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 

Turkey Day

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The youngest Muppet woke me up yesterday morning whispering four words.  “Happy turkey day Mama” he kissed me on the cheek and left the room. I got up and went down stairs to find the three Muppets on the couch. The three of them each greeted me me with a good morning and happy thanksgiving. Since moving to Doha we have adopted American Thanksgiving as our own. Canadian Thankgiving is in October and it is always a busy month for my husband at work and with the kids at the American School it was easier for us to celebrate in November. Plus we have some amazing friends who put on a great feast every year.

The youngest Muppet had been looking forward to turkey for the past few days. We had talked about Thanksgiving and the three Muppets had been learning about it  in their classes at school as well. Yesterday morning my door bell rang bright and early. It was our neighbor form across the street with a pumpkin pie in  each hand. Their oven had stopped working and they had two pies, two big turkeys and a bunch of other Thanksgiving food to cook. After a little reorganizing we we were able to find ovens around the neighborhood to cook all of the food and by 5 o’clock the fest was ready.

The youngest Muppet inhaled his first plate of turkey in record time, he came and asked for seconds before I had even filled my first plate. With full bellies we all sat around the table and enjoyed each others company as the kids played around us. Just before dessert our host gathered the kids together and we all said what we were thankful for this thanksgiving. Most of the answers were similar and what your would expect… family, food and friends but there was one more common thing we were all thankful for.

We were all thankful for the adopted family we had found in Doha. All of us live so far away from our family and it can make holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas hard.  These people have become our emergency contacts, our sisters and brothers, our children’s aunts and uncles and the people we can count on to be there in good times and bad. We are so lucky that we have found such an amazing group of friends here in Doha and I am truly thankful.

Rain Day

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The first year we moved to Doha the country received the most rain it had seen in years. It happened to be the week my parents came to visit and it also happened to be incredibly cold despite being 18 degrees outside. We drove to the beach with warm jackets and blankets, hung out for a few minutes so that my mother could say she put her toes in the Gulf and drove home. Over the years we have had our days of rain, but it is here and gone before the day is out.

Yesterday morning we rushed around the house as we usually do, the Muppets were yelling about missing library books, needing goggles for swimming and packing concert clothes. As I opened the door to go and pack the truck we were surprised to see the rain falling. My desert babies (the Middle and Youngest) immediately ran upstairs to change in to pants and the oldest and I packed up the truck. The Muppets mood was happy on the way to school and the three of them commented about how much they loved the rain and wished it would rain more often. By the time we had arrived at school we just had a light drizzle coming down on our heads. There was talk all day about parts of the region flooding because of extreme weather. We joked about the school being closed the following day but no one had their hopes too high considering the skies were blue and the sun was shining.

This morning I woke up and opened the curtains, it looked like it had rained a little over night since the back garden was still wet but nothing serious. We packed up for a busy day of school, the muppets had a pajama day, Thanksgiving Celebrations, movie day and hockey in the evening. I told the boys that I wanted a photo of them in their pi’s to send to grandparents and we made our way out to the front step to take the annual photo. The youngest opened the door first and shouted “OH MY GOSH LOOK AT THE RAIN” The four of us ran to the door way, it was coming down in buckets and I stood there for a moment trying to remember which cupboard the Canadian Rain coats were in and if we had any umbrella’s in this country.

I got all three boys and all of our gear in the truck with out getting completely soaked and we made our way out of the compound. The oldest Muppet started freaking out, “Mum this weather is terrible I don’t think we should be driving in this rain!” I told him that I had driven through much worse and that it was only a little rain. It was more than a little rain, the street next to the compound was already flooding and this country has no drainage system a downpour like this is a big problem. We drove out on to the main road and slowly made out way to school, the traffic wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be and we pulled in to the school super early.

Half the parking lot was already under water so I decided to park on higher ground and hope for the rain to stop before we had to enter the school. It started raining harder and I decided to try and drop the kids off right at the gate so that they wouldn’t be totally drenched! I stepped out of the truck on to a fast moving stream up to my calves, as I made my way up to the guard house one of the security guards told me we couldn’t be on campus yet for security reasons. I ran back to the truck as quickly as I could but I was already totally soaked. I threw off my drenched flats and we parked in the parking lot and waited to see what was going to happen. For a few minutes we watched as security, teachers and leadership staff assessed the situation. Then the text came school was cancelled due to unsafe conditions, it was officially a “Rain Day”.

The Muppets were ecstatic, however they quickly changed their tune after we had been stuck in traffic for 45 minutes. The who city was a mess, streets were underwater or closed and people were making their own detours through sanded areas. Pick up trucks were pushing small cars through the deep waters and police were out in full force trying to direct traffic.

When we finally arrived home the Muppets went straight inside and changed in to their Crocs. The three of them had their scooters out of the house in seconds and were racing up and down the street splashing through puddles. The day was spent changing from wet clothes to dry clothes, mopping floors and drying Muppets. By 6:00 PM the puddles had started to disappear, Lucy and I found the Muppets and their friends enjoying one of the last big puddles on the street. The neighborhood kids drove bikes and scooters through the mucky puddle, every one of them soaked from head to toe and enjoying the last few minutes before they would be called in for a bath. It would be back to school the next day for most of them but lucky for us it is Thanksgiving weekend.

As I walked my drowned rats home the youngest muppet told me how excited he was for turkey day tomorrow “You know what I am thankful for Mama” he said with his toothless grin “Rainy Days!” I agreed that even amongst the chaos and madness it was a pretty great day.  We have had a Sand Day and a Rain Day now living in the desert, nothing compared to the Snow Days in Canada but we will take it if it means an extra long weekend.

Public Speaking

  
The oldest muppet has been learning all about persuasive writing this month. To finish off the unit he has to write a persuasive argument and present it to the class. The oldest muppet decided to write his persuasive argument about why he thought he deserved a dog for a pet. He told his father and I that he was going to try and convince us to get him another dog. 

After many revisions and changes he was ready to present his argument to us. As he started his speak he told me how nervous he was to speak in front of many people. I told him that I felt the same way and that even at his aunts wedding I was shaking and scared when I got up to do my speech. I told him that I had written certain things to help me along the way on my speech. I wrote things like “slow down” “eye contact” and “smile”. The oldest thought is would be a great idea for him to do the same.  

We sat down and highlighted places for him to make hand gestures. I wrote the words “eye contact” on the second page since he forgot to do that as he was practicing. I also wrote don’t forget to smile and he made some notes of his own. After practicing a few times for his father and I he felt that get was ready to do his speech in front his class. He ended up being one of the last people to present his persuasive argument. 

I wished him luck the morning of his big presentation. At the end of the school day he told me he thought he did well and remembered all of his cues and was only a little nervous. Today he brought everything home for us to review. He showed us his progress from start to finish and as we got to the end he told me that he got all 4s on his project!! I told him how proud I was of him not only for getting the 4s but for how he handled his fear of public speaking. 

The little boy who sang with his back to the audience at his first Christmas concert presented himself as a strong and confident speaker. He smiled and gave me a hug, ” I couldn’t have done it with out your and dads help” he said. I gave him a squeeze back and felt my heart swell with pride.