Monday, 5 November 2018

Destination Normandy: Happy Hacky Half Term

Alternate title:  Six Seven Days in Frants (where insects go on vacation!)

Spoiler Alert:  In most alternate universes, I don't survive the week in Normandy

In the wonderful, inexplicable system that is international-schooling-based-on-the-French-curriculum (and thus full of je ne sais quoi), the children have two weeks off every five weeks or so.  My French friends inform me that, in proper French schools, they also get off at 1:30 every Wednesday, for no good reason other than to ensure that mothers can't work outside of the home, or something, so I suppose we can consider ourselves lucky.

So, with October half-term looming, Fis announced that he was going to Canada for a week, abandoning me with my own children.  Again.

"Fine," I retaliated.*  "I will take the Hufflings to Fraunce.  It will be lovely, it will be educational, and it will be restful."

He grumbled a bit about my "leaving the country with the children" but I countered with "you're leaving the country first, so try to stop us" and we called it a draw.

I had heard wonderful things about Eurocamps from another friend.  They have children's activities!  I could relax and drink wine and the children would make friends and do their own thing, safely!  I could bring the dog!  They were reasonably-priced!  And not just reasonably-priced for London, but actually reasonably-priced - for 6 nights, it cost us £330, including the ferry to Calais.  (Using the October half-term discount of 50%, plus the £25 off for being a "Single Parent").   So, we booked.

AND THEN I checked the dog's passport, which the Unnecessary and Expensive Heathrow Vet had apparently filled out incorrectly last year.  This, of course, was two days before we were supposed to leave.  Panic, panic, wait, it's ok.  For only £67, it was corrected, and we were good to go!

Chris left for the airport early Sunday morning.  About four seconds after the front door shut behind him, I felt chills and aches.  I had the flu, and a day and a half to recover with three kids underfoot and packing to do.  Because I am a genius, I booked a babysitter for three hours on the Monday morning.  It was a hard decision:  I could either use this precious time to go for a run, do necessary errands, or take a 3-hour nap to try to get healthy.  Lucky for me, I didn't have to decide; the babysitter didn't show up (she overslept by four hours), and I got to do everything with three kids in tow and a good'n'high fever.**  The last stop of the day was to buy euros, which we left until just after the "euro desk" at the bank closed.  *cuss word*

We left at 9 am on Tuesday morning, only 30 minutes past when I wanted to.  If we maintained the speed limit, and didn't stop, we could still make the ferry with four minutes to spare!  We drove towards Dover, making up enough time on the highway to be able to afford a quick break to fill up the station wagon with good British petrol... which was lucky, because the receipt had the address of the service station on it...which I needed when I had to call a garage to fix our flat crazily exploded tire less than three minutes later.

Now that is a flat tire. 
Note that the Hufflings were not given any direction for this photo.  They just looked like that.
I went total Helpless Female when I saw it.  We were stranded on the side of a highway, we didn't have roadside assistance (I called Chris and woke him up to ask - it was only 6 am in Ottawa), and I knew I couldn't drive the rest of the way on our donut... even if I knew how to put it on, which, being a Helpless Female, I didn't.  But! £105 later, the tire was replaced, and it turns out that I had tricked my brain into thinking we were on an earlier ferry... we technically could still have made it, but I decided to avoid even more stress (still running a high fever) and the wonderful Eurocamp call centre rebooked it to an hour later, leaving us time to buy our euros in Dover.

The ferry was great.  We had a beautiful view of the white cliffs as we pulled away from the pier, a full cafeteria (more tea for me), and a play area for the kids with Scooby Doo videos playing in alternating English and French.  I curled up with a tea and a book.  We rolled off in Calais, and immediately found ourselves back at the ferry port.  And again.  The GPS was being a real jerk.  We pulled over, I applied weird little stickers to our headlights, as per weird French law, and we... ended up back at the port again.

Finally, though, we were off towards Normandy.  The roads were fast (130 km/h), the tolls were high (it felt like I had to pay 8.30 Euros every 10 minutes, but then again, high fever), and a little over three hours later (11 hours of travel), we finally pulled up to the Eurocamp.  It was dark.  My skin hurt.  The reception desk had closed 20 minutes earlier.  Over the long, long day, I had slowly developed a hacking cough that doubled me over.  A security guard showed us where to go, gave us our key, and we checked into our little caravan, which had two bedrooms, one with a double bed, and the other with bunk beds and a third bed.  Perfect!  Once I sent a text to the handyman to ask for heat, it was good.

It was late, but we were starving, of course, and the restaurant was supposed to be open, but wasn't, because of quiz night, which the staff seemed to feel was a reasonable and complete explanation.  After I started crying (see also, Helpless Female), however, a nice man made us a pizza, the kids drank lemonade***, and I impressed everyone by naming Madonna's Holiday with just one note.  I tucked the kids in, then fell into bed myself, still shivering and coughing and feverish, and Dr. Ziggy jumped up to watch over me in the night.

This little dog is going to get a big wakeup call when he gets home and is no longer welcome on the bed.

The next few days were a blur - I'd get up, feed the kids and walk them and the dog over to the Kids' Club cabin, where they met new friends and painted, sculpted, played cards, played football, and did archery and climbing and something called "photo rallye".  I sat on the steps with Ziggy and a mug of tea and shivered and coughed deep, wasting coughs.  The parents I met were amazed that I had "come on holiday without my husband", which seemed odd, but I was so sick, so maybe they were referring to that.  For two of the nights, I wasn't sure that I'd wake up the next morning, and left notes for the kids beside my phone, telling them how to call Daddy, and that I loved them.  Looking back, it seems a bit melodramatic, but I have literally never been that sick before, and definitely never that sick, fully responsible for the kids in a foreign country with nobody I know and no way to get home but to drive all that way again.  I felt terrible, and even more terrible that I had driven so far when I probably shouldn't have been even operating a mechanical pencil.

In our (feverish) haste to leave London, I had left a bag of peanut butter, salt, pepper and olive oil in our kitchen back at the flat, so I left the kids to one activity and drove into town to pick up some more groceries - easy stuff like soup, fish sticks and oven fries, but rounded it out with nutella, veggies (frozen ratatouille!  amazing!) and barbecue-able meats like sausages, chicken legs and hamburgers, should I feel well enough to try to cook outside.  The wine was ridiculously cheap, but I was feeling too sick to even buy any (imagine).

Les saucisses, la ratatouille...mais ou est le vin???
I have to say, my skin looks great.  It's either from being super-hydrated from all that water and tea, or the chic sheen of clammy sweat.  

I was too miserable to barbecue for the first three days, then it was too windy to light on the fourth.
By the Saturday, though, I was feeling slightly better, at least well enough to feel guilty that we had come all this way and hadn't yet left the campsite for a museum or a visit to the beaches.

I chose Juno Beach (of course), an hour's drive away on the coldest, windiest day of our holiday.  The kids were cold, but I tried to explain to them why it was so important that we came.  We saw two monuments and Canada House, and felt the weight and sorrow of so many young men lost as we walked down the beautiful, deserted beach.

We warmed up and fortified ourselves with crepes and hot chocolate then headed to the Juno Beach Centre, a Canadian museum designed and staffed by Canadians.  It was incredible, and very much worth the visit.  We went into German bunkers, played with interactive exhibits, and the kids filled out a trail map of their visit. 

Hufflings learning about how the French who were forced to help build the bunkers sabotaged it. 
Fun fact:  "sabotage" is from the French word sabotage, meaning "to sabotage".

Again after dark, we got back to our caravan, ate hamburgers (barbecue-in-the-rain success!) and got done up for the Halloween party that night.

Zombie family:  guess which one of us isn't wearing any makeup?

The Sunday was a bit better.  There were Kids' Club activities at 10 am that the kids went to without me, and in the afternoon, when they did archery, I joined a Zumba class, pausing to cough now and then on the down beat.  I texted Chris and told him that I would be ok to drive home the next day.

We were up and out only 60 minutes late the next morning, again pushing the timing close on the drive back to the ferry port (the GPS knew the way), but pealed in with about five minutes to spare.  We passed the French checkpoint... then British... home was just over the water... then the agent at the ferry checkpoint told us that Ziggy's passport wasn't valid.

We couldn't travel back to Britain for the next 24 hours at least.

Over the wails and howls of anger and sorrow in the back seat, the poor man was able to give me the name of a vet close by (35 euros), who in turn gave me the name of a cheap, dog-friendly hotel close by (68 euros).  We discovered that it was next to a McDonald's, which cheered the peanut gallery up considerably.

So, on the 7th day of our six-day vacation, I was still feverish and coughing, but we had McDonald's for breakfast, swung by a wine warehouse for a case (or so) of Super Cheap Good Wine, and drove back to the ferry port with an hour to spare.  This time, they let us on, no problem.  I had a nap while the kids played watched le Scooby Doo, and we drove back to London with no further mishap.

All in all, although it could have been (vastly) improved by Chris being with us and me not being near death, the holiday was a success, and still (somewhat) reasonably-priced.****  If I had had to take care of the kids and dog in our tiny third-floor London flat by myself, it would have been terrible, and probably filled with screen time, which the kids might have loved, but I'd hate.  As it was, they were outside, running and playing, practicing their French, and meeting new friends.

This is the result of the "photo rallye", which apparently involved self-face-painting, ice cream, and ... honestly they couldn't explain it at all, but said they had fun.

I came back skinny and weak, still coughing, but with super-defined abs (thanks, Hackercise!(tm)), and this morning, after the kids got on the school bus and Ziggy got his walk, I fell back into bed and slept for two hours.

We will totally do this again.

* after, of course, pushing him out of the way, racing to the computer to check for flights to Ottawa, and realizing that they were not only very expensive, but, as my parents were cruising AGAIN, we wouldn't have anywhere to stay.

** and nary a cowbell in sight.

*** "lemonade" in Europe is not lemonade.  It's Sprite.  They freely admit this, but still call it lemonade.  

**** for those following along at home, the final price of "unexpected issues" with the dog and the car (and not including food, wine warehouse and petrol) was approximately £650, only about £320 more than the planned price of the holiday.  Still a win.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Huffling Adventures in Scandinavia!

Let us immediately lower our expectations.  By "Scandinavia", I mean "just Denmark".  By "Denmark", I mean "just Billund". 

And by "Billund", I mean, literally, "just Legoland".

Hufflings on safari spot the elusive Elephant-Made-Entirely-of-Lego

Astute readers (the subset who know about both Legoland and geography) might point out that there is, in fact, a Legoland in Windsor.  I knew this, but didn't really know where Windsor was, and assumed a four-hour drive or something. 

I just looked it up, and Google maps just showed me that it's 50 minutes away by car. 

And now I feel shame.

Because we woke up at 4am on Saturday, took a car hire to Stansted Airport, which is an hour and 12 minutes away by car.  That's right, we paid someone to drive us 22 minutes further away than the local, less-than-an-hour-away Legoland at an ungodly hour of the morning to go to an airport where we would board a plane that sat on the tarmac for 45 minutes, to fly for an hour and a half to an entirely different country, take a taxi to the hotel, and to start walking around Danish Legoland by about 11 am.* 

We did that.
Six Canadians get into a barrel...

Having never been to the Windsor Legoland, I can only assume that they are similar parks, but the one we went to was a great deal more Danish.  The weather was fairly miserable, cold and misty-then-rainy, but we were with another family, good friends whose kids are close in age and energy level (sorry, Denmark!) to ours.  For two great days, we went on rides, marvelled at giant, intricate Lego builds, and had a wonderful time.

The Legoland hotel was incredible - bins of Lego everywhere (so the kids were always building (guns) and happy), and our room had a Lego kingdom theme - very cool.  The restaurants and buffets were tasty but extremely expensive (for perspective, this assessment is from someone who flew to Denmark instead of driving 50 minutes, so imagine), but we consoled ourselves by surreptitiously putting snacks-for-later into the baggies I carried in my purse.  Classy.

Dinner with friends in their super cool Ninjago cabin.

Words I learned in Danish:  tak (meaning thank you), and toiletter (meaning toilet).  They don't seem to have a "please" -- which makes me very uncomfortable -- and I kept forgetting how to say sorry/excuse me (undskyld) while I was there.  (But now that it's too late, my mnemonic is that unskilled me can't remember how to say undskyld.)  (Clever, but too late.)  I also learned that the Lego you buy at Legoland is even more expensive than if you were to buy it at the airport Lego store, which seems very wrong and against the natural order of things, somehow.

Speaking of wrong... Honestly, Legoland, you are better than this.  For shame.

We were home again by 2:30 on Monday afternoon.  All in all, it was quite the experience, and reminded us again that everything here is just so ... close ... that "foreign" countries (not that foreign, really - I hear that there's a similar place less than an hour from here... kaff) are within our reach, and that we're very lucky to be able to hop on a plane for a weekend in Denmark, even if this trip (and necessary souvenirs) mean that less of our children will be going to university now!

Next adventure:  Ziggy goes to Normandy!  Stay tuned.

* In my defence, I didn't know any of this geography until just now, so I can only blame Fis, because even I would say that it was a ridiculous thing to do, had I known, and he is quite proud of both his knowledge of geography and of his inherent cheapskatery.  True, as a responsible adult, I probably should have looked into this sooner to see what, exactly, we had agreed to do, because looking back, it was a shockingly irresponsible use of our savings.  

But, did we enjoy it?

You bet.

Friday, 28 September 2018

Family! Friends! Former Coworkers!

I know what you're thinking.

You're thinking, "Gee, I really miss Karen/Fis/Vaughn/Ailsa/Tamsin/Ziggy.  She/he is just a really great person/friend/dog.  I really wish I could show him/her that I'm thinking of him/her and like him/her a lot BUT not quite enough to waste a stamp."

Well, you're in luck.

Again this year, starting October 10, and continuing till January 11, 2019, the wonderful people at Canada Post are extending a generous offer to our community - so, from within Canada, you can send us any letter up to 500g and any parcel up to 20kg (with tracking), totally free.  Just drop it off at a Canada Post office (not in a mailbox), and you'll feel good, we'll feel loved, and you'll even save that precious stamp.

Address it to Fis, at the CFSU address (email me if you don't have it), and hey!  While you're writing that down, I'll just give you some ideas of nice thoughts you can send us:

  • anything - it's totally free.  Don't overthink it.  A photo, a card, a drawing, a letter - you have no excuse to not show us that you care now!  Not even the cost of a stamp, you cheapskates (whom I love dearly)!

But really, if you want to send us care packages, don't forget to fill out a customs form, do not send us cannabis or cannabis products,* and perhaps consider:
  • up to and including 20kg of Kraft Peanut Butter
  • up to and including 20kg of PC White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese
  • 10kg each of Kraft Peanut Butter and PC White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese
  • Costco-sized bags of super stainy orange snack mix
  • Hershey's/Lowney's Bridge Mixture
  • a selection of Bulk Barn candy (including crap-in-my-mouth)
  • hand-me-down clothing 
  • shoes for me - size 5 (or 5 1/2 if the heel is quite high)

Too far?  Oh well, you get the idea.  

* Yes, even if it's after October 17th.  I love that I have to put that in.  I love you guys.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Crosstraining, Cheekily

You love to run. So you run. You run faster, farther, more frequently.
You love to cycle/swim/lift/dance. So you do what you love. You do it often, consistently, and you do it well. You progress. You get faster, fitter, better, doing what you like to do.
So, why crosstrain? Why do the kinds of exercises you didn’t really like in the first place, instead of the ones that you enjoy?
It’s simple. You do them to get even faster, even fitter, even better at your exercise of choice; to reduce the risk of overuse injuries in your (overused) muscles; to give you a workout that challenges your mind and muscles, that releases the endorphins you’re not “allowed” to have on your rest days. Or, if all you do is run long distances, crosstraining helps you build your butt back up.
(This is possibly written from experience, and I am possibly referring to my own back end.)
Whatever your sport is, taking a day per week (and not your sacred day of complete rest) to train your body in a different way is good for you. Done properly, it will improve your performance in your main exercise and either open your mind to a new activity, or make you appreciate your main sport even more.

Plyometric lunges. LOVE THEM.

Take me: I’m a jumper. I love weight training, but I always have plyometrics in there somewhere. Without them, I feel like I just haven’t worked hard enough. Eleven years ago, leading up to my wedding, I realized that with everything else going on, I couldn’t do it all — work, wedding planning, teaching fitness classes and weight training — something had to give. So, I let my weight/plyo training fall off for about six weeks and, looking at my wedding photos, I still regret it. My body does what it does, and it responds better to weight training than to anything else. For me, cardio is a fairly unenjoyable bonus activity, a few extra calories burned, but the weights are what give me my shape.
When I moved here, I looked at gym memberships so I could keep on jumping. Having taught a class or three every week since I was 17, I’ve never had to pay for a gym membership; the prices were a shock, not even factoring in the London prices and the exchange rate. So, when our boxes arrived, I unrolled my yoga mat and considered myself happy enough. I’d done yoga on and off for 20 years. It feels good, is great for my hips and low back, and when I do it consistently, I feel great. But it turns out that I don’t feel great if it’s my only workout.
A few months of yoga, and I took up with a very organized and ambitious running group three times per week. I don’t like running, but I liked them. I thought that the combination of running and yoga would be a good balance, and I was right: upper body static strength, lower body endurance, and stretching out overused muscles…there’s a reason why running and yoga is a classic pairing. With my group, I ran 6–10 miles three times a week, and still yoga’d (real word) once a week. I dropped a few pounds and after a few months, I went out to buy new pants.
The reflection in the change room mirror (the rear view, to be specific) told me what I already knew: I needed my weight training, stat. Still a cheapskate, I added in calisthenics — bodyweight exercises at my local trim trail. Surrounded by super-fit current-and-former gymnasts, all men, most of them shirtless, I struggled to do some pullups. Some leg lifts. Some swinging across monkey bars and and upside-down shoulder presses. Twenty minutes later, I had finished up with jump lunges, skaters and burpees, and I was not only humbled and shaky, but done. I was unable to walk naturally, nor sit nor stand without whimpering for a few days, but gradually I was able to do more reps of more exercises, become more creative with my movements, and sit down with (relative) ease within two days of working out.
Between the running (Monday/Wednesday/Friday), yoga (Tuesday) and calisthenics (Thursday), yes, I was exercising five days per week, but with the addition of my booty-building routine (see what I did there?), suddenly, my body shape started to change, and so did my outlook. I could comfortably chat as I ran up the hills. I enjoyed yoga more, because instead of trying to squeeze as much of a workout out of it as possible, I could focus on trying to master the poses (as far as I was able to). And on Thursdays or Saturdays, I would happily tackle the trim trail with vengeance, adding in plyometrics and aiming to be a little beast in each exercise, easily getting it over with in 30 minutes or less.
This combination gave me peace of mind and mindfulness (yoga), social time and inadvertent cardio (running group), and stronger muscles, more body confidence, and a nicer “hanger” for my clothes.
Whatever your sport, you are missing out if you don’t add another (drastically different) element (or two) to your fitness routine. It’s good for your go-to workout, good for your mind, and great for my glutes.
Er… your body… I meant it’s great for your body.
(But yeah, it’s also great for my glutes.)

Originally published on

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Canadian Leg of Croatian Vacation

I am the first to admit that I'm not great with geography, but even I know that Croatia is not right beside Canada.

But!  That didn't stop us from taking an incredible opportunity (and advantage of Grandpa's generosity) to visit Huff House West (in Edmonton) and a Whole Bunch of Other Assorted Huffs (in Red Deer). 

We left Split at about 2:30 pm on a Saturday, and flew to Heathrow, then Pearson (quick stop at Tim Hortons for tea and timbits!), then Edmonton International Airport, arriving at 1:30 am on Sunday (which included -- and this is just an estimate here -- 85 hours of travel time and a scorching case of jet lag for all), to be welcomed by Uncle Rob (whose airport pickup skills are second-to-none), two Giant Dogs and one Little Fluffy Dog.  We somewhat-quickly got everyone sorted into beds (I found a piece of chocolate cake on the way), and fell asleep for, frankly, not long enough.

In the morning, we had a joyful reunion with Grandma, whom we hadn't seen for far too long, then hopped into the rental minivan for the (respectively) short drive to Red Deer.


I know/knew/totally understood that in Canada we have a lot of space:  open fields, big skies, large stretches of highways with nothing around... but seeing it again after spending a year in London made me realize again how lucky we are to have such a beautiful country.  The fresh air!  The green things!  The Tim Hortons!

The purpose for our visit was to celebrate Chris' uncle's 60th wedding anniversary, and boy, did we. The bride and groom were gorgeous, the kids had a group of second- and third- cousins to romp around with, and we enjoyed amazing hospitality and a level of event planning that I can only hope to aspire to.  Grandpa was there with us, and we all checked into a hotel for a few nights to stretch out the Red Deer experience. 

We went tubing down the Red Deer River, ate at A&W (Amburgers and Woot Beer!), and were treated to a guided tour of All the Places That Chris Lived in Middle- and High School, for which we were rewarded with a drive through the DQ drive-thru.

Grandpa then proceeded to buy us all cowboy boots (we protested, then thanked him effusively), and we returned to Edmonton for another two days of Canadiana, which in this context means Steak and Uncle Rob's Legendary Wine Cellar.  We hugged (and were hugged by) Grandpa, Uncle Rob, Uncle Ryan, and Grandma, gave the Ridiculously Big Dogs a final pat, and the Tiny Puffball a final cuddle, and that was it.

All told, it was a wonderful -- yet far too short -- visit "home".  I say "home" because the kids and I have never lived in Edmonton or Red Deer (just Medicine Hat), and does the entire, giant, green, fresh-aired country really count as "home"? 

Well, people say hello.  They smile at you, and say "excuse me" and "sorry".  They hold the door for you and stop their cars to wave you across the street.  The lineup at the airport, for our short flight between Edmonton and Calgary, was full of friendly strangers.  People looked us in the eyes.  They smiled.  So, yes, it is home.  As much as I hate mushy patriotism, I can't help but wax poetic (again) about what a wonderful place our home is. 

When Good Form Fails

Published on

Monday, 20 August 2018

Our Croatian Vacation (What a Sensation!)

Swimming in Darko's Cove

In the interest of taking as much advantage of our next three years' proximity to many, many other countries (instead of just the one), we have been gadding about quite a bit.  This will slow down soon, because I'm pretty sure we have now visited every country in Europe (really, how many could there be?), and also we "may" have to sell one or more of our children to start financing these trips.

In February, for (yet another) school break, we had driven to Pettneu, Austria (via France and Switzerland - which totally counts as 3 countries, right?), then Chris and I flew to Nice (France again, but with more actual Frenching... no, that's not right...) in April.  So, when the opportunity came up to rent a nice little condo in Trogir, I was the first to say, "Never heard of it.  Where is it?"

Trogir is here:

It doesn't matter where it is.  Because it's so beautiful.  Or would have been if it wasn't so freaking hot, but since it was only a short 7-minute stagger down the mountain to the clear turquoise sea, we managed.  The walk back up the hill was much longer and harder, of course, but we had air conditioning and Croatian wine* to look forward to!

The local soft drink:  Pipi.  Hilarity ensued at every meal.

Trogir is not a well-kept secret, as evidenced by the swarms of tourists and the many, many giant yachts moored all around.  I firmly believe that said yachts have had a troubling effect on the local economy, in that a meal for the five of us regularly cost us the same as a meal out in London, something that we try to avoid having.  But!  Despite that, we did ok by keeping a stock of groceries and cereal in the flat, and trying to always have water bottles and snacks in a backpack.

What did we do?

The local beach:  worth a 7-minute downhill stroll.

Everything and nothing.  It's very touristy, but with the beach at the bottom of the hill (and a fancier one over the hill), we spent a lot of time lolling about by the sea.  It took me only 5 minutes before I demanded that we shell out the equivalent of $10 for a beach umbrella rental, because, well, ginger, but the kids played like splashy ducks in their sun suits and hats (the only kids on the beach covered up for sun safety)(also the whitest), and we reapplied sunscreen often, and nobody got a burn, not even me!!!  Just for that, the vacation was a success.  When it got too hot, or when one of them needed rescuing,** we joined them in the pleasantly cold, clear aqua water till we cooled down enough to feel human again, and it was just really nice.

Super fun aqua bouncy castle thingy

Beach days aside, there was a huge market a short walk away, with food and gelato everywhere.  (Daily ice cream is important when it's that hot.)  I found some super-cute vacation dresses for the girls, but my efforts to haggle the price down were thwarted by Vaughn suddenly pitching forward and throwing up a LOT, right in front of her stall.  For the not-low-enough price of 90 kuna, we apologized profusely, took the dresses, helped the poor vendor mop up, and dashed back to the condo so Vaughn could rest in the lovely, lovely air-conditioning.  (And, full disclosure, I was feeling barfy myself...Tamsin had vomited copiously the night before we left, and we each got it in turn.)

Street urchins have lunch in Split.

Our host, who lived above our apartment, took us out in his boat the next day (we had both recovered), and we spent a day on his little boat, going around islands and swimming in coves and lagoons whenever he stopped.  The water was so bright blue and clear, and it looked about 3 feet deep, but he told us that it was 6 metres or more.  The kids fell in love with snorkelling and saw lots of fish (that's when I got out of the water), and the salt water buoyancy really improved their confidence to swim away from the boat.

We took a day trip to Split, as well, and marvelled at the oldness of the old city.  We wandered around Diocletian's Palace and saw ancient Roman monuments that were humbling and beautiful and mind-blowing and super cool, despite it being punishingly hot.  In short, I don't have the right words to describe its amazingness, and also, heatstroke.

Whole fam damily selfie (ussie?) in Split with Very Old Tower.

As we drove back to the airport, our host told us that we were leaving just in time:  a heat wave was on its way.  "Isn't this a heat wave?" I asked.  "No," he laughed.  "This is just summer.  Next week is going to be really hot."  Luckily, we were headed for home, with a short trip to Edmonton and Red Deer first...

* Note:  Croatian wine isn't a thing.  Do not drink it. 'Tis far better to drink Pipi.  Or peepee, really.

** This happened far too often.  At least twice a day, I got to sprint to the water and swim out to where one of my little idiots was drifting away on the current, then got to swim them back against the current.  I counted it as cardio (and impressed the kids) so I didn't mind too much.