Monday, December 13, 2010

Giveaway day!!

It's giveaway day at Lovely stuff being given away everywhere, plus a chance to find fun new blogs about sewing and crafting. Here are a few samples:

My sister, at Puking Pastilles is giving away *16* fat quarters from the Tailor Made line by Cosmo Crickets.

Sweet pea fabrics is giving away *$25* to use in her shop.

Renovating Our Foursquare is giving away 2 yards of Anna Marie Horner fabric of your choice!

Awesome, right?

Happy hunting.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Daddy's old shirts

Grammie sent E a Dora backpack! She wears it often and does not like to take it off when Mommy says (for instance, to get in the car). The backpack is terrycloth and folds out into a towel. E wore it to the gym, takes it on the school run, jumps with it on the trampoline (it makes her fall over even more than normal).
Here is darling M with no teeth. They're coming in now, and I have no idea where all the teeth are going to fit. They're huge!
V and M are both loving science right now. They're doing science fair projects at the school, and I think V might do one, too. Probably have to buy a board for E, too, because no one can stand to be left out at our house. Much screaming when Daddy takes someone out in the jogging stroller. Everyone wants to go.
Speaking of screaming, I had trouble getting good pictures of this dress. (The other picture is at the top of the post, I couldn't get it to move and am too tired to fight with it.) E was so busy on her motorcycle that I couldn't get a straight shot. But isn't it precious? I've been very busy sewing the last couple of weeks. This dress was made from Nathan's old shirt, off a tutorial I found. So cute that I've made one for V, too. There are several ideas online for how to turn a man's shirt into a toddler dress, but this is my favorite because it's so clever. It not only uses the back yoke for the front dress yoke, and uses the button for the back closure, it evens uses the curve of the armhole opening to make the flutter sleeves. Some of the other tutorials are just basic dresses cut from a shirt, but this one appeals to me. And V is so happy about having something made from Daddy's shirt that I don't even have to put pink on hers! I could have avoided the pink on E's, but it looked beautiful with the navy blue, so there you go.

With all this renewed interest in sewing (renewed because I finally have a sewing machine and all my sewing equipment and my kids in the same place! and a permanent sewing table!!), I'm realizing what a cheapskate I am when it comes to this stuff. I'll post pictures soon of the charming jumpers I made for the girls, with $2.25 fabric. V's dress from $1 fabric didn't turn out quite as well, but still cute. So I don't get exactly what I would have chosen otherwise -- working within my cheap preferences pushes me to be more creative, right?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

knock knock

My kids love jokes, but they don't always get them, if you know what I mean. Well, they get some jokes -- we adore the children's CD by Barenaked Ladies (Snack Time), and the first song is about M's favorite joke! 7 ate 9.

Knock knock jokes? They sure try. But it's not the easiest thing in the world to come up with a knock knock joke. Anyway, M finally came up with one that actually works. Nathan about fell off his chair in astonishment.

Knock knock.
Who's there?
Chooch who?
Choo-choo there's a train coming through!

Bwahaha. Even good knock knock jokes aren't funny. E is hilarious. She just says "knock knock" over and over. Smiles and fake laughs.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


We have a couch, there are pictures on some of our walls, and M's been in school for more than 3 weeks. Nathan and I have assignments at church, we've met our neighbors on both sides, and we've survived a tornado watch. M has settled down with a best friend, at least it looks like that right now (a kid who lived as an expat recently, I guess they bonded -- shockingly, he doesn't love the same stuff M does. Ben 10 rather than Star Wars and Pokemon. Must be true friendship.) E has probably tripled her vocabulary since we moved here, and she's moved from words to sentences. Her strategy has long been to make "sentences" by babbling when she doesn't have all the words she needs, so now she's moved onto all real words. She's also learning Spanish from Dora. V is reading even better than she did before, thanks to unlimited library visits. She named our backyard lizard "Bug Eater". She likes him, but doesn't coo over him (she does coo over caterpillars, snails and slugs). She collects acorns from the front yard. What else ... the kids of course have developed as swimmers. One day E decided she wanted to swim on her own (with a swim vest on), and she's so funny to watch. It's mostly leg action, and it looks like she's running in the water. V doesn't use floaties now, and M is working on grabbing things on the bottom of the pool. Nathan's crazy busy, consulting and looking for a company to buy. And I finally have enough time this week to be missing Prague. I love it here, don't get me wrong. I'm very happy, but just missing my other home a bit.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

homeschool, furniture

Our shipment arrived in the US of A!!! Yippee! "The shipment" is a well-used item in the idiolects of my older children. Especially V -- "When the shipment comes, I'll be so happy to play with my Barbies." Also M -- he reports that since he's had his first set of work done at the dentist, now he can have his new bionicle once the shipment gets here. (I don't like bionicles, but that's a discussion for some other time.) We've all been looking forward to it, and yet ... moving in, again. All will be chaos, again. I'll be happy to have kitchen scissors and trash cans and most of all a couch!

School starts Monday :) Good thing I've already got some things lined up for V's first week of homeschooling. Otherwise she'd be out of luck. My evenings will now be spent getting the living room painted before Tuesday, the big delivery day. Our first topic is Texas. So we're going to plant wildflower seeds, learn all that classic stuff like the state bird and song and the Texas pledge of allegiance. ("Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under God, one and indivisible.") What, your state doesn't have a pledge? Poor you. We might even bleach T-shirts with a Texas theme -- an idea I got from my little sis, just like the rainbow rice we made.

I'm still getting our schedule worked out. Personally, I really dislike having a lot of scheduled activities. A few are fine, too many make me faint. So right now I think we're going to have a preschool co-op on Wednesdays, a run to the gym a couple of times a week, and story time once a week. Sounds like a lot already, plus anything we do with M after school hours. Luckily I can combine the gym trip with the school run ... real American school. Supply lists and everything.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

long time no blog

Finally, a few photos. We stayed in an apartment for a couple of days before we left Prague. I had to take this picture of the kids in the cabinet really quick before Eliza fell out.
The kids were literally laying in the middle of the foot path at the Amsterdam airport. I also let them eat off the floor and scrub their backs with toilet brushes. Now, why do my kids always seem to get sick after a long plane flight ...
Best thing about our new house -- the ice cream maker attachment I bought for the KitchenAid. They are eating chocolate malt frozen custard.
This weekend we went to see my grandparents in Shreveport, along with Aunt Naomi. It was a fantastic visit. We had Poppi burgers, the kids played the organ, we chatted. E loved these little dolls that my sibs and I played with many years ago. There are three dolls and 2 beds -- because Gramma and Poppi have a daughter and twin boys. Poor guys have to share a bed.
M lost one of his front teeth just before we went to Shreveport, so the tooth fairy visited him there. The gap is really, really big. I need to get a good picture of it. He's showing off his tooth box the dentist gave him.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


A few things, and I promise I'll get some pictures soon. The house is gorgeous. Anyone here who's heard that I hadn't seen the house before we bought it was shocked, shocked I say. (Less so in Prague, where everyone understands the distance and the jetlag and the kid watching.) Nathan did a fantastic job. The downstairs is perfect for entertaining, or just for letting kids run around. Wood laminate or tile everywhere. Big and open and unbelievable storage in the kitchen. Also downstairs is a bedroom, which will be Nathan's office. It's off by itself, so he'll be able to work comfortably even when we're having a dance party or screaming our way to bed. Upstairs is also great -- plenty of rooms, a massive playroom above the garage, and nice bathrooms. Coming from Europe, where built-in storage is an anomaly, I'm loving closets, and utility rooms, and pantries, and cabinets. The house is almost completely done in bright colors, which I like the idea of, but a lot of the colors just don't go well together, so we'll be doing some repainting pronto! We want to get it done before our shipment arrives from Prague. I was planning to repaint the kids' bedroom (M and V share) since it's purple, but I actually love the color. It's OK for boys to sleep in purple, right? I'll put up Star Wars posters on the wall ...

What else? Our pool is cute, pint-sized. Perfect for the kids to paddle around in, and we've been having lots of fun. I'm hoping to do some shopping really soon to get the last of the summer items in shops. We need extra bathing suits, shorts, and pool toys. First, we've got to get our cell phones worked out and get cars. Nathan got us set up with cell phones yesterday afternoon, but we don't have coverage in the house, so we're going to have to utilize their 30-day return policy and hope they don't kick up a fuss about it. This move-in has been quite an ordeal. So many things are quick and easy, but an awful lot seem to be very painful processes. For instance, I'm looking forward to having my own car, but I hate car shopping. Gives me a headache.

We made it to the library yesterday, to much rejoicing from the kids. I swear they wanted to bring everything home. We are nearly equidistant from Carrollton's two libraries, so we'll be able to give them both our love. We visited the newer one, at Josey Ranch Lake. The selection is great, the kids get a free new book for completing the summer reading program (I got a paper for Eliza too, is that wrong? She reads more books than anyone in the house, and they have board books in the give-away bins :) People were so nice! Seriously, this just isn't good training to make sales people nice, these library folks actually want to help. Inconceivable! And they have a cool self check-out. M is going to love learning to do that himself. E did not like the check-out because she had to let go of her book for a minute. "Doda", meaning Dora. Rapidly becoming an obsession.

Monday, July 12, 2010

made it!

We finally moved into our house tonight. The kids are asleep and Nathan and I will be soon ... it was quite a deal, and obviously a long way to go, but I wanted to let everyone know we're here and doing well. And thanks to all the many people who have helped out. Really, really appreciate it.

Our plane flight: Martin took care of himself, which is the only good thing I have to say about it. Good thing my shirt was already brown.

The storage unit move: It all made it safely to the house, which is a pretty big thing. Never mind the 3 police cars who arrive to take care of Nathan's "disturbance" at the storage facility. The truck didn't work, and they were very rude about how it wasn't their problem. Imagine!

Other thoughts: My washer and dryer are HUGE, my refrigerator is HUGE, and Wal-Mart is really, really cheap. I know because I went through the store converting all the prices into Czech crowns. Really cheap, trust me. Having a pool rocks, the heat isn't as bad as I expected (and yes, it hasn't been at its hottest, but it did get to the high '90s today), but the humidity is a bit more than I remembered (major understatement alert). People bag my groceries here and tell me to have a nice day. They feed me Mexican food. They speak to me in my own language. And contrary to our previous experiences, they are truly interested in where we've been and what we've been doing. The Czech Republic is great, America is great, and we're very happy. I saw a brother, a sister, a couple of brothers-in-law, lots of nieces, a nephew, a mother-in-law, a sister-in-law, all in just 3 days. So nice.

Monday, July 5, 2010

we're off!

Starting the big adventure today. I've never had movers come, so I'm pretty excited about that. It was still a lot of work, even without doing the packing. Nathan's just happy he doesn't have to pack all our books again. Today the movers pack, and we shift the family to a holiday apartment in the center. Tomorrow they load the truck, and Thursday we'll hand over the apartment keys and turn in Nathan's company car. His Passat was new when we arrived, 5 years ago, and it's definitely showing its age. It's been a great car for us, but certainly not Japanese :) "A lot of good cars are Japanese." Friday, it's off to the airport, very early. We fly through Amsterdam and are hoping that no volcanos erupt in the interim. At the same time we're doing all this, family members are letting in a cleaning crew and carpet cleaners at our new house. Thanks, Naomi, Tyler and Zach!

So Friday we'll move into a hotel and pick up our rental car. Saturday we'll move items from our storage unit, which is also in the Dallas area. Thanks to everyone who is going to help with that! I'm not really certain what's in storage at this point, but I know we'll have beds for everyone once we add one air mattress, a dining room table, and a bunch of books. While Nathan orchestrating the move, I'll be taking the kids shopping -- baby gates, pillows and sheets are on the menu. Followed closely by toilet paper. Sunday we go to church and also move into the house, ready or not. Monday we receive delivery of a refrigerator, washer and dryer, and guys come to hook up our internet. For the rest of the week, we'll be buying essential items, including cars and cell phones. We'll get library cards, eat Mexican food, and swim in the pool. We'll unpack all those mystery boxes. And we'll also be waking up at 4 am daily. Sounds like we'll be doing our shopping at a 24-hour Wal-Mart, doesn't it?

Yes, it sounds like a ton of work, but it will be so fun, too! I'm happy to have a bit of time to visit downtown Prague before we go, and I'm going to love the moving in on the other end. This is the first time I've moved anywhere and felt like it was a permanent move. No guarantees on the permanence, but we don't have a time limit. How nice to be able to shop for long-lived items, rather than disposable ones. Na shladenou!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Riverside School

We finally had our last day of school on Wednesday, and I've been thinking about what a great place Riverside School has been for our children. The teachers and administrators at the school have created such a lovely place for kids and parents. These are the teachers who accommodated M being advanced a year, and not just tolerated it, but really encouraged him and helped him grow. They taught him how to spell, do fractions, and the life cycle of a frog. V's teacher learned about the reading scheme for older children and sat with her every day to hear V read a book. Her teachers helped her bake and plant a garden, paint (which she loves and I hate) and write letters for the "nursery post". The classrooms were always, always open to parents (and younger sibs). Teachers always had time for parents, and of course, the kids.
Riverside School brought some great friends to us. M found 2 kindred spirits on the first day of Year 1. He sat next to them when we walked in and they did a puzzle together. M was introduced to Power Rangers, Star Wars, and the real pleasure of having best friends.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

some good-byes

I don't like all the good-bye stuff, I just don't. But there are perks. Some beautiful paintings of Prague, and a doll that my girls have been forbidden to touch. Seriously, a dear lady knitted the doll's clothes, even pantaloons. And the paintings are still drying, because someone cared about us enough to paint them. And yes, maybe this is why I don't like the good-bye stuff. Emotional overload.
The paintings were from one good-bye event today, thankfully mostly focused on the Czech mission president and his wife who are leaving this week. They're amazing! Another fantastic couple will arrive to take over for 3 years. The mission president's wife reminded me I had helped her get settled in her first week in Prague. I do love helping new expats get settled in. There are so many tough things you have to do, and it makes me feel so helpful to tell someone how to find sour cream at the grocery store. Because buying buttermilk instead can be the proverbial straw. Anyway, the zebra is from a much happier event for me, because it was a casual one thrown by Nathan's former employees here in CZ. So not as emotional for me (plus) and I got to see people who actually know how great my husband is (double plus).
It was out at a "chata" - a cottage in the country. The kids had a fantastic time, playing with balls, stuffed animals, the other kids. E didn't stop toddling around, M didn't stop playing some game any game will someone play with me, and V did her sort of floating about routine. Wandering uninvited in the house and taking off her shoes in odd places, giggling.
This picture is out of order, from another event last weekend. Lots of church friends all together :) Again, V is on her own program. M is not pictured. He was playing ping pong, or possibly badminton. Who knew it was so popular.
Nathan got a copy of some book about Lovosice that actually has info about Flexfill! His factory is immortalized, too bad he can't read the text. And a gorgeous Czech glass bowl, an item we had been wanting anyway, and so great that we can remember his employees when we use it. And no joke, Jana actually blew this glass piece Nathan's holding herself. 2 varieties of sugar-free Coke were available at the shindig, Nathan's favorite. Seriously, because of Nathan's schedule and his more introverted personality, in most areas of our lives I'm much better known than he is. It's really lovely for me to see people who can appreciate his awesomeness.

And the trip home this evening? M read out every half-kilometer marker he could find. Commenting if we'd missed one, predicting (correctly) what the next marker would say, and giving other exciting commentary. "Ooooh yeah! 19.5" "9.0. We're getting closer!!!" Seriously getting closer. Our agent has the keys to the new house. The movers are coming in 9 days. School's out in 3.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

signed the papers

Took the girls to the embassy yesterday in order to sign the papers for our new house! They have the only American notary in town, so they can charge rather shocking prices for the service. But it's all done and the documents should arrive in Texas tomorrow morning, when the sellers will sign everything. I'm really hoping we didn't miss any initials ... we checked it twice, but still. Anyway, I showed the kids just the front of a couple of houses when Nathan and I were making up their minds, and this was M's favorite, because it looks like a castle to him. V is excited because their room has the upstairs bay window, which looks like a perfect reading spot to her.
I'm trying to just post photos that don't show too much of the current owner's stuff, just seems like a better idea. This is the view when you walk in. Photographer is standing in the formal living room, which will be entirely empty even when our furniture shipment arrives. Although I might put the piano in there.
I'm very excited about the kitchen. Note the double sink, double oven and not visible ... a disposer! Now I realize that the double sink and disposer are standard equipment, but having done without them for 5 years, I think they rock. Ok, wait. We didn't have a disposer in McKinney or Portugal either, so make that 9 years.
And the unwanted but soon to be beloved pool. First week in the house, I'll start teaching E how to swim. Sunblock, lots of sunblock.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

at least we're enthusiastic

Here's why I love my kids:

One more item I really could have done without on my long to-do list was acquiring water guns for tomorrow's water activities at school. But, with some help of a friend, I managed to find a few minutes to pick some up. I got a couple of traditional cheapies, and 3 water pump type things. They work a bit like a balloon pump or a syringe. They're simple, the exterior is just like a water noodle toy, and they cost about $2. And my kids had so much fun, without ever putting them in the water. Seriously -- E was dancing out of her seat in the car because she was having so much fun just pumping the thing aimlessly, M was pretending to shoot bad guys with water, and V after shooting air in her own face announced "It feels like what Disneyland smells like." Which in V syntax means the smell reminds her of Disneyland (plastic, artificial and fun). $6 well spent.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Grammie and Grandpa Bond's visit

I didn't have any pictures of E in the post, so I added this one. Upon the grandparents' arrival, E immediately enlisted them as book readers. They read a LOT this trip, at least to her.
This picture's from our trip to Cesky Krumlov. It was raining, so we stopped for a meal at Laibon. It's a cute vegetarian restaurant with a great deck on the river, which of course we couldn't use. But the interior's pretty fun, too.
Grammie giving an impromptu show at the marionette museum in Cesky Krumlov, because that's the kind of grandmother she is. Our trip was pretty fun -- the kids were amazingly good in the car and even during a rather dry tour of the castle theater (I liked the theater, but the tour was not great.) It was a bit odd for us, though, because Nathan was in Dallas at the same time picking out a house for us. So I'd get phone calls at odd moments and have to split off while the grandparents watched the kids (or drove the car), and I was busy on the hotel's wifi looking at pictures every night. Our hotel was great, by the way. Aparthotel Castle View. It's right next to the square and is very nice. Kitchenettes with microwave and fridge, plus breakfast at the hotel down the street. We were in a 2-bedroom apartment with a contained outside area as well.

And here's M in his school's production of Peter Pan. If he looks a bit serious, it's because he was. He did a great job and was quite intent on getting it all right. He was one of the best dancers in the group. Our other kids were great, except for V randomly throwing a program at another guest. E was seriously dancing during the musical numbers. And I fed her lentilky (M&Ms) during the dialogue.

Monday, May 10, 2010

All hail the mighty state

Yes, we're moving to Texas. Yes, we've been in Prague for 5 years. Yes, we're starting our own company. Yes, I'll be homeschooling V for PRE-school next year. And that last statement is the one that has garnered the most shocked faces so far. Seriously -- she's 4! Nathan's starting his own company, and no one blinks about that one. Oh well, just cultural difference. Public pre-school is free here, so everyone does it.

Some details, for those not on the up and up -- we'll be living in Carrollton, but don't have an address as yet. Nathan's just arrived from a house-hunting trip and we're got an option on 2 houses. Yes, Nathan picked out our house. We've never bought a house this way, but we rented an apartment this way when we moved here. Nathan visited lots of flats, took a ton of pictures, and drew floorplans. Then he made a powerpoint presentation (permanent legacy from his consulting days, I think) with all the details and maps, etc., and we picked an apartment. No problem at all, and no surprises about the flat when I arrived either. So I'm not worried about the house. After a long 3 days for both of us, we've got 2 fantastic choices.

We expect to move in early July. If the house needs it, we'll do a bunch of painting and flooring. Definitely lots of visiting with family, time at the public pool, I need to make sure we've got library bags for everyone, about a million small trips for settling into the house needs ... and M will be doing some testing before school starts. I think we'll find that our summer is not too long this year. We probably won't even have our shipment from Prague before the first day of school. This week we've got companies coming in to give us estimates on the move.

My parents are in town right now, more on that later. I'll post some lovely pictures!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Happy Star Wars Day!

May the 4th Be With You -- international star wars day. Hope you have a great one!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

illegal immigration

Pretty much anyone who reads this knows that I've been abroad for several years now. In fact, more than half of my post-college years have been spent in Europe, and 2/3 of my married years. I have sat nervously behind a desk, a counter, or some bullet-proof glass, waiting to hear if I've filled out all the proper forms, if my newborn's eyes are open enough in her photo, if our marriage certificate has been properly translated and apostilled, if our visas and residency permits have really been approved. I've paid people to stand in line for me hours before a government office opens, so that we would have some assurance that we'd actually see someone that day. I've driven 5 hours and spent the night, only to have my application turned down the following day. I've supported a friend as she asked for a student visa to the US, and realized that in the training and practices of our diplomatic staff, potential immigrants are guilty until proven innocent. Although my family and I live legally and lawfully in the Czech Republic today, I cannot say for certain that we have always been on the right side of the law. At the very least, we've been thisclose to being illegal immigrants at some point in our travels. I believe in following the laws of the land and work hard to do so, and I have great sympathy for immigrants everywhere, legal or otherwise. I find the new Arizona legislation on immigration offensive. It limits the liberty of everyone who sets foot in the state, and particularly hurts those who have worked so hard to reside legally in the USA.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

volcano of doom

Yes, the volcanic ash is over the Czech Republic these days. M came home from school and told me about it, which required much waving of the hands. Nathan's stuck in Dallas for the time being. I parent a lot on my own, because of his travel schedule, and I don't really think about it. But it's always hard for me when he's away for longer than expected. I think lots of things in life are like that -- going past your due date, realizing it's mile 23 not 24, sticking with a job 6 months longer.

I've finally watched the Twilight movies while Nathan's been gone -- I hadn't before, because of mixed reviews, but they were a lot better than I expected. The actress playing Alice should get off my screen and Robert Pattinson is so not Greek-god-gorgeous, but Taylor Lautner is a real find, and Kristin Stewart didn't bug. The guy playing her dad Charlie was great. One major beef was lots of mumbling. Would it kill you to open your mouth?!? Seriously.

On the positive side at our house, the weather is absolutely gorgeous, my children are brilliant and beautiful, and E never gets sad (M added the last point, not sure I entirely agree). Cheers.

Monday, April 12, 2010

2 icing recipes with no powdered sugar

This post is especially meaningful for fellow expats living in CZ -- the powdered sugar here isn't exactly like home. Almost everyone has made an icing batch and ended up with a grainy mess. You expect 10x sugar, and it's sadly 7x. (I'm sure all the Czech gals in the USA get frustrated with our limited selection of flour textures. C'est la vie.) So with that in mind, here are 2 lovely recipes that use granulated sugar!

The first frosting is from The Cake Mix Doctor. She uses it to cover a chocolate-cherry cake that is fantabulous. The icing is a rich chocolate glaze, with the major advantage that you ice the cake while both cake and icing are still warm. It is reminiscent of fudge icing, without all the work. Designed to go on a 9 x 13 cake still in the pan.

Chocolate Glaze:
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup milk
6 ounces/1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Place sugar, butter and milk in a saucepan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil. Boil, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips. Once it's smooth, pour it over the warm cake. It will firm up as it cools.

Frosting number two I got via my sister, via pioneer woman. She calls it "the best frosting I've ever had", I call it sweet cream frosting. It's nice anytime, but stellar after it's refrigerated. I've made it twice and had the recipe requested twice. Good stuff. We used it to make the traditional "eggs in a nest" cupcakes. I found pre-colored coconut and my mom sent me Starburst jelly beans in my birthday/Easter box, so I figured it was fate. (These Easter treats are just cupcakes with some kind of frosting; my mom uses fluffy white, I tried out the sweet cream frosting. Top with colored coconut and some jelly beans for eggs. V's nests all had pink grass.) I do have pictures, but they're on Nathan's camera in Texas at the mo.

Happy baking!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Obamas in town

We passed 45 policemen on the way to the airport this morning, standing at every intersection. We counted.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


E loves ice cream! And she spent tons of time in the backpack, thanks to big, strong Daddy. All the museums we visited had strollers for rent, or just to borrow. We just traded our backpack in for a stroller and off we went. By the way, if you want to get into Paris museums quickly, borrow yourself a baby. Having a baby along lets you use the handicapped entrance, bypassing all the lines! We happened to attend the Louvre on the monthly free day, meaning it was even more of a zoo than normal. The line curved around the courtyard where the pyramids are, through to the next courtyard, around 3 sides of that one, out onto the street and down 2 blocks. There was someone with a sign informing visitors how long the wait was from that point. Loooong, but at least they didn't have to queue for tickets as well. Our bigger kids were fantastic museum visitors. M loved following the map of the museum, and both kids liked the artwork. The Musee d'Orsay was especially fun, because we have a lovely series of board books using impressionist artwork. So they got to see several paintings they are already familiar with. E loves those books right now, so even she had fun. Unfortunately, we always had to leave the museums earlier than the big kids would like due to little bit's need for a (food) break. Child needs her snacks. She even got worn out at the children's museum (rather the children's section of the science museum) after a while. We're huge children's museum fans, and this is a great one. The main science museum is really cool as well, but we didn't manage to see it this time, since it's really aimed for much older children. The complex includes a 360 degree movie theater, a submarine, and lots of other amazing things. It's out at La Villette, which isn't as bad a hike as you think. The museum is directly in front of a metro stop, so all is well. It was V's favorite stop in Paris.
Here is V, standing in the very center of Paris. This spot is in front of Notre Dame cathedral, walking distance from the (rather bachelor-pad-ish, don't-look-at-the-bathroom-tile but otherwise OK) apartment we rented in Le Marais. The Le Marais area is a fantastic place to stay in Paris. It's quiet and residential, but has lots of funky, artistic shopping (salad tongs shaped like crescent wrenches), restaurants, and an unbelievable number of food shops. Such a perfect place to rent an apartment, because when you see food like this, you just want a kitchen to cook it in. Absolutely gorgeous produce, cheeses, bread, pastries, we didn't even make it to the meat shops but I'm sure they're fantastic, too. It was Easter weekend, so lots going on at the chocolatiers. I think there were about 20 in a 5 block radius. I'm not sure if that's the chocolate center of Paris, or if Parisians really love chocolate! Why can't I get food like this in Prague?!? Of particular note was a cupcake and cheescake place called Berko. Although cupcakes are their primary business, I think they are much more successful on the cheesecake front (cupcakes were fancy and beautiful, but I found the cake a bit too dry). I know that cheesecake and cupcakes are not exactly classic French food, but I swear I ate the best New York style cheesecake I have ever had (and I love cheesecake). A crunchy, cookie-like crust, perfectly creamy cheesecake with whole blueberries, and to top it off? A particularly soft-set meringue with whole, uncooked blueberries. Divine.
The kids' favorite food? Crepes. Seriously messy.
These are the fountains next to the Centre Pompidou, also very close to our apartment. M called it the Inside Out House, and claims it as his favorite site in Paris. Nathan took the big kids into the museum and also watched a huge street performance in the sloped space at the entrance. Checking off another classic Paris experience. The kids loved the street performers in general. Of course, we have them in Prague, but mainly on the Charles Bridge, and we don't go down there too often (too many tourists, hah). M's favorite was a 5-piece jazz group, including a sousaphone, who seemed way too good to be busking. V preferred a soprano with keyboard accompanist. She was American, which was funny, and she was OK on her jazz pieces, but totally compelling singing an Edith Piaf classic. She stopped all the foot traffic on a bridge during that one.
Doesn't Notre Dame look great? She's all clean and beautiful right now, with tulips out on Easter Sunday. M liked the flying buttresses and gargoyles, of course.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Disneyland Paris

That's right, it's not Eurodisney, it's Disneyland Paris. We had a fabulous time at Disneyland and in Paris itself ... since we started at Disney, I'll start my blog about that. It's really hard to get good pictures of people on rides, but I did manage this great one! There were so many great moments on this trip. We splurged for a suite at the Disney Hotel New York, which actually meant in our case that we ended up with a one-room suite plus a connecting room. I think they do have 2-room suites, but none available at the time. We opted for this because we travel much better with a separate room for the kids, and you get benefits from staying in the Disney hotels. At any of them, you get 2 extra hours before the park opens, so you get some selected rides all to yourselves. And because we were in an upgraded room, we had breakfast in a separate lounge (with characters), and a VIP fast pass, plus some other little things. Any ride that offers a fast pass allows a VIP fast pass owner to go directly to the front, any time. This rocked! We rode Peter Pan soooo many times. I know that's all a bit too much information, but some friends were interested in where we were staying and how it all worked.
The weather wasn't as bad as I expected, and some things were lovely, like the flowering trees. Here is E and her Daddy after riding Small World. As I expected, she loved this ride. So many things to look at, and music to dance to. Surprisingly, our big kids loved it as well (I thought M would be a party pooper on this one, but he got a kick out of naming the different countries and watching his baby sister.) Since we had several days at the parks, we reserved some rides for the later days of our trip, not even telling the kids about them. M's face when we told him about the Star Wars ride was priceless. I did ride it with him once, but then allowed Nathan the honors. It is a flight simulation ride, which made me a bit queasy. I love the little kid rides -- Small World, Peter Pan, Buzz Lightyear is probably my favorite. You get laser guns and the game keeps score. Fun for all ages.
Here we are in the breakfast room with Pluto. E was beside herself about the characters, and Pluto was her favorite. Even just looking at the pictures today, she got very excited. The handlers noticed at one point and were tickled about how much she loved Pluto. Some of the characters have more fun than others, and Pluto did a great job of acting like a dog. Also having fun were Wendy, Peter Pan and Captain Hook. Tweedle Dee was annoying and starting bouncing V up and down in the stroller. Funny to him, maybe. It was also made apparent to me this trip how small some of the characters are! Minnie Mouse is so short. Even my little sis might be too tall.
As expected, V wore her princess dress a lot (see how it rivals Goofy in shine?), and M wore his pirate costume less. That's totally OK since his costume took about 30 minutes. I'll post a more detailed look at V's dress at some point. The dress pushed her over into full-fledged pink love. Nathan and I kept giggling over statements like, "Yes! I want some of your salmon. Because it's pink!"
Most of the food is poor at Disneyland, but there were some highlights. Breakfast at the hotel was good, and E developed a taste for pain chocolat. The fresh juices were pretty amazing as well. We rented a stroller at the park, which became E's home away from home. She enjoyed the music playing in the ultra-clean park, and often bopped along as we walked.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Hi! I'm still here, just neglecting my blog lately. Spring has finally sprung, the snow is gone (although it's always possibly to get a bit more ...) and we're going out with light jackets. Do you know how much time is saved by not putting on hats, scarves, boots, mittens and extra layers? When there are three little ones, it seems like a lot!

The kids have 2 weeks off for Easter, so we're leaving for Paris and Disneyland shortly. M and V are counting down. E doesn't know what's coming, but considering how excited she was about the people in bunny suits last weekend, she'll be a huge fan. I envision riding "It's a Small World" until our ears pop. We've been to Disneyland Paris once, 2 years ago. M remembers a remarkable amount, but what he doesn't know is that there's a Star Wars ride. Very close to the Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, so we'll be spending some time in that area. We're very excited about Paris as well. I've made activity books for the kids with random French stuff and Easter coloring pages. I haven't been to Paris in many years, and Nathan's only spent a day or two there, so it will be fun for the adults, too. And the food will be good, even if we can only manage crepes and cafes with the little ones. April in Paris ...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

V's birthday

V was lucky enough to have a birthday party early (Dad was out of town on her bday, so we asked if it would be OK to have it on Sunday instead. No one says no to early presents) AND fun on her real birthday. She took cookies into school (sugar cookies in the shapes of pumpkins, ghosts, angels and hearts, with purple icing) and had an open lesson during her dance class. I took some pictures and video of V and her best friend. The dancing is pretty random, but very cute. Hard to beat girls in tutus. Speaking of dancing, there was a valentine's disco at M's school this week -- I was slightly surprised to hear the kids sing along to Michael Jackson songs. I knew a lot of his songs were getting played on the radio, but I didn't really expect the kids to know them. And how about the macarena? Ha. When M was in the cloakroom getting ready to leave, he told us how lovely the peace and quiet was after all that noise. Yup, he's ours. (He did do some excellent dancing at the disco, I must say.)
Have we traveled in time? My little pony has not changed, guys. Even smells the same.
Aw, everybody loves the baby. E's giving hugs these days on demand. She also has a few words in addition to her signs. She probably says "baby" and "ball" 30 times a day. Maybe a lot more, I lose track. She also learned how to climb on the couch yesterday, which is not so lovely for me. She knows how to get down safely, but doesn't pay a whole lot of attention to the edge.

In other news, snow. And more snow, and did I mention the snow?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Birthday, Christmas

In brief, traveling backwards in time: M had a birthday party with his friends, for the first time ever. It was a big pain and took a lot of time to prepare, but the kids all had a great time! It was a Lego Power Miners party. Lego should be paying me for advertising. Power Miners are on the hunt for crystals, but have to watch out for rock monsters. Here the kids are tossing dynamite beanbags at a rock monster.
Although I didn't intend it that way, Nathan ended up running the party games, while I chatted with the moms and took care of E.
M did have a party on the actual day, also. He asked for chocolate cake with green icing.

The famous Christmas morning entrance. They were much more excited than they look, I promise.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

still alive!

Hi, everyone! My apologies for the long hiatus. I'll be posting pictures soon, but let me just say that we're all doing well. With chicken pox for all the kiddies and a long Christmas break, we've been a bit busy. Christmas was great -- I made piles of enchiladas, which really hit the spot and may be a new holiday tradition at our house. We had just the right number of presents under the tree, enough to be exciting but not so much that we started wondering about our consumption habits. Best presents included: E's new baby doll which she loves and has already lost an arm (I'll repair it soon, but it is pretty funny to see her play with the loose arm), V's slinky and Barbie jeep, M's legos and cool Sudoku kids game. We are currently buried under more than a foot of snow. I am very grateful for 4 wheel drive, and also that I don't live in Minnesota. This is by far the most snow we've seen in our 5 years here, and the temperature isn't expected to go above freezing anytime soon. The kids had a snowman making contest at school yesterday, in their house teams. That's right, the school has houses just like in Harry Potter and they recently extended the program so that even the little ones have a house. You know you wish you'd had one too.