31 December 2008

Craftiness

My parents are visiting at the moment so I've taken advantage of extra Baby Holders to complete a craft project. One for Global Baby, of course.

I've been looking for a mobile to hang over GB's crib, but have been disappointed. Why exactly do designers make baby mobiles that are best seen from the side? Shouldn't they be best seen from underneath.

So I used plastic file folders, pipe cleaners, fishing line and a wire hanger to make a Butterfly Mobile. It only took a couple of hours and the materials were less than 20 chf. GLH attached it to the crib with a suspension curtain rod and some wire ties. Here it is:

And here's the view from below:
Global Baby is mesmerized by it.

30 December 2008

Day Trip to Fribourg

We decided to go on an excursion to Fribourg in the French-speaking area of Switzerland.


It's a charming, medieval city and we enjoyed exploring the city center. Of course, we visited the cathedral...


But I think I most enjoyed the hidden walkways and stair wells...


And the fun rooftops.

Global Baby wasn't as impressed. He spent most of his time in Fribourg sleeping.
When we left Fribourg, we went away with the Fribourg Fondue mix and some fresh bread for our evening meal.

Gotta admit, I like the French-side fondue better. It doesn't taste as strong or smell as much. It's a good thing. Wonder where I might be able to find the mix in the Zurich area. Any thoughts?

25 December 2008

Season's Greetings!

From Global Baby,
Global Librarian and
Global Librarian's Husband!

Good Slide into the New Year!

23 December 2008

Harder Than It Looks

Emboldened by Global Baby's newfound ability to sleep through the night, which apparently made me giddy with adequate sleep, I decided this year I would attempt making the traditional Germanic Christmas Cookie - Lebkuchen. It's sort of like Gingerbread, but more cake-like and spicier.

So I looked up a bunch of recipes, saw how many steps were involved, and promptly abandoned the idea.

Instead I went online and ordered Lebkuchen from Migros's online grocery store.

I expected to receive a finished cookie, ready to be eaten. Instead I received refrigerated cookie dough. Not what I thought. But what the heck, I'll give it a go.

On Monday morning I handed GB to GLH and started to work. It was much harder than I anticipated, primarily because the cookie dough had the consistency of nearly dried cement. It was impossible to roll out and stuck to everything.

This is what Lebkuchen is supposed to look like:
And here is what came out of the oven:
I suspect part of the issue is that I wasn't able to roll it out as thin as the directions recommended, so they ended up undercooked. Regardless of the cause, the end result was inedible.

In the future I shall be purchasing ready to eat Lebkuchen. This experiment is done.

22 December 2008

Gratuitous Cute Baby Photos

Global Baby is 3 months old today!




17 December 2008

Good-bye

John William Dombrock
March 9, 1916 - December 14, 2008

Good-bye, Gramps. We love you.

View from My Window

This is the scene we woke to this morning...

Snow Day!

Hopefully it will stay through Christmas.

14 December 2008

Knock on Wood

Two nights in a row of uninterrupted sleep!

Here's hoping Global Baby continues to sleep through the night and it's not a fluke.

13 December 2008

Milestone

Last night Global Baby slept THROUGH THE NIGHT! He slept from about 11 pm until about 7 am. For the first time in months, we both feel well-rested.

I think only another parent of a small baby can truly understand the joy we feel.

10 December 2008

Beware of the Doghouse

A friend e-mailed this public service announcement earlier today.


Let this be a warning to men everywhere.

09 December 2008

Frustration: The Saga of the Gliding Rocker

After a great deal of searching, visits to multiple stores and paying 5 times the cost we should have paid for a relatively low-quality product, we finally have a gliding rocking chair. We ordered it through a local baby store from Hauck, a furniture company based in Germany. It is sitting in pieces in the living room. 

The unassembled chair is mocking me while I walk back and forth in front of it, holding a baby who routinely resists sleep. (Perhaps because he is concerned about what he might miss while he is asleep?)

And reminding me, once again, that customer service here does not exist.

We ordered the rocker on Saturday, November 8th and were told it would arrive in about 2 weeks. It eventually arrived on Wednesday, November 26th. However, when GLH opened the box to put it together we discovered that none of the hardware we needed, specifically 6 30-mm screws and 2 50-mm, four washers, some wooden plugs and an allen wrench, was included.

GLH contacted the manufacturer via their customer service link on their website to explain the situation and tell them exactly what hardware we needed. They replied that they would do nothing with a customer and we would need to go through the store from which we had ordered the chair. (Question - so why do they bother having a customer service link on their website?)

So we contacted the store on Thursday, November 27th and spoke with the owner, who was extremely apologetic. She contacted the company then called back to say the hardware would be sent immediately and would come through priority mail so it would arrive faster.

And I mustn't forget to mention that the company actually questioned our honesty regarding the situation. Because obviously customers routinely go to great lengths to get extra screws for furniture all the time. Because obviously the customer is always wrong.

And it was to arrive faster? Hmm. It finally arrived today. Nearly two weeks later. Alright, I guess it arrived marginally faster than the regular delivery shipment. But c'mon? Is that really how long it takes to send something through priority mail? The place it is coming from is a 4 hour drive away! Interesting, even though they told the store owner they would ship it immediately, the postmark is from December 4th. A full week after they said they would ship it "right away."

But finally, we had the hardware, right?

Nope. See, they sent the wrong screws. Instead of what we were supposed to receive, 6 45-mm screws, 2 50-mm screws of the wrong type, 4 washers and no wooden plugs or allen wrench.

Unfortunately, the correct screws are custom-made for this rocker and cannot just be purchased at a hardware store. Otherwise we would have done that a few weeks ago.

So the parts of the rocker continue sitting in the corner of the room.

At this rate, I might have a working rocker about the time Global Baby starts kindergarten. Meanwhile, I continue to walk the floor every day instead of being able to sit in comfort and rock.

And I cannot help but compare it to the likely experience I would have had in the United States where I could have gone to any number of stores, had a large selection of options for gliding rockers and likely had it delivered to my home (at no extra charge) the same day.

Sigh.

08 December 2008

Expat Solution to Babysitting

Today I discovered an ingenious solution for how to entertain Global Baby, who isn't quite old enough to entertain himself, while I get a few things done.

I got my sister to babysit him!

Yes, people have been using family members for this purpose since the beginning of time. The ingenuity came in because my sister is in Minnesota and, of course, we are in Switzerland.

So I turned to technology for the solution. I started up a video call using Skype, set Global Baby in his bouncy chair and turned the screen/camera to face him. See...

Auntie Kara kept him busy while I cleared the dishwasher, folded a load of laundry and ate a sandwich for lunch. During the entire time I could hear my sister talking, so if Global Baby had needed anything she could have alerted me.

Ingenious, huh?

07 December 2008

Accidental Experiments in Physics

So, you know how when you drop a slice of toast it usually lands buttered side down?

Apparently the same is true for dirty diapers.

Thank goodness for Clorox Disinfecting Wet Wipes!

06 December 2008

Happy St. Nicholas Day!


Normally we would be celebrating St. Nicholas Day, a holiday we inherited from the Austrian side of our family.

However, Global Baby is too young to really appreciate it.

And more importantly, I am frantically cleaning because tomorrow we have a visit from the US social worker, who is based near the various US military bases in Southern Germany. (Yep, an official visit on a Sunday. The Swiss would be shocked and possibly offended.)

It is the first of two post-placement home visits to judge our ability as parents and our "Home Environment" before the adoption can be finalized when Global Baby is 6 months old.

Back to vacuuming...

NOTE: I did not take the above photo and we did not personally witness the event. It is a photo of Samichlaus (Swiss for St. Nicholas) and the Schmutzlis (demon type creatures, no direct translation) arriving in Kussnacht am Rigi.

03 December 2008

Play Group Field Trip

Today instead of our regular play group, we decided to go on a field trip to...

...the Christmas Market in Basel.

I had heard it is about the best Christmas Market in Switzerland and I was very pleased with its size and the quality of items for sale. We didn't even get to see it all, so I may need to head back another day.

Here are the Mamas with their children. Unfortunately, due to illness half the group had to stay home. But those of us who were able to go enjoyed the beautiful weather, exploring the various booths and, of course, the Gluhwein!

Later in the day, Basel-based blogger The Big Finn even made an appearance and kindly guided us back to the train station for our return trip home.

We must do some more field trips in the future!

02 December 2008

Capitulation

I give up.

I no longer even attempt to pronounce our last name correctly when meeting new people. Instead I pronounce it the way German-speakers say it. Otherwise it's just too much work, takes a lot of spelling and they insist upon pronouncing it their way anyway.

Hey, if they want to call us by the same title sometimes used by the Queen of England, who am I to argue?

01 December 2008

Bottom of the Barrel

While channel surfin' and feeding Global Baby this evening I ran across a program on Sky Satellite entitled, and I am not making this up, "Traffic Cops."

And yes, it is indeed a documentary series about traffic cops in the U.K. In this evening's program they pulled over a motorist who was not wearing a seatbelt. Riveting stuff.

They have truly run out of ideas.

What's next? "Meter Maids" or "Crossing Guard?"

I turned the channel and watched a rerun of CSI...

29 November 2008

Bubbles?

This afternoon we caught the train into Zurich and went for a walk to look at the Weihnachts Markt and the various Christmas displays in the shop windows.

We happened upon a large group of people blowing bubbles outside of Credit Suisse on Paradeplatz.

We have no idea why this was happening, but everyone there seemed to have come with their own bottle of bubbles. There were no signs of any kind or indication as to the meaning of this mass bubble blowing. Seemed oddly whimsical for the German-speaking part of Switzerland, which is usually so stoic.

Anyone out there know what was going on?

27 November 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

What we're thankful for...

Not doing a Thanksgiving dinner this year. GLH doesn't have the day off and a full Thanksgiving dinner is a lot of work, especially with a two month old.

However, if anyone should happen to show up with a pumpkin pie, we wouldn't turn them away...

23 November 2008

Our Hero!

GLH's colleague went above and beyond. Once the mother of two colicky babies who had special food needs, she understood our need more than most. She went from drugstore to drugstore and literally purchased as many cans of  the required infant formula as she could find.

We now have a 3-month supply of infant formula...

And after one bottle, we also have a baby who is contently sleeping without needing to be held and rocked or propped with pillows to keep him in exactly the right position to ease his upset stomach and without waking every 10-15 minutes to fuss before falling into another short, fitful sleep.

20 November 2008

No More Experimentation

After a very difficult week we have decided that we are tired of experimenting with formula. Although the projectile spit-up and explosive poo has subsided, he is still having issues and is obviously uncomfortable.

We had discussed trying a couple of soy formulas or driving to Germany to see what our options are there, but enough is enough. There is no guarantee those would work any better.

We know a formula that works well for him. He was always happy and smiling on that formula. He slept well and woke up cheerful and alert. He rarely spit up, and when he did it was a very small amount.

Even though it is not available in Switzerland, we are switching back to the US formula.

One of GLH's colleagues is in the US on business this week. She is bringing us a supply of formula when she returns this weekend.

Another person we know, who's husband is in the US Army, is bringing us a case when she visits us in mid-December. They stock it at the commissary on the base in Southern Germany.

My parents are bringing two suitcases full of formula when they come for New Year's.

Virtually every time we visit the US, or someone  visits us or we have friends making a trip to the US we intend to look at them with pleading eyes.

One way or another, we will figure out how to keep up the supply of infant formula for the next 10 months or so until our baby transitions from formula to solid foods.

It will be complicated, but we are determined to make it work. Global Baby deserves a Happy Stomach.

14 November 2008

Oy Vay!

Request for Information from Parents in Germany or France

So, Global Baby is lactose intolerant. This was extremely easy to handle in the US. In Switzerland, not so much.

Originally I was told that any baby formula which says HA (for Hypo-Allergenic) would be fine for him. This week we mixed the US and Swiss formulas together to change him over. Yesterday was his first day completely on the Swiss baby formula.

It was a day spent in Hell. He was spitting up almost as much as he was eating, any adjustment in position caused enormous farts, his diapers where indescribably foul and by the afternoon there was a whole lot of screaming and fussing for an hour after every bottle. Last night I got about 4 hours of sleep because I spent much of the night holding him while rocking on the couch (actual rocking chair on order) and rubbing his upset tummy.

Turns out that HA means lactose-reduced, not lactose-free.

After some questions we discovered that true lactose-free formula must be purchased from the pharmacy. This morning I went to get some. Tiny canister. Big price. A 2-3 day supply of formula was 32 chf!

He's only 7 weeks old. He doesn't even eat that much yet! Imagine what it will be at 6 months or a year old?

Buying formula from the US and paying for airmail plus customs tax would actually be cheaper.

So, can anyone tell me what the lactose-free formula options are in Germany or France? Periodically driving an hour to the border to stock up might be easier and cheaper than shipping from the US.

Man, I wish the US military bases would allow US citizens on base to use the commissaries. Because they stock the US stuff!

On the plus side, with the Super-Expensive formula Global Baby is now sleeping peacefully. Hopefully I will be able to get a nap this afternoon as well...

13 November 2008

Preoccupied

For obvious reasons, we've been a tad preoccupied in the last two months or so.

So preoccupied that it took an e-mail from a friend for us to remember that today is our wedding anniversary.

Opps.

So...

Happy Anniversary, GLH!
I love you!

And I promise I won't forget next year, when we are unlikely to have a 7-week old baby!

11 November 2008

Another Binky Down

So, you're wondering how our cats, Max and Tilly, are reacting to this massive change in their lives?

They leave his crib alone, whether Global is in or or not. They occasionally sniff at him, but keep their distance because in their experience the very small people tend to be unpredictable. And Max has even accepted that he must share my lap. This after he didn't like the reaction the couple of times he tried to "head-butt" Global Baby off of my lap.

Actually there is only one area where we are running into extreme difficulty. Max has decided his newest, favorite toys are Global Baby's Binkys. (Proper Name: Pacifier; German Name: Nuki; British Name: Dummy) And he has become very good at patiently waiting for an opportunity to swoop in and steal a Binky when our attentions are turned.

We came back with 9 Binkys. We have now lost 3 to Max. Which means we have only 6 remaining.

This is a matter of great concern because we cannot replace them in Europe.

Our original plan was to use a brand of Binky easily available in either in the United States or Europe. But we were thwarted in our plan by the hospital, which gave us one free Binky on the first day of Global Baby's life. And he latched onto that model of Binky and refuses to use any other.

Mom and Dad: We might need an emergency shipment of Binkys!

07 November 2008

American Politics Abroad

For the first time in a long time I do not feel the need to disguise my American-ness while outside the United States. Not only to avoid becoming a potential target, but also to avoid confrontations with those who seem to think all Americans are personally responsible for the unpopular decisions made by the Bush Administration.

With the election of Barack Obama I feel so proud of my fellow countrymen and women who elected a man with vision. A man who gives us all hope. A man who represents change from the extreme conservatism that has been our country's official perspective for far too long.

Who knows? Perhaps with time we can even plan trips to the ancient sites in the Middle East and North Africa. Locations we have been avoiding due to rampant anti-American feelings.

06 November 2008

Bring Extra Bags

For anyone planning a trip to the US, here's a bit of advice...

Bring empty suitcases.* Seriously. Then load 'em up for the trip home.

Things are less expensive in the US to begin with, but due to the weak dollar and the struggling economy, things are now unbelievable cheap. We saw stores with sales of up to 75% - 80% off. And the stores were virtually empty and had a huge inventory. (Except Wal-Mart, which was exceptionally busy...)

And hey, shopping gives a little boost to the economy as well!

*Heck, with how cheap everything is, you could also just buy new suitcases for next to nothing!

Parallel Universe

I feel as if we have somehow entered a Parallel Universe.

I noticed it right away on Monday at the Zurich airport and every foray into the outside world in the last few days has just emphasized it.

Who knew that the Swiss could be so friendly? That they could spontaneously smile at complete strangers? How unexpected to have a Swiss person stop me on the street for a little chat!

I know that this is no reflection on me. It is all Global Baby.

But still, it feels very bizarre.

05 November 2008

Blogging with Baby

Blogging with a baby is not easy. I've learned to balance baby on one knee while he is napping while balancing the laptop on the other knee.

Learning to type one-handed, with a minimum of typos, will take a bit more time.

NOTE: Before I get a slew of cautionary comments, tummy sleeping while closely supervised is okay. At night he sleeps on his back, even though he'd much rather be on his tummy.

03 November 2008

Journey Home

We made it back, safe and sound.

The trip went extremely smoothly, at least until our arrival. That is when Global Baby decided he had been through enough and went into Baby Overload. He started screaming in the airport and it took nearly an hour to get him calm enough to sleep again. But when he woke up a few hours later, he was his normal Happy Self and devoured a bottle of formula with typical gusto.

Up until that point he had spent most of his time sleeping, occasionally waking to eat and grin at fellow travelers.

Early indications are that he will make an excellent traveler, which is very good given how much we tend to travel!

02 November 2008

Turning the Clocks Back

Tonight ends the Daylight Savings Time in the United States.

As we pack up all of the Baby-Related Accoutrements I have never been more grateful for an extra hour.


31 October 2008

Happy Halloween!

We couldn't find a costume that looked like the typical Swiss Brown Cow, but he's super cute anyway!

28 October 2008

Purged

UPDATE

We were able to resolve this and are once again registered voters. Still upset it happened, but at least we can vote now.

*********************************************

Last month I called the Election Board in the county where we last resided in Kansas. Our voter registrations were indeed active and we were set to vote in the November election. Since our absentee ballots were to be sent to Switzerland, we would not receive them as we are currently in Minnesota. But we could print them off online and send them that way.

Last week I decided to check online to verify both GLH's and mine registrations. The computer stated we were not to be found on the list.

"That's weird," I thought. But didn't think anything further of it. After all, I had spoken with a real live person at the end of September and verified it. I figured the computer program was just wrong.

Then I read J's posting about how he was "purged" from the voter list.

"Huh," I thought.

So I made another telephone call. Turns out, we were also accidentally purged from the voter registration lists in Kansas.

How do we fix this? Well, we can go on election day and fill out a provisional ballot.

Except, of course, that we will be back in Switzerland and nowhere near our voting site in Kansas.

Not happy. Really, really not happy.

Going to make another telephone call tomorrow and hopefully speak with "somebody in charge" who can possibly fix this situation.

If it cannot be fixed this will be the first election in which I have not voted since I turned 18.

27 October 2008

Travel Update

All passports are accounted for. Tickets are purchased and the flight bassinet is reserved. The process of packing has begun. Good-byes to family and friends are being said. And one final trip to the bookstore to further develop Global Baby's Library has been scheduled.

Barring weather or unforeseeable circumstances, we are all coming home to Switzerland, together as a family, on Sunday.

Yeah!!!

Say It Ain't So

I have used Aveda Sap Moss Shampoo and Conditioner for years. Since moving to Switzerland, it has become vital. Due to the extremely hard water and dry environment, my hair turns to straw if I cannot get enough moisture into it.

I always buy the enormous liter-sized jugs of the stuff. It's excessively expensive, but then I only have to buy shampoo about every 1.5 years.

Since I was running low, I decided to buy some more before returning to Switzerland. Only to discover Aveda no longer carries it!!!

Now I am experimenting with the replacement for extremely dry hair, a rather unimaginatively called "Dry Remedy Shampoo and Conditioner." It has something called Buriti Oil in it. Never heard of it. Is it as good as Icelandic Moss??? Only time will tell.

And, they don't carry it in the liter jugs, which means I will have to figure out where to buy it more frequently.

Sigh.

I like change. I really do.

Just not when it comes to hair care products...

20 October 2008

Equality for All?

My brother recently alerted me to a couple of new laws in Switzerland.

At first glance, this one is a tad odd. Apparently it is the most extensive animal rights law ever passed in any country. Which is good, I guess. Although I do have to wonder if goldfish really do require that much privacy.

This next law is just plain bizarre. Who knew that plants needed to have their sense of dignity protected?

I have to admit what I find the most astounding about this is that apparently the Swiss are far more concerned about the rights of animals and plants than of humans. At least, that is what the United Nations seems to be saying...

18 October 2008

Baby Blogging Elsewhere

I decided I did not want this blog to become exclusively a Baby Blog, which it is in danger of becoming. So I am going to limit the Global Baby posting a bit and keep this one an Expat Living/Travel Blog.

I've started a second blog that will be a Baby Photo Blog. If you would like to read that blog, please e-mail me at Global underscore Librarian at Yahoo.

By the way, that means this blog likely will not be updated until we are back in Switzerland, living our expat life, or traveling about Europe and beyond. We'll be back in November!

16 October 2008

Baby Rules

Why is it that people feel entitled to pick up and/or touch other people's babies without even a "by your leave?"

Because Global Baby is so young and has such an immature immune system, I am very picky about who touches him. I would prefer to limit the touches to family and close friends only. And even with that, no one is given permission to touch him (not even grandparents and aunties!) unless they have just washed their hands. After all, it is the start of cold and flu season. Infants can easily become very seriously ill from these illnesses.

Also, keep your kisses to yourself. I know it is tempting to cuddle and kiss a baby, but do you have any idea of how many germs you may be passing onto a baby less than a month old? Unless you are willing to thoroughly wash your mouth and lips with soap and water before direct contact, please refrain from kissing!

While we are on the topic, I am a new mother and am nervous about people walking around with him. What if you trip and fall? Plus stairs terrify me. Do not walk up and down them with my baby! If I let you hold him, please just sit still. OK?

I have decided to become much more vocal about people crossing my boundaries and place my child's health and welfare above the potential of others being offended.

This has been a public service announcement.

Couple More Photos

I have been chastised for not posting enough photos.

In my defense, I have been a little busy lately. Plus, GLH is away this week on business and I don't really know how to do photos on the Mac laptop. Still getting used to the process.

But here are a couple I took this past week. And since GB's aunt is now on Baby-Holding Duty, I have a bit of time to post them.

I call this one "I Surrender."


And here is "Napping with Grampy."


Sleeping Like a Baby


This is how we managed to get Global Baby to sleep for 4-5 hours at a time each night. GB is now waking only once during the night for a quick feeding before he usually goes back to sleep. We are praying that trend continues!

He is swaddled, placed in the Baby Papasan Chair on vibration mode and then a second receiving blanket is used to swaddle him into the chair itself. Final step is to turn on the soothing sounds teddy bear (not seen in photo). Fortunately the bouncy chair folds flat and will fit in the largest suitcase we brought with us.

I've been tucking the flat teddy bear in next to him in the potentially futile hope he will select it as his "Transition Object." (Also known as a comfort object.) Mostly because it's very small and would fit in my purse easily. With my luck he will probably pick something enormous that he will trip over as he carries it about...

15 October 2008

It's Who You Know

Alright, so I don't actually know him.

But I did speak with a very nice aide in Senator Norm Coleman's office this morning. We spoke briefly at 10 this morning.

By 10:30 the passport was being processed. As soon as it is finished, it will be sent via overnight express to my parents' home. It should arrive here by tomorrow. Friday at the latest.

Being a registered voter has its privileges.

Whew!

Murphy's Law

It was all going just a little too smoothly I guess. So we hit a patch of bad luck.

Because Texas does more adoptions than any other US State, and many of the adoptions are international (very popular choice for European couples), government offices in that state are accustomed to dealing with adoptions and the various court documents it involves. Generally, it works quickly and smoothly.

Adoptive parents who live outside the US usually apply for a passport through the Houston Passport Center, which processes the applications quickly and efficiently. But we arrived in Texas a few days after Hurricane Ike hit Houston, and closed down the passport center for two weeks.

We ended up having to send our application through the mail and by luck it got sent to the West Coast, where the least number of adoptions happen, international or otherwise. And where staff have no idea what exactly is happening and how things work. Not surprisingly, low-paid civil servants have no interest in dealing with unusual cases and potentially sticking their necks out.

As a result, Global Baby's passport is not being processed because they have never seen court documents such as the ones we have and are insisting upon a certified birth certificate listing us as the parents, which won't happen until after the finalization of the adoption.

Our best chance of success is to have a US Senator (or rather, one of his aides) contact the Seattle Passport Agency on our behalf. If we can manage that, the passport will likely arrive by express mail within a day or two.

If that doesn't work, we could be delayed while we work through the red tape. Worst case scenario, we have to wait until after the adoption is finalized (six months) and we have received the certified birth certificate (couple more months) before we can leave the US with Global Baby.

Which means GLH would have to return to Zurich alone in order to work while I remain with Global Baby at my parents' home waiting for the bureaucracy to slowly grind through the process.

That would totally suck.

Sigh.

14 October 2008

Getting to Know You

My aunt has a theory that it takes three weeks for first-time parents to sorta get the hang of caring for a newborn.

Global Baby is three weeks old today and I was just thinking about all we have learned about him since his birth.

1. Global Baby hates sleeping on his back. HATES IT! Since that is the recommended position to avoid SIDS, sleeping on his back is a must. Through trial and error we have figured out how to make this happen. It involves a vibrating bouncy chair, a very tight swaddling blanket, a soothing sounds teddy bear and lullabies as needed. But we have now managed to consistently reach four consecutive hours of sleep without him jerking himself awake and crying because he has once again discovered himself to be lying on his back.

2. The only thing Global Baby hates more than lying on his back is having his diaper changed. Fortunately he's getting a little bit better about it and doesn't scream quite so much. Plus we have gotten better, and faster, at diaper changes. Especially once the umbilical cord was no longer in our way. (Although his circumcision earlier today has reactivated his extreme aversion to diaper changes!)

3. I may be delusional, but I think that he smiles quite a lot for a newborn and already has favorite songs and activities. Yes, I know I am likely projecting. But humor me.

4. It took a bit of fussing and surprisingly nasty farts, but we have experimented with formulas and determined that Global Baby is most likely lactose intolerant. Fortunately that is easily handled and reduces the fussing/farting after eating to virtually nothing.

5. And along that same topic, it is almost time for us to be able to say that we do indeed have a very laid-back, easy-going baby. He virtually never cries and fusses only when he needs something. The source of his fussing is usually easily determined and quickly resolved, leaving him an easy-going baby once again. Thank God!

6. The Old Wives Tale about a vacuum cleaner calming a crying baby does seems to be accurate, at least with him. On the two occasions that Global Baby did start the uncontrollable & inconsolable crying, a couple of minutes of running the vacuum calmed him back into his sunny disposition. (Wonder if our neighbors will mind the occasional middle of the night brief period of vacuuming? Probably better than a long jag of crying...)

7. It looks as if Global Baby may blend neatly into Swiss Society in one way. Even though I am a believer in "Feed on Demand," Global Baby seems to prefer living life on a schedule. He wants to eat 3 ounces of formula every 4 hours and has even started to poop at about the same time each day. Makes it very easy to plan the day and decide when is the best time to schedule an outing.

Yes, I realize that the only consistency with a baby is that change will happen. But it does make me feel as if perhaps I will be a competent mother. I like that feeling, even if it is mostly due to the fact that we lucked out and got a Type-B personality baby.

But I also like to think we may have had some influence on it due to our calm and effective parenting skills.

Again, humor me.

Different Experience

Earlier today I was at the grocery store. As I stood scanning the shelves, slightly bewildered by the sheer volume of choices (guess I've been shopping in Europe for too long!), an employee approached me.

"Are you finding everything you need?"

I glanced over and saw his name tag said "Store Manager." I told him what I was trying to locate and he said, "That should be over here."

He took me to the area where the item is usually located and saw that they were out of that item at the moment. He apologized profusely and then asked if I would like them to special order it. They could have it by the next day and would call me so I could come pick it up.

I thanked him and declined, saying I could just purchase something else instead.

As I walked away, I tried to think of a time in which I have been in a grocery store in Switzerland and been asked if I needed help. I could not think of a single example.

God, I miss good customer service!

10 October 2008

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

Earlier this afternoon we had an appointment with the priest who will be baptizing Global Baby later this month.

Before the appointment, GLH was strictly warned to just "keep his mouth shut" and allow me to do the talking. Mostly because we didn't want too many questions about our (lack of) church-going habits in Switzerland.

However, GLH decided to disregard my suggestion. And it was all going fine until we came to the end of the meeting when GLH decided he had a question regarding logistics. (Small bit of background information: the baptism will take place after the 4 pm Mass on a Saturday evening.)

GLH: So, what time should we show up? 5? 5:15?

Priest (with a carefully blank expression): The baptism will take place after the Mass.

After we left the office I asked GLH what he was thinking. Obviously we would all be attending the Mass that takes place before the baptism!

GLH's reply?

"At least I didn't ask my follow-up question. I was going to ask him how long this would take. Would it be 10 minutes? 15 minutes?"

Thank God he didn't ask the follow-up question! Otherwise we might be looking for another priest/church for the baptism...

08 October 2008

Big Boy!

Earlier today we stopped by to visit one of my sisters at her clinic (she's an ob/gyn). Since we were there anyway, we decided to weigh him.

He's gained 1.5 pounds in a week! All the baby books say babies generally gain about 0.5 lb per week so I was incredibly surprised. Last time we saw the pediatrician he was in the 50th percentile for weight and length and the 40th percentile for head circumference. When we got home again I looked up specific instructions for how to measure length and head circumference on an infant. He is definitely growing. Based upon his current measurements he is now about the 75th percentile in length, weight and head circumference.

Might explain why he has been so ravenously hungry and a bit fussy the last few days and why suddenly the clothes that were too big for him are now too small. He was having his first growth spurt! Since it happened so quickly, I actually thought his clothes had shrunk in the wash.

Yeah! Global Baby is officially thriving!!!


07 October 2008

Finding Normal

Global Baby is 16 days old and it is probably a while before we find "normal" because he changes every day.

Indeed sometimes he seems different by the end of the day.

But everything is going very well. He is a good eater, a good pooper and does a minimum of fussing. (Fingers crossed that all continues!)

Of course, that doesn't mean he doesn't keep me up at night. But at least walking and rocking consoles him and eventually we are both able to go back to sleep.

And I am very, very happy we are here in Minnesota, surrounded by my family. Half of whom are in the medical profession and do not mind panicked calls from a new mother!

But it is also so nice be to going through these first confusing weeks in familiar surroundings and in English! And to know that if I realize in the middle of the night that I MUST HAVE something I didn't previously even know about, I have multiple options of extremely well-stocked 24-hour stores to go and get said item.

And I have a question for my readers in Switzerland (or a nearby country)...

Does anybody know where I can get a gliding rocker? I've never seen one over there, but surely someone sells them. Doesn't have to be fancy and I would prefer it not cost an arm and a leg. Although I realize it will likely be 2-3 times the cost as here because, well, it's Switzerland and that's just the way it is.

My parents have a few different rockers in the house, but Global Baby has a strong preference for the movement of the glider. Which is a huge bonus when I am tired of walking back and forth and he won't accept me sitting in any other chair.

03 October 2008

Thankful

I am thankful for so many things.

At the moment, I am also thankful for the suggestions from my readers regarding which camera to bring.

For if I had been practical and left my bulky camera at home, this photo would not have been possible...

Rauchen Verboten

My prayers have been answered.

I just learned that on September 28th the voters in Canton Zurich approved a ban on smoking in restaurants and bars. (I could not find any information on when the ban goes into effect.)

This ban strengthens the ban on smoking in public places which went into effect on July 1st.

It is a huge relief as I was very concerned about bringing Global Baby back to Zurich, where 29% of the population smoke like fiends! Now we need not fear taking him out to restaurants and other public spaces.

Yeah, Zurich!

01 October 2008

Confessions of a Sleep-Deprived Mother

The Baby Authorities vary in their opinion on this matter...

However, he sleeps better and I sleep better when we sleep together. And right now that is all that matters.

Travel Logistics

This evening we had a brief photo shoot.

Purpose?

If you are going to be a Global Baby, a passport is a necessity. We put him in a bouncy chair covered with a white sheet and took a load of photos. The hardest part was getting him to open his eyes and keep his hands from his face.

Here is the result (before cutting for format and size)...


And here's how we did it...

Bella, my parents' cat, is still trying to figure out what in the heck has invaded her world.

29 September 2008

Global Baby Update

Taken earlier today. Not my best work, but I have to say I really don't have a lot of time for setting up photo shoots at the moment. Or blogging for that matter!

The day after he was released from the hospital we began the trek from San Antonio to Minnesota. The trip took about three full days of driving, but Global Baby was a trooper. As soon as the car would start, the engine vibration put him to sleep. We stopped every 1.5 - 2 hours for diaper changes, feeding him a bottle on every other stop. The trip had it's highs and lows, but wasn't as bad as I feared it would be and now we both feel relatively confident about traveling with GB.

We are very fortunate in that thus far he has been a very easy baby and we hope this trend will continue. He only cries when he is having his diaper changed, which he hates with a passion. When he is hungry he starts to fuss a bit and then settles in and eats quite well. He sleeps well and allows me to sleep for about 4 hour stretches at night, so while I am a bit tired I am not as sleep deprived as I could be. Fingers crossed he does not develop colic!

I'll try to keep the blog updated while we are in the US waiting for him to be old enough for a transatlantic flight, but I can make no guarantees. Too many family and friends wanting to visit as well as the time spent becoming adjusted to the new role of mother for me to say I will have time for blogging.

24 September 2008

No More Maybe

Now introducing...Global Baby!

Born: Monday, 22 September at 2:30 pm
Weight: 8 bs 5 oz
Length: 20 1/4 in

He is beautiful and healthy and just finished 92 ml of formula, so I hope he will let me sleep for 3-4 hours until his next feeding. He is also peeing and pooping like an old pro and bypassed burping for enormous belches that practically make the windows rattle!

All adoption placement paperwork has been signed and we are officially on probation as parents. The adoption will be finalized in 6 months, after 2 visits from a US social worker (based in Southern Germany), several well-baby visit reports from our pediatrician and an appearance in Bexar County Family Court.

GLH and I are unbelievably happy!

Note: The internet access at the hotel is too slow and will not allow me to post a photo on the blog. Photos to follow after we reach Minnesota and have access to faster internet!

20 September 2008

Just Plain Wrong

I could not let this go by without commenting on it.

I love my country and consider myself to be a patriotic American, but no place is perfect. In my opinion, this is an example of what is very, very wrong.

In a shop here in San Antonio we saw a rack of t-shirts for supporters of Sarah Palin. One of the t-shirts read: "Vote for the MILF!"

None of the t-shirts even mentioned John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate and her running mate.

If you don't know what MILH means, google it. I don't use that kind of language in my blog.

Now it is bedtime. We'd better get as much sleep as we can, while we still can...

17 September 2008

Ready!

The house is clean. Our bags are packed. Our flight leaves painfully early tomorrow morning. We are as ready as we are going to be.

Hopefully the next time I blog it will be to announce our Maybe Baby is no longer a "maybe," but our adopted son.

15 September 2008

Too Funny

Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton spoof from Saturday Night Live:


14 September 2008

Birdy, Birdy

Birdy, Birdy, in the sky
Drop some whitewash in my eye.
But I don't weep and I don't cry.
I thank the Lord that cows don't fly!

Today we met up with a friend and his two daughters at the Zoo. At some stage during the afternoon, all three of the adults were pooped upon by birds. (GLH even took a direct hit on his head!)

The girls thought this enormously funny. Couldn't understand exactly what they said (they speak only Swiss German), but I'm pretty sure I got the gist of it. Howling with laughter and pointing is the same in any language!

12 September 2008

Note to Self

When one is a week away from the birth of one's Maybe Baby, watching a television program in which most of the babies in the maternity ward come down with an unknown viral infection (including the death of one of the babies) is probably not a good thing.

And yet, once one has started, it is impossible to not finish. Because surely at some stage they figure out what it is and everything gets better. Right?

*******************************************
Additional Note to Self:
If a grandmotherly hospital volunteer comes by with a cart full of teddy bears for all the babies, make her go away. She may be not very good at washing her hands. Sweet though she may be, she is a walking germ factory...

11 September 2008

Wished I'd Thought of that Sooner...

I have spent the last two and a half days, and I do mean two full days and this morning, cleaning the shutters and the windows. I am now in a great deal of pain. My entire body hurts and I inadvertently grimace when I have to move.

It is times like these that I really wish we hadn't picked an apartment with floor to ceiling windows in every room. I mean, what were we thinking? Sure, it gives us great views of the lake and the mountains. But c'mon, how often do we stand gazing at the vista? Is it really worth it?

Which is why I wish I had thought of something sooner...

The hardest thing about cleaning the windows are the shutters. You need to wipe down each and every slat separately, top and bottom, and then clean the frame around them. There are lots of bits and pieces and even more nooks and crannies. It takes forever! The windows, on the other hand are a breeze. Wipe down with wet cloth, squeegee off and wipe down with a dry cloth.

Last night as I sat on the couch the windows in the living room seemed to be mocking me. See, I left the living room until last because it's the part I dread the most. An entire wall of floor to ceiling windows with shutters that are in a track and raise up and down. (Instead of all the other windows which have the metal shutters that swing open and are slightly easier to clean.) The windows seemed to be chanting "You still have to do us." And I knew that just cleaning those shutters would take nearly the entire day.

Then it suddenly occurred to me that perhaps I could use the hose. Because we have the garden level apartment, we have a garden. Which happens to come with an outdoor spout and a hose. Made me wonder if I could hose off the shutters and windows really well and get most of the dirt off before I started to wipe.

It worked great! I managed to do the shutters in about 90 minutes! I first power-washed them with the hose and then a quick wipe with a cloth and they were done. After they were dry, washing the windows only took another 30 minutes. I was done by lunchtime!

I was thrilled to have come up with this idea, but wished I had thought of it two days earlier. (Or two years earlier!) Would have made the entire job so much faster. And perhaps I would not now be sitting in pain and popping Advil like candy. But such is life.

At least I know this is how I will clean the windows from here out!

Now I just need to figure out how to manage this with a baby.

Next spring I think GLH will have to become involved with the process...

06 September 2008

Sleepless in Switzerland

Earlier today I was telling someone that I don't think I will be able to sleep again until after the baby is in our arms and all necessary adoption paperwork has been signed.

Then I realized how ridiculous that was. How many parents of newborns are well-rested?

05 September 2008

Making a Difference

Our adoption process has been an eye-opening experience for us. The fact of the matter is that while the adoption for us is joyful, on the other side of an adoption there are tears and loss.

Adoptions happen for a variety of reasons ranging from a lack of resources to unfortunate circumstances to, frequently, the death of one or both birth parents. In many cases, the circumstances leading to a child becoming available for adoption could have been avoided through increased access to health care, education, employment opportunities or community resources.

Many people believe that these issues only happen in developing nations. While it is true that many of the adoptions originate in impoverished areas of the world, a lack of resources can exist in any country.

But there are ways to help. GLH and I have always contributed a percentage of our income to charitable organizations, but have now decided to focus our giving on those organizations which help families and children in the United States and around the world.

If others would also like to explore ways of making a difference, I have compiled a list of reputable organizations you may wish to consider. And hey, your contribution would also be also tax-deductible! (At least for US citizens. Not sure how it works for citizens of other countries.)

A private, charitable US organization assisting Africa, it is also the oldest and largest African-American led organization in the field. Africare programs are in the following areas: health and HIV/AIDS, food security and agriculture, water resource development, environmental management, literacy and vocational training, microenterprise developement, civil society development, governance and emergency response.

The largest and oldest youth mentoring program in the United States whose mission is to help children reach their potential through professionally supported, one-to-one relationships with mentors that have a measurable impact on youth.

An international medical humanitarian organization based in France which provides aid in nearly 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care, or natural disasters.

An international organization supporting the efforts of women's groups around the world to fight social injustice and advance the international women's movement. By helping women to better their lives, you are helping children, families and entire communities.

US-based, international organization providing women, men and adolescents throughout the world with access to quality family planning and reproductive health information and services. Pathfinder works to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS, to provide care to women suffering through the complications of unsafe abortions, and to advocate for sound reproductive health in the US and abroad.

RIF is the oldest and largest children's and family nonprofit literacy organization in the United States. RIF's highest priority is reaching underserved children from birth through age 8. Through community volunteers in every state and US territory, RIF provides 4.5 million children with 16 million new, free books and literacy resources every year.

US-based organization which works to create real and lasting change in the lives of children in the United States and around the world.

One of the largest and best known international organizations working around the world to help children survive and develop, improve their educational opportunities, protect them from violence and promote gender equality.

03 September 2008

Super Dry

After we were told our Maybe Baby would be a boy, GLH decided this was current favorite commercial:



What do you think?

Going Green

I'm going to use up the remainder of my cleaning products and then stop purchasing them. Instead, I will be purchasing natural materials and making my own cleaning products.

I could probably let people think that it is because I am such a good person and so concerned about the environment, but that's not actually why.

Don't get me wrong. I am concerned about the environment. And we do recycling, frequently take public transportation instead of driving and do many other things that do help reduce the impact on the environment.

But believe me when I say that I will be doing disposable diapers all the way as I am not inclined to deal with the mounds of dirty cloth diapers or pay the enormous sum for someone else to deal with them. Not to mention the air conditioner that is humming away in the corner of the room even as I write. (It's warm and muggy today...)

No, I am going green in the cleaning area because I cannot get my preferred cleaning supplies here (Clorox Bleach, Bounce Dryer Sheets, Endust, etc.) and the products they do have to replace them just plain don't work as well thereby making me work harder with fewer results.

Want to know what works? Vinegar. Yep, plain old white vinegar. Available from Migros Budget at only 1,50 CHF per bottle. A fraction of the cost of the much more expensive cleaning products.

I've posted before about how I had learned to use vinegar to deal with the hard water and resulting calc deposits in the bathrooms and kitchen. But I have since learned the usefulness of vinegar goes so much further.

Need your whites to be whiter and your brights to be brighter? Half a cup of vinegar along with your detergent at the beginning of the cycle and your whites will be as bright as with bleach. (NOTE: if you have been without bleach for a while, you may need to soak white clothes in hot water and lemon juice to get them back to white faster.)

You can also put an additional half a cup of vinegar in the final rinse to soften the clothes, thereby replacing the need for Bounce Dryer Sheets.

Don't worry, the vinegar smell goes away when the clothes are dry.

Cannot find dusting spray and a damp rag doesn't quite do it with the dust? Combine 1 tsp olive oil and half a cup of vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray on dusting cloth to pick up dust and help to repel it for a couple of weeks. Reapply as necessary.

Wood furniture needs a polish? 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 cup of water. Wipe on with a damp cloth and buff with a dry cloth to give it a good gloss.

Sink needs scouring? Combine equal parts baking soda and vinegar into a paste and scrub away. (This one is a bit more expensive as baking soda is sold in little packets at great cost. But you can also try sprinkling sea salt and then using half a lemon as a scouring pad.)

Microwave has dried food stains and a funky smell? Combine equals parts water and vinegar in a bowl, place it in microwave and heat until it boils. Then wipe interior with a damp cloth.

The list goes on and on.

Not only is it cheap, easy and effective, but it is also much better for the environment. So you can even feel all good and self-righteous on top of it all.

One Final Tip: Vinegar should never be used on marble surfaces. The acidity of the vinegar can create pock marks in the marble.

02 September 2008

Voting from Abroad

Since GLH and I will hopefully be in Minnesota for the US Presidential election (assuming all goes as planned with the adoption), we will not be home when our mailed ballots arrive.

So I did a bit of research and discovered the Federal Voting Assistance Program.

As long as you are registered to vote, even if you do not receive your ballot in the mail you can still print one and send it in.

You can also register to vote via absentee ballot and locate your voting district. You must register to vote at least 45 days before a federal election. As of today, the election is 63 days away.

Pass this link along to other US Citizens living abroad!

27 August 2008

Question for Fellow Photographers and/or Experienced Mothers

I have to make a choice.

When we travel to the US for the birth of our Maybe Baby, and subsequently travel back, we will have limited luggage space. This will be especially true on the return trip when we will have all kinds of baby-related accoutrements that seem to follow new parents everywhere.

So here's the question:

Do I bring my Nikon D70 or the much smaller Sony DSC T70?

The Sony would be more sensible. It's small and easily fits into my pocket or purse. With 8 megapixels, it takes extremely high quality photographs that can easily be enlarged to an 8 x 10 suitable for framing. It also has pretty good video & audio capabilities. Plus, I suspect that with a newborn, a quick point and shoot is likely all I will have the time & energy to do.

On the other hand, the Nikon is my preferred camera for doing portraits. Given the nature of the trip, I imagine I will be doing far more people pictures than travel, landscape or anything else. But it's biggest drawback is that it travels in its own camera bag, weighs quite a bit more than the Sony and would have to count as one of my carry-ons because I would never feel comfortable checking it.

What do you think?

23 August 2008

Presidential Mispronunciation

I am a supporter of Barack Obama and this issue will not cause me to change my vote.

However...

It has just occurred to me that if Obama wins the US presidential election I will spend the next four years being driven completely batty by the way the BBC news anchors pronounce his name.

His name is NOT "Berrick Obamer!"

Perhaps I should go to the BBC Studios in London and work with them until they get it right?

20 August 2008

Where Did the Time Go?

A friend sent me an e-mail asking if I wanted to meet for lunch next week and gave me a couple of possible dates.

The dates are for the last week in August!

I seem to have lost a week. Not sure where it went, but I didn't realize it was already the end of August.

Not really a problem. As most people know, I don't care for summer time anyway and always look forward to it coming to an end.

And, of course, it means we are that much closer to leaving for San Antonio and the birth of our Maybe Baby.

Which also means that we have less than five weeks to do everything on our "To Do Before Baby Comes" list!

Whoa!

18 August 2008

Where's the Pie?

When we had visitors last week I decided to make a special treat -- Key Lime Pie and freshly whipped cream with a touch of vanilla extract and sugar.

Mmm! My favorite!

It was a pretty big hit, except with Iain who is very strange and doesn't like sweets. (I know! How weird is that?) At the end of the evening there was one slice left, which we put in the refrigerator.

The next morning I walked into the kitchen, where the sun was brightly shining, and promptly got a horrific light-induced migraine headache. So I took my migraine medication, which promptly knocked me out, while GLH took our guests on a morning tour of Zurich.

When I woke a few hours later I felt better and thought a cup of tea would be just the thing. Reaching into the refrigerator for some milk, my eye happened upon the remaining slice of pie. It occurred to me that would go quite well with my cup of tea.

Shortly thereafter GLH returned home with our visitors and we set off for our planned afternoon excursion.

That night after our jet-lagged guests had gone to sleep, GLH came into the living room and said, "You know, I hadn't mentioned it earlier because there wasn't enough for all of us, but would you like to split the last slice of pie?"

I avoided his gaze and looked towards the other side of the room.

He continued, "I think that a small taste of Key Lime pie would be very nice right now. I've had it in the back of my mind all afternoon."

At this I almost completely turned away from him and made a very thorough examination of the ceiling.

He paused a moment and then said, "You already ate the pie, didn't you?"

Busted.

11 August 2008

Showdown

American-sized pork shoulder meets Swiss-sized slow cooker

We have visitors arriving tomorrow morning. To save time later in the day, I thought I would slow cook some barbecued pork for a quick and easy dinner. The plan is to set it up to cook before I leave for the airport early tomorrow morning.

We also invited an additional guest as well, so I wanted to make certain we had enough. I'd rather have too much than not enough.

In the end, the Swiss Slow Cooker won the draw. Can't cook it if ya can't fit it in the pot, now can ya?

Note: The arrival of guests means the remainder of the travel posts will have to wait until after they are gone.

Brief Visit to Mykonos


Mykonos has never been a particularly important island historically speaking. Its inhabitants were primarily sailors and fishermen with a few farmers to supplement the fish. During Ancient Greek times the island would supply the Sanctuaries on Delos with food and building supplies. The Romans and the Venetians used it essentially as a warehouse and it was key to fighting the Turks during the Greek War of Independence in 1812 due to its large fleet of ships and its capable sailors.


After World War I Mykonos became a tourist destination due to its proximity to Delos and the growing interest in visiting ancient ruins among the world's travelers. After World War II tourism became its primary industry and it has been a popular resort island every since.


Our first sight upon arriving on the island was this enormous pelican. We discovered his name is Petros and he has been the island's mascot since 1953.

Of course, this is not the original Petros. He died years ago. Not sure which pelican they are on now. But male or female, they are always named "Petros."


As with every port in Greece, and many in Italy as well, right next to the dock is a chapel dedicated to St. Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors.


There are numerous other chapels of varying sizes from small to tiny throughout the island. Apparently it was common during storms at sea for sailors to pray to God for help. As part of their prayer they would often would promise to build a chapel on their island if God would but save them from their watery fate. The Mediterranean and Aegean Seas must be very stormy, because there are a lot of little chapels.


And so we continued on to see what the town had to offer us.


There were some lovely homes...


An interesting district called "Little Venice..."


And the iconic windmills on the hill....


But mostly what the town had to offer was shopping.


Other options for activities on the island are to spend your day at the beach and party most of the night.


Since these are not activities either of us are terribly interested in pursuing, we went back to the ship and took advantage of its emptiness by claiming one of the extremely comfortable, and highly prized, double chaises in the shady and breezy area of the deck where we read our books, sipped margaritas and napped the afternoon away.


As others came back from their trips to the beach, we listened to their stories with amusement.


See, most of the people on the ship were Americans. And, obviously, the Mykonos beaches are European. Most Americans are unaccustomed to the nudity at European beaches.


What made it especially shocking, which was all the more amusing for us, is that Mykonos is also known as the Gay Capital of the Mediterranean.


Yep, nude gay guys hanging out together and participating in "public displays of affection."


How do you think the American tourists reacted to that?


Perhaps the ship should have done more to warn them than simply announcing in the daily schedule of events that the beaches on Mykonos are lovely, but tend to be full of young, fun-loving people and are quite liberal.


But that would have ruined our fun. And perhaps the fun of the ship's crew as well!


And what might also be fun is to see how many extra hits I get because of certain words used in this post. Any wagers as to the increase per day?

Delos: Tiny Island, Huge History

The uninhabited island of Delos was our next destination.


Unlike the previous day in Santorini where we were joined by six cruise ships, we had Delos to ourselves. Our ship had about 600 passengers, but I would say that only a third of them got off the ship. Which astounded me, because this was such an interesting destination. An island that is nothing but an archaeological site? (Have I mentioned how much I love these things?) But I didn't mind because it meant no issues with crowds.


In Greek mythology, Delos is where Leto went to give birth to Apollo and Artemis after being seduced by Zeus and the island has been a religious sanctuary since the third millennium BC. However, it rose in importance in the 5th century BC as the site of the Delian League. Comprised of several Greek city states united by Athens, the Delian League joined together to defend themselves against the Persians. Delos was selected as a neutral central location for the league members to meet. The common treasury for the Delian League was kept on the island.


Eventually Athens power grew and they became the leaders of the league. At that time the treasury was moved to Athens and all meetings and decisions happened there. However, Delos remained an important religious sanctuary with many cults based there. Especially the ones for Apollo.


During Roman times it's geographic position made it an important port within the Aegean Sea, eventually reaching a population of 25,000 inhabitants. On the darker side, it had one of the largest slave markets in Ancient Roman times, although many tour books choose not to mention this fact.


It began to decline in 88 BC when it was sacked by King Mithridates of Pontus. Eventually it was abandoned. Now it serves only as an archaeological site and museum. But it was never a true "dig." Because of the rocky nature of the island, and the lack of soil, very little was ever covered up.


We explored the site on our own, following a clockwise path through the ruins.


Immediately inside the entrance are three Temples to Apollo. Only three of many on the island.

But don't ask me to tell you which one that is!


Working our way around we came upon the Terrace of the Lions.

Dedicated to Apollo by the people of Naxos around 600 BC, it originally had 9-12 lions.

Time has diminished the ferociousness of their snarls. (By the way, these are exact replicas. The originals are in the museum located on the island.)


After visiting the original lions and other Delian artifacts in the museum, we continued on our way. We next began to climb Mount Kynthos towards the first sanctuary which was built in a cave around 3000 BC. But it was hot and there is practically no shade anywhere on the island, so we only went as far up as the Temple of Isis (facade with columns pictured below) in the area of the island dedicated to the worship of foreign gods.


We stopped to rest in the one bit of shade we had found anywhere on the island and enjoyed the view.

After a brief rest and a chat with another couple who were working their way around the island in a counter-clockwise pattern, we continued towards the Theater District.

It's the best preserved area on the island, perhaps because it is sheltered from the wind?


And what would a Theater District be without a Theater?


But it also has many houses which were once home to some of the wealthiest of the island's inhabitants. This is from the House of the Dolphins, named for the design in the mosaic floor.

The ship left Delos at 11:30 am for the very short sail to Mykonos where we were scheduled to spend the afternoon and evening.