15 March, 2013

Lookie what just arrived in the mail! I'd like to knock that smug expression right off of his face! (It's a boxing dummy.)

S wanted it in a color other than black because as he said: "I ain't no racist". But lighter colored ones are 40 Euros more expensive. I'm trying not to think about that one too deeply...

26 December, 2012

Launching themselves into the new year!

Desperate times...

The supermarkets are still closed for Christmas and we've run out of food so we've decided to start grilling the children. This one is a little tough and stringy...

25 December, 2012

Safety first!

Helicopter parenting at its best...

20 December, 2012

Nouveau Braille

S came home from Taekwondo all fired up: "MOM! You want to hear something really disgusting?! I kicked E in the mouth today during sparring and I could feel my foot slide across his lips! It was so GROSS! Like, if his teeth had been crooked and in the shape of letters I could have read them with the side of my foot!"

Dubstep Staircase

S being a goofball and getting his daily workout! :-)

17 November, 2012


B has his first Taekwondo tournament today!

13 November, 2012

ba dum dum.

S is dancing around the living room with his shirt off.  He's got a huge purple bruise on his chest.

"S!  How did you get that big bruise on your chest?"

"Booby trap."

Photo update

D enjoying the autumn sunshine
B and a friend at Taekwondo training camp

B celebrated his 11th birthday bowling with friends
Having a blast at Trips Drill

I don't know which of them enjoyed this more

S turned 13 in Holland!

you're looking a little pale there, buddy...

11 September, 2012

Taking s'more prep to a whole new level!

B's class will be taking a week-long field trip to the Schwarzwald next week.  Yesterday we received a permission slip and had to check off the activities in which he may participate.  Hiking:  check.  Rappelling:  check.  Fire-breathing.  ???!!!

(Luckily this option was already crossed out but seriously-- WTF?!)

30 August, 2012

it's a sad day.

Goodbye sweet Frieda.  We loved you very much.

18 August, 2012

We finally got our groove back! (and just in time!)

It turned out that the bug we caught was a stomach virus that quickly swept through the rest of the campsite.  We heard that it also spread through campgrounds in nearby Croatia, a viral souvenir carried along, no doubt, by travelers passing.  Even after we recovered physically, however, we just couldn’t reclaim our normal vacation Mojo.  We showed up for concerts that were cancelled at the last minute, took hikes that turned out to be dead ends, got a ticket for accidentally driving an a bus lane and arrived at museums right at closing time.  And the boys were bickering nonstop.  Usually they get along very well, but the past few weeks they’ve been constantly on each other’s nerves.  (And on ours.)  A couple of days ago it came to a head and I was ready to pack up and go home.  Or maybe just ready for the boys to pack up and go home.  ;-)  But I’m so glad we didn’t, because suddenly our luck turned around, and funnily enough it was a huge thunderstorm that caused it!
M has been wanting to travel higher into the mountains for a couple of weeks now.  We finally got our act together and drove out to Velika Planina and took a gondola up 1500m for a spectacular view of the valley below.  Except for that the very second we stepped out of the gondola a huge cloud front swept over the mountains and blotted out the view.  ...and then it started thundering and lightning.  And the boys started bickering again. 
So M and I did what any well-thinking person would do:  we started hiking straight up the steep slope towards the next ridge.  And the kids were moaning and groaning, but they were getting slower and you couldn’t hear them very well anyway above the sounds of the thunder.  

*NOT* amused.
We hiked for a half hour, straight up, eschewing the easier paths along the way, which turned out to be a good thing because right as we happened to reach a ski hut it started POURING.  We shared a long wooden table with other Slovenian hikers and drank coffee and then later beer and watched the rain come down in sheets outside.  And it was so bizarre and unfortunate that we all looked at each other and started to laugh—we ended up having a really nice time! 
The storm continued and was so bad that the ground station send taxis up to rescue us all and we piled into rickety, leaking old Yugoslavian SUV’s for a hair raising ride down the mountain with a driver who admitted he couldn’t see anything through the windshield, but that it was no problem because he was driving on autopilot anyway.  

The storm continued to rage and everyone else was able to squeeze in the gondola to go down and we stayed behind and the man who worked the gondolas and ski lifts gave us a tour of the engine room and showed us how everything works.  After that we rode down in the gondola together and drove home happy and back in our vacation groove. 
Yesterday we spent a lovely afternoon in Ljubljana—it’s really one of my favorite cities.  We spent a couple of hours in the “Bodies Revealed” exhibit, had a nice supper right on the river and then spent a couple of hours wandering around and enjoying the street performers and the people watching.  Ljubljana is a student town and so vibrant and friendly—it was still teeming with people when we left at 10pm.
This morning M and I got up early and took one of our traditional hikes.  Last week we’d tried to follow  a route to a lookout point and a wrong turn foiled our plans.  Today we figured it out and hiked a couple of hours through the forest up a steep trail- it was so peaceful and quiet and it felt great to be physically active!  Suddenly we came out into a clearing and saw the most spectacular view of the valley, surrounding villages, mountain backdrop and Lake Bled in all its glory!  We had brunch at a small mountain hut and enjoyed the breeze and the view—it was one of those memorable moments and a fantastic way to close out this vacation and end on a good note. 
We’re now back at the campsite packing things up.  The boys are at the lake swimming with friends and I guess it’s time to close this and help fold up the tent.  I love Slovenia—plan to write a complete ode to the country later in a separate post.  This is a wonderful place to spend a vacation and we will definitely be back…

12 August, 2012

Into the looking glass

Photo thanks to Radol'ca
This morning S, M and I walked into Radovljica and had coffee in the old town square.  S and M ducked into a shop and I was waiting outside with D when I heard someone say:  “Hey!  Do you speak English?”  Not wanting / needing contact with any strangers I shook my head.  “What?!  No English?! Where are you from?”  “Holland” “Holland!?  And you don’t speak English?”  He looked at me with a smile.  “Nevermind. Why don’t you go have a look in my gallery while you’re waiting?  It’s over there” and he gestured to a doorway in an ancient building.  I have to admit that my curiosity was piqued.  There were chicken noises being played very loudly over small speakers set up near the door.  A poster in the doorway said “CHICKENS” in Slovenian in all caps and I saw a long row of tiny ceramic chickens glued to a shelf on the wall in the hall leading into the house.
I pointed to the dog and looked at the owner quizzically.  He just shrugged his shoulders and said:  “Of course!  Go on inside!”
The house was *amazing* .  The hall opened up into a courtyard with old terrazzo tiles and 3 stories of balconies with vines growing on them and hanging plants that hung from almost every surface.  Here and there were random ceramic sculptures:  a bust of a woman, a tiny yellow horse, a square tile covered in at least 100 miniature green frogs.  It was so strange and magical, I was instantly charmed.  Suddenly I felt someone staring at me and I looked up to see a tortoiseshell cat perched on a railing and peering down disdainfully.
I climbed up a flight of ancient wooden steps.  Came upon a sofa, a small table with a book on it, and a beautiful view down into the courtyard.  It was also obvious that someone lived on this floor, so I beat a hasty retreat. 
M and S arrived and we heard someone come noisily down the steps and suddenly a large woman burst into the courtyard.  “Oh, you’re here for the gallery?”  We nodded, gave up all pretenses about not speaking English and asked about the house which it turns out,  is more than 500 years old and has been in her husband’s family since his grandfather bought it in 1910.  She led us into the cellar— still not sure if this is what they were calling a “gallery”?  There were a couple of shelves with various plates and bowls, none of them having anything remotely to do with chickens.
I kept waiting for a hard sell or some kind of trick, but it never came.  This woman was just genuinely friendly—she gave us a handful of postcards with pictures of the house in various eras and then said that if we didn’t mind that she’d like to close up and go join her husband outside in the cafĂ© for coffee...

10 August, 2012


We were all a bit grumpy today and needed a distraction, and what could be better than MONKEYS?! We took a quick trip over the border to Austria where we visited an old fort, saw a show with some predatory birds and then the MONKEYS!  The monkey park was 40,000 hectares with 140 or so Japanese Macaques who roamed wild and came down from the trees to inspect the strange groups of humans who wandered through their territory.  :-)

"Black" to the drawing board...

We’re not yet back to 100% but hopefully moving in the right direction.  This morning  M and I walked to the next village over to have coffee on the patio of a funny bar we’ve stumbled across.  We sat under parasols and enjoyed the warm breeze and laughed about the free glass of Tang-like liquid that came with every cup of coffee.  J
Afterwards we stopped by a bakery to buy bread.  Most of the bread here is white, and I’ve been puzzling for a week as to how to find something whole wheat.  Although many people speak good English no one seems to respond to the term “whole wheat”, probably because it doesn’t seem like anyone eats it. 
I was all excited because I thought I’d finally figured it out by comparing the lists of ingredients in 5 different former-Yugoslavian languages on the back of a package of bread that seemed like it might actually be whole wheat.  Polno-Zrnati”!  In Russian the word “Pol’no” means “whole” and the Bosnian word is apparently “Integrali” like it is in Italian.  I was pretty confident that I’d finally found the right word!  We walked into the bakery and I said:  Hi!  Do you have “Polno-Zrnati Kruh?”
The girl behind the counter smiled and said:  Yes!”, obviously pleased with my attempts to use her language.  She pointed to a very big, very white loaf of bread.
I was crestfallen.  Oh.  No.  Sorry.  I was looking for “Vollkorn”.  (using the German, which everyone seems to understand for some reason.)
No, no, you were right!  Polno-Zrnati!”  And she smiled at me again happily.
Hmm.  Really?  Because that looks very white to me.
Well yes!  That’s because it’s half white, half black!”
OK.  Do you have something that’s maybe only black?”
Oh yes!”  And she pointed to another similar white loaf next to it.  This one is black, it just doesn’t have seeds.
I went ahead and bought it just because she’d been so friendly but it’s just about as white as my babies’ butts.  It tastes great, but the mystery continues…

09 August, 2012

Back in the land of the living.

Two days.  I’ve lost two whole days!  Last night I kept thinking:  yesterday when we had dinner.  Oh no—that was two days ago.  Last night when I took a shower...  Oh—wait:  that was two days ago.  Yesterday when I brushed my teeth…
B’s malady was apparently contagious and felled S and me in one blow.  I haven’t been that sick in a loooooong time!  M was a rock and spent the entire night bailing vomit out of our s(t)inking ship.  S threw up every half hour from 10pm to 8am.  I didn’t keep pace with him but was completely miserable as well.  …and then the fever set in.
We’d had a bbq with friends the evening before and M said that in the morning our campsite looked like the morning after a big frat party.  Leftovers and dishes everywhere, half-full cups of assorted beverates and articles of clothing strewn all over the place.  And then of course the telltale signs of vomit.  ;-)  After a night with literally no sleep he cleaned everything up, washed the dishes, washed S’s clothing and sleeping bag in the glacial river, hauled water and made a run to the supermarket for supplies.  Forget Superman, M is the real superhero in this story.
S and I spent yesterday in a stupor- too wiped out to do anything other than lay flat and stare at the ceiling and occasionally doze off.  Today we’re feeling much better, relatively fit, happy to be healthy again and looking forward to actually leaving the campground and seeing something other than the inside of a bucket.  J  Thank God for coffee, Ibuprofen and a good man who knew exactly what to do at exactly the right moments!