Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Italy - from Ski to Climb

Well the skiing is over - we all survived without anything broken. Bear got a really bad black eye - but that is it. We skiied France on the last day and really regretted it. There was a blizzard - freezing cold and snow blowing sideways. We got our crepe and hot chocolate (both not that great (and 28 euro) and headed back to sunny Italy, vowing to never return to the cold, windy depths of France again.

It really was quite hairy. Thought one of the kids was going to pack up and just sit there and freeze. Not sure what the plan was if they did. The two girls were howling with tears. So cold, there neck warmers were frozen in position and even with toe and hand warmers I couldn't feel my face, fingers or toes. But to their credit they continued on, uphill for 300m (to avoid going down a 2km run and then back up another really long chairlift. When we got back to sunny, calm Italy, the temptation was to go straight back to the apartment and watch a movie. To their credit, they let us drag them to a warm restuarant (that required going up another chairlift) and we thawed out while drinking hot chocolate (and gluwein) and eating some pretty great pasta.

We left La Thuille very happy, vowing to come back to Italy next year for another shot at skiing, this time the Dolomites. Love the combination of skiing and great food. With Switzerland we skiied and ate what was put in front of us - here - we ski, we look forward to lunch, we ski, we look forward to dinner. Food is as much a part of life here as breathing (or if I was Italian I would say smoking).

Let me rewind - C girls birthday was pretty great. She loves her Ipod Touch and hasn't stopped finding all the extras that it does. Xmas eve included a really lame snowboarding santa - the kids sobbing themselves to sleep (he only gave the italian kids presents on xmas eve) and waking up to discover that there was a total of 1 present waiting for them. They were okay about those presents (a local doll for the girls and pinochio for bear) from Santa, plus a La Thuille t shirt - wow you say. But a mountain bike (with gears) each (from us, and a pair of rollerblades, a lego cargo train and strawberry shortcake doll, plus a popcorn machine is waiting at home for them - so they can keep the xmas spirit alive for 2 more weeks and know that it is all in the waiting.

Yesterday we went from La Thuille to Florence. Went via Milan - then a high speed train for 1 3/4 hours. Spent way to much time in line waiting for the train, which was booked out - so we had to go 1st class (still had to wait for the 3rd train after we got there). Have already booked for tomorrow's trip to Rome, got it at the same time as our tickets to Pisa, so maybe we learnt something.

Oh - that's right - we went to Pisa today......Pisa, walk through very italian streets from the train station. Walk for 1/2 hour - very pretty - in the light rain - then you turn a corner and - it takes your breath away. Very beautiful, very angled, very amazing that your children are experiencing this world spectacular sight at the ages of 6,8 and 11 when you have to wait 39 years to see it, okay, 31 since I heard of Pisa, but still - that's a long time.

We got back to Florence (Firenze) at 3. Went straight to the Duomo - so we could climb the 463 steps to the top of the dome. It was pretty spectacular - got there at 5. Just enough light to take some spectacular photos of Florence. After which we grabbed an ice cream, walked the christmas lit streets and wandered to a resturant. All 3 kids tasted all of the antipasto - even liking the chicken liver (even after they found out what it was), then having something different for main. C girl had Risotto (with blue cheese) and salmon gnochi last night - calamari tonight. She is trying food without any argument. It is so unusual that we may not know what to do with ourselves by the end of this holiday.

Obviously she has been milking the whole"I don't like this......." for way too long.

Tomorrow we are going to see Michaelangelo's David - also hopefully the main museum. Got a train to Rome at 1:10. Not long enough to see everything - but as they say - you don't DO Florence, it is a place you can come back to again and again and discover new things every time.

We are just trying to not kill the magic. A lot of nutella is being consumed on this trips in the way of crepes (energy food).

PS - I am having champagne for breakfast - not because I need it, or even want it at 8 in the morning - but because it is part of the buffet breakfast - and hey, why would I knock back champagne????

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Today she is 11

C girl is 11 today. How much has our life changed in 11 years. From 6 pound 9 ounces of princess who we would each hold her hand as she fell asleep (Yes, we were suckers who later paid dearly for that) to a 40kg, swimming, athletic, football playing, great skiing young lady. Basically since the day she was born, nothing has been too good for this girl.

Yesterday we ended up at the Roman ruins in Aosta. On Tuesday night we ran into Suzy who told us about the tour going to Pila the next day. Pila is a snow resort that is in the mountains above Aosta. We decided to go and were very apprehensive at 7:45 when it was bucketing down with snow here in La Thuille. Pila is called – ski in the sky. It was sunshine, waist deep in powder and very beautiful. You could see the Materhorn in Switzerland and Mont Blanc in France from the slopes.

We started skiing with the group – but they were a bit slow – so we left them at 12 and did our own thing. Kids were a bit silly though (okay, I might have said stupid). You just can’t do anything in waist deep powder snow. To add more excitement, they went further and further into the fresh powder on the sides of the runs. There were a few jumps, so I can understand some of this. But after C girl almost got stuck and realised all I was going to do was add verbal support, she then went down 20m and did it again. Only this time a lot worse. After the crying started because she couldn’t move with one ski, it took me 20 minutes to find her other ski. I found lots of tree branches, but no ski for quite a while.

We skied there until 2:30, then came down to the bus, changed shoes and went off in search of shops and ruins. We found both. Not the same atmosphere as Germany in regards to Christmas, but it was definitely better than Jakarta. As for ruins – the city is built up around them. It’s part of the infrastructure – just happens to be a 2,000 year old wall as part of this building........found an excellent football fan shop – with all Italian stuff. Unfortunately Jack (otherwise known as “I’m hungry” or Luigi) wanted only Liverpool and couldn’t understand why we would not buy it from a shop in Italy (for 65 euro) – yes there were socks and shorts – but I haven’t even tried to find it in Jakarta - the real sort that is (that aren’t there own thermal heat machine). Will try there first, then relent.

Today we are going to France – fingers crossed the international crossing is open. We really want to have crepes for lunch. The plan after lunch is to go dog sledding (or mushing). Santa is going to be around town from 4:30 – so we need to be back for that. We are all having huge issues being awake after 9 and sleeping to after 6, so there will be no church tonight (it never has been but there is a very cute tradition after of sharing “panettone, hot chocolate and hot spiced wine. For us the day will end in Roast chicken (the birthday girls favourite) and fingers crossed – birthday cake (if we can organise it).

Everyone up now - just had a great unhealthy breakfast, poached eggs, thick bacon, french bread and strong coffee (okay - kids didn't have the coffee).

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Italy - skiing

Tuesday -22nd. We just finished a second great day of skiing. We had 2 feet of snow overnight – powder (a word not familiar to Australians) – put the skiing at about 300% better than anything in Australia (and well worth the flight).

Kids are having a great time. In a routine now. Ski all day, come home for a movie, then out to dinner. Went to a great restaurant last night. Got the Ingham special (not the chicken people). 5 course dinner, with accompanied wine in a roman gothic restaurant. Kids just had steak and potato (and soup), we had the works. Delicious.

It is so funny skiing here, the language is so lovely and the way people talk to each other is stereotypical. We are calling the kids Franchesca, Luigi and Maria. Just realising now how racist Nintendo is. Everyone here seems to have the names you would expect (Fabio, Mario, Luigi etc) and all the speaking is straight out of a Mario bros game. We are putting an effort into speaking Italian with the following phrases – hello, we don’t speak Italian, do you speak English. Everyone has been responsive to that.

We have said about 100 times today how fabulous it is that our family is on this holiday. The kids are really enjoying skiing with us. They are really good and are doing the black runs without fear. J is having a great time going through thick powder – he has fallen off more than anyone – but that is because we aren’t as good as him and he is entertaining himself by doing tricks (and coming a croppa). I am practicing my 360 turns.

Lots of British people here and it’s really nice to hear their accent. They are the dags of Europe – so obviously I can totally relate.

The kids have experienced zero culture. There is a roman ruin in Aosto 1 hour away – we came through it (it was a 2 minute train change (where I had to run to buy the tickets for the next leg and had C girl screaming at me to ruuuuunnnnnnn Mummy). Imagine – Roman Ruins – and I’m soooooo close. Apparently I have to wait to be in Rome – then I can see as many roman ruins as I want (am I holding everyone to that).

The plan tomorrow is to ski in France – we haven’t done it yet – too tired yesterday and today there was too much snow. Tomorrow will be the charm.

Sorry – have to make my Indo – Italian comparison. Same – everyone seems to smoke everywhere AND (I am not obessed with toilets) yesterday we had coffee/hot chocolates in this cute little bar – and the toilets were squats. Yes, they were automatic flushing and had toilet paper (very unlike Indonesia on both fronts) – but you are kidding – I get sick of having to hold Munch over a toilet so she doesn’t fall in (especially annoying with ski gear). The kids skills on squat toilets are not increasing and frankly I don’t see this as a life skill of importance.

Kids just had a home made slushy. Snow from the roof outside our lounge window – with fruit juice poured over it. Big hit for the two little ones.

We are spending so much at the supermarket under us. We are so happy to have real food. Plus compared to Indo prices – we are getting a discount (bring on Rome).

Monday, 21 December 2009

Italy First Days

We got here, and it was worth the view when we got up in the morning.

32 hours from door to door. Car, planes, trains, bus and feet – we missed the boat part. Kids were brilliant, Munch fell asleep on the bus but we had to wake her up to walk the final 1km to the hotel (the bus driver kindly pointed the direction).

We had a few delays on the way. Both planes delayed leaving, plane into Milan delayed while they checked the runway for ice. Dumb train route. We tried to research the way there but everything was abbreviated. The train system here is 20 years behind Germany. Ended up wasting a bit of time and then having one train cancelled, only to the have the next delayed, to then miss a connection. But we got to Pieter St Didier after 5 trains. Time from plane landing until we reached the hotel – 11 ½ hours. Yes – 11 ½ hours. No we are not insane – thought it was only going to take 5 -6 hours.

Also – still worth the view when we woke up this morning. As J said when we were waiting in a train station in one the most beautiful station I have ever seen in Milan, we could be sleeping in a hotel only to wake up and not be able to sleep tonight (and be in a city), or we can keep awake this way, end up in our new home (for a week) and sleep all night. The people watching opportunities were endless in the train station.

We did have one very big bonus though. On our walk to the hotel we met a lovely Australian who works with Inghams (people who organise packaged holidays). She helped us with a suitcase then checked us in, then helped us to our room, then invited us to join their package tour stuff. She also gave us the English version of the town itinerary for Christmas week (that is up everywhere in Italian). Now we can see Santa in a few spots, Plus see a possessed Christmas tree that does entertainment after wandering around town on the 26th. We will report back on that Italian tradition.

Kids went skiing for two hours yesterday with their Dad. I wasn’t skiing until Monday because I wanted to walk around the village and have a look (but I forgot the camera) – but the kids wanted to start asap. They were way too tired and it was -14 degrees celcius. Two hours was it – but it was a good start.

We had snow fall last night – so now everything is covered in a blanket of snow. It’s only going to be -1 today – perfect for skiing. J has been up since 3:30 and the kids and I have been up since 5:30. He’s been doing work – kids have been playing DS – still a bit jet lagged. The plan today is to ski this morning. When they burn out we will just come home and have a nap – as we have dinner plans tonight (5 course dinner with wine included (part of the Ingham tour)).

C girl has been going okay on the food front. When we booked this in May we told her she would be trying everything when we got here because the food here is not spicy. She doesn’t like chilli or curry (only breakfast doesn’t include one of these for me) so the kids eat their boring food while we eat the fun stuff when we are at home(advantage of a housekeeper). The kids have 5 vegetables a night, so they aren’t getting away with bad food, but their menu hasn’t changed for a long time. When I asked her a week ago what 3 new foods were on her list of foods she regularly ate she named 2 things that I didn’t know she had tasted – let alone have they been added to her menu. Her mission from this holiday is to have 5 new foods that she regularly eats and that she tries food without complaint (this means eating more than 1 mouthful). This means she is to taste everything. So far so good, only one pretend choking/vomiting act. She is about to turn 11 and I think it’s a bit late to teach her that sometimes you just eat what you are given, it’s not always going to be what you feel like.

Anyway – it will be daylight in less than an hour, so we had better tidy up a bit – no one is coming in to do it for us (this could take some getting used to).

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

We're all going on a summer holiday

We're all going on a summer holiday,
but we're going to the snow.
I just wish more snow would fall over there,
Cause otherwise I'll be have to do something other than ski........

and the kids can't do happy hour for more than an hour (as L can confirm when Bear ran through the snow with no shoes on (who's that kid out there without a shoe on - oh dear (negative 20 degrees celcius), that's one of mine.....oops.

Who could be sad to be going on 3 weeks holiday to a country you have only ever dreamed of going to???????? Real Italian food - I have only ever heard of you......

Not me - new snow or not - I am having a FREEEZING white christmas - I AM SO HAPPY.

In 2 days, my wandering husband (who was home for 6 hours last night before leaving again (he left last friday)) - is going to be with his family for 3 whole weeks. Yes, there will be a blackberry involved, but as a friend of mine once said (referring to me and my 9 weeks a year of leave) - people who can go away for more than 2 weeks at a time don't have a real job.

I have no problem with that analogy for me, but J has a real job, hence the blackberry, laptop and the occasional distraction. But I'll take it over no holidays (or gasp, shorter holidays). There - I said it (good thing he does not ever read this).

Have a great family christmas.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Healthy Kids

It may sound cliche, but on the eve of my 39th birthday I am allowed to be a little sentimental.

I am so happy with my little family.

20 years ago I was never going to have children or get married.

3 1/2 months later I realised I was never going to be able to live without the guy I had just met.

4 years later I got married.

5 years after that I had my first baby.

At 28, I was 10 days away from my first child. All I hoped for was a child that wasn't shy or lazy . 2 things that I felt had more to do with my parenting than with any inherited genes.

I am happy to say I have 3 kids - and all of them are anything but shy or lazy.

On the exercise front the kids do a lot of activity during the week. The 6 year old does 2 hours swimming, 2 -3 hours football, 1 hour gymnastics and 2 hours PE classes. The 8 year old does 5-10 hours of playground football (soccer), 3 hours of structured football, 1 hour of rugby, 2 hours of PE and 2 hours of (reluctantly) swimming. C girl does 4.5 hours of swimming (about to up to 6), 3- 5 hours of football, 1 hour of T ball and 2 hours of PE (this is the off season for training).

On the food front we are really strict about junk food. Very lucky C girl hates all lollies/candy - always has. But no sweet things are in their lunch boxes. After school, 2 pieces home made brownies, or 2 homemade biscuits. Nothing purchased, never any more than 2. Desert is yoghurt every 2nd night, ice cream cone every other night. All lollies bought home from party are gone when walk in door, on the way home eat to your hearts content, then you never see it again (the staff take it home). It probably sounds over the top - but really we are just trying to save their teeth.

Shy - well, not sure what we have done on this front, but both J and I aren't shy. I can't stand people not getting what they want (or being ripped off etc) because they won't speak up. This may backfire - C girl is sure I am going to get beaten up when I get out of the car to stop cars from pushing in front of us (dont' worry, the driver is driving, kids aren't in car alone). But I've got to tell you - I don't suffer the fustration of waiting for too long for someone to let us cross (or to stop them from driving on the wrong side of the road because they want to make a 4 lane, one way road out of a 2 way, 2 lane road. (It's actually exhiliarating). Don't worry, this is when traffic is gridlocked - there is no car going above 10kmph.

But again I digress. Tomorrow the big B day. J away until Tuesday. But I am actually happier today than I have ever been in my life.

The main reason though - the kids are doing brilliantly, school wise, growing up wise, confidence wise, sports wise and well - just being really great kids - I would actually want to know them even if I wasn't related to them. I love our holidays, I love our family weekends, I love our movie nights and when we all have to pull together to finish assignments (I'm great at colouring in).

I should also point out - I am also VERY happy with my marriage and am very grateful that J is working very hard to provide this life that we are enjoying so much.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

A bear smile

This is the face of someone who has been sitting behind the bar unsupervised and is about to finish his 3rd or 4th softdrink (when he gets one a week normally if we remember to give it to him).

See - bears can smile too.
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C girl

When you have a baby - is this the type of smile you are waiting for? The one that says - I'm soooooo happy.

Can you fake a smile like this?

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Meet Munch - I overheard her the other day telling her father to just call her "Munch" from now on. She's too old for Munchkin.

Gorgeous should be her name.
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C girl birthday party

160,000 rp bamboo sticks (AUD20) - entertainment value - priceless

Posted by PicasaC girl had her birthday party a few weeks ago. It was a combined birthday party with 2 other girls in Year 6. It started as a pool party in the same place as last year and ended with a disco at one of the girls houses. It was a pretty great party - 35 kids, only siblings and the rest Year 6 kids. No riots or fights, everyone happy and getting along great.

the birthday girls
(why does C girl take after me when it comes to clothes and looking scruffy?)

Definitely the biggest hit was the disco. We waited until just on dark before we moved the kids over to the house. The bamboo torches were burning in the entry path, lei's were given to the girls to wear and swimming tubes were given to the boys (we couldn't find good water pistols and they still want to take home a present). When they entered there were bamboo torches burning outside the windows and the house was in darkness. There was a disco light (with coloured lights shining on it), a smoke machine, video/photo images on a big screen, glow stick bracelets and lots of kids killing the songs with their "singing" along.

Killing an otherwise good song

These boys can grove

Have no idea what we are going to do next year to top it. This year was half boys/girls - so that is an improvement on last year (where it was 90% boys, not that girls weren't invited, it's just they didn't come). Think we'll ditch the pool part and do something else around the disco (come on this is fun not hard work (and she isn't even 11 for another 18 days from now).

Jakarta Allstars

We've just had a completely football mad weekend. Coca Cola tryouts from 8 - 9:30 on Sat morning - then off to JIS for the JYS Allstars weekend for U11. It was a trial tournament to see if there was interest for the overseas tournaments that are held for the U13 and up age group.

After a month of tryouts and coaching, C girl played her heart out. Unfortunately only a 3rd place - they lost the first game, after losing heart in the second half (and they played the first half brilliantly).

C girl was the only girl in the tournament - but she knew at least half the boys in the two JYS teams, having played /trained with at least half of them over the past year in two seperate leagues. When the white team played the blue team, it ended in a draw, so they were pretty evenly spread (but the white team won (beating Arsenal)) - but great fun overall and I am pretty happy she was in the blue team.

Seeing Santa this afternoon at the ANZA kids christmas party. Need finish the weekend quietly with a party.