Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Monday, October 29, 2007


Yesterday afternoon, we went for a stroll in the dunes of Wassenaar. At first, it seemed the walk would be a failed venture, because Ellie (in proper 2 year old fashion) stopped every two steps to collect or examine something for long periods of time. The walk was saved when Papa had the brilliant idea of getting her to chase him, which she loves! Of course, no idea is a good idea until she makes it her own, so soon she was calling the shots. Markus would run, Ellie would chase him, and he would scoop her up in a hug. Then, she would push away and order him, "Zurueck!" (German for "Back!") and he would have to "move back" (run again) on command. The process was repeated for the entirety of our dune venture, a loop walk that was possibly for a mile or so. For your viewing pleasure, we have a snippet on video:

There were also mandatory "Up Down!" breaks for baby tossing.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Pics of the Week

Just when I thought life with a 2 year old couldn't get any more challenging, Ellie caught a cold. We had a little micromanager with a situation she couldn't control. She found the copius snot beyond comprehension, and the last-day chest-clearing coughing just made her mad. Ellie seems to agree with her papa that being sick is a complete waste of time and energy, and being germ-ridden is no good. Thankfully, it was just a little cold, and she is (nearly) back to full steam after a trying four days.

Ellie is becoming more and more 2-year-old-y every day. She completely runs the household. I say that you always wish for your children to be really smart until they are. She is a CEO, and she manages her two staffers like you wouldn't believe. When baby #2 comes, I'm sure baby will be managed as well. There will be none of this conform-to-the-newborn's-schedule foolishness!

Speaking of baby #2, the pregnancy is going really well! The exhaustion of the first trimester is behind us, and the heavy sluggishness (and insomnia) of the third trimester has yet to begin. The second trimester is the place to be, and I'm very comfortable here!

Settling back into routine has felt wonderful. Children thrive on a schedule, and so does this full-time mom. Ellie resumed music class this week. While we were away, the teacher changed locations to accommodate for the larger group size. She also was able to add a closed session for regulars, and we got into that one. Hooray! Now the group is not too big, the songs are all new, and Ellie is so happy to be back! This week, we celebrated Halloween a little early in music class and the kids dressed up. Ellie wore her new princess dress for the first time. The dress is a birthday present from Mimi (thank you, Mimi!) that Ellie picked out herself (see her carrying it daintily out to the car).

Until this week, she hasn't wanted to put it on, but instead has been fully contented with stroking the big glittery skirt in appreciation. Of course, once she had it on, she didn't want to take it off. Ellie was far too interested in all the new songs and sights of her music class this week to stop and pose for mama paparazzi, but I will try to get more pics of her on Halloween.

Being home again has also meant visits with friends. Ellie had a playdate with her friend Hannah, and Mama had a playdate with her friend Katja (whom Ellie loves). Mama and Katja met up for kaffee und kuchen (coffee and cake), and Ellie enjoyed her "baby-chino" (steamed and frothy milk sans coffee).

Yesterday morning, we even made a trip to the zoo. It had been a long time since Ellie had visited her favorite animals, and she was anxious to check in on the giraffes, elephants, "kitties" (AKA tigers), and butterflies. Unbeknownst to us, right now is school holidays for Dutch kids, and the zoo was indeed a zoo. We opted for visiting our favorites and running away home, which wasn't such a tough call on a cold foggy Dutch day.

One more tidbit of new activities to report: Jennifer has started piano lessons. I have wanted to learn since I was in grade school, and I figured it was time to stop saying, "I wish I knew how to play" and just do it! My lessons are only 30 minutes each week and no recitals (HOORAY!), and I'm very excited! I also resumed yoga class after three months' hiatus and was made to regret my lack of discipline in not practicing on my own while I was away (so sore the next day!). I'm very lucky to have such a supportive partner who not only encourages me to take time for myself, but also takes such good care of Ellie while I do that I can really enjoy it (she doesn't miss me at all).

That's about it for us. What's new with you?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Spontaneous Monday fun

This afternoon as Ellie and I were taking a leisurely stroll across the way to play ball on the Malieveld (that's Dutch for the big grassy field near our house), who should we run into but Papa returning home from work on his bicycle! He had a day of training that ended early, so he hot-footed it home to see his girls. Although we had gone to the Malieveld to kick around a little pink ball, there was no neglecting the huge red circus tent that has been there for over a week. The Circus Hermann Renz is in town, and we have been debating catching a show (would there be Disney-level trauma or would Ellie really enjoy it?). Well, it just so happened that a show was starting in less than 30 minutes, so Papa raced home to stow his bike and change clothes, and we went to the circus!

The first moment we stepped into the big tent, our hearts were gripped with Ellie's panic as, you guessed it, Disney-level trauma set in. Oh the trauma! The drama! The woe! The...popcorn. Hmmm...they have popcorn. And a carousel. Hm...this needs reevaluation. So the panic ceased, the interest was piqued and to our seats we went. It was just a small traveling circus, so no big animals to report (though there were some impressively trained white horses, three goofy white geese, two sea lions and a couple of penguins). Markus and Jennifer were wowed by the trapeze artists (their athleticism was truly amazing!). Ellie quickly decided that the circus was almost as good as music class because they play music all the time, and everyone claps along. She took almost as much interest in the other kids in the audience as she did in the show. Close to intermission, we noticed that our little party girl was pooping out. The circus can be a very overstimulating place, and she was getting tired. As fate would have it, a clown came along and picked Markus and three other grown-ups out of the audience to "help" with the next act. This caused Ellie no undue amount of apprehension (though no tears of woe); she decided as long as she could see him, she could allow it. Yes, Markus joined the circus today, just for one act. Where are the pictures, you ask? Don't we wish we'd had the camera, but as the subject line reads, it was spontaneous Monday fun. We thought we were going ball-kicking, so the camera was at home. Incidentally, Markus was instructed to play a gong as part of a musical act. He was supposed to beat his chest and yell like Tarzan first, but a day of software training must have made him too reserved. We'll have to work on that.

When the lights came up for intermission, we headed home with a worn-out toddler for some hot chili and homemade biscuits, a perfect ending to a very fun, very COLD day (around 40 degrees by nightfall!). If only every Monday could be this fun!

Friday, October 19, 2007

How To Win Friends and Influence People

Call and announce you have made pecan pie.
I'm expecting a pie-eating guest within the hour.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Not just doughnuts

You may be looking at this photo thinking Jennifer has gone overboard on desserts of late (not an unsafe assumption if you know me at all).

Nonetheless, we figured it's time to come right out with the truth and tell you we are half-way to being a family of four! Baby #2 should be joining us toward the end of February (due on the 27th, but who knows?). The 20-week ultrasound gave us a great profile shot (head on the left with a wee fist near baby's mouth), so for those of you who, like Ellie, want to "SEE!!!!", here you go:

Friday, October 12, 2007

Back to our regularly scheduled programming

Apologies for the long absence! We appreciate our devoted blog readers, and I hope our absence hasn't deterred you from checking in on us. It's been a bit of a whirlwind. As I wrote in the last entry, adjusting to jet lag on the return to Holland took us nearly a week. Ellie really struggled with it, which meant everyone else did too. She's always a good and happy child (hallelujah!), but nights were a real challenge for a bit longer than was comfortable. That left us mostly hanging around the house with little to blog for several days (unless a chronicle of Jennifer's exhaustion is thrilling reading for you, count yourself lucky for being spared). We did make it to Delft for a glorious fall afternoon on Thursday, where we visited the cathedral but were far more enthralled with our warm soup, bread, and dessert waffles at a cafe later in the day. On Saturday morning, Jennifer and Mary took the train to Paris for a four day weekend. We were cultural fiends (Louvre, Notre Dame, St. Chapelle...), and of course Mary had to visit Disneyland Paris, being the huge Disney fan that she is! Meanwhile, Markus and Ellie held down the fort in Holland. They visited a nature reserve, did a lot of cycling, partied on a few playgrounds, and made sure the duck and geese populations of The Hague were well fed. They also visited with Andrea and our friend Tony, who was back in town for the week on business. Wednesday was another attempt to return to normal, with Jennifer and Mary still battling aching feet from our Parisian marathon weekend and Ellie readjusting to our return/Papa's return to work. Yesterday, we took the train to Amsterdam for yet another glorious fall afternoon and visited the Anne Frank House (not for those disinclined towards stairs or traumatic subjects).

Today was a day's visit to Antwerp, made necessary by Jennifer's incessant rhapsodizing about the chocolate (of which we obtained much). Tomorrow, Mary heads home again to catch her breath (three countries in two weeks!), and we are excited to welcome our friends Meghan and Eric on Sunday! Whew! Now you are all caught up. What have you been doing these past two weeks?

For those interested in Paris pics, these are a few of my favorite things:

Cupid and Psyche

The Winged Victory of Samothrace

the sparkling Eiffel Tower (10 minutes at the start of every hour; green for the Rugby Cup finals)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Home again

We're back in The Hague! Actually, we've been back since Sunday, but we're still trying to normalize. Ellie's jetlag has been a bit of a bear for all of us, and we're just trying to get through the week. She should be back to her regularly scheduled programming by Sunday, so I'll try to update with something fun and interesting next week. Thanks for checking in!