the boys

the boys

Monday, October 31, 2011

Travel Bingo, Kosovo Style

When we were young, my mom had creative ways to keep me and my sisters busy.  We were always a fan of the road trip however short (Hamilton) or long (Florida) it may be.  There were no qualms about climbing into the ol' station wagon and setting off for an adventure.  When you live in a small town, even heading to "the city" for shopping or a movie or Worlds of Fun took the better part of the day.

But traveling with 3 young girls in the back seat might make you want to pull your hairs out one by one.  Between the bickering, the giggling, the incessant questioning, and the requests for frequent stops I'm sure it was a joy ride for all.  But I remember it very fondly.  We had lots of car games/activities including singing girl scout songs, picking a color and counting how many cars passed of that color, reading books, and the ol' standby: Travel Bingo.

Travel Bingo, for anyone that doesn't know, is a collection of cardboard square cards with 5 rows of 5 pictures in regular "BINGO" fashion.  The pictures were of items you might see during travel.  Each picture had a little red plastic window that would slide over it so when you saw it you closed the window.  Five red windows in a row or diagonal is BINGO.   I'm sure it's fancier today and somehow made into an electronic game, but really nothing beats good ol' bingo.

So here I am, half way across the world in Kosovo.  I'm visiting Allison who is quite the tour guide.  Poor girl gets made fun of for constantly reading her map and Kosovo tour book, but as a fellow frequent map user, I applaud her.  And I use the term map loosely because roads are built and torn out from day to day so not sure how a map can keep up.  But it has the general idea.

So we set out on our 48 hours of adventure in Kosovo.  Within the first few miles I knew Kosovo Bingo was the only way to go.  So for those of you that come to Kosovo in the future (of which I am so sure will be many of you), take along Kosovo Bingo.  And good luck to you!!

Here is my Bingo Card.  I was successful in that I obtained a Black Out meaning I witnessed each and every item on my card.

My Kosovo Bingo Squares:

  1. Every Bingo has a star in the middle known as the Free Space.  So here's a freebie that you can't miss, even when you try:  Giant holes in the road.  Not just potholes.  Ohhhh, no.  That would be too easy.  These holes are big enough for your car to fit in.  They are random.  There one day, gone the next.  Only occasionally identified by a small orange cone or possibly a small dumpster sat out to deter drivers.   Sometimes they make the entire road impassable when it was barely drivable in the first place.  Not sure what causes them or how they get fixed because I saw neither of these things occur during our 10 + hours of driving the countryside, but they happen.  So there's your freebie.  The rest you  have to work for.
  2. Sheep 
  3. Angry Shepard man yelling at us in Albanian because he is angry that we only speak English and Serbian.   Angry Shepard man must have scary looking dog.
  4. Novo Brdo- 12th Century Castle ruins.  
  5. Empty Red Bull can among the castle ruins
  6. Restaurant in the woods where angry wife refuses to make fresh bread for our dinner.  
  7. Ambassador to a foreign country
  8. Catholic Church Mass in tiny village where priest spends last 5 minutes of Mass calling out the important international figures in attendance for the day including "Alissa and her sister visiting from America!"  That's right, got a shout out in church!!
  9. Tiny girls with rotted teeth who want to hold our hands and can't take their eyes off of us.
  10. Miniature Golf and Paintball
  11. Giant (and I do mean GIANT) pile of hay stacked in the shape of a trapezoid
  12. Mini-tractors with never fewer than 2 people piled on, but more likely to have 3-4 people riding.  Bonus point if there is a man in a pin-striped suit riding the tractor.
  13. Photos, billboards, and statue of Bill Clinton
  14. Missouri license plate on random car
  15. Te Ariu (The Bear).  It's the Chuck E. Cheese of Kosovo.  A place to take your kids for dinner with "exotic" animals roaming about.  Includes caged bears.  
  16. Gracanicia Monastery- one of two remaining Monastery's that were not burned down in recent conflicts.  
  17. Seven year old girl drinking beer with what appears to be her father and brothers on a bench opposite the Monastery.  
  18. Water park complete with water slides that appear to be slightly rusted.
  19. Wine, wine, and more wine
  20. Furniture stores and appliance stores with no customers.  One can only assume the same couch has been on the display floor for the last 8 years.  Appliance stores have 3-4 stories of washing machines stacked up viewing pleasure.
  21. The most F-ed up Roundabouts known to mankind.  Absolutely no logic.  Streets that run parallel to each other for no purpose.  
  22. Buildings only half built
  23. Carnival ride- one of those that you sit on a swing and it spins and the swings go way up in the air.  If you think the traveling carnival that comes through your town looks scary you haven't see anything yet!
  24. Cows individually tethered to the ground and chickens wandering aimlessly
  25. Pollution.  In order for this to count you must be able to see, taste, smell, and feel the pollution deep in your lungs.  Found near Obiliq. 


So, the funny thing that I realized is that I can find almost every single one of these things in the good ol' USA.  Let's be honest......Missouri has become a big fan of the roundabout and isn't afraid of potholes.  We embrace them.  And children with rotted teeth?  Check.  Bill Clinton lovers?  We have many.  Livestock are aplenty in these here parts of the world too.  We aren't big on 12th century castles, but Red Bull we've got.  And I'm sad to say....there are 7 year old children allowed the occasional swig of Bud Light.  Not in my house necessarily, but it happens.  I've seen it happen.  I challenge you to see if you can achieve a black out Bingo here in America.  I think you might get close.

In addition to all of the wonderful sites, we had a fabulous time eating, drinking, and being merry!!  We had a delicious late lunch with awesome red wine and a creme brule for dessert.  YUM!  We had a cards night with Allison's work friends (YES,!).  Her friend has her house all decorated for Halloween.  I felt right at home!

So in my lifelong theme, I will simply attest that the happenings of Kosovo are not wrong.  They are just different than my norm.  Except this last little tidbit.  Whether truth or fiction, it made for a good giggle on our last night in the 'Vo.  The Tooth Fairy does exist in Kosovo.  But instead of hiding the tooth under the pillow, the family dog eats it.

Now that's just wrong!

On to London!!!!

Friday, October 28, 2011


Five years ago today on the most beautiful October afternoon we got married.  The day was perfect.  I could not have asked for more.  The last five years have been amazing!!  I had a whole blog to write but I am in Paris today and there are angry French women waiting to use the computer. 

Jeremy, I love you more now than I did five years ago.  You are the most generous and loving husband a girl could ask for!! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dinner Time (emphasis on the TIME)

Wow!  It's been a whole month since I have posted.  My how time flies when you're.... boring.  Not that boring is bad or anything.  I'll take boring over some of the usual craziness just about any day.  

In the past month we have been working on getting the boys to eat a good dinner.  Less processed/quicky food and more meals.  I am a horrible and picky eater so combining that with busy evenings and Jeremy being at the firehouse every 3rd day our meals were really suffering.  I'm trying to get back to planning out a menu to keep us on track.  I'm doing a little bit better at it this month.

Tonight is a firehouse night so it's a left over night.  Dinner is less formal.  We will use the china tomorrow.  Oh wait, I don't have china.  Oh well.  Anyway, tonights menu is Egg McMuffins (not from McDonalds), grapes, pears, and cheese.  Fancy, I know.  Who's jealous?  I accidently bought a dozen eggs when I already had a dozen at home so it's all eggs all the time until we use some of them up.  To hell with cholesterol!

My boys are rather slow eaters which they get from their dear ol' mother.  I was always the last one done with dinner.  My sisters hated me for it.  They thought I was trying to avoid clean up.  They were wrong.  I just didn't like food.  Unless it was cake.  I like me some cake.  YUM.  Cake. 

Anywho.  My boys are also chatty.  During dinner.  Before dinner.  After dinner.  Pretty much every minute of every day.  Not sure who they get that from ;)  Chatty, chatty, chatty. 

Slow eaters and chatty.  So, basically dinner lasts 15 hours around here.  What follows is a list of tactics the boys have used tonight (yes all in one night) to avoid eating dinner.  I sat there and just took notes because finally I'm not the last one done eating in our house.  Pat myself on the back.
  • Can I be done?  (this is asked by Leo by about the 3rd bite and continues throughout every meal until he is actually done)
  • Can I play on the swingset?
  • I need to go pee-pee
  • My belly hurts I don't think I can eat.
  • UGHHHHHHHHHHH (angry grunt when told repeatedly to finish dinner)
  • Do I have to eat everything? (Yup).  Like even the rest of the egg? (Yup,  all of it).  How about the bread part?  (yup, everything).  Even the rest of my pears? (yes, EVERYTHING).  OK then.  I was just asking!!!!
  • I'm so tired I don't think I can finish eating
  • I want some more grapes
  • after being told repeatedly to STOP TALKING AND EAT! Leo tried whispering to Justin as if I'm not sitting right beside him.  "Jushtin"  (Leo, stop talking)  Quiter this time "Jushtin"  (Leo, I'm sitting right here. I can hear you talking).  And again "Jushtin"  Really, Leo? 
  • I really, really, really love you.  I really wish I could be done.
  • Maybe if you let us eat on our TV trays in the living room we can eat good and be done so we'll have time for a movie
  • I wish I could have more drink
  • I need to go poo-poo
  • various levels of crying and whining
  • various levels of sillyness and giggle fits
  • this is so weird
  • Looooook mom.  I'm taking a big bite!!!!  NOW can I be done?  (no, you have to eat all of it)  Ohhhhhh, that makes me SO MAD!  (well, it's ok to be mad but you still have to finish your dinner)
  • Now can I be done?
  • more uncontrollable laughing
so eventually dinner was done.  Only a few scraps left on the plate so not a bad showing.  Off to bed they go and just as I sit down to write this Justin comes creeping out of his bed and says "I just wanted to tell you that you were right about dinner becuase I was being bad at dinner."  And just when I thought he was being really sweet he asked to sit downstairs for a few mintues so really he was just being nice to butter me up and get to stay up later.  I'm on to your game, buddy!  Nighty nighty!