Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gone For Awhile...


These cool kids flew into town on Saturday...
My brother and sister, Harrison and Heather

We're off to Venice for a couple of days...as a surprise for the birthday boy, Harrison, who is turning 19 on Thanksgiving Day. He's going on a mission for our church soon, and Heather is getting married in a few months, so they up and took a European vacation as a last "hurrah!"

On Thanksgiving Thursday, we'll be heading to Paris for a few days. How would cupcakes with 19 burning candles, and sparkling juice on the lawns beneath the Eiffel Tower at night in Paris, France sound for spending your birthday day and Thanksgiving holiday? I think Harrison, and Heather, will be pleased.

I won't be blogging while I'm gone. I'll try, but I can't promise anything.

Wanna see why I haven't blogged since Wednesday? Brian and I were working madly to get pictures on the walls and decorations in place. Here are a few pictures of our house now that it is decorated a bit. As I finish more rooms I can post more for you. I'm glad Heather brought up the point of letting you all know that just cuz I'm posting these pictures doesn't mean any of you can get out of not visiting...now that you've seen the house. haha.

Okay, we'll talk soon! Auf Wiedersehen!

Front Entryway


Kitchen

Family Room



How do you like my early Christmas present? The beautiful red rug adorning the floor of this beautiful room? I dreamed about it for a month before we moved in and Brian surprised me by having it waiting for me when I showed up for the first time to see the house. It has brought me much joy during the tedious job of unpacking.



Guest Room
(Where Heather and Harrison are staying)





Upstairs Bathroom
(Anyone know what the second toilet is? Not a very good picture, but you can tell there are two.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

You Are Cordially Invited...



...to our Victorian Tea Party...

Date: Friday, November 13, 2009
Time: 11:30 a.m.
Place: Mommy's Dining Room

Please wear your best tea party attire.

...The girls had three days off of school. It was quite a surprise to me because I was led to believe that their only vacation day was Wednesday for Veterans' Day. However, they came home on Tuesday boasting about how their school had both Thursday or Friday off for Parent Teacher Conferences.

Now, before you start wondering how I could be such an irresponsible parent, remember that we only started the week before, and I've been busy working out bus passes, doctor's and pharmacy appointments for Xoe's medicine during school, meal passes, etc. And on the school calendar, it only stated "Parent Teacher Conferences", which to me meant AFTER school, especially since no other American school around were taking these dates off. I should have guessed they would have taken the days off for these conferences seeing as they have about 600 students. That's a lot of conferences to hold AFTER school. What do I know?

The first thing I said to the girls when I was enlightened with such startling information was, "Oh man! I have to entertain you guys for 5 days!?" The girls started laughing and said, "Yup! You're stuck with us!"

And even though I was joking, I was kind of serious. I totally am not done unpacking the house, and there is still so much to do. Wednesday and Thursday the girls just did their own thing...which meant playing the computer, playing the Wii, helping me every so often, running errands and dilly dallying with a few other odds and ends activities. By Thursday night, I was feeling super guilty, so I thought I needed to pull together something fun. It was a little bit rainy, so I decided we needed to do something indoors.

So, on Friday morning when the girls realized we had another boring day ahead of us adamantly declared, "Mom, PLEASE can we do something fun. I'm getting cabin fever!" haha. I replied jokingly, but acting as if I was mad, "GO TO YOUR ROOM!" When they got there, they found a beautiful black, white and hot pink scrolled invitation with the same wording above handwritten inside.

I couldn't tell at first if they were excited. When I saw Xanthe open her invitation she had a smile on her face, but then said, "Mom, aren't tea parties where old ladies sit around and don't talk?" Haha. I said, "No way! Tea parties are super fun! And what better way to learn manners and etiquette? You can help me prepare for it if you want."

I had every intention of closing the doors to the dining room and then surprising them at 11:30. But then I KNEW how much they loved doing these kinds of things. And I was right. They right away tied on their aprons Auntie Katie made for them and went straight to work. Xanthe was making tiny tea sandwiches and Xoe was frosting the chocolate cake.

We had such a great time. Again, at first they were a little nervous of totally enjoying it. As you'll see from the pictures, they soon got totally into how to properly set a table, the correct order of preparing the fixings for your tea, and how yummy Raspberry Vinaigrette, tea sandwiches and scones can be.



On the Menu:
Lemon Creme Scones
Served with Clotted Cream & Raspberry Jam

Tea Sandwiches
English Cucumber Slices laid upon a layer of creamy dill butter spread on white bread
Tomato, Basil & Garlic drizzled with olive oil served on wheat bread
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus and Smoked Turkey on wheat bread

Mixed Green Salad
Fresh Blueberries and Mozzarella Cheese on a bed of spring green lettuce, drizzled with Raspberry Vinaigrette

Fresh Fruit Salad
Sliced Strawberries, Kiwi & Blueberry swirled with vanilla yogurt

Beverages
Choice of Chamomile, Mint, Lemon or Honeysuckle Herbal Tea
(Served with sugar, cream and lemon)
Strawberry-Infused Ice Water

Dessert
Moist Chocolate Cake with Rich Chocolate Frosting









What was Spencer doing?

Oh, he was enjoying juice and tea biscuits (aka apple juice, banana baby cookies and Nilla wafers...)




Chocolate Cake


So, I have to tell you the story of why I chose "chocolate cake" for dessert. You have no idea how much Xoe has been craving "chocolate cake" (I put it in quotes cuz every time I hear the words "chocolate cake" I think of her drooling over saying it. So try and imagine her saying it when you read it too). This little girl has been obsessed with "chocolate cake".

Every morning we would go into the bakery in Heidelberg for breakfast or for a cold weather break for some hot chocolate and a pastry. Right away, she would scan the whole display for "chocolate cake". All she would ask is, "Is that chocolate cake?" Or, "That's not JUST chocolate cake. That has stuff in it. I want JUST chocolate cake with chocolate frosting." Haha.

Then we would go to the grocery store and search high and low in the bakery section and up and down the treat aisles...on the lookout for already-made "chocolate cake with chocolate frosting". She was so disappointed when she wouldn't find it.

She would also scour the menus at restaurants to see if THEY had "chocolate cake", but no luck.

This has been a topic of conversation since we've gotten here, and so far she hasn't had her craving for "chocolate cake" filled.

So, imagine her elation when I pulled out from the oven, none other than "CHOCOLATE CAKE!" (yup, that was how she said it, so you have to go back and read it like how she would say it.) But then she said...."oh, well I don't want it cuz usually everybody puts white frosting on it and I don't want white frosting. Right then I pulled out from behind my back a container of chocolate frosting. I thought she was seriously going to cry. She grabbed it from my hands and of course had to be the one to put the frosting on.

I'm not even kidding you when I say that I found her going into her own world during the tea party. And when I glanced at where she was looking, I saw her falling in love with the image that soon she would get a piece of that chocolate cake.

Oh, and don't even think that she didn't have TWO pieces of chocolate cake for the party, one after dinner that night, one the next morning after breakfast, a piece for lunch on both Saturday and Sunday, took some to school on Monday, AND had another piece right after school. By that time, Brian and Xanthe had helped her finish it off (I was actually pretty good, believe it or not!) so it was gone pretty soon. So, when I stopped by her school on Tuesday, I could tell she was feeling pretty sad about something. So, I asked her if she wanted me to bake her more "chocolate cake" to make her feel better. She gave me this look like she was going to throw up and all she said while shaking her head was, "No more chocolate cake..." Hahaha. Guess we slothed that craving right out of her.




Friday, November 13, 2009

When I'm Queen of My Own World....



...Moms Will Have Video Cameras Behind Their Eyes....



Do you ever feel like so many things happen when the camera is off? A giggle. A laugh. Learning to walk. Or a funny idiosyncrasy no other kid does, only your darling little baby. But you never can catch that right moment.

Things that you want to remember after they grow older, but probably your memory won't be so good by then.

Wouldn't it be so cool if these memories could be caught as they happened and then stored to a computer? Then you could share them with the people you love. Or share them with the child after they've grown old. Or even keep certain treasures to yourself, but be able to gaze at every so often.

So, yes. I have often made plans for when I have my own world.

On my world, moms will have video cameras behind their eyes.



(And yes, I have had this thought this since Xanthe and Xoe were babies. If the pictures of them were scanned in, I would have probably posted some. But I don't think my heart can take going back and looking at pictures of them yet. It's been so long since they were babies that my heart will want to look at every picture and soak it all in. So, maybe one day I'll post more baby pictures of the girls. But for now, here are some pictures of Spencer that I never got to post. Spencer did something so funny this morning that reminded me of my wish to be able to remember these things...and sometimes be able to share them with my friends. So, I saw it fitting to post these pictures together with that thought...)





Thursday, November 12, 2009

Look What Happens When...

...you leave your digital camera in open view for a darling 5 year old girl to take pictures with....

So...when I was in California the last time, I left my digital camera on the table. Well, my sister Amber's little girl, Eliza, who is SUPER smart, got a hold if it and started snapping pictures of the slew of cousins who were over, and their babysitters, while all the moms were out for a playdate.

At first when I started looking at these pictures I couldn't figure out what was going on. Then I got a good laugh remembering what happened (I'll tell you how I new at the end of the post). So, many of you who don't know these kids may not relate to this post. But I'm sure my sisters will get a kick out of it. I have gotten a laugh every time I look through the pictures to see what I want to post. I just decided to post them all. Amber, tell Eliza to look at these! Hahaha.

...so here are pictures through the eyes of a 5 year old.














(I'm thinking Eliza had some help. Maybe Rocky? Cuz here's Eliza in the picture.)


The culprit...A self-portrait picture...


Oh, and if you're wondering how I knew it was Eliza...it was because when we got back from our mommy rendezvous, she was talking about how she loves cameras and wants one someday, and how it was so fun taking everyone's picture. But I didn't know what she was talking about. It never even crossed my mind until I started downloading my pictures from the camera. I seriously LOVE that little girl.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

NEVER SPAGHETTI




I'm never letting my son feed himself spaghetti again...








Monday, November 9, 2009

HAPPY 30th AMBER!


Today is my sister Amber's birthday. I can't believe she's 30, yet I can. She's been acting 30 far longer than many of 30 year olds I know. But so jealous that she's never looked it, and probably won't for many years to come.

I did a tribute post to her last year, and was going to do another one this year. But I re-read last year's and couldn't help but say "Ditto" to everything I said. So PLEASE go to last year's post, and know that I say "Amen" to it all.

Did I forget anything? Oh, the fact that she just gave birth a little over a month ago to the most darling baby ever, Lily. And she is doing so amazingly with the whole baby process. Just like in Amber-style, she's just carrying on. Haha.



Again, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Amber. I couldn't resist posting this picture of our reunion 2 months ago 9 months pregnant. Love you and miss you!


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Did I Ever Tell You...We Went to London



I never blogged about London, did I?! Halloween just snuck up on me and then before I knew it I had a load of pictures to sort through.

This post has A LOT of pictures. I would have separated them into different posts but it just seemed easier to put in order if it was like this.

Anyway! There are a lot of pictures and I tried to keep my commentary to a minimum. (SO unlike me, huh?)

Okay, well here goes...

Plane Ride
We got our tickets for $20 each on RyanAir. Crazy, huh? The trick is though our flight was at 6:00 a.m. and we could only bring carryons...which was okay since we were only going to be there for a few days. This is our backpack trip through London.


We were one of the last ones off the plane because of the baby. The Flight Captain (pilot) let Xanthe wear his flight jacket.

At the Airport
Can you tell we're all pretty toasty? We had to get up at 4:00 a.m. and didn't go to bed til about 1 a.m. Here we are getting something to eat at the Burger King inside the airport. It's pretty interesting the different types of food they serve at the different country's fast food. This one has huge links of sausage on EVERY sandwich, almost like hot dog sliced in half. In Germany, they serve mostly ham and cheese pancettas, cold cereal and croissants. I like Germany's fast food better, although they don't have much, which is a very good thing, right?



video
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Double Decker Tour Bus Ride
We are total tourists. We love the double decker bus rides. Mostly cuz I LOVE random useless facts of information and the candid tour guides are just bursting with random tidbits they NEED to share.





Seeing a few sites
(I know a lot of you have seen these sites, but Xanthe was doing most of the picture taking, so I thought it was fun to show the pictures she took. She really loves taking pictures.)

Big Ben & Houses of Parliament



Westminster Abbey


The tour guide told us a random tidbit that there is one window on the old church that no one really notices. It was blown out by the war, and they've never replaced it. They just painted it to look like the rest of the windows. Can you tell which one? (The girls were really excited to go here and take this picture. haha. We had to make sure we went back to the Abbey just for this picture!)


Michael Jackson Apartment
If you aren't aware yet, the girls have been obsessed with Michael Jackson since his death. They listen to his music all day every day, make up dances, store pictures on their computer and ask all sorts of questions of Brian and me. The best are the "Did you know" questions. Like, "Did you know Michael Jackson's hair caught on fire when he was shooting a video?" Or "Have you heard the song called "Beat It?" Or "Say, say, say"? (They loved when we showed them Weird Al Yankovic's version of "Eat It".)

Anyway, this next picture is Michael Jackson's apartment he would rent while in London. The girls HAD to get this picture.

Walking over the Bridge from the London Eye
We didn't get a picture of the London Aquariu, but this is the picture walking back from it. Going to the Aquarium was one of the girls' favorite parts of the trip.

Our Boat Ride Tour
Again, with the random funny tour guides giving us side notes of all goings ons. Loved it!



Spinny on the boat ride with the London Eye behind him.

Phone Booths
The girls were obsessed with phone booths on this trip, and all the different ones they saw. There were some really cool old fashioned looking ones.

First Night-Seeing "WICKED"
We got Wicked tickets for the first night in London. I'll admit, the whole dynamic surrounding this play is quite exciting. From seeing the billboard after walking up the from the Subway stairs, to stepping inside the lobby lighted up in all emerald green. I even got caught up in it.


Thanks to Auntie Nanette, these two girls are in love with this musical, even never having seen it before. She listened to the soundtrack in the car when they were staying with her for a few days, and she gave them a CD so they also came home singing all the songs. The songs are pretty amazing, and now seeing them set to stage was even more awe-inspiring.


This musical deserves all the acclaim it's been receiving. It was pretty amazing. DEFINITELY different than the book, but I'm glad. There were things I was wondering how they were going to pull off in a musical.





Here's a little video of Xoe showing you how excited she was to be there. Especially after Brian bought us all t-shirts and the girls each got a pewter silver keychain of a witch's hat. Brian, you're amazing!

video


The two girls with the binoculars they had on each seat. We didn't end using them throughout the play since our seats were good enough to see the stage better without them.



Day 2
Playing at the Community Center Park

The Marriott we were staying at was right next to Regent's Park. They had a community center with all the typical activities, but also had a climbing wall, remote control race car track outside, and an outside exercise area. Here are the girls playing on it. I got some videos of them playing but I thought it would be too much to add those ones to the already existing videos I have up here. They're pretty funny though.





Obsessed with telephone booths again
Hanging Out at the Hotel


After everyone went swimming in the hotel pool, we got dressed and came down to the restaurant for some food and hot chocolate. The girls and Brian had a fun time taking pictures.



Xanthe took this picture.


Spencer being his "cool" self.


Buckingham Palace

The girls were obsessed with these guards. haha. We even came back during the "Changing of the Guard" the next day so they could see the whole procession.


Statue of Queen Victoria in front of Buckingham Palace...

The girls actually wanted to post this one, but they are taking too long to post on their blog. Bu they thought it was so funny when the tour guide gave us this random fact...look at the statue's nose. A cleaning person had knocked off her nose and they could never get the stone to match it. So her nose is a lighter color.



Walking the Streets of London
I just loved these storefront shops as we were walking to dinner one night.



I loved these next few pictures of the girls walking the streets. I was trying to catch them on camera, but they kept turning away. Then it turned into a game and they didn't even realized how far we had walked.




Day 3
Diana Princess of Whales Walk
I loved that they had this. It's all around London, and they have street signs and markers. I used to be obsessed with Princess Diana and was so sad when she died. Yes, I'm weird. We all have our guilty pleasures, k?



I love that they are still remembering her. I was quite shocked, though, when the girls said to me, "Who's Princess Diana?" Then I remember, they weren't born until two years after she died. I couldnt' believe it had been that long.



Obsessing about the Guards Again
We couldn't figure out what these guards were guarding...maybe the Prime Minister's House, No. 10 Downing Street. The girls had fun imitating them walking and doing their procession.



Relieving the Guard
This was later in the afternoon. we didn't get a very good view at Buckingham Palace of teh changing of the guard. So we came to see this, which was actually very cool, too. Set in a courtyard.


Policemen/women
The girls were dying to take a picture with one of the police. A couple times they asked the police would tell them that they were on a special assignment and couldn't. They were very nice about it. Finally, these two were available to take a picture with the girls, who were, of course, elated.



Trafalgar Square

Riding the Subway
We did a lot of this...we got pretty used to hopping on and off. It was pretty cool, except for all the flights of stairs...I'm not kidding, hundreds of stairs. Which would have been fine except we had a 30 pound baby in a stroller to carry up and down. They'll be installing elevators soon to get ready for the Olympics, but for us, it was quite a workout. :)



Spencer especially loved the subway.


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Eating at a Pub
The night before we had ordered room service. I purposely ordered something that was very "English" so I had a "Steak and Ale Pie" (basically a big pot pie with steak and brown gravy inside). The girls ended up eating my food, rather than their pizza and pasta. But I KNOW had I said, "Hey girls, you wanna order a Steak and Ale Pie", they would have thought I had just given them the worst suggestion in the world. haha. I got them to LOVE the pub food, which I only wanted to do so that they get used to trying foods from other countries. So, so far they love German food, French food and now British food. Now I just need to get them to love Mediterranean food, but I don't want to go to the Mediterranean to do it. hehe.


Brian and I were stoked that we found the same pub we had come to when he and I visited a few years ago. It was a cheesy, "Awwww" moment.

Here they are eating another Steak and Ale Pie with Mash and Mushy Peas.


Yay! So we had such a great time. The girls, on many occasions, said they wanted to live and go to college in London, maybe a fashion college. That was great because it opened up the subject of getting them to start thinking about their future.

I didn't write or have pictures of so many other things...the Tower of London, playing in Hyde Park, seeing the elite private boys school where Daniel Radcliffe went to high school, and walking over the Mi;lennium Bridge (the bridge at the beginning of Harry Potter #6 where the Death Eaters were making it sway by flying around it).

I'm sure we'll definitely go back again! Especially if you guys all come over to visit. Now we know the best touristy places to go.