Were in Rome (and the keyboard is in another language so this post wont have apostrophes for I cant find them. It took me forever just to find the parentheses). Were at the beginning of our pilgrimage. We wanted to both see Europe before going to Haifa but also give us, and particularly Amia, a chance to acclimate to the time change before pilgrimage. And we are so glad we did. We all crashed around 7 or 8 last night, then Amia and I woke up around midnight. I tagged out around 2 or 3 with Suzanne, who was with Amia until 4 or 5. Then we all fell asleep in there somewhere. Right now we're hoping Amia will go down for the whole night. Heres how the rest of the trip is going down (doh, I accidentally found the apostrophe under the a-double-dots key!)
We were a little worried about Amia on the flight over because she's never flown before. But she did AMAZING. It was unbelievable. She didn't fuss once. She jumped around a bit but that's normal-everyone wants to jump around a bit after sitting for 8.5 hours straight. Just after takeoff she said, Daddy, can I tell you a secret? So she had me lean in real close, then whispered in my ear, The airplane is fun. I knew it was going to be a good trip. And at the end she kept saying, Daddy, what's your favorite plane? This one is my favorite plane! It had been the only one she'd been one, but so far we're batting pretty well.
So after traveling for 24 hour straight, we made it to the hotel. The first thing that struck me about Rome is the huge, unbelievable number of scooters on the road. When I ride my scooter in Evanston and see another scooterist we wave to each other. I only see one every couple days. But here, wherever you look, there are dozens parked into whatever nook and cranny you can find. At first I thought, I'd love to ride a scooter here. But after seeing the driving I think I'd be too afraid to drive anything but a Sherman tank. The other first thing is how small the cars are. They have no SUVs. Every car here looks either like a tiny, tiny Fiat or a Toyota Yaris-small and round. I really like that. Then the third thing is the ancient Roman stuff.
That's what we saw today. I literally felt like Russel Crowe's character in The Gladiator the first time he saw the Colloseum and his colleague said, What kind of men can build such a thing. I was speechless. I'd seen pictures and knew it was big, but in my mind was thinking, well, it's not that big compared to Wrigley Field. But, my friends, I can't begin to convey how awesome it is. And then to image 50,000 people roaring during a game. Seriously unbelievable. And from there we went to the Forum and saw, you know, things like the spot where Caesar was cremated, where his house used to be, and the route he took the day he was assasinated by the Senate. Having just seen the HBO show Rome, that time came vividly to life. It was great to have that sensibility, that these were real people, walking through what used to be the center of the center of the world for 1,000 years. And the other building that blew me away was the Basilica of Constantine. A huge hall of justice that was impossibly big--impressive considering that the part left standing today is only a third of what it actually was. The Romans, I'm seeing, thought big on every conceivable scale.
The other thing is just how old things are compared to things in the States. I know that's kind of a common refrain for people visiting ancient places and countries, but being in Chicago where everything I can see was built probably in the last 100 or so years, where there are still people alive who can remember what it was like before such landmarks as the Sears Tower or even the Baha'i House of Worship, it's amazing to see something that was built in...70. AD.
Tomorrow we set out for the Vatican, and I can't wait.
Amia has had another burst of hilarious and insightful sayings, and is also trying to understand humor and what makes people laugh. The past couple days she'll say or do something and say, was that a joke?, or, was that funny? It's really interesting trying to explain what's funny means to someone.
Here are some of the things she's said and conversations we've had recently:
Amia (tonight): Can I have this pear? Me: No, it's sleepytime, it's too late to eat a pear. (eating pears for Amia is a 30-minute-plus experience) A: But the pear says, Eat me, Amia! Me: I think the pear says, Eat me tomorrow, Amia, for breakfast. A: But I think the pear says, Eat me now, Amia! Me: You can either have the pear or a couple pretzels. A: Ok.
A to me yesterday: Mommy has Spongebob eyes. (blue eyes)
A to Suzanne today: You have Spongebob pants. (short pants)
Me: Amia, it's time to go home, it's late. (while visiting a friend's house who have a 2 year old) A: But he has beautiful toys!
Katie reading a book to Amia: "And the mouse got tired and took a nap"
A: Yeah, he did, but it was just a power nap. (She then proceeds to
tell Katie all about power naps. Where she learned about power naps we
have no idea)
A at bedtime just now: I want to read two books, two special books. Me going through her books on the nightstand: This one? A: No, that one's not special. Me: This one? A: No, that one doesn't make me happy. I want a book that makes me happy. Me: This one? A: No, that's not special either. I want one about little bugs. (Puzzling because we have no book about little bugs) Me: Ok, can you go find one that's special and that makes you happy because I'm not really sure what you want. A: But I can't go to the living room by myself! (it's dark in the living room) Me: Oh, you can go to your special drawers right here and find one. A: Well, ok.
Amia singing a song: Little butterfly had a good idea!/Wipe her bottom all by herself!
With the Holy Day off of work I took two more days off work for a little vacashon. Suzanne got pretty sick though, so we ended up staying here through Thursday night, which was actually pretty nice. Although we'd planned on going to Starved Rock on the way to Urbana, Amia and I got to hang out. We went to the children's museum here in Glenview, then the next day to the one in Chicago and had a really nice lunch on the pier.
One strange moment in the Chicago children's museum. We both lost track of time, forgot to make a potty stop, and had...a...little...accident on the floor of the museum. I picked up Amia and looked around for some staff to clean up when I happened to look up. And, awkwardly, made eye contact with an administrator of the museum sitting in his office. He had a rather concerned look on his face and I couldn't tell if it was because of the mess we'd just made or because I had to look so hard for some staff to assist. I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt though and assume it's the latter. I was, I must say, a little proud of myself because I didn't freak on Amia or get anxious/embarrassed about the situation. The last thing I want is for Amia to feel shame for something she's still learning how to do.
Once we got to Urbana it was great. Got some quality time with friends and family. It was really refreshing too, not just because of the company, but also to be away from the city. Even though we live in a pretty quiet area, Chicago just radiates energy, and it was nice to feel the calm of being surrounded by corn fields on every side.
Just a little while ago I was putting Amia to sleep and had another weird occurrence that's becoming somewhat common now. Last night I went to bed pretty late between playing one kind of game and another. Then, for some ungodly reason, Amia woke up at 5:45 this morning. So I ended up getting less than 5 hours sleep. Then, around 7:45 tonight when I was putting her to sleep, I was reading some stories and kept falling asleep after the end of each page. Then I'd wake up and turn the page. It's a bit trippy, but it's also been throwing off my sleep schedule. Last week was the worst. Put Amia to bed around 9, fell asleep with her, woke up at midnight wide awake until 5 am. This is all nothing compared to when Amia was a newborn, but ever since she started sleeping through the night I've kind of lost my ability to function on a couple hours of interrupted sleep.
Today, on the way home from Urbana, Suzanne dropped Amia and I off at the Lincoln Park Zoo to hang out with the Davis' while she went to her dance class. It was a really great time. Saw some cool things, including this window that looks out onto the ostrich exhibit and where the ostriches apparently see a reflection and try to attack or bite what they're seeing. This pleased Amia no end because at her height (2 ft. 9 in. thanks to an exhibit at the children's museum), she was right at eye level, as you can see:
And tonight I started watching the Ricky Gervais show that was on HBO, Extras, which I'm finding hilarious. He's an extra, or "background artist", and his character and the show is similar to The Office (the British version, which I think might be even more painful and awkward than the American one). One of the funny things is that he has famous people on that kind of make fun of their celebrity, including, so far, Kate Winslet and Ben Stiller. Stiller in the show is hilarious as he rattles of weekend and worldwide grosses for some of the most recent movies he's made. There's also this little number in one of the shows, which a friend sent to me (language warning):