Sunday, August 30, 2009

Kid quotes

M, talking with his tongue hanging out of his mouth: Everything I say is funny!

V, the definitely 3-year-old: I don't understand the word "no". I only understand "yes".

E wishes she could talk. Baby signs coming soon. What will her favorite baby signs be? Food-related, I'm sure. She's actually not quite as food-oriented right now, because she's very interested in pulling up to standing and doing all kinds of perilous things. She always looks surprised when she falls down.

One more week until school! Our school keeps class groups together from year to year, so M is really looking forward to being back with his buddies all day. Just hope his best buds stay in Prague for a while. You never know with expat kids.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Legoland and why lego doesn't like girls

One last hurrah for the summer, a trip to Legoland! We had a great time and the car trip (4 hours each way) went very smoothly. Maybe our children are finally getting used to car travel ... The tuba was one of my favorite lego items on display. The musical instruments played if you stepped on the controls. Other favorites included gargoyles and crocodiles. We somehow ended up at the park on one of the hottest days of the year, so the water rides were great. The pirate boat, complete with water cannons both on the boat and the shore, was lovely. Infrared dryers available for a fee. Another cool thing was the bionicle ride. I actually hate bionicles, they're very nasty looking fighting things made by lego. Apparently they're supposed to be robots, because their ride was totally robotic. Nathan rode and we watched on the spectators platform. First, you get to plan your robot's routine from a set of moves. Then, you get to be thrown around by a big robotic arm.
OK, this is actually a picture from the park next to our hotel. We often comment on how unsafe playground toys are in Europe (and therefore often more fun) compared to the US. Litigation at work again. This is one of the most dangerous and coolest toys we've seen. It's somehow compelling, if you see it, you have to try it! Well, I didn't actually. But Nathan of course did.
Back to the park. Lots of rides were designed for 2 kids together. I liked the canoes (with dinosaur scenery) and the safari ride (with safari animals of course).
E likes Legoland, too!
The merchandise. My favorite part of the park was the factory where you could see legos being made and then buy separate bricks by weight. The kids each got a lego letter for free (glued together) and got to build their own lego people. My kids' choices were rather classic, I thought. V would have stayed all day trying on different bodies and heads. Taking apart lego people is one of her favorite activities. In the price-per-pound, we got pink bricks (I refuse to buy the Belleville horsey stuff, so this is the only way we're going to get them), wheels and axles, lego rafts and a dog, etc. You can buy by the brick online, but it was really fun to let the kids pick items in person. We also got a big boxed set for each kid. We've played with them all day. And here's where I rant about lego for girls. All I can figure is that they don't really want the girls' market? Or they don't have any girls working in the design department? Lego for girls really stinks, which is a shame because girls like legos, too. Duplo (lego for little kids) has great stuff that appeals to boys and girls, but the real lego stuff, not so much. I can think of so many ways they could make it more appealing ... *sigh*

Dear lego, how to sell to girls: cuter + more girl minifigures, better girl-friendly colors (step away from the gray), more shops and houses + fewer fire engines, castles with princesses and turrets not just fighting equipment, more animals, more furniture and food, most of all more pretty. V has spent much of the day decorating her lego items once they were put together. Her bus had a whole forest of items on top, flower handles on the doors, and a trash can riding inside. I had her minifigures put together for about 2 minutes before she had them dancing together. Such a girl, but luckily not a dress-up-like-a-princess-all-day-girl. One guess on what kind of a lego set M picked. It came with most of the key Star Wars characters, my favorite is Chewbacca.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

US trip round up

This is my favorite pic of the summer. Gotta love grandparents who aren't afraid to get silly. Note the hopscotch in the background -- when we got back here, someone had made a hopscotch that covered half a block of sidewalk. It went to 123 or so.

I put this in just so you can see the rolls. She's shot up a bit and thinned out slightly, but no one else can tell. Only Mommy Moo. (V calls me that. We all get to be Moos except for E, who is a calf.)
Most of my pictures from Knoebel's amusement park don't show the extent of the fun we were having. But I threw in a few anyway. What's great about the park: pay by ride, so it was way cheaper for us than Six Flags, etc.; old stuff that's well kept -- rides I've never seen before because they've got the only one left; beautiful drive to get there. And more. It was a huge hit with our kids, who love to ride rides. Here's V and Grandpa Bond on the carousel. I really loved the carousel because they still have the rings you can grab. It's a machine that feeds out small metal rings. The people on the outer horses can try to get a ring each time around. If you get the brass ring, you get a free ride in the park. (Hence the "brass ring" phrase.) I've never seen a carousel with one before and I don't know why -- it's fun! You're a fun park, let us have some fun!
First time having cotton candy! M also drove bumper cars, mini go-carts, rode a real roller coaster, we all went on a log ride ... great day.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Zuby (ZOO-by) = teeth. A fun Czech word to say. We've had a lot of tooth action lately. M lost his first one today! Major excitement. He asked to go to bed several times, so anxious was he for the tooth fairy to come. Do Czechs have a tooth fairy? I kinda think they do, I must have asked about it at some point ... We had to call Daddy as soon as it stopped bleeding and M could talk on the phone. I think Daddy might be in Wales today. Or maybe central Spain. Let's hear it for international cell phones, I can always get him on the same number, hooray!
E's top teeth are finally coming in, so I've been trying to get pictures of the fangs before they disappear. She was very excited to have her portrait done, and cried when I put away the camera. E is definitely getting around these days and even trying to pull up to standing. She's much more interested in crawling over things than my other kids were (Mommy's legs are a favorite obstacle), which makes me a bit worried. I'd hate to have a climber, but there's nothing I can do about it. Her hair is also growing in at long last. Grammie called it correctly, it's curly, at least during these hot (ish), humid (ish) days.
Nathan and I had pretty much decided to cut bait in another year and head back to the US, which of course meant that his company would offer him a new position here just in time to foil our plans. Looks like we're planning to stay for another several years, although it's always somewhat tentative. In a spirit of commitment to Europe I asked if I could have a 220 voltage sewing machine, since I had so much fun with my mom's last month. Above you can see M with his new Jedi knight cape on, made on my new wonder machine. The cape also works for the Emperor or Darth Vader.
Oh, how much they like to mess with the machine, and how seldom they have the chance. I can't hold E and help them sew at the same time. But the baby's sleeping so well now that we're back and unjetlagged, so we actually get a long naptime break to do things like that. I bought a Pfaff, fully mechanical (the Select 4.0 if anyone's curious about details, let me know). I got this one for several reasons -- being a German make, it was actually cheaper here than it would be in the US, of course Pfaff is a lovely reliable brand, and it has some cool innovations. The best one is called IDF don't ask me what it stands for. Basically an integrated walking foot. You just pull down a lever, and the machine feeds from the top and bottom. It's really cool. So far I'm very pleased with my purchase, although I'll be happy when I get my English manual. I think they only translated a small portion into Czech, as the info I've got is scanty. At least I hope there's more in English ...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Crayola factory/Canal museum

V loves her Grammie. They spent lots of time together this trip, especially in the kitchen. They made sugar cookies, cupcakes, pancakes, muffins, waffles ... I ate them.
One of our big trips was to the Crayola factory and National Canal Museum (they share a building). The men in the family liked the canals best. It was a great space for kids -- they got to take their boats through a series of canals, learn how to make locks, and play on a riverboat.
One of my favorite parts of the museum was a mule -- you could get him fully ready to pull a boat and then undo everything. The whole place was very hands-on, learning through play. Grandpa Bond enjoyed the trains room and V loved the kitchen on the riverboat. M spent a long time making locks.
The Crayola factory had a more frantic feel. They had a mini factory and we watched crayons and markers being made. It was like watching that Mr. Rogers crayon segment in real life. Fun. Then they had tons of art activities. Clear walls that you could color on, fingerpainting, a ball-run area for small tots, sidewalk chalk, a glow-in-the-dark section. It was great fun, especially for V. I found the noise overwhelming after a while, but she could have stayed there all day.
My favorite play area was the magic clay stuff. That's the copyrighted term. At the factory they only had white dough, so you could use markers to make different colors. The dough is very lightweight and easy to mold and hardens after you play without baking. The very best part of the museum was the crayola store. So many items that you can't find elsewhere. Nathan thinks that the company should build "Crayola Experience" centers in major cities, recreating the crayola museum and shop. I think they'd do well :)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


More picture from NY -- the Manhattan Children's Museum. I love children's museums and really wish we had one in Prague. :( The rotating part of the museum was all about Greek and Roman legends. M ate this up, which I didn't quite expect, but I probably should have. Here he is inside the Trojan horse. Later we'll catch up with him on his journey home through perilous dangers.
Behind the fire engine was a station with laser guns you could use to make some fires go out. Those smart designers put this section right next to the shop/kitchen area, so I could watch both my big kids at the same time. At one point there were 3 3-year-old girls in the shop, and none of them wanted to leave. Around the corner was the baby area ...
Perfect for Miss E! There was a crawling obstacle course, an electronic peek-a-boo station (people sit on either side of a cloudy glass, if you put your hand on the control, it clears so you can see each other), a ball run, a mirror with a bar for standing babies.
This station had foam peanuts and a blower. Hold your hand on the control and the peanuts fly everywhere. So perfect for a baby who slaps everything to make it work, as noted by Grandpa Bond. Sometimes we call her BamBam. Chubber BamBam.
One whole floor was Dora and Diego themed. Lots of fun animal activities, including a 3-D puzzle the kids really liked. Here V's waking up in Dora's bed.
And here we catch up with M on his odyssey. The kids loved hiding under the sheep. Escaping the cyclops, of course. The kids also had the chance to dress up and sing karaoke (sirens) and walk a balance beam between Scylla and Charybdis. The museum also had an outdoor water area and a section about amusement parks. Good times for all.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Statue of Liberty

I've got so much to post in the next while! We had a wonderful trip to the US, spending tons of time with Grammie and Grandpa Bond, time with Nathan, and we visited some fun stuff. I'm going to start with the end of our trip -- a few days in New York City. Nathan and I heart NY, so we had a lovely time. The kids enjoyed it, too, but it was obvious that after a month away from home, they were ready to get back to Prague. It's hard to be away from your own bed for so long!
This picture cracks me up. I couldn't get them to look at me because they were so busy watching the signs in Times Square. It was E's favorite place in NYC. She loves to have fun stuff to look at. The kids liked the M&Ms TV the best. We went into ToysRUs and wished we hadn't. Cool to see the indoor ferris wheel, but such a crush!
Happy baby at a park close to our hotel. We lucked out with the hotel -- Nathan did the research and booked us into a suite at the Lucerne in midtown. As it happens, I spent a couple of weeks in the Lucerne some years ago when I was doing some work training. I highly recommend it, especially for families. Walking distance to the Manhattan Children's Museum and the National Museum of Natural History. And a Chipotle, hee hee.
Bedraggled -- it poured in the afternoon a couple of times and we got caught. Again, E loved it. Rain is exciting! The big kids thought it was fun as well.
The pretty lady herself. We took a boat trip to see her, and it's definitely worth it. Some things are really powerful in person and the Statue of Liberty is one of them. Our guide on the boat was hilarious. He sounded like a radio announcer and kept up a fast-paced banter about NY and the US of A for much of the trip. It brought home to me how much New Yorkers think of themselves as the epitome of Americans -- in Texas, tourist info is all about being Texan, but in New York, it's all about being American. An interesting difference.
Dinosaurs! The museum of Natural History was amazing. Most impressive were the dinosaurs (many, many of them) and the blue whale. Huge, or kuge if you prefer V's description. I'm really glad we made it this year. We fly in and out of JFK to get to the grandparents' house, and it seemed a shame to be so close to all the dinosaurs and not visit while the kids are excited about them.