Not Something To Cry About

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When it was first mentioned that we should do a skiing holiday with friends I had a vision of myself sitting by a roaring fire with a hot chocolate and a good book while the muppets played in the snow and my darling husband skied the slopes. I was sitting drinking coffee with the youngest muppet cuddling with me on the couch when Dave told me that our friends were going to book a six day ski pass for us. “Six days!” I said in disbelief, “We are only there for seven days!” When we started planning this trip I was thinking… two maybe three days of ski time! I figured we would go for a few hours everyday but I was quickly told that you don’t just ski for a few hours, that it was a whole day thing. Me and my non skiing body were not looking forward to this part if the holiday.

Since I hadn’t been skiing since I was 16 or 17 years old I wasn’t feeling overly confident about being on the hill again. I was never a strong skier to begin with so I decided that it would be best to take a lesson with the muppets the first day. This was possibly one of the worst choices I have ever made . The first 15 minutes was spent trying to get the muppets skis on, then another 20 minutes trying to teach them to walk sideways up the hill. The whining and crying that was taking place through all of this was making me want to head up the black ski run and take my chances with the mountain.  The following day our instructor decided he had enough of the muppets and bailed on us. I decided that in order to keep my sanity I would ski with Dave and our friends while the muppets tormented a new teacher.
My snowplow was extra rusty as we made our way down the hill. I was panicking at every turn and doubting every move that I made. It was not fun at all and just wanted to be down the hill as fast as I could and be done with it. We came to a rather steep part of the run and I was already hyperventilating before I started. Then it happened… I fell. I didn’t fall hard or even hurt anything but I was so tired and the steepness of the hill was daunting. I started to cry and I decided I was done, I could not possibly go on. Dave stopped in front of me and told me to get up, I didn’t want to I asked if I could take my skis off and walk down the rest of the way. My husband rolled his eyes at me and pulled me up to stand, “You have given birth to and raised three little boys, this is easier than that!” He said gently. He started back down the hill and I followed him slowly shaking the whole way down. We stopped near the bottom for a rest and my girl friend pointed up the hill, “Look what you just came down, you should be proud of that! Don’t worry you will have the hang of it by tomorrow” she said as she smiled at me. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to come back the next day.
That afternoon I watched as the oldest and middle muppet skied down small hills and practiced their turns. Dave was excited to take them on bigger hills the following day because they were doing really well. The next day we dropped the muppets off at their lesson and again the four of us made our way up to the top of the hill. Today I was not as nervous, I was still incredibly slow but  I was actually having fun. Later that afternoon the youngest and I watched the older two muppets go up and down a pretty steep hill. Their father told him that the next day he would take them to the top of the mountain. The middle muppet looked a little worried as he gazed up the tall mountain. I sat down with him and asked him if he was scared to ski down that big of a hill. He said he was a littler nervous and worried about falling, I explained to him that I had felt the same way and that I had fallen lots and I had even cried. “You cried Mum?” he asked in disbelief. I told him about not wanting to ski down the rest of the mountain and how his dad encouraged me and how much fun I ended up having because I got up and kept going. He smiled at me, “Skiing is fun Mummy it is nothing to cry about!” and he walked off with his brother and his friend excited for the following day.
The two big muppets went with their dad to the top of the hill the next day and did awesome, they were pretty mad when we said that it was their last day of skiing. They both voiced their complaints our last day in Bulgaria that their friends got to ski on last time and they did not. I think we have found something new to do as a family it is something that the four frogs seem  to love and as for this princess I am sure before long I will to grow to love it too!

The Gold

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We waited in the Sofia airport to board our flight, the muppets sat in between Dave and I and every few minutes he would whisper an update on the hockey score and how many minutes were left in the period. Canada was playing the USA in the semi finals and we were waiting until the final boarding call to find out whether they would play in the gold medal game. As we walked on to the plane it was over, Canada had won and we all did a mini celebration as we walked in to the plane.

Today I watched all the Facebook status’ about the bars in Canada being open at 5am to watch the gold medal game, the excitement was steadily growing all day as people debated waking up early or pulling an all nighter. When I arrived at the school this afternoon for pick up the oldest muppet came bounding out the doors. “What is the score in the game!?” he asked vibrating. As I waited for the score to load on my phone he told me to just get my stuff we needed to get home to watch the hockey. I explained to him that the middle muppet had after school activities until 4:00 pm so he would have to wait. Every ten minutes after that he would shout from the playground and I would update him on the score. Soon the middle muppet came out of the school and gave me a huge hug. He told me that if Canada won gold that the Assistant Principle told him that maybe they could have the next day off. He is a Canadian and I thought to myself that would be something that they would do in Canada because people would really need the next day off!

We hurried home and turned on the television to catch the end of the second period. The oldest muppet grabbed his hockey stick and the hockey mouse with the Team Canada Jersey on it. We sat and watched the final period of hockey and as the final seconds counted down the oldest muppet cheered “They did it Mum! They won gold two Olympics in a row!” The players hugged and the fans cheered, we stood and watched as they raised the Canadian Flag and sang our anthem. We are so far away from our home country but the olympics have made us feel closer to home. I watched the smile grow wide on my oldest sons face as the gold medal team sat together for a photo. In his eyes there was joy, hope and inspiration something that these games bring to all of us all over the world. For seventeen days the world is brought together by watching the best athletes in the world compete against the best. For seventeen days there is a sense of unity, peace and inspiration for the world. Congratulations Canada on all your achievements in this olympics you have done your country proud!

Forever Friends

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When our good friends in Doha bought a place in a skiing village in Bulgaria we knew that we would eventually have to make a trip out there. But when the moved back to the UK last spring it became a top priority for us to take a family vacation out there together. Ten months after saying goodbye we were reunited at the Sofia Airport.

The oldest muppet was disappointed that there was no snow on the ground when we arrived and was assured by his friends that there would be plenty of snow on the mountain. Everyone piled in to the rental van and we started our journey to the town of Bansko where we would be spending the next 6 days together. It was if we had not been away from each other for almost a year. The kids pick up right where they left off, poking fun at each other and giggling most of the car ride, and it was the same for the adults.

The muppets spent the week skiing, sledding, swimming and playing, my girl friend and I commented constantly on how well our kids got along. There was no tattling, arguing or fights, and this is how it always was with them. Near the end of the week we went out to a meal at an Irish Pub. Before walking in the door Dave snapped a shot of all five boys at the front door. He commented that he wanted to take the same shot ten years from now when the boys were all teenagers.

As an expat you get used to the revolving door of friends, the new kids in the class and saying goodbye. There are people that you may never see or hear from again and only think of them with fond thoughts. Then there are the friends who you know will be there forever, even if you only see them once a year, chat through text message or Skype. We have been lucky to spend the last week with friends like that, and I hope that we will be able to start a new tradition of a  yearly ski trip. But no matter what happens I know that we will always have their friendship in our lives. We are truly blessed!

Back to Basics

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Yesterday morning I watched as the three muppets carried their boxes of valentines in to the school. For weeks now I have been cutting and pasting a little each day, encouraging them each to help decorate and to write something nice about their fellow classmates. In the end I decorated most of the 56 valentines and ended up with glitter dusting most of my house.

I am the oldest muppets class mum this year and it was great to see at the class party that every card the kids handed out was hand made. Everyone had written special messages to their friends and there were not generic cards that said “Buzz Lightyear wishes you a super Valentines!” It made me think that maybe this is what valentines day was like before it became so commercial. When we got home the muppet sat down and read through their cards. The middle guy was reading them out loud to me. One of the cards said “I am really glad you are my friend because you make me smile when I am sad and you are always so kind to everyone” he finished reading it and said “Wow mum that was really nice to say, that really makes me feel good.” I gave him a squeeze “And do you know what makes me feel even better?” he asked. I waited with baited breath for some form of wonderful insight to come from my middle child. “This lolly attached to the card, it makes me really really happy!” He giggled and skipped out of the kitchen. I smiled and giggled to myself at his comment.

Valentines day may be incredibly commercial these days and most people hate the holiday but perhaps if we try to teach our kids that it is not just about the cards, candy and flowers we could get back to the basics. Today I hope that someone makes your heart smile. I am blessed to have the smiles and laughter of my four frogs this Valentines Day and a bit of chocolate as well because it wouldn’t be valentines with out it!

Kids These Days

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Yesterday afternoon we came home from school and I made the older two muppets a snack. The youngest muppet had friends already playing outside in front of the house so he immediately went over to join in the fun. As the other two muppets ate their food, I unpacked groceries and talked about their day then I began homework negotiations with the middle guy. He decided to sit and do homework before he went out to play. This was a great choice since I knew later that it would be a fight but I am trying to get him to make good choices rather than forcing him to sit and argue with him for an hour.

I sat down next to him and he made his way through the work book, I was decorating Valentines for the youngest muppet. “Mum I have a great idea!” he said proudly “How about I decorate those Valentines and you can do my homework!” I laughed and said that it would be a good idea except I had already done grade one and it is important for him to learn how to do grade one things really well. He giggled and went about his work. About a half hour later the youngest came flying in to the house. He opened the fridge grabbed a chocolate milk and said to me “Mum I am not friends with the girls any more, so I am going to another friends house instead!” The middle muppet asked him what had happened between him and his friends. The youngest explained that the girls said that they were not going to be his friend any more so he didn’t want to be their friend either. As he skipped out of the kitchen the middle guy looked at me and shook his head, “Kids these days, always fighting over such silly things” he said and went back to his homework.  I sat and looked at him in shock over what had just come out of his mouth and then I burst in to giggles.

I am still giggling about it today!