Three Muppets Skiing 

  
Three new snow suits were purchased, new gloves and ski goggles sat on the kitchen table and three excited muppets waited for our first day of skiing in Bulgaria. 

We have skied two previous years out here and unfortunately our first day skiing has always been the worst. Every year there has been frustrated muppets and husbands, tears and in one case almost divorce. I gently reminded the muppets and myself that we were going to have to practice the first day and remember the skiing skills that we acquired last year. I explained to them that they may not be on the big hill right away and that they would have to listen to their instructor. The three of them remembered their frustration at the beginning of last year and agreed that it was going to take a few days to get back to where they were at the end of last year. 

I decided that this year I would take a lesson with a friend as well. This would keep my husband and I apart for my initial remembering how to ski morning and I was also hoping he could give me a few pointers. Once we got the children in to their lesson my friend and I found our instructor and he asked us to do a run down the small hill to see where we were at skiing wise. The two of us made our way slowly and deliberately down the small but steep slope. At the bottom we met our instructor, he asked both of us how we felt with that run. We both shrugged our shoulders and said we thought it was ok. He smiled and shook his head and then said in his thick Bulgarian accent “You are both not so good skiers, you are doing so many things wrong”. We both laughed and followed him to the nursery slope, he explained that with our skills at that moment taking us to the top of the hill we would only be worried about one thing… getting to the bottom of the hill alive! I told them that was exactly how I felt about skiing at all times!!! During our two hour lesson he showed us a bunch of thing we were doing wrong and how to ski the proper way and at the end we both felt a little bit more confidant in our skiing. 

The afternoon and the following days consisted of the muppets getting more and more confident in their abilities. Everyday they were a little faster, and able to go down a different run. By the time our friends from the UK arrived they were happy to ski from the top of the hill. My abilities on the other hand had not gotten quiet as strong as my children’s. My fear of totally hurting myself held me back and I was always last down to the bottom of the run (like super duper last). I am very thankful they have a father who loves to ski as much as they do and I started to ski on my own and enjoy hot chocolate and my book a little more than the slopes. 

On our last day of skiing the muppets reluctantly put on their snow suits and climbed in to the ski van. All five of us were exhausted and if we hadn’t pre-purchased lift passes I think we would have decided to stay in bed for the morning. When we got up to the hill the muppets did their regular warm up before the instructor came. Once they were going they were happy to be out on the hill. The muppets had their two hour lesson, mummy had her two runs and two hot chocolates and Daddy was able to ski for two hours with friends, the morning was a success and when we stopped for lunch the vote was to do more skiing in the afternoon. As we loaded everyone on the ski lift the muppets talked about going up to the “big hill” they were eager to do a big run with their dad. I on the other hand had some reservations about that run. The previous day it was busy and icy and at the end my legs felt like they were going to fall off. My husband suggested that I follow him and the kids in the big snake line. “Ya mummy, you can just follow us down in the big snake, don’t worry we will take care of you. The middle muppet encouraged me. So I agreed to take the big run with them. 

Right from the start I was behind but just kept going at my own pace. As I passed the middle muppet he said “You are doing great mum just keep going”. I approached the last hill in the run and watch the oldest and middle guy make their way down. The youngest was standing beside me and his father told him to follow me down since he was going to go anther way. Then he changed his wording and told the youngest he should lead me down the hill. The youngest smiled at me and said “Come on Mummy, I will take you down with me.” I followed him slowly down the hill, “Come on this side Mummy, it is easier” he shouted. I followed his lead and we skied together to the bottom of the run. “Good job mummy, you are doing very well” he said with a smile. We met their dad at the chair lift and I decided that I was finished for the day and the four boys went off together and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon skiing. 

Our last day of skiing was as good as our first this year, there were no tantrums, no tears and no divorce papers. The muppets have grown as skiers and are officially incredibly better skiers than their mother and probably will be from this point on. I think that in the future, ski time will be spa time for this princess but we will see. With the encouragement from the three muppets I may give skiing another chance next year! 

A Bulgarian Christmas 

  
We landed in a familiar airport with friends the day after we were all off for school holidays. It was the busiest I had ever seen the small terminal and as we walked out to grab a taxi the cool crisp air and smell of the city greeted us. Instead of heading to our apartment in Bansko right away we thought we would spend a few days exploring the city of Sofia. We have flown in to the city twice already but never took the time to see what it was all about. Traveling with two other families from Doha gave us an excuse to see some new sights. 
The muppets were happy to explore the city, spend some time at a German Christmas market and of course watch the new Star Wars movie. Everywhere we walked there were twinkling Christmas lights and even through there was no snow in the forecast the need for hats and mittens made it feel very wintery. 
We left our friends in the capital city for an extra day and the Wilson Family made their way to Bansko. After a long drive through the pretty mountains and only getting lost once we pulled up to one of our favourite stores. This shop is a mix between IKEA, Costco and a liquor store. The muppets enthusiastically entered the shop remembering all of the great things that we had found there the year before. The walls were stocked with Christmas decorations, winter jackets, twinkling lights and toys! We had no trouble filling the cart with goodies, sausage, beer and even a little Christmas tree. Once our little car was filled to the brim we started on the last leg of our journey and pulled in to our apartment complex in record time. 
Our little apartment was just as we left it and the muppets were quick to claim beds and to head outside to play in the court yard. We spend the evenings rattling in and just enjoying being in our place, it is the only home we have that is truly ours at the moment. The next morning everyone was up bright and early. The muppets were excited to head in and explore the town, plus all three of them needed new snow suits. We all walked through the familiar cobble stone streets of the town, popping in and out of shops. The smell of burning wood from all of the houses was a consistent smell all over town and the sunshine made it a lovely day to be outside. 
The next few days we were joined by our friends from Doha and Canada and we kept busy. The muppets skated, skied, enjoyed lots of local foods and played with friends. Our Christmas Day was quieter than most we have had in the past but we enjoyed the family time and the big group dinner we did on Christmas Night. 
Since moving overseas we have had Christmas’ in Doha, Cyprus, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and now Bansko. Each one has had its great moments and made many amazing memories but one thing remains constant. The five of us have been together, happy and healthy (other than a few runny noses) and I am grateful for that. This time of year we miss our family and friends back home like crazy and thankfully we have friends around us who make it a little easier to be away from them at Christmas. 
We hope that this holiday season has brought you all much love and happiness. 
Merry Christmas from the Four frogs and this Princess