Thursday, July 4, 2013

Born on the Fourth of July

Growing up there was only one holiday we celebrated with any consistency when it came to traditions - the Fourth of July.  We would head out in the morning to DeLavega Golf Course for a day filled with barbecue, root beer floats, bingo, three legged sack races, putting contests and a shot gun golf tournament.

As it happened, the fourth was also my grandfather's (Pop-pa) birthday.  As a long time member of the DeLaveaga Men's Club, he was the mastermind behind this day of festivities and would put my sister and I to work as soon as we arrived, usually assigning us to root beer float duty.  I always felt slightly put out about this as it meant I was stuck away from the crowds as I tried to chip away at the huge 10 gallon tub of VERY frozen vanilla ice cream.

I would (maybe) last an hour before begging to be relieved of my "job" so I could go hang out with the adults.  I was that kid - always preferred to hang out with the parents than the kids...and after the barbecue wrapped up and all the children and men headed out to the driving range for sack races, I would pretend not to notice so I could stick around with the women, looking over my mom's shoulder at her bingo card and listening to the gossip.

My mom entertained my efforts for (maybe) 20 minutes before she shooed me away and off I went to the driving range, where inevitable my sister and I would be paired up in the three legged race.  I don't recall if we ever won, nor do I remember if we fell...but MAN those sacks were itchy on the legs.

We would then wander over to the putting green and try to convince Pop-pa to let us ride on his golf cart during the shot-gun tournament.  As the day wound down and the sun started  I remember watching Pop-pa mingling through the teams, a cigarette dangling from his mouth as he talked a big game about kicking every one's butt.  Totally in his element and full of life.

Some of the best memories ever.

Happy Birthday Pop-pa.  We love and miss you.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Cyprus - Protaras {Holiday on Holiday}

We decided to get out of the city and go away for a few days to another part of Cyprus, a tradition we affectionatly call going "on holiday, on holiday," coined by one of my neices.  We usually head towards the north, where the waters are even warmer, the sea more crystal blue-green in color and the beach sand is a soft fine powder.  This time we ventured to the seaside town of Protaras to stay at the Golden Sands hotel.  The Golden Sands is what I would characterize as the best of everything you would want from an all-inclusive:  rooms amenable to sharing with children, wonderful outdoor breakfast buffet, amazing pool area for all ages and direct access to an amazing beach.  An easy walk into town gets you to a number of great restaurants and a mini luna park (luna parks are a very scaled down european version of arcade rides for the under-10's.) 

Yes, it's touristy.  They have activities in the pool area that they drag you off your sunbed for.  There are balloon toss competitions and a theme song along the lines of "cheechee wah cheechee wah, cheechee wah wah WAH" that makes you want to gouge your eyes out within two hours.  But..there is a time and place for touristy, which for us is defined by when you have two toddlers in tow that need entertainment.  Against the backdrop of the mediterranean sea, we'll take it.

We arrived on Friday afternoon and headed down to the pool and eased into holiday on holiday:

Yeah, okay, my children HATE floaties.  I got it now.
I had to crop this picture way more than I wanted to due to an excessive amount of strangers in speedos - you're welcome.

Terriorizing the resident cats.
Surprisingly, both boys wanted to spend more time on the beach than in the pool.  Beach visits in years past have been quite disasterious.  Sand was the devil itself as far as C was concerned and the beaches near my inlaws are not that clean (i.e. dog poop - blech.)  But with sand buckets in hand and nice warm water with a shallow area that stretched out qiute far, they loved it.

Gratuituous picture for my dad.
Our sand castle building back drop.  Infinitly more beautiful in person.
N almost fell asleep after I twirled him around in the water for a while.  SO relaxing.

My boys.
We asked him to stand next to his sand castle creation so we could take his picture...pose is his own doing.  Apparently he IS king of his own castle.
Don't mess with the king.

Besides the relaxing in the sun and keeping N from eating sand and drinking pool water, we ate.  And ate.  And ate. 

Breakfast (Yiayia is blurry because a certain person put their little finger directly on my camera lense.)
Pre-dinner.  They felt fancy because I actually combed their hair with a side part and everything.
Oh, N.

Yeah, I don't know either.

Yeah, that's spaghetti.  All over the place.
On our way home we stopped in Larnaca for a visit to the Anorthosis football shop and to eat some of the best kleftiko (slow-roasted lamb that is cooked in a clay oven overnight) in the world. 

Somebody is happy.
So...where's my watermelon?

Oh yeah.  (I'm pretty sure he ate his weight in watermelon this trip.)
We all agreed - it was the best holiday on holiday we've ever had.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Den {Update}

Almost nine months ago to the day, I posted about the disorganized and non-functional den space that occupied the bottom floor of our tri-level home.  Here's the initial floor plan I had thrown together:

At the time, the den looked like this:

And this:

And still looks that way, except instead of boxes and random baby paraphernalia there is a play kitchen and a whole fleet of garbage trucks. 

House projects were re-prioritized, investments in curtains and shutters and grass for the mud pit in the backyard were made.  The chimney was repaired and multiple trees and were cut down or pruned.  We spent most daylight hours over the Spring, Summer and Fall the den continued to get pushed down the to-do list. 

Don't get me wrong; any trip to Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, Crate&Barell, IKEA all included sitting on the same couches over and over again, asking the same questions about lead times and fabric swatches.  Almost pulling the trigger a half dozen times.  But about a month ago, when winter truly set in, I started to get itchy feet about revisiting that to-do list.  It was time to start pulling the trigger.

Given my continuous struggle and hesitation about which couch to purchase, the first thing I did was hire an interior decorator that provided virtual design services.  The weekend before Christmas, I found this on my porch:

I was curious to see how a professional would lay out the room for maximum use based on the brief I provided.  Looks like my amatuer ideas weren't too far off!

{Option 1} Sectional Sofa Sleeper

{Option 2} Standard Sofa Sleeper

Furniture, Case goods, Soft furnishings...Paint!
We are still undecided on a couch and rugs (the foundation of the room) - perhaps a separate post with the contenders is in order...we did have a contractor come to bid on lighting and painting today, so things are certainly underway, finally!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Cyprus {Day 5 and Many More}

When you enter Fasouri Water Park, you truly have entered water park heaven.  Rows and rows of sunbeds, shaded by aged thatched roofs surround different pool attractions for all ages.  The speakers blare "Fasouri Water Park, the biggest and the best" while the smell of mini donuts and french fries waft through the air.  A bell rings intermittently, signaling the ceremonial dumping of the "bucket" and causing those of all ages to dash in its direction with the hopes of getting hit by its spray.

It's a place you can spend all day; and we did.  For several days during our holiday.  It's the first year that C truly found it fun - case in's the look we got the first time we brought him (age: approx 8 months)

Are my parents serious right now?  I mean, really.  It is HOT and I am 8 months old and this is NOT fun for this 85 year old stuck in an infants body.

This place is a blast.
It's been a while since I've looked through these photos and I'm being dead serious when I say of the just over 50 pictures during this particular day of fun in the sun, the look on C's face is exactly the same, regardless of the activity.  Exactly.

He warmed up a bit during our next visit in 2010 (age: approx 18 months):

This place might be OK.

But 2012...this was his year.  And N's (to no ones surprise, at all -- that kid hears running water and immediately tries to rip off his shirt.)  He went for everything...the water mushroom, the lazy river, the BUCKKKEEETTTT, the water slides (!!), the fountains...

Water mushroom with Papou
Taking a break in the dolphin swing.
Heading to the water slide with dad. 
N was so overwhelmed by his options, he didn't know which way to go...

OK, so we've got the elephant slide, fountains, water mushroom, lazy river and swings this way...hmmm (oh, apologies to the random woman who photo bombed this pic.)

OR, we have the bucket, the paddle boats, and the water slides THIS way...or food.  Maybe I need food.
And for all the build up I created around the bucket...I realized I didn't take any pictures of it this year...or the other years.  Whoops.  Well, here's the stock photo from Fasouri's website:

A lot of people don't realize the force of this water will take your bathing suit right off.  Ya gotta hold on tight. 
Our next big adventure was what we affectionately call going on holiday, "on holiday", with a trip to the resort town of Protaras.  I may break up these posts  with some house updates though....yes?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Cyprus {Days 3 & 4}

We'll start off with a few pictures, which I'll call "Dressing Toddlers with Jet Lag:"

Step 1:  Approach sleeping toddlers.  Try to wake them up, I dare you.  Jet lag is toddler sleep elixir!  Trust me.  I tried to wake them up for a good ten minutes.  Don't bother.
Step 2:  Take off pj's and put on clothes.  Congratulate yourself on not waking them up so you can actually get ready  in complete silence. Then feel for a pulse just to make sure they're breathing. #momsknowwhatimtalkingabout

From here we did a reverse journey from the day before and headed back to the airport.  Shockingly early.  Check-in was delightful!  Not.  But we made it on the plane, happy to be on our last leg of air travel for a couple of weeks.

My happy boys.

This flight was only ~5 hours long, which seemed like nothing after our first long haul.  And we had an entire middle row to ourselves, which allowed us to trap control N a lot easier.  After landing and tearful hellos in the Arrivals Hall, we set off towards Limassol.

T-minus two minutes before N passes out.
T-minus four minutes until C passes out....for the next twelve hours (!!)  I told you - jet lag is truly toddler sleep elixir.

N woke when we reached the house...C did not.  And would not.  We hauled in suitcases, unpacked, lights on and off and the kid would.not.wake.up.  Not for a snack, not for dinner, not for anything.  So we slapped a pull-up and a pair of pj's on him, called it a day/night, and braced ourselves for the inevitable 4am omg-i-am-STARVING wake-up.

While I unpacked, N relished in undivided attention from his Papou and Yiayia.

"Is this what it feels like to be an only child?"

Right on cue, C woke up at 4am. After a sandwich and banana, he promptly fell back to sleep. Oh yeah.  Except that all my years of "anti jet-lag training" had disappeared and I laid awake until 7am.  Ugh.  But we took it easy the next day, getting the boys settled into their surroundings and spending quality time with their grandparents.

We bought this plane for C the last time we visited in 2010...pre-N.  You know it was pre-N because the wings are still intact.  Five minutes after N got a hold of more wings.  Papou went out and bought him three more.  Just in case of future wing breakages and all.
"We totally must be on vacation - I never get to play with play dough at home!"

Our trip to Cyprus wasn't all play...we did have a bit of work to do - specifically, getting the last bits together for N's Christening, to be held in England in a few weeks time.  Traditionally the god parents purchase the christening outfit, but they weren't sure of his shoe size, so off we went to seek out shoes that could withstand feet dripping with olive oil (OK!  Maybe not dripping.  Don't worry, there will be a whole post dedicated to Greek Orthodox Christenings.  Try to contain your excitement.)

I'm still bummed they didn't have these in his size.

Next up:  THE Waterpark.  Which waterpark you ask?  Fasouri Waterpark,  featuring the one and only "bucket."  Oh yes.