Friday, March 28, 2008

Favorite Hymns

I've just been having some music fun with the kids -- first, we practiced allegro and adagio and crescendo and diminuendo (learned from Disney's Little Einsteins) and then the kids danced around while I played some ragtime. I'm thinking about holding the allegro/adagio and crescendo/diminuendo in reserve for the next time I do primary music time -- our last music leader used animal signs (turtle/rabbit and lion/mouse) to play games with tempo and volume, and it would be fun to expand the game by teaching them the musical terms. I confess to using diminuendo around the house quite regulary, because M's standard speaking voice is SO loud. Wow.

Speaking of music, I also spent time today copying an arrangement of Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing for our choir to sing. It's one of the best hymns ever! And three of the lines have the same melody and it's still great. Another lovely one? We performed All Creatures of Our God and King last week as part of our Easter program -- we had nice arrangments for almost everything else we sang, but we did just the standard hymn version for this one and it's so powerful, all on its own. Nice stuff. (Yay for Vaugh-Williams) Any other all-time favorite hymns? Tell me in your comments. Here are some more of mine:

Know This, That Every Soul Is Free
Lord, We Come Before Thee Now
Be Still, My Soul
Our Savior's Love

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Sunday

Here's V's Easter dress -- she's combing the door for some reason. In other pictures, she was combing the floor. Our house is well-groomed now.

M has several ties to choose from now, but what he really wants is a "missionary suit".
We had friends over and V helped me make potato salad. This is just the beginning of a very big mess.
I'm not sure how much you can tell, but it's not raining in this picture. That's right! Snow on Easter. That's our car, by the way. Easily distinguishable from all the other blue passats by the crumbs in the back seat. The choir sang beautifully yesterday -- couldn't have been better.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Vesele Velikonoce!

Happy Easter! The Easter Bunny brought baskets today and we got to hunt for eggs with some friends. M of course got the most eggs, being the oldest kid. V got the least because she found the candy inside them. Local tradition is that the boys hit the girls with switches until they give them eggs. This happens on the day after Easter -- we might do some modified version at our house :) The kids love their switches, though. Tomorrow is our big choir performance in sacrament meeting. Hope it turns out OK.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


We have a camera in the house again! In the Buzz Lightyear pic, everyone's favorite action figure is shooting his laser (probably at his sister). The book pics are of "The Incredible Book-Eating Boy" by Oliver Jeffers. It is lovely in every way -- aimed at a preschool audience, the text is short and the plot is simple. The illustrations are amazing, especially for book-lovers -- they are collages of lots of book stuff. We even found a bit of Czech text on one page. AND there's a bite out of the back of the book. M thinks that part is absolutely magic. He tried eating a bit of paper today. His report? "My teeth aren't strong enough to eat paper." N: "I used to eat paper when I was a kid.... I liked brown paper the best." The book-eating boy gets very smart and helps with his dad's crossword, suggesting the word "monumental". Now 2-year-old V says "monumental" all the time, just for kicks.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Buzz Lightyear made it home safely

"Dancey, dancey, dance! Dancey, dancey, dance!" V repeated this A LOT while spinning in circles with her fairy wings and skirt. I was slightly worried that she would throw up all over her princess skirt, but her stomach is strong.

The Buzz toy is a huge hit (are we surprised?) -- "Can Buzz Lightyear be my teddy while I take a nap?" Sure, if you really want to hug a 12" hard plastic thing that makes noise. By the way, I did not teach M to call his stuffed animals "teddy". I think that one must have come from school.

The morning that Nathan came home, M woke up at 6:30 because he was so excited. I think it must have been because of the toys, since Daddy coming home from a trip is not exactly a novel experience. All the bags made it. N says he pulled a fast one on the flight attendant when he was checking in his bags -- he had carefully arranged them to be exactly at the weight limit. One bag was 5 pounds over weight. "Oh, that's just my coat." Pulled out the coat (with books and much other stuff in the various pockets!), weight was fine. "Hey, you wouldn't mind if I just put my coat back in, would you?" Flight attendant said OK and Nathan didn't have to carry his heavy-laden coat on board. Hehe.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Cookie, cookie, cookie starts with C

We made chocolate chip cookies yesterday, which was a little bit of a pain, because my brown sugar was ancient and you can only get it at specialty stores here, so we had to make it work. (The best way to fix rock hard brown sugar is by letting it soak up some water overnight. Since we were in a hurry, we ended up with soupy brown sugar.) Anyway, it worked out and we were eating some leftover cookies tonight. The house is actually clean, so I only gave V a small piece of cookie so she wouldn't spread it all over. I told her to eat that and then I would give her more. Of course, the next time I saw her, she had a whole cookie in her hand.

Can I just say that for us the old birth order characteristics are totally true, at least to the extent that our firstborn M really does follow rules. Of course, not all the time, but he does respect them. V totally does not care. Mommy says no? So what. V does whatever she wants. "I'm a free spirit, Mom! I can't be bothered to keep some arbitrary rule. I just want to experience life, to really live. PS I wuv you." Today I was kissed by an empty milk bottle, a plastic orange shovel and a sea witch. "Now the bottle is so happy!" says V.

N will be back soon and I couldn't stop laughing when M was talking to him on the phone tonight. He opened the conversation like this: "Hi, Daddy! Where's my Buzz Lightyear costume and my Buzz Lightyear toy? Is it still in the closet in your hotel or is it in your suitcase?" Every conversation this week has started in a very similar fashion. Every one. Heaven help us if Daddy's bag is lost. "Buzz Lightyear, this is Star Command. We have a problem."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Nathan was partially homeschooled (and some extended family members currently homeschool), so I've been chatting up homeschooled friends and homeschooling parents over the years, wondering if that's something I'll ever want or be able to do. One of my biggest concerns is that it would become a burden. But I have to say that lately we've been working hard on M's reading skills, and the time I spend is so rewarding, for me as well as for him. So it relieves a lot of my concerns. Of course, other concerns are still there -- mainly about how to divide time between multiple kids (N says get a nanny), but at least that one big worry has somewhat been laid to rest. So for right now, we'll keep sending M part-time to his Czech/English preschool and do additional schoolwork at home. There's a private school here that I really need to visit, because they do a homeschool support program in elementary school; your kid goes to school on TTh for certain subjects and then you homeschool the other subjects on MWF. Pretty slick.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

potty party

I bought a potty training potty for V a week ago (she had been asking to use the toilet, so I figured it was time) and she's used it a couple of times since. I'm not sure that I'm really prepared for potty training again, but she's ready, so here we go. Yay. This is when I'm thankful we don't have any carpet.

She's running a little late, according to Czech schedules -- I've known more than one mother here who potty trained her kid well before she weaned him/her. (Of course, due not only to early potty training, but also to prolonged breastfeeding.) Early potty training causes some unusual social habits. Children urinate in the open all the time, often held uncomfortably over grates on the sidewalk or street. (I have to say that this is actually liberating when your kid is still learning -- saves the scramble for the public restroom. Although we usually use a tree, not a grate.) Of course, adult men are also sometimes spotted urinating in the odd corner. There are a couple of spots at the National Theater that reek something awful, but that is neither here nor there. The other thing is the "nocnik", the kid potty. They are ubiquitous. Our church building has one or two. Czech families often have lots of them, all over the place. Baby dolls have their own small potties, available at every toy store. Many families have a kid potty in every room, which makes a lot of sense when the kid is very small and can't give you much warning. On the other hand, it's also a little gross. Especially in the dining room. I would add an appropriate potty joke here, but I can't think of one right now except for this family inside joke: "Can you teapot in the bathroom?"
The pictures are from August of last year. (I think we'll have a working camera again next week.) I thought V with M's underwear on her head was appropriate. And they've been on the balcony a lot lately, so there she is hiding between the two doors.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

4-year-old logic

M, after giving me a time out for breaking the rule about sword fighting: OK, you can get up now. The rule is fixed. When someone gets a time out, it fixes the rule that was broken.

V, who has indeed gotten cranky as her cold continues: No! I don't wike it! I don't wike anysing! I don't wike anysing!

We've seriously heard that several times over the last couple of days, mostly about food. Poor thing, she gets hungry, but nothing really sounds good to her. I would worry about her losing weight, except that she's got *ahem* some to spare.

(I measured and weighed them today.
V: 14 kg/31 lbs, 36.5 in/93 cm;
M: 17 kg/38 lbs, 43.5 in/110.5 cm
Although much of the difference in weight to height ratio can be chalked up to the difference in age, V is definitely heftier than M was at this age.)

Other news -- the weather's weird! Yesterday it was freezing and we had alternating moments with snow and sunshine, the sun melting away the snow, and sometimes both together. I've seen weather like that in Texas, but never here. Weather patterns move slowly here, usually. N arrived in Dallas on Monday to 4 inches of snow, or something ridiculous like that. It has since been 60 degrees and they expect snow again soon. Craziness.

Our old nanny is back in town for a visit and I was pleased to see that V remembers her well and M can still talk to her. I was afraid that he wasn't getting any Czech at his school, despite the bilingual education, but it looks like he's keeping up pretty well. I think he's like a 2-year-old in Czech. I love it when he comes home from school or primary with some Czech song. Totally garbled. My favorite? "Je velky nas Buh" (Our God, he is great). It has motions, which are hilarious when M does them. V like to sing "kolo, kolo" from nursery. It's kinda like ring around the rosie.

Monday, March 3, 2008

peanut butter and karo syrup

A few days ago, I wanted something sweet and the house was almost bare. So I made myself some peanut butter and karo syrup sticky mess. I don't know why I thought of it -- it's probably been 10 years since I last ate it, but it's a very familiar food because my dad loves it. He used to stand in the kitchen, plate and spoon in hand, and carefully tilt the plate this way and that, swirling the mess until it was just right. As with so many delicate operations, he stuck his tongue out of the corner of his mouth while he concentrated. I love my daddy! And the karo syrup-peanut butter was pretty good the other day, but I couldn't stop thinking about how many calories are in it. Eeek!

V is a little sick, which just reminds me how endearing a sick kid can be. She's her happy self, but she has almost lost her voice. 2-year-old hoarse voice is pretty pitiful. But it's all good because she's not super-crank. On other V fronts, I'm trying to reduce the whiny voice usage in our house. V has all but perfected it and it drives me crazy. We're working on it.