Monday, July 14, 2008

surprise!

a couple of months ago, during a midnight-feeding with gracie, adam and i were up in the middle of the night and trying to stay awake by talking with each other. we were imagining the things we wanted to do when we got home to colorado this summer, and during this conversation we realized that bob and rae were going to be celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary just a few weeks before we came home.

and, knowing bob and rae, they were likely not going to do a damn thing to celebrate. just probably go out to eat at macaroni grill and go to bed early.


tragic!

so, adam and i, in our sleep-deprived states, devise a plan to change all that: let's surprise them with a party! (we knew we would need to surprise them, because if we didn't, they'd be all, "oh you kids don't have to do anything for us! we're just happy to have you home for the summer! that's exciting enough!" and that just won't cut it for a 40th anniversary! we need to have a party!!!)

at first, we were thinking about doing something like renting a dining room at the broadmoor and having an open bar for the guests. but then we realized that something like that would cost thousands of dollars. so that's out. then we thought about maybe doing it at a restaurant, but we didn't like the idea of having everyone pay for their own lunch (cuz there's no way we could afford to buy for everyone!), and if we were at a restaurant then you could only talk to the people sitting next to you and couldn't mingle with all the other guests there. but THEN we thought about having an old-fashioned, down-home, casual barbecue at the house! perfect! if we could just get them out of the house for a few hours before the party, then we really could surprise them with this!

for a guest list, we decided it would be fun to invite all the family that we had, and to track down all those old hockey families from "back in the day." you know, the woodfords, the coutts family, the cases and perlets and mcconnells... the whole gang! but how in the world could we possibly find everyone, since they all scattered before the invention of the internet and email and facebook?



fortunately, rae's best friend, helen, came to the rescue. i don't know how she did it, but she did it! she tracked down EVERYONE that we put on that guest list! she mailed them all a letter that adam wrote up, telling them about the upcoming party and requesting that people email us so that we can send them an electronic invitation. nearly everyone she contacted with that letter got ahold of us!


meanwhile, i was busy tracking down email addresses for all the briggles i could think of, even the cousins that adam hasn't seen since he was just a kid.

well, a few weeks before the party, we hear that aunt judy and uncle pete are going to fly out from illinois, and arrive a few days before the gathering. now, adam and i both know that it's for the party, but we all say that the reason they are coming out is to meet mary grace, and won't that be fun for us all to get together... and then a few days after that, we hear that uncle ed and aunt kim are flying from texas, and oh my goodness, it just so happens to be the exact same days that pete and jude are going to be here -- say, what are the odds of that? how amazing! i guess they all just want to see gracie!

wink, wink.

meanwhile, adam and i are "arranging a playdate" with another little boy, to take place the same afternoon of the surprise party. this is our decoy. we invite this little boy and his family over to the house for that saturday afternoon, and then we tell bob and rae that they really should get out of the house for a few hours while the babies are getting acquainted with each other. then they can come home later and we can grill out with the boy's family and hang out together for a while. but really, this is just our excuse to get them out of the house so we can set up!

as the days are approaching, we are busy buying burgers and hotdogs, and i'm making salads, and we're picking up beer and soda and chips and pickles (which we forgot to set out), and ordering a cake, and digging up bob and rae's wedding album, and just getting everything ready. thank goodness we've got another refrigerator downstairs in the basement so that we can store all the food and supplies down there without them finding it all!


on the day of the party, bob's brother and sister, and their spouses, who were all in town already for this surprise party (but under the guise of "we just wanted to meet the baby"), all go out to lunch somewhere. they were planning on doing some sightseeing that day, to keep them busy and out of the house for a few hours. and about an hour before the guests arrive, the little baby boy and his family (who we were using as decoys) show up to help us set up for the party. (so see? we weren't really lying about the playdate! it did happen, but only for a few minutes before we all started setting out napkins, chairs, and sodas!)


at about 3:00, nearly all the guests are here, and the party has started! it was so much fun to see all these old familiar faces from the past -- especially so for adam and his brother, who grew up playing hockey with all of these families! i really enjoyed seeing the meyers from nebraska (rae's cousin and her family), and even the mcdavids from winter park drove down the mountain to see us -- and great-aunt alice who is 94 years old came with! how special! it was a veritable family reunion!




eventually bob and rae pull up, and get out of the car with their lunch dates. aunt kim, ever the sly one, says, "gee, rae, look at all these cars on your street! is someone having a party?"


"yeah, it must be the neighbors! i don't know this many people!"


eventually they come in the door, expecting to see the little boy and his family having a playdate with gracie, but instead there are about 40 people there who shout "surprise!" and then start singing "happy anniversary to you" to the tune of "happy birthday." (cuz otherwise they really would have NO IDEA what was going on -- their actual anniversary was about 3 weeks prior to this event.)


we got 'em GOOD!


we started grilling burgers and hot dogs, and sliced up the cake that we got for them. (it was a dinosaur cake that the boys picked out. i wanted to do something classy like a miniature wedding cake, or at least a cake with a wedding photo on it, but they went with the dinosaurs instead. and really, it was WAY more appropriate for the folks!) we had WAY TOO MUCH food, and we're still eating the leftover burgers in the freezer downstairs. (knowing what it's like when my ginormous family gets together, there's never enough food! so i said we should get two burgers and one hot dog for everyone, and like 4 cases of beer, and champagne, and wine, and lots of soda, and a big cake, and ice cream -- which we also forgot to set out -- and and and... but hardly anyone ate anything! so we were left with tons of leftovers! at least we didn't have to cook for a while after that!)


adam made a lovely toast to his parents, and we had bob and rae play a game similar to "the newlywed game." we had them write down on a piece of paper answers to questions like "where was your first kiss" and "do you have a song as a couple?" things like that. it was funny how different their answers were, even after 40 years of marriage! ha!


the party wrapped up in the evening, with friends leaving first and then family staying until later and taking off after gracie went to bed. it was a huge success, a ton of fun, and an afternoon to remember!


happy anniversary, bob and rae!

our trip to colorado

we came "home" to colorado almost a month ago, if you can believe it. where did the summer go already?

we flew back to CO on june 19, and had a god-awful time in london heathrow trying to make our connection due to a last-minute gate change, and the bus driver dropping us off LITERALLY in the middle of the tarmac and making us haul our bags to the top of the stairwell, and then after we got to the top telling us that we had to come back down again and go somewhere else. ugh, we hate heathrow. something like that ALWAYS happens when we fly through london. but gracie, swear to god, was a total angel from the time we woke her up at 4:15 in the morning in holland, until literally 24 hours later when we got to colorado springs. she never cried at all on the plane (even all the flight attendants kept telling us what a great baby she was!), and with the exception of a GINORMOUS poop at 35,000 feet (which required a change of clothes and about a hundred wet wipes), it was a pretty good trip. she finally melted down with about 20 minutes left in the car on the final leg home, but who can blame her? even *i* was tired and spent from the international flight!






she wasn't even the least bit jet lagged that night, or the next day, and has adjusted very well to the time difference, dry air, hotter temperatures, and higher altitude. she is soooo easy going! i have noticed that she's a bit thirstier than usual, so we've been working with a sippy cup this summer. (she doesn't drink water out of a bottle because she keeps expecting it to be milk. so she'll suck on it, but when water comes out and surprises her taste buds like that, she spits it out. but we don't have that problem with the sippy cup.) we have had a difficult time, though, getting her to sleep through the night now that she's teething (ugh!) -- but all she needs is for the "binky" to be put back in her mouth and then she'll almost always fall back to sleep. and since we're all sharing the same bedroom together, it's not terribly difficult to roll out of bed and walk four or five steps to her crib to fix it. so it's not that bad. but still, we miss our full-nights of sleep! gracie totally spoiled us because at 9 weeks old she was sleeping through the night! where did those days go?! we want them back!!!






adam and i have been hitting the gym a lot. we've been taking turns -- he'll often go earlier in the day with his dad, and i'll go later in the morning to either yoga, pilates, or once in a while i do this really fun water aerobics class with all the blue-haired old ladies, and we listen to motley crue, and the instructor was a competitor on american gladiators but i didn't find that out until after class when my father in law asked me if she "crushed" me in class. ha! i've been able to get down to the gym about 4 or 5 times a week, and since i'm not eating all that amazing dutch cheese, or drinking those heavy belgian beers, or eating all that wonderful european bread, i've been able to drop a few pounds already since i've gotten here! now if i can just lay off the chinese food, pizza, and burritos! then i'll be set! :-)






we're having someone stay in our house in hengelo while we're away -- a new student in adam's department. he's from hong kong, and moved here a few days after we left for the usa. he was looking for a place to live, and was having a hard time finding a place, so we invited him to housesit for us while we're gone, which also gives him a nice home base for apartment hunting on his own. so far it seems to be a good arrangement, and it sounds like he's enjoying his time in hengelo.






all in all, we're having a great time. lots of good food, fun music (oh how i've missed tom petty, the doors, pink floyd, led zeppelin, bonnie raitt, neil young, dave matthews, i could go on but you get the point... all stuff i don't hear that often in holland!), sunshine, fresh air, playing cards in the evenings with adam's family, watching the tour de france, just RELAXING. it's soooo good. i can't believe we've been here already for one month! where has the time gone, when we've done nothing at all?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

videos!

here's the latest batch of videos for you all to enjoy!

in this video, gracie and her opa bob are taking a nice little nap on the living room floor. we had only been back in colorado springs for a few short days when opa took advantage of baby naptime -- he must have been looking forward to it for a few months! very quiet, very peaceful. i like this video a lot.

gracie is laughing SO HARD in this video that she is practically screaming! though she has been able to laugh for the past few months or so, it has been only recently that she laughs at predictable things. before it was like an involuntary reaction of her belly and throat, but now she's REALLY starting to get into it! this video is so much fun!

now in this clip gracie is just hanging out on the floor and talking to herself while the rest of us are hanging out. there's really not a lot going on here, but it gives you an idea of what our lazy afternoons are like here in colorado springs.

(oh yeah, ps, we're in colorado springs now for the summer. i'll tell you all about that in another blog post.)

when gracie gets sleepy, she starts to get the hiccups. here in this video she is sitting with us at the dinner table, at the end of the day. during dinnertime, she sits in her swing and looks at us while we all eat. then afterwards we all hang out around the table and take turns holding her before she goes to sleep. and since she has the hiccups here, you can tell it's almost time for bed!

yesterday, i went out to target to get gracie a pool since it's been so hot here lately. but the pool had a leak in it already, and the video camera wasn't working yesterday -- so opa and daddy brought the pool back and got a new one, and i fixed the camera, and today we did it all over again. here is gracie in her pool today! the magic of the internet that she can splash this afternoon and you can all see it this evening!

after gracie played in her pool today, daddy took her inside to dry her off. while he was doing that, she apparently rolled over from her back to her front! for the first time ever! and i MISSED it! aaargh! she has been able to roll from front to back since father's day (that was her present to adam that day), but i've never seen her roll from back to front! anyway, by the time i got the camera out, she was all done rolling over and just pretty much laid there. but it's a cute video anyway of her hanging out on the floor buck naked!

two of gracie's favorite things in the world are her daddy and her cool see-through scarf that we found at a boutique near our house in hengelo. so put them together, and she is in hog heaven! watch this to see her laughing, kicking, and squirming around! (sometimes i don't know who is cuter: gracie when she's laughing, or adam's funny faces when he's playing with her! he's such a good daddy!) this scarf that she's playing with is one of her favorite toys, by the way... she can chew on it, wrap herself up in it, shade herself from the sun with it, and it's a good way to start warming up to playing "peekaboo." because the "normal" way to play peekaboo now isn't very much fun for her -- if we hide our faces for too long, she loses interest and starts looking at something else instead. and if we cover her face, then she gets all scared and claustrophobic. so the see-through scarf we have is just perfect because she can still see what's going on, but she feels the texture of the fabric against her skin while seeing all the colors change as the scarf lifts away from her!

on gracie's first fourth of july, we went to the "high noon longhorn downtown cattle drive." the title pretty much sums it up. there were about 100 head of cattle that were herded right down tejon street (downtown) in colorado springs. it seemed like the perfect activity to do out west on the fourth of july, and we all thought gracie would just love it. but it was like a zillion degrees outside, one of the hottest days we've had yet, and gracie was just uncomfortable and tired and pretty much was cranky the whole time. anyway, we did get a video clip of the cattle drive, complete with authentic cowboys on horseback. i thought it was fun! too bad gracie didn't agree with me... :-)

and finally, this fun video has all the good stuff: it starts out in the morning with gracie playing on the floor in bob and rae's room, and bob is playing the guitar for her. gracie was singing along, making motorboat sounds, and enjoying herself fully. and later in the video, adam and matt are playing with her and she's laughing. she gets all sorts attention at opa and oma's house!

well, that's all i have for now. this should be enough to last you for a few more weeks before i put more stuff on there. let me know what you think!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

hands to hearts international

i have been attending the netherlands unitarian universalist fellowship since i moved to holland a few years ago, and though i have not been able to visit as often as i would like (church is only one sunday a month, i live 2.5 hours away by train, and most recently i was obviously too pregnant or gracie was too small for me to make the trip that far...), i do feel very much a part of that community.

the last time i was at church at NUUF, i brought gracie and adam with me. at that service, gracie was honored with an impromptu blessing ceremony, and was offered a gift on behalf of NUUF: a donation made in her name to an organization that benefits children. how special!

at first, we weren't quite sure which organization to choose, as there are so many which are so very wonderful. i sent out an email to my friends asking for some suggestions, and took some time to think about what are the things that WE feel are important. the list: education, wellness, loving touch, direct contact with children (we didn't want to donate to a huge organization that would spend too much money on administrative duties, etc.).

i recall from many prior conversations with my best girl teresa that she was familiar with an organization called hands to hearts international. (please click on the link provided as their description of their services is much better than what i could summarize here.) HHI fulfills all of the important criteria that we set out in choosing which organization to donate to. and as it turns out, my friend teresa actually knows the founder (laura) of this non-profit because the two of them knew each other when teresa lived in portland, oregon.

well, i sent NUUF an email, telling them who gracie's donation would be given to, and i told them this with the hopes that the message would be shared with the rest of the group at the next church service (since we were in greece at the time and i couldn't tell them myself). as it turns out, there were visitors at NUUF that day from the uu church in portland, oregon -- the very same church that teresa attended for many years, before she moved away to japan! so someone at NUUF gets up and says to the group, "gracie briggle has decided to donate to hands to hearts international." and the visitors were all, "oh, we know of that organization! the woman who founded that organization is our friend and lives in portland!"

little did those visitors know that the whole reason gracie chose to donate to HHI was because of teresa, who is my best friend, is one of gracie's godmothers, and is a friend of the founder of HHI. AAAAND the visitors there are apparently really good friends of not only HHI's founder, but also teresa! but they didn't know that teresa was the one who was connecting us all together!

ha!

i can't remember how i found out this story, but out it came, and we all rejoiced in it. because here was a baby, donating to an organization that benefits babies, the child of a massage therapist donating to an organization that in part teaches infant massage, the godchild of the friend of the founder, the godchild of the friend of the visitors, and it was all one big wonderful happy-ning.

so laura has put on her HHI blog gracie's donation story, and it's just so wonderful. i hope you have an opportunity to read laura and teresa's version of all of this! it's just such a wonderful, small world!

a world of blessing! when all this happened,:
gracie was in greece
teresa was in japan
laura was in the united states
the portland visitors were in the netherlands
NUUF was also in the netherlands
the babies benefited by gracie's donation were in india

amazing!

Friday, July 11, 2008

the greeks LOVE babies!

so when we were planning our trip to greece, we asked adam's colleague and our friend, ed, if he had any advice. since ed is half greek, we thought he might have some tips about how to get around with a baby and a stroller there, as we were contemplating not bringing the stroller and just keeping gracie in the sling the whole time. (boy am i glad we didn't do that!!! too hot and she's really heavy!)

ed said to us, "don't worry about it! someone will help you with the stroller if you need a hand! the greeks LOVE babies!"

good to know, but at the same time i was thinking to myself, "really? who DOESN'T love babies?" whatever, ed.

but OMG he is RIGHT!!! the greeks freaking LOVE babies! i mean, americans love babies, and the dutch love babies, but they seem to love babies from a distance. they smile at babies, and wave at them, and maybe make a goofy face or two. but that's about it.

the greeks on the other hand, will come right up to a baby and (without permission from the parents) tickle her toes, whistle at her to get her attention, pinch her cheeks, kiss her hands, ask if they can hold her (yes, even the cleaning ladies at our hotel in athens held out their arms in the universal-language of "can i hold her?"). it's so wonderful! it's like my baby is their baby! they all want a piece of gracie, they all want her to see them and smile at them! they all rejoice in my child, just by being near her!

i really got a sense of this when i was on the train from the airport into athens. like, right away, my first hour in greece, and i already knew how much the greeks love babies. EVERYONE on the train made sure to see gracie. and if you were sitting next to someone who hadn't seen gracie, you would poke that person and point to gracie so that the two of you could enjoy her together. and if you were sitting next to someone who already had seen gracie, you'd poke them again and laugh together, just in case the other person might have missed it the first time around.

walking down the street, sitting on the subway, relaxing on the beach -- it didn't matter where we were, people always wanted to touch gracie and get her to smile! i remember when we were on the ferry boat to mykonos, there were these two children all dressed up as if they were going to a wedding or something. the boy must have been maybe 4, and the girl was probably almost 2. and they could not get enough of gracie, and it was driving them CRAZY that there was a baby there that they couldn't touch! so i got down to their level and held gracie out to them so that they could hug and kiss her, and they just about exploded they were so happy! these gestures are obviously taught to them at a very young age!

it never bothered me one bit that the greeks wanted to touch my child. because they were all touching her with LOVE. they all blessed her with their warm, loving, happy energy every time their hands came in contact with her chubby legs or rosy cheeks. and gracie, of course, was in hog heaven with all the attention and snuggling and smiling faces around her!

the greeks just LOVE LOVE LOVE babies!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

mykonos island

the second half of our trip to greece was spent on a truly paradisical island, mykonos. named after apollo's grandson, mykons, the island is located in the deep blue waters of the aegean sea and is said to be the place where hercules and poseidon defeated giants who were opposed to zeus. for hundreds of years it was targeted by pirates, which caused the inhabitants of the island to fill their main town with countless winding and narrow streets, purposefully built that way to confuse the pirates on their way to and from their ships.



after several hot and dusty days in athens, all four of us were REALLY looking forward to the cool waters on the island. we were fortunate to find an AMAZING hotel which was located only about 100 meters from the beach and had the most beautiful pool i've ever seen. the location was perfect because had we been directly on the beach, it would have been pretty noisy all the time, but it was still close enough to walk there -- it only took one minute! -- and we could come back to our quiet hotel when it was time for gracie's nap or if we had gotten enough sunshine. there were two convenience stores right next to our hotel, which we went to quite often for giant bottles of water (the water on the island is not good to drink), snacks, mythos beer, and batteries for our cameras.



we really went at a perfect time of year: the weather was gorgeous, but the crowds hadn't descended on the island yet. so we virtually had the place to ourselves! when we went down to the beach, which was one of the best on the island, there were ample beach umbrellas which you could rent for only 5 euros a person for the whole day. there were waiters who worked at the numerous restaurants that lined the beach, and they would bring us cold drinks (like a bucket of mythos beer) if we asked them to. we also went to the restaurants a few times to grab some takeaway lunch like stuffed grape leaves or greek salads.




and the coolest, most wonderful thing: our beach chairs were so close to the gentle waves, that the water would occasionally come up and reach our chairs! i mean, it was RIGHT THERE! click here to see a video i took right from my beach chair!




my favorite part of the beach was how much gracie liked the water! because we were at the sea, the waves of course come rolling in and out again. and for a baby, i think this would be quite surprising to have water there, and then no water, and then water again, and then no water. so when i put her feet in the sand, close enough for the waves to reach her, i was half-expecting her to pull her legs up to her chest (taking her feet out of the water) whenever the waves would come up and wash over her. but not gracie! she's so brave and adventurous! she just plants her feet firmly in the sand, puts her arms straight out to her sides, and rocks her body back and forth, dancing to the rhythm of the sea! it was so wonderful and funny to experience!



when swimming in the aegean, you hardly have to move in order to stay afloat. there must be more salt or something (it did taste saltier to me than other places i've been to, but i also grew up by the great lakes, so i don't know much about saltwater), because i didn't have to do anything to float! just lay on my back and let the waves carry me in to shore! it was the most relaxing and wonderful feeling, to be bobbing around on the surface of the sea, without any effort at all!



okay, so when we weren't getting sunkissed on the beach, we were reading and eating greek salads by the pool at our hotel. the pool had a bar with a bartender always there (i've seen poolside bars, but they never have anyone working there so what's the point?), and you could order water, beer, cocktails, and even a few dishes. i really think the best greek salads i had were from the hotel bar -- or maybe everything tastes better when you're eating it poolside. there was always this cool music playing, like mellow techno or something brazilian or a song you'd expect to hear on the garden state soundtrack if there was a b-side to it or something. very nice. and swanky pillows and nice beach chairs and this great shaded area with flowing white cloth that really gave the whole place an aura of hipness and relaxation. the breakfast (which was included in the uber-reasonable rates) was served by the pool, and we sat in the shade drinking coffee and eating greek yogurt with honey.







a picture of breakfast time at our hotel:




because our days were so full of fresh air and sunshine, gracie got tired pretty early in the evenings. so as i would get her ready for bed, washing the sunscreen and sand off of her in our luxurious jacuzzi tub (!), adam and elizabeth would go back down to the beach and order up a bunch of food: garlicky eggplant, stuffed grape leaves, baklava, souvlaki, moussaka, and of course adam's standby: plain pasta with olive oil. (it doesn't matter where in the world we are, adam always eats the same thing: aglio y olio pasta, pesto pasta, french onion soup, or pizza margarita. he's so predictable!)







we spent a lot of time by the pool, just reading and relaxing, and playing with gracie in the cool water. she loved it so much she would babble and sing with joy, as you can hear right here in this video. after she had had enough splashing, we would take off all her clothes and let her play on her little activity center toy that we brought from home. she loved to lay there in the shade, with the music playing, and mom and dad and elizabeth nearby talking and laughing. all the hotel employees would come by and tickle her toes to get her to smile.



we were all SOOOO SAD to leave mykonos after such a relaxing and rejuvenating time! but our skin couldn't possibly handle any more sunshine, and our wallets were empty anyway. we hope we can get back there again someday -- maybe next year when adam has a conference on corfu?...

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

the ferry to mykonos

we spent half of our time in greece on the island of mykonos, and after so many hot and dusty days in athens, we were looking forward to a little R&R by the sea. but in order to get there, we needed to take a ferry trip from the port of piraeus to the island itself.

we left our hotel in athens shortly after 6:00 a.m., and took the metro directly to the port. adam had gone out to piraeus the day before, to pick up our tickets, and did a great job checking out the set-up so that we wouldn't be running around lost and behind schedule with our big bags, the baby, and our stroller on the morning of our departure. (a good thing, too, because if he wasn't so helpful we would probably still be wandering around piraeus looking for our ship!) he did such a good job finding everything the day before, that it really was no problem leaving the station and making our way to our boat! good job, adam!

we boarded around 7:00 a.m. and our ship was set to sail at 7:30. we didn't have assigned seats, so we were glad that we got there early enough to find a place where we could all spread out. we went first to some sort of lobby-type desk that reminded me of a hotel reception area, and the people there told us where we could and could not sit. then we made our way up to the upper deck, and the back of the boat (was that the poopdeck?), and found a nice picnic table to settle down at. it was a really nice area, because it was mostly covered, but was open at the very back and on the sides. and because it was in the back of the boat, it wasn't windy. and because it was covered, you didn't smell the fuel from the ship. it was really quite nice!

elizabeth and i got some tea from the bar on our deck, and soon enough we set sail. it was so fun to see athens get smaller and smaller and to see the greek flag waving in the bright morning sunshine. adam sat with gracie for a time, while i had the luxury of actually sitting down with my journal (which i carry everywhere with me but never seem to have the time to write in it anymore -- i wonder why?!). i pulled a chair up to the very back of the boat so that i was in the sun, and smelled the breeze, and had some nice, quiet "amber time" for about an hour. what a great treat that was!

the entire journey took just over 4 hours or so, and along the way there were lots of things to see and do. we played with gracie a TON, and i swear i have never seen her happier or more excited in all her life. she L-O-V-E-D the ferry! all the people talking to her, all the sunshine and wind, all the bright blue from the sea and sky, all the sounds and motions from the boat! oh! she was just in hog heaven, that girl! the only way we could get her to take a nap is if i put her in the sling and covered her eyes, because she just wanted to SEE EVERYTHING! too funny!

we also saw quite a bit. i saw a couple of dolphins, but adam and elizabeth missed them. there were also several islands that we passed along the way, many of which looked uninhabited. a few had people on them, and those were the ones that we stopped at. it was fun to watch people and vehicles enter and exit the ferry as we docked. it all happened REALLY fast -- there was no messing around when we docked!

one one island, i'm not sure which one it was, there was a man who got on board and starting yelling something, like he had something to sell. out of curiosity, adam approached him and bought two of whatever it was he was selling. they turned out to be these weird cookies that looked like ginormous communion wafers filled with homemade nougat. i only ate a tiny bit (eating something uber-sweet and sitting on a boat: maybe not such a good idea), but elizabeth says they were quite good and i believe her.

finally we got to mykonos, and everyone got off because that was the last port of call. as we exited, there were like a zillion hotel employees with signs that they waved in our faces: "hello! looking for a place to stay?" "beautiful rooms right on the beach! come with me!" "free internet and breakfast! enjoy a stay at our hotel!" but we already had reservations for someplace so we made our way through the crowd and tried to find george, who was the chauffeur for our hotel.

we didn't bring along a car seat on this trip, and i was nervous the whole time about what it was going to be like to take gracie in a van to get from our port to our hotel. but there were really no other options, so we had to do it. and it would have made no difference even if we did bring a car seat, because there were no seatbelts in the van anyway! but george was a very safe driver, and since we were on an island, the drivers were all very polite and drove carefully and slow (where are you going in such a hurry when you are on an island in the mediterranean anyway?). and shortly we were at our beautiful hotel, checking into our gorgeous room, and dipping our tired bodies into the refreshing pool.