaurant near the Pantheon called Le Bain. The food was good and the coffee was great but I had to chug mine. It took so long for them to make all the individual cappucinos and espressos that we had to leave right after my coffee came. Lyra perked up for the bus ride back to the hotel which was at 9 am, Eastern Daylight Time.

The Pantheon

The Pantheon, temple to all gods...I think this is my favorite place so far. It is 1900 years old. It is just beautiful inside.

The Pantheon continues to operate as a church and there are concerts here too. I would love to hear a concert here. The opening in the dome on top lets in light and it looked just beautiful in real life. I do not know how to capture it with my camera. Lyra continued to sleep in the backpack.

Piazza di Navona

Piazza di Navonaa used to be an olympic stadium but is now a square with the Fountain of Four Rivers and lots of shops and restaurants. Actually, it is not literally a square because it still has its oval shape from when it was a stadium. There are lots of vendors selling drawings and paintings and other things. Unfortunately, the Four Rivers Fountain is under consruction. Gian Lorenzo Bernini designed that as well as lots of other beautiful things around Rome.

I don't know what t his other fountain is called but Will, check out the octopus in the center! What a fight!

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Other Views of the Spanish Steps

I learned that the azaleas are in honor of Rome's birthday as a City, on April 21st and that they have bloomed a bit early this year. The obelisk (THAT was the word I was trying to think of yesterday) is from Egypt. There were 9, 6 small like this one and 3 large like the one from Piazza di Popoloi yesterday. They were funeral monuments for various Pharohs and were incorporated into Roman monuments centuries later.

The second photo is from the top of the steps looking down.

Lyra really is in the backpack and still sleeping. Everyone kept saying what a good baby she was. She is a good baby but really it was in the middle of the night for her and so she slept.

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Trevi Fountain

Today I took a Fountains and Squares tour of central Rome with other conference gests. Our first stop was Trevi Fountain. Bill and I walked through here yesterday and it was horribly crowded and overrun with people selling junk. It was not so bad this time. The fountain is beautiful. I threw a coin in (back to fountain, right hand over left shoulder in the Trevi tradition)and wished for our family to come back to Rome for a visit all together.

Now Lyra is sleeping in the backpack here even though you can't see her at all.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Piazza di Popolo

Finally, a Piazza where it is reasonably safe to let Lyra out of the backpack to run around. This monolith (is that the word for this type of monument? I was trying to avoid "phallus"), this monolith has hierglyphics inscribed all over it. Bill has a picture but it will have to go in the travel scrapbook because I was ot successful in getting it to post here.

We went back to the hotel after this. We were all tired! tomorrow, Lyra and I are doing a city tour with other guests at this conference. I am sure I will have more photos to post then.
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Spanish Steps

Isn't this pretty? These are the Spanish Steps, a popular place for poets and musicians in the past and actually funded by a French (not Spanish) ambassador. There is a restaurant near here that Cherie and Kevin really liked so we may come back on Friday to try it.

Can you see the chocolate gelato on Lyra's face? She is being a very picky eater, saving herself only foryogurt, bread and ice cream. There is a particular gelateria near the Trevi Fountain that came highly recommended to us but it isn't open on Tuesdays. So we went to a different one. I didn't like the coconut gelato but the chocolate was good. The people ahead of us in line had their gelato decorated to look like an elephant. I should have taken a picture of that because it was very clever.

Roman Forum

Despite horrible jet lag, we took a taxi out to Piazza Venezia and walked around the oldest part of Rome. We saw the Capitoline and some amazing statues which I can't show you here because Bill's camera saves pictures in a raw data format that doesn't work with Blogger. But here is the Roman Forum...

I cannot believe how ancient all these things are and they are just sitting here mixed in with other modern parts of the landscape. There is nothing like this back home. We could also clearly see how Rome was built in layers, one on top of the other.

Lyra and her Buddies

Lyra liked this porpoise fountain out front but she won't stay still for a picture. She also liked the car seat I got her for the taxi, the hotel lobby and pushing the buttons in the elevator. She is attracting smailes and attention from everyone and has the waiter at the terrace restaurant here toally smitten. However, Lyra has already perfected the art of giving guys the brush-off.

Finally here!

The trip to Rome was blissfully uneventful. Lyra was a very happy traveler except for a brief period when we had to fasten our seatbelts for take off and she wasn't allowed to run around. She didn't think much of airline food and held out for yogurt at breakfast. She got to sleep in the taxi to the hotel but we didn't. I felt horrible earlier this afternoon.

Our hotel is on the highest hill in Rome. We have a lovely view.

Friday, April 06, 2007

News! News!

Bill and I are going to ROME! Bill has a conference and Lyra and I will go too! It will be a quick trip, leaving Monday night and returning Saturday afternoon but I am very excited. I've never been to Rome and we have never spent quite that much time away from Will and Eva. They will be busy with school and the usual routine though. Mom and Dad are staying with them which is Really Nice of them and also makes me completely confident that Will and Eva and the cats will be safe and have fun. We leave Monday and plan to update the blog each day with pictures of what we are doing. To quote Eva, "Yipppppeeeeeee!"

Thursday, April 05, 2007

New Sweater!

I just finished this sweater for Lyra and it is a good thing because I think it won't fit for long. Lyra turned 15 months old on Sunday. At her check up, she weighed 21 lbs 9 oz and was 30 1/4 inches long. That puts her at 25-50% for weight and 50-75% for height. She is definitely more petite than Will and Eva but certainly middle of the road in size.

Lyra is a such a good little buddy despite 5 teeth trying to come in at once. Se does this "big nod" when she likes smething or agrees with you and it is just the funniest thing!I've gotten the "big nod" for making lunch, diaper changes, and most recently (!) when I asked her if she loved her Mommy. Lyra only has a few words but clearly will be a world class charades player. She finds her bib when she is hungry, and she lies on her back in front of me on the floor and raises her bottom when she wants a new diaper. Maybe that means learning to use the loo is not far behind...