about a dream: April 2013

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Maggie: NINA! (Angry face, then very quiet voice) ...I'm going to chop your head off."
Nina: Eek!
Then laughter as Maggie chases Nina around the house.

But, I thought that I couldn't just let that statement go, so I tried to have a talk with Maggie (always a bad idea).

Me: Maggie, what you just said to Nina wasn't ok. I know when you're angry you want to say the most hurtful thing you can think of--
Maggie: That wasn't the most hurtful thing I could think of. Do you want to know what the most hurtful thing I could think of is?
Nick: NO!!
Maggie: Nina, I want to put you in the oven and cook you and then cut you into little pieces and eat you for dinner. I think that would taste pretty good! (As she skips around the house).

Did you see that list of the 15 Creepiest Things Kids Have Ever Said that I posted on facebook this morning? Exchanges like this are why I found that list unimpressive.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Cheer it Gangnam style!

Last night was the Miss Shrimp pageant. One of my favorite events of the year! The girls were super excited to be there and Maggie brought out her best cheerleading for the contestants.

So, they come out onto stage for the first time, looking all adorable in their evening wear (remember these are little girls aged 9 to 12), and Maggie shouts,


Gah! Embarrassing! Everyone around us (which was mostly Jay Campbell and his mom) busted up laughing. I told Maggie that "sexy" isn't really appropriate at the Miss Shrimp pageant, so she changed her cheer to "lovely ladies," and that solved the problem. Whew!

Well, the rest of the festival should be interesting, if we ever get there...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Maggie is a hula girl

She put this costume together by herself:

The top is a "princess top," just FYI.

Also, here is the jell-o the girls and I made yesterday:

Rainbow! How fun is that?!! It tastes as good as it looks, too. I think I'm going to do some kind of rainbow cake for Maggie's birthday, but I'm not sure yet exactly how I'll put it together. Stay tuned, though.

Finally, here's some of the latest artwork:

Nick had both cameras with him in Austria, so now that he's back I can take photos again.

Nina made a library

Check this out!

See how the book categories are labelled? (You can click on that photo to enlarge it) She's got "goob books" (that's supposed to be "good books"), "goosebumps," "flap books," and "gro nup books," among others.

This shows the whole set-up. The table on the right there is where you go to check out your book and Nina "ink drops it." Adorable. They were playing library for an hour the other night.

Sorry for not much blogging lately, I've been falling asleep every night at 8:00 with the girls and sleeping until 6 am. It's been lovely! I have quite a few years of sleep deprivation to recover from, hopefully I'll be able to stay up later soon but I'm not going to push myself. Still, I intend to be better about blogging during the day and return shortly to my previous every-other-day average frequency.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Family game night last night

What a fun day we had yesterday. We started with lunch at China by the Sea, and then the sun came out and the girls rode their ATV until the battery ran out. After that it was a dip in the hot tub, some leftover Chinese food and The Simpsons, and then family game night at our place with grandma and grandpa!

The fun kicked off badly with a round of Candy Land. Maggie drew the gingerbread tree, which takes you back nearly to start, three times. Three times! There were five of us playing and Maggie got that awful card three times. What are the odds of that! Unfortunately, Maggie didn't see the humor in the situation and wailed each time. Then Nina would start crying, upset that Maggie was getting away with cheating. It was a disaster. Fortunately, grandpa did a little behind-the-scenes card manipulation that assured Nina got her rightful victory, so justice was somewhat restored.

Next up was chutes and ladders. Hilarity. This time I just moved Maggie's pieces down the chutes (and she seemed to hit every one of them) without saying anything and she didn't seem to notice. For once in our lives, dad and I were actually in the lead in this game. Must have been a full moon or something. I ended up winning, which again reduced Maggie to tears. That hot tub sure is draining!

Finally, we wound it all up with a humiliating game of Dora the Explorer Memory. It went like it always does: Nina destroyed us. She had more matches than me, mom, dad, and Maggie combined (though Maggie sat out more than half the game. She would have come in second if she had played the whole thing.) Nina is really incredible at memory. And she still mocks those of us who are less talented at it than she, which adds so much to the humiliation of the experience. I tell you though, Maggie is good too. Once she gets beyond thinking it's funny to turn over the same card every time and actually starts playing to win, she's going to be a force. And if Nina ever actually focuses on the game, forget it. Well at least they have each other to play with.

I was tuckered out after the merriment last night and went straight to bed, that's why you're getting this update on this rainy Saturday morning.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Vacation is flying by

How does that happen? Regular weeks go by so slowly, and vacation weeks just fly. So unfair.

We're having a very relaxing vacation. The furthest we've gone is to the playground and the Ebb Tide, both of which we visited today. We'd thought it was going to be warm and sunny so we'd made a date to meet Emery there, but it turned out to be cloudy and raw. Ick! So unfair. But, the girls still had a wonderful time, it was just us moms were shivering.

Then I dropped Nina off at the Ebb Tide for a snack while Maggie and I went to an appointment at the bank.

Not much planned for tomorrow either. The girls have missed China By The Sea so much, so I promised them dinner there tomorrow. Yippee!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

I have my Nina back!

She had a fantastic time, thank you Erik, Isabelle, Mom, Dad, and Chester! According to Nina, she went to the beach, ate chips, and watched TV all weekend. A four-star vacation!!

Maggie and I missed her terribly, but she was having too much fun to miss us very much. Well, we're back together and happy now, though planning another trip down already (next time with all four of us though).

Things are coming together here on the home front. I need to pick up some kind of basket or shelving system for the closet in the family room to organize the toys and stuffed animals, and I'm still going through the linens and clothes we stored for the year, but slowly it's all getting done. The last big hurdle is to figure out the source of that evil smell... I'm afraid it's coming from under the dishwasher. A few years of leaking can certainly cause a funk to develop. Good thing I watched that video and am now a dishwasher repair expert. All I need is the muscle to pull the dishwasher out!

Wish me luck...

Friday, April 12, 2013

Vacation week begins!

Finally! The girls had to endure a whole week and a half of school back here in Maine! Thank goodness we've finally made it to vacation!

Kidding! Actually they've done a really great job with school. Maggie is still loving it, and Nina has accepted that no one out of pre-K or Kindergarten actually loves it, so she goes without complaining. Or, she has for the last few days. Maggie and I had lunch with her on Wednesday, and she told me that she wanted to go home with me after lunch. I immediately polled the kids at the table. "Who here would like to go home right now?" I asked. All hands in the air. "Who didn't want to come to school this morning?" All hands in the air. Then I was inundated by 8 stories of how they whine in the morning, how they tell their mothers that they don't feel well (even though they feel fine! I should have gotten the confession on tape!) but the moms send them anyway. It was so funny. Plus the kids loved it, so I had to ask a bunch more questions. In summary, Nina and all her classmates wish every day was the first day of summer vacation. But, knowing that everyone feels the same way has been helpful. Now if Nina starts moaning about school, I remind her about her classmates and tell her the people who really have it rough are the moms, listening to all this whining. Ha! She's stuck now!!

Well, the best thing about the break really is that she gets to go to Plum Island this weekend! She's there right now! I can't believe it... I've never been away from her for a whole weekend before! I miss her!! (Maggie says she doesn't, but I think she does. She keeps asking me to play ponies with her, but I'm just not as good at it as Nina.)

Come back tomorrow Nina! One day is enough!!

Monday, April 8, 2013

More Disney...

On Monday we ventured out of Disneyland and right next door to Walt Disney Studios. I'd never been to one of these, so this was very exciting for me.

Here we are at the gates!

Ok, to be totally honest we took that one our way out. I'm only confessing that because you can tell the sun is setting.

Boo's door!

Uh-oh, Nina's been found by the Child Detection Agency!

Maggie's not in any of these Monster's Inc photos because the whole thing weirded her out. I'm not exactly sure why, she didn't say. She said she understood that it wasn't real, and she didn't mind any of the other movie characters in the park. Maybe because Monster's Inc was scary?

Then we went on some rides. Or, tried to. The cars ride broke 35 seconds into it, so we got on line for the paratroopers parachutes, and that broke too. At least this time we didn't spend a whole 5 minutes on line first.

I was a little nervous about getting on one of the scary rides after so many malfunctions, but third time's a charm, right? And it was fine. First I did Andy's Race Car, for which we have no picture, but then I did the wonderfully fun falling elevator at the Hollywood Tower of Terror. Behold:

I have to say, the French people need to import some good mechanics, because the rides were constantly broken. Thunder mountain was closed twice (I asked the guy sending people away, "Wasn't this broken yesterday too?" and he said, "Yes. It works, it breaks, it works, it breaks..." Not so comforting!)

Besides using our time wisely, we had one more trick to help us avoid lines: Fastpass. We got them because we stayed at the Disneyland hotel, one per person per day, and they let us skip the whole line! Noting feels as unfairly VIP as bypassing a 45-minute line. We used them twice to ride the Buzz Lightyear ride line, which was worth it because that was a really fun one.

The whole trip was just fantastic. The girls had an amazing time and are already asking when we can go back. Off-peak at Paris was totally the right choice, too. Even though it was a little chilly, we did hardly any waiting. We usually spent more time walking through the empty line space than actually waiting, which never failed to reinforce how long the lines could potentially be.

After Disney we did one last day in Paris. I didn't get to download those photos on to my computer and Nick kept the camera, but I'll see if I can pull some off of Facebook so that I can do a blog post about that. Still so much to catch up on!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

More catch-up blogging: Disney

We arrived at the Magic Kingdom on Sunday, March 24. And magic it was! After checking into our beautiful room, we hit the park.

Here are the girls and I on Main Street USA, with Sleeping Beauty's castle in the background. Note the winter clothes! It was chilly, close to freezing in the mornings about the mid-40s in the afternoons, but we much prefer that to the sweltering heat.

He's a closer shot of Sleeping Beauty's castle.

The first ride we did was the Mad Hatter's Teacups, which ended up being one of our most-visited rides. I think we rode it four or five times. We managed to try out a lot of rides on our first day, including a small roller-coaster/train ride called Casey Jr., a really fun boat ride, Alice's Labyrinth, and a few others I can't remember.

Then it was back to the hotel room for some swimming and world-class relaxation:

I love that the girls got kid-sized robes and slippers.

The next morning we settled into our Disney routine. I was kind of strict about it, but I wanted to maximize ride time and minimize waits. See, the park opens two hours early for hotel guests and season pass holders. Not all of the rides are open, but most of the ones that get really long lines are. So that first morning, we hit up Dumbo's Flying Elephants, Peter Pan (twice in a row! The day before the sign said the line was 45 minutes long. There was none in the morning!), Sir Lancelot's Carousel, and the tea cups again.

Then the girls tried to pull the sword out of the stone:

And then, we went back to the hotel to warm up and have some breakfast, which was an amazingly delicious all-you-can-eat buffet. So, even though it was kind of mean of me to drag everyone out to the park before breakfast, it was a good plan. Besides, there were a few places open in the park, and we got the girls a little snack. But by the time we got in for breakfast, they were really hungry and actually able to eat a nice big meal. See, brilliant!

Then it was back to the park for some of the attractions that didn't involve lines: The Swiss Family Robinson's Treehouse, the Pocahantas Indian Village playground, the pirate caves, things like that. When we got hungry again around two or three, we'd do a big lunch during the off-peak hours and avoid those lines too.

Here we are at my favorite restaurant. It had a saloon theme. So cute!

It was so much fun! Ha ha! (It really was, I don't know why she looks so bored there).

Wow, this is getting long and I'm tired. I'll continue the Disney update tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Back to school

What a resounding success! Nina hasn't been so excited to go off to school in I don't know how long. She's in the same class as most of her besties (that's how the kids these days say "friends") and has Mrs. Maxim, a teacher who's been there since I was a student.

We baked a topfenstrudel yesterday to bring for her class at snack time and also brought some hollanderblutesirup (elder flower syrup) and seltzer to mix for some tasty Austrian elder flower gespritzt. The kids loved it! The elder flower juice is pretty flowery so we weren't really sure if the kids would like it, but we thought it'd be a pretty fun thing for them to try no matter what. Nina told her classmates that she didn't like it the first four times she tried it, but that wasn't enough to scare them off. She also wore her dirndl and showed them her scrap book. The kids were most excited to hear about her Disneyland trip, though they asked a lot of questions about the palaces too.

Maggie's day was also an unbelievable success. I stayed nearby, kind of right in the doorway so she could look up and give me a wave every now and then, and she was as happy as a clam. She's in the morning session, so drop-off is between 7:30 and 8:00 and pick-up is at 10:30. Just the perfect length.

Since Wednesday is Nina's short day, Maggie and I decided to stay for lunch and recess with her. Corn chowder, yum! Then we had coffee, juice, and a cinnamon roll at the Ebb Tide to kill the last hour before pick-up.

The girls are both super excited to go back tomorrow. Maggie wants me to stay again, but I think if I color with her for a few minutes in the morning like we did in Austria she'll be happy.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Let the catch-up begin!

First up, Versailles

We took an overnight train from Vienna that left at 8:02 pm. We arrived (by cab) less than 10 minutes before the train left, which was quite stressful. We had to run down to the platform with our tons and tons of baggage and boarded the train with less than 2 minutes to spare. Unfortunately, this pretty much set the tone for the rest of our Paris travels. Fortunately, we had a sleeper car, and that was thrilling enough to overcome the trauma of the near-miss.

There wasn't a lot of space and the beds were very narrow, but all of the luggage crammed into the space between the bottom beds meant that the girls couldn't roll off and onto the floor, so that worked in our favor.

We were awakened for breakfast at 5:30 am and our train arrived in Frankfurt about 15 minutes later.

Here we are on the Frankfurt train. That's hot chocolate in Nina's cup by the way, not coffee. We didn't get that European!

Germany looked just like Austria, so the first half of the train ride was pretty uneventful. But France really did look very different. Exciting! The fields were just beginning to turn green, the hills were rolling, and the houses and villages had that adorable provincial France look that's hard to describe or even accurately recall (sleeping on the train wasn't exactly comfortable or refreshing). It was beautiful though.

We arrived in Paris and then brilliantly decided to take the subway to the commuter rail to Versailles. Let's just say that this was inconvenient and the Parisian rail system needs more elevators, but we survived. Actually, we did fantastically. The girls were amazing, rolling their suitcases through the tunnels, on the escalators, and on and off the trains. There are many adults who can't travel as well as they can.

Finally, we were in Versailles! Erik and Isabelle had planned to be by our hotel at around noon, but having just the other day themselves navigated the subway system from the airport to Versailles, they knew we'd be in later than planned, and the rendezvous occurred at closer to 2. What a joyful reunion it was!

Also, Versailles was really something. I mean, wow. What a palace. And the grounds! Insane. You read about how huge it is, but it reminded me of the mall in DC. You know, the one between Lincoln and Washington's memorials, with the reflecting pool and all that. Just miles and miles of beautiful gardens and fountains.

We took more pictures of the grounds, swans, and sheep than of the palace, because the palace was too big to even fit in a photo. Behold our few Versailles photos:

This is just one wing. The center part was about this long, and then there was another wing on the other side. Crazy big.

Here's an example of the gardens. So elaborate.

The French birds were rather ill behaved and poo'ed on both Maggie and Nick. Poor little Maggie got it worse than Nick, the poo landed right on her sweet little face. Fortunately my purse was stocked with napkins and water, and I cleaned her right up. Maggie said that I shouldn't have told her what it was. She's just rather not know.

Finally, we walked back to Erik and Isabelle's insanely beautiful former-palace hotel, watched a movie, drank some coffee, re-charged, and then went out to dinner at this delicious crepe place. Then it was back to our hotel (which suddenly seemed rather shoddy!) for some well-deserved rest.

Tomorrow I'll start writing about Disney!