Archive for April, 2011

Five Senses

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

This morning, I was looking through my luggage for a necklace that I swear I brought with me, and I opened a duffel bag that my mom lent to me for our trip here — it smelled just like her house.  It was great.  I miss home.  It’s not a bad feeling, but a wistful one.  I’m still enjoying my time here (even though there have been some challenges) but I wish I could be experiencing what I’m experiencing while surrounded by my family and friends from home.

The sights, sounds and even smells that remind me of home are lovely and sometimes surprising.  The sound of someone speaking American English on the street is pleasantly startling.  Seeing something (a sign, a menu, even graffiti) written in English in a place I don’t expect it makes me smile.  The taste of a McDonald’s cheeseburger, a Starbucks chai or “American Ginger Ale” are all unadulterated flashes of home.  The scent of my mom’s duffel bag or a piece of as yet unworn clothing from home that still smells of Dreft or Tide or Downy are familiar and comforting.

Giving my boys a hug or a snuggle feels like, home, too, but in a different way — they’re with me on my journey here, so they are less a reminder of home, and more a reminder that, for now, this IS home.

Playing in Vienna

Friday, April 29th, 2011

Much (if not most) of the playground equipment in Vienna would never exist these days in the US.  It would either be outlawed by lawsuit-fearing local regulators or dismantled in the dark of night by overprotective soccer moms.  A lot of it is reminiscent of the playgrounds I played on as a kid:  the equipment is made of metal and wood, it’s too high, there aren’t guardrails, the ground is sometimes just ground or wood chips (not cushy recycled rubber), there are uncovered sandboxes, the swings still hang from chains and the slides probably get very hot in the summer time.  But, they go beyond that, too.  They have tables and planks set on springs, which are designed to be unstable and to be fun to balance on (but also challenging for a little kid).  There was an actual zip line in a park we went to last week — no signs or fences or anything to prevent a kid walking under it from getting clobbered by the kid on the zip line.  Several of the parks we’ve been to even have some kind of running water feature.


We have a place!

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

We signed the lease on our new apartment this morning.  Woo hoo!  We are so excited and relieved to have taken care of finding a place.  And even better:  we love it.  It’s big, it has great light and it’s in a wonderful location.  The boys will each have their own room, and we will again have a tub for bath time (we only have a shower in our current place, and B has been great about it, but he can’t wait to get in the new bathtub, and Liam has largely gone unwashed since we’ve arrived in the second temporary apartment).  We were very fortunate (partly due to Dan’s persistence) to have gotten our relocation money just in time to sign our lease and pay our (huge) deposit on the apartment.


Falling apart a little

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

We’ve been here 3 weeks today.  We’re in our second temporary apartment.  We can’t get our things.  We’re having trouble getting the money we were counting on for getting started.  Our current living situation is less than ideal:  there’s almost nowhere safe and comfortable to put Liam down, no good place to feed either child (Benjamin has been eating dinner standing up at the coffee table in the living room . . . which is also his bedroom), very little place for Benjamin to play and since it’s very small, it’s nearly impossible to keep from waking a sleeping child if the other one is up.  I miss my family, I’m having trouble communicating, and I’m starting to feel the isolation of being here.  So really, it’s not that surprising that it all is starting to get to be too much for me.


Dan’s first day

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Today was one of those days.  I’ve often said to Dan that these are the days where you make it across the finish line, but rather than making it in one piece, you come across sideways, running on fumes, covered in dirt, with 3 flat tires and a bumper that is hanging off.  That’s what today was like:  we made it, but it wasn’t pretty.


Back to work

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Well, the vacation is over.  Dan goes to his first actual day of work tomorrow (first official day was today, but as it’s a government holiday here, he didn’t actually have to go in).  I have mixed feelings about it.  On the one had, it’s always hard to see a vacation end and get back into the daily groove of work.  It’s more difficult here because I’m not in a place that I have set up to do my work easily — neither the place, or the stuff I have at my disposal is ideal (I don’t have any of my baby “stuff” — from changing tables to high chairs to swings to jumperoos to toys . . . even the fridge is tiny so I’ll have to go out to get lunch for B tomorrow).  Also, it’ll be hard to say goodbye to Dan after 3 weeks off together.  It’s been great to have his help, and just to have so much free time together.


Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

We had a lovely Easter today.  The Easter Bunny made a stop at our apartment last night, and our day started with Benjamin hunting for the Easter bags that had been hidden for him & Liam.  The gifts inside were met with definite approval (Benjamin carried his around all day).  After overdoing it on chocolate (everyone but Liam) we all went out and actually found a place that was open and serving breakfast.  We even nearly got what we ordered (hurray!) and then we came home and all took naps.  It was a great morning!

This afternoon, we headed off to Stephansplatz and to St. Stephen’s cathedral.  The square was definitely busy, but we were happy to find that we could actually get into the church.  We managed (completely by accident) to arrive between masses, and we were able to go in and be tourists and take a look around.  (We’ll have to go back sometime that isn’t Easter to get a tour of the whole place.)  Benjamin asked a lot of good questions (“What is a church?”, “What is praying?”, “Can we blow those candles out a make a wish?”).  I was really happy to be able to be there on Easter — it definitely had an apropriate feel for the day.   We had lunch out, and (of course) gelato.  Then we wandered from Stephansplatz over to what will be our new neighborhood to do some exploring.


“Mommy, what is Easter?”

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

As I find happens to me all the time lately, Benjamin asked me a question today that made me really think about something I hadn’t thought about in a long time.  So often, I’m explaining something to him, and he’ll respond with, “Mommy what is . . . ?”, or “Why?”  These are very normal questions from a 2 year old, but they can be remarkably tricky for a 34 year old to answer.  I want to be honest and concise, while keeping the concepts simple and refraining from anything that’s going to worry or scare him — and you have to come up with the answer in about 15 seconds.  (And there will probably be follow up questions.)

We’ve been talking a lot about Easter lately around here — what we’re going to do for Easter, how we’re gonig to miss everyone at Easter, how everything here is closed for Easter, how decorated everything is here for Easter.  So, naturally, Benjamin hit me today with, “Mommy, what is Easter?”


Schönbrunn Palace

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

So, Schönbrunn Palace.  Wow.  Amazing.  Unbelievable.  Truly on a scale beyond anything I had ever seen before, or even imagined.  I’m not overselling it — those of you who have never seen it will STILL be amazed by it when you see it.  And we didn’t even go inside — this is just my reaction from seeing a part of the gardens.  Opulent, excessive, beautiful, lush and peaceful.  I loved it.  Easily my favorite place in Vienna so far.


Holding hands

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Today was a quiet day for our family.  Other than stocking up on some groceries (we’re going in to a long holiday weekend here, which means most stores will be closed) we stayed in.  Benjamin took a 3+ hour nap this afternoon (half of it with me accompanying him).  At dinner time, we decided to all go out to pick up our pizza, just for the sake of us all getting out of the house and getting some fresh air.

On our way, Dan was pushing Liam in the stroller, and I was walking with B, holding his hand.  It was a beautiful evening, and I was enjoying the company of my little family.  It was so nice to be holding B’s hand, talking to him about what we were seeing along the way.  I love those moments with him.  He is so little, yet already so grown up.  I see the children in Vienna — they are autonomous so quickly.  They ride the trains alone, and walk around the city unescorted by 8 or 9 years old — much younger than that if they’re being “supervised” by another child, often younger than 10 themselves.  We won’t be here long enough for that to be his experience, but I do know that he’ll grow up quickly, wherever we are.

I love both of my boys so much.  I love the way they are right now, and I know I’ll love it as they get bigger, too.  For today, though, it was just nice to have a quiet day, and enjoy holding hands with my little boy.