Monday, June 30, 2008

Beach Day

Another gorgeous day. Markus suggested I take the girls to the beach on the bakfiets, so I decided to head to the spot we tried last week. It's in the Meijendel park, a distance from our house (as it turns out) not much closer than Delft, just in the other direction. Only this time it was me on the fully-loaded bakfiets with a headwind AND HILLS. I swear that thing weighs over 300 pounds loaded up like that with me on it (and the car seat and two kids and all our beach stuff). Yeah. I don't think I'll be doing that again.
But it was a lovely time at the beach.

Weekend Round-up

What a glorious weekend! The weather (for the most part) remained beautiful, and we made the most of it!

Aware of our impending move, we tried to think up something different to do while still comfortable and enjoyable for the kiddos. With that in mind, on Saturday morning I finally caved to Markus's repeated suggestion of cycling to Delft. Delft is 9 km or so from The Hague (more from our house to our destination), which I know isn't much for you happy fit people out there but has always somehow seemed daunting to me. We decided that Markus would cycle the bakfiets with the kiddos and I would ride the Porsche. About 10 minutes into our trip, the weather turned ugly. The wind kicked up a bit and the sky started spitting (you know that nasty light drizzle that just smears around on your windshield because it's too light to really wipe properly). I had my doubts about proceeding, but this being Holland, we knew it could get worse, last all day or simply stop in another minute...so we pressed on. Thankfully, the drizzle did let up for most of the ride, and also thankfully the wind didn't. It turns out the winning formula for me keeping up with Markus on long cycle rides is him on the fully-loaded bakfiets and me on the Porsche with a headwind. The wind and weight slow his pace so much that I can ride comfortably. The cycle ride was no problem! Before we knew it, we were in Delft.



And just in time for the skies to open up more. Yuck. As Markus poetically noted, "For hundreds of years, people have sought refuge in the church. So shall we too today...from the weather." Into the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church) we went. We've been in there before, but it's always pleasant to wander and look. The "New" Church was started in 1396 and took one hundred years to build. It's been through several devastations, but it stands proud and lovely today. The Nieuwe Kerk is the final resting place for the members of the House of Orange (Dutch royals).



The entry fee into the Nieuwe Kerk also gains you access to the Oude Kerk (Old Church), which we hadn't previously visited. Ellie is usually too church-ed out after one cathedral for us to risk another, but the weather was still gross so we decided to pay the Oude Kerk a visit. The Oude Kerk was started in 1246, though a wooden church had been on that site as early as 1050. The most notable feature of the Oude Kerk is its leaning tower (you can see it in the distance as Markus cycles towards town in the picture above). Unfortunately, little original remains inside. There have been too many fires and devastations, so inside looks fairly fresh and new with its white-washed stucco and awful '70s chandeliers.


After the churches, we had lunch at our favorite tearoom, Leonidas, where they are genuinely family-friendly. Toys, coloring materials, fun bendy straws, AND A CHANGING TABLE! Of course, we also like the food and the friendly staff. Did we warp to the States or what?!
The skies were clear again after lunch, but Ellie was pooped so home we went. I always enjoy Delft. If we were to stay here longer, I would want to buy a house and move there. It's a small town with a lot of personality and charm, and I never get tired of visiting it. Saturday was no exception. I was happy we made the cycle trip, and even happier I made it on the Porsche.
Saturday was Veteran's Day in The Netherlands, and The Hague (being the capital) put on a huge event on the Malieveld (the big field near our house). There was a military parade through town, acknowledged by a member of the royal family, and several hundred soldiers were decorated for peacekeeping efforts. There were military aircraft flyovers of the Malieveld for a long while, which Ellie really would have enjoyed if she hadn't been passed out cold by the time we got home.

After naptime, Markus and Ellie headed off to the grocery store to resolve our plastic water bottle issue (must recycle!) and Stephanie and I took a gallery stroll along the Noordeinde.




Sunday morning we kept our regular zoo appointment. Markus and Ellie looked at animals and braved tiny goats in the petting zoo, and Stephanie contently chewed on her baby carrier. Everyone was happy.



Sunday, June 29, 2008

Ellie says

Lately, Ellie has been mixing in a lot of German with her English. I think this is a good sign. Although Markus speaks to her primarily in German, until now she has preferred to stick to English, only using German from time to time or for certain words. I think she's mixing in more German now to experiment with expanding her vocabulary. She often likes to use both English and German, and she'll tell us "Mama says" this and "Papa says" that. Her mixing comes out in sentences like "I'm neeming [taking] this marker." Today's mix was this week's favorite. We were at the zoo and Ellie spotted an ice cream stand. Ellie loves ice cream, though she only is treated to some occasionally. Often the (honest) reason Markus gives her for the "no" at the playground or elsewhere is he didn't bring any money. At the zoo today, her excitement shot through the roof, and she made a beeline for the diaper bag (and my wallet within), shouting happily:
"I have geld! I have geld! I have geld!"


**Runner-up quote**

Markus went into the bathroom and his little shadow followed him. I heard him tell her, "Papa needs some privacy." Without missing a beat, she enthusiastically responded:
"Yes, Ellie needs privacy too! With Papa!"

Weekly Video Post

This week we have two videos to post. Why? Because the first one captures typical action around here, and the second is just too cute not to share.

A loving (if loud) big sister



Someone has learned to "cheese" for the camera...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Look who's four months old!



The past four months have flown by somehow and our baby Stephanie is really starting to show us more and more of her personality. Watching her grow and change every day is a blessing, and we love it!

Tonight I captured a portrait of my girls. Ellie is such a sweet big sister, and she always wants to hold baby Stephanie. Since she was already sitting on our bed, we gave her the baby and backed off...to have this cute result.



On Tuesday, the girls were laughing together. I don't know if I've ever heard a sweeter sound. They were just watching each other and laughing. It was wonderful. Parenthood is exhausting and draining and demanding, but oh are the joys worth it!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Gorgeous sunny days

On days like these, we wish we could just stay here in The Hague. We live so close to Parliament, and look how beautiful!



The annual summer sculpture festival is on, and this iceberg is our favorite this year. I like it best when there are seagulls sitting on it (makes it look more authentic), but it's fun watching it move around in the wind too.


This morning was gorgeous enough that I cycled Ellie to school in the bakfiets. The commute to her school takes 15-20 minutes by car, and surprisingly not much longer with the bike. And I get the exercise. Boy, do I get the exercise. That bakfiets takes some effort to move, but we all enjoy it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mac upgrade

With all the running around and trying to catch up, I haven't really had much of a chance to experiment with the new features on my Mac upgrade to Leopard. So far, this is the most fun I've had with it...which isn't bad! If you know me, you know how terribly easy I am to amuse.




Monday, June 23, 2008

Ellie says

Further proof that we send her to a British school for playgroup:

This afternoon, Ellie dropped her spoon while eating a snack and calmly assured me, "You needn't panic about it."

Walk of Discovery

Just about any walk with a small child is a walk of discovery, whether or not the adult means for it to be. Of course, it's much more fun if the adult can take the time to appreciate the discovery too. How quick we are to move past all the everyday wonder.


This morning, Ellie and I each picked up a magnifying glass and took a discovery walk while baby Stephanie dozed in the baby carrier. We spent a good five minutes watching a ladybug cling to a leaf (Ellie decided it was sleeping). We also thoroughly examined the flowers growing the grass and the bark of every tree we passed.



If it's been a while since you've slowed down, take a good five minutes and go play outside with a magnifying glass in the shade. You just might get to experience wonder in your world all over again.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Weekend Round-up

We at dipesquad HQ have been a bit manic this week. We have been paddling like mad to keep our heads above water. It's a non-elegant doggie paddle, but it works! We are doing it! The weekend has helped us recoup a lot! Thank you Dutch weather for cooperating this once and giving us two lovely days. Today was almost summery warm, but a stiff wind kicked up in the afternoon and now it feels like autumn again (lest we get too comfortable with having summer in June). One other thing that has helped us recoup a lot is the discovery that Markus's over-the-counter allergy medicine has been making him crazy. He has felt so exhausted and irritable and dizzy and out-of-it and other nasty things lately, but he's been stressed and tired and we'd attributed it all to that. We have been staying up way too late every night watching Eurocup, and we figured we were overdoing our sleep debt (not that this thought made us stop watching). Even so, the nasties got the better of him by the end of the week and we knew something wasn't right. Turns out the allergy medicine he's been taking to kick this awful hayfever has a side effect of "attacking the central nervous system"! Hello! Always read the fine print, people! Yikes! Every awful psychotic symptom he was headed towards are on the list of "potential side effects." Yowsers. Needless to say, he won't be taking those pills anymore.

On to more pleasant things...the weekend round-up!
We really have enjoyed these past two lovely days. The weather was heavenly.
Saturday morning, Markus took the girls to the Blijdorp Zoo while Jennifer got a (seriously overdue) haircut. Ellie had a great time as usual, and baby Stephanie stayed awake and alert to "ooooo" and blow raspberries at the trees and any animals she could make out at a distance.

Pandas eat bamboo, you know


After lunch and a nap, we piled the girls and gear into the bakfiets, Jennifer hopped on the Porsche (our aluminum-frame Cannondale roadbike) and off we went to spend the afternoon on the beach near Meijendel, a lovely dune area about 9 km from our house. There, Ellie and Papa played in the sand while Stephanie supervised and Jennifer got a little carried away with the camera.

my current desktop photo


"Will you quit with the camera already?"


We also had fun watching these smart guys, who decided the best way to get unstuck would be to dig a huge hole and sink further into it. And these are lifeguards. Happy thought.




"I said quit it! Don't make me take it off you."


On the way home, Ellie beheld the biggest dandelion we have ever seen. She loves dandelions for obvious reasons, but the sheer size of this one made her reverent.



The night finished up with the quarter finals between Netherlands and Russia. We watched to the bitter end. Russia played so well that they did deserve to win, but we were sad to see Netherlands knocked out after playing so brilliantly in the first three games. Alas.


Today, Markus took the girls on the bakfiets to Clingendael while Jennifer did some (also seriously overdue) housecleaning. We met up at our friends' house for lunch. They are Italian, so they fed us fantastic food until we burst (and then they offered the next course). The wind kicked up so strongly over lunchtime that Markus had a tough time cycling home (we girls had cycled home earlier for a nap), so this afternoon we were pedestrians instead. We walked into town for kaffee kuchen (German words not Dutch, but a good idea in any language) and over to the Parliament pond to watch the mama and baby swans.
Tonight, the city of The Hague is putting on a classical concert on a small canal.


They set up a small barge, and the ladies are playing beautifully. How do I know? The canal runs in front of our house (see Markus demonstrate location of our house door with stage in the distance).


Thank you, city, for the free concert! It's lovely! We can almost hear it over the Eurocup...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Weekly video post

Since Markus (and thus our family) received a fantabulous new digital point-and-shoot for Father's Day, we've been taking photos and making video clips galore. His latest great idea is to have a weekly video post so friends and family know which day to check in and see some action. I haven't picked the day yet, but here's the first clip. This morning's rainy yuck gave way to a gorgeous (though windy) afternoon. We had lots of fun at the "big playground" (Ellie's name for the Rosarium play park). Pictures can be found in our flickr sidebar, for those interested (Mimi!).

video

Selling our car, Part 3

Scam or not, I do enjoy these emails. This is the response to Markus's request that the "agent" come inspect the car:

ok no problem.
You can send your contact,
I usually proceed in this way for my transactions.
For me it is more secure, I do not fall in any doubt of anarque with an other process.
. Because I'm association in the exercise
This ancillary activity import of second-hand cars and it has always been the method of my staff.
So we can save time and have a full security funds committed.
there is a cargo loads at the end of this month on port Marseilles.
My staff will contact you if we fall agreed to pick up the car. What is important at this time is that you have money in order to block the car for us.
thank
M. Vandoorne

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Baby class reunion at our house

This is just a couch full of cuteness right here:

Selling our car, Part 2

The potential buyer has written again. Do you think this is for real? Makes for interesting email anyway.


Hello
Good reception, Its well but
I need some pictures of the inside car. And i want to take it pleaz at 36000.
If you agree,we will begin transfer, upon receipt of
your bank details, I will go to my order a bank deposit in your account.
Once everything is done, my bank will contact you by fax, mail ... to confirm that the bank has
been well and truly done and you follow the procedure with my
bank so that everything goes well. Once you receive
money in your account within 48 hours or so,
my forwarder will contact you to retrieve the car accompanied by my agent.
I think you have explained the éssentiel the teransaction.
So I hope we agree on prices, I expect yet.
I count on your frank and honest cooperation
Best regards
Mr Vandoorne



**update**

Markus requested the agent/forwarder make an appointment to come see the car, but this was not accepted. They just want our bank details. SCAM. Just goes to show you always need to watch your wallet (and bank details), especially online.

Meanwhile, further research into the move has assured us that bringing the car with us is not an option. We are a bit stuck (even the Volvo dealer said no because it's a base model). Do you want our car? We really need a decent buyer.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

More visitors and another Stephanie first

Actually, just one more visitor: our good friend, Tony. In addition to being an all-around great guy, Tony is also the father of our adorable, darling goddaughter Carolina, which gives him rights to extra dessert at our house. Ellie is happy to have another playmate.



Tony seems pretty excited too.

And look who took it into her head to sit up on her own this weekend. She was sitting in my lap with her back against my belly when I realized her little back wasn't actually against my belly at all. I reclined, and there she sat without a wobble in sight. What a strong girl! It's too bad she doesn't trust the camera. She is such a smiley girl, but she's just not sure what to make of the camera and won't smile at it until she's sure.


Our resident myna bird Ellie has picked up on all the "strong baby" comments and now applies them to Lolo. At random times you can hear her ooo-ing and awe-ing in a high-pitched voice, "Look at her standing! What a strong girl! What a clever, clever girl! Strong baby girl, Lolo!" And sure enough, Lolo is standing up in her lap, supported under her arms just like baby Stephanie is in mine.

Selling our car

As mentioned in a previous post, we are having unexpected difficulty finding a buyer for our car, though Markus did get this email in response to our ad on the web here:

Morning,
I dont speak well English me too, but i'll try to do it koz I really love your car.
But for unavailability I cant come try it, I am no longer in France, I work recently in Abidjan, Ivory coast
But I have more pictures from inside the vehicle and you also tell me everything that I need to know about his condition. I expect to receive a discount on your purchase price.
I want to count on your frank and honest cooperation.
Thank you.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ellie sings!

This week's "Ellie says" must be replaced with "Ellie sings!" As promised, here's a clip of her singing the "ABCs" (words seem to change a little each time), with a bonus clip of her singing "Children Children" (a song to get children's attention they sing at school). Watch out for that micromanagement I was telling you about in the latter clip.

video

video

The latest on the move

*Thanks to gail for reminding me to post about this!

The latest on the move to Australia isn't much at all. After the mad scramble and stress of being shown the door in January, we are still here in limbo six months later. HR took seven weeks to get a contract sent to Markus, and they have yet to get our visas going. We're doing our part for the required medical exams. This week, we went to Bronovo and had blood tests and chest x-rays (Kelcey, it was so much less scary here than in Dohot!) to check for HIV and TB. Since a few people have already asked, I'll tell you I'm just not sure what happens if they find evidence of either. I don't know if they would deny entry or not (in Dohot, they would). Thankfully, we aren't concerned that could apply to us; it was just routine. On this coming Tuesday, we will go to the only "approved" doctor in The Hague for visa entry check-ups. I don't know what makes this particular doctor "approved" and our regular huisarts not, but who am I to question? Once we complete the medical exams, we will have done all we can do for the visas. We are told the average wait after the medical is 4-8 weeks, so we could be in limbo for several more weeks...or not. Who knows? Since we are in no hurry to move, we don't really mind all these delays; however, I'd love to be out of the limbo! I wish they could have said in January "you have to move in August." Fine. But no. Alas.

On the upside, Ellie will finish her school year with her friends and teachers. We are happy about that, because she really loves that part of her routine. We were concerned ending that for the move would be very hard for her, but ending school because everyone is going away on summer holiday seems much more normal.
The extra time is also proving to be good because we are having trouble selling our car. In the US, our car would go in a minute. It is relatively new with low mileage, no accidents, dealer maintenance, yadda yadda yadda. But it's an SUV, and filling the tank here costs over 100 Euro. People who go for this type of car here want all the bells and whistles (fully loaded, navigation systems, super duper stereo, DVDs in seats, etc.) and our car is a base model (we went for safety and visibility in Dohot, with rare backseat A/C vents). We are just in the wrong market, and we are a bit stuck. Hopefully, a resolution will present itself. At least the sale doesn't have an urgency yet. Actually, given the limbo, it's probably good we don't have a buyer. They would want the car soon, and we have no idea how much longer we'll be here and needing it ourselves.

And now you know what we know.
Tah-dah!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Life with two kids

It's honesty time again, people, and it isn't pretty. If you haven't procreated yet and plan to, you might want to skip reading this post and move along to some cute kiddo pictures. If you have procreated but only have one child, this might be of interest. If you have more than two kids, you are laughing at me already, so just look at the cute pictures and gloat in the comments section.

As you've probably noticed, the posting has been a bit light of late. Yes, we've had jetlag and sickness and visitors galore...but that's not all. Once again, I've been masking the truth from you, our devoted blog readers. We are just too EXHAUSTED to blog properly. I know this is no excuse. I just posted about the blog as journal, and if I stick to that, we'll have a big hole where the current reality should be, and we can't have that!

So what's been going on? Nearly nine months into her second year, our darling Ellie has discovered her own Terrible Twos (accompany that by the sound cue "dum dum DUM!"). Sometimes it feels like the only moments she's not throwing a fit are the moments she's manipulating me or just ignoring me completely. It's not truly that bad, but when she fakes misery at such volume and false despair that it sets the baby to genuine wailing, it's hard not to lose my mind, let alone my patience. On the rare occasion that I've had enough sleep, her tantrums are actually pretty funny. Ellie is without a doubt a serious drama aficionado. She has studied. She has planned. She has seen the Oscar and she wants it, people! A typical tantrum goes something like this:

"I want chocolate."
We don't eat chocolate for breakfast. How about some cereal?
"I. WANT. CHOCOLATE."
I heard you, but we don't eat chocolate for breakfast. Would you like some Cheerios?
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooo!" At this point, she deliberately removes herself to a spot where there is no furniture or physical obstacle of any sort (she's very attentive to safety), lays down on the floor with her face in her hands and wails dramatically. Then, when adequate wailing has been achieved, she'll look up and announce in a deep voice plagued with misery, "I'M NOT HAPPY."
Yes, I see that.
Some days, you can really see the benefits of her rigorous training. After the whole tantrum process, while she is still red in the face from whatever serious infractions I've committed, she will exhale deeply, grin all over and cheerfully announce, "Ellie's happy now!"

We've also embarked on the everything-is-mine phase. Just to mix things up, she will also occasionally tell me to "Stop talking, Mama" or "Mama not eat" or "Mama not sit". I need micromanagement, and she is there to fill the job. Last week, she achieved four meltdowns in the hour before I took her to playgroup. When I got there, I met a mother of four who gave me some great advice. She reminded me that they all go through it, and they will grow out of it. She told me to take a break and physically remove myself from the room to cool down when I really needed to, that it would set a good example as long as I refrained from jumping off the balcony in desperation. Good tip!

It's not all bad. Ellie talks so much and so clearly that we really enjoy listening to what she has to say (most of the time). She keeps us well informed on all goings-on, and her logical leaps are quite impressive. She also has started singing for us, something I've been looking forward to for ages and something she was content to have me do for her until now. Her "ABCs" is the cutest I've ever heard, with some German, some repetition, and a bit of mixed Dinglish to muddle through the tough middle part. I will post a recording of it when I get a good one. Her independence is a marvel as well. One morning, she sneaked past me without waking me up. When I awoke and found her room empty and the house silent, I was more-than-slightly panic-stricken. Trying to keep the alarm out of my voice, I went downstairs calling her name...and noticed a cool draft. Ellie had put on her garden shoes and was out in the back garden, happily blowing bubbles in her pajamas. It was the sweetest thing.

Even on her bad days, Ellie is not much worse than an average two-year-old's easy days. We've always gotten off so lightly with her that we can't help but feel plagued when she acts her age. We also know this is probably a reaction to the baby in the house. We are so fortunate that she has never really directed her wrath toward the baby, but the baby-induced peril is there and it is real enough to her. Ellie just wants the attention she feels she deserves, which is everyone's undivided attention (and acquiescence), every minute of every day. I mean, come on! It's not too much to ask, really.

So how's the baby doing? Actually, she's wonderful. And how's her sleeping? Actually, not so wonderful. Baby Stephanie is a Mama's girl in every sense. I love this, but it does make night-times hard. She wants to be as close as possible to me without actually being beneath my skin, though she might go for that option if it were available. I love snuggling close and hearing her sweet baby breathing...but every time she moves even a little, it wakes me up. And lately she's been quite a restless sleeper. The dirty truth is her body is on repeat poo-strikes. We have been told this is quite normal for breast-fed babies, especially in growth spurts, but I think the poo-strike makes her uncomfortable and causes the sleepy squirming. She also still breastfeeds during the night. This fact doesn't bother me, but it got a big reaction at our last Consultation Bureau appointment. The doctor said, "She's not waking anymore to feed at night." This was not a question, so imagine her surprise when I replied that actually, yes she is. With wide eyes, the doctor says, "Only once." No, more than that. Now shocked, "Twice?!" Um, yeah. (Actually, I have no idea. I'm too sleep-deprived to keep tally.) "Mmmm. Twice." The doctor is now murmuring to herself in shocked disdain as she types into the computer: "Feeding in the night!" Horrors.

Now, here are those cute pictures I promised at the start:




Monday, June 09, 2008

Eurocup

It's time for Eurocup, and the whole of Holland is covered in orange vinyl flags. Although I am normally a high-horse rider when it comes to TV and televised sports in particular, I am a huge sucker fan of European football. I can't explain it and I can't help it. All I know is my poor non-sports-watching-yet-patient-with-wife husband is about to be subjected to many evenings of Jennifer screaming at televised (hot) men in shorts. Tonight is a big match: Holland versus Italy. Italy is secretly my team, so let's just say it's a good idea for me to watch this game solo tonight (I might be maimed in a pub).

On my afternoon walk today, I stopped in at the corner grocery to pick up some milk. The ever-cheerful owner was there, smiling away and I asked how he was doing.
"Great! Though I'm a bit nervous."
Why nervous?
"We need to win tonight. We're playing Italy."
No problem! (yeah, right...this is a tough match!)
"No, you can never trust those Italians."

So true.


***later***

Italy. Boys, boys, BOYS.
I publicly announce my support and you go and embarrass me like that.
The offense was sad, sad, sad. Every man for himself is not a good strategy for a team sport!
You have some work to do before next week.

On the other hand...
Netherlands. Wow!
What a game! What beautiful goals! What teamwork!
This is the first time in 30 years that Netherlands has beaten Italy, and they earned it big style!
Congratulations, Orange! We'll be watching you in the next game.

This past week's quote

Our usual "Ellie says" will return this Friday, but we have to give last week's quote to Mimi. She took one look at the church below through the incoming fog and said thoughtfully, "Now, those towers are suggestive, aren't they?"

Jetsetter Mimi

Mimi was here this weekend! She hopped on a plane on Thursday evening and headed across the pond just for the weekend to visit. What a jetsetter! To enhance this image further, we spent Saturday in Amsterdam, fitting in two museums (Anne Frank House and Van Gogh Museum), fine lunch dining at the Hotel Pulitzer (fresh and delicious!), and some shopping besides. Sunday we visited the Mauritshuis in The Hague to visit "The Girl with the Pearl Earring" again, and we had another girls' lunch. Ellie had a BLAST with her Mimi, and there were many tears on both sides at the airport today.




Thursday, June 05, 2008

Blog as Journal

People often marvel at my blog maintenance (okay, maybe not lately, but it has happened), wondering where and how I find the time. The truth is I need the blog as much as they do. It keeps me grounded in the little moments that make life special and it captures our lives (at least the parts we're willing to share with the public) almost as a journal would. I can look back and remember what we were up to and I enjoy reading what you had to say too. Little moments and memories can be fleeting, and if I don't write it down, I don't remember it long. Taking pictures is a requirement for a visual person like myself, and they have the same effect. Take today, for example. I took a photo with my cell phone camera, and when I came to the computer to upload it, I realized that I had many other (forgotten) little moments in there too, including...

The day Ellie discovered she could easily reach the lowest bar on the playground and wanted to check her height against the others (March 31)


The day Ellie realized she could push her sister in the stroller (April 9)
video

The time I came down from tucking Ellie into her nap and found baby Stephanie napping with a companion in her car seat (April 11)


The first time I "went Dutch" and cycled with Ellie in the kid seat and baby Stephanie in the baby carrier under my jacket (April 13)


The much-anticipated-and-discussed ride on a "carousel" on Queen's Day, only accompanied by Papa of course (April 30)


The day that Ellie inexplicably HAD to wear her princess dress out and about, puddles notwithstanding (May 16)
video

The wait for Tante Ulla at the train station, made so much nicer when Papa bought a balloon at the florist stand (May 24)


The reward of ice cream for excellent behavior during a visit to the Escher Museum (May 25)


For the moment, I'll just enjoy this trip down Memory Lane and hope you will too.
We'll get to today later.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Baby Stephanie's laugh

Today was baby Stephanie's first ticklish day, conveniently demonstrated within arm's reach of a camera! Excuse the silly mama noises on the recording (us mamas often make little other than silly noises).

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Ellie says

Ellie's sentences have been punctuated of late with emphasis words. Her favorite for a few weeks now has been "very very very" (always in 3s, as in "That was very very very LOUD."), though the latest addition has been the amusing "quite actually" (as in, "Quite actually, I want the fish puzzle."). This week's quote comes from our attempt to explain the cats' departure. We told her matter-of-factly that the cats would be moving to live with another family. She didn't flinch. Instead, she looked up and said just as matter-of-factly,
"Yes, I will go see another family too. I will meet some very very very BIG BOYS."
It begins.

Bye-bye, kitty friends

This morning, our two kitty friends met and moved with their new family. When we learned we would be headed to Perth, we started researching bringing our cats with us, and the obstacles started to mount. The biggest one is quarantine. There is a minimum 30 day requirement. Although we think they meet all the criteria for the minimum stay (it can be up to 150+ days!), we aren't sure how well these attached pets would do in separation, not only from us but also from each other. Even worse is there is limited availability at quarantine facilities, and we don't have enough time before the move to guarantee a space for them. We decided if we could find a good home for them, it might be better to leave them here. Fortunately, a very cat-loving family with three kids responded to our ad immediately and seem to be thrilled to get two cats together. They came to meet the kitties today and they took them home. The house feels more empty without their little kitty bells ringing as they dash around or their meows as they wrap around our feet. We are sad to give them up, but we are happy too because we believe this is best for them. Bye-bye, kitty friends! You were great pets and we will miss you!

Smokey is the obvious grey; Bandit is the lightest of the striped orange kittens

watching Baby Einstein



In other news, Ellie has yet another cold. This seems to be the worst one yet. Markus put her back down for a nap when she had a fever at 2pm. This is a new development. Most of her colds are marked by copious snot and coughing, but fevers have been blessedly rare. She looks miserable and of course she doesn't want to sleep (or can't). I guess you could say we're still in our rough patch around here, but we're hanging on.