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10 posts from June 2006

June 27, 2006

Are we going to America?

Was the first question out of Kelsey's mouth today.  She likes her preschool but is never excited about getting out of bed in the morning (Yes, I can hear the gales of laughter, "like mother, like daughter"!), and thought perhaps we might just leave today.

So, I said, "No, we leave on Sunday."

Her next question was a little more thought-provoking: "Is there fresh air there?"  As if now only Iceland has fresh air?  Well, I will say it is probably fresher than the air in the States, as fewer people are polluting into it, however, in a nutshell, "yes".

As I was trying to figure out where this came from, she answered my question with, "Stephanie likes fresh air!"  Aha!  Stephanie is the pink-haired Lazytown character who tries to change "Lazy" town to a more active place.  Well, I guess if my daughter is going to worry about fresh air, that is fine with me. 

Reminder:  FPO is going the way of the Dodo in Keflavik.  We should have a new address for you in late August and please remember, there are SERIOUS restrictions on this address.  Failure to follow the guidelines will either get us in trouble (maximum 16 liquid oz. in a shipment and stringent size rules) and/or have the item shipped back to you.  UGH!

June 24, 2006

"We fixed 'the glitch'"

Except that there was no glitch.  The information that was previously here disappeared due to nothing other than well, whatever.  So, in order to protect my sanity, let's try a modified version....

Okay, since we are leaving next week and trying to see so many people while back in the States...it would probably help if you knew where we will be and when, eh?  Also, remember that when I say us, we or our, I am referring to myself and the girls only!

Keep in mind that this is sort of a 'work in progress'.  The schedule is fluid, as are our lives for the most part.  If you have any specific questions about dates (want to meet up??), send me a note!

July 2 - Squeeze ourselves onto the Icelandair flight w/all the other escaping Icelanders.  Yes, they too like to have some warmer weather (less rainy?) and are notorious for departing the country for most of July and August. 

Between a playdate with friends and finding summertime clothes for the kids, we are booked for our first full day back in the country!

Celebrate July 4 in true Annapolis style w/Mark, Shannon & Sandy.  We are thinking Bailey will probably sit this one out....

Then a few days in the area.  We are hoping to use this time to catch up with friends in the area and perhaps visit some local DC sights.  We will be overnighting in MD, but will have a car and will travel.

Sweltering (we hope) in Memphis.  There is nothing like a few days in 100 degree heat and 100% humidity to make you appreciate the cooler weather near the Arctic Circle.  The girls will be enjoying day camp the first week and seeing the sights in Memphis.  Yes, I may actually visit Graceland for the first time in my life.

We also will get to meet at least one new cousin, Walker Clay, born in late May.  There is a rumor that another cousin, Emmitt Kraus, may choose to make his appearance then, but no guarantees, we can only hope!

The girls will then be spend some time with my dear friends, Shannon and Mark, as they host 'Campannapolis' for the girls for a few days.  They are going to be doing a variety of water-based activities and basically, (the girls ) will spend the week adoring Mark.  The super-nice part of the deal is that Shannon's friends Ben & Jen will have their nieces in town (close in age to our girls), so they will be collaborating and the girls will have playmates.

Then, the girls and I  are headed to Chincoteague and will stay at the Island Motor Inn for one of our first real vacations in years.  I will not reveal why we have not taken so many vacations recently, but if you know us at all, you will come up with the answer pretty quickly!

It wouldn't be a summer vacation without the requisite visit to Sesame Place.  It may be the last year Cait is that excited about going, so we are going to enjoy it.  We will also enjoy seeing many of my relatives.  Uncle Joe and Aunt Pat will host a family picnic on Sunday afternoon, as we have realized we just don't see my PA relatives as much as we should!

Finally, we will head up to cooler weather in Massachusetts.   We will be visiting with Pete's family on our final leg and the girls will be very excited to see their precious pup, Maggie!

Mid-August:  We depart from Bostonand head back to the land of the Midnight Sun.  Cait will have one week of vacation left during which she will celebrate her eighth (gasp!) birthday and then she starts third grade at her new school's location in Gardabaer! 

Okay, I think that is it!  We are super-excited and can't wait to see everyone!

June 17, 2006

Hotel Glymur

Img_0190 Okay, my only disappointment of the night was not figuring out where the dog was!  If you look at the home page, www.hotelglymur.is, there is an adorable terrier enjoying a 'frosty beverage' on the deck.  Sadly, he/she was nowhere to be found yesterday or today.

Img_0192We made it to Glymur in just under an hour and after spending only 1000 ISK (that's 13.33 American dollars) on the toll for the tunnel!  Yep, that Baltimore Harbor Tunnel doesn't seem quite so steep anymore, eh?

The hotel really looks exactly as one can see on the site.  It is Img_0193absolutely gorgeous on the inside and so tastefully decorated.  There is a small bar, a larger (yet cozy) dining room, and many, many places to sit and admire the view. 

The rooms are not huge (this is Europe after all), but they need not be as they have two levels.  The first level is comprised of a very modern bathroom, closet space and living area with a desk and small flat screen television.  A leather sofa and wool blanket were directly beneath the many windows that lined the back wall.  The end table held a lamp and two small bottles of wine accompanied by 8 delectable chocolate truffles.

The wrought iron stairs led to the loft area where there was a king size (well, two twins) bed.  Given that we no longer experience nighttime, the lack of windows in the bedroom area is a thoughtful gesture. 

The restaurant on-site provided us with an excellent dinner.  In fact, it was so good neither one of us could finish (and Icelandic portions are on the smaller side).  Peter enjoyed the menu of the day:  mushroom soup, lamb and chocolate cake with homemade ice cream.  I had the seafood chowder, which could have sufficed as a meal despite its smaller size, and the parmesan salted cod.

Given the windy and cold weather, what could be more appropos than a post-prandial dip in the nuddpottur?  We put on our swimsuits and donned our robes for the 5 minute outdoor walk to the hot pots.  It was definitely relaxing and if not for the stinging sideways rain, one could have forgotten it was maybe a 45 degree summer's eve....

NOTE:  First picture is of the loft and the second two are of the view (taken at 10 p.m.!).

June 16, 2006

Where's my supersuit?

Img_0189 Well, of course, Caitlin has borrowed it to take part in the parents' day event at Reiðskóllin Faxaból, where she participated in their horseback riding camp. It had to have been the coldest day of the summer (yes, summer) yet and she was not at all overdressed.  So, for three hours a day every day for two weeks, Caitlin willingly rode her horse in the windy, cold and very rainy weather.  The rain was so hard on the final day that I actually thought it was hail at one point!

She made several friends, including a young gentleman who was fluent in English.  Although her Icelandic is improving, she is always relieved to have a friend understand all of what she is saying.  Her teacher, Thora, let me know that she had made other good friends and some of the teachers even acted as a translator when either one couldn't get her point across.

All in all it was a great experience and when asked about it, the last thing Cait remembers?  Yep, the weather.  She truly enjoys her time with the horses and is already talking about lessons in the fall! 

NOTE:  For more pictures, see the album to the left.

We are escaping!

For just an overnight sojourn to the town of Glymur at the Hotel Glymur.  Our friends are watching the girls tonight, as we watched their kids a few weeks ago when they went to a wedding. 

So, more pics later and have a great weekend!

June 13, 2006

You say it's your birthday,

It's Pete's birthday, too, yeah!  Okay, sorry about the brief delay for those of you who checked in before I could do a write-up.  Had to run Caitlin out to the Reidskollin in Breidholt and it was pouring rain and a very LDD (Lousy Driver Day). 

The pictures are now in an album to the left.  Pete enjoyed a surprise party at work (once he showed up) including Carvel ice cream cakes (super-yum).  We all thought he was in the office and when a co-hort called to tell him about the "urgent security issue" in the kitchen, it turns out he was in the middle of giving a lecture to 20% of the Icelandic police force.  So, he got back as soon as he could and many FSNs now are very fond of Carvel.

We ended up going out to dinner since I spent more time at the Embassy that day than I planned.  However, first we let Pete open his gifts and he was quite surprised and happy to receive the 66 Nordur fleece that he had just dropped hints for a few days before.  Kelsey surprised him with Season 2 of Everyone Loves Pete Raymond and Cait gave him a cool doggy crystal paperweight!  Oh, and I couldn't resist; I found 16 Candles at the NEX and figured it would make a good addition to the collection.

Last but not least, the girls baked and decorated special cupcakes for Daddy.  We had a ton of sprinkles leftover from our Memorial Day BBQ (the cookie decorating portion), although, sadly, many of Kelsey's did not actually stay on the cupcakes (an hour of vaccuuming later...).

So,Happy Birthday, Beaker!

June 12, 2006

19 Days (but we aren't counting)

til we (well, almost all of us) leave for our R&R or Rest & Relaxation, a benefit of living overseas.  Our technical R&R point is actually Italy, however, this year we are going to do our "East Coast Tour".  Last year's summer was cut dramatically short by the move and the kids still haven't forgiven us for the freezing cold gloomy "summer" they had last year.  It can be beautiful here, but 50 degrees and raining (weeks on end) is just not summer for me!

Caitlin finished up school at RIS last week.  Actually, it will soon just be known as "IS" as her school will be moving to Gardabaer in the fall.  There is also the rumor of a Montessori moving to Caitlin's new "host" school Sjalandskoli, and you know who (yes, me!) is quite excited about that prospect!  Kelsey is enjoying her Icelandic school, but really needs a little more and would also enjoy being in the same area as Caitlin.  I know I would enjoy having a more regular morning schedule!

The end of the school year was also report card time.  Honestly, we know she is doing well in all of her subjects (especially reading), so we were not surprised by all of the "3s" (they don't use letter grades yet).  What made us the happiest though was the overall change we have witnessed in Caitlin. 

With everything that happened in the past year, Caitlin has had a lot to deal with.  Her first few months in school were good, but she was having trouble with feeling left-out and (what I like to call) "first child" syndrome, where one can be, shall we say, 'have too many leadership tendencies' at times?  Okay, she was bossy and it got in the way of stronger friendships with her classmates.  Then with Mom's death and well, my illness, the holidays and early 2006 were not easy times for her.

Well, we don't know exactly when it happened, but sometime around February or March, the fog lifted and Caitlin truly started to come into her own.  She became more sure of herself and realized that leadership responsibilities can be shared.  She has made some very solid friendships and really enjoys living in Iceland now.  The only comments on her report card stated just how well she was doing and how much she had blossomed socially.  Given her worries in the fall about not having friends, this is the biggest relief for us.

So, a big thank you to all of her teachers for their help!  Between Mom and everything else, I felt so stretched in the late parts of last year and the beginning of 2006.  While life is much smoother now, I don't think Cait's eventual adjustment would have been so seamless without the assistance of her school.  Many thanks to Laurie, Berta, Elizabeth, Pam and Kirsten for their efforts and work with Cait and all of the kids!

So, now we are enjoying "summer", and  a certain 'soon-to-be' 3rd grader is happily enjoying her break from school.  Caitlin is currently enrolled at a horseback riding camp at Reidskolin Faxabol, the same place she took lessons last fall.  She is doing well and even found a horseshoe in the pasture last week!  Given that this is Iceland, she was allowed to keep the horseshoe and has yet another very memorable decoration for her room.  Speaking of which, time to go get her, so more later!



June 06, 2006

My little baby

looks so grown-up now with her new pink (of course!) glasses!  She was diagnosed with a case of hypertrophia and in order to strengthen the muscles in her eyes and prevent lazy eye, she needs to wear her glasses all the time.   She has been good thus far (ice cream is a good motivator), and luckily, has a school friend who wears glasses partly for the same reason.

So, here is our little girl looking not so little anymore...
Img_0167

A True Believe It or Not

Yes, threatened with the thought of fewer playdates, Caitlin D. took the initiative and cleaned up the disaster her room!  I was getting a wee bit tired of doing 99% of the work every time friends came over.  I am not quite sure how or why it worked, but this time, it did!  Since most of you have not seen her room before, here are a few pics of it pre-playdate.

Oh, and even better?  ShImg_0163e tidied up once her friends left with nary a complaint...ahhh!Img_0162

June 02, 2006

Lazytown!

Img_0153 Img_0159 Okay, you have just finished your final full week of second grade.  You participated in your class presentation and won the Outstanding Reader award for the year....good grief, what would be the perfect topper to the day?

A trip to the Lazytown Studios!  Yes, Caitlin and her school (and Kelsey, too) were treated to a private tour of the Lazytown Studios in Gardabær.  One of their tour guides was none other than Julianne Mauriello, who plays Stephanie on the show.   L., a teacher at the school, thoughtfully set up the trip and we were treated to a viewing of almost every area of the studio including the make-up room, where the girls got to see the famous pink wig!

They also met some of the puppeteers, including David Feldman, who plays Mayor Meanswell and Ronald Binion, who assists Pixel in coming alive.  But why see the puppets if you can't see Lazytown being filmed?   Of course, that was next!

While we were sworn to secrecy on the plots of the two episodes, I can say that the girls were thrilled to see the actual set for Sportacus.  Even more thrilling?  Meeting him!  He thoughtfully interrupted the filming to come down and say hello to the children before they headed off to the autograph session.  Julianna signed cards for all of the children and posed with them for quite a while.  She is truly very sweet and spent over an hour and a half with us.

Well, one would think that might be enough for one day, correct?  Not for us!  After a playdate for the girls and a long walk near the beach for Jen, we headed off to our favorite restaurant, Grillhusid for a late dinner.  Now, when we went last week, we were surprised to hear a couple of guys speaking English behind us.  Normally we would think tourist, but their discussion led us to believe they were probably living here for business reasons.

So, when Pete was paying the bill, one of the guys at the neighboring table asked where we were from.  Pete explained a little about his job and then the other person explained that he was with Lazytown.  It confirmed our thoughts that they didn't seem like tourists and we thought, oh, interesting.

Well, lo and behold, guess who was in Grillhusid again tonight?  Yep, the same fellows, and as it turns out, we had met them earlier in the day!  They are the puppeteers for Mayor Meanswell and Pixel.  Apparently, they had remembered us from the restaurant (how ARE we so memorable?), as when B. (headmistress of Caitlin's school) was leaving the puppeteer room, she overheard them talking about seeing us at Grillhusid one night, and then Pete a few nights later as he treated a TDYer to dinner.

So, guess what?  Yep, the girls came away from dinner with even more autographs and pictures, and of course, the requisite lollipops.  You could say they are pretty content now, having had so much excitement in one day.

And, yes, I have a gut feeling if I think I might be feeling that "ennui" again, I will remember days like today and just how lucky we are to live in such a small (but exciting) country for a little while.

ABOVE:  Award recipients A., Caitlin, T. & T. pose together;  Caitlin, Kelsey & Julianna ("Stephanie").  The rest of the photos from today are in the album to the left....