about a dream: December 2013

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014: A Year In Review...

It occurs to me that this blog details the highlights of the year as I see them, but maybe the girls have a different perspective. So this afternoon, I settled them down to ask a few questions. Here's Nina first:

Me: Well Nina, we've had a big year, and I'm going to ask you some questions about it. Ready?
Nina: Yeah.
Me: Tell me a fun memory from 2013.
Nina: I really liked when we went to Bogi Park in Austria. It was really fun. And I also liked when we got the dogs. They were so cute and so fun. And the time when we got Moxie and Marley home from the kennel and they were just running out of their cages at the kennel. It was such a joyful moment.
Me: We visited a lot of countries in 2013. Which was your favorite?
Nina: I liked Hungary the most because we went to Budapest, a state (?) [me: city], a city in Hungary. We got to look at the sunset from the pool on the roof. You are probably thinking that it is really cool that there is a pool on the roof, and it is. And the Budapest hotel, the whole thing, was also really really pretty and really nice. There was good food, oh and the most comfiest beds.
Me: Do you remember the lemonade we got at that hotel?
Nina: No.
Me: It was more like a citrus-fruit ade, with slices of orange, and lemon.
Nina: No I don't remember that lemonade.
Me: Tell me something neat that you learned in 2013.
Nina: I learned how to speak lots and lots of more German than I did. I only knew how to say "ente," (duck), "baum," (tree), and a few others, and now I can speak full sentences and maybe even I could say tons of sentences.
Me: That's a pretty great thing to have learned! How about, what was your favorite activity we did.
Nina: Oh, I liked to do stuff we actually made with wood and we sawed in art class in Austria!
Me: What did you make?
Nina: We made something for father's day. I made, like, I forgot what I made, but it was for father's day, out of wood.
Me: How about your favorite movie of the year?
Nina: Oh my favorite movie of the year I think would be Frozen. We didn't see it in Austria.
Me: Well we spent most of this year in the US, so that makes sense. Do you want to go back to Austria?
Nina: Yeah!
Me: What do you want to try new next year?
Nina: Cooking!
Me: What would you like to cook first?
Nina: I think maybe an apple crisp would be nice, so momma could come home and smell apple crisp baking, and she won't even have to make it.
Me: Nina that would be a dream come true for me!

And now Maggie's turn!

Me: Well Maggie, we've had a big year, and I'm going to ask you some questions about it. Ready?
Maggie: Yeah.
Me: Tell me a fun memory from 2013.
Maggie: I liked dressing up in the princess costumes.
Me: The ones in Schonbrunn?
Maggie: Yeah.
Me: We visited a lot of countries in 2013. Which was your favorite?
Maggie: Budapest.
Me: Why Budapest?
Maggie: Because. Wait, was that Hungary that had the clock that played a puppet show?
Me: No, that was Prague.
Maggie: Ok then, well... I guess the same as Nina.
Me: Why did you like Budapest the best?
Maggie: I liked the little mini hot tub where I could touch. It was in the same place the pool on the roof was.
Me: Tell me something neat that you learned in 2013.
Maggie: I don't know. I learned how to count in German.
Me: That's a pretty great thing to have learned! How about, what was your favorite activity we did.
Maggie: Play in the pool at summer!
Me: How about your favorite movie of the year?
Maggie: My favorite one was Balto.
Me: What do you want to try new next year?
Maggie: Take a plane to go see your sister in Kansas City!
Me: That sounds like a wonderful idea Maggie!

Happy 2014 everyone!!

New Year's Eve!

Yesterday the girls and I spent two hours building the coolest gingerbread house ever. Look!

I mean, just look at the roof detailing! And those icicles, perfect.

Wait a minute, who's that up there on the roof?

Ho ho ho!
It's the fat jolly elf himself!

Boy did we have fun building and decorating this beauty. It's going to be the centerpiece of our New Year's Day party spectacular. That and the heavenly-looking lemon meringue pie Nina and I made this afternoon.

2014 tomorrow, I can hardly believe it.

More December photos

Finally got the pictures from the regular camera downloaded (everything else this month has come off of dad's or the lego camera!), so here are some highlights from the month that didn't get posted earlier. The first two are from the day Santa arrived in the harbor:

This is the most ridiculously wide tree I think I've ever seen...

Look at that cutie, with her hot cocoa and frighteningly oversized living gingerbread person.

This one is from Maggie's kindergarten's performance of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. She was a reindeer.

They were singing a song here, but I don't remember what it was...

Next, some highlights from Christmas in Newburyport:

Christmas spirit, opening presents on Saturday night.

The joy of Christmas, and getting her first Monster High doll.

Baking gingerbread cookies with Aunt Isabelle. I don't know why Unk is pictured here instead of Aunt, but it was definitely and Aunt and nieces project.

Look how great they turned out! They were delicious, too. Soft, not super hard like gingerbread usually is.

Here they are showing off their stacked cake cookies. Note the monster high doll at the bottom of the frame. They love them!

That has us almost all caught up! The rest of our vacation has been pretty relaxed. The girls and I have been sledding (a miserable failure on the first try at the high school, far too icy, but a success at their friend Hannah's house), skating (at least icy is good for that), playdates, and back to the movies again to see Frozen. We loved it even more the second time!

Another round of bitter cold settled in overnight, and we probably won't get out of the teens until the weekend. Yay. Overnight lows below zero expected, double yay. I hate winter!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas morning!

It was wonderful. Nina woke up, peeked over the balcony, and announced that Santa had arrived. Maggie is generally more sluggish in the morning, and stayed in bed for a little longer. Then she said, "I forgot today is Christmas!" and promptly got up.

Santa had filled their stockings and left presents for them on the table underneath that, so those got opened first:

Santa's gifts were all wrapped in the same snowman paper. Good wrapping job, Santa!

A coat for Kit, Nina's American Girl doll! This should have been a happy moment, but it wasn't. I'll explain more below.

It's a rubber band bracelet weaving loom! How exciting!!

And meet Marisol, the newest member of our family. Maggie was so, so excited.

Nina's big gift was a kayak. She loves kayaking, so this was very exciting! Too bad it's so cold that she won't be able to use it for 5 months. Sorry Nina!!

Ok, so about the American girl doll clothes. We got Marisol for Maggie, and Nina has had Kit for years and years, but both girls got a bunch of clothes for their dolls this Christmas, which Nina was especially excited for.

Well, we went looking for Kit so the girls could dress their dolls up, and... nothing. She was nowhere to be found! We searched every nook and cranny in every room, searched mom and dad's house, and even popped over to the church to see if we'd left her there. No luck. (There was a lovely community dinner though, so of course we stayed and ate a bit. Also, the BHPD officer on duty for Christmas day was there, and we reported the missing doll to him. He said she hadn't turned up at the precinct yet, but he'd be sure to keep an eye out. Reassuring.)

There were some tears, and at one point a small child might have lamented that Christmas was ruined, but I don't think it'll ultimately go down as the worst Christmas ever. Only time will tell, of course.

Maggie ended up finding Kit the next day, hidden in the puppet theater. That puppet theater! I didn't check inside its cabinets! You'd think a puppet theater could only be used for one thing, but not our puppet theater. It's probably the most versatile toy they own, and it frequently fills in for a ship, a car, a fruit stand, you name it. And the other day it was a wagon, and Kit had gotten a ride. Of course.

The entire day wasn't ruined, though. We ate a lovely dinner at mom's house, and then the Gilchrists came by and we had coffee and dessert together. Seeing the Gilchrists was convenient, because Maggie only eats Nan cookies now. No others are good enough.

Oh, also it was cold. Cold. Yesterday and today were a bit warmer, and tomorrow's supposed to be above freezing, but then it looks like another week-long frigid spell. Joy. Hopefully we don't all freeze!!

Lots of catching up to do... First, an update on that hair!

The only way to deal with those tangles was a nice hot bath, shampoo, and deep conditioning. Then brushing, brushing, brushing. Finally though, both heads of hair (which are each nearly waist-long) were shiny and tangle free.

To keep them that way, we've started braiding. Behold, the hairstyles for Christmas Eve mass:

This is the back of Maggie's head

And this is the back of Nina's. They both looked pretty much the same as usual from the front.
The cute hairstyles were well timed, because usually they go to church with unbrushed hair. And on Christmas Eve, the priest asked them to carry the baby Jesus for the nativity up to the altar at the beginning of mass so he could bless them. They did a great job, too! Nina held the little ceramic figure perfectly, and Maggie managed to behave herself. She beamed, waved to people, gave me a thumbs up, and then started to get a little antsy, but the blessing was quick, and then the girls put Jesus in the stable.

After mass we hung out with mom and dad at our house for a while, then sent the girls to bed so we could wrap, wrap, wrap. Embarrassing, but all of the wrapping around here always gets postponed until Christmas eve, then takes longer than I think it will, and before you know it I'm up until midnight. At least I got to see the end of It's a Wonderful Life!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

So much fun in Newburyport!

I'll post about the details when we have the photos to go along with them. Unfortunately, our batteries died when the horse-drawn sleigh (ok, wagon. Not enough snow for a sleigh) arrived, so we have to wait for dad to upload his to snapfish.

Here, though, to give you a taste of the mayhem and fun we had, is the hirsute aftermath of the party:

Look carefully at the tangle in that hair.

Yes, the tangle. The one giant-head consuming tangle. Oh dear!

Maggie's wasn't much better, but the curly nature of her hair somewhat hid the madness.
So last night was baths, shampoos, brushing, drying, and braiding. Then we watched Tangled! How apt!

Our drive back home from Newburyport was perfect. It rained but stayed above freezing, so thankfully no ice. We stopped at Target, exchanged some PJs and picked up a few non-essentials, then continued to Appleby's for Great-Grandma's 95th birthday celebration, and then went to Aunt Maria's for cake and ice cream.

The girls are wound up for Christmas, and Nina's getting right into her dissecting kit. Thanks Aunt and Unk!!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas concert

Last night Nina's chorale group performed their Christmas concert at the Congo church. Adorable! They sang two songs--Reindeer on the Roof and Una Luna Brillo. I took video, but here's a screenshot of that. I'll try to upload the videos to youtube this weekend.

They made little antlers with their hands when they said "reindeer." Too cute!
Nina's the one in the Santa hat and dirndl.

Yesterday Maggie also had her class's performance of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. I'll get those photos on as soon as I can download them.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Lots of SNOW!

Oh my goodness, we got about another foot on top of the 10 inches already on the ground! Wowzers! It all fell in about 5 hours, too. Quite a sight!

Is that a car? Or an igloo?? I CAN'T TELL!

But the snow is just so darn pretty...

Moxie was under there, sniffing around at that branch. Good thing all that snow didn't dump on him!

Oops, forgot to put away the "patio" furniture this year.

I woke up this morning at about 5 am and the power was out. The sound of the power going out was probably what woke me up, mom says it cut out at just after 5. Then at about 5:20 I got the alert that school has a two hour delay this morning, then the girls had to go to the bathroom, and everyone was so excited about the delay that no one could go back to sleep. That's the ironic thing about school being cancelled or a late start; you think you can sleep in later, but really everyone is so excited about the snow and delay/cancellation that you end up waking up even earlier. Unfair.

But with no power, the morning was quite an adventure! We lit some candles, and I put some water up to boil. How, you ask? I don't have a gas stove... with the sterno and fondue pot! I'm just so darn resourceful. With the hot water, I was able to make coffee and warm oatmeal. Yum!

Then the girls wanted a family meeting. See, the last time the power went out, Erik and Isabelle were over, and we ended up sitting in the living room and talking, and the girls just loved that. So they hopped on the couch under a blanket, and Maggie said,

"Two rats got stuck inside a burrito. One did nothing and died, and the other ate his way out and lived. Which rat are you?"

Ha! When Erik and Isabelle were here, we opened the family meeting like Erik and his group do at work--by telling these inspirational/thought provoking anecdotes. I had totally forgotten about that part, but Maggie didn't!

After coffee and oatmeal, the power came back on. Now Maggie's watching TV and Nick and Nina just got back inside from shoveling and playing. And we still have another hour before we have to leave for school! Man the morning is long when you're up 4 1/2 hours before you have to be at work!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Gingerbread Spectacular!

We went to the Gingerbread Spectacular at the Opera House yesterday, just in case we couldn't make it on account of the snow we were expecting today (prescient, because we were snowed in all day after all!). Boy was it spectacular! Not as many gingerbread houses as in the past, but still so many amazing ones. Check it out:

A nice, classic candy house. With penguins.

Don't worry, the placard with it made it very clear that bullying is NOT to be tolerated.

This next one was one of my favorites. We couldn't fit the whole thing onto the lego camera without getting too much sunlight coming through the back and washing out the gingerbread, so here it is in a series of 3. First comes the Big Bad Wolf:

I love the way the baker brought that huffing and puffing to life...

Then the straw house!
The curly pink pig tail sticking up from the rubble is too funny!

And the house of sticks and brick. That is some serious talent!

 Unfortunately, when we got home, we discovered a tragedy.

It was the girls' advent calendar. Someone (or two somedogs) had found it on the counter and gotten in. They'd eaten up every last one of the chocolates. Wow did our little girls wail!

Fortunately for the dogs, who weigh a combined 180 lbs, 1.26 ounces of chocolate isn't a harmful dose, and they were just fine. In the doghouse, but fine.

We were right to go to the spectacular yesterday though! We got about a foot of snow overnight and spent today playing in it. Nina's chorale group sang at the opera house, but we didn't get plowed out until about 3 pm, so we couldn't make it. She was disappointed, but having so much fun playing in the snow that  it made up for it. Anyway, her chorus is singing again on Thursday night at the Congo church and on Friday at school, so she'll have two more chances to perform.

It's going to be a busy week for sure! Lots of wrapping and last minute shopping. We can't wait for our vacation!!!!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Busy busy busy, chilly chilly chilly

It's not even technically winter yet, but boy is it COLD! I won't even look at the forecast any more, but last I heard, we'll be lucky to hit 20 tomorrow and will barely stay above 0 overnight. Brr!

I don't know what happened to Monday and Tuesday, but it's Wednesday already. Maggie brought a letter she wrote to Santa home from school today. The teacher laminated it and put it in a card thing, it looks adorable. Her letter reads,

Dear Santa,

I hopeyoubri
ngmelotsof persen


Right to the point, that's my girl!

She did a great job with the lowercase letters, though. With the exception of her name, the entire letter uses capital and lowercase letters properly. Go Maggie!

She also dropped this gem on me this evening.

"You know what rhymes with baby?" she asked.

"No," I lied. Because I immediately thought of "maybe," but I wanted to see what she had come up with. Never lie.


Classy Margarete.

At least we still have Nina, our shining star. She spent a half an hour this morning learning to program. I'm not kidding! I downloaded two apps this afternoon during my training that help little kids learn to code--Daisy the Dinosaur and Hopscotch. She's amazing at it!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Deck the halls!

It's officially Merry Christmas season at our house. Behold, the tree!

Nina can't even believe how good it is!

Imagine this scene with a beautiful gas fireplace where the table is...

Stockings, up close. That piece of paper on the one that says "Nina" has a card on it that says, "P.S. This is Maggie's. She wants to be called Nina." In case you were wondering.

Such a fun day. Oh, and the biggest news of all! Look!!

It's the fan light! Thanks dad!!!!

Festival of Trees weekend

Big day yesterday! I would have blogged about it last night, but it was so big that I conked out right after the girls did!

It started with the arrival of Santa at Pier 6, which we have no pictures of, because the camera batteries died and I didn't have the Lego camera with me. But dad got some pictures and I'll put those up when I get my hands on them.

Edit: Dad put them up. Here's the Novelty, bringing in Santa, Mrs. Claus, and even a Christmas lobster!

After Santa's arrival we took a horse-drawn carriage ride around town:

Me, Nina, Nina's friend Grace, the back of Maggie's purple head, and Grandma

Next we sat on his lap to ask for more presents at Sherman's. Santa remembered Maggie from last week! He asked what she wanted for Christmas and she said, "a Pinkie Cooper doll," (which sounds like 'Pinkie Coopah' when she says it), and he said, "Hey, I remember you!" What can I say, she's a memorable kid. While they've both expressed doubts about Santa, and Maggie has outright stated that she doesn't believe, they both found this to be very convincing. Who else but the real Santa could possibly have been at both places and remember them?

After Santa was story time at Shermans:

Look at us, enjoying a Christmas-y story.

This is her focusing face. Don't confuse it with her bored face!

and then we raced off to the church for the live nativity.

Check out these angels:

Here's Nina on the altar with the rest of the nativity crowd, looking beautiful.

And here's Maggie, quickly souring on the whole experience...

Maggie's was God's sad little angel I guess, because about 1/2 way through the 10 minute event she started pouting, and by 3/4 of the way through she looked like this. Shortly after I took this picture she quit altogether and sat with me. Oh well, it was cute while it lasted.

Then we grabbed a pizza real quick, stuffed our faces, and passed out.

Today we're going to get our tree! No down time until January!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Maggie is really starting to read

I've been meaning to post about this, but I keep forgetting (second child syndrome!!). Maggie's reading is coming along great. She carefully sounds out words and can read pretty much any Kindergarten-level book.

Well, the other night she was reading "Ten Little Ladybugs" to me and Nina before bed, and she was doing a fantastic job. When she got to "Three little ladybugs, drinking up dew..." she struggled with three (the th is still tricky). She said, "tuh-huh," and I helped her sound out "three."

And she said, "THWEE? TH-THWEE? My whole life I thought it was FWEE and it's THWEE? What the heck!!"

AAGGHH!! So cute!! My whole life I thought it was fwee but it's thwee! I hate when I have those life-long misconceptions too. I know your pain, Maggie!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Naming Aunt and Unk's baby...

We're trying to be helpful, coming up with our best suggestions. Even though Erik shoots everything down, here are some of our latest picks:


Roger (no T at the end)
Mo (she also likes Maurice) (and he could be Mo Sco)


Morris (inspired by the nickname Mo as suggested by Nina. He also likes Gavin)

Hope this helps!