Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Where has December gone? This month has just flown by, and now Christmas is here and almost gone. Sheesh.

We've been having a lovely time with Amma, Afi & Kiddi. Anna and Elsa were so excited to see them. I have a lot of wonderful picture, but they were taken on our new camera and I haven't yet loaded the software for it on my computer. Hopefully, I'll upload them tomorrow.

I wish everyone happiness, health, joy and peace for the rest of this holiday season!

Sunday, December 09, 2007


Over the course of this last week, the most frequent word uttered by Anna has been: "WHAT?!?" At first I thought she was just being extra-spacey, but after a few days of feeling like she wasn't really hearing anything I said, I figured she must be having a problem with her ears. Thankfully, Anna has been free of ear infections her whole life, but now she really really has one. Poor thing.

I took her to my local GP on Thursday to have him look in her ears. The visit just confirmed my suspicions that he takes laissez-faire doctoring to the extreme. I think a child's ear drum would have to actually blow up in his face for him to say that the child has an ear infection! This doctor looked at the one ear that Anna said hurt and proclaimed that there was nothing wrong. Just get back to him in a week if she's still complaining. On Friday, Anna still complained about her ear and on Saturday morning, it looked like there was dried blood in her ear. I knew what that meant -- she did indeed have an ear infection and probably a perforated ear drum! Great. I have a private pediatrician that I have taken the girls to see, but she doesn't have Saturday hours and she is in Kensington (about 20 minutes by Tube). Not terribly convenient. Thankfully, I remembered that a friend of mine had mentioned that there is a private medical clinic in Richmond not too far from my house. So, I called over there to see if they were open on Saturdays. Hurray -- they were. We were able to schedule an appointment and Anna saw a really lovely pediatrician who actually looked at both her ears (and at her throat and listened to her chest -- not something the local NHS GP has ever done when I've taken Anna to see him). Anna does in fact have a perforated ear drum on the right side and an infection on the left side. Wonderful. But, after just a day and a half of antibiotics, she is already seeming much more like her old self.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Lesson Learned

When this little person is around . . .

Do not leave butter unattended on the countertop. Or else, you'll get this:

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

4 Years

Four years ago, yesterday, at 12:51 am on December 4th of 2003, I met this little person for the first time.

Somehow, in the blink of an eye, this little person, has become this little four-year old girl.

Poor Anna didn't have the most exciting of birthdays yesterday because Carlos and I both had things at work that could not be rescheduled. So, we sang happy birthday and blew out candles in the morning before work, and we gave her the birthday present (a doll house which has been a huge hit).

On Monday after school, we're going to have a birthday party with some of her friends from nursery school. As usual, I'm getting overly excited for the party -- I'm planning a treasure hunt.

Happy birthday my dear little Anna!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

How could you not love it?

Cbeebies (the BBC children's TV channel) has a new program called In the Night Garden. Anna and Elsa both love it. I have never seen either of them react so positively, instantaneously. The first time they saw the program, they were hooked. And, frankly, so was I. It is wonderful. How could you not love a program where the character's names are: Igglepiggle, Upsy Daisy, Makka Pakka, the Tombliboos, the Pontipines, the Ninky Nonk, the Pinky Ponk and the Haahoos. The Sunday Observer magazine did an interesting article about the program (you can read it here). Turns out the people behind this program are the same people who did the Teletubbies. But, the Night Garden is infinitely better.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thoughts . . .

Am I ever going to manage to get to bed before midnight? Or 11 pm? Every day I wake up wishing that I could sleep for another hour or two. As I drag myself out of bed, I tell myself that I am going to go to bed early. And what happens? I don't know. I feel like I get sucked into some black hole and suddenly it is 11:45 pm. Ok, tomorrow, I'm going to go to bed early, I swear.

Anna has taken to calling Elsa "sister" instead of calling her by her name. Makes for funny-sounding conversations. "Come on sister! Give me back the doll!"

Elsa has decided that it is her job to shush Anna when she is having a melt-down. When Anna goes into tantrum mode, Elsa says to her (complete with an outstretched index finger): "Quiet! Quiet!" I had to bite my lips really hard not to laugh the first time she did this. Now, she even tells babies to be quiet when we're out shopping. Yikes!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Turkey Day to those of you in the US!

Elsa's on the mend, and I managed to get the report done.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Fever, Deadline & Pimples

Ugh. It is almost 1 am, and I'm sitting in bed with my laptop. Lying next to me is a small furnace, formerly known as Elsa. Poor thing has had some terrible bug since Sunday night that has involved a pretty high fever that has been difficult to control. She has needed a lot of snuggling and cuddling over the last two days, and rightly so. However, that has not been conducive to writing a report to the foundation that gave the grant that pays for my job! This mid-term report for our two year grant is basically due now. Yikes. I've been working on it all day, but at the moment I am having serious writer's block.

One thing I've learned over the last two days. No sleep and stress is an excellent way to ensure that I get at least three huge pimples on my face. Lovely.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

20 Months

Elsa turned 20 months on the 12th. It is difficult to get photos of her these days because as soon as she sees the camera, she starts running toward it at full speed saying "CHEEEEESE". Here are some pictures taken yesterday and today.

Elsa is also saying all sorts of new words every day. She always wants to know "what happen?" and tells you to be "very careful". Today she tried to sing happy birthday and managed "happy to you". She really cracks us up.

Terrace Gardens

The Terrace Gardens are one of my favorite places in Richmond, and the girls love it there too. Here are some pictures of them taken at the gardens last week. They were loving running down the gardens' steep hills.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Doin' the pigeon

I love Sesame Street and the Muppets. In fact, I think I may have been a Muppet in a previous life.

Jim Henson was a genius.

All of this said, if I had to pick a Sesame Street/Muppet song to have stuck in my head all day, this is not the song I would pick (even though it is funny):

It's true, organic is better

Last Sunday, the Times on Sunday ran a story about a 4 year study funded by the European Union has found that organic food is better. It found that organic foods generally have a higher nutritional content than their non-organic counterparts. For instance, organic milk was found to have higher levels of vitamin E than non-organic.

At last, evidence that supports why I've been so insistent on buying organic whenever possible!

Eat your words, all who scoff at organic food

Official: organic really is better

Next step, I want to finally sign up for a box delivery scheme that will deliver local, in season (and mostly organic) produce to me on a weekly basis. I've been wanting to sign up for this for ages, but I just haven't gotten around to doing the research to figure out which company I want to use. It seems that there two companies that offer this service for my area, but I haven't figured out what the major difference between the companies is. Interestingly enough, I think the prices are reasonable -- I think I spend a similar amount at my local grocery store. Plus, for me it is a benefit not to have to go to the store because I find that I often purchase things on impulse that just end up going to waste. Having my fresh food delivered to me (I can also order milk and meat through this service), I avoid being suckered into purchases that I wouldn't have otherwise made.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


I'm a very lucky person.

I have made some really good friends here in London, and I also made some good friends during my short stay in New Haven.

Then I have good friends from my law firm days (friends who made that experience infinitely more bearable), and I have good friends from my law school days (in fact, one of them introduced me to Carlos). Luck was in my corner at McGill, too -- I made some very good friends during my four years in Montreal.

However, Lady Luck really outdid herself with my oldest friends -- the "Ladies" (aka, Alice, Alison, Joanne and Liz). We have all known each since kindergarten, except Liz, the newcomer, who we've known since 3rd grade. These women are an incredibly special part of my life, and I value our friendship immensely. We may not see each other very often since it is hard to coordinate schedules and since we live all over the place (Seattle, NY, Boston, DC & London), but as soon as I hear one of their voices or see their lovely faces, I feel like no time has passed. In fact, as I'm sure they would readily attest, I often feel rather juvenile when I'm with them.

Last weekend I had my first weekend away from la familia. Solo. Alone. I had forgotten how easy it is to travel when you are only responsible for yourself. It was nice. I missed the girls and Carlos (I missed the girls a bit more than I missed the hubby), but it was nice to get away. It was especially nice to get away to see the Ladies (minus Joanne ... sadness). Alice, Alison and I descended upon Liz's house in the Boston suburbs, and basically behaved like complete nerds the whole weekend. Poor Joanne was feeling icky and couldn't join. So, we phoned her a lot and pestered her to the point that she probably was glad not to see us! It was really wonderful to get to hang out and just talk about everything and anything.

I hope Lady Luck is as generous with my girls as she has been with me.

Here we are at the end of the weekend (all a little squinty because we were looking directly into the sun).

(from L to R: me, Alice, Liz, Alison)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Nose knowledge

Elsa definitely knows her nose.

If you ask her: "Elsa, where is your nose?" She will smile, point at her nose and say "nose".

If you ask her: "Elsa, where are you eyes?" She will smile, point at her nose and say "nose".

If you ask her: "Elsa, where is your mouth?" She will smile, point at her nose and say "nose".

I think you get the picture. Despite the nose obsession, Elsa is starting to say a lot of words and some short phrases. For instance, one morning when Carlos left for work very early, Elsa was looking around asking "Where Papa?" She seemed mystified that he had disappeared before she could give him her early morning snuggle.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Happy birthday to Carlos!!

Picky picky picky = Picky picky picky DNA

Here's the New York Times weighing in on the picky eater debate: Picky Eaters? They Get It From You.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

No willpower

I know Halloween is a few weeks away, but I couldn't resist putting their costumes on for a test run. I totally caved on the "no more Disney princess" stance. Anna got a Snow White outfit from Marks and Spencer. I have to say, the reason I changed my mind was that the M&S costume was really good quality -- especially when you compare it to the quality of the outfits from the Disney store (which I think disintegrate as soon as they make epidermal contact). Anna LOVES this outfit. I think she would wear it all day every day and all night every night if I would let her. Unfortunately, due to some unbelievable tantrums and bad behavior, the Snow White oufit is now locked up, waiting for Anna to earn it back (and boy, does she want it back)!

Here's my little snow fairy. Poor Elsa only gets hand-me-downs from Anna. So I got her a dressing up outfit all of her own. She was in heaven! Elsa paraded around the house in her fairy outfit telling anyone who would listen how nice she looked. Doesn't she have the most mischevious eyes you have ever seen?!?!
Here's the dynamic duo - ready for action!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Did you know?

Naan bread makes an excellent pizza base for homemade pizzas. Thanks to Nigella Lawson, now I know. We made naan bread pizzas for dinner over the weekend and they were delicious (especially the ones made with garlic & coriander naan).

Carlos just bought Nigella's new book (Nigella Express) for me, and we've been working our way through a bunch of the recipes. I have to say that so far all of them have turned out pretty well.

I've been on a bit of a recipe book kick lately. I've been taking out various popular recipe books from the library to see if I can find any new recipes that the girls will eat. I feel like I am in such a rut with them, always feeding them the same old stuff (especially in the veg department -- cucumbers and baby plum tomatoes are the only things that go down with no fuss). So far, I haven't really hit on any winners with the girls. However, I found out that I quite like turkey meatballs (out of the Dinner Lady cookbook) (but making them wasn't so much fun - I don't like the texture of ground turkey). Anyone have any recipes out there that their kids love???

Monday, October 01, 2007

What would you do with a corn kernel?

The answer, if you are Anna, is: stare at it, push it around your plate, bargain with Mamma as to what you can get for eating one kernel of corn, and shove it to the side of your plate and leave it.

The answer, if you are Elsa, is: pick it up, play with it, figure out that it is roughly the same size as your nostril, pop it into your nostril, stick your finger in there to make sure that you get the corn kernel sufficiently far up the nasal cavity to cause you discomfort, sneeze 8 times in a row, and sneeze a 9th time causing a corn kernel to come flying out of your nostril (missing Mamma by mere millimeters).

Yikes. Is Elsa going to be one of those kids that I'm going to be taking to the doctor's on a regular basis to get things extracted out of her nose?!?!

Two good reads

Two excellent things that I read over the weekend. Worth having a look.

NY Times Op-Ed by Thomas L. Friedman: 9/11 is Over.

Sunday Observer Magazine column by Barbara Ellen: A 21st Century Problem: The Too-Smart Woman [I love her column]

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Making Anna laugh

Step One: At approximately 7:30 pm, lean as far back as possible (idealy while wearing super cute yellow pyjamas).

Step Two: Fall down on your bottom and emit a delicious belly laugh.

Step Three: Go to Step One.

This is practically becoming a nightly routine with Anna and Elsa. Of course, Anna eggs Elsa on because Anna thinks this is incredibly funny. Elsa continues to do it because she loves to make Anna (or anyone for that matter) laugh. It is wonderful, and makes me laugh too, but I would have to say that it is not the most conducive activity to getting the girls relaxed and ready for bed!

This is why I love autumn:

I love the color the leaves as they start changing. Plus, the blueness of the sky on a clear, crisp September afternoon is stunning. Put the two together, and voila - you have my perfect day.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Body Shop

I was sad to hear that Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop, died this past Monday. Here's an article from the Guardian about her. She was only 64.

I think she was really inspiring and forward-thinking. I wish more businesses would be built on her Body Shop model (even though she did say that the Body Shop moved forward, really, through a series of fortunate accidents).

18 months

Elsa turned 18 months yesterday. She is such a bundle of energy, despite the fact that all 4 canine teeth are coming in at the same time.

Here are some pictures taken in the garden.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Berlin & Barcelona

Just photos right now. We went to Berlin for the weekend of the last UK Bank Holiday weekend (last weekend in August), and from there we went to Barcelona to finish out the month. More to come. In a nutshell, Berlin was great - definitely need to go back with more time. Barcelona was way too hot and humid pour moi. I was a cranky sweaty mess there.
This is the view from our hotel - you can see where the Berlin wall used to be -- it marked on the pavement in the light colored stone.

Anna at the Barcelona aquarium.
More aquarium and funny faces.
Anna and her godmother, Merce, at the aquarium.
Anna and I at Checkpoint Charlie.
Anna enjoying a huge mango smoothie in Berlin.
Anna and Papa at the Brandenburg Gate.
The ladies at the Berlin zoo.
Elsa trying to escape.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Yum ... and not so yum

Mmmmmmmm. I just got back from having a deeeeeeeelish dinner with Carlos at the Glasshouse restaurant in Kew. Wow, it was good. So good, in fact, I've just had to unbutton my trousers as I sat down at the computer. I know, sorry, that may have been too much information.

I had a heavenly main course -- grilled sirloin (perfectly medium rare, closer to the rare side) topped with tallegio cheese (if you've never had this cheese, try it at your earliest opportunity - it is divine) and served with potatoes and a red wine sauce. Very very yummy. Of course, I went over the top and ordered a crazy, completely decadent dessert - hot chocolate mousse with milk chocolate ice cream. It was so good, but really rich. I might, possibly, have been better off with a fruity dessert, but that wouldn't have been as much fun. Top marks for the Glasshouse!!!

In the not so yum category -- Knowing that we were going out to dinner tonight and lamenting the fact that I'm turning into a pudgy pudge pudge, I went for a run during my lunch break today. I'm turning over a new leaf. My plan is to go for a run during lunch on the days that I work and then aim to do one run over the weekend. Modest aims, hopefully do-able. Today I ran a little loop from my house to the river and back. There are strange people that hang out along that stretch of the Thames at midday. In fact, I ran past a pair that reminded me of Lou and Andy from Little Britain (complete with sweatpants and wheelchair). Thank god for my iPod because they said something to me that I didn't hear as I flew (ha ha) past them. I looked back (later wishing I hadn't) to see one wiping the other's bottom. Ick. Although, it was a good incentive to keep running . . . fast.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Garbo in the house

Anna seems to be modeling herself on Greta Garbo (of "I want to be left alone" fame) these days. Today, after we had made little muffins and after she had received her quota of muffins, I put the baked treats in a plastic container and placed it on one of the highest shelves in our kitchen cupboards. Anna was observing intently. Then, she says to me: "Mamma, can you leave me alone please?" I thought this was very strange since, normally, she only says this to me when she's on the toilet. So, I asked her why she needed to be left alone. The response was simply a reiteration of her initial request. Hmmm, I smell some Anna sneakiness afoot! So, I left her alone for about 60 seconds, and then returned to the kitchen to see her climbing onto the kitchen counter in order to try and reach the box of muffins. Aha! Gotcha! I ask her what she's doing. Anna's response: "I don't know. Can you leave me alone please?"

Sunday, August 19, 2007

What is it??

Can you tell? Anna latest drawing: a mushroom wearing sunglasses! I love it.
One of my biggest wishes for Anna is for her incredibly fertile imagination to continue growing as she gets older. (At the moment, I'm listening to her coach her Ariel doll in gymnastics. Ariel, after much encouragement from Anna, has mastered the handstand.)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Sif: Version XXXVI

Ouch. That feels old.

My birthday is getting better after a rather rough start this morning. Elsa had a terrible night (she seems to be having a tough time adjusting to being back in London), and she ended up in our bed by 3:30 am because I just gave up. Then just before 6:00 am, Anna came to our room and told me: "Mamma, my tummy hurts." About 30 seconds later, it became clear why her tummy was hurting. She vomited all over the bed. Poor thing. Anna had one more vomiting episode this morning, and then she was fine for the rest of the day. Alas, after a rather groggy day that involved letting the girls watch way too many DVDs, the little ladies are both asleep.

Carlos had to fly to Switzerland today for work, and he should be back soon. We actually celebrated my birthday in Iceland at the beginning of the month. We went to Reykjavik and had dinner at a great restaurant called Við Tjörnina. Afterwards, we spent the night at Hotel Saga and the next morning went to the Blue Lagoon. It was really fun. On Thursday, we're going to celebrate some more with dinner and a movie.

By the way, did you know that I share my birthday with Fidel Castro and the Berlin Wall?!?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

New fave

Anna's well developed sweet tooth has found something new to sink into - gummi bears. She loves "gumbly bears".

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Cut lefties some slack!

I just saw this article on the BBC News website.

Gene for left-handedness is found - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6923577.stm

So, according to this article, being left-handed means:
  • I have an increased risk of developing schizophrenia (?!?!)
  • I can think quicker when carrying out tasks such as playing computer games or playing sport
  • I could have an advantage in hand-to-hand combat (that's a handy thing to know next time I get into a street-fight)
  • I have a greater risk of getting some diseases and of having an accident


A Spaniard in Iceland

Carlos arrived from London yesterday. The girls were beside themselves with excitement when they saw him. Elsa instantly became a total "papa's girl". She would not let Carlos put her down; she wanted him to hold her for hours after he arrived. Very cute. Anna couldn't stop talk to him -- she had to tell him everything that had happened in the last two weeks.

My dad arrives a little bit later today. Anna has already drawn several pictures for Afi. All of the pictures are of squid. I don't know why, but all Anna wants to draw these days are squid.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Backyard bounty & careful what you promise

We have had a busy day. All three generations of ladies went out to pick wild blueberries this afternoon. Delicious!! Because it has been such a warm summer in Iceland this year, the blueberries are starting to get ripe already (I think it is about a month early). We went out to an area just beyond the cottage and found a lot of berries and saw a lot more berries that should be ripe in a few days. Anna picked quite a few, and Elsa turned out to be quite the berry picker and berry eater. We found that the berries were best that grew on top of the moss. Anna is fascinated by the moss and how soft it is, but she has yet to master the name -- she keeps talking about how much fun it is to walk on the "mosque".

Earlier today, while Elsa had her morning nap, Anna and I took a walk together. I told her she would have to walk by herself for 30 minutes and then I would take her in the carrier backpack afterwards. By the time we had walked for 30 minutes, we had reached about the halfway point of our walk. What I had neglected to take into account is that the second half of our walk would be mostly uphill. Ooops. I got a good workout of walking uphill for about 40 minutes with Anna (weighing in at 33 lbs) on my back.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Always on the move

Yesterday we took Anna and Elsa to Thingvellir - a national park that is the sight of the first parliament held in Iceland, making it the oldest parliament in the world. It is a gorgeous place, and I thought it would a perfect opportunity to get a good picture of the girls together. This is the best I could do.

These two cannot sit still for more than 3 seconds. I've given up trying to get them to sit for a picture!

Here's Anna in Almannagjá.

This would have been a wonderful picture of Elsa if she hadn't moved out of the frame before I could snap it.

Amma is so clever! She figured out a way to put them both on the tricycle and pull them along the deck. They loved it.

Elsa's ready take a dip!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Waterfall v. horse

We had a pretty lazy Sunday, but we did manage to make a little trip to Gullfoss (a very large waterfall about 20 minutes from the cottage). The girls didn't seem that impressed by the waterfall, but they were super excited by a group of horses that were in a corral near the falls. A group of people were taking a trip into the interior of Iceland on horseback and had made a pit stop at the waterfall. I think it was a group of about 20. Anna and Elsa got to have a good look at all the beautiful Icelandic horses. I think Anna is going to want to try horseback riding sometime in the near future. Actually, seeing the horses even made me want to go horseback riding. And, that says a lot, When I was 14, I went horseback riding in Iceland for the first time and it was an absolute nightmare (the trip included: galloping at breakneck speed with me holding on for dear life, my horse rolling in the sand . . . with me still in the saddle, and shortly thereafter me falling off my insane horse).

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Up in the Sunny & Rainy North

Yowza! Nearly a month since my last post. That's not good.

The girls and I left rainy rainy rainy London for a month in Iceland. We arrived on Sunday morning, and not a cloud was in the sky. It was incredible. And Monday, another beautiful sunny day. Tuesday, see Monday. Wednesday, see Tuesday. Today, see London. Rain at last, but this was a good thing because my mom and relatives said that they haven't had any rain in ages.

Anna and Elsa had a fantastic day with Amma while I worked. It is great that I can pretty much do my job from anywhere in the world, as long as I have an internet connection. Given that we finally got some wet weather, I was able to break out the little rainsuits I bought for the girls before we left London. We got them dressed in them this morning, and I think they look like they are wearing little pink hazmat suits!

Yesterday, while Elsa napped, I took Anna out for a walk in the hills behind the cottage. I was so surprised by how much stamina she had. She walked for almost an hour on really uneven terrain and only asked to be carried once. We found a big rock for her to climb.

She did lots of jumping in the fields.

And we picked a pretty bouquet of yellow and white wildflowers for Amma.

Here's a pic of the little ladies enjoying the comfiest sofa on the planet. They better get in some quality time on the sofa before their papa arrives and takes it over ... until their uncle Kiddi arrives, and Carlos and Kiddi are going to have to duke it out for sofa time or cuddle up with one another.
Just in case you don't realize how far north we are, here's a picture I took on Tuesday night at 11 pm. It was a really clear day, and we could see the volcanic Mount Hekla in the distance.

In the other direction, the sun was starting to set, but it still had not dropped below the horizon. Pretty neat, huh?!