Ignis the sharing dragon

We went back to participate in Benjamin and Liam’s favorite Venetian activity today — splashing in puddles and chasing pigeons at St. Mark’s square.  (This even outranks gelato consumption, so that’s pretty significant.)  We’ve often found, in our travels, that the key to the kids enjoying a city correlates with the amount of time they get to spend running freely, so it’s a priority (especially because we didn’t get enough of that time in Rome.)

After a bit of running wild and tormenting pigeons, Liam requested a drink of water, which, of course, I’d forgotten at the hotel.  He was insistent on his very own sippy cup, so he and I ventured back to pick it up.

532We had a nice walk (a stroll hand in hand with a two year old can be pretty great) and upon our return, we found Benjamin, Dan, Jo and Mina, still playing in the square.  With a dragon.

While we were away, Benjamin had apparently charmed some folks out of a darling stuffed dragon named Ignis.  (He’s the mascot for their company.)  He is super cute, and they assured Dan that, if we’d like to give Ignis a good home and take him on our international travels, that it was fine for us to adopt him.  B was in love.  So he got Ignis.

537Liam fell instantly in love with Ignis, too, and there was just one Ignis.  So we quickly started calling him “Ignis the sharing dragon.”  He was shared by his owners with us, and now the boys had to continue to share him.

Ignis the sharing dragon has been a major hit.  The boys traded him back and forth all day, a few minutes at a time.  He joined us for gelato, pizza for dinner and even our gondola ride (he’s now sporting his very own gondolier hat).

He’ll return to Vienna with us and join us on our future adventures.  (Does a dragon need a passport?)  What a lovely and special souvenir from our trip to Venice, and what a kind thing for Ignis’ people to have done, to share him with us.





17,000 and 4

I just found out that the first district of Vienna (where we’ll be living) is, by population, the smallest in all of Vienna:  the population is just over 17,000.  It’s the geographic and symbolic center of the city, and for historical purposes, the first district IS Vienna — the other districts, which had been “the outskirts” weren’t added to the city until 1850 (or later, in some cases).  Tomorrow, we will add 4 (plus Bailey) to the relatively small population of the first district of Vienna:  we move into our apartment.

We still don’t have any of our stuff (other than what we carried over in our suitcases) but Dan’s friends and coworkers have done an amazing job outfitting our new place so that we are almost certain to be more comfortable there than we have been here.  (There were a few uncertain moments earlier today when we thought we might not have the power on there, but it turns out we do.)  We have a place for everyone to sleep (including a spare air mattress, just in case), we have sheets and blankets, we have plates, utensils and cups, we have a promise of towels (although we still need to pick those up).  And, we have a fair bit of furniture that the apartment came with, including a dining room table and chairs as well as some seating for the living room.  We’ll be living in high style!

And the best news of all:  we should be getting our sea shipment on Monday.  Our sea shipment, not our air shipment.  (Boy, I’m sure glad we packed all that stuff we’d need for the first month into that air shipment!)  The sense of relief that it brings to know that we will have so much of our stuff so soon is massive.  Come Monday, we will have clothes, furniture, toys . . . nearly everything.  Of course, then begins the process of REALLY setting up our home — but if there is one thing that I’ve gotten from the experience of this past month, I think it will be a real sense of gratitude for exchanging this new task for the one I’ve been facing.

That had better not be an oncoming train

There is light at the end of the tunnel.  We’re getting there.  No, we’re not getting our stuff, but we probably are moving in to our new place.  Dan sent out a pleading email today (it contained the phrase, “my wife is going crazy”) to his new coworkers asking for help in getting the things we absolutely must have to move out of here and into “our” apartment:  a crib for Liam, a mattress for Benjamin and some plates and utensils (he also asked for some things we don’t need but which would be nice, like a changing table, a baby bath, blankets, sheets and an air mattress for Dan & I).  Thankfully, these people have all been there — the nice thing about the UN is that everyone is from somewhere else — so people inundated Dan today with offers to help.

We’re being loaned a portacrib for Liam, a mattress for Benjamin, a changing pad and a baby bath (at least).  Two coworkers are taking their lunch tomorrow to help Dan collect the items and move items into our new place.  I can’t get everything in this place together by noon tomorrow, so we won’t *actually* move until Saturday, but we could theoretically spend tomorrow night in our new place if we want to.  I am so grateful for everyone’s generosity.

There are some down sides.  Principally, we won’t have internet (which we’ve been relying on heavily since arriving) and there aren’t curtains on the windows (that, at least, needs to be addressed pretty immediately, or no one will be getting much sleep).  We also have access to a washer/dryer here (only one for the whole building, but still) and we won’t at “home”.  I don’t think it’s really going to feel like “home” until we get at least some of our things, but at least we won’t be financially supporting three apartments (our condo in VA, our temporary place and “our” place that we’re moving in to).

Frankly, the whole “camping” thing has really lost its lustre for me — it was a fun part of this adventure for the first few days, but camping for a month, especially when it isn’t on purpose, is just being homeless.  This time last month we were at the airport, getting checked in and heading to our flight.  We’re still going to be “roughing it” at the new place, but at least we can be actively moving towards setting it up as a home, rather than continuing to be in limbo.  For now, this seems like progress (but check with me again next week).