Sunday, January 31, 2010

Little Girls



is the only song that Bella dislikes from the Annie Soundtrack. The only one. I mean literally the music can be heard at the breakfast table, in the car and sometimes even in the bathtub. All. Day. Long. Here's a clip from yesterday morning. Yes, indeed, this is how I start my day.

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I love how Mia chimed in for a big finish.

So of course, when I saw that Annie was coming to town we had to make a girls night of it. My mom, my sister, Bella and I got all dressed up and headed into the city to the "fee-a-tah." Bella was fired up with excitement.



She was a trooper throughout 95% of the show. During every song that she didn't know (which got cut from the movie) she'd roll her eyes. She even blurted "I'm d-o-n-e" at one point during a seriously boring ballad sung by Daddy Warbucks. It's no reason it got cut from the movie--even I took a nap through it.

But for every other song that she could sing along to, she did. Loudly.



Bella loved the show, as we knew she would. Although, she STILL will not stop telling everyone and me (three times a day) that Punjab (Daddy Warbuck's bodyguard in the movie) was not in the show. She can't seem to understand where he went. She keeps making up hypothetical excuses for poor little Punjab. And all I can do is laugh and play along. I think at this point in time Punjab needed to get gas for his car which is why he didn't make it to the show.

The Annie excitement has not worn off like I thought it would. Bella wants to sleep, eat and of course dance in her beloved Annie dress. She's even bestowed her old tap shoes to Mia who now says "Annie" crystal clear and points to the computer to tell us that's what she wants to hear.

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In terms of musicals, I guess it could have been worse, she could have fallen madly in love with the musical adaptation of Stephen King's Carrie. Yes, you read that right, Carrie. After a loss of $8 million and only 21 performances (16 of which were previews, insert laughter) the show was enthusiastically cancelled in London, never seeing the light of day in New York.



I bet it was bloody brilliant!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Distraction

Want to know how I successfully took a shower today at 9AM? Which btw, would normally NEVER happen at this time (try more like midnight)....

Nuked some popcorn, filled it with rice cereal, a few M&M's and some fruit snacks (I know, gross) moved the DVD player to our bedroom put some pillows on the ground and turned on Annie.




It was the best shower ever!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

2 Days in Paris, Day 1



They say Paris is the most romantic city in the world. I pondered this thought as I boarded the plane for my 53 hour birthday surprise. I wondered what made it so romantic? The architecture? The people? The food? Eager to revisit the answer, I gripped the arm of the man sitting next to me and we snuggled, laughed and gabbed about our upcoming adventure for the entire 8 hour flight. Knowing that my girls were in safe hands, I relaxed in a way I haven't relaxed in a long while. Just hours before, we were blowing out my candles



And here I was alone with Eugene, (my favorite picture of him from the trip)



just the two of us, not as the parents we are every single day but as the couple we've always been. This was a feeling that seemed like I hadn't felt in almost 4 years, but was instantly recognizable. That familiar chemistry, that always felt so right, so innocent, so special.

After a metro ride (subway) from the airport we ran up the stairs, so enthusiastic to see the city above us. It all came back to us, that undescribable energy in the air that is so obviously Paris. We took it all in and stood in the same spot for several minutes. Out of my purse I handed Eugene a 10 year old picture of us from our first Paris trip (he had studied there for several months and I flew in to visit him). This picture was a reminder of the innocent freedom we could once again share.



We walked several meters to the stoplight and turned the corner and saw a most unexpected surprise



Yep, we were in Paris for sure. We checked into our hotel, unpacked our bags and began our adventure. Our plan was simple: notice the details, take in the smells, taste the food and enjoy eachother's company. With our feet and a metro pass, our adventure began.

The details were everywhere













We visited the Arc de Triomphe, the world's largest triumphal arch. In 1806 Napolean I conceived of an arch dedicated to the glory of his imperial armies. It is breathtaking and oh so massive.



More pigeon pictures!



On foot we walked toward the Avenue des Champs-Elysees or as the french call it "la plus belle avenue du monde" (the most beautiful avenue in the world). This famous street is lined with cafes, cinemas, and luxury shops.





In fact, Champs-Elysees remains the most expensive strip of real estate in Europe.



Spotting the only store that I'd even allow myself to enter, I dragged Eugene into Guerlain, one of the oldest perfume houses in the world. Perfume is my thing, always has been--I was in heaven.

Ignore the artsy black and white of the photo and imagine everything you see in gold, everything.



After smelling and testing many perfumes, I decided that the perfect Parisian gift for my sister (who at the time was probably changing a poopy diaper and dealing with a melt-down) was a bottle of the first perfume Guerlain ever made. Eau de cologne Imperiale was created in 1853 for Empress Eugenie, wife of Napolean III, and does it smell yummy.



We decided to meander towards the Eiffel Tower for some night time gazing.

I'm so vain. I mean really Gina, a head tilt?!



Can I make an observation? Having been to Europe several times and witnessing beauty all over I come back to the states disgusted. The U.S. is so ugly. We have no monuments that could even come close to those in Europe. Sure, D.C. has some remarkable and poignant features--but they're still not all that pretty. What, the St. Louis Arch, you gotta be kidding me. Look at how cool the Eiffel is. Imagine looking at that every day or passing under it on your way to work. Now that's beauty.





Getting a second rush of energy we took off for Montmarte, the artistic center of Paris and the birthplace of the Bohemian Revolution. Set on a hill 130 metres high in the north of Paris, this area has been home to the studios of Salvador Dali, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and Vincent van Gogh. Um, wow! Since Montmarte was outside the city limits, free of Paris taxes and also beacause some of the local nuns used to make wine, the hill became a popular drinking area.



The Bohemian Revolution is a term used to describe the culture change of the 19th century when artists, writers and disenchanted people of all sorts rejected mainstream values and mocked the bourgeoisie. I bet it was a blast!

As soon as we got off the metro, I noticed a different energy in the air here in Montmarte. In fact, it looked different than any other part of Paris. It had it's own feel with all the little shops, and cafes and bars. It was intimate--not stuffy like the Champs Elysees. No, this was completely different.



Montmartre is also home to the famous Moulin Rouge cabaret theatre, which I was so excited to see.





Needing to find a bathroom, we ducked into this little cafe to have a drink and use their services. What we found in this cafe will go down in our memories forever. Before I get into the details, you need to know that nights like this only happen a handful of times in a lifetime. The chemistry has to be just right. This night got added to our short list. When we stepped into the cafe we immediately heard the lovely sound of a French singer with the most passionate piano player at her side.



It was intimate, maybe only 11 other people in the small cafe, all of whom were locals. They all sang along with their bottle in hand. After each song they would shout out requests and the singer and the pianist would look to eachother as if to say "do you remember the words or cords to this" and tried it anyway, always finding the perfect sync.



The wooden floor was so old and broken



Most of the seats were empty



And the food was delicious



The few people in the cafe, including us, would sing, snap and clap along. In fact, she sang a version of Memories that brought me to tears. I will never forget it. We were a part of this moment. A part of the age old tradition here at Montmartre, where art is one with the soul.

We left the cafe hand-in-hand, riding the high of an already perfect evening and continued to explore the mystery of Montmarte.





So, is Paris really the city of Love? I think that casual travelers won't know until you experience a night like this. I found passion in everything. I smelled it in their perfumes, I tasted it in their foods and I heard it through their voices.

So yes, in my opinion, it most certainly is.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Pinch Me



Eugene, I love you more than I can even put into words. You surprise me everyday, but this? This will go down as my most memorable birthday, I already know it.

I just found out that Eugene is taking me to Paris for 2 days. Oh. My. God. Just the two of us. What a surprise! The thought of an 8 hour flight without a child on my lap seems like a treat in itself. But to think that we will be landing in the city that started our love for travel, a city that has held a place in our hearts for years, a city so full of history and romance, a city where we'll walk hand in hand without a care in the world is the best gift you can give to me.

I am beyond excitement.

Since I have been fortunate enough to see the sights of Paris before I plan to spend the two days roaming the city without any plans, without an agenda. I plan to eat everything in sight. Especially the nutella crepes and the beef bourguignon. I plan to sit and enjoy eachother's company as we people watch and converse in one of the many cafes. I plan to window shop. I plan to explore. I plan to take pictures. I plan to love every moment of my time with Eugene.

And I plan to return home in time to fulfill my motherly obligation to Bella with the tickets to Annie that were already purchased.

Eugene travels a LOT for his work. Which, of course, has about 300 downsides. But the upsides? Well, (thanks to frequent flyer miles and Hilton points) two roundtrip tickets to Paris and two hotel nights cost.........$83. Can you believe it? Neither could I.

Bon Voyage!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Taking a break from the tube!

I hate to admit the following but yesterday my daughters killed way too many brain cells watching TV. It started in the morning while I made them breakfast. Then Mia got to watch TV while I was at the Doctor's and Bella was at the library. After returning from the doctor and having lunch, Bella got to watch TV while Mia took a nap. But here's the worst part--Bella didn't even want to watch TV--no--this insensitive, selfish mother made her (almost) 4 year old daughter sit through TWO HOURS of American Idol. TWO HOURS. It was torture for her. In fact, there was a point where she even went up to the TV, turned it off, and told us that "it's way too much TV."

Rather than heed my daughter's advice--I kept watching. Worst. Mother. Ever.

Then I found out that the only time to get my first trimester screening (ultrasound) was 7 that night. So their TV watching continued into the evening as they watched a random Muppets movie while I was getting an ultrasound.

WAY TOO MUCH!

Today was going to be different!

After breakfast, the girls made a sticker collage which was fun for about 15 minutes. Crap. Now what? I knew I needed to pull out the big guns. In an attempt to redeem some credibility in their eyes, I made....drumroll.....homemade dough. WHICH WAS A HUGE, WHOPPING, GINORMOUS SUCCESS.

For an hour and a half (which is like an eternity to a toddler) they happily played at the table. Never once getting out of the chair.



While they covorted over the dough, I swept the floor. Uninterrupted, heaven, I say.



And I even got to vacuum. Can you hear the choir of angels behind me?!



In fact, I got so much done in so little time that I even had time left over to play with them.

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Even more silliness

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In case you are inspired by the dough, here's the recipe

Cloud Dough
**It gets its name from its soft, pliable consistency. Fresh cloud dough is best, so mix a batch just before your kids use it.

6 cups of flour
Powdered tempera paint
1 1/2 cups oil
1 cup of water

In a large bowl, mix flour with powdered tempera paint until desired color is achieved. Add oil and water and knead well. If dough is too dry, add more water. If it is too sticky, add more flour. Refrigerate in an airtight container.

Yay for our no TV day!

Monday, January 11, 2010

12 weeks along....about 26 to go!



Yep. We're adding another child into this world.

I can't tell you how much this pregnancy excites us--the whole family, okay except for maybe Mia who doesn't quite understand, but Bella is thrilled. She wants to hold it, and feed it, and sing to it, and teach it how to make PB&J's. She swears it's a boy and is adamant that we name him "Builder." Trying my best not to admit to her that the name "Builder" is the most ridiculous name I've ever heard, I smile and say it's a decision your dad and I get to make and keep to ourselves until the baby is here.

I've purposely held off on blogging about my pregnancy because, frankly, it would've been a series of debbie downers. Like how the smell of chicken being cooked makes me twitch or how the smell of my daughter's after-nap breath makes me throw up a little in my mouth. Or how my patience level with the girls has gone down the tubes....dealing with a child throwing a tantrum over mittens is much easier when you're not sporting a killer headache and an underlying feeling of mouth watering nausea.

No, out of the goodness of my heart, I've spared you from all that nonsense and chose to take it all out on my husband. Sorry Eugene. The upside is that these first trimester issues are almost passed and if this pregnancy is anything like the other two I will have more energy in the next couple months than I know what to do with.

July 23rd is our official due date. Since I will be a C-Section I think I can pretty much pick my date as long as it aligns with the schedule of my doc and the hospital. Time to start some numerolgy research!

Currently I am 12 weeks along and the age of the fetus is 10 weeks. My baby weighs between 1/3 and 1/2 ounce, and crown-to-booty length is almost 2 1/2 inches. It's roughly the size of a lime, ya know the kind I'd like to cut up and add to a tall glass of gin.

I kid, of course.

The most dramatic development this week: reflexes. My baby's fingers will soon be able to open and close and be able to master the fist pump from the Jersey Shore. The baby will also be able to curl the toes, eye muscles will clench and the mouth will make sucking movements. In fact, if I prod my abdomen, my baby will squirm in response. Although, I'm sure that wasabi sauce I added to my sandwich might have already done the trick.

This should be a fun ride.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Shhh....don't tell Bella

After we dropped Bella off at preshool today after a loooong break, Mia and I came home to enjoy a quiet lunch together. When I put her in her high chair (without the tray because we're taking baby steps towards the adult table) and pushed her to the table she looked to her left and pointed to Bella's chair. I asked her if she wanted to sit in Bella's chair and she nodded her head up and down about 23 times. Smiling, I put her in her sister's chair and she was so excited!

I mean look at this



It reminds me of the time in 4th grade when a fellow classmate was out sick for the day and I asked the teacher if I could sit at her desk. You see, our classroom was filled with two types of desks, the ones that you put things in the open slot in the front and ones that you get to lift up (literally the entire desk top lifts up--it was so cool). Year after year I was always assigned to an open slot desk--it was heartbreaking! But I'll never forget that day that I sat in Sharon's flip top desk. I obsessively opened and closed that desk ALL DAY LONG. I kept trying to find reasons to open it. Like getting an eraser, or a new pencil, or sometimes for no reason at all other than to stick my head in there and smile. Such a geek! I'm sure the teacher was laughing at me the way I'm laughing at Mia right now.

She's on her own little cloud nine.



I can't peel her from the chair! We've moved on to finger painting.



I think this means I can FINALLY throw away the DISGUSTING food encrusted high chair! Yay!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Twas 8 Days Post Christmas

And I've been too busy eating to blog. Not kidding. Christmas in the blogging world was old news 48 hours after the day so this post is sure to bore you. But come on, I have to blog about it.

Christmas was so memorable this year. Bella's age was perfect for celebrating it and I assume the next couple years will prove to be even more entertaining. Our Holly Jolly Christmas started the day after Thanksgiving and we spent plenty of family fun taking in all the sights and smells of this Christmas season.

We celebrated during breakfast.



We attempted a Gingerbread House that apparently resides on a fault line.



Okay, the real truth is that Mia WOULD NOT STOP eating the darn thing. We could barely build it before she'd gobble it up. That's okay, I threw a couple red hots in her direction and it stopped her in her tracks.



We embraced the outdoors.





We threw fits when our mittens proved useless when trying to pick up pinecones. Hence, the red, raw, clearly freezing hands.



We helped our Nana celebrate her birthday by devouring her cake.



We added Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree and Jingle Bell Rock to our daily dance party lineup.



We saw the lights, the big beautiful lights.



We took a train ride through Santa's Village.



We cautiously watched as the other kids hiked up the North Pole.



We caroled at the library.





We learned to sled.



We plowed our snow for the first time. Tee. Hee.



We loved our comfy sweaters.



We shared laughs and memories with our families on Christmas Eve.







We watched as our daughters woke with such sleepy innocence.





We experienced their excitement as they opened their presents.





We tested safety standards.



We lounged the entire day and gorged on a meal fit for a king.



We, like the idiot parents we are, found out at 2AM Christmas Eve that Mia's present required an 18 hour charge. 18 hours! So, after dinner we "surprisingly" found 2 presents in the basement that Santa left for the girls.



We laughed that Bella wanted to perform naked bike riding.



We threw nutrition to the wind and devoured everything chocolate.



We dined at the Walnut Room under the most magnificent tree.



We are sad to see this season end because we've had so much fun all month long. I mean, like giddy, happiness every single day. Man, I love Christmas. Until next year....

Merry Christmas 2009!

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