Monday, April 27, 2009


Here we are at the 1-ring Busch-Roland Circus! It was a fun time for everyone -- even E did OK with it. We saw trained llamas, tight-rope walkers, jugglers, and other acrobats. One highlight was the Mongolian trick riders -- turning around, dragging their feet or head on the ground, and the most amazing one climbed under the horse, of course all tricks done while the horses were galloping. The kids got to ride the horses after the show.
We loved the motorcyclists. 15 people stood in the cage while 2 motorcycles rode around them. Crazy? A bit. That cage is not very big. I was especially amazed when one of the guys on the outside of the group reached his arm way out to get his phone and take a picture. Then the people exited the cage, all limbs intact, and 3 motorcycles rode around, literally upside-down at times. Lots of media were there because of the motorcycle act, so everything slowed down in order to accomodate the photographers. They got their own turn in the cage.

Look! We harvested the first radishes from our garden! V liked the radish a lot, and M did not. More will be ready this week, and the other plants are growing well!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

funny stuff

We played I Spy in the van a couple of times in Egypt. Our favorite moment went like this:

V: I spy with my little eye something red. (I won't try to write phonetically, but remember that she has a lisp and l and r = w.)

Us: Lots of guesses.

V: Good guess, but that's not it!

Us: Guess, guess, guess.

V: No, no, no. It's something red and it's all around us.

Us: We give up already.

V: It's sunburn!

And here's a funny from her big brother, this also came up during a car ride. We saw a young Czech soldier on the street and had a discussion about his uniform and why he didn't have a gun.

M: I saw some soldiers with Daddy and they had big machine guns (note: this is true). There were two of them and they were twins.

Me: Oh, you mean they looked alike because they had the same uniform on?

M: No, they had the same head.

No real funnies from E this week -- she does make us laugh, but you know, you had to be there. Tonight M nearly fell over laughing when E knocked her bowl over and got pears and avocado all over the table and me. V used to love avocado mixed with her fruit, and I gotta say it's pretty good. Makes me wonder about fruit-avocado salad possibilities.

Friday, April 17, 2009

science fair and baby food

M's preparing for the school science fair, and he's doing one of the most classic projects ever -- he planted radish seeds and is growing them in full sun, partial sun, and in a closet. Good times.
E had her first baby food yesterday! She had rice cereal and liked it very much. M got a big kick out of that confused look she had when I gave her the first spoonful. She's looking off-camera in these shots because V was next to me. Our baby girl often finds her brother and sister more interesting to look at than her parents. Not surprising at all, as they are more entertaining. She likes to watch M especially, because he talks with his hands and has an expressive face, to say the least.

E loves her feet right now. She can't quite get them in her mouth, you can guess why.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

pyramids with kids

To get to the pyramids, we took a 1 hour flight to Cairo and a 2-hour 1-hour (they said 1 hour, it took 2) drive to our hotel. The drive was long, but so fun. This was my first visit to a third world country, and I absolutely loved it. It was so lively and fun -- the major hold up on our trip was a stalled car being pushed by 8 boys in the middle of a crazy street. There was rubble and there were horses being bathed in dirty canal water; no one drove in their lanes and pedestrians were everywhere. Favorite sighting: sign for Pyramid Poultry Co. The picture above is our hotel, the historic Mena House. According to Elizabeth Peters, my font of all Egyptian knowledge, it sprang up as a competitor to Shepherds, the original high-end hotel in Cairo for foreigners. Mena House has grown a lot since then and is managed by Oberoi hotels, an Asian chain. It's lovely in every way and the food was marvelous. We ate lots of Indian food, something they do very well. I haven't had Indian food in so long! The best thing about Mena House is that it's at the foot of the pyramids, you can walk right over. A couple of the restaurants have lovely views of the Great Pyramid.
And here we are! I can't use enough superlatives to explain how happy I was to see the pyramids. I've been thinking about it since, and trying to figure out why I liked it so much. I think it comes down to my love of new things -- I felt the same happiness when touristing at the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. It also is a totally unique site, and one that was quite different from anything I'd seen before. The thing is, I've done a ton of touristing in Europe, so seeing another cool castle is indeed cool, but not overwhelming. The pyramids and Cairo in general were new and exciting for me and I'm so glad we went. Guess we need to make some more trips outside of Europe! Anyway, the rest of the family loved the pyramids as well. As I thought, this kind of outdoor tourist site is great for young kids. V just played in the sand if she got bored. Behind us in this picture is the Great Pyramid. Did you know? The Great Pyramid of Giza was the tallest man-made structure until the Eiffel Tower was built in 1889. Wow.

Here is Kafre, very close in size to the Great Pyramid. I posted this picture so you could see a bit of the texture of the pyramids. My photos aren't good enough to do it justice, but the texture is really beautiful. A combination of straight lines and randomized breakage, from 5,000 years in the elements. Organized rubble is what it looks like, and I just couldn't get enough of it. The top of Kafre is covered with limestone, and apparently it all was once. We went inside this one, everyone except E. The passage is low, so adults have to lean over while going up and down in a narrow passage. I confess to a short moment of nerves when I thought about all that very old stone above me, but chose not to think about it any more! It was fun to imagine how crazy the excavators were who expored all these with limited tools. M went inside twice, with Nathan and then again with me. The adults might have felt the lack of oxygen in the air, the stress of climbing up a steep passage while bending over, but M was bouncing he was so comfortable. All that's left inside is a sarcophagus.
The Sphinx! All the kids had a bit of trouble understanding that there is only one Sphinx. My kids and one of the friends with us thought that there must be more -- singular Sphink, plural Sphinx, right?
There's a nice overlook that we visited and got some great shots of all the pyramids together. I was impressed with the area -- they've got the whole area walled and gated. They heavily limit souvenir selling and other commercial stuff on the property. Cars are limited as well. The end result is that the views are protected and you get a real feeling of being out in the desert at the pyramids, even though you're in the middle of a large suburb. Policemen on camels are constantly running off the souvenir hawkers and guys selling camel rides. In this shot, Kafre looks taller than the Great Pyramid. M noticed this, but explained to me that it was an illusion. Smart cookie.
M and I took a ride on a camel. V sat on a camel, but didn't feel like going up. She and Nathan and E rode on a cart behind a horse. This was a great experience for M -- he wanted to go on the camel, but once we were up, he was scared and asked to get off. Then he quickly got used to it and later didn't want to get down. We were proud of him for sticking it out so that he could enjoy the ride. Camels are not comfortable, by the way.

this one's for Gramma

My dear Gramma has a picture of me very much like this one, so I had V pose for her. She was quite the bathing beauty this week. I was especially happy to see how brave she got in the pool. After a day or so, she was swimming independently (with floaties on). I'll probably have several posts about our trip over the next few days. It was absolutely fantastic and I've got lots of pics, I won't subject you to all of them. Here are just some general pics from the resort in Hurghada.
Nathan spent so much time playing with the kids in the water, while I played with the baby. E got in the water a few times, but got cold pretty quickly. She likes the pool, though, and splashed around a lot. E was the youngest baby we saw at the resort, and she got lots of attention. She floats like a cork. The resort was very family-friendly. The pool shown here was just outside of our building, the family building. Each room is actually 2 adjoining hotel rooms. The pool had a deepish side and a very shallow kiddie pool. The big pool was heated for the first few days and then mysteriously got cold. Next to the pool is a playground and bar, which served ice cream every afternoon. That was pretty much the best part of the food. It's an all-inclusive resort and the food was like cafeteria food, without the yummy school rolls. The kids liked it and the grown-ups found it edible, if not exciting.
This is what I did the whole trip! Seriously, I spent every morning relaxing in our room or on our porch while E took a nap. Nathan did super-duty playing with the big kids, and I hung out with the one who needs me the most. That would be why I'm still as white as I was at the beginning of the week. Good thing I didn't go there hoping to get tan!OK, E spent a lot of time with her Daddy too, not just me. The Baby Bjorn did overtime, since E loves it.

Hurghada is on the Red Sea, across from the Sinai Peninsula. It's a big Russian destination. No one believed us when we said we were from America. The beach is man-made and quite nice. It's apparently illegal to remove anything from the Red Sea, especially coral. That was mentioned more than once, but we only got one warning about the water not being safe. Priorities? Anyway, the weather was all we could have hoped for. Blue skies, sandals, so refreshing after a long winter. Of course, Prague finally found some spring weather just as we were leaving and is gorgeous today. My garden's very happy.

Friday, April 3, 2009


Just have a sec, because I'm in the middle of packing for ... EGYPT! Yes, we're going to the (man-made) beach and to the pyramids and possibly we'll all get sick from the water, but we're going to EGYPT! OK, so the kids are crazy excited and I think M's teachers have heard about this trip every day for the past 2 weeks. It's a common destination for Czechs, because it's pretty close and pretty cheap and hot when it's so terribly cold here. 4.5 hours on the plane, in the gosh-darned middle of the night. I think the US has laws against flights in the absolute middle of the night. Maybe for noise reasons? Anyway, Europe doesn't have that problem and lots of flights leave at really strange times. We've always avoided that, but we're giving it a go since it's the only way to get to EGYPT! (OK I'll stop the caps now, but you get the point) I've made activity books with coloring pages, etc., all about Egypt and also about Moses and Joseph. We'll be at the Red Sea, so the Moses thing seemed appropriate. We really lucked out because another family at school were also thinking about Egypt during the Easter break, so we've planned our trips together. What's better than hanging at the pool? Hanging at the pool with friends. We even started our kids on swimming lessons a few weeks ago so they wouldn't be freaked about the water. There was no freakage, by the way. Both of the kids lurve swimming and never want to get out of the pool, so I have high hopes for a good week. The only open question is how I'm going to do with the lack of sleep ... supercrank mom is a very bad thing. And what about the baby who really likes to go to sleep in her own bed? I guess she'll figure it out :)