22 January 2010

7 Quick Takes, or, Hiya! We’re Still Here!


1. Yes, yes, blogging has been sparse lately…again. I basically have about an hour and a half to myself during the day, during Annika’s nap. Since we returned from the States, Annika has slept through the night maybe two or three times. Last night, she cried briefly at 1 am and settled back to sleep before I got to her room. Score!

Then Katrina woke up at 4 am after having a nightmare (which is pretty rare for her). I swear,the children plot with each other to give the parents maximum sleep deprivation. And no sleep = no brain power to write blog entries.

2. Katrina didn’t tell me what her nightmare was about, but I shouldn’t have been surprised. Yesterday it was announced at school that the mother and sister of a former student (who rode on Katrina’s bus last year) had been killed in a car accident. I didn’t really know the family except to wave at the bus stop, but I couldn’t stop thinking about this lovely little girl, about 10 years old, who is now without a mother and little sister. Katrina said that they would be writing letters later in the week. She composed some thoughts out loud in the car: “Dear J., I’m sad your mum and sister died. I hope that you can feel better about that.” And isn’t that exactly the sentiment that adults try to express, but more indirectly and with prettier words? Please keep this family in your prayers. I think it will be a very long time before anyone “feels better".”

3. I’ve been a bit addicted to Hillbuzz, a political Web site run by five gay guys from Chicago. They supported Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries and were so upset at the way she was treated by the Dems that they jumped ship to work for the McCain/Palin campaign. They don’t like Obama or the health-care bill. I don’t always agree with them, but they tell it like they see it, the writing is good, and they often have interesting ideas as well as stories about their lives.

4. Annika is walking…and climbing. Katrina wasn’t a climber, so imagine my surprise to look over and see my baby on top of the open dishwasher door…standing on the biggest dining room chair…kneeling on the top step of the step stool…

5. She also likes to “help” Mama by pulling utensils out of the dishwasher and handing them to me to put away. It is a fun way to start the morning. Unfortunately, she also wants to help in this way anytime the dishwasher is open. I have not yet made her understand that we take out utensils only after they’re clean.

6. After living in Germany for four years, I’ve gotten used to many little cultural differences. But I still cannot get used to random (to me) people knocking on my door and coming in to check stuff. Today, a guy in a car with a chimney sweep logo on his car showed up at the door to check the flue from the wood fireplace. I questioned him a bit, because we had had no fireplace at our old house. The gas people show up out of the blue once or twice a year (the meters are inside the house), but this was the first chimney sweep I’d seen. I wasn’t sure if he was official or just trying to drum up business. But he explained that it was a state law that the flue had to be checked each year. Alrighty then.

It sounds like the beginning of a MacGruff the Crime Dog PSA. But the guy came in, went up to the third floor, checked what he needed to check, and left. There you go.

7. “Glee” has finally started here. I saw the pilot on Hulu over the summer (Hulu does not work outside of the States, by the way. Curses!) and have been eagerly awaiting it’s arrival here. Love it…or at least the pilot and the first episode. After all, I was in show choir for four years in high school. The surprise is that my mostly nonmusical husband likes it, too. Although? Singing a song perfectly, the first time you see the sheet music? I don’t think so.

And I’m waiting for the all-day choreography session. Jazz hands!

For more Quick Takes, see Conversion Diary.

10 January 2010

Snow and Sand and Sun and Snow

Our Christmas vacation was nothing if not exciting. We arrived the night before the Big Snow started on the East Coast…perfect timing, since most flights were cancelled the next day, and the one we would have taken was diverted to Chicago. In a parallel world where we were responsible parents and didn’t pull our kid out of school a day early, we would have spent who-knows-how-long at O’Hare trying to get to DC. So yay us for being irresponsible!



A few days later, we drove out of snow-packed Northern Virginia four hours southeast to Virginia Beach to spend a week with my side of the family in a gorgeous beach house. It was fun to see all of the cousins together, especially since we hadn’t seen my brother’s family since before Annika was born. It was noisy chaos much of the time, what with six children and eight adults, plus various folks popping in and out to see us.

The beach was absolutely beautiful and freezing cold most of the week.

099 View from the front porch, about 7 am. What, you thought vacation was for sleeping in? You must not have little kids.


Notice my mom and the baby and I, all bundled up. It was about 30 degrees F and windy. 


And then there is Katrina. “No, Mom, I am NOT cold. I don’t WANT my jacket zipped.”


Christmas was, as one might expect, joyful and loud, but not as chaotic as one would think. The cousins took turns pretty amiably, considering their ages. Guess who’s kids were awake first?




No, wait, girls, the grown-ups need to get their coffee/tea first…

119 Yes, we’re SO excited to pose for another photo while the PRESENTS are RIGHT THERE! Come ON!


Joy. Very LOUD joy. I suspect my brother’s video of the kiddos opening presents is full of Katrina’s LOUD rejoicing and my voice telling her to keep it down. Hope he didn’t want to hear his OWN kids. Ah, well.

The most notable event of the week for us, though, was Annika deciding it was time to walk. Maybe the peer pressure from her nearly two-year-old cousin finally gave her the confidence she needed.

078 I cannot get over those wee ponytails. Cutest. Ever.


096And she’s off! 

The cousins had a blast together, with a minimum of fighting.


112The oldest and the youngest, early Christmas morning. Annika did not want any adult but me to pick her up, but 14-year-old C. was an instant hit. We tried to bring her home with us, but she has this irrational desire to stay with her own family. My sister and I will be lobbying her to come to the DC area for college. And take care of our kids. :)

087  The California girls’ first walk on the beach in 30 degrees and VERY windy. Even Katrina zipped up her coat that day.

093 Sisters. Aw.

Oh, and yes, all the cousins are girls. Wheeee!

The day after Christmas, we headed back to Northern Virginia for a week with hubby’s parents. A bit more low-key, but packed full of activity just the same.

148 Visiting college friends…the kids bonded over their brand new gaming system. And ice cream cones.

155 Playing piano and singing with Grandma

161 Look over there, Mama, while I climb the stairs! NO, wait, want to CLIMB! Dagnabbit, foiled again!

Then it was time to come back home, where we collapsed in a screaming puddle of jet lag for a few days. We got back last Sunday, and Katrina’s first day of school was Wednesday. Yeah, those mornings got a bit ugly. But snow started falling Friday night, so good fun was had by all yesterday.

168  170 189 180

And so the old year ended and another year begins.