Thursday, August 30, 2007

MIA: Spices of any kind

Tonight, I munched a "Cajun chicken sandwich" in a department store eatery while doing some Thursday late night shopping (the only night shops are open past 5 or 6). While the sandwich was fully edible, I must say that they wouldn't know Cajun if an alligator crawled out de bayou and bit them on the behind.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hello out there?

Are you a family member or friend reading this? Total lack of commentary is demotivating! You check in on us; the least you could do is say a little something from time to time! Come on, people! Bloggers need love too!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Bumper Crop

In the past few weeks, three of our friends have had babies. Next month, we're looking for two more. And another in November. It's a bumper crop o' babies! Welcome to the world, all you beautiful sweet little ones! Wowsers.

Deep thoughts

Why are McVities chocolate biscuits called "digestives" when one side is slathered in milk chocolate goodness?
That's the kind of digestion I'm talking about!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Wednesday fun

Every Wednesday morning, Ellie and Jennifer go to music class. Music class is really a playgroup where the parents sit on the periphery singing songs while the kids dance and play with (or chew on, depending on age) instruments. Ellie LIVES for music class. She talks about it from the moment we leave until the moment we go again. We listen to the CD ad nauseum in the car. She is a baby obsessed.
Lately, music class has gotten a little too popular for us, and the crowded room has resigned Ellie to my lap for a few weeks. Don't you know she was thrilled when it was closer to the norm this week and she could party her booties off! Ever since she learned to jump unsupported, bouncing has become a huge part of Ellie's day...and her dancing! The ultimate excuse for bouncing comes in the "Sleepy Cows" song, which starts with all the cows (kids) sleeping on the floor and continues with the scarecrow jumping up and dancing around. Well, you must see it for yourself...(you will get a chance to meet Mieka, who proves Ellie isn't the only one interested in seeing the camera in use).

Also on Wednesday mornings, we have been fortunate enough over the past month to have had help with housekeeping. A woman named Kathia has been coming to help clean, and Ellie really likes her. She also, of course, likes to help. Ellie is a big fan of housekeeping.

Her vocabulary has exploded recently, and Ellie talk talk talks all the time! She is such a chatterbox, and it is delightful! I will try my best to capture some of it on video and post it for those of you who are interested. Again, it's tricky taping her, because as soon as she sees the camera, she stops whatever adorable thing she is doing and demands I turn it around so she can see the baby or watch the movie I made.

As you may or may not know, we adopted two kittens (Smokey and Bandit), and life with cats is going swimmingly. They are from the same litter, and they play hard together all day. They are inseparable most of the time, which is great. They have the best temperaments we could have hoped for: they play, they aren't destructive, they wear each other out and then they come to us for snuggles, purring and happy as clams. They are very patient with Ellie and have yet to retaliate when she pulls their tails or whacks them overenthusiastically. Despite this, we know their favorite part of the day is after Ellie goes to bed, and they join us in the living room for what we've dubbed "Kitty Love Fest." They lounge all over us, purring away.

Bandit didn't want Markus to get lonely or cold laying on the floor all by himself.

Last but not least, Oma arrived today for a week-long visit!

Tante Ulla will be arriving on Saturday, and she will stay for a week as well. Everyone will be here to celebrate Oma's birthday next Tuesday! This also marks the start of completely claimed days for the dipe squad. From today until the end of October, there is not one day we don't have out of town plans or houseguests. Amazing. Wish us strength!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Warmest welcome!

Our goddaughter has been born! Carolina Irene Duarte-See was born on August 13, weighing in at 7lb 9oz. Isn't she beautiful? Welcome to the world, little one!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Weekend outside

Summer came back yesterday (hooray!), so we spent most of the day at the beach. Ellie LOVES the beach! There is something magical about running around naked, splashing in the water and playing in the sand (and if you think Ellie is the only one who thinks so, check the post from a few weeks back). Once again, there was a cool wind, but fortunately we have a sun tent that blocks wind as well. The sun was nice and toasty, and we had a great time burning energy and digging holes. Ellie is quite intent on Markus making "kuchen" ("cakes" AKA sand castles from overturning a bucket), which she usually knocks down, trounces or tosses by the fistful with glee. Yesterday, she was entranced temporarily with decorating the kuchen with shells. The beautification efforts were quite impressive and thorough until she remembered that stomping kuchen with gusto was loads more fun.

This morning, we took advantage of more good weather with a day trip to northern Holland and a visit to Apenheul ("Monkey Hill"?), a part of a nature preserve that is an open monkey zoo where several monkeys are allowed to roam free.

We saw many, many monkeys, but the best for us was the glorious weather. The nature preserve is beautiful, and Apenheul is so well-designed. Ellie was not really in the mood for monkey viewing, so she exerted most of her efforts acting like a monkey herself, climbing things, jumping around, inspecting the plants, and chewing on her shirt. We didn't last too long, but we did go twice around the Rainforest merry-go-round on our way out (and experienced many tears when we left that behind).

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Old Fart, but Young at Heart!

On Thursday, Markus suggested I take the evening to myself and go see a movie I've been wanting to see while he stayed with Ellie. The very idea was such an indulgent treat, particularly because I can't remember the last time we watched a movie in the cinema. The only problem was my movie started at 8:30...SO LATE! I wouldn't even be home before 11! My goodness, how would I cope with the exhaustion?! Would I fall asleep in the movie? What to do?!
The real question is: when did I become such an old fart?
(the answer: when I gave birth)

I feel somewhat redeemed because the movie was the latest Harry Potter (which I ended up watching Friday at 5; hooray!).


We've been off the blog for a little while, because we have been playing our days away with some fabulous house guests! Laura, Peter and Cy came to visit for almost a week on their way home to Qatar, and we had a wonderful time with them!

Cy is about 6 months younger than Ellie, so we were all a bit curious how the sharing-toys-and-space thing would go. Happily, all went well, most of the time. The few meltdowns we experienced were so dramatic and traumatic on both sides that the adults couldn't help being amused.
Our friends' visit coincided with actual summer-y weather here, which was a real treat! There was even one day that we felt hot outside. Let me tell you, after four years in New Orleans and nearly one in Qatar, I never thought being hot outside would be a novelty...but it was! Temps here have been autumnal for most of our Hague tenure, so 7+ consecutive days of sunshine and warm weather was wonderful! Conveniently, we own four bicycles, so trekking around was easy. The kiddos really enjoyed riding in the Chariot together.

We went to the beach, Clingendael, Blijdorp (by car), and Antwerp (by train). Clingendael was a huge hit, because there are wide open spaces where the kids can run and run. Farm animals are a big bonus (more for Cy than Ellie, who remains unsure about the wisdom of getting close to large creatures), and Ellie loves sitting in the grass and picking wildflowers. In Antwerp, adorable Mr. Cy became a tourist attraction when he was drawn to a puppet street performer and did an interpretive dance.

Most of the time, we just played with the kiddies and had big laughs over the fun things they say and do. Cy's obsession with "ca-ca" has no end; Eddie Murphy may have a rival in the bathroom humor department. Cy certainly added a new dimension to bathtime and alerted us to the dangerous window between diaper removal and being placed in the tub. They do look awfully cute running around half-naked, though!

The kids seemed to have a blast having each other to play with, and playtime just before bathtime was the best!

All in all, it was a fabulous time! Such a treat to have wonderful friends to share our days and evenings! Ellie was certainly out of sorts when Cy left. On that day, she wouldn't eat certain food items with her lunch because she was sure they were Cy's. She also picked up a few words he uses (the favorite being "BUM!" when she falls down), and it makes us smile to know she has a good friend, even though we can't visit nearly as often as we'd like.