Thursday, January 29, 2009

the most

Hi, Readers! Today I have a few questions for you. You can respond as a comment, on your own blog, just think about your responses, or talk about them to a friend ... whatever. Here are the things to think about:

1. What book have you read the most times in your life? Excluding books of scripture and picture books. (I've read Peek-a-Who? So many times!)

2. What movie/tv episode/whatever as long as it's a video of some sort have you seen the most times? Scooby Doo doesn't count, you only think you've seen the same episode many times.

3. What person do you talk to the most? We'll focus on people who actually talk back, so yelling at the tv doesn't count.

Here are my answers:

1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I suspect this is an answer that many others will have also. It's pretty much the perfect book. I have large passages memorized. When I was a kid, I read The Secret Garden over and over. This happened for 2 reasons -- I liked it, and I owned it. We didn't own that many kid books. We didn't have to, because of the public library! So when I ran out of reading material, there were only a few choices and The Secret Garden was usually mine.

2. OK, so I don't own a tv and haven't ever in my adult life. So this one's a little hard. We have a DVD player now, but I don't watch that much ... so the answer ends up being stuff I saw as a kid. Maybe The Philadephia Story? It's a good one and was my big sister's favorite. Again, I have large pieces memorized. Or a Christmas favorite like Holiday Inn.

3. The person I talk to the most has to be ... my 3-year-old V! She's the one at home with me the most, except for E, who is difficult to converse with. We coo a lot to each other, but that's about it. But I seriously think I talk to my kids more than my husband, just because I see them for more hours. Nathan definitely wins if we're talking about adults.

Monday, January 26, 2009

brave combo

My kids' 2 favorite CDs are both by Brave Combo (my dad terms them a nuclear polka band). I'm reminded on this youtube clip that they're 2-time Grammy winners. Behold, the rock version of the Hokey Pokey:

The animation is just a little weird in my opinion, but the song is a favorite here. Best part? "Put your tongue in, your tongue out, your tongue in and blblblblbl". This is from the Group Dance Epidemic CD. The kids also love their version of the Chicken Dance. Random facts: A friend tells me the Chicken Dance was originally recorded in Dutch. I checked up on it, it is true, and you can learn more than you ever needed to know via a simple internet search. For better or worse, so much trivia is available at our fingertips these days. I had cause to reflect about changes in technology when my son asked me if TV was only in black and white when I was a kid. I denied it right away, but then had to think about when our family actually acquired a color TV ... we definitely had the black and white one for a long time. I can remember it in the house we moved into when I was 8. We had a color one too, but the black and white was in the other room ... its case was "harvest gold".

Back to Brave Combo -- they're a Denton, Texas, band and also claimed by the Univ. of North Texas (in Denton). So they're kind of a big deal in my home town. It's a funny thing, the whole "prominent citizens" or "important people who came from here". The nice thing about Brave Combo is that they're still based in Denton, unlike most famous people who come from someplace, but quickly depart for bigger opportunities. Here in Prague we celebrate Franz Kafka, Alfons Mucha and Mozart (half of Europe stakes some claim to Mozart, it seems like). Prominent Czechs living today include Vaclav Havel, Madeline Albright and Paulina Porizkova.

These famous people lists of course only exist for small places. I can't imagine a list of famous Americans or Parisians. But famous Belgians are one of those trivia things mentioned above. And then there are the places that are small enough and birthed a person famous enough that the famous person pretty much takes over the whole town. Stratford-upon-Avon, I'm talking about you. Also Hannibal, Missouri ... can't think of any others right now. Someday I might get remembered as the most famous person to have owned my toaster. Hehe.

Friday, January 23, 2009

random stuff

V's going to be a great writer! Last night M wanted 2 blankets for bedtime. V said, "I want 2 too ..." and then corrected herself, "I want 2 also!"

Airplane ticket stubs make great bookmarks. Half the books in our house have them.

I was totally wrong about Hillary not being SofS, but I still think it's a bad idea inviting Bill the embarrassing relative to move in.

After 4 years, I still don't care about Czech politics.

I love the breastfeeding diet. Maybe someone could synthesize it. Men could get the breastfeeding diet, too. Usually they only get the pregnancy weight gain.

Potty training is not my favorite activity. But neither is changing diapers. *sigh*

Legos are the greatest toy ever. Although crayons need a shout out too. And Crayola is still the best!

The Baby Bjorn is the great baby invention ever, at least for me it is :) Beats the wipe-warmer hands down. And we have a cool Baby Bjorn cover now, it's like a little coat for E. Keeps me warm, too.
The sky is blue. Long may it last.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

viral video

On very slow news days, Yahoo occasionally features a viral video on its main page. So today I'll give you one of my favorite viral videos. The girl in the toy machine still cracks me up:

Almost everything about this security film makes me laugh. The fact that the other kid realizes what's going on and the mom doesn't believe him, the employee who cleans the windows instead of helping, the kid's total enjoyment of the whole thing. Good stuff. Wish I had a shop video from the Georgia-manikin fiasco.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Bouncy seat

E is a lovely, happy baby, but she doesn't love to be put down. She's OK lying down in the crib or hanging out in the car seat, but only if she's asleep. She hates the swing, howls in the stroller, and fusses after just a few minutes with the crib mobile. So I figured she was just a baby who liked to be held, until I tried the BOUNCER! Yay! She loves it, and I'm so happy to have a place to put her down on occasion. I'm sure she'll still spend most of her waking moments in someone's arms, but it's so nice to have one option she likes. And yes, that's her double chin you see in the picture. She's grown a bit, so she's not quite as porky as she was, but still chubby. In other baby news, I was just noticing today how much the kids copy the way I talk to the baby. M uses the same tone of voice as me and says inane things like, "Who's the prettiest baby? Yeah, who's the prettiest baby?" Which is so taken straight out of my mouth. But I'm OK with it. It's better than when they boss each other around, sounding just like mommy.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

E pictures

I like to see babies all bundled in the winter -- it exaggerates their proportions somehow. E likes to be outside in the cold, especially if she's in the Baby Bjorn.
Here she is in the infamous blessing dress that my grandmother made for my big sister's baby blessing some hmdrmnim years ago. By my count, this is baby #11 to wear it. Nathan blessed her last Sunday. It was very sweet, and she looked lovely.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Charmed, I'm sure

V can be very annoying sometimes, like when she begs to do something and then whines while you do it. Or when she pokes, bites or generally messes with her big brother because he's ignoring her ...

BUT the point of this post is that no matter what annoying things she might occasionally do, charm makes up for it. Seriously -- just like a really beautiful child can get away with more, so can a very charming child. You gotta love a kid who tells you her super power is being able to get her thumbs into her mittens properly. Oh, and being able to get her feet into her snow boots, too.

We need those skills now, because it's cold!! -10 C today and expected to be -20 tomorrow. It does not get this cold here very often, thank goodness. I'm a little bummed about it -- it's so cold that the kids can't really enjoy the snow on the ground.

Monday, January 5, 2009

M's 5!!

This picture doesn't have anything to do with M's birthday, but isn't that the chubbiest smile? Good job, E.

M's blowing out candles. I got the hat at a local cheap stuff store. I saw someone with the same hat at Disneyland Paris last year and looked for it everywhere, but they didn't sell them (only birthday hats with Mickey on them, of course). Imagine my surprise when I saw it the next week, for 1/4 the price! Now it's our newest tradition.

My masterpiece. M was very happy with it and V had fun helping. I don't think I've eaten a cake with traditional decorator's icing since I was a kid -- my mom's arthritis eventually made it too hard for her to decorate them anymore. But before that, we had beautiful cakes each year, and the taste really sent me back. I almost felt 8 years old again. M also got presents, of course. The pirate treasure chest and a pirate telescope were from us. M was very interested in where I got them. I think he wanted to visit the pirate store.

Superdad took M to the mountains on his birthday so that they could go sledding. They had such a great time, they went again the next day and took V with them. Unfortunately, V cranked and didn't enjoy it so much. But she did get to sled here in Prague a couple of days ago and she loved it. Snow is falling as I write, so we're hoping to get more use out of the sled this afternoon.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Best Toys

We found some cool toys this year, so I figured I'd blog about them. All three that I'm commenting on are inexpensive and fun and appropriate for a wide age range. First up, the treasure chest. This is made by Wild Planet. There are two parts of the treasure chest -- one is the treasure and one is the map. One person hides the treasure, making sure to turn it on. Then the second player turns on the map and carries it around. The X on the map flashes different colors as you get closer to the treasure. It also beeps more frequently and at a higher pitch as you get closer, a la parking radar. What we like: it's a two-kid toy and promotes taking turns. The kids love it. What we don't like: it requires 6 AAA batteries and the noise gets annoying.

This toy is called Hyper Dash, also by Wild Planet. It's an electronic game -- the player holds the controller and uses it to strike whatever target it calls out. It calls out either numbers or colors and on higher levels has commands like Double Strike and Reverse. It uses RFID, so the targets can be as far apart as you want. It has multiple settings for playing with different numbers of people, etc. What we like: it makes the kids run around, it's fun even for adults. What we don't like: our older kid almost always wins. Luckily V doesn't care.

And last, MY winner for coolest toy this year (the kids would probably choose one of the others) ... the AquaDoodle! Just put water in the special pens and write on the mat. The pictures fade quickly and then you draw again. What we love: writing with water! Doesn't ruin anything. It's perfect for our 2-year-old who can't stay clean using markers. M even likes the suggestions for how to draw things. What we don't like: the mat only comes with one pen, so you have to buy extras.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Auntie's Visit

I just wanted to post a couple of pics we got of Naomi and the kids while she was here. I've never had the opportunity of having a family member (other than Nathan, of course!) help out with a new baby. So I never really got the whole "I need my mom to come over" mentality. But, now that I had Naomi visit, I have to say it's really great!! No wonder so many expats are stressed about being away from the fam when a new baby comes. I still don't think it's worth it going back to the states to have the baby, though. Too much time away from Nathan. And too many horror stories about the baby coming before dad gets there (not apocryphal stories). Anyway, enjoy the pictures. Can you see any family resemblance? I think I can see something, at least with M and Aunt Naomi. Hard to say ...