Dear Switzerland, what is it with playground rules?! (rant)


I have received 3 pages of new/reminder rules for the neighborhood playground this week. Most people who live here probably read german and with in a minute or two can absorb the info and share it with their family, and implement what ever new and unusual procedures are being required this season. But not me, I don’t speak good enough german for this. I can tell you where I purchase my apples and what time I have german classes but I have no idea what most of the words on these papers are saying. However I get the gist, be quite, don’t play, clean up, etc. Doesn’t this just seem completely contrary to playgrounds? Shouldn’t we just LET THEM PLAY?! I mean if they are to be quite-and-still at school, and quite-and-still inside these little tiny apartments, and certainly quite-and-still in the hallways and laundry rooms and anywhere else “inside”, shouldn’t they just go outside and PLAY!?? REALLY! I know you have anal tendencies here, it is like DNA that has been passed on for generations, but really, do we have to have sooooo many playground rules? What if we let the kids just PLAY?! What if they got to wiggle and jump and run and draw with chalk and squirt water and dig in the dirt and do summersaults and pick the wildflowers and climb up the slide the wrong way and heaven freakin forbid jump on the trampoline in the rain (the horror!). Or even more import and how about we let them jump on the trampoline when they are actually home- at lunch- on break from school- the place they are supposed to be quite and still? Instead you dear Switzerland forbid them to make noise at lunch- really? Is that why your children are walking around with pacifiers till they are 5? Is it because they have to be quite every freak-in where, every freak-in day? Heaven Help me already- I have been trying to hold this in for a whole year! And by the way check out this TEDEX talk… it can apply to you too. Hello Pilatus, maybe trust you employees a little more to just get the work done and still be able to get on the internet outside of the timed lunch hour (seriously? they are grown professionals) and if you really have people abusing your trust- fire them.

Windmills and Friday Links


No week of posting about Amsterdam would be complete with out a few Windmill photos.


Even the modern ones are beautiful to me.

lots of modern windmils too

I can’t wait to carve out a week or 2 one summer for a relaxing trip to the Netherlands, because doesn’t this place just scream.. SLOW DOWN!?

This weekend we will do some long walks, and bikerides which is really one of my favorite things to do on the weekend, especially after a long busy week : Axel spranged his wrist and is almost helpless, Sparticus was in Germany for a aviation conference, everyone is suffering from a little hay fever and, well, we are all worn out from sunny days in the sandbox, & playground. We are still on the hunt for a different flat with no luck, but since we are traveling and outside playing so often lately I’m not obsessing about it as often. Fathers day is coming up and of course schools almost out in the states and we are counting down the last 4 weeks of school before we hop on a flight stateside for the summer. Here are a few inspired links to check out over the weekend:

  1. Heres a project I can relate to.
  2. These kids and their story made me cry.
  3. Here is a list of cute (except for the tie, its ugly, don’t make goofy ties) homemade Fathers Day gift ideas.
  4. Sorry, another list but look at the last one– I think we are so doing this!
  5. Here is a new-ish Ted talk about parenting anxiety- have you watched it? It might make you feel a little better.



Keukenhof and Noordwijk~ Among Europe’s Must do Attractions

flower sign

I love visiting Botanical Gardens. I have been luck enough to live near several really impressive ones over the years – Long wood gardensbelingrath gardens, Missouri Botanical Gardens and loved to visit especially when the tulips bloom and the cherry blossoms blow good luck though the air.

petals fall under cherry trees

petals fall under cherry trees2

under the cherry tree

The world famous Keukenhof doesn’t try and be the biggest, it doesn’t have to advertise much, it is just the mother of all tulip gardens. Its only open for about 7 weeks, from the end of march through the end of may. People, buses and trains full of people, descend upon the tiny farming village for 7 weeks a year. The tourist invade the tulip fields (of course we did) for photos and the Keukenhof welcomes them with the efficiency and precision of a swiss watch. From parking to ticketing to feeding the massive amounts of guest, you’d never know that this is just a temporary-seasonal operation.

flowers everywhere2

The question of the day was “where to start?”.

big landscapes

Kuekenhoff is world famous and must be geographically located in the absolute perfect spot on earth where bulbs thrive because they are not only abundant but perfect. I didn’t see a wilted, drooping, scorched, or dead bulb in sight.

beautiful dark purple mascari too

beautiful coco


There were simply acres and acres of color (mixed with a whole lot of tourist).

flowers everywhere

Even with the massive numbers of people around I never felt crowded, Its like a huge park with room enough for everyone and their cameras.

flower petals in canal

flower petals floating in canal

We studied the weather for days and picked the afternoon with the most sunshine to visit, it was lovely.

rows and rows

montage flowers

The kids got to pet baby animals.

coco and lambs

petting zoo


I got to talk to a peacock.


What tulip garden in Holland would be complete with out a windmill? Not this one.

complete with windmill


There was a playground just in case you needed a break from sitting and looking at flowers.


playground 2

There was also a shrub maze that fascinated Axel but it wasn’t blooming so I didn’t take any photos of it. The GIANT cotton candy however was very impressive. I use the kids begging as an excuse to buy it and “share” with me. So pretty much the Keukenhof thought of everything.

giant candfloss

a little bit heavenly

Oh and there were swans, and fountains and ponds too.

swan too_


beautiful whites

beds of color

plantings between rocks

almost as big as her head

The tulips are almost as big as Coco’s head!

hydreangea macrophylla

Some of the hydrangeas were much bigger than her head.

hydreangea dress coco

river of mascari

And when Keukenhof closed at 7 pm we decided to stop a million times to try and photograph the unbelievable fields, miles and miles of fields packed with rows of colorful flowers.

mom and me and the tulips

rows and rows!

tuplip fields at 7-00pm

tuplip fields at 7-00pm 2

coco in field of red2

And I couldn’t resist jumping out of the car time after time to stand in the middle of all those flowers and snap a few shots of my baby girl- who of course wanted to pick them for her teachers, and for her friends, and the neighbor, and the bus driver, and the nice people at the grocery store, and, and, and. 
coco in field of red3We drove until the road ended at the Atlantic ocean in a town called Noordwijk and what we saw made me cry a little.

beach path

It was beautiful wide sandy beaches.

so happy to see the sea

sparticus at sea2

beautiful beach boy

It looked like it could have been Florida, or South Carolina, it was the most familiar looking place I had seen all year.

coco running from sea

And we ran through the warm-ish sand with bare feet for an hour until dark. And we loved it, and we had missed it. And we sent silent wishes across the big Atlantic Ocean to our loved ones on the other side.

running to camera

And it was a perfect day. Amen.

me at beach

Amsterdam Flower Market & Canal Tour

flower market cut flowers-forget me not_1
A visit to the Amsterdam Flower Market is worth your time especially if you are looking to purchase any variety of bulbs for your garden back home or if you are interested in Canibis starter kits.

pot kits

pot seeds

canabis lolipops

Of course the kids wanted lollipops the minute they spotted them… only 5 Euros for 6!

 The market host vendors of cut flowers, stunning mixed bouquets and 100’s of varieties to buy and mix-match yourself.

flower market bouquet

flower market cut flowers

But the bulk of the market is dedicated to Holland’s bulb business and while tulips are certainly the most famous I think the Amarylis stole the show. The size of these bulbs were impressive- I once purchased a giant double white amaryllis from a specialty “boutique” grower I lived near. It was beautiful. I remember the bulb seemed bigger than any of the discount kits (that include pots and soil) you can purchase at christmas time. This bulb was expensive- may 20 bucks?! These bulbs make that one look like a wee-baby-amyrilis bulb. In the photo below I set a 2 euro cent on the bulb to give it some perspective (its a little larger than a quarter) I know its hard to get an idea about how big these suckers are but trust me. AND the price…. 4.50! maybe 25% the cost I paid for the wee-one.

giant amarylis bulbs

incredible bulbs and incredible prices!

Giant Alliums are impactful but also expensive… not at the flower market- you can buy 3 for 5 Euro, normally you could order these 3 for 25-30$. A good price for 100 mixed quality bulbs would be at least 30$ in Amsterdam… less than 7.00 Euro! Oh how I wish I had a garden.

flower market 2

venus fly trapThe only souvenir we brought home is Axels new pet, a venus flytrap. It is growing in the window ledge and has 5 leaves now. It might just come in handy during the summer because we have no screen and no air-conditioning and the house flys are abundant (thanks to the cow manuer being sprayed all over the fields).

canal tour at train station

Next stop was the canal tour which is touted to be a must-do whilst visiting Amsterdam.

canal boat2

There are lots of different tour operators but the prices seemed to be consistent.

_axel is a beautful child3

Axel could almost reach up and steer the boat from his seat in front.

canal boat

We boarded a full boat and chose a seat up front- unfortunately the trick is (TIP) make sure you get a seat that the windows open up for good photo opportunities– sadly ours did not. I spent the whole tour trying to shoot photos over the guy behind me’s shoulder and he was not overly cooperative. All in all the tour leaves room for improvement, the recorded “guild” was hard to hear and its always tricky trying to time a tour with a recording. It’s a super touristy attraction and a nice chance to rest and see some beautiful examples of the typical architecture. 

love high contrast

I love high contrast trim and Amsterdam did not disappoint.

love high contrast and unique architecture

hooks on houses for moving in

Notice the big hooks on the tops of the buildings, these are used to hoist furniture up to the windows instead of trying to bring it up through narrow staircases. They are on all the houses in Amsterdam but also often seen in many larger European cities with narrow multistory houses. 

LOVE!!! archetecture for canal house_1I loved this row of houses, from the uber-traditional to the more modern designs, all playing together nicely side by side. And speaking of modern, along the harbor amsterdam’s new EYE is a architectural landmark, inside is a large cinema and eateries.

amsterdam eye_ cool architecture

amsterdam architectureHotels and Condo’s along the harbor are also home to great examples of big modern statement to the cities progressive ideals.

advertising on your houseboat helps pay rent

The most fascinating part of the canal tour was the house boats docked one after the other along the canals. There are a limited number of “slips” and none to be added so if you want to live on a houseboat in the city you practically have to wait for someone to die. I loved how some of the boats used there prime tourist real-estate to sell advertising space… we did not visit the cheese museum, it somehow felt wrong, disloyal to our host country Switzerland. But I could really see my self living in the Netherlands… at least April- October. 

Marken Island & Tiny Fishing Villages/Neighborhoods North of Amsterdam

more houses and street signs

hanging laundry pennants

Marken Island Is a small island (now connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway) just about 20 minutes drive north west of Amsterdam. It is easy to find on a map and can also be reached several times daily by tourist boats as it is a popular destination for tourist seeking a representation of traditional dutch architecture and lifestyle. For some time during the later 19th and early 20th centuries, Marken and its inhabitants were the focus of considerable attention by folklorist, ethnographers and physical anthropologist, who regarded the small fishing town as a relic of the traditional native culture that was destined to disappear as the modernization of the Netherlands gained pace. Today the town reluctantly welcomes many visitors daily who walk or bike through the island to see the old lighthouse, visit the wooden shoe factory/museum, and eat at one of the quaint restraints by the marina.

wooden shoe shop

Notice the old dead tree covered in carved wooden shoes to the right of the bridge. It was a little creepy.

 cute use of wooden shoes

wooden shoe shop with museumleft: shoe museum display center: Coco sporting souvenir painted wooden shoes right: impressively ornate carved wedding shoes


pastoral landscape with sheep

Pastoral European backdrops that once provided inspiration for Dutch landscape artist are at every turn.

baba black sheep

painted grout, details!!!

The painted details on individual houses are what separate one from another, while otherwise very uniform in style and color palette. I love the shutters and the white grout striping and the fence post tipped in white!

marken is drawbridge cananls montage

A traditional dutch style lunch of fish and chips called Kibbeling, tomato soup, (real) dutch apple pie and lemon aid was served at a cafe dockside. While waiting for the food I snapped a few shots of the family, the lighting was pouring into the window just perfectly.

daddys girl

kids and I

hot tomatoe soup2_1

hanging laundry


houses with matching outbuildings

We wandered around snapping photo after photo of the beautifully painted wooden houses with sharply contrasting white trim. Some where striped with white and green and others a solid shade of dark green or grey. The architectural review board must be very rigid but I admit that the uniformity adds to the charm. And the grassy yards dotted with shaggy little sheep, color pennant flays hanging across canals and alleys, beautiful tiny little fences doted with colorful flower-boxes, laundry drying in the breeze and children in waistcoats running through the brick streets make this village a peaceful postcard-perfect afternoon destination for long walks along the sea.

why white stripes_ beautiful but work!!!

darling houses- imagine constand painting

flower boxes on fence

beautiful sailboats

gables and harbor

long prominade lined with wildflowers

coco & dad

boys dressed in waistcoats_

For second-dessert we ate poffertjes- mini little dutch pancakes cooked in a hot iron mold and served up by a nice dutch couple in traditional outfits.

mini pancakes

mini pancakes_1

Outside of Marken Island there were example after example of lovely little cottages with traditional dutch details. In Switzerland we have beautiful old dark wood chalets and a multitude or rather sterile modern multifamily housing. I was daydreaming of a dutch cottage for days: painted shutters and little animals dotting the front yard, chicken houses that match the rambling little fairy tail cottages they are built next to, painted birds over windows and doorways, lace curtains and heart shaped wreaths, gates and fencepost and dutch doors and flower boxes and intricately carved gabel trimmings held my fascination as we drove and drove through charming little hamlets.

little houses with ornamental gabels

decorated gables

charming cottages

esparalles trees

Someday I am going to train espalier (a technique to train any type of plants to grow flat against a wall or fence) trees to line the sidewalks in front of my cottage too.

a few entrance details

painted details

little houses with paver streets2

I love the brick roads and sidewalks that seemed to line all of Amsterdam and its surrounding area.

duch gable design on facade with hiped roof_

Check out the traditional dutch gable detail that exist as a sort of dormer facade- breaking up the boring hipped rooflines.

houses with cute shutters and chickens in yard

farm animals in the yard2

look at all the decorative painting, colors, texturesI should have driven back to this property and taken proper photos, but just look at the painted trims and shutter details!

fairy tale house with little outbuildings

This photo absolutely does this little fairytale cottage in justice. The rambling assorted outbuilding and house additions were all matching down to the dog house and chicken coup. What might have looked like a hot mess is totally darling!

solo 2

I could have stayed here into the last warm days of autumn content to take photographs and long walks, paint like the old dutch masters and maybe even learn to shear sheep… but as you know that will have to wait for another season in life. In the mean time I think meeting up with a couple of girlfriends to properly explore the seaside and put a dent into the shopping opportunities that Amsterdam offers is going to have to be a priority next year!









Our Home Exchange in Amsterdam & What the Other European Cities Can Learn from the Dutch.

one of my FAVES!!!

i am amsterdam sign pose2

Hello friends! If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you may have seen a few photos from our recent trip to Amsterdam, which was for me, the highlight of spring break and one of my “Worlds Best Cities”.

typical bikes and canals

We had planned to dive the Red Sea in Egypt back when winters grip was draining all the life from me. Imagining hot weather and sunny beaches gave me something to look forward to as we pressed on through those long dark winter days Jan.-Feb. that really haunt me. And then when (in comparison to last year) we started having a really lovely spring with flowers blooming by March I began to dream about cramming in a visit to the Netherlands to see the tulip fields (which has long been on my life-list). So with little encouragement from a friend who raved about Amsterdam being one of her families favorite destinations, I frantically searched for a home exchange who would be willing to drive about 9 hours to swap for a less than a week. I was not terribly hopeful since my experience with many Europeans is that they plan holidays a year in advance and they like to stay somewhere for 2 weeks at a time.

We visited the beach at Noordwijk (near-ish to Kuekenhoff, we haven't seen the beautiful Atlantic Ocean since leaving Charleston. This was an unforgettable hour well spent!

We visited the beach at Noordwijk (near-ish to Kuekenhoff, we haven’t seen the beautiful Atlantic Ocean since leaving Charleston). This was an unforgettable hour well spent!

Thankfully we found Willemiek and Bram who must be like-minded last minute vacation planners and fellow creative spirits. I was delighted to meet their family when they arrived a few hours before our scheduled departure to exchange keys and tips. Willemiek works as a renown Documentary Film Maker in Amsterdam (check out this trailer) and Bram is the Theater Creative Director. They were both friendly and excellent English speakers, whom with out HomeExchange experiences, we would never have the opportunity to meet.

exchange partners

exchange partners enjoying Switzerland

Our children were of similar ages which is really helpful because the toys on both ends of the exchange were age, interest and gender appropriate when we needed the kids to play for a while when planning the next adventure or searching for the next good eats. The tips on public transportation helped us to have a smooth and stress free experience. I should also add that Amsterdam is well organized, signs are easy to identify and understand, and the people are sooo nice and friendly, which makes asking for directions a great excuse to chat with the locals. Their flat was a perfect spot to discover the city as well as some really quaint and easily accessible small fishing villages to the north of the city. One of the other perks to home exchanges is that it forces you to give your home a thourough scrub down before you leave. Yes that means that for days you are packing and cleaning, but doesn’t everyone prefer to arrive home to a clean and organized home?!

Here are a few things that the big cities around the world can learn from Amsterdam:

  • Amsterdam is the perfect mix of old and new. They implement modern transportation (kids loved the trams) and efficiency (and some architecture) seamlessly with quaint historical architecture and landmarks.
kids love trams

kids love trams

  • I was impressed with how well they accommodate mass tourism- better than any city I have ever seen. The main train station is easy to find and a hub for purchasing tickets to anywhere (the airport and the Keukenhof for example) but also to anything (like canal boat rides and prepaid museum passes).
  • I found that pricing to attractions was very standardized- there were some ways to save but I did not find different pricing at the train station than was offered down the street or across town. Getting ripped off was not a big concern- how refreshing!
canal boat tours & central train station

canal boat tours & central train station

  • In large public squares we spotted mobile phone charging station that allow all kinds of phones to plug in and charge up for free.
cell phone power pole

mobile phone power pole

  • We planned to visited the Van Gough early in the trip but arrived at the ticket office (a short distance from the museum ) and were advised that the lines for general admission were long (like as in hours and hours of standing and waiting for people to come out ~reminiscent of a JCrew sample sale). The sales agent informed us that the timed advance tickets for the day and the following day were sold out.  The idea of trying to wait in line with young children to enter a museum and stay for maybe an hours worth of attention-span was just not going to happen for us. We re-organized our itinerary and purchased an advanced TIMED tickets (please do this if you want to visit the art museums in the area) for later in the week. (Milan-could you take some notes? I know you have really popular museums (we waited in the really long lines) but maybe the Nederlanders can teach you how to more efficiently move people around, after all if they aren’t waiting in line, they are out spending money somewhere else in your city- I can testify to that!)
this is the only photo we were allowed to take in the Van Gough museum- its a photo of "Sunflowers" which was out on loan to another museum. So we have recorded proof of the only painting there that we did NOT see- haha.

This is the only photo we were allowed to take in the Van Gough museum- its a print decal of “Sunflowers” which was out on loan to another museum. So we have recorded proof of the only painting there that we did NOT see- haha.

  • I admit I am partial to English, and thank heavens I learned it growing up because I have discovered that learning a new language just aint easy from this old brain. Amsterdam is incredibly English friendly. In highly touristic areas (like the train station and canal boat trips) the employees do not even speak Dutch at all, everyone is spoken to in English. It seemed to me that all signage was in Dutch and English. It also seemed that everyone, was speaking english- boat captains, bus drivers, ticket operators, waitresses, random friendly person in restraint, grocery store cashier, etc. It seemed that there were 100 English book stores near the flower market where we  took and hour to stroll around the shops. For foreign travelers – English signage, brochures and speakers are ideal. Its not about being less nationalistic or patriotic, its about giving the guest and easy and enjoyable experience- this allows them to happily empty their bank accounts in your country.

cute shops

  • For the Keukenhof I was really impressed how well organized they direct 1000’s of tourist a day. The gardens are only open for a few months every year and are a famous destination world wide. The traffic to this rural village out side the city is reduced by well planned and thought out public transportation routes that offer comfortable and easy travel from Amsterdam city center. In addition to the inexpensive public travel incentive they still do a great job of managing traffic and parking for those (like us) who prefer to drive ourselves. I saw lots of management parking cars and constantly filling spaces that had been earlier vacated. We were there during their busiest weekend of the year and we did not wait in long lines of traffic, nor did we have to take trams from satellite parking lots. We did not wait in long lines for tickets and concessions. A visit to the Keukenhof is worth the trip to Amsterdam all by itself.


I have so many photos from our trip that this will be Amsterdam week all week long. If you are dreaming about a European destination but maybe you weren’t considering Amsterdam- rethink your itinerary. Maybe all you know about Amsterdam is the red-light district and the legal drug scene? After reading this weeks post I hope you will realize how much this small country has to offer! I expected to accidentally run across “seedy” areas (like when you are strolling through the french quarter in New Orleans) but I never even accidentally happened upon the red-light district. Everything we encountered was charming, clean, delicious and friendly! (Yes I will probably go-on-and-on like this all week).


Diving and Threading

When we were able to get away from the toilet in our room we very much enjoyed two Egyptian specialties- scuba diving and threading.

Snapshot 1 (5-7-2014 8-09 PM) (2)

My take on scuba diving at Sharm El Sheikh:

  • Beautiful corals.
  • Really cool octopus that we watched change colors!
  • Great thorough instructors genuinely interested in helping you become a better diver- thanks Manzone at the Italian Dive Center!
  • Dive shops are typically cheaper than European and Us counterparts.
  • Inspite of strict environmental laws I observed significant signs of damage to the reefs, litter, broken corals, and sadly the most noticeable was the lack of prized sea turtles, sharks, and other wildlife that makes divers gitty with bragging rights.
  • In spite of high surface air temperatures the sea was still cold to me. I wore wetsuits the whole time- in contrast to the warm carribean waters that do not require wetsuits.
  • I still think diving in Belize was the most impressive reef to date (someday I will dive the great barrier reef).

Just in case you are really into hearing heavy breathing and watching us learn how to use the go pro camera enjoy the next 6.11 minutes

And what is threading you might be asking? It is a hair removal method that is popular all over the world and is simply done with a piece of thread. What made it so impressive was that a thorough job to the ears and back made Sparticus 15 years younger. I was so curious to learn that I bribed a spa clinician to teach me the secret- I did some practicing and it’s just not as easy as it looks. But here’s a quick video to show you how its done. Now go out and search your nearest large city for threading services, make an appointment for the man in your life, and watch a good grooming transform him in an hour. Worth noting that the more experience and practice the clinician has the faster and more precise the service will be (LOOK FOR EXPERIENCE). My friendly spa clinician promised the hair removal would last a year!? (Have you ever met a middle eastern salesman?)

Mothers Day 2014

breakfast in bed

So bear with me while I record some of my Mothersday treasures from a really good year (cause last year sucked!). I was treated like a queen for not just one day, but TWO!!! Well, yes I deserved it, of course, but the truth is that sometimes our children fight their way through our important day, and the spouse (if there is one) can sometimes forget about it, or perhaps (like Spartacus) go on business trips (as was the case last year) (this should be illegal!). Saturday morning Spartacus crawled out of bed early (sort of) and I could hear Coco’s little voice trying to be quite while they clatter bowls and used the mixer to create a delicious brunch of steamed asparagus with fresh lemon, topped with a perfectly cooked egg (yokes must run and no crispy overcooked whites), rosti (hash browns) and a fantastic HOMEMADE orange muffin. I was in heaven for a few munites and then the food disappeared off my fork lickety split! After the relaxing morning of breakfast in bed we rode bikes to a neighboring village for the craft market and then for a hike up the Burgenstock for fresh air and spectacular views.

burgenstock nase




I was rewarded with lots of gifts and flowers (love peonies!). It was a perfect day, no rushing, no stress- and tired out, we chilled for the rest of the evening.

Now try not to be jealous over these homemade gifts. I linked some ideas for cute totes and homemade mothers day surprises in fridays post, but these are the swiss versions:) So all I am wondering is how long I have to keep a painted and bedazzled sequin, salt dough hanger with dangling coordinated paper cutouts on the walls of the flat. Because, hey, I got two of them (one for each day Coco attends spiel gruppe).

matching hangers

Homemade cards and a bouquet of paper flowers…

motherday card

more hommade paper crafts

… and a bouquet of real ones!

ahhh peonies

The centerpiece is an abstract design the roughly resembles the words (m) (o) (m) (spiral) (heart). I know you might be wondering where you can get one of these and the truth is that they are one of a kind treasures that can only be inspired by a mothers love:)


Hope you all had great celebrations too, everyone deserves to be loved this much!








Happy Mothers Day & Friday Links


Mary_Cassatt_-_Mother_and_Child_(The_Goodnight_Hug)This weekend is Mothersday- It’s super important- DONT FORGET IT! Pass along this post if you need to elicit a subtle reminder.

My mom raised 5 strong tempered children. I was the oldest and often try to take credit for my younger siblings successes since I helped raise them also; but the truth is, she (mom) was our beacon- she was the strongest force in our family. She taught us creativity, she taught us economy, she taught us how to work hard, and how important an education was, she showed us how important Heavenly Father was in her life and raised us with a knowledge of his love for us. My mom didn’t rush, but she didn’t waist time either. She taught us to give more effort than you have to. She taught us to endure to the end, and start over again tomorrow. She taught us to try harder to do better. She gave us the tools and foundation and freedom to make our own lives a success. She led by example. Thank you mom- I love you!

Heres a few links for the week, maybe some Mothers Day Shopping and DIY?

  1. Check out this idea for a mothers day tribute.
  2. I don’t care how old your kids are- moms need totes.
  3. I’m not a huge fan of kitchen clutter but this list of gadgets has me dreaming of opening a mothers day box full!
  4. Here is an adorable DIY Mothers Day letter.
  5. I would love one of these DIY gifts in my bathroom.
  6. Printable guild for those guys who don’t like guessing what will make you happy.

Enjoy your weekend where ever in the world you are, and please remember your mom!

Potty talk


pool red sea and saudi arabia

*** Warning -This post contains loads of potty talk****

Not to be outdone by my friend Annie’s version of a spring break diarrhea post, I am adding one of my own. Our spring break was full of lots of travel and memories. We spent five days in Amsterdam and rushed home to pack and catch flights for Sharm El Sheikh Egypt. Sharm sits on the coast of the Red Sea just east of the Suez Canal and south of Mt. Sinia. Despite US state department warnings against travel, Sparticus, in his infante wisdom and love of scuba diving, decided we would be fine spending spring break there. And while we didn’t encounter any protest mobs or rapid gun fire, we were not exactly fine either.

big pool

We arrived after a brutal night at the airport in Ciro where our 7 hour layover ( inconveniently timed between 10 pm and 5am) left us all exhausted. We were so happy to be greeted with temperatures over 100 f! We gobbled up a big breakfast from the all-inclusive resort buffet, and were treated like royalty as they quickly prepared our room for an early checkin.

view of red sea and pool

We had lovely views of the beach in a comfortable a tastefully decorated room, two telephones, one oddly located next to the toilet (insert foreshadowing music here) and a huge picture window that flooded the bathroom with natural light (coincidentally providing the toilet seat with a fantastic view of the Red Sea).

view from toilet- see phone

view from the toilet out the the picture window- do you see the phone on the left?

view from back porch

view out the back porch of our room- you can see it from the toilet!


Here’s where we spent about 1/2 of our vacation- notice strategically situated telephone to call the on site Health Clinic.

health clinic

I flipped through the leather bound book on the long clean countertop, trying to absorb the resorts many activities and ammenities as I searched for the kids club info in hopes of some alone time by the pool later in the day. I noticed the pages dedicated to the onsite-health-clinic. And again seperate clinic advertising cards on the bathroom counter, “wow this place has it all- we will never have to leave the resort” I thought… you see where this is going. It didn’t take long for us to put the puzzle pieces in place and for the numerous culprits to infect our digestive system. The first 48 hours went something like this:

  1. Wake up and hit the buffet (fill body with amebias and the bad kind of digestive bacteria).
  2. Snorkeling or pool time with kiddos (likely complete with gulps of “who-knows-what’s-in-this-pool-water”).
  3. Back to said all inclusive buffet for more deliciously fresh fruits and salads (raw and not disinfected, likely carrying all matter of harmful digestive bacteria and parasites).
  4. Deposited kids in kids-club to avoid brutal afternoon heat and to aquire free “kids paper crafts” (which every one knows I love to store up and move around the world).
  5. Adults nap off the buffet and give our intestines time to gently marinate in germs.
  6. Off for a poolside drink mixed with questionable water source and collect kiddos who have been happily playing (swapping germs) with kids from 3 contents (lots of Russians, Brits and Egyptians).
  7. Early evenings meant more relaxing time near pool and another trip to the buffet.

After 48 hrs. We were becoming sick of the culinary offerings that cater to the palettes of the British & the Russians (imagine a lot of beets, potatoes, and some strange strange unidentifiable fish dishes). Symptoms of the Egyptian version of Montezuma’s revenge attacked Sparticus first who was finally just getting over a bad cold that kept him from enjoying Amsterdam to its fullest and from scuba diving for the first few days. On the night before our first scheduled boat dive he was up and down every half hour sort of re-living the Dumb and Dumber toilet scene.  I called at 5am to cancel the dive, feeling certain that he wasn’t going to be getting more than a few feet from the toilet seat that day. Diving rescheduled for the following morning, certain that this 24 hour bug would have run it’s course (insert foreshadowing music here). Only 24 hours later he was not completely better, but was complete empty and had not visited said buffett in 24 hrs. Advised by a pharmacy, and stocked up on “digestive antiseptic” we enjoyed a fantastic day of diving and lunch on the boat (which probably was fresh and free of disease, likely giving our intestines a reprieve from the resort food trough). We scheduled another trip. Exhausted we all went to bed early after another healthy dose of buffett food and beverages. That night was a replay of the Bridesmaids movie diareah scene- coco and I were added to the toilet rotation and with 3 people throwing up and suffering from diareah, sharing one toilet can be tricky and unpleasant! This feel-slightly-better, only to be attacked-again-whilst-trying-to-get-a-nights-sleep senario replayed itself right up to the bitter end, and has actually followed us home. Axel who after the first few days was left to his own snack-bar devises where food was concerned, insisted that his french fry/orange fanta diet seemed to be paying off- until the last 10 hours of our vacation. The bags were packed and everyone was tucked in for the night when he began to moan loudly and with all the drama he could muster threw up every 30 minutes until 5 am when I insisted we use a suppository (provided by the medical clinic -remember the advertisements plastered all over the room?) to stop the vomiting long enough to let the “digestive antiseptic” do it’s magic. We managed to make it on a morning flight and by the time we landed in Milan later that evening we were never so grateful to be back to cold cloudy Europe!

And as a side note, once we were all in the car on the way home (3 hour drive) my civilized and house trained family spent a good 10 minutes trying to one-up each other on who crapped their drawers first, the most, last, etc. I’ve been accused of being a tight a*s before and this is one time, I am happy to say, it paid off, for the record– I did not crap my drawers.

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