Friday, July 26, 2013

Ants

How do you get rid of ants?!  We've been fighting them in the dining room for over a month with no progress.  I've killed about 60 so far today.

We clean up after every meal (which is not always easy with messy baby).  We don't leave food or dishes out on the counter or in the sink.  The trash can is completely sealed.  We can't use caulk to seal where we think they are coming in because it is so far back there's no way to get back there.

The German ant bait is worthless.  We've also tried cornstarch, onion powder, garlic powder, vinegar, and soap spray.

Seriously, any suggestions?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Corfu!

We took a beach vacation to Corfu, Greece.  Corfu is one of the Ionian Islands in the Ionian / Mediterranean Sea.  Basically, it's a bit south east of the heel of the boot of Italy.  We very much wanted it to be a relaxing vacation, not a run around and do touristy things vacation. I think we were pretty successful. Though the airport in Greece to get back to Munich almost ruined any relaxation we might have achieved. But we'll get to that later.

Pippa helps me pack.  Or maybe she didn't understand that we wouldn't save any money by putting her in our luggage instead of holding her on our laps.

Our trip was only four nights - the cheapest airfare to Corfu from Munich only flies on Tuesday and Saturday.  It was cheap because the flight from Munich left at 5:55 a.m.  Which meant we had to wake up at 3:45 a.m.  Ouch.  Also ouch because baby didn't fall back asleep until just before we took off.  You can only look this happy at 5:30 a.m. when you're starting your beach vacation.

It was only a two hour flight and this is what greeted us getting off the plane in Corfu, Greece.  T and I both spontaneously said to each other, "It's all Greek to me!"  Perfect!

The airport was tiny and we weren't sure there were any other bathrooms so we changed right into our swimming suits (check in at our hotel wasn't until 3:00 p.m. so we decided to check out a beach on a different part of the island).  T got the tiny stick shift no guts rental car (it took a while - we noticed across the board that customer service in Corfu isn't exactly top notch) then we looked for a place to eat.  The airport food was slim pickings, but I'm glad we wondered and caught a tiny glimpse of what kind of craziness to expect on our flight home...  I fed Pippa again and we were finally off.  I'm glad T was driving because those island roads and drivers were crazy!  

Here are a few photos from the one hour drive to Kassiopi beach.  Just gorgeous!  This is from just outside the airport so we saw this from the sky as well.  We actually saw it from the sky twice that morning because we had an aborted landing.  


There aren't any real highways on the island at all.  Just windy, narrow streets.  We passed through some small communities (not sure they are even big enough to be towns) that were just a few buildings on either side of the road half way up a mountain.  The buildings are right next to the road and the road is just barely wide enough for two cars to fit on it.  I really wonder how many times those buildings have been driven into!

This is actually one of the larger streets in a bigger town from a different drive to a different beach, but you get the idea.  


We arrived at Kassiopi around 11:30 and decided to park in the only parking lot in the town because we couldn't read the Greek parking signs and getting your rental car towed is not something you want experience on vacation in a foreign country.  The parking lot only cost €3!  Win-win!  Another win is that Pippa slept almost the whole drive there!

We started walking toward the beach looking for lunch.  We found a restaurant with a menu posted that looked good so we went up to the patio but no one was around, outside or inside.  The sign said they were open... so T grabbed some menus and we sat down.  Five minutes later a woman came out and said the cook had gone to the market for meat and would be back in 10 minutes.  We were starting to figure out what Greek service was about... We stayed, though, because it was in the shade and there wasn't anyone else around so Pippa could crawl all over everything.  She really loves crawling through tunnels and tight spaces, and managed to get herself wedged between this table and chair.  Pretty funny.  

We sunscreen'd up during lunch then headed to... THE BEACH!!!  The water was ridiculously gorgeous.  And ridiculously clear.  Just... incredible!  Clear, turquoise, blue, then dark blue and perfectly clear through all colors!

It's one of those things where first you don't ever think you'll see something like that in person.  Then you find out you're going to that incredible place you never thought you would but you're not sure if real life will match the photos you have seen.  But it really was more amazing than any photo I'd seen or expectation I had.  

We walked around a few coves and settled on one that was a bit more remote (aka you had to walk down a hill to get to it).  We already had our swimsuits on so we were totally ready.  

Something we figured out the next day:  beaches with the cool variation in water color always have rocky beaches (sometimes rocks and sometimes pebbles).  This beach was definitely rocky with most rocks about the size of my palm which meant that Pippa couldn't fit them in her mouth (excellent news).  It was hard to walk across the rocky beach in our sneakers - people in flip flops really looked like they were struggling! 

A set of chairs and a beach umbrella rental were €7 but well worth it considering I nursed Pippa to sleep there.  (The black is my tank top to keep us from sticking to each other and getting all sweaty.  



Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.  

We didn't get much in the water after Pippa's nap (our towels were in the car) - the water was a bit chilly but nowhere near as cold as the Pacific.   

We saw our first topless woman sunbather here.  Technically, nudity is illegal on Greek beaches, but it's not heavily enforced.  Luckily, it's not heavily practiced, either.  Though people in general were a lot more relaxed about their bodies - I would say 95% of all women (including pregnant ladies, grandmas, and great grandmas) were in bikinis.  About 70% of the men wore speedos.  Also, it is very common for little girls (under age 10 or so) to go topless as well.  On the one hand, it's great that people are so comfortable with their bodies and not overly concerned with how they look.  But on the other hand I really wish they would cover up more!

Looking down at the beach we were on.  


It was a two hour drive the other direction to the resort.  Again, luckily, Pippa slept for a good chunk of the drive.  Not so lucky that I got carsick.  We dropped our bags and headed to dinner.  We stayed at Aquis Sandy Beach Resort, which is an all inclusive resort.  It was truly a vacation because I didn't have to think at all about buying food, making meals, cleaning up after meals, bringing snacks, or even finding decent restaurants.  I didn't have to worry about bringing beach towels, umbrellas, or chairs.  I didn't even have to worry about entertainment at night.  They only had wi-fi in the main buildings so we weren't even tempted to check our email.  The only reason we needed a clock was to see when baby would get tired and needed to sleep.  It was wonderful.  A true vacation.  

We got Pippa to sleep and I took a few quick photos of the sunset.  




The next morning Pippa was wide awake at 5:45 a.m.  After a while we saw she wasn't going to go back to sleep so we decided to head out to the beach.  It was such a good decision.  The beach was totally deserted.  It was so quiet and beautiful.  Pippa woke up early each day we were at the resort and every morning I fed her and the three of us headed to the beach.

Sunrise.

The sand at this beach was unreal.  It was the softest sand I've ever walked on.  It was like walking on flour.  Now that is what feet are for!  These barefoot sunrise walks with T and Pippa were my favorite part of vacation.  

On Corfu, the sandy beaches don't have the color gradient in the water like the rocky beaches do but the water is still incredibly clear.  Basically, if you want the colors, check out a rocky beach; if you want soft sand, the water will just be clear and blue.  But let's be honest, for lounging about soft sand is the way to go.  

The view from our hotel room.  We didn't hang out on the balcony while Pippa slept like I thought we would, but I'm still glad we paid a smidge more for an ocean view (there were closer buildings on the resort to the beach, but they were also closer to the nighttime entertainment and we didn't want that).

The second day of our vacation we decided to check out the resort's pools.  First we wanted to get our beach towels and man, another example of Greek customer service lacking.  The girl was nice, but the process was ridiculously slow and inefficient (one girl going to three spots not close to each other for each guest).  

Anyway, on to the pools.  The water in the pool actually turned out to be colder than the water in the Sea!  The water was also pretty deep all the way across the pool.  Pippa still had a great time splashing, being "chased" and swimming about.  We took an ice cream break and gave Pippa her second lick ever of ice cream.  (This photo is probably more like her fourth lick.)

Baby brain freeze!

And a ridiculously adorable video of how excited she was for more ice cream.  This arm flapping is very typical when she wants more food.  She also does it at home when we put a new food in front of her and she's examining it before she starts eating (though the arm flapping is less vigorous and more... thoughtful?).  
video

After ice cream Pippa was getting fussy so I let her suck my thumb to calm down.  

She didn't calm down so I thought I would try to nurse her to sleep poolside and we could both have a relaxing morning.  No go.  She was freaking out in a very un-Pippa manner.  So back to the room we went.  

We noticed that she was having a reaction to the ice cream (the red and bumps around her mouth).  She's had that reaction a few times before to other things and it usually only lasts 20 minutes and we weren't worried.  But the red all over her neck and chest was a bit alarming.  She wasn't in the sun long enough to get sunburned, she was covered in sunscreen, AND we were positive that Pippa didn't get any ice cream on her chest.  

T eventually got her to sleep and by the time she woke from her nap, all the red was gone and her chest, neck, and mouth all looked completely normal.  

We moseyed over to the "town" portion, if you can call it that.  Really, other than the resort and a few restaurants and tourist shops the beach doesn't have anything near by.  I bought this hat (after asking T multiple times if it made me look stupid) and a painting of Corfu.  Then I stood on some rocks.  Because you wanted to know that.  

Then it was nap time.  Again.  I really loved that there was  crib for Pippa instead of a pack and play.  I really loathe pack and plays.  They are ridiculously hard to put a sleeping baby into, they aren't sturdy, and they are awkward shaped.  We don't own one and I am glad!  The bad news is that there was a pretty big gap between the mattress and the crib slats.  She never got stuck though.  Even here she changed to a different sleeping position just fine.  

T crashed pretty hard, too.  


Awww... family nap time!  Well, except for me.  

We headed to the beach and decided to finally let Pippa explore the sand.  Of course she had to taste it. Several times.

video
I don't blame her for digging her hands into the sand like that.  The sand is so soft that I did it, too!  It also reminds me of the way her cousin R did that in the dirt at his house when he was about that same age.  So adorable!

Of course we had sunscreen'd her up so the sand stuck to her everywhere. 



It was all fun until she got some sand in her eyes.  Sad.  We cleaned it out (or thought we did - her right eye was runny for the rest of the trip) and headed to the water which, of course, she loved.



The next morning we walked along the beach and found this sweet sand castle.  We wanted a photo of Pippa with a sandcastle and here was one ready made.  Winning!

Someone else had already written this in the sand for us.  Winning again!

After breakfast we drove to Paleokastritsa, a beach an hour north of the resort that is supposed to have amazing coves.  Again, narrow, twisty mountain roads running through tiny communities.  We really wondered what people in all these tiny communities do for work.  These weren't touristy areas and we would pass by and see no other cars but six people just sitting outside on a cafe patio.  And this was a weekday!

At Paleokastritsa (you should hear all the different pronunciations I tried with that word!) we rented a boat for three hours to explore.  We could have done a boat tour, but I was glad we had a boat to ourselves in case Pippa wasn't too happy with the life jacket situation.  I'm also glad we bought a life jacket for Pippa.  The boat owner said he had a life jacket, but when he pulled it out, it was obvious it was for a toddler, not a baby.  We put the life jacket on Pippa while I was nursing her on the boat (before we shoved off).  It was actually probably easier that way because she was distracted and didn't fight it at all.

The water was incredible!  So many different shades of blue and turquoise depending how close to shore we were and what cove we were in.  None of these photos have been photoshopped in any way.

That's the shadow of our boat in the water - at least 60 feet down.  The water was SO clear!  

We were a bit hesitant to take more photos down at the water because I forgot the camera with the strap so we just had T's film camera and my cell phone and we definitely didn't want to risk dropping either of those in the water!

Pippa manned the wheel for a bit.  So did I but I was scared I was going to unintentionally run us over some rocks and cost us €70,000 so I didn't last much longer at the wheel than Pippa did.






Pippa's life jacket had a built in toy (the safety whistle).  She fell asleep holding it while we boated around.  I love this photo T took of her.  Check out those eyelashes! 

The life jacket functioned well as a pillow for her apparently.

We dropped anchor at this gorgeous area (and you could see the rope and anchor all the way down!) to relax while Pippa slept.  

We even successfully transitioned Pippa to T so I could get some sun.

A beach you could only reach by boat.  Since our boat was a rental we weren't allowed to drive it up to a beach.  It's a logical rule - I'm sure many a boat has been ruined by tourists that way.

Happy and awake!


Okay, Pippa wasn't happy the whole time.  But most of the time she was.  She was pretty amazing this whole trip.


In one of the biggest coves we saw this yacht named Ilona.  It has a HELICOPTER on it and two boats on the side! Opulence, much?!  We After we got back to Germany, T found out that this is one of the 100 largest yachts in the world and is owned by an Australian billionaire.


Pippa is saying "Safety first!" as she showcases her safety whistle.

We had such a wonderful time boating around.  I would really recommend renting a boat if you ever get out to Corfu.

Back on solid ground; these photos are from the marina.  I wish we would have done some snorkeling here.  Next time.




Family photo!  Yay!

Pippa fell asleep on the way home and we just let her sleep even when we got back to the resort. 

Tickle time!  


The yellow wristbands were to show we were guests at the resort.  We had to leave them on our entire stay.  Some other guests had different colored wristbands.  We're pretty sure the color had to do with when you were leaving the resort.)

The next day we were going to head to the beach first thing and got everyone all sunscreen'd up (which takes a while!), but Pippa was SO fussy!  After more than an hour of her crying and both of us trying she finally fell asleep on me in the carrier.  I didn't dare take her out of the carrier because I really did not want the crying to begin again.  S he stayed asleep on me for three hours.  Which is the longest nap she's ever taken in her life.  

Sleeping.

Sleeping.

Still sleeping.  So glad we downloaded four movies onto the iPad for our trip and brought headphones so we had something to do while Pippa slept.  (We did this at night, too.)

She finally woke up.  Being all sweaty on each other made her hair completely crazy.

The AC remote was her favorite toy.

When her hair is damp it gets a bit cury-q.

Finally we made it to the beach.  I brought the (relatively) cheap digital camera with the camera strap to get some in the water photos.  

Again, the water was just so clear and so beautiful.  And a fantastic temperature, too!  Just cool enough to want to get in out of the sun, and warm enough that you want to stay in the water.  


Pippa was splashing and squealing a lot and attracting all kinds of new friends.




video



T kept feeling things hit his shins and thought it was weeds or something.  No, there aren't really any weeds here; it was little fish!




Yeah, I smudged the camera lens a bit.  What can you do?  It was so bright that I couldn't see the screen of the camera (it doesn't have a view finder) so I had no idea what I did until we got home and looked at the photos.  




Pippa was hungry and tired from all the hard playing she had done, so I nursed her to sleep on the beach.  This was my view.  Again, not a bad way to spend an afternoon.  


T fell asleep, too.  He really has a knack for sleeping in uncomfortable looking positions, doesn't he?



After Pippa woke I wore T's swim goggles and swam around a bit.   Up until then I had spent most of my time in the shade with Pippa and I really love the warmth of the sun at the beach.  So T took Pippa back to the room so I could have a bit of relaxing time to myself.  Awesome.  

Just before dinner the three of us walked on the beach again.  It's our thing.  Self photos are also our thing.  




T isn't sure he wants to claim us.



Tossing babies is the new planking.  You better believe you will be seeing a lot more photos from around Europe like this.



Then we headed to dinner where Pippa ate us under the table.  She seriously packed it away that night. A watermelon slice, half of a slice of bread, and a full serving (not just a toddler serving, either) of spaghetti.  She was a lot of fun to watch eat spaghetti.  Sometimes she would suck the noodles in and it was adorable.  
video

After dinner I put baby to bed and started packing while T explored further up the beach and took some sunset photos. 














Even though our flight was in the morning we made sure to take one last sunrise family walk on the beach.  


These sunglasses only stayed on Pippa for approximately 15 seconds.  Totally worth it.  


Check out the tan line on baby's bicep from her purple Old Navy swimming suit.  The strongest baby sunscreen we could find in Germany was SPF 30!  Ridiculous!  But it makes a bit of sense when you consider that most German sunscreens for adults are SPF 12.  We were a bit paranoid about the low SPF so we sunscreen'd up all. the. time.  As a result there wasn't a single sunburn in our family.  Winning, yet again! 




So.  The Corfu airport heading home.  Just... terrible.  The short version:  T took this photo while in line at the airline counter.  It shows the "line" for security.  But there wasn't actually a line at all.  It was literally just a giant crowd of people slowly pushing and shoving towards the metal detectors.  No joke. We barely made our flight. 

The long version:  We got to the tiny Corfu airport almost one hour and 45 minutes early for our flight.  T took our bags to the airline counter while I got "in line" at the back of the crowd for security with baby in her stroller.  T then joined back up with me.  After one hour "in line" we were about 30 feet closer and still on the side edge toward the very back of the crowd.  I didn't want to take baby toward the middle of that mass of people at all.  I was seriously stressing out that we were going to miss our flight and feeling a bit panicky surrounded by all these people.  

T went up front to ask if there was a separate line for babies - there wasn't.  An airport worker came down the side asking if anyone was booked for the flight that was scheduled to leave in 15 minutes and escorted them to the front of the line.   That made us feel a bit better that we might make our flight because it seemed like they might do the same for other flights.  A short bit later another airport worker came and told everyone with strollers / babies to follow her.  We got to go to the front of the line.  Things were looking good.  

Until we got through the metal detectors but had to wait in line at passport control (who knows why they do this when you're leaving the country instead of entering it).  People with EU passports just casually flashed their passports to a rent a cop but our US passports put us in a separate line (that we could have easily walked out of and into the terminal without anyone noticing).  The line was short - only 10 people in front of us - and they were just scanning the barcode on the passports, but we only had moved up 5 people after 35 minutes.  Again, Greek service is on the slooooow side.  Our flight was already boarding so I spoke to  the rent a cop and told her that our passports were US, but we had German visas because we were living in Munich.  She didn't even ask to look at our passports, she just said to go ahead and go to the terminal.  So we did.  And ten minutes later the plane took off (with us on it).  

The Corfu airport was SO stressful for me.  I almost started crying in the security "line."  Everything would have been fine because we were together and didn't have any specific time we had to be back in Germany, but it was just the crowds and the pushing and the lack of organization and authority and trying to keep baby happy and safe and not knowing if we were going to make the flight all together.  I think it's probably the closest thing I've ever had to a panic attack.  Not the best way to end vacation.  

Except that wasn't the end.  Driving home from the Munich airport the freeway for the most direct route home was closed.  So we had to loop around and of course the other freeway was jam packed and barely moving.  And of course baby was crying because she was hungry and tired of being in her carseat.  Eventually I nursed her to sleep in her carseat while I sat unbuckled in the middle seat (don't worry mom we were going so. slow.)  

So there you have it.  Corfu.  I want to do it all (except the airport stuff) again next summer.