The First License

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The Wilson family has been trying to adjust back in to our normal schedule of waking up early and enduring a full day of school and work. All of us have been dragging our butts a little bit since we enjoyed 10 days of lounging about, sleeping in and eating more food then necessary.

The first week back at school has been an eventful one for the oldest Muppet. He woke up in a great mood Sunday morning excited about the fact that one day this week it was going to be his VIP day.

A few weeks ago the oldest and I worked on a poster all about him, we included photos of his family, our pets, his favorite foods and things that he loved to do. Each student in his class would have a special day devoted to them and they would have a chance to share their posters and a special object for show and tell.

I came home from work today to find the oldest on the couch watching hockey (his favorite place in the world at the moment other than the ski hill) As I unpacked the groceries he came in to the kitchen to tell me about his day. “You know what Mum?” he said excitedly “Today was the best day ever, not only was it my VIP day but I got my cursive writing license today too!” He proudly showed me his “Writing License” and I gave him a big hug and told him how proud I was of him. I had forgotten about how hard he had been working on his cursive writing. He told me before we went on Spring Break that he had written a letter to the Principal (in cursive) to show him that he was ready to move from a “Cursive Writing Permit” to a full on license.

The principal had brought the letter into my office to show me before the break, his writing was awesome and we both remarked how much better it was than his printing. The two of us had a little giggle since the oldest had written that he would cheer for the Philadelphia Flyers more if the Principal would grant him his Cursive Writing License.. that just happens to be the Principals favorite team.

As we sat at the kitchen table chatting about his poster presentation I asked him if he was nervous speaking in front of his class of if it was nice to be the center of attention for the day. He smiled and said that he enjoyed it and that he didn’t mind speaking in front of people. “You know Mum” he said “I am going to have to get used to talking to lots of people and being the center of attention if I am going to be a big hockey star!” We both giggled and I told him he had a good point but he needed to focus on getting through elementary school first.

The oldest Muppet has high dreams and he has proven time and again that when he puts his mind to something he can accomplish anything. What ever he decides to do I know that it will be big and you never know we could have a Canadian boy raised in Qatar in the NHL sometime in the future.

Another Skiing Adventure

Hannah Locke Skiing in ShortsWhen we arrived in Bansko I was excited to walk around the town, browse the shops and try all of the restaurants. The Muppets who could care less about shopping and where we ate and had only one thing on their minds, playing in the snow and the skiing! I admit that the cooler weather and the falling snow was a nice treat, and putting on a toque, boots and warm gloves brought back memories of home however I was not excited for skiing.

We spent the first two days getting ourselves settled and reacquainted with the town, my husband and I had decided that we didn’t need to ski right away and that we both needed some time to decompress. By our third day in Bansko the Muppets were ready to explode with excitement about hitting the slopes so we figured we better rent some equipment and get our passes organized. We thought we would check around town and price out how much it would be to outfit our family for skiing before we decided to rent equipment, so we dragged the Muppets from shop to shop until we found the place we were looking for.

The Muppets happily tried on different sizes of ski boots, helmets and poles and when we left the shop all five of us were equipped for skiing the next day. In the morning we slowly made our way to the ski bus, the Muppets laughed about how funny it was walking in ski boots and talked about how awesome skiing was going to be. After a quick bus ride we arrived at the bottom of the hill, got our ski passes and made out way to the Gondola line. It was our first time as a family getting on the Gondola and so was a little bit nervous. Herding the Muppets through the turnstiles, and piling 5 sets of skis, poles, the Muppets and ourselves in to a moving vehicle proved to be challenging but we made it on and we were on our way up to the ski slope.

The next step was to sort the Muppets out with a skiing instructor, the two older boys were skiing down the blue runs at the end of last year so we were confidant that they would need to be in a different level then the youngest. However when the two older ones got on the hill we were proven wrong, the organizer of the lessons told us that the end of the last time they skied was totally different to the first day back on skis. The middle Muppet came to me with tears in his eyes and said “Mummy I have forgotten how to ski!” I reminded him that it had been a while and that we all needed a little refresher to get going again. Thankfully we were able to arrange for a private instructor to take all three boys for couple hours and I hoped that their confidence levels would be up when we met them for lunch.

My husband and I made our way to the chairlift and I sat nervously waiting to get to the top of the run. The two of us made our way down the hill, my husband in front of me with his mad skiing skills and myself very slow and cautious and struggled to make the turns. When we got half way down we decided to go up another lift. I couldn’t remember going on that chair last year and as we got higher and I higher I questioned whether or not I would be able to make it down such a steep slope. My husband having every confidence in the world in me told me not to worry that I would be fine. Well… I was not fine… I was terrified and crying… and yelling bad things at my husband. Half way down the hill I was done I had fallen too many times, my legs hurt and I was exhausted and sweaty. I took off my skis and started to to walk down the mountain. I could see my husband fuming at the bottom of the hill and we made our way down the rest of the hill in silence.

While my husband took the lift to the top of the mountain to enjoy some skiing on his own I sat and watched the Muppets practice on the bunny slope. The three of them all had their ski skills back and even though they were exhausted they were happy and excited to ski more in the afternoon. While we waited for their father in the restaurant I told the boys about my morning skiing. The oldest Muppet gave me a hug and said “It doesn’t sound like you had much fun Mum” I told him that I was really nervous and scared so it didn’t make it fun and that I didn’t feel very confidant on skis. The middle guy put his hand on mine and said “Mummy you will have your ski skills back in no time, this morning we were not good skiers and after a while we got our skills back!” I laughed and thanked him for his encouragement and told him that I was sure that tomorrow I would be a little bit better.

The next couple days were great, I began to be more confidant on my skis and each run was a bit better then the last. However that was not what made my days great. Watching the three Muppets enjoying skiing so much made me want to try and like it more. They improved so much over the three days that I was having trouble keeping up with them. After three days of skiing the five of us were ready for a break, each of the boys had their favorite part about the ski hill and they were excited about the prospect of doing more skiing at Christmas. I now know that the next time we go skiing we will have to start at the beginning again and that our skills will not be what they were when we ended our holiday. We will all have to have  a little patience with ourselves and then we will all have our “ski skills” back.

Until next year this Princess is hanging up her skis, and going to have a long soak in a hot tub for a week.

A Home Away from Home

IMG_7178When friends of ours announced a few years ago that they had purchased an apartment in Bulgaria my first reaction was “Who on earth would want to go to Bulgaria?!” We were fortunate enough to meet these friends last year at their place and enjoy some time getting to know the country. By the end of the week we had put an offer in on a place of our own there and the Muppets were excited about the prospect of returning to Bulgaria for a yearly ski trip and my husband and I were excited about having  a home away from our Doha home.

We landed in Sofia in the early hours of the morning and began our journey to the town of Bansko where are new apartment and lots of snow waited for us. We hadn’t seen the place since the day we put the offer on it and honestly couldn’t remember what was there or even where it was located in town!

After a two hour drive through winding mountain roads, and a little guess work we finally arrived at our front door. The Muppets were excited about the amount of snow in the ground and the three of them couldn’t decided if they wanted to go to the pool or play in the snow first. We made our way in to the apartment and started to settle ourselves in. Once bags were unpacked and sleeping arrangements set up we sat in our living room/kitchen/dining room and my husband and I happily talked about how pleased we were with our little piece of Bulgaria.

Our next day started early, the Muppets decided that 5 o’clock in the morning was an appropriate hour to wake up. I stayed warm in bed while my husband made the boys some breakfast, it wasn’t long before I heard some cursing coming from the kitchen. As I walked down the small hallway I realized that my feet were freezing and it was really cold in the main room. The one heater in that room was not doing a very good job and I started to make a mental list of things that we needed to grab to make things more comfortable. I sat at the kitchen table and my husband handed me a  coffee and baileys and began to tell me about the nightmare of cooking in our small kitchen. Every time he tried to make toast he would trip one of the breakers, the same thing went for the kettle and the microwave. The heater kept on turning off as well which was probably why my feet were icicles. One of the muppets yelled from the bathroom that there was no toilet paper and we realized that the toilet was leaking water and the water heater was dripping in to a bucket! Once the kids were fed the two of us sat drinking our coffee wondering if we did the right thing buying this place.

We decided to make a list of things we needed and thought we would ask some people about a place close to town to buy a few necessities. We soon realized that most of the people in town did not speak very good English and apparently no one had need of a shop like Wal-Mart or Ikea! We figured we would have to drive all the way back to the main city, to get what was on our list but we would see what we could find on the way. The Muppets reluctantly got in to the vehicle leaving their dreams of playing in the piles of snow behind and we drove back through the mountain roads. We decided to try a shop about a half hour away in a larger town. We were pleasantly surprised that it was a cross between an Ikea and Costco and found most of the items we needed. We were directed to a few other shops to find the remaining items on our list and after a strange lunch of ham, cheese, peas and carrots on pizza we found ourselves in a more optimistic mood heading back to Bansko

When we arrived home the Muppets helped bring in all the groceries and I stuffed them in to snow suits and sent them out to burn off some energy. My husband brought the management company down to look at the toilet and ask about out electrical problem. I unpacked and organized as they gave him a lesson on which outlets could be used for what appliances and the promised to come and fix the toilet the following day. An hour later I sat in a warmer more homey apartment sipping hot chocolate and watching the Muppets frolic in the snow outside. At that moment I knew that we had made the right choice and that our family was going to make many memories in our little piece of Bulgaria. It was just like any new place, you have to figure out how everything works… the people, the roads and even the appliances.

By the end of our short stay we had our little routine and we had made it our home away from our Doha home. There are still a few things that need tweaking  but the four frogs and this princess are all looking forward to our next adventure together in Bansko!