Parenting on Sabbatical and the Power of Gummy Bears

 [Note: We’ve been home several months now, but had written a few draft blogs before we left. This is one of them.]

“Honey, let me wipe them off. They are all over your face.”

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The sadness of a mountain top without your boogers.

“NO!”

I wipe her face.

“MOM!!!!! Put them back! I didn’t want you to take them!! PUT MY BOOGERS BACK!!”

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Norway with kids? A-ha!

We were a bit weary ahead of our trip to Norway, knowing that we had a full schedule of planes, trains, buses and boats packed into five days with two kids that we would have to motivate to keep up. What young girls wouldn’t want to visit Norway, the land that inspired Arendelle the mythical country featured in Frozen? Ours.

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Goofy faces on the fjord cruise

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Exploring Ireland (with kids)

We casually mentioned to friends and family back in the states last November that we were heading to Ireland in March for the kids’ spring break. Within a few days, three people had booked flights to meet us there. Turns out, most of the people we know in America are part Leprechaun and have been waiting for an excuse to visit their motherland and gather more lucky charms. We wanted to explore the Atlantic coast and were able to find a great house to rent that fit all of us on Dingle Peninsula.

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Dingle Peninsula coastline along Slea Head Drive

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A Weekend in Amsterdam (with kids)

“I can’t wait to go to Hamsterdam!” our four-year-old exclaimed shortly after we booked our late-March weekend trip.  And while a city full of giant, fuzzy rodents driving clear plastic balls to work or walking around town through colorful tubes sounded awesome, we had to break the news to her that Amsterdam did not have an “H” at the beginning of it. But (almost as cool?) there were going to be tulips. Millions of tulips, maybe gazillions. Tulips in every color: blooming here, blooming there, blooming like they just don’t care!

 

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Miffy the Dutch bunny greets you all over Amsterdam. She’s almost a hamster, ja?

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Swimming in Thermal Baths: Heavenly or Hot Mess?

Going to a thermal bath/pool was at the top of my list of ‘Switzerland Goals’ this year, and it overlapped quite nicely with our girls’ constant drive to find a pool. Finally, in Locarno near the Swiss border with Italy, I found my opportunity. Even though it was February, the pool was warm (a terrific 95 degrees F), and you could swim to both indoor and outdoor sections of the same pool. The outdoor part had an *amazing* view of Lake Maggiore and the nearby mountains of both Switzerland and Italy. It was the perfect thing to do on a February afternoon that was a bit too cold to spend outside. What I didn’t realize is that what I thought of as the perfect confluence of relaxation and fun, turns out to be my husband’s own personal hell. In retrospect, I can see where our paths diverged.

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A Weekend in Bellinzona, Switzerland (with kids)

“What is that yellow circle emoji in my weather app next Friday?”  Barry wondered out loud as he scanned the ten day forecast for potential places to do a weekend trip.  “The sun.” Jana replied.  That’s right, a sunny day was being forecast for a weekend in February in Bellinzona, Switzerland.  Within an hour, plans were finalized for a quick trip down into the Italian-speaking, and slightly warmer, region of Switzerland. Unfortunately, the next day that forecasted yellow circle emoji was replaced with a cloud.  We went anyway–there are palm trees there, how cold could it be?

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Castlegrande overlooks one side of Bellinzona’s old town

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Basel’s Winter Carnival (Fasnacht)

Beginning the first Monday after Ash Wednesday each winter, the normally reserved Basel-folk don masks, grab their piccolos and let their freak flags fly for exactly 72 hours straight. Okay, by “freak flags” I mean lots of marching, confetti and satire – this is Switzerland, after all. Basel’s Fasnacht is said to be the largest carnival in Switzerland and dates back to, at least, the 14th century (many city archives were destroyed in the earthquake of 1356, so it is hard to say exactly when it began here). Continue reading