about a dream: August 2012

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Day 55: I love the way these kids play

I've been meaning to do a post on this, so I guess now's the time.

The girls come up with the funniest things to play and the funniest names for their toys. One barbie doll with a mountain of hair on her head has been dubbed "La Hair-a-lotta." Every time I hear it, I crack up. It's perfect! She has a lot of hair!

La Hairalotta's boyfriend is fashionista Ken, who's been renamed HoHak. I am sure about the spelling of that one because Nina wrote it out. They were drawing pictures (LOTS of pictures!), and there was one guy with short hair (Nina's art is getting very good, but Maggie's is still fairly rudimentary, and hair is a big clue as to who she's drawing.)

"Oh, is this one papa I asked?"
"No!" said Nina, "It's HoHak!"

And sure enough, HoHak was written up top. How could I have missed that?

Last night Maggie was looking through the iPod and talking about BeeBious Cole. I've heard this name before and asked her, who's BeeBious Cole? She told me it's a show that the newborn twins watch.

The newborn twins are a bit of a misnomer, because there's not just two of them. Any small ponies are newborn twins. I just asked the girls how many newborn twins they have and they said simultaneously, "A lot!"

This morning Nina explained that BeeBious Cole is a show for babies starring a foot and a shoe that they film on the iPod and play for the newborn twins.

And of course we can't forget ponies like Pizza Dough, Serena and Satreensa. Add to that that half the time still, their play is in opera (or perhaps operatta is the proper term?), and it all adds up to a whole lot of funny around here!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Day 52: A beautiful night

It's cool and clear outside tonight, and Nina and I were lying on her bed tonight with the window open, a gentle breeze against our skin, looking out at the waxing moon.

"Do you see those dark spots on the moon?" asked Nina.
"I do," I said. I held myself back from launching immediately into an explanation of how they appear darker because they're areas of high-frequency meteorite impact, resulting in densely packed craters. I wanted to give her a chance to tell me about them. The child the teacher, the mother the student. We were having a moment don't you know.
"That's where the robots live," she finished.

I couldn't just let that one float by, of course, so I pressed for details.
"The robots?" It was a gentle press.
"Yeah," she said. "They fly around the Earth and space, but the only place they land on is the dark spots on the moon."
"How do you know?" I asked. "Did you learn this in school?"
"No," she said, "I just figured it out on my own."

That kid. She cracks me up.

On a slightly less PC note, we got a can of lychee fruit (in heavy syrup!) with our last delivery of Chinese food. Nina wanted to eat some, but I was skeptical. I told her I don't know, it's from China, they have so many chemical and heavy metal contamination issues. And she said, But they eat it in China, right? And I said yeah. And she said, Is that why they talk like chung dow sho fu ying?

I cracked up! I guess that's not un-PC, I mean Chinese does sound very different from the Germanic languages.

In less entertaining news, poor Maggie has been constipated since I think last Wednesday. She's been pooping, but they've been hard and difficult to pass. We tried giving her one over the counter product, and I'm not going to get into it right now, but let's just say that while fructose and glucose sound similar, you can't just substitute one for the other in a chemical formula and think you're gonna get the same end product. Because you won't. Austria.

Finally though, we got her an actual laxative yesterday. She had one more difficult poop, a second dose, and she's been comfortable ever since.

Poor little kid though, she was very upset. She's never been constipated, and I wonder if it was from this stomach bug we seem to have. It's hard to tell... we've all had mild tummy aches at one point or another over the past week, with the exception of me being in serious pain one night last week. If it is a virus, it's an odd one. Or maybe it's just one of those things that happens to kids sometimes.

Regardless of why it happened, we had to stay close to home all day today while we waited for the laxative to work. But the kids played outside, and inside, and colored a lot, so it was still fun. Hopefully we can get out tomorrow, but I'll have to wait and make sure the laxative has stopped working. So I'm thinking it'll be another day close to home.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Day 50: Fun with friends in Vienna

But first, wow, 50 days! Nearly 1/7 of the way through our year! Not that I'm counting the days until we're back in Maine. Fresh, cool, sweet-smelling Maine... At least there are no mosquitoes in Austria! Whenever I miss Maine, I think about the mosquitoes. Then I don't miss it so much!

Today we went to Vienna to hang out at some playgrounds with our friends Suzy and Manfred. (You might remember Suzy's parents Sissy and Hank from our wedding. Nice folks. They've been friends with Anne and Fritz for years). Well, Suzy and her husband have 2 girls and a boy, and the kids play really well together. We hit up two new (to us) playgrounds in Vienna and the girls had a blast. Great dangerous, fun playgrounds, not the rubber, plastic, and safety-obsessed ones like we have in the US, that's another thing that I like more about Austria.

After a few hours of play, the 8 of us went out for some pizza. What a fun day!

It was much cooler today, cooler than was forecast even. Which was a nice break, because yesterday was just sweltering. Tomorrow's supposed to be cool and raining all day, hooray! I've had enough of the summer here and am happily awaiting fall.

Yesterday was a lazy day, the kids mostly hung out around here and with their friends in the building. Einstein has been replaced as reptilian mascot of the 5th floor by a newt that Ivan and Luca from across the hall have captured and been keeping as a pet. The girls love him. His name is Fluffy. My German isn't good enough to find out why. They bring Fluffy with them wherever they go in this plastic pail, and if he gets loose in my apartment, I'm giving up. Well, he's so small that any crickets that may have escaped and taken up residence in my walls could probably eat him for dinner. Ha ha!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Day 48: Back to the Belvedere

But first, let me say how much I love downloading pics from the camera after Nina's been using it unsupervised.

Artsy Shimmer says "It's nice to meet you.'
I think that's shimmer anyway. I can't keep up. It's bad enough that there are 40 ponies with different names, but I think they change sometimes. Like, when did Elizabeth get on the scene? I think she was renamed. I'd ask, but I'd just end up even more confused.

One more:

This is a fantastic picture of Maggie. Well done Nina! She took it while we were eating lunch at the Belvedere (grilled cheese with ham for the girls, gazpacho for me, and coffee with leftover grilled cheese for Nick). And that's my segue back into our day...
We went back today because if you recall, we'd bought the combination tickets for the upper and lower Belvedere when we were there 2 weeks ago. You have two weeks to use the tickets, so it was today or never. Also, today was the coolest day of the week (it's been in the 90s, and the high today was only supposed to be in the 80s. I think we did stay there after all, thanks to the thin cloud cover we had most of the day). When you're taking the un-air conditioned Badener Bahn to and from the city, you definitely need to avoid the 90 degree days.

We wanted to get there early because they have "medieval treasures" that on display in the palace stables, but only until noon. Somehow, we'd gotten the impression that there was at least one crown on display, but alas, that was a mistake. The treasures were of the "religious art" variety, you can guess how excited the kids were.

But, no loss, we were mainly there to see the upper Belvedere anyway. And it was gorgeous!

No cameras allowed inside, sorry. It's an art museum, but many of the rooms had descriptions of what they were originally used for, so it still held some of the appeal of a palace. Nina was satisfied, anyway. We saw some great pieces--a Van Gogh, a Monet, and lots of Klimt (including The Kiss). The girls gave it a thumbs up. I asked Maggie what she'd pay for one of Klimt's portraits and she said, "Fifty." That's a lot of money to a little kid, so she must have liked it!.
Sorry for no posts lately, I had a stomach ache this week. Poor me! Hopefully just a stomach bug, but it did feel an awful lot like the pain I had way back when I probably had an ulcer. :-(

Monday, August 20, 2012

Day 45: Burgruine Rauheneck

Desiree translation: Rauheneck castle ruins.

It was impossible to get the entire castle in a photo, but here are the girls on the wooden bridge that you must cross to enter the castle. According to the German wikipedia, which I let Google translate (so unreliable, hire professionals for your translations and pay them well!), that bridge has always been the way to enter the castle. Well, not that bridge. A bridge.
The castle was not as well preserved as Rauhenstein, which, fun!, we could see from the hike up:

The girls, by the way, are excellent hikers. Nina always asks "are we there yet" as soon as we get started, and Maggie always makes fun of her by asking "are we there yet?" as soon as we start back down (I know she's making fun of Nina, because when she asked the question and I said "No, not yet," she said, "I know, I'm just making fun of Nina. She always asks 'are we there yet,' at the beginning of the hike.") Those two are a riot!
Back to the castle: It was built in the 12th century by the Familie der Rauhenecker (who shortly thereafter started calling themselves the Tursens). Oh! Here's a picture of the ruins that we took from Rauhenstein a few weeks back:

So you can see that it's not as well preserved as Rauhenstein. Still, it was very cool. It's been in ruins since the Turks destroyed it in 1529, who am I to judge its condition. If my house was sacked 500 years ago, I'm sure there'd be nothing at all left today.
Here's a few pictures from the chapel, which was the best preserved room (next to the keep, of course, which is coming)

Can you see the crucifix well above Maggie's head there? I presume that was added recently.
I love seeing little details like parts of hinges still in the stone where doors were, remnants of chimneys, or the holes in the walls where wooden beams were fixed to make the second floor. I have a bunch more photos, which I'll put on Facebook.
The highlight of this castle was the keep which is, interestingly, shaped as an isosceles triangle. It's in fantastic shape, and sometime in the last 100 years someone built wooden stairs so you can get to the top (well, according to the feel of those stairs, I'd guess sometime in the last 200 years!). This keep was also partitioned into "floors," by which I mean a wooden floor was built every 20 feet or so, so that you don't have the terrifying experience of climbing rickety wooden stairs and being able to look 60 feet straight down. In exchange, you get the terrifying experience of climbing up 5 flights of stairs in near total darkness.

The unsuspecting family, about to enter the tower of terror!
But the view from the top... Wow is it worth it!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Day 44: Burg Liechtenstein


This was exactly the castle experience we've been searching for. We didn't even know it existed until yesterday, and it was just fantastic.

But first, a little background. The castle was built 900 years ago, by a man named Hugo von Petronell. "Liechtenstein" literally means "bright stone," and Hugo apparently changed his name to Liechtenstein after building the castle. Or while building it. I guess he liked it better than von Petronell? The castle was destroyed by the Ottomans in the 1500s, laid in ruins for centuries, and then in the 1880s it was bought back by the ruling family of Liechtenstein. I suppose this means that this is the castle that gave the Liechtenstein family, and thus the country of Liechtenstein, their name. Unless someone along the way was just confused by the coincidence ("How many Liechtensteins can there be?" someone once said long ago. "It's got to be ours!") It was restored and enlarged, and decorated in the way the castle renovators of the 1880s thought a Romanesque castle looked. Ever since its renovation, it has been used as a museum. There's no heat, electricity, or plumbing in the castle, so even Nina says she wouldn't care to live there. Probably.

Unfortunately, we don't have any pictures from inside the castle. They don't allow any. So here are some more pictures from the outside:

This one was taken outside of the entrance. The tower that you see directly above Maggie's head is the chapel tower. The tour guide told us we couldn't go up there because the tower didn't pass city inspection for large groups. I guess stone and mortar isn't as stable as steel reinforced concrete after all.

We did go inside the chapel itself, which was very small. There was an interesting and very small red chalk drawing of a crucifix with Mary and I want to say John, but I don't remember. It was made when the chapel was first built or shortly thereafter, and this is remarkable because chalk shouldn't last that long. The tour guide referred to that as "really miraculous," but I don't think it's a church sanctioned miracle. Still, very cool.

Other highlights inside the castle included Austria's oldest bed. Not very comfy looking! It was actually more like a semi-circle about two feet deep in the wall. But they didn't lie down to sleep on this bed, because people didn't lie down to sleep at all in that day (!!!!!). They sat in it! Why did they sleep sitting up? Because they didn't have a lot of clean water to drink, you know, and so they drank a lot of wine. And the wine in the day, besides having a high alcohol content, was very acidic. So, people threw up a lot in their sleep, and so they'd sleep sitting up so that they didn't aspirate their vomit.

What!! The more I learn about history, the more I am happy to live in the here and now. Oh, and also they thought lying down was for dead people, and since lying down to sleep did cause death, I guess they were right. Even the king and queen would sleep like this! Drunkenness for all!

Another interesting tidbit was that the castle's bare, stone walls are an inaccurate representation of the Romanesque time. By the 1100s, they had figured out that wood panelling kept the castle warmer, so that was de rigeur. I didn't know that. I always pictured castles as having bare stone walls, with maybe some tapestries to keep them warmer.

From the top floor of the castle, which was only added in the 1880 renovation, we could see Vienna and I think all the way to Bratislava, but really who can tell. Here, see for yourself!

Well, it's hard to see. Photos of the distance never come out well. It's just one of those things that you have to see on your own. But the girls look awfully cute, so the picture stays!

Here's a picture from what's maybe the courtyard, instead:

Alright, bed time for me. There's probably more that I should remember, but it's almost midnight, and we went to a Heurigen for dinner with some friends of ours (Nick's old friend Any, his wife Uli, and their son Alexander) after the castle, so I am beat!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Day 42: Crickets

or, The Great Escape

Here's the long story, with I'm sure tangential rants and digressions galore. OMG, I just hate tangential rants and digressions! It's like when--KIDDING! Ha!

So, guess who always has to catch the crickets to feed to the gecko because her spouse won't go near them? Oh, I gave it away there, didn't I? It was a rhetorical question anyway, because obviously it's the mom. That goes without saying with pets I'm learning (guess how excited I am to get a dog after this gecko experience?)

Well, last night was feed the gecko night, and Nina was helping me (dear, sweet Nina. She really wants to take over feeding the gecko, she gives me hope that I won't be doing all of the work when we get a dog after all). But, the crickets are disgusting, and she just can't bring herself to stick her hands in their tank, pick up one of their disgusting, cricket-poo covered toilet paper roll hides, and shake them into the empty butter tub (because that's how it's done. Then, for the record, one must quickly put the lid on and shake, because one has already added the powdered gecko vitamins to the butter tub, and one wants the crickets coated in the powder. I don't even want to know what all this stuff costs).

ANYWAY, there's like 30 crickets in this tiny tank, and there's poo on the toilet paper rolls (at least, that's what I assume it is), and it smells, and Nina doesn't want to stick her hands in there. Neither do I for that matter, but I do. But this time, a cricket jumped on my thumb and just as quickly jumped from there clear onto the floor! I was startled and dropped the butter tub into the tank. I intended to quickly capture the escaped cricket, but then the crickets all went crazy. Popping around like mad in that tank. Then two jumped up and landed on the edge of the tank, and I screamed, and yelled to Nick to get something to catch them in. The girls, panic-stricken, ran and hid in the kitchen. Nick likewise sprinted for some tupperware (for catching crickets, of course).

The first guy that leapt from my thumb was on the floor, and we got him easily. But the two that jumped after that were much harder. One was under the dresser the tank is on, and started climbing up the wall. The other was stuck in this weird tank lip that I'm not even going to try to describe. Just trust me that it was impossible for me to catch it, but it was possible that he could jump out. So I trapped him for the moment with some paper.

We focused on trying to catch the cricket who was now underneath the dresser. Also, I am mistaken. There was a fourth cricket on top of the dresser which I caught under this little vase. It was such pandemonium that I forgot about him. Or her.

By now the girls, still anxious, had come back to the living room to see what was going on. Nina was worried that the crickets were going to live in the walls and start chirping, because we were warned that this could happen.

Well, there was a final capture attempt, a miss, some profanity and blame. Marital tensions rose. Then 5 minutes later Nick found the missing cricket down the hall on the way to the kitchen, and he was fed to the gecko like the rest.

Then, I somehow managed (brilliantly, if I don't say so myself) to get the cricket in the stupid lip part of the tank to crawl onto some paper, and quickly trapped him in the faithful old butter tub. Crisis averted!

Really, I am so done with this gecko. Two more days!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Day 41: Nina's actual Birthday and KinderSpektakel

We'll go in chronological order today, so first up: KinderSpektakel. It was basically a children's festival down in Baden's pedestrian district. Much fun! We didn't bring the camera, so no pictures, but it's a pain to drag the camera everywhere. You'll just have to let my words paint pictures in your mind like in the old days, when I was small (Maggie insists that my childhood is "the old days." I tried to explain that no, my parents' childhoods are the old days, but no. I'm sure you don't even want to know what the kids consider their grandparents' childhoods. Probably ancient times.)

Ok, I had to ask the kids what the world was like when you elders were young.
Nina said, "I don't know, no telephones or television, only radios. And no telephones."
Maggie says there were televisions, but no telephones.
"How do you think they got around," I prodded.
"I don't know," said Maggie. "I don't even know how they got around!"
"A horse carriage?" said Nina.
"Can you think of any other differences?" I asked. They love being interviewed.
"They didn't have cars. They went by horse carriage," said Nina.
"They didn't have iPods yet. Or cellphones. Or telephones. What did they have to call on?" said Maggie.
"We'll have to ask them," I said.
"I think they had to call on horses. I think horses eat worms," said Maggie.
"I don't think they do," said Nina.
"Anything else?" asked I.
"I don't think they had Droids," said Nina. "Or Nutella."
"What a horrible, horrible time to live in," I said.
"Yeah," said Nina.

Digression! I love interviewing these kids!

So, KinderSpektakel was great fun. And free! Bounce houses all over the place, and this trampoline set-up where the kids were harnessed to bungee cords, so that A) they could't fall off and B) their hang time in the air was longer, so it was 10x more fun than just bouncing on a regular trampoline.

The other big hit was a giant inflatable slide. Nina loved it and went up and down a hundred times. Maggie freaked out at the top the first time, and I ended up having to slide down with her on my lap. It was a really steep slide, and there were lots of kids, so she was understandably scared and overwhelmed.

But once we went down together, she felt good about it, and wanted to go again. Again she freaked out and started crying. Again I went up and slid down with her.

And here's where Maggie's tenacity really comes through. She was angry with herself for not being able to get down alone, and she wanted to try again. She was certain that this time, she'd be ready. I told her I believed she was, but that just in case it felt too scary up there, to climb back down the climbing side instead of crying for me. She said OK.

Well, she got up there and cried. But then she climbed back down the climb-up side, and by the time she got down, she was smiling. I figured, all's good as long as she considers it a success, right?

But, no. She wanted to do it again. THIS TIME SHE WAS GOING TO DO THE SLIDE!! What are we going to say, no? Give up on your goals kid? Let a challenge beat you down instead of getting back in the saddle and trying again?! Of course not!! So we told her to go for it!!

I'll bet you're expecting a moment of triumph now, but no. She cried, and climbed back down. By the time she reached us, she was ready to try it again.

Well, by now, Nina and the other kids we had met up with (Nick's old friend Suzy's kids) were ready to try something else. I told Maggie, and she cried. She really, really wanted to conquer the slide. Unfortunately, I didn't think it was fair to take all day with the slide thing, so I convinced her that we should try to jump on the trampolines again, and then come back to the slide later. She reluctantly went along with it.

Unfortunately, the trampoline line by then was a half hour long, so we got some food instead and jumped on the bounce houses. Then it poured and we went home. Still, a fun day!!

Then on Tuesday, we celebrated Nina's actual birthday. She's really and truly 7 now, holy cow!! We just kicked it around the house and talked on the phone. I had posted on our Boothbay Moms facebook group that it was Nina's birthday and that if anyone had time for a quick Skype call, she'd love to see her friends' faces. And we got calls! We talked to the Neins and the Perrys, plus mom and dad and Erik, Isabelle, and Chester of course. And Bear! She also got a video message from Jackson and Wyatt, and lots of wall wishes. She was thrilled!

Then we played outside for a while with a nice little girl from the complex. We sang happy birthday again with some candles in the last 2 slices of cake, and gave her 2 more small presents, so she'd have somthing to open on her actual birthday (Pez and markers. There were some wrapped Pez for Maggie too, because giving Nina Pez but not Maggie seems cruel).

All in all a mellow but lovely day!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Day 39: Friday's trip to Belvedere Palace

Ever since we got to Austria, Nina has wanted to see where Nick and I got married. Every time we see a church or a building, she'll ask, "Is that where you and papa got married? How about that?? That? THAT??" She must have asked me 50 times in Budapest and I kept telling here "WE DIDN'T GET MARRIED IN THIS COUNTRY!" but that didn't really sink in. So confusing. Granted, Austria and Hungary were at one time united, and Nick still considers it almost part of Austria. I told Nick that just because Austria had it for a decade or so 200 years ago, doesn't mean squat, but maybe it's the Austrian in him, trying to cling to his country's former glory.
I digress.
We finally got the kids to the Belvedere. Actually, first we went to the Hotel Bristol, because that was closer. Big hit. Remember how beautiful the elevator was? It's the exact same. Unfortunately, they're renovating the ballroom we had our reception in, so we couldn't go down there. Disappointment! They said to come back in a month though, it'll be done by then. Good enough.
Next we walked over to the Belvedere. Well, first we stopped at this great fountain
What a huge fountain. The wind blew the mist toward us, which was wonderfully refreshing and lots of fun for the kids. Eventually, we moved on to the Belvedere. Still as beautiful as ever!
I asked Maggie what she thought of the statues up on the roof there, and she approved. I said maybe we should get some at our house, and she agreed. But full-sized statues would be too big, so I'm thinking maybe sticking some garden gnomes up on the roof would have a similar effect. Ha!
We had to buy tickets to get into the ceremony room and the gold room, but that's ok. The rest of the Lower Belvedere is an art gallery, and it was beautiful. Even the girls enjoyed it a little bit. I can't show you pics because cameras weren't allowed, of course, but it was an art museum. You get the idea.
I tried to get a nice family photo where we took our wedding pictures, maybe try to get a few wedding day recreations, but no one else (COUGH*nick*COUGH) was really on board with that idea, so this is the best we got. Well, after all these weeks of waiting and waiting to see the Belvedere, you'd think Nina was thrilled, no? Yeah, she got bored pretty quickly. She just wanted to get over to the playground near Stefan's house with the really fast zip line.
Maybe she'll find the Upper Belvedere more impressive. We got tickets for that too (cheaper if you buy both!), and we have two weeks to get there. So I'll let you know how that goes.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Day 38: Birthday Party!

Look who's (almost) seven!!
And look at that gorgeous Happy Birthday banner
Today we had a party for Nina's seventh birthday. Seven! Boy does time fly! We invited Nick's cousin Dorris, her husband Gerhard, their kids Nicolas and Christoph, and Dorris' parents Helene and Peter (Peter is Fritz's brother). We had a lovely time!
The kids had a blast playing together. And Vanessa, I was wrong (or was I right about being wrong?), Dr. Drill n' Fill was a huge hit. They've been playing with it all day, and that's Nicholas playing with them in the photo above. Christoph is the younger one (he's 4, and Nicolas turns 7 next month), and he's playing with the legos in the photo above.
It was Maggie's idea to decorate the door with ribbons. It's beautiful! I think it's going to stay up for quite a while, because they're all individually taped up, and I have enough to do around here, what with that stupid gecko and disgusting crickets to feed and water every day.
Check out this cake! The girls and I made it this morning. Vanilla with nutella and apricot jam in the middle and frosted with more nutella. Yum!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Day 35: Just a lazy summer week

I haven't updated in a few days, but there's not much to really write about. The girls and I have been taking it easy and not venturing too far from home. On Tuesday we took a lovely walk in the vinyards nearby. The grapes are turning purple! Quite exciting! I'll try to remember the camera next time we walk there, they really are lovely. Quiet, green, and peaceful. Grapes aren't especially fragrant, but that's ok.
Yesterday we took the BadenerBahn (that's the train that runs from Vienna to Baden) into downtown Baden and walked up to the Kurpark. We didn't take any pictures, but here's some from the last time, to refresh your memories:
It's the park next to the Casino. We hiked uphill to the goats, which we again fed:
Lovely times. This time, there were two very small newborn goats. Adorable! Maggie almost started crying when she saw them, and I thought something had upset her. "What's wrong," I asked. "Are you ok?" and she responed, "I'm just so happy I'm gonna cry. I can't get any happier than this." Aww, how cute! She did cry a few tears, but then she stopped. But since they were happy tears, I guess it's all good. She certainly has strong emotions! When we ran out of 20 cent coins, we fed the goats some grass. Then I got pricked by some stinging nettles, ouch! My fingers didn't feel better until I woke up this morning! If you ever see this plant, AVOID it!!:
After that we went to the pet food store to buy some more crickets for Einstein, who is still thoroughly alive. I can't wait until that gecko is gone! Guess who's ended up doing all of the cricket and gecko care? Mom! Shock of all shocks! The crickets are getting all spoiled too. All of a sudden, they only want to eat their cricket food. I have to buy some lettuce again, hopefully they'll eat that. They won't even touch cucumber. Freaking insects!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Day 32: She lost a tooth!!

It got really, really, REALLY loose last night after she ate some toast before bed. It could have been yanked out by a merciful parent, but Nina wasn't psychologically ready yet. Plus it was bedtime, past bedtime really, the kids are still going to bed at 10:30, and I just wanted her to go to sleep. She was somewhat afraid that it was going to fall out in her sleep, but I was pretty sure it wasn't going to. It was loose, but not hanging by a thread loose. More like hanging by 5 threads loose.
In the morning, I made her oatmeal for breakfast. I vividly remember (or at least, think I vividly remember!) eating oatmeal and losing my ultra loose first tooth. It worked for Nina too! Not 3 bites into her bowl of oatmeal, the tooth was out! Success! She was a bit weirded out, but mostly relieved.
What a milestone! She really, really, really wants the tooth fairy to bring her a new cellphone case for her Droid. She knows that I'm the tooth fairy, she talks about it all the time, but yesterday and today she has talked incessantly about the tooth fairy. I think she might be having second thoughts. Hedging her bets, so to speak. A kind of Pascal's wager, if you will. (I hope you're impressed there mom. Pascal's wager. That $120,000 Jesuit education wasn't for nothing after all!)
The adult tooth was already growing in behind the baby tooth. So it's already through the gums. At first I was worried that the adult tooth was too far from the baby tooth to push it out, but it wasn't. Whew!
Here's the adult tooth:
And here's a picture of Maggie, who didn't want to be left out of the photo shoot:
That's her beach babe pose. Who is a famous beach babe? Bo Derek? That French woman? Apparently they didn't teach us about famous pin-ups at my fancy private university! Oh yes, and I just ran into the tooth fairy. She's leaving Nina 5 Euros. Nina told me this afternoon that the tooth fairy must be really, really rich if she's giving all the kids in the world money every day for their lost teeth, so I suppose she can afford 5 Euros.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Day 31: Budapest recap part II

So really this is a post about Day 29, but I'm going to continue to title the posts with the number of the day that I'm writing on, or else I'll get hopelessly confused. I might have to switch to Month once I lose track. We'll see.
Regardless, we started Friday with a yummlicious-y all you can eat buffet breakfast at the hotel restaurant. They even had pancakes and imitation maple syrup. Good enough for me! I just can't get into this cold cuts and cheese European breakfast. Give me an eggy American breakfast any day.
Then we headed back to St. Stephen's Basilica. It had been closed on Thursday when we were there, and I really wanted to see the inside. On the way though, we passed this really neat plaster-painting place and we had to stop and give it a try. It was so much fun!
The girls each painted a bunch of plaster flowers. They came out beautifully!
I'll bet you can tell which one's Nina's and which one's Maggie's. It was another super hot day, so sitting in the store painting and out of the hot sun was a wonderful break. Of course, the store wasn't air conditioned, but what is?
Next we went to St. Stephen's. It was a suggested donation admission, baptism certificate not required. It was so, so beautiful inside. Gilded, stained-glassed, statued, and painted. Our pictures don't do it justice, but here are some anyway:
The first is of the altar, the second the dome. And then (of course!) there was this:
What can that be, you ask? What else but the mummified right hand of Saint Stephen! I know I'm Catholic, and I should probably find the assorted body parts venerable instead of horrifying, but it is what it is, isn't it. All I can say is, if I'm ever sainted, do me the favor of just having me buried under the altar.
After the basilica we got ice cream (again!) and then made our way back to the hotel and then train station. The ride home was much easier than the ride there, thanks entirely to the KinderKino on the train. Child's cinema! They annoyingly rotated clips from 6 different movies, about 2 minutes per clip, but whatever. The kids were tired and transfixed. We also noticed that the trains have power outlets, so we could play a DVD on the computer for the kids. Our next train ride is going to be very fun and easy, I can feel it!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Day 30: Budapest recap, part I

On Thursday we got up bright and early. Bright and early for us anyway, considering the girls were so wound up they didn't fall asleep until almost midnight. We got a breakfast of pastries and hopped on the subway up to Castle Hill to see the Fisherman's Bastion:
and Matthias Church:
It was built in 1015 (!! old!!) and is officially named the Church of our Lady, but unofficially called Matthias church after King Matthias who had it renovated in the 1400s. It was at one point turned into a mosque during Ottoman occupation of Buda. Apparently in the 1600s, when the Ottomans (Muslims) were under attack by the Holy League (Christians), a wall of the church collapsed in front of some praying Muslims and revealed a hidden statue of the Virgin Mary. Their morale was injured and the city fell later that same day. Such a rich history, but did we go inside the church? No. You had to wait on a line to buy tickets and the girls enthusiastically expressed their displeasure at the idea of taking a tour of a church. Anytime I mention seeing a church, Nina's face falls and she asks if we're going to have to do mass? Poor kid. It's because I dragged her to mass at St. Stefan's in Vienna, and she's forever scarred. Well, we heard later that day from some fellow diners that the inside of Matthias is being renovated right now, and paying for tickets is a total rip-off because all you see is scaffolding and the altar. So all's well that ends up unintentionally working out for the best! Anyway, I feel like Catholics shouldn't be charged to see the inside of a church. I should be able to carry around my baptism or confirmation certificate, and they should waive admission.
Well anyway, it was hot, easily in the low- to mid-90s, so we sat and had some ice cream at a cafe inside of the Fisherman's Bastion instead of seeing the inside of the church:
Same price, less religion...
A lovely view to go along with our ice cream! The Fisherman's Bastion looks out over the Danube River (this branch of which is called the Blue Danube) and the Pest portion of Budapest (the city of Budapest was created when two different cities, Buda and Pest, which joined up to make one big city in 1873). I'm not sure if you can make it out, but the beautiful building across the river is parliament. Absolutely stunning!
Then we took a cab back to the hotel for a cooling, mid-day swim. And you know what happens on a hot day with a lot of walking followed by a cooling swim, don't you?
I started it though. I'd put a photo of me sleeping there, but A) no one took one and B) I don't look as beautiful asleep as Maggie does. Perhaps A and B above are really one and the same?
Well, finally, we woke up, dressed, and had a delicious dinner at a little, air-conditioned Hungarian restaurant. Yum! We finished up the day with some time at a playground, fun in a fountain (this link will take you to youtube, be sure to right click and open in another tab if you want to stay on the blog), and one last scoop of ice cream (it was still pretty hot!).

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Day 27: Budapest

We're here! We took a 9:30 train from Baden and arrived at Budapest just before 1. We made our way straight to the hotel and had lunch at the hotel restaurant. Veal stew, chicken with creamed kale, and potato gnocchi. Yum! We didn't bring the camera, or I'd be posting pictures of the awesome lemonades the girls got. They were more citrus-ades than lemonades, because they had an orangey taste and were filled with slices of oranges, lemons, and limes. Delicious though. We're thoroughly spoiling the girls!
After lunch we decided we had to see... the hotel swimming pool. Of course! There are two, one indoors and one outdoors. We hit both, of course, plus the hot tub. THEN we set out to see some sights.
We didn't get that far. It was 5:00 and the kids were hot and tired, so we set our sights low and just walked to a nearby huge and famous synagogue. I don't have any pictures, they're on the other camera, but it was a beautiful synagogue. From the outside, we didn't go in.
Then we headed back to the hotel for a rooftop twilight swim! Luxurious! Here we are:
Maggie's suit was still wet, so I told her if she wanted, she could just put on her bottoms for a swim, since we're in Europe and all. Nina thought it was a fabulous idea and exclaimed, "Yes Maggie! You can go nipple free!" And so, a new term is born. When you hear about Maggie going nipple free, you'll know what I'm talking about.