Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Day

Insert helicopter noises here. Building toys were the tops for
m this year. Shown are K'nex, which integrate with his legos. Even as I write he's playing with his legos. Hooray! We've hit the easy gift years.

A little Texas greeting!

V actually wasn't sure how to unwrap her first present, but she quickly figured it out.

There's real sunshine in this shot! V's putting her baby doll down for a nap. She took multiple 30 second naps under her very special V blanket.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Eve

Here are a couple of fun pictures from Christmas Eve. We had a few friends over and a semi-traditional dinner (the pies were traditional, at least!) It was so lovely to have some real Christmas spirit in our home, especially when we sang carols for a while. Remarkably, the kids played happily downstairs while we sang upstairs, so we got to run through quite a few favorites before our voices wore out. (Thanks, Mark, for hanging out with the kids!) I miss my favorite carols, so it was a treat to sing so many.
We've never done this before, but since the kids needed new jammies anyway, we wrapped up a new set for each of them and let them open them before bedtime. I know lots of families love to do this; we'll have to decide whether to add it as a tradition or not. They were definitely excited to open one gift the night before! And it's really cute to have the kids in matching PJs. We told them to put their heads together and look cute. This was the result.
We also acted out the Christmas story -- it was a bit random, but lots of fun. We had one friend film it for us; I'll have to check out the footage soon. When I was in about the second verse of the story, the wise man (M) yelled out, "I have to go potty!" But this hilarious feat was probably beat by the V and V show -- our V and our friend, who is the same age, but smaller, acted as Joseph and the donkey. (Another mom played Mary.) Our V was sad that we let another girl wear the purple angel wings, but finally cheered up and announced that she would play the donkey. Her buddy wanted to ride on her, which she was fine with (?!?) He kind of straddled his legs around her back and walked along with her, so in our version Joseph got a ride and poor Mary walked the whole way. On her knees. Christmas morning pics to come soon.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Darkwing Duck

Do you remember Darkwing Duck? My kids love watching it (on youtube, our favorite place). It's fun for the big people too, because the writing is pretty darn clever. If you don't recall, Darkwing shows up on the scene and delivers this line "I am the terror that flaps in the night ..." followed by something different every time. My favorite?

DW Duck: I am the terror that flaps in the night. I am the batteries that are not included.

I've just been checking online to make sure we have the correct batteries for one of M's presents. Naomi and I were wrapping presents the other night when someone realized we didn't know what batteries the toys needed. Oops! Luckily, we've got it covered.

Nomie's hopefully made it home by now. We had a great time!! Everything was good, except that Aunt Naomi was the first to fall on our slippery stairs. This experience brought us the best quote from the trip:

V: My bum's poopy. Your bum's sore.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

comparison pictures

Baby M

Baby V

Baby E. The ages don't match exactly, but I think you can tell that little E will look just like that V picture in a couple of weeks! No wonder Nathan keeps calling the baby by the wrong name!! I was also surprised to see how much hair M had. I had forgotten. Some funny facts -- E's hairline is just like V's (and Nathan's), so she'll have a cowlick on the same side, etc. All three kids have one funny curving toe, just like me.

Monday, December 8, 2008


M's school term ends on Friday, so we're in the middle of end-of-term activities. Although I feel bad that the baby has precluded me from donating time to the school, there is a certain ease in knowing that no one expects me to do anything. So far, the parents have hosted a bake sale, decorated the school secretly, served cookies and cocoa while the kids decorated, and prepared Santa's grotto. (Our big kids visited Santa last week on St. Mikulas day. M's comment: He was real.) This week, we have an evening nativity performance, a special Christmas lunch (served by parents), and a class party. Parents also sort the school mail every day. Kids get to post letters to friends at the school during the Christmas season. M spent 2-3 afternoons making Christmas cards, labelling envelopes, signing his name, etc. It takes a long time!! But he was really excited about it. Anyway, I confess that I find the activities a bit much! Less is more and all that ...

V has big news this week: she's learning to read! She's been very excited about learning letter sounds the past few weeks, which is great, because we use M's homework to practice her skills. It makes her so happy to be involved. And a couple of days ago, she was sounding out on and then read the word all by herself! (b-a-g bag!) She's done it a couple of times since, and it shocks me every time. It is so adorable to see how proud she is of herself. I know she can tell that I'm genuinely surprised at how clever she is, and she just glows.

M's big news this week: he had the last meeting of his Saturday morning football (soccer) club, and they gave out awards and goodies. He was so excited about his trophy that he didn't even want to have lunch at McDonald's on the way home -- he had to show Mommy right away. (Daddy takes him to football club.) The trophy has since been in various pockets, in M's bed, at church, in the car ... anywhere M goes, the trophy goes. I don't know what we'll do when the little plastic trophy breaks!

E doesn't have any huge news, although she did sleep longer than normal last night, which is really great. We have an appointment to get her birth record and passport papers filed tomorrow. The only tricky part is getting her passport photo -- we'll try to get it before the appointment, and just hope that I can get her to open her eyes ... I'm beginning to wish I'd gotten extra copies of V's baby passport pics -- I'm sure no one would be able to tell the difference. (Just kidding!!)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

new baby

Yay! Our new baby girl arrived last week and we're at home now. Everything went fine and we're recovering nicely. 3.68 kilos, 49 cm. (For her name, send me an email or post a comment. Otherwise, we'll call her E on the blog :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

news today

I was amused at the stories on drudge report today -- Hillary for Secretary of State? I don't think so. I'm guessing they're just floating the name (or someone not involved at all says they're floating the name), but it won't happen. As a resident of Europe, let me remind you that Obama's a superstar outside of the US, and his popularity could really help foreign relations. I don't think he's going to give that away to someone with her own big agenda. Not to mention her oh-so-erratic husband. And does he really need to "solidify the party"? Give me a break. Maybe the Clinton camp started the rumor!

Other funny/interesting stuff, and isn't it nice to have news that isn't all about politics? ... (harmless) white powder at Mormon temples in assumed protest against the church's stance against gay marriage, the pregnant man is pregnant again (how much does he get paid for the stories? Enough to make up for babies one year apart?!?), Wal-Mart's making money (this goes in the category of "yeah, I always knew that" news. Tomorrow they'll announce that luxury retailers are losing even more money than expected. Ho hum.), and less than 20% of US adults are smokers. I'm actually surprised that the smoking level is that high. So sad that the rates are much higher for those with less education. Personally, I don't think this is really a matter of education per se (everyone knows tobacco's bad for you, right?!), but a matter of social acceptability among different demographic groups. I have absolutely no proof for that.

Anyway, I'm just killing time, waiting for the new arrival. Just a few more days ...

Friday, October 31, 2008


Here are the kids sitting with their jack-o-lanterns. M designed his himself, V approved my design for the other. They look great on our front porch! Another advantage of having a house instead of an apartment. We didn't have the only jack-o-lanterns in town. A family down the street is half American and even had a ghost in their yard. Their kids came to trick-or-treat us, then we went to their house a few minutes later.

SuperM! M designed the M himself, or at least requested the shape, etc.
I think V's about to get me with her magic wand in this picture. It sounded like she was putting a hex on one house that didn't give us a response when we tried trick-or-treating. We spend Halloween in the neighborhood close to one of the international schools in town. Tons of people descend for traditional trick-or-treating. We brought bags of candy to help resupply people who were running out, so we didn't feel like total mooches. We met up with friends and went around together, and ran into 3 other groups of friends during the evening. I'm sure there were others we just didn't happen to see.

Look at our loot! V dumped hers out immediately. M was carefully counting the pieces. I confiscated a Butterfinger. I figured the kids wouldn't appreciate it nearly as much as I would. The kids had an absolutely wonderful time this year, and we still have the church party to go to tomorrow night.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

'smart' ads

I've just been reading a novel that refers to (fictional) software that tracks basically everything people do in the US. In the novel, the software is being misused by the US government. In real life, I just want to comment that software does not track everything about me anywhere near as well as you think it should. I mean, Amazon was cutting edge a long time ago, but now anytime they suggest something for me, seems like I already own it, or they're recommending books by authors I'm not as interested anymore, etc. They never suggest anything new and exciting. Seems like they ought to have the capability to do that. Instead, the lists made by Amazon users are usually a better source of recommendations than Amazon itself. Lost revenue by the giant? I think so. And then there are the 'smart' ads found so often online, that cater to me, right? OK, so they tend to cater to me ... in Czech! That's right, the extent of their intelligence is to send me Czech ads, since I live in CZ, never mind the fact that the Czech-language sites I visit are very few compared to the English-language ones. In fact, some sites (including blogger itself) default to Czech when I'm not looking. Not so smart after all.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

the great pumpkin

So we already carved our pumpkins -- well, Daddy cleaned out and carved the pumpkins, and we watched. Seriously, my kids don't like their hands dirty and refused to clean out the seeds themselves. V probably would have given it a try, but she's very much in the mode of doing whatever M does. In fact, she even said she didn't like tomatoes the other day, which is crazy since they're one of her favorite foods. (She quickly changed her mind back, though. Me too sentiment only goes so far.) Anyway, they're really cute and I hope to post pics along with our Halloween photos in a few days.

Baby's growing and doing fine, although it looks like I overdid it this weekend, since I've been having lots of (painless) contractions. Doctor says take magnesium and "do you ever rest during the day?" Haha. I'm hoping it will calm down soon; it really was a busy weekend, with lots of church duties in addition to the normal stuff. My own personal eta is 3 weeks, so 1 week before my due date. But I could definitely be wrong :) Could be 2 weeks late.

The kids went to my appointment with me yesterday, which was crazy long (monitoring, obstetrician, internist to do EKG etc before hospital admittance). They were really good, so we had dinner at KFC next door. They both got stuffed dogs as the toy from their kids meals. M said he would name his Max. V said she would name hers Max too. (See comment above.) So now we have Maximillian and Maxine. Haf haf.

Monday, October 13, 2008


M had his first little performance at school last week. They had their Harvest Assembly. The kids sang songs, talked about different foods, and collected food to give to the Salvation Army. M was one of only 2 kids in his class to have a speaking part, and he did a great job! I was really impressed with how well all the kids knew the words to the songs, too. M's been singing them at home all the time.

The weather's been nice in the afternoons, so we've been visiting a lot of parks lately. It's been very foggy in the morning, though. Nathan's flight this morning was delayed 2 1/2 hours because of it. He says, "no problem, I got a lot of work done."

V's having anxiety issues, I think. She freaks out whenever friends come over to the house. (Don't most kids freak out when you take them to new places?!?) And she's biting her nails, which could be for other reasons, but in combination with the freak outs, I wonder ... it's probably all due to the

New Baby, who is coming in roughly 6 weeks. I'm still feeling fine, but tired. And why do I never get the nesting instinct? It would come in handy right now. Instead I get the chocolate-eating bug. So sad.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Re: US economic bailouts

US government parenting policy: In the event of a tantrum, give in.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


The cold is upon us, so sad, so sad. I haven't actually turned on the heat in the house yet, but the day is coming very soon. Today we're just wearing sweaters and socks.

The news from school this week: M's a great reader! OK, we already knew that, but it's nice that he's appreciated. His class is, of course, quite diverse. There are some kids who only speak English at home, some who are bilingual English/something, some who speak other languages at home but attended English preschool, a few who are totally new to English. Anyway, it makes the kids like M look brilliant. His best buds so far: one is Polish/Japanese and one is Ukranian/Norwegian. As other international school parents have told us, we're one of the boring families -- everyone's from the same country? Snore.

We threw a big housewarming party this weekend. We were hoping to have it partially in the backyard, but it was too chilly. So we learned what the capacity of our living room is. I think this is by far the most people we've ever hosted for before and it went pretty well. Actually it went really well, except for my being stressed about it :) We had plenty of food and plates, etc. I learned that fruit with dip was way more popular than chocolate cake (I'm not sure this can be taken as a general rule, can it? Seems so counter-intuitive.) I was a little worried that the big kids would be bored with the lack of X Box or other exciting stuff, but they amused themselves in the garage with our moving boxes. Too much fun, apparently. The only real downer was V -- the girl's just having adjustment issues right now. When the first family arrived, she started pulling on my sweater and pretty much fussed until people started leaving. This is quite normal for some clingy children, much to their parents' dismay, but not normal for V. Alas. I really thought she'd be happy with the extra mommy time she's getting now, but she's more attached to M than I thought? She seems to need lots more attention than before school started.

Friday, September 5, 2008

US trip part 1

Here's Grammie and V blowing bubbles in the very green backyard. I'm not letting V see this picture, because we don't have any bubble solution in the house and that could cause major drama.
Uncle Z and M -- the light is not great, but I love it that they're standing in the same pose. Out of the shot, M is holding a guide to animal tracks. I think we found one somewhere that he could study. Of more lasting impression, Uncle Z found a tiny salamander. One of M's books from school this week was about an animal some kids found and they couldn't figure out what it was ... M guessed salamander at page one, and he was right.
Uncle Z skipping stones.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

kids making friends

I am just so amused by the whole school thing. I haven't fully experienced it before, since M was at a bilingual school last year -- many of the kids there spoke very limited English. At his new school, most speak quite well and lots are native speakers. (With varied accents, which is probably good for their brains somehow.) Anyway, this is my first time to hear all about how M makes friends or doesn't, as the case may be. He's already got a couple of boys that he talks about a lot -- they were previously good friends with each other, and M met them on the first day at the infamous Batman puzzle. Today they cemented their friendship by establishing that they all have "the racecar movie" at home (Disney's cars) and by sharing their snacks (is that allowed? I better find out.) M gave away his cheese, which was a huge sacrifice for Mr. I-don't-like-dairy, I'm sure. He's doing better on the lunch front in general, though. V has a best friend in M's class, too. One of the girls plays at the store or the sand table with V every morning, which is so cute. It all makes me feel so "Peanuts" this week. There's even a Lucy in his class with a brunette bob.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

First day of school

I know, I know. I haven't posted any pics from our US trip yet, but I will ... we've just been a little distracted. Here are a few snapshots from M's first day of school. I just want to point out that the crazy grin was definitely not prompted in any way, he was just so excited.

M is doing great. His classroom is full of great stuff -- a small shop area, a sand table, puzzles, a computer, etc. His teachers are lovely. We lucked out and got the head teacher of the lower school as M's teacher this year, and he's a guy, which kids love. He's Scottish and the kids get a kick out of the accent, too. M was sold when he played the guitar and sang for them on the first day. Seriously, I couldn't be any happier (which I should be, for the price we're paying). M's favorite things? I think he really loves his backpack, lunch kit, book bag, etc. He loves the dinosaur and batman puzzles in his class. And he wants us to get a bingo game at our house. I don't think they've even played bingo, but he saw it there and explained all about it to me. But true to Wicker form, M was at the reading station looking at books when I left him this morning and again when I picked him up.

We have had a little drama -- M's totally happy when I pick him up each day, but sometimes he really lets me have it after we get out of the classroom. (This is directly related to the food issues, discussed below.) His concerns on the first day were so cute -- he kept saying, "Oh, and I forgot to play with X. And I forgot to do X." Over and over. I think he was so focused on the first day of school that he kinda missed the fact that he'll be going every day for the rest of his life. Today he was slightly stressed that he didn't get the same homework as most of the other kids -- they got a sheet with three letters sounds to practice. M and the other kids who read get to take home a different book every day to read with the parents. Anytime I tried to explain, he kept insisting that he likes letters and books, so he should get both. I think he's got it now. If not, I get to explain to his teacher that he wants more homework.

Food: Apparently talking and playing are more important than eating for M. Yes, the child who would only nurse as an infant when he was absolutely starving has better things to do than eat. Anyway, the best days at pick up time are the ones when he's actually eaten lunch and snacks. I'm hoping it will get better as he gets into the routine ... I'm sending him with lunches from home, so I can't blame the weird hot lunch food, and it means I can see exactly what he's eaten, which is nice. The kids eat snacks and lunch outside, more or less at the same time they're having recess, so it doesn't exactly encourage heavy eating. I love it that they're outside so much, despite the eating issues. I'm sure this will all change when the weather turns nasty.

And the last issue? V, of course. She's doing great with M's absence, but she wishes she could go to school too. She's particularly attached to the sand table and the shop area of M's classroom. M doesn't care if I even walk him to his classroom, but V wants to hang out there forever. She's not the only younger sibling screaming as she exits the building.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

we're back

Just wanted to blog quickly -- the move is done, we've gone to Pennsylvania and back and we're all still alive. Moving day went remarkably smoothly; the kids were great then and also on our trip to and from the US. Yes, we're jetlagged now, but it's getting better. We love our new house, especially the balconies and backyard. And we had a great visit with Grammie, Grandpa Bond and Uncle Zach. Pictures soon.

Friday, August 1, 2008

we are packing, daily packing

I haven't been blogging much lately -- we've been busy! Movers come on Monday, and I'm so busy packing up. A gal from the branch stayed with us for the last couple of days while she waited to get into her new apartment, and she's been fantastic with the kids. Some other friends will come help out in the morning, so I'm feeling very grateful. We've had a couple of amusing moments with the packing -- I was making dinner last night when I realized I'd accidentally packed all the pots. Luckily the skillets weren't packed yet, and work OK as substitutes.

V is so funny lately. I asked her the other day if she was comfy and she said, "No, I'm not comfy. I'm not a couch." She's also picked up M's habit of insisting on being referred to as whatever character he's playing at the moment. Tonight I called her "beautiful girl" while I was changing her diaper. She said, "You have to call me V Tyrannosaurus Rex." Riiiight. Forgot that was her new name. A few minutes previously, M had taken V into another room (he was playing Daddy T Rex, by the way) and patiently taught her how to find and eat her own food. Yes, that means he was teaching her how to kill other dinosaurs, and he was so proud of her for learning how to kill her own meat. Wow.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

baby names

M has been telling me that we need a name for the new baby, but Nathan and I haven't picked one yet. So I asked M what names he could think of. "Butch is the only name I can think of," he says. "But that's a pet name, not a baby name." Thank goodness he isn't set on it. We're required to pick a boy and a girl name before we have the baby here, so I guess we could always put it on the form for a boy's name. Yeah, so you have to pick the name first and then have the baby -- you can change it later, but doesn't it seem funny that you have to pick it before you see the baby? Maybe he doesn't look like a John! But, realistically, most people decide on a name before the baby comes anyway.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Veletrusy palace

We visited Veletrusy palace on Saturday. It looks quite lovely from a distance, and up close too. This view hides all the scaffolding on the other side. Most people come for the grounds, rather than the palace -- it's an English-style park, with walking/biking paths everywhere. The palace is on the river, so we crossed at least one stream and had to drag V away. She loves rocks in general and especially loves to throw them in water. Once we pulled her away from the bridge, she kept filling her hands up with more rocks until she could hardly walk due to the concentration required to keep hold on all the rocks. Good entertainment value. I remember M being fascinated with throwing rocks in the water, too, maybe all kids are at this age.

The hippo pictures are from here in Prague -- from a playground in Letna park. Letna is on the opposite side of the river from us. This part of the park is very close to the metronome, yes, a huge metronome on a hill facing the river. The metronome replaced a monstrously expensive monument to Stalin that the Czechs pulled down after the fall of communism.

The green pics are back at the Veletrusy palace. Check the crown in V's hair, made out of grass. M got a kick out of picking grass to help me make it, but soon lost interest and went back to playing ball and hitting anything and everything with a very long stick. I love the picture in the stroller. She's smiling in later pics, but the expression is priceless here.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Nathan had picked up some regular legos (we had duplos before) the last time he was in the US to save for M. We got them out last week in an effort to keep M busy and, of course, they're a big hit. The picture shows a roller that he made from instructions -- he only asked for help a couple of times! Legos have got to be one of the greatest toys of all time. Someday we'll have to visit Legoland -- it's not close enough for us to visit it in one day, but we could do it over a long weekend, I think. V loves the small legos too, but mostly loves to take them apart. We're teaching her to take them apart and PUT THEM AWAY in the lego bin. Did you know that the different sizes of lego blocks really fit together? They're called legos, duplos and quatros, and it's true! They really work together. Try it out sometime. We also discovered some cool stuff on You can use their software to make your own building instructions (and, naturally, buy all the blocks to make your creation!) and you can download instructions that other users have made.
M's newest trick is counting backwards. During breakfast he counted back from 20 and it was great to see him really think about what he was doing. V is a munchkin as usual. She loves to count and can consistently count to 12. Her favorite conversation starter: "Do you know what happened?" Waits for encouraging comment. "Woody got an owie on his right arm." If I've heard it once, I've surely heard it 100 times. It refers to the plot of Toy Story 2. Her other very consistent habit? At the beginning of our family night every week, we sing a song. While the rest of us are picking a song, V jumps into the middle of the room and sings a Little Einsteins song to a Dvorak theme. Literally every week. M complains, but Mommy and Daddy think it's funny.

Monday, June 23, 2008

American consulate

We took a trip to the American embassy today to get a new passport for M. We have to renew our visas/residency permits shortly and his passport will expire before the new visas will. Anyway, I was amused today because every time we go, we see the same characters, although not the same people. Here's what we see: someone replacing a stolen passport (apparently they replace about 600 American passports a year in Prague -- all tourists beware), someone getting documents for a new baby, someone getting documents for a foreign spouse (or fiancee), someone getting a passport renewal. And we saw all of them today! Funniest thing about the embassy? My kids go crazy over the drinking fountain. While it's probably not the only one in the city, it's the only one I've seen.

Monday, June 16, 2008

new house!

We spent the weekend house hunting and already found a new home to rent! (It helps that there just aren't a ton of choices :) We had to find a new place because M's new school is not accessible for us right now, only because of traffic, not distance. I went out there this morning to drop off some papers and I got there in 12 minutes, but it took 43 minutes to get back to our current house. Ugh. The new place is in Dejvice, exactly the neighborhood we wanted, on the other side of the river from here. It's a quiet, established neighborhood and close to everything. Our kids are excited because it has a yard! We found this place pretty much as soon as it came on the market, so the prior tenants are still there and the painters are coming next week. They were planning to repaint everything the same beige color, but now I get to pick the colors. Great fun, but I'm never quite sure how things will turn out. The house is a little bland, so color will definitely help, but only if I choose well. And I get to discuss everything with the Czech painter guys, which should be entertaining. I'll post pictures once we get a chance to take some without furniture -- I'm sure the current tenants don't want pictures of all their stuff online.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Think pink

Think pink, purple, yellow or green but not blue -- it's a girl! We're expecting a baby girl on her Grammie's birthday, November 25th. V is almost a groundhog girl, M is almost a New Year's boy and this one might be a sometimes Thanksgiving girl.

V's joke -- at dinner a couple of weeks ago, V kept asking for more.
v: "I want more please!"
M: "You want some more? Okay."
V: "No. I want more please!" (She's grinning now.)
M: "You want more?"
V: "No. I want little mole!" (Little Mole, the Czech cartoon character) Endless giggling from everyone, especially V.

Puns from the toddler! Even funnier because in V lingo, "Mole" and "more" sound exactly the same. It's now a family joke, because of course she repeats it often. Nothing like positive reinforcement. Or bribery -- I just read an article about a guy whose kids eat anything. He says it's just because they live in China, but he did use money to get them to try really weird stuff sometimes. $1 if you eat the scorpion. I'm not sure if that's bribery or a dare and I'm not sure I could eat a scorpion. They're down there with cockroaches in my book. Crawfish, on the other hand ... I'm ready Terry Pratchett's Witches Abroad right now and there's a lot of cajun stuff going on. Gumbo, jambalaya, Mardi Gras, sassafras.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Buzz Lightyear

M saw my Disneyland post and was sad that I didn't include a picture of Buzz, so here you go. The Buzz costume was pretty amazing and for the parade, we also saw some green army men who looked fantastic.
M on the plane, in disguise.

Every picture that I got of them on the teacups shows a lot of grins. Nathan's teacup spins faster than anyone else's and apparently the little ones like it too. It was fun to see lots of the same rides we went on the last time I was at a Disney park, Disneyworld more than 20 years ago. I remember more than I thought.

We survived Disneyland

Here are some folks in front of V's favorite ride, the Orbitron. You can control the altitude of your rocket and M preferred bouncing up and down. V just liked going fast and high.

The castle at Disneyland Paris is supposed to be Sleeping Beauty's castle. There are 15s everywhere because this year is the 15th anniversary of the park.
Goofy at our hotel (we stayed at Davy Crockett's Ranch, which is actually hundreds of trailers in a forest. It feels a lot like a state park :) It worked out great for us because we had more than one room and got to hear birds singing every morning. Staying in an official Disney hotel means you get 2 extra hours at the park in the morning, which was fantastic. We started off almost every morning by riding the Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast 2 or 3 times. It's really a great ride -- you get to shoot your own laser guns at targets and the ride keeps score for you. A huge success with our two Toy Story fans and also video game enthusiasts everywhere. The kids also loved the Peter Pan ride, the Mad Hatter's Tea Cups (they rode this often, but only with Daddy. Mommy does not do the tea cups.), and lots of others. The Winnie the Pooh show was a big hit as well. All in all, it was really great. It took V half a day to figure out that we really had to get off the rides at the end. The only downside was the miserable food. Can't they figure it out in Paris, of all places?!?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Disneyland Paris

Hey, I'll be out of touch for a few days. We're going to Disneyland! (Paris, that is) Hope to have lots of great pictures next week.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

zealous commentors

I was looking at articles about the 5-year-old kid who was voted out of his class recently (which has opened a lot of debate about mainstreaming, autism, etc.) and saw, among the normal posts with the occasional misspelled word, someone used the word "zealotous". No joke. And then I searched for the word "zealotous" on the web and found many hits! Grammatical and spelling errors I totally understand, happens to all of us. But zealotous is on a different, much funnier level. Should we also say sinnerous instead of sinful or saintous instead of saintly? Or maybe we could make bigotous a word, since bigot doesn't seem to have an associated adjective...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

the school is ...

riverside! It's not 100 percent yet -- we haven't payed any money, among other things, but it looks like that's the one M's going to in the fall if all works out. It's a private Christian school, but with a secular curriculum if that makes sense -- the teachers are Christian and they teach a religious class once or twice a week, but the rest is British curriculum. I really like it because they believe in differentiation, ie they sub-divide classes by ability for most assignments. So kids can work at their own level, hooray. And the curriculum's advanced and the teachers are very nice, etc. M will start in Year 1, which is like American kindergarten. Yes, it's a year ahead, and yes, we've had to jump through hoops to manage it, but it looks like it's going to work out. M visited their reception class yesterday (4-5 year olds) to see how he would fit in with that group and the teachers were amazed. OK, they didn't say AMAZED, but I know that's what they meant. Even I was amazed, because I wasn't sure how he'd do with just one morning at a new school, but he was totally comfortable and fit in beautifully. If it doesn't work out for some reason, we'll probably go for the Montessori school. I love it too, but it's not in as convenient a part of town for us (like, not convenient at all). Anyway, I'm very excited because I think it'll be great for our little boy, and hopefully great contacts for me as well.

primary activity

Here are some pics from our activity at church on Saturday -- it was all about missionary work, so the kids made piggy banks to save money in, they ran a relay race getting dressed in missionary-type clothes, they made wrapping paper for small gifts for the missionaries serving in Prague right now, and they heard all about the missions of some members of our branch. Lunch was American and Chilean food -- the adults that talked about their missions served in the US and Chile. Everything went great, even V was happy. Normally she wouldn't go with me, but Nathan was out of town. She did some of the activities and spent a lot of time drawing on the board. I was particularly surprised that the lunch went well -- it's always hard to guess what kinds of foreign food kids will eat. We had empanadas and baked potatoes. They loved them both. The oranges were not as popular :(

Monday, May 26, 2008

reality tv

So, I am confessing a soft spot for reality TV talent shows -- I follow them on beloved youtube, and sometimes it can be lots of fun, since I can just watch the good stuff that way. (But American Idol this year was not fun. Lame season.) So some are really boring, but sometimes you get to see Paul Potts. I'm posting today because So You Think You Can Dance just started a new season, and this is a really great show! Why is it great? Because unlike some other shows (read American Idol), I get the feeling that they really look for the best talent they can get. And for whatever reason, they get really, really good talent on the show. AND I love that they take the broadcasting time to show great dancers who won't make it onto the live shows, not as an emotional manipulation of the audience, but because they want to give them exposure. Last season one of the judges offered a kid a movie part during his audition. Negatives? The dance world is a small one and it gets a little tiring seeing the same people from year to year, or siblings, or people from the same dance school, etc. If you want to see something amazing from the first episode this year, look up Robert Muraine on youtube.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

M correction

I almost forgot about this story, but now I'm sharing it with you. When we visited the zoo in Vienna, I bought a small stuffed animal/beanie thing for each kid. M was immediately very attached to his and named it Max the Alligator. (He joins M's toy family which consists of Doc the Shark, Baby Nemo -- who happens to be a small white-ish teddy bear not in any way fishlike, and Buzz Lightyear.) Later in the day, Nathan asked M to remind him what the alligator's name was.

N: What's his name again? Max the friendly, happy alligator?
M: It's Max the A-LI-GA-TOR.

We couldn't stop laughing. M seriously separated each syllable so that slooow Daddy could understand. Too funny.

This week I'm frantically visiting schools for M to attend in the fall or next year -- I just decided that maybe his current school won't be the best option next year. So far, I've got one good option, a montessori school. I've read about Montessori programs quite a bit and it amazingly works just as advertised (at least in this school I visited). The kids really work quietly at their tasks, by themselves or in small groups, they seem totally happy and calm. And they focus on having all kinds of adult things made to their size, so the classrooms are very cute. The toddler room had scrubbies for cleaning just the right size for a 2-year-old. V was with me, which was a bit crazy. She loved that they even had kid-sized guitars for music time. "They're just my size!" More school visits to come in the next few days.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

V plays I Spy

V's newest trick is playing I Spy. We've played pretty often before, and she always just picked a color, actually one particular color ("I spy something pink.") and then the first thing that we could find that's pink, she'd agree that yes, that was right. But last week she finally figured out the game, both the guessing part and the I Spy part. We've had a lot of fun with it. It works great unless we take too long guessing, at which point she tells us the right answer. As if it's a great accomplishment that she knows the right answer. (Me: Is it the bowl? V: No. I know, I know, it's the shirt!) After a very long game a couple of days ago, I said, "I spy with my little eye something beautiful!" V's response was immediate. "Is it me?" Such a well-trained little girl. :)

Plans for this week: visiting lots of potential schools for M. Here's hoping we can find the perfect place.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Grandma's trip pics

All of these pictures are from a weekend trip we made to Vienna while Grandma was here. The first few are from a very large park area in Moravia, on the border with Austria. We stopped there on our way to Vienna. It is truly a huge area, with lots of follies and palaces and such. Apparently best visited on bicycle -- we only saw a small part of it. But we played in the grass, smelled the lilacs and had a picnic.

I hope you can see the motion here -- he was going pretty fast. This lovely playground was a block from the apartment we stayed at in Vienna. It featured a real tractor, a zip line, climbing rocks, a very tall slide and the occasional random person sleeping on a bench. It was just great and the gorgeous weather we had made it seem even better.
We visited the Vienna children's museum while Grandma went to the art museum -- the kid museum had different themed sections with timed entries. We went to the Ocean and the kids had a great time -- basically they got to explore this great kid-sized ship. V loved the fish. She could feed them to anemones (manned by other people), put them on fishing lines, reel them in, or send them down a fishy slide. M loved this pulley arrangement; Daddy put on the load for him and M got to raise and lower it and pivot it around.