Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Turkish escapade and the secret is in the room-service

So... we're back from our Turkish escapade

Four flights in four and a half days was pretty ambitious but it was well worth it and the Turkish hospitality and love of children helped a lot.

It was really fantastic to be able to pop by* Izmir and enjoy coffee or lunch with friends and walk the city centre again. It sort of felt as if I'd never left -except for Emma and other new babes of course -living proofs that time has gone by. It's hard to believe it has been nearly 2 years since I was there!!
The other "reminder" were the really nice developments in the city including the brand new Swissotel Grand Efes with its beautiful gardens, pool and terraces and some lovely new shops and parks.

Ah, the lovely cafés, terraces and sun. Ah, the böreks, gözleme, and manti... I have missed you.

As soon as we landed in Izmir, Emma was right in her element, receiving balloons from the hotel staff who played with her every chance they got.
We also discovered a side to Izmir I had no interest for at the time we were there: colorful childrens' parks in cool shade.
The fact that we were staying right in the centre made things much easier and Emma had mid-day siesta's after her lunch and got to bed on-time despite us running out to coffee, lunch or the park in between. It was really nice and I am so happy we did it.

I've decided that taking a break at a place you know offers the best of both worlds ; you get the feeling of familiarity and although it's a holiday you also get the benefit of knowing your way around and having friends to spend time with. As far as I'm concerned, those are huge advantages when traveling with a toddler and making stays so short as we tend to do. Another significant advantage was the fact that we weren't staying in our own home/with friends/family. More on that later.

Istanbul was fun too, but the terrible traffic** put a damper on it for me. On Friday evening, we spent more time in jam from Ataturk airport to the Ritz Carlton than we did flying in from Izmir! A metro running under the Bosphorus is due to be completed in 2010 but locals seem to think that you would need at least ten of those to make a real difference in traffic.

On Saturday morning we went for a stroll around Taksim and for a walk in Bebek along the shores of the Bosphorus in the afternoon. After a short stop in the children's park, we wanted to have a coffee in quaint Ortaköy, but the bumper to bumper traffic totally put us off stopping there on our way back to the hotel.

On Sunday morning, we enjoyed a yummy hotel breakfast then strolled through Taksim and enjoyed a quick lunch at the House café in Tünel before heading back to the hotel.

Amazing how life, and travel in particular, with an infant or toddler is dictated by meal/nap/bed-times, isn't it? If you try to stick to them, that is. It's a very personal choice, but I always do my utmost to respect Emma's routine 'cause she is so much happier - hence so are we - when she is rested and properly fed. Nothing new there, but there was a bit of a revelation for me during this trip perhaps because it was a first since Emma was born : room service is absolutely brilliant! Even more so when you have kids. I thought we'd miss going out in the evenings trying to keep with Emma's bedtimes but instead it ended up being a plus.

(in case you hadn't noticed, this is no longer a post about Istanbul or Izmir or friends... but if you're a Mom you might want to read on)

Because the tiring thing about kids, is not the kids. It's trying to shop, cook, do the dishes, clean, tidy, change sheets, do/hang/fold/iron laundry, shower,
be inspired, have a social life, make time and mental space and find the energy for partner/friends, answer emails, do the paperwork, go to the doctor/dentist/ophtalmologist, school/playdate find parking (I could go on forever, but you know the drill) all the while your little one is yelling, hiding things in cupboards, banging on the door, jumping on the bed, calling out your name mantra-like, pulling at your leg, pinching your thigh etc. and then finding the energy to play. That's what tires me.

I loved getting back to the hotel and just calling up room service to order dinner and then playing with Emma until it arrived, bouncing the balloons off my head with various sound effects making her giggle to tears. It was so much fun! After dinner, calling in-room dining for them to pick up the trolly while I settled Emma down in her pyjamas and sang her songs was just as relaxing.
No "what shall I cook tonight?" no rushed shopping, cooking washing up in-between the singing, playing, pampering, feeding, before the bathing, playing, changing, singing etc. No trying-to-do-it-all-at-once-is-making-me-feel-exhausted -and-inefficient-and-in-a-moment-I-am-going-to-become-very-impatient.
Instead, looking forward to a meal while being able to be 100% available and then a full tummy and inspiration and energy. Pause, sigh. The good life.

Can you believe Emma is enjoying in-room dining at the Ritz-Carlton and she is not even two?
In case you're wondering she is eating onion soup! and our room had sealed windows!!!

Now Emma has an eye infection and my sinuses are killing me so we'll enjoy each others company full time -without the room-service- for a few more days until she's healthy enough to go back to kindergarden .

A learning? If it's getting to be too much and you're going to blow a fuse: Stop trying to do it all, serve yourself a drink and chips (get some healthy-ish aperitif snack out for your toddler if you must) and play while you wait for the water to boil and make penne with you favorite Ricotta speciale sauce and serve strawberry yogurt for desert. The laundry can wait and everyone will go to bed happier.

*we stayed a total of about 30 hours arriving Thursday morning and departing Friday early evening

** with a population of nearly 20 million and huge amount of cars!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Emma update & Happy Easter

and here we go on another Emma update. So what's new?

- has a mole!!! One single one on her otherwise perfectly white and unblemished skin
- has discovered the sand pit - à mon grand regret - and is bringing part of it back home
- might have some mysterious Portuguese origins: She says "déjaou" for "descendre" (to get down - from the chair for example - in French)
- is learning to kick a ball in our garden and loves going down the slide (or "rutschen" in German)

- likes fruit tea at kindergarten but not at home where she only drinks water and milk (apparently this is the way it is...)

- seems to always have things in both hands and is usually missing a third one to grab hold of more things... (genes, genes, what can I say... or maybe I'm totally retarded!)
- loves splashing in the bath, making faces to herself in the mirror and is increasingly interested in her belly button
- likes pointing out who is in the picture (I keep some in my handbag 'cause it's a great activity when trying to keep her sitting at the table while the meal is brought to us)

- likes croissants

- and Easter hunts


for more of our Easter pics click here

We're off to the thermal baths of Lutzmannsburg...

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Bad, bad gardeners parents

We decided it was time to get our garden sorted out with the good weather finally looking like it was going to stick around for more than a hopeful minute and a half at 6am.

So we got our lawn mowed, brought out our garden furniture (the teak badly needed cleaning and oiling) and we bought two plants and potted them.

Meet, Rhododendrum

... and Azalea

This is what they are supposed to look like once they bloom.

Pretty right? Turns out... both Rhododendrum and Azalea are toxic!

So far, Emma has shown absolutely no interest in these plants but still... I can't say I feel great having these on both sides of our summer couch.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Soup for dinner and in the garden

As you can see Emma's appetite is back!

Just as good, she is wearing short sleeves and eating dinner outside in early April.

I love having dinner out in the garden as the sun gentle sets and we can enjoy its warmth. Oh, Izmir weather I miss you!

With each sunny day that goes by we are more adamant that our next destination as expats has to be a sunny one where we can swim and sunbathe and play outside more than 5-6 months a year!

Good bye winter coats, hats and shoes!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Finally, SPRING!

socked feet (no stockings for Emma!)
garden furniture out


Thursday, April 02, 2009

Easter Party at kindergarden

Today, there was an Easter Party at Emma's day care center (kindergarden or school as we call it).

First parents were sat down to watch the "show" about the very hungry caterpillar where all the kids played the caterpillar (while the teachers sang) eating away at the apples, pears, strawberries, then the yummy alka seltzer leaf before building a cocoon around himself and finally turning into a beautiful butterfly.
After the show and since the sun was out, we all went up to the roof and searched for the Easter eggs hidden in the strawberry bushes, trampolines and other attractions, ate cake and drank tea and played with the kids.

Unfortunately, I just filmed the waiting-for-the-last-late-parent-bit before we all sat down for the show (and vertically!), but it gives you an idea of the atmosphere and the good mood Emma was in now that she has fully recovered.

Each parent/child got an small Easter basket to take home carrying the real painted chicken egg and a couple of chocolate ones in colorful wrapping paper they had found during the egg hunt. Emma insisted on carrying her little basket all the way home. After at least a dozen falls, and trying to feed a dog some of her feast, not much of the eggs was left ...except on her fleece jacket, scarf and jeans.

Anyway, it was fun.