about a dream: August 2013

Friday, August 30, 2013

Nina would make a fine teacher

Today the girls spent about three hours with me at school, getting my classroom set up. What wonderful helpers they were! They quietly drew pictures, played Monopoly, and then hung artwork on my walls and help set up the desks and chairs. Nina even arranged the items on my desk for me!

I had to be in the computer lab with the computer guy for a while and the girls drew on the whiteboard there so quietly. They can just be models of perfect behavior when they want.

And then, there was last week. I've written about Maggie's cursing, but I was going to let myself just forget this one. Then a few days went by, and it started to seem funny, so here goes:

Nick told Maggie one night before bed that she had to pick up her toys. She looked at him and said

"I'm not listening to your stupid f*cking rules."

You know, you expect to hear this kind of thing (maybe) when they're teenagers. But 5?? I see a convent in her future...

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What a busy day!

The girls and I left the house this morning at 9:30 to go on an Insect Safari. So fun! It was an event put on by the Land Trust at one of their preserves in Edgecomb. A naturalist nicknamed Turtle (I can't remember her real name but it also began with a T) brought a bunch of nets, insect containment devices, and magnifying glasses, gave a quick talk about insects, and set us loose to catch what we could. Boy were there a lot of bugs! We caught crab and garden spiders (and learned how to differentiate between the two), a cricket, a stink bug, and most exciting of all, a katydid. Actually, to be precise I caught the katydid, but who's keeping track?

Maggie did a great job, because if you recall, she's not crazy about bugs. At one point little Jackson had a rather large garden spider crawling on him, and she had a minor freak-out about that (she wasn't the only one!), but then she relaxed again.

After that, we went home to change into shorts because it was hot, and then spent three hours at the railway village. Such a fun place. Two train rides, lots of time in the old model T, on the old tractors, in the old train cars, and at the playground. I love to just let the girls go at their own pace and play train conductor or tractor driver. They have such wonderful imaginations.

Then not long after we got home, Pete G texted from the playground that he was there with his sister and niece, who we haven't seen in ages, so back out we went! Just to make things more exhausting, we brought Marley with us. We tried to coax Moxie into the car too, but he wasn't interested. I decided to not push it; the playground isn't far from the road, and I figured it might be better to see how my better listener did before bringing Mr. Selective Deafness.

Marley did a great job! And wow, is that a great place if I'm sick of throwing his ball for him, because a whole bunch of little kids will want to. I just sat there!

Next up, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. What can I say, it's a Wednesday night family tradition. :-)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

I think Nina sometimes wishes she was an only child

Last night while we were brushing teeth, Nina picked up my birth control pills and asked what they were for. I told her they were pills that made me not have another baby.

"Oh, good!" she said, with a huge smile. "Because we don't want another... " (voice trails off and she points to Maggie). Can't say I blame the poor kid; she and Maggie get along great, but it takes a lot of effort on Nina's part to keep things running smoothly, and she just can't envision another one. Can't say I disagree, sweet little Nina.

So this evening when she and Maggie were getting ready for bed, I was finishing painting one little part of the wall I hadn't gotten to yet in the entry way (the wall that was at my back in the pictures), and Nina walked up to me with a glass of water and my pack of pills.

"Here you go!" she said cheerfully. "You don't want to forget to take these tonight!"

Ha!! She's not kidding when she says she doesn't want another sibling!

I've been redoing the entry way this weekend

Admit it, you never even noticed the star before...

Note the two-tone wall there. I was feeling inspired!
It all started with the new dresser in our dining room. I guess I need a photo of that too...

It was wood veneer, but there's just way too much wood in our house already and not enough color. So I said, let's liven this place up a bit, and the girls and I picked out a lovely blue at Grover's. My plan next was to paint the drawer insets white and let the girls decorate their drawers (two for Nina, two for Maggie, one for me. The intention is for us to drop school stuff in there and keep it off the dinner table). Nick was nervous about the girls painting, so I compromised and put paper there in the insets, and they painted that. Doesn't it look awesome??

Also, here's a close up of the art above the dresser:

Vanessa and Erik, do you remember that thumb print art book we had when we were kids? The girls found it and made these paintings. Aren't they great??

This one is Maggie's. I love it!!

Anyway, I had a lot of blue left over, and since paint is super expensive these days, I didn't want it to go to waste. And the paint entry room floor was really worn off in a lot of places and totally needed a redo. So I thought to myself, blue would totally brighten that up!

I mixed in a bit of the green from the exterior of the house, and I streaked some of it in for a textured look.

But then, with that lovely blue floor in place, I realized that the walls really are pretty drab. So I poked around in the basement and mom and dad's garage and found some old white and ivory paints, and went to work. Really old paint by the way, one was from 2004 and the second one seemed even older than that, but I just stirred in some water and mixed well, and they're like new.

So there we are. A dresser refinish morphed into a quick coat of paint on the floor, which morphed into redoing the entire entry, but so it goes. I think it looks fantastic and I'm thrilled!!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

One more swearing post.

Yesterday Maggie said to me:

"I know one word that's definitely a swear, and one word I think is a swear. Which one do you want to hear?"

Which, for most people would be a strange or shocking thing to hear from their 5 year old, but is just par for the course around here.

I said to her, "Why don't you tell me the one you're unsure about, and I can tell you whether it's actually a swear or not."

And she says, "Ok, but I want to whisper it," (like she's shy about maybe swearing all of a sudden? Fine by me!) Then she whispers into my ear



So I told her no, that's not a swear. And she says,

"The other word was fuckin'!!"

which she didn't whisper.

Oh my. Two more weeks until she's Mrs. Spaulding's problem. Ha!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Silence is golden

Last night I was looking at one of those "funny things kids write" slideshows on some website, and Nina came over and was looking over my shoulder. Maggie was sitting next to us, but not looking at it.

So we get to a poor little student's worksheet that's prompting for words that rhyme with "it," and it shows Hit, Bit, Sit, and asks the child to write in one more word. I chuckled and said to Nina, "See, they wrote "hit, bit, and sit" and wanted the kid to write in a rhyming word and look what they wrote."

And Maggie says, "I know what they wrote.... fuckin'."

So of course Nina busts out laughing and Maggie waits a minute then follows with


This is why I'm happy that she doesn't talk at school.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Happy Birthday Party Nina!!

Nina had a fantastic birthday party today! We had a total of 7 little girls including our two for swimming in mom and dad's pool, trampoline time, cake, and presents.

That's getting to be a lot of candles! 
We made this cake this morning and Nina frosted it all by herself. Cool whip, the miracle product!

 Maggie wants everyone to know that she's smiling like that because she has milk in her mouth.

 Here we are, opening presents on the trampoline. Lovely!

 Check out the desk Erik and Isabelle got her. She loves it!

She loves it so much that the four of us played school for about an hour this afternoon. Adorable.

The weather was absolutely perfect for a pool party. Upper 70s, hot sun, cool pool... just beautiful.

Happy 8th birthday Nina!!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Happy Birthday Nina!!

What a day we had yesterday!

Maggie woke me up in the morning, too excited to go back to sleep because it was Nina's birthday. Adorable. Not at the time, at the time I tried to convince her to go back to sleep. She wasn't having any of that, though, so we got up and started making Nina's birthday pancakes. Not one to sleep in, Nina came downstairs almost right away.

After pancakes with cool whip and maple syrup, Nina opened the present from Maggie. A spa day Barbie, she loved it. The girls played Barbie spa for hours. I played with them too, it's ridiculous how I can fixate on brushing out barbie and pony hair. But I must say, La Hair-a-lotta's hair has never looked so good.

After lunch we unveiled her big surprise--a new bike!! So exciting. She loves it! It's bigger and therefore much faster than her old one. So much fun.

In the afternoon our friends Charlie and Hattie came by. They can't make her party this weekend, so we thought it'd be fun to have smores together on her actual birthday instead. And we did, and it was much fun.

Then we took her to China by the Sea for dinner. Boy do we spoil these kids!!

Finally after dinner were two more small presents we'd all picked out at Sherman's. We like to drag the presents out so they last all day around here.

Eight years old!! I just can't believe it!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

We had a blast in Newburyport!

Sunday was hard for Maggie. She really missed Nina, and was forced to dress up some of her stuffed animals and pretend they were playing with her. Note the otter wearing a plastic bag:

At least she had fun.

I'll abridge the story of yesterday as best I can.
We hit the road at about 9:30, after a quick breakfast. We just couldn't wait to get on our way! We had to stop in Brunswick to pick up one of Nina's birthday presents, which I can't reveal since she sometimes reads the blog. Suffice it to say, it's a rather large gift, and I had trouble getting it into the car. I ended up having to put part of the back seat down, but then I had trouble closing the door. After seriously injuring my arm, I accepted help from a kind-hearted passer-by, then drove straight to Aunt Maria's to drop off the gift, because it occurred to me that I couldn't even fit Nina in the car with it, let alone keep it a secret from her.
So, after gassing up (with just one arm because the other was still throbbing), we were back on the road. We made it all the way to Kennebunk before stopping again, but within 4 hours we were there! Newburyport!
We chilled with Aunt and Unk for about an hour, then it was on the road again (ok just 15 minutes this time) to the beaches of Plum Island. Fantastic!! We played in the surf and sand for a few hours, then dropped by Erik and Isabelle's again to say goodbye before hitting the road again. Wow were we exhausted.

When we got home, the four of us found a creative way to share one glass of water:

And a cinnamon bun
 Then it was quick baths for the girls and bed for all of us!

I have to set these next two pictures up with a quick explanation. Nina likes to look at pictures of horrifying medical conditions on the internet--tumors, rotten teeth, meth addicts--which Aunt and Unk discovered with a shock when they opened up her computer. Ha!

Well, you should know that all that morbid curiosity inspires her to play exciting games like Play-Doh dentist.

Our patient here is getting a cavity drilled after having endured an unfortunate number of extractions.

She's wearing the mask they made me wear at the doctor's office when I was sick. You know you're looking good when they stick a mask on you as soon as you walk through the door.

Do you see Play-Doh man's red tongue there? Even that's made of Play-Doh! What will they think of next!

And that's it, her last day as a 7 year old! Unbelievable!!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A few cutes, all rolled into one post

These days the girls each sleep in their own twin bed, but the beds are pushed up right next to each other, so they look like one big king-sized bed. But I make them up separately, with their own sheets and blankets, and that kind of keeps Maggie from rolling all over Nina. Well, the other night I went in to their room to check on them before I went to bed, and there they were, holding hands in their sleep! It was too precious--Nina had her right arm outstretched to Maggie, and Maggie had her left outstretched to Nina. I would have loved to get a picture, but I didn't want to risk disturbing them with the flash.

In another incident, Maggie told me yesterday that I am lovelier than 5 cookies. Which is just about the most adorable compliment I can imagine.

Today Nina went back to Newburyport with Aunt, Unk, and Chester. Boy do we miss her! We called her this evening to tell her about the funny things Marley was doing and Maggie said, "I miss you so much! We're going to come get you as soon as we wake up! And go to Dairy Queen!"

The Dairy Queen part was news to me, but it sounds like a pretty good idea! The plan right now is to take off shortly after we wake up, then spend the afternoon on the Plum Island beaches with Nina and Isabelle. Should be a fantastic day! We'll head home with Nina after dinner and should be back in Boothbay by bedtime.

Friday, August 9, 2013

They're growing up too fast.

You won't believe this, but:

I love Maggie's photobomb here.

She looks like such a grown-up!

She's wearing jeggings and one of my sweaters. What are jeggings, you ask? They're like leggings that look like jeans. We got them at Target, because finding jeans that fit her is proving to be very difficult. She wears a size 8 for length, but like a 4T for width. I'm going to check other stores for slim sizes, but if that doesn't pan out I'm going to have to do some serious alterations.

Jeggings, however, fit like leggings. Well not on Nina, they're a little baggy on her. But they're supposed to fit skin-tight like leggings, so as a result they fit much like slim-fitting jeans would. Problem solved!

The heels, beads, hair, and makeup were her idea, to complete the grown-up-ness of the look.

Maggie liked the outfit so much that she put it on too. Adorable!

The sweater by the way is a lovely St. Andrew's Thrift Store find. $2, like-new LL Bean. Woot!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Summer fun

What a lovely day today. Low 70s, sunny, brisk breeze on the water.

First, we had some friends over for trampoline jumping and general mayhem. Then the Mosses came over with their kayaks, and we pulled out the kids' kayak that Jenn left for us. Because it was the girls' first time, we tied it to the dock with the old waterskiing rope, so that we could pull the girls back in and not lose them to the wind and tide.

They did great! Maggie was fearless and Nina got the hang of it really quickly. Hopefully it doesn't rain tomorrow, because she can't wait to get back out there.

Then we went swimming in the pool and Maggie did a GREAT job! She's really learning how to swim! She can only paddle a few strokes right now, but she's progressing by leaps and bounds. We're so proud of her!

She came!

The tooth fairy came last night and left Nina a note and some money!

There's a note on the back, too. It says:
Thank you for leaving me your lovely tooth. It's beautiful and I can tell that you're a very good tooth-brusher. Please accept this money and I'll see you again soon!
Die Zahne Fee

Nina was excited to see that the tooth fairy knows German too. Neat!

Here's the happy girl this morning. She says she doesn't yet know how she's going to spend the money. Perhaps lipstick or candy.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The tooth fairy will visit tonight

Nina has forgotten to put her tooth under her pillow since it fell out, so the tooth fairy hasn't yet visited. But Nina left her this note tonight:

It says, "RiTe BACK ON ThiS
            TACe           ANiNA
            tAC TAKe     MY tooth

ANSer He       SiNe Name

Yeah, her spelling hasn't really recovered from her year in Austria. But what can I say, the girl learned a whole other language and her English got a little rusty. Still pretty amazing I think.

I can't wait to see what the tooth fairy writes!

Also, she's thinking the tooth fairy might leave her one million dollars. Woot, cross your fingers! Ha!

And on another note, here's a pic of the girls with Marley. He's happiest when his belly is being rubbed!
Aww, happiness!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Another one bites the dust...

Look who's down one more tooth:

 That's tooth number six for the little dear! She lost her first tooth just after her seventh birthday, so I think it's safe to say that the one-year total will be six teeth. Hopefully they slow down a little now!

All that teething was so draining that Marley had to snuggle with Furry and conk out for a while.

Here we are, six sleepy folks watching Here Comes Honey Boo Boo to cheer up little Nina. Big Saturday night at the Halter house I tell you...

Friday, August 2, 2013

I had to work all morning today...

Fortunately, because I have the best job ever, this was my work:

I'm teaching a robotics class, which uses the Lego mindstorms robotics blocks and software. It's an elective, and something totally new to me, but the teacher who taught it last year said it was a ton of fun.

So Nina and I got ready for my first classes by building a robot. She did an amazing job! She's great at looking at a diagram and building from that. If my kids struggle, I'll mock them and tell them my 7 year old knocked it out in an hour.

I'm not going to upload the video, but the best part of this is that you can program that little Game-Boy looking "brick" to do things. So, it's not a remote-controlled robot, but one you actually get to program.

As two little girls and I built this, it was very important that their little doll get a ride.

What a fun morning. Our robot went forward just fine, and turned right or left when instructed, but reverse was, shall we say, not something I would give full credit for. Well, trouble-shooting is 6/7 of engineering according to my book, so still not a failure.

When I get better at this, I'm going to see about getting a cable to attach our lego camera to it. Then we could build a robot that would sneak into another room, take a picture, and make a quick getaway. A spy-bot!

Cousin Robert's team won first place in the NY robotics competition, I think I'm going to have to put him on speed dial!!

Thursday, August 1, 2013


I've mentioned before how much Nina and I love to look at the photos of poorly-dressed celebrities on Yahoo OMG!'s "what were they thinking?", right? Well today we were catching up on a few weeks of style-snafu galleries, and we came upon this picture of Mickey Rourke:

And I was like, "Nina do you want to see a picture of this guy when he was young?" and she was like, "sure crazy mom."

So I googled "young mickey rourke," because a website had instructed me to do this a few weeks ago if I wanted my mind blown. And THIS IS WHAT COMES UP:

Wow. Her little mind was blown. He was one good-looking man!! Nina couldn't believe this is the same person as above. Neither could I, the first time I saw the picture.

Well anyway, that led to googling Jarvis Cocker (again) and other celebrities I like, and Nina rating them "good-looking" or "average." So we google Johnny Depp and I find this adorable pic of an admittedly very young Johnny:

and Nina asks, "Is that Justin Beiber?"


I just sprouted another dozen gray hairs in that one instant.