about a dream: March 2013

Saturday, March 30, 2013

We're back!!

We got back on Thursday night but I've been too busy and tired to blog until now. I'm still tired but I'm not busy at least, so here's a quick update.

The flight was excellent. We flew Iceland Air which broke up the trip nicely--three hours and 15 minutes to Iceland from Paris, then 5 hours to Boston. Our layover in Iceland was short, and I didn't have any trouble with customs. The woman did ask a few questions about why we were there so long and what we were doing, but I showed her the girls' Austrian citizenship documents and she was happy that we were on the up and up, so that was a relief. If they'd asked me a lot of questions, I could have missed the connecting flight and that would have been an awful pain.

Iceland Air didn't give free food (even for a trans-Atlantic flight!) and at first I thought that was going to be difficult, because all I had on me was 10 Euros to buy snacks, but then it turned out that they gave free food (and free headphones) to kids, so it was all good. The girls ate and watched a bunch of movies and before we knew it we were on the ground in Boston. Customs there didn't give me any trouble either, all they cared about was what I bought and whether I owed US taxes on it. I think they took pity on me too because the girls were exhausted and I was carrying Maggie plus all of our carry-on luggage. We were obviously all on the verge of a major melt-down. Customs guys don't want to listen to over-tired kids have tantrums.

Erik picked us up and we were in Boothbay at 10:10 (I told someone today that we got in at about 9 pm Thursday and mom says, "10:10!! I know because I was watching the clock!")

We're so happy to be back. We met up with a bunch of friends at the playground today and the girls had a great time playing. They're watching a movie now and barely awake so I'll put them to bed soon. Jet lag isn't too bad but we're definitely exhausted at bed time.

More later with Disney pictures!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Disney is fantastic!!

We're having a wonderful time. No photos yet because I'm too wiped out to download any, but everything has been beautiful.

We started with an overnight train to Frankfurt. The girls were overjoyed to be sleeping on a train. We didn't spent too much time revelling in the fun of having a sleeper car because we didn't hit the tracks (ha!) until 8 and breakfast was going to be served at 5:30 am. Not a long night's sleep for the kids.

They had no trouble falling asleep, and neither did I, but Nick says he found it less than lulling and took half the night to settle into a deep sleep. It didn't help that the "beds" were more like plywood with fabric on top.

Our next train left Frankfurt before 7 and we got into Paris at almost 11. Germany looked just like Austria, which wasn't too surprising, but France actually looked very different. Rolling fields, totally different architecture... provincial. And lovely.

By the time we got to Versailles it was like 2 in the afternoon. Erik and Isabelle met us at our hotel, we relaxed and ate a late lunch, then the six of us headed out to "the chateau." That's what they call it, "the chateau." And, wow. I've seen pictures, but seeing it was just unbelievable. It was huge, the gardens were huge (and we only saw a fraction of them). There were reflecting pools the size of a city block. Just amazing. We walked all over the grounds for a few hours, saw the swans, Maggie and Nick got pooped on by birds, and then we went to Erik and Isabelle's hotel. Which is actually another palace on the grounds that's been converted to a hotel.

We kicked around in their room, put a movie on TV for the girls, drank coffee, and generally recuperated. We were pretty tired because we'd already had such a long day, but the coffee helped and we rallied for dinner. Which we had, at a little crepe shop on the way to our hotel (which seemed a lot nicer before we saw the palace turned hotel!). The crepes were amazingly delicious. I had a black sausage, walnut, and apple crepe, Nick had a tripe, egg, and cheese crepe, and the girls both had egg and cheese. Mmmm. Isabelle had scallops, mushrooms and tomatoes and Erik had some kind of blue cheese salad crepe. I can't remember what else was in it.

Finally we got back to our room and passed out. Then in the morning, Erik and Isabelle arrived with these fresh baked croissants that were the most delicious thing I've ever tasted. People aren't kidding when they go on and on about the French food. I'm spoiled for life now.

THEN we went straight to Disney. We took a cab this time because hauling our luggage all over the subway was ridiculously hard.

Disney is so much fun. All four of us are having a total blast. The magic kingdom is divided into four parks: fantasy land (where we spent most of today), adventure land (we just did the pirates of the carribean ride there), frontier land, aaaaaaaand I can't remember the last one. I'm too tired to get up and check the map, I'll get back to you on the last one. Plus there's also Walt Disney Studios next door!

Then around 6:00 pm we came back to our beautiful room and went for a swim. I came back to the room to take the girls to the bathroom and now I'm just too warm and tired to go back in the pool, so Nick's swimming with them. After this we'll head back into the park for dinner and if that takes long enough we'll watch the fireworks before bed.

I think it's going to take us all four days to see everything here!

Friday, March 22, 2013

All packed and ready to go!

The biggest challenge of today has been keeping the girls happy without letting them trash the apartment. Difficult.

Thankfully Anne made things easier by cooking us lunch. So, we're up there eating and she says, "I found out something interesting about health insurance-" and Maggie interrupts with "BOOOOORING!"

Ha! What a little devil! I've been cracking up all day thinking about it.

Drop-off at Kindergarten today was good. She was still sad, she really likes her teacher and her (female) classmates (the boys annoy her. And smell, apparently. One day she said to me, "I smelled something bad at school today. It was the boy next to me. Boys stink." Little boys, she clarifies.) She has nothing against older men, like Philip (she called him her "favorite guy" the last time we went rock climbing. He's at least 30, so I'm just a little worried...)

Nina is less sentimental, but she's going to miss Austria too. Frau Manhart wants the class to Skype with Nina some time, which might be a little difficult with the time difference and early dismissal times in Austria, but I'm sure we'll figure something out. Nina also says she misses her classmates already, and a bunch of them gave her presents today. So sweet!

Tonight we'll sleep on a train for the first time! We're going to wake up in Germany, I believe, and then transfer to another train that will take us into Paris. So exciting! Cross your fingers that we all sleep well tonight!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Maggie painted this at school today. I think it's beautiful! What do you see?

A sunset, right? Lovely composition, dark clouds in front of the bright setting sun?


It's a pony lying on the beach, of course!

I still love it. I love it this much:

That is a heart-shaped potato. I've been waiting for an excuse to use that. :-)

Feeling better today, the girls both went to school. Two more days!! Two more days!!!!

Monday, March 18, 2013


It's strep for Maggie. Well, probably strep. I asked the doctor if it was definitely strep and he said there's an 80% chance it's strep. There are a few other bacteria that cause similar symptoms and the only way to be really sure is to do a culture, which they're not going to do because it doesn't really matter, these antibiotics will treat it no matter which one it actually is. So, there you go.

She'll have to stay home tomorrow because she only had her first dose this evening, and I'll probably keep Nina home because she's still kind of up and down, maybe 75% better. But definitely the girls will be back on Wednesday, otherwise I'll never get our stuff packed up!

So far Nick is symptom-free, of course. He never gets sick!!! Why, just once, can't it be him instead of me??? So unfair.

Home, home on the range...

Nina's home again today. Her teacher called last night and said that the school had no heat, so the Nina should come to school dressed extra warmly. Nick told her about the strep and they agreed that Nina should just skip today. He'll check in with her later today, but I assume it'll be back on tomorrow?

Maggie says her throat is a little sore today still, but the doctor's office isn't open until 1:00 today, so no appointment yet. I'll let you know how that goes.

It's just as well Nina's home today anyway, I can't send Maggie if she possibly has strep, and life is easier for me if both girls are home as opposed to just Maggie. Lots of packing and cleaning to get to this week! Then Paris!!!

Sunday, March 17, 2013


That's German for "unbelievable."

Nina and I have strep throat. We leave for Paris in 5 days!

I'm cursed, that's all there is to it. I missed my last Paris trip because I came down with the chicken pox three days before it, and now, here I am again... The Paris Curse.

Well, fortunately a doctor came by the house yesterday (a house call! I guess the government finds sending on-call doctors to people's houses to be more cost-effective than operating urgent care clinics). He wrote me and Nina a total of five prescriptions (an antibiotic each, something for my ridiculously swollen tonsils, a pain reliever for Nina, and medicated lozenges for my painful throat. Which really, really hurt a lot).

I'm feeling much better today than yesterday. My throat barely hurts any more, and my (very slight) fever is now gone. Maggie did have a sore throat overnight last night but seems better today, but I'll take her in to the doctor tomorrow anyway. I don't want her ending up with rhumatic fever. Can you get that from a mild case of strep that your body kicks on its own? Well, I'll ask the doctor. She doesn't have a fever or anything, so hopefully she won't need antibiotics too.

Mostly I'm just lying in bed this weekend. So much for deciding how to spend our last weekend in Baden!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Home sick today

Oh well, of all the days to spend inside watching TV and eating banana bread, today's the day. The temperature has hovered right around the freezing mark all day (0 degrees Celsius just sounds so much colder than 32 Fahrenheit), plus it's snowing and windy. Not big, fluffy flakes of snow, but little shards of ice snow. Accumulation appears from the 5th floor to be about an inch.

Nina came home from school on Monday with a sore throat and tummy ache and stayed home on Tuesday. On Wednesday I gave her a claritin in the morning and sent her to school, but the poor kid was sneezing and blowing her nose all afternoon. She had a little temperature at bedtime and the runny nose was worse, so we kept her home again today. She's still got a slight temp (so do I) and sneezing up a storm, but the claritin does help some.

So now she and Maggie are lying on the couch with pillows and blankets watching TV (Maggie seems to be extra tired today too and is probably fighting off the same thing). Well, at least they're watching cartoons in German, so it's educational! Right?

We'll see about tomorrow... I'll give Nina another claritin when she wakes up, and if she's not sneezing all over the place by 8:00 I'll send her (swimming is done at 8:15). Definitely I'll have her skip swimming--call me old fashioned, but I'm worried she might get a chill. Plus you can't blow your nose in a swimming pool, and that's just uncomfortable.

We MUST have everyone at 100% next week! We're so excited for Disney, Paris, and home!!!!!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Happy Birthday to Nick!

What a special day Nick had!

Here he is with the lovely banner

And just look at the food the girls made him:

That's two strawberry snowmen, a bowl of strawberry yogurt, bite-sized baked bries (ok that one was by me!) and a plate of chocolatey whipped cream. They were cooking up a storm in the kitchen this morning!

Then Maggie made this:

What a lucky guy!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Finally, Graz!

Our rechargeable battery charger fried here the first time we plugged it in, so we've had to use regular old disposable batteries all year. What a pain. Anyway we finally got some, so here are our pictures from Graz!

The first thing we did was meet up with a new friend named Anna, an American woman married to a Canadian man living in Austria. She lives in Graz and showed us around. Here we are with the girls in front of the castle hill. You can see the stairs that we took behind us.

Here's the big famous clock on castle hill.

Then we ate a delicious but un-Godly slow lunch at a restaurant on the hill. We did the lunch menu, which included a spring vegetable cream soup, a lovely piece of steak (so rare here and Maggie has been pining for a good steak, so that was really fantastic) with a side of delicious potatoes au gratin and snap peas, and cheesecake for dessert. All for 15 Euros! What a deal!

Even though it took forever for the food to come, the girls were so, so well behaved. I was so proud of them!

Look at me, beaming with maternal pride.

Then we walked down the other side of the hill and saw some more of the city. Like the rathaus!

The girls played at a playground for a while, and then we went back to Anna's apartment for a few minutes so Nina and Maggie could use the bathroom and play with her dog, who they loved. He's a border collie mix and thoroughly enjoyed playing games with them and being hand-fed his twingles. Anna said that after the girls left, he was spent. Man, we're gonna need a dog with lots of energy!

We stopped for sandwiches on the road and were home by 8:30 or so. A fun but exhausting day!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Another family movie night

Tonight it was Bolt, a cartoon about a dog. Very cute.

Not much to report. Drop off has continued to go well for Maggie, though I did color shortly with her today. Then (heartbreaking! Mom you might want to skip this paragraph!), she likes to run out of the classroom while I'm putting my shoes and coat on in the lobby and wave and blow me kisses. Well she said that today when she came out I was already gone and she cried. Poor little Maggie! Tears she specified. Actual tears. But she got over it quickly, cried a second time when something unrelated happened... I can't remember what... but was still all smiles when I picked her up. She painted 5 drawings today, so she was busy.

Nina had another field trip today, that's the second this week (plus they watched a movie and had a storyteller at the classroom on Wednesday). They're doing a unit on fairy tales, have I said that already? What a perfectly fun way to spend her last few weeks here.

Not sure yet what we're going to do tomorrow... Looks like the weather might be iffy, so maybe we'll just hang out around the house and play with ponies.

2 weeks from today we head off to Paris. So excited!!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Nina was getting a huge kick out of photo-bombing Nick this evening. Behold:

Some of the best photo-bombs of all time I'd say. She was laughing hysterically the whole time:

Also, Maggie dressed herself up as Lady from Lady and the Tramp (I think Lady is a cocker spaniel?)

Has she grown lately or what?

A milestone!

You're never going to believe this one.

Today, I dropped Maggie off at preschool... and then left! Like a regular mom! No coloring for 15 minutes, no reading a story together. Amazing.

She absolutely adores her school and always has a wonderful time there. And today, when we arrived, one of the teachers was playing her guitar and the kids were all playing along with different musical instruments. Maggie took off her coat and boots as fast as she could and ran in there. She grabbed a maraca and then a cymbal and drumstick, and played along with the biggest smile on her face. I have her a kiss, she waved at me, and didn't even look up again.

I'm so happy! I was beginning to think we wouldn't get here, but lo and behold!

Nina's also having a wonderful week at school. On Monday her class went to the theater at the casino (she says it's lovely; spiral staircases, huge chandeliers... I'd like to see it! Nick!), today a story-teller is coming to their class, and on Friday they're going to the story-teller's villa (to hear more stories?). They're doing a unit on Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm and it's a lot of fun. Also the perfect lead-in to our trip to Disney.

The sun is still shining and it's still nice and warm so that helps too. Only 2 weeks and 2 days until we're on our way! So excited!

Monday, March 4, 2013

No batteries in the camera!

We went to Graz on Sunday, but I'll do a post about that when I get some batteries so I can download the photos. Nina's little lego camera has an internal battery that recharges via my computer, why can't my camera do that? So much easier.

Well, instead I'll write about Saturday. We went to SooƟ with a bunch of Nick's friends for a little hike in the vinyards and then dinner and drinks at a heurigen. Kind of like a little goodbye party for us. It was lots of fun! I was especially excited that Nina and Maggie got along with Elmer's two little boys and the four of them played outside. Elmer had asked me how Nina's German had come along, and I'd told him that I didn't get to hear it much, usually only when I eavesdropped on her playing with her little friends. So Elmer quietly listened in while the girls were playing with his boys and he was very impressed. He said when he listened very carefully he could just barely detect a faint American accent on some of her words, but only because he knew to listen for it. Go Nina!

Maggie spoke some too, and she responded in English to all of the questions Ushi asked in German. But even she's been voluntarily speaking more German around the house lately.

Everyone asks why I don't speak German to the girls too, but at this point I only get mocked for trying. Like, on the way to Graz there was a sign on the bathroom door, and I read it aloud and asked Nina what it meant. She said, "Well I might be able to tell if you could pronounce the words properly."

Well! I know when I've been insulted!

Then she said something about me being close enough on one word that she could tell what I was trying to say. At least that wasn't an outright insult.

But it's ok, I have a good attitude about it. In fact, I thoroughly enjoy reading aloud in German to her and listening to her crack up and correct my pronunciation. Eventually she gives up. "Close enough," she says.

The next challenge will be to keep it going! Remember Nate Gordon from high school? Well, he's married to a German woman and they have 3 kids, and they're moving from Germany to Boothbay soon. I'm hoping the kids can speak German to each other. But I told Nick that unless he speaks to them more, the girls are going to wind up with German accents, and he doesn't want that!