Wednesday, February 22, 2012

15 Hilarious Words About Kids I'm Adding to My Vocabulary

The following words come from Eric Ruhalter's The KidDictionary, a website of a collection of words created to describe the indescribable things that kids do. I love these! 

UPPTITUDE (Up-tih-twed) n. :

A child's immense desire to be the one who presses the button on the elevator.

In an elevator, getting to where you're going is as simple as pressing a button. Unfortunately, if you have two kids and you're on an elevator, that is a push too few! Unfortunately one of these two is much bigger and faster than the other, so the rest of the elevator ride turns into a two-year old tantrum!


The supposed hellfire and brimstone that would erupt if an angry counting mother got to three.

I wish this applied to Pepi. Arin always capitulated before I got to three (making me wonder what I would ever do if he didn't!) but Pepi often just ignores me and makes me chase him around the furniture.

SUPPERCATE (SUP-er-cayt) v. :

To take three bites of dinner and then request desert.

Note that if it's me instead of Mama cooking, then the three bites of dinner will be skipped in favour of declaring dinner to be disgusting and requesting dessert immediately. Even if its just the same lasagne from the box that Mama cooks too.

SLEDENTARY (SLED-en-terry) adj. :

To be so bundled up to face the winter elements that you cannot move.

No amount of heavy clothing in the world will ever slow Pepi down, but Ollie? Kid looks like a fat cushion with two spindly legs sticking out the bottom and his arms sticking out horizontally because he's too bundled up to let them fall at his sides before we let him out during winter. I should be more sympathetic, but watching him topple over into the snow dressed like that is hilarious!

SCOOZER (SKOO-zehr) n. :

A kid who only has something to say to you when you are on the phone or in the bathroom.

Its like an inbuilt-radar-type thing, the minute you're attempted to have an adult conversation or pee in peace, there they are with something that desperately can't wait.

MONOPOLOOZE (mo-NAHP-uh-looze) v. :

To strategically lose a board game to an unsportsmanlike child.

I want to teach the kids sportsmanship. They're not into boardgames yet, but with Pepi, anything can be turned into a competitive game. But usually, he's just not getting the sportsmanship thing and I just can't take it anymore, so I go ahead and let him win.


The long delicate process of sneaking from the bed of a preschooler who makes you lay down with them at bed time.

My biggest au-pairing peeve! Pepi always makes you lie down with him at bedtime. There I am imprisoned until he falls asleep and I have to slowly, carefully disintangle myself from him and sneak from the room. It's not easy, and frequently I get caught in the act of fleeing and have to start over.

YUPPING (YUP-ing) v. :

The act of pretending to understand what your yammering 2 year old is trying to say to you.

Ollie has a fantastic mash up of baby words in three different languages, so carrying on a conversation is a bit of a challenge. But not to burst his bubble and to encourage his, I pretend to understand what they're saying and respond. Same applies to Pepi and his new habit of speaking dutch to me. 'Yupping' is very similar to 'smile-and-nodding', used when talking to people in foreign languages.

WHYARRHEA (WHY-uh-ree-uh) n. :

An inquisitive child's string of questions rattled off in rapid-fire succession.

Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? I always said I would never answer kids' questions with "just because" but seriously, by the fifth 'Why?' the question their asking requires an answer from a Year 12 biology textbook.


To harbour a deep hatred for a food you have never ever tasted.

Introducing new foods to kids is hard. Mostly because, despite never having tried them, they already hate them. Different shaped pasta? Not without a big showdown first. Again, this especially applies when I'm cooking dinner. Note however, that lunchtime is a totally different ballgame, when the kids will sit on my lap and happily eat whatever I've made for my own lunch - often leftovers of whatever they hated last night!

PHANTOMOLITION (fan-tum-o-LISH-un) n. :

When something gets broken, but nobody did it.

Actually, this rarely applies in our house. If you ask Ollie, then Pepi did it. If you ask Pepi, then the cat did it, or more recently, Papa is getting a lot of the blame.

BUNNYCOMB (BUN-ee-comb) v. :

To frantically search the house for your kid's favourite stuffed animal to avoid a meltdown.

Both kids here have one stuffed animal that their whole world revolves around. Its like a part of their body. Only its not attached, so they can lose it. And when they lose it physically, they lose it emotionally as well. So you'd better find that raggedy dirty cloth creature.


A child who lets you buy vast quantities of their favourite food, then immediately decides they don't like it anymore.

The four bags of popcorn crackers in the draw here attest to this. I remember doing this as a kid. However, I also remember referring to my father as a garbage disposal - nothing unwanted ever got wasted in our house!

ADRENELAD (ad-DREN-uh-lad) n. :

A child who will never ever under any circumstances admit that they are tired and ready for bed.

Pepi is like one of those eveready batteries that just keeps going, and going, and going. Bedtime is a battle for five-more-minutes-please. Imagine my surprize when, babysitting a 3-year old girl the other night, she just got up and went to bed when she was tired, ten minutes before her bedtime. Amazing.

KIDDLES (KIDD-uhls) n. :

Crumbs and debris found in the creases of your car's upholstery when you remove your kid's car seat.

Cereal, half-sucked lollipops, snack foods, bits of paper, broken crayons, little lego seats are both awesome at keeping kids safe, and hiding crap for you to discover under a layer of fur much further down the line.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A night in Metz, France

Last Friday Josh and I loaded up his little mini and headed down to Metz, which with a population of 230 000 is the closest big French city to Luxembourg, less than 45 minutes drive south. It is the capital of the Lorraine region, and being near the borders with Luxembourg and Germany, has been shaped by both Roman and German culture and has a pretty interesting 3000 year history. Its known as a city of art and history, and hosts the Pomidou-Metz museum, the only branch of the famous Pompidou modern art museum to be located outside Paris.

Josh and I modeling masks for Elise
We stayed with Elise, a 22 year old french art student from Couchsurfers. We arrived on Friday evening and met her and her friend at the train station, parked the car and walked to her apartment. They were great fun and really hospitable, we sat around drinking and talking about France and their studies, and they got us to pose with some masks on for one of Elise's projects, quite funny!

Audrey, Elise, me and Josh
With another friend, Max, we walked to their friends' apartment in the centre. We were definitely hanging out with a bunch of french art students - we walked into an apartment decorated with completed art projects and works in progress, filled with marijuana smoke and half a dozen bohemian-style kids performing a medieval dance! They were really friendly and were probably the best bunch of young french guys that I've spent time with when it comes to speaking english, they were all really open to trying to speak to us, and Josh did his best with a bit of french as well! As in Luxembourg I normally go out to bars rather than to house parties, it was cool to hang around for a bit of a change. We'd planned on going out to a few bars later on, but all three of us were pretty tired, so we left around 1.30 and headed home in the freezing cold!

A residential street in Metz
We were up in the middle of the morning and bid farewell to Elise before heading off to see the city. We wandered aimlessly around the city centre for awhile, heading into quite a few pharmacies to stockpile medicines that are perscription-only around the rest of Europe, it made me laugh seeing as I used to work in a pharmacy and we worked so hard to prevent people doing the same thing there! Metz has one of the biggest pedestrian-only areas in France, and most of the buildings are built out of pretty yellow limestone so it would have been really lovely had it not been freezing cold with a terrible wind blowing.

Stained glass in the Cathedral
Eventually we stumbled upon the cathedral, an amazing building. I've been to a fair few churches in Europe now, but this one has the largest amount of stained glass windows in the world, mostly from the 14th and 16th century, and the third highest nave in France (10th in the world). It was consecrated in the 1500s, but has had a lot of extensive renovations done since then.

Wall near the Cathedral
We left the cathedral and stumbled through a indoor market that turned out to be rather uninteresting, and went in search of lunch. As is typical for France at a weekend lunchtime, everywhere was packed, and we ended up with a tiny table at a a place called Bar Saint Jacques, a typical french bar-bistro with a terrace on a square. We really hit gold, it was full of locals catching up and knocking back wine, and I was amazed to order a meal of toasted sandwidge and salad that only cost me 3.80euros, or $6NZ - the price of a cup of coffee in Luxembourg!

Frozen river
There, we searched for the location of the tourist office, and found it to be right beside the cathedral we'd been in earlier! So we headed back and sourced a map, and then went for a big walk around the city. Metz has more than 100 buildings on the historical monument list, and huge open green spaces along the riverbank. The river itself was quite pretty, as it was frozen over, and had a whole lot of ducks and seagulls just sitting around on the top. But, we were really suffering from the cold and had to keep popping into cafes to buy coffees to warm up. A fair was just starting up in one of the big squares, so we stopped in their for some below-par crepes, and then we called it a day and went back to the car.

On the way out of town we stopped at Ikea. As we don't have Ikea in New Zealand, before coming to Europe I'd thought it was a pretty expensive place full of amazing modern furniture. However, here its a massive chain store that sells cheap furniture that students fill their flats up with! I still get amazed by some of the modern designs though. I'd wanted to go to Ikea since I'd arrived here, but had never been, so I was really excited to finally get there.

Ikea swedish meatballs and lingonberry juice

The stores are all really huge, and the layout is quite clever, its like a maze and they make you walk past everything to get whatever you want. Naturally, we went in just to get clotheshangers, and ended up spending 80euros, or $120NZ, between the two of us! They even have a map with a list to fill in and free little pencils at the beginning, so naturally there are now half a dozen Ikea pencils lying around my room! Ikea has a cafeteria inside, and I'd also heard a lot about swedish meatballs, so it was cool to split a meal of meatballs, rice and swedish lingonberry juice.

So, I quite enjoyed Metz, it was good to go somewhere new rather than return to an old haunt, and to stay with locals again, and I think it's a pretty cool city. More photos are here.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Freezing February in Luxembourg - Part I

view of Luxembourg from the Mudam
February in Luxembourg has been cold! As you've no doubt seen on the news wherever you are, Europe has been hit by an insane cold snap. While hundreds are dying in temperatures of down to -30degreesC in Eastern Europe, here in Luxembourg throughout the first week of February we've had highs of around -5 or -6 and lows of between -11 and -14degrees. So its still damn cold. No more snow has fallen since that one Sunday in late January, but what did fall has really stuck around, driving me crazy as my winter boots are full of holes.

Pepi, Dante, Ava and Kerli on the train
This first week, I went out a couple of times, to live jazz on Tuesday, to drink with another kiwi au pair here in the Spanish bar on Wednesday, and to see a Portuguese friend on Thursday. Going out, and especially coming home later at night, really requires effort in this weather! I never noticed the cold so bad last winter, but now I'm often wearing both pantyhose and thermals under my jeans! Friday saw me take Pepi out on another adventure, this time accompanied by Kerli and her dutch charges, Ava and Dante. This trip was much more successful than the first, last time Pepi had been really quite and watched everything around him with big eyes, and asked to go home to Mama a lot, this time as soon as we got on the bus he was happily narrating everything around him and I had to drag him home at the end of the day! Much to my embarrassment, his endless chatter saw him ask me both why the really wrinkly old lady sitting by us 'had so many owas (ouchies or boo-boos) on her face, and why another lady had poop on her hat. Fun times.

Pep making music
We took the bus to the train station where we met the others, and then the train to Esch-sur-Alzette to the concert venue the Rockhal, where they had a kind of interactive exhibition of electronic music for kids, with things like microphones that turned your voice into different sounds, collaborative electronic drums, and a disco music room. I found it really cool, and could easily have spent ages with Pep going around the different stations, but unfortunately Pepi is totally in love with Dante, and Dante has the attention span of a gnat, so every minute or so Dante would get up and run to the next station and Pepi would get up, look at Dante and then back at what they had been doing, look wistfully at Dante again and then back to what they'd been doing, and then rush after Dante. He was definitely most into the drums though, he kept heading back to that station, and he wouldn't go near the singing one! So, after a stop at MacDonalds for icecream we headed home, jumping into every pile of snow on the way and arriving freezing cold and very tired!

Dante and Pepi making music
That evening, Pep was complaining of a sore tummy, but I didn't think too much of it until I woke up at 3am in agony myself. After a sleepless night spent puking myself, my plans to take Pepi to play with Dante and Ava the next day so that Rogier and Jacquie could get some pre-moving work done, and to go skiing the following day were promptly scrapped, and I spent the weekend hiding in bed.

By Tuesday, I'd decided that the snow had cleared enough for me to start running naturally we had another snowfall! So instead, I went to drink a few beers and play some pool with Josh. I used to play a lot in NZ, but I've never been very good and he normally always cleans up, although I sunk my first attempt at a jump shot which I was pretty happy about.

Part of the Mudam
Wednesday morning I woke up with big intentions of going to Arlon, a city just over the border in Belgium, but I looked out of the window at snow falling and decided to head back to bed instead! Later that afternoon, I headed out, first lining my boots with plastic bags! These boots were a huge investment before I left New Zealand, and had served me well over the past year, but are now falling to bits and I keep getting wet feet. I went to the Mudam, the museum of modern art up in Kirchberg suburb, where all of the fancy offices and European parliament buildings are. The building was designed by I. M .Pei, the guy who whacked the big glass pyramid in front of the Louvre in Paris, and has similar glass artifacts. In the main entrance hall is a cool work, a two-story tall structure that has a machine winding many tiny threads into a massive rope, depicting the nervous system. You can climb up to the top and look out of the windows of the view over Luxembourg, its very cool. Other than that, I picked a bad day to go, as they were setting up all of the new exhibitions and I could only see their standing exhibits.

Thursday was similarly laid back, I spent most of the day in pursuit of new shoes, eventually giving up on finding women's boots that fit my massive feet and just buying mens shoes instead. I was trying on shoes in the mens department and got told by a sales assistant that I was on the wrong floor, and then got told at the cashier that if I didn't take the boxes with me, I couldn't return them if they didn't fit my boyfriend! Way to rub salt into the wound! And now, after a night out on Thursday and a day with the kids today, I'm off to spent the night in Metz, a city about an hours drive into France.

Monday, February 6, 2012

January in Luxembourg Part II

The Sphere Room at the Trans Ardentes Festival, Liege, Belgium
The second half of January hasn't been particularly interesting, I caught a really terrible cold and spent the better part of two weeks either in bed or moping around the house. I did make it out a couple of times, mostly just to Liquid for live jazz during the week, and once on a Friday I went out with the intention of having a big night out dancing, but I didn't make it further than the free jager party at Scots.

Josh, me and Naz at Jager night at Scots bar, Luxembourg
The highlight of those last couple of weeks was going to Liege, Belgium for the Trans Ardentes electronic music festival. Josh and I drove up on Saturday afternoon, its only a little over an hour away, and after picking up Lena we headed just over the border to Maastricht in the Netherlands for a brief stop to go shopping and get KFC for lunch. I'd been to Maastricht once before, for a day, and it was freezing cold so we didn't stop to look around much.

The ceiling in the Elektropedia room, Les Trans Ardentes festival
Then we just headed home, fluffed around getting ready, and caught the bus to the festival. Having been sick, and being very tired from a couple of sleepless nights with crying children, I wasn't really amped until we got on a packed bus full of young people who were definitely much more in the party mood than we were! The festival is held indoors, at a big kind of hall, with concrete floors and steel sides and roof. It has separate sections, so there were four stages with different DJs performing at different times. Josh and I were both pretty into the Cube Room, which had kind of electro lounge music, more than the others, but the three of us, and Lena's friend Marion (who is awesome, I know her from past visit to Liege and the La Semo festival) and her friends, spent the night moving around quite a bit.

Lena, me and Josh at Les Trans Ardentes festival, Liege, Belgium
Like all the festivals I've been to in Belgium, you have to swap cash for tickets that you then swap for drinks. I guess it seems like a good idea, not having to mess around with money at the bar, but it really just means you have to join another really long line, and you can only get the tickets in preset amounts that aren't divisible by the cost of drinks, grrr. But, being sick (and broke!) I had resolved only to have a few drinks anyway. The other annoyance was having to pay an extra 2euros to be able to use the bathroom - not every time you went, you just had to pay for an armband that allowed you into the toilets all night. How stupid is that? Just raise the ticket price by 2euros! And sexist too, because there were free urinals outside for the guys. And even though it was smokefree, once the crowds built up everyone started smoking inside, so I was constantly afraid of getting burnt in the middle of the dancing crowds.

Boys Noize at les Trans Ardentes festival in Liege, Belgium
But, rant over, the festival was awesome, I'm now totally addicted to electronic music festivals. I don't think New Zealand has anything comparable, not with 12 000 people coming through the doors and with such high standards of DJs, like Birdy Nam Nam, Cassius and Boys Noize. The German DJ Boys Noize was the big drawcard for me, he's been my favourite DJ for about three years, and I was gutted to miss him playing at Rhythm and Vines back in New Zealand just after I'd flown to Germany last year! He played at 1.30am, and by that stage I'd been dancing for over five hours and I was dead tired and aching everywhere, but I stayed on my feet for the whole set, he was really amazing and actually better live than recorded. I couldn't say the same about Birdy Nam Nam, I thought they were terrible live and I didn't stick around! It must have been around 3.30am when we called it a night, Josh was really the worse for wear and Lena and I were both shattered. But, it was an awesome night, and one of my favourite experiences here in Europe.

Lena and Josh at "the cool bar" in Liege, Belgium
We slept quite late the next day, only dragging ourselves out of bed sometime around 1pm to find Lena's mum had laid that table with pastries and fruit for us for breakfast, so cute! We wanted to show Josh around Liege, but we were all so tired and it was absolutely freezing, colder than I've felt all winter so far, so we kind of dashed quickly through the centre into what me and Lena call "the cool bar" where we always go for a drink, and then we ended up playing a couple of games of pool before heading to Quick for dinner and then jumping into the car to head home. It was so cold I couldn't even bear to take my hands out of my pockets to take photos all day. An hour later with the car heating going full bore, I still couldn't feel my hands or feet, and just as we crossed the border into Luxembourg it started to snow.

Ollie playing dress-ups. Girly or what!
The cold weather continued the next couple of days, with highs of about -1 and lows of about -4, so even though more snow didn't fall, what we already had stuck around. I spent Monday recovering from the weekend, and running a ton of errands around the city. I babysat that night, putting the kids to bed myself which is uncommon. Unfortunately, Pepi's 'Baby Mozart' stuffed monkey was forgotten in Rogier's car and went off to him. Trying not to show my panic, I went through the whole bath/bed routine as normal, and it wasn't until he was lying with me in bed that he realised Baby was missing. I told him Baby had wanted to go to work with Papa, and he only cried for a couple of minutes before settling down, a pretty good outcome considering how attached to that thing he has been!

city hall buildings, Thionville, France
Tuesday I was up early and took to the bus to Thionville, 30km away in France. Remembering that international postage from France was quite cheap and knowing that nothing (ciggarettes, alcohol and petrol excluded) can be described as cheap in Luxembourg, I looked into the price difference last year and found that I could post up to 7kg in a pre-paid box from France for 40euros, compared to paying 160euros to post 7kg from Luxembourg. So, before Christmas I lugged 14kg of presents and crap I wanted to ship home over the border on the bus, discovered the handrawn map I copied of Google was useless and wandered aimlessly around town until I found the Tourist Office, and then spent a whole hour in the shop sorting everything out with a english-speaking man who told me that his daughter had gone to New Zealand on exchange, and reported it to be 'boring, with nothing to do'.

Thionville, France
I looked around me at Thionville, a town of 40 000 with nothing special and no exciting nightlife or activities of its own, and had to wonder where in New Zealand she had been living. Thionville was so unexciting, I didn't even mention going there in this blog. This time however, the town was covered in snow, and even the most boring and basic of places look pretty under snow, so I walked around for a hour or so taking photos, until the cold really got to me and I jumped on the bus again. Back in Luxembourg, I walked from the train station into the city centre to photograph the Petrusse Valley in between.

Petrusse Valley, Luxembourg Ville, Luxembourg
Arriving back home, I noticed that some of our neighbours had shoveled the snow of their driveway and the pavement. With it being sunny during the day, but still so cold, it was really icy and Rogier had hit the rubbish bin sliding while backing out the night before, and because I've never shoveled snow before I thought it would be fun to give it a go. I thought wrong! Shoveling snow is hard work, that stuff is damn heavy and it took me forever to work out how to break up the ice, rather than just trying to scrape it off the concrete. I won't even tell you how long it took me, but I was pretty proud of my effort.

So, not a very interesting blog post I know, I'l do my best to get out and about a bit more in February!

Photos from January are here. I've also just gotten into Twitter in a big way, you can follow me here.