Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Girls Day Out

As I said in my last post, Cousin Ana was in NH last week so we spent a lot of time up there having adventures and eating ice cream cones dipped in sprinkles. On Tuesday, Jane and I packed up the girls and a ton of gear and headed out for the seacoast at Rye, NH. First we took the girls to the Seacoast Science Center at Odiorne Point State Park to stick their hands in the tide pool tank and check out the blue lobsters. They have a beautiful seaside picnic area there, in addition to a pebble beach and a great playground. We took advantage of all of it!

You would think the girls would be weary after all that, but they were gung ho to hit the sandy beach at Wallis Sands. We rented a beach umbrella and set up camp, but the girls quickly began to scatter. Ana wanted to swim in the surf (they did not have bathing suits on!), Maggie wanted to dig in the dry sand, and Kate wanted to stomp in the puddles of warm water left by the retreating tide and steal other kids' beach toys. We had an exhausting time trying to keep up with all three of them, especially after Kate finally realized that the ocean was right there! She looked up, her eyes lit up, she started screeching and clapping, and then she ran directly into the waves and had to be pulled out by her anxious mother! Luckily, they eventually all settled into a big puddle under the umbrella with their collection of purloined toys, and no one even suffered more burn than just a little bit of pink cheeks.

Kate barely made it out of the beach parking lot before she was fast asleep, but the two older girls chattered like monkeys and gobbled up every last crumb of the lunch leftovers all the way home.

Curious George

Sea Urchin

Ana in the whale costume

A rare blue lobster!

On the other side of this wall is the sea

Not a bad spot for a picnic lunch

A lot of bloggers brag about their photography skills and tell you all the technical details of how they got each shot. Here on my blog, I will tell you that I took this photo because I thought it was incredible to be gazing out at the blue ocean right behind the playground where Kate was swinging. But somehow I managed to set the camera on black and white and now you can hardly even tell that the ocean is back there at all. Hey, I'm a word person, OK?!


Who needs the ocean when you can jump in a sandy puddle?

Kate liked to stick the top of her head in the water. Weirdo.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Girls Gone Wild

Cousin Ana spent last week in NH with Gram and Grandpa, so we went up the two weekends and most of the week in between so the girls could all have fun together. And boy did they. I think Gram and Grandpa are enjoying their peace and quiet this week! There really wasn't too much fighting and other nonsense, although Kate was a little bit left behind sometimes. She'll get 'em next year! I think it won't be long before she and "Little" E will be terrorizing the big girls anyway.

Here is a round of pics from the weekend (all taken by Uncle Jeff on his really cool camera) and I'll add some more tomorrow of our big "Girls Day Out" as Maggie called it.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Flashback Fingers: Beijing Edition

I know I'm way behind over here. Our niece was in town for a week and this blog isn't the only thing that went undone during that time. You should see what gets stuck to the bottoms of my feet every time I walk across the kitchen floor! On second thought, you don't want to see that, trust me.

So while I scrub the floors and wash the dirty sheets, here are some photos to look at. A little info: my parents, uncle, brother, and sister-in-law recently returned from a fabulous trip to China where my brother married his wife all over again, Chinese style! I'm miserable that I missed it but determined to go along on their next trip. They sent tons of pictures and some little gifts for us and the girls. I won't show you all their travel pics - if you know them, you'll have to hit them up for the link - but I will share a few and some shots of the girls opening up their loot.

The whole gang in Beijing, including Jasmin's parents and brother

There were lots of photos of food!

My sister-in-law looking gorgeous before the wedding

Alex and Jasmin in traditional Song Dynasty wedding attire

Earl is very interested in Maggie's teapot.

Bracelets and teapots - Everything came in very pretty boxes.

Katie likes this red silk purse.

Maggie decided the red teapot was Kate's and the gold teapot was hers.

Some coin banks shaped like a Chinese prince and princess

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Conversations With Strangers

We're at the library and a woman asks Maggie what her little sister's name is...

"Her name is Katie but we call her Stitch."


"No, Stitch, from Lilo and Stitch."


"Yeah, because she wrecks everything."


Kate Gets Her Licks In

Don't worry about Kate. She holds her own. Don't worry about Maggie either. She's usually the perpetrator.

**Where was their mother?! Taking these pictures. Why wasn't she stopping this outrage?! Because I was laughing too hard. I know, I'm going to hell.**

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Katie Sez...

Tayn Oo (thank you)
Pot-tea (which refers to the little tea pots my parents brought the girls from China, not to the potty which is "pah-ee," not to be confused with "pă-ee" which means paci. Why she can precisely pronounce the consonants in one but not in the other two confuses me as well!)

Maggie Sez...

... It's tragically tragically tragic that this sticker won't stick!


... It's not a couch, it's a jumpaline.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Weekend Update - Random Edition

1. We grilled pizza this weekend on our gas grill and it was super delicious. I highly recommend it. It was a little bit messy with all the various ingredients and needing to roll the dough out with flour and all that. However, I didn't make my own dough. I've heard it's easy and all, but this was our first time out there, and living in Meffa, the Italian homeland of suburban Boston, there is plenty of good ready made pizza dough for sale out there. It takes 10-15 minutes and tastes like brick oven pizza. Yum!

2. Maggie has started making up words and using them in random sentences. Then when you express confusion, she defines them for you. For example, she might say, "Turtle thought I was tunked. Tunked means when someone thinks you're dead but you're really just sleeping." Sometimes she says that these words are Spanish and tells you what they mean in English. She's an odd bird.

3. Kate likes to get in trouble and sit on the naughty step so that she can give you a hug and say "Sah-ee" afterwards. I noticed that she seemed to understand that Maggie was sitting there whenever she was in trouble (at least once a day!) and Kate started sitting there when she threw a tantrum. So I decided to begin taking her there when she does something undesirable and doing the whole routine just to get her familiar with it. I'll say, "Kate, I'm putting you in time out because you were throwing food and that is naughty." I don't make her stay there for any length of time, she just gives me a hug, says sorry, and goes on her merry way. She really likes it! She's an odd bird, too.

4. Maggie went from sleeping with 4 pillows, a blanket, and a menagerie of stuffed animals in her bed to suddenly sleeping with no pillows, no blanket, and only the elite inner circle of her entourage. Everything else is piled on the floor next to her bed. Odd.

5. Today in the car Maggie was trying to teach Kate to sing her ABC's. Mike said, "Kate, can you say A?" Kate said "Nope." B? Nope. C? Nope. And so on. Nope is Kate's new favorite word! Cheeky.

6. Here is a photo of Mags organizing her M&Ms. Classic.

7. And here is a cat's-eye view photo of Kate sticking her head through the cat door. Her head apparently grew several centimeters over the weekend because all of a sudden she keeps getting it stuck and having to be rescued. Hopefully she figures that out soon because it's traumatic for everyone, but mostly for Earl, I think.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My Kids Are Crazy

Lately, Maggie goes everywhere with a collection of stuffed friends whom we have been referring to as "The Entourage." They primarily reside in her bed, but they get around town quite a bit more than I would like, especially since their ranks are swelling. Here's a photo of her from last night with the entire gang:

From left to right:
Baby Baby (mostly hidden behind her arm, clothesless, one of the core gang members)
Pink Bunny
Joyce (Homie #1, the toy formerly known as Purple Cat, we do not know anyone named Joyce or where Maggie got this name from)
Blue Bunny
Puppy Puppy (brown dog she's holding in her hands, also a core member of The Entourage)
Maxine (Joyce's sidekick, formerly known as White Kitty and then Max until I pointed out that Max is a boy's name, odder still because the former owner of our house was named Maxine)
Snoopy (she is Mike's kid after all)
Peep Bunny (bunny that looks like a Peep)
Violet (primary sleeping companion, usually holds down the base camp back at the toddler bed, sings songs, calls Maggie by name, likes burritos)

Here's a recent pic of Maggie dressed (according to her) like Boots, Dora the Explorer's monkey best friend. No, she's not wearing any pants. Yes, she has on rain boots and is holding a piece of pretend birthday cake. Those huge bandages were from a relatively nasty knee-skinning incident the night before. The piece of cake really pulls the whole ensemble together.

I call this picture "Heeere's Katie!" She's taunting our cats through the cat door to the basement, which is one of her favorite pastimes.

Ah, sisterly love. Can you even tell which one of them is older??

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Last week, I posted a video containing some admirable whistling, which got me thinking about Andrew Bird who is hands down the most stellar whistler I've ever come across. Then, as so often seems to happen in life, he cropped up again when I read this post just a few days later. So to complete the rule of three, I'm going to share a video of Andrew Bird playing "Anonanimal" from Noble Beast.

This recording is a great example of what he did when I saw him live at the Berklee School of Music (in 2004?) after his album Weather Systems came out. He played alone, in his socks, pushing the floor controls of a looping recording device that allowed him to layer bits and pieces of music over and over one another to create complex, rich melodies over which he would then play guitar or piano or chimes and sing... and whistle. Crazy good whistling. I read somewhere once that he said that even though he is a classically trained violinist, he felt comforted by the fact that even if he was in a terrible accident and lost both arms that he could go on recording music by whistling! I seriously would buy that album. I think he's a genius. Seeing him live was amazing; it was like watching someone build a song piece by piece, cobbling it together note by note right in front of you. In the quiet pauses in the music it seemed like you could hear the audience breathing, everyone was so silently listening on the edge of their seats. I've never been to another concert like it.

I would like to add that this recording series is shot in the Chapel at Brooklyn's Greenwood Cemetery, which is a special place. I hope that no one in Mike's family is offended that I would put up a video of a musician playing there, because I do think that it's a beautiful, classy song. You can watch the other four songs in the session here. I think "Why" in particular shows just how ingenious his songwriting is.

If you can't see the video, go here.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Maggie Sez...

(after I ask her if she needs to go to the potty)

...No, I don't need to go. If you ask me if I need to go and I hold up this foot like this...

*stands on one foot holding the other up in the air* means I don't need to go. But if I hold up this foot...

*switches feet to hold the other foot up*

...then it means that I DO need to go.

*pauses for deep thought*

...And if you see me stand on this foot and then this foot and then this foot again...

*switching feet quickly to kind of duck step*

...that's how you know that I'm walking.


AND Katie Sez...

side (outside)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

3% Less Ugly

"3% Less Ugly" is Mike's new catch phrase. Whenever we do anything that improves the house even just the tiniest bit - like removing the ugly metal rack that was bolted to the front of the house to hold the old owner's huge window a/c unit - Mike says the house is "3 (or 1 or 6 or 10)% less ugly." We like to appreciate the small victories in life around here. Mike really pushed his Helpful Home Handyman skills to the limit this weekend. I don't know exactly how many percents less ugly the place is now, but it's quite a few. We didn't really have much of a holiday, but hopefully he feels that it was all worth it in the end. Besides mowing and and cleaning and grilling and laundry and getting haircuts and multiple trips to Home Depot and the grocery store and having dinner with our neighbors, he also replaced a ceiling fan, a light fixture, and the doorbell. That's a lot of electrical work. Electrical work is scary. So far, no one's been electrocuted, but I'm still keeping an eye out for house fires. We changed the doorbell because the old one was SO LOUD that every time it rang, it scared me half to death and I nearly wet my pants. The new one is a huge improvement and the buzzer at the back door now also works (why we need a back door bell, I don't know, but if there's going to be a button there, it might as well work). As for the ceiling fan, the one in the kitchen was old and ugly, totally filthy, and it burned up light bulbs like a hungry beast. Plus the light bulbs were special candle-shaped ones and they weren't bright enough to cook or clean by. Perfect for the kitchen! So we bought a new one and installed it ourselves! And nobody died. Aren't you impressed? I am. Good thing we did, too, because Mike discovered that the old one was only marginally attached to the wood beam in the ceiling, so it was dangerous to boot. He had to shave some of the plaster off to move the box over and rebolt it to the stud. Talk about studs! Mike should try out for This Old House! :) The new light fixture replaced the old Tiffany-style stained glass chandelier over the kitchen table that should have been over the kitchen table but wasn't centered properly. It was a decently pretty shade, but just not our style at all, and it hung down too low with sharp edges. We both have drawn blood whacking our heads on that thing. The new one is so inconspicuous that it makes the kitchen look even bigger! The big challenge with this project was that the old light was on a dimmer and the new light has an environmentally sound fluorescent bulb in it that can't be on a dimmer switch. So Mike changed the switch! I'm telling you, when I married him I figured he was only going to be handy for whipping up flotation devices made out of his pants and fighting off bears in the woods, I never suspected he could rewire the house! Bonus. Here's a picture that kind of shows the old fan and the old light: And here's the new fan and light: See what I mean? 3% Less Ugly!