Sunday, April 9, 2017


We woke up at 4:30 am, transferred our well traveled daughters into their carseats, and drove off into the pitch black morning. The early morning was worth it though because we got to beautiful Slovenia before noon! Our first short stop was along this river that led into a beautiful gorge. Unfortunately, the hike through the gorge was closed, but the kids were just as entertained by throwing rocks into the river. Sitting by, listening to the rushing water as children giggle is the ideal way to start a vacation, if you ask me. We planned this trip with some friends and we actually ended up at our destination within minutes of each other. Perfectly timed!
 Jane has officially developed a love, might I even say passion, for hiking. She loves to run, and climb, and push her body to new limits Declaring herself "Mommy's hiking buddy" quite proudly, she energetically and joyfully hiked with us this entire weekend. So far, it's a passion that we as a family share and I hope we never have a kid who breaks the chain ;)
 And this is where the trail gave us a glimpse of the beauty and then shut us out. Not fair.
 A Lyla Yawn. Our cue to move on to another activity ;)
 It was such a beautiful day that we decided to try another hike. We found an interesting trail in a very remote area. And on our way to the trail we drove by this perfect scene: if you look closely you can see a man knee deep in the water with his fishing pole. What a scenic fishing spot! Our second hike of the day was great. Jane totally kept up with all the adults, and we all had a fun time chatting. And collecting flowers that our children were picking for us, constantly :)

Our next stop was the castle in Bled, Slovenia. Mostly the kids were interested in the flowers (again) and the lizards that they found on the castle grounds. And Lyla and Dean (our friends' little boy her age) wanted to climb up and down all the things that were prohibited to climb up and down on.
 Lyla's quote of the trip "wanna walkee" -- she cannot stand to miss out on anything!
 Perched high on a hill overlooking the entire lake and city; you basically couldn't ask for a better view. Absolutely spectacular! Lake Bled's tiny little island is its claim to fame.

 ^^ the moment when her independence is taken away: captured. SAD GIRL.
 ^^ Me holding my baby. Jane holding hers. I love this :)

 After the castle we went to dinner at a restaurant in the city. The food was delicious. The kids' behavior?? Inconsolable and uncontrollable at times. Thank goodness for a few boxes of craisins and fruit pouches to give them at least a sliver of distraction while waiting for the real food. In this picture the girls were licking suckers and doing a hilariously weird little happy dance.
 We walked off our dinner & dessert along the lake. This water was so beautifully unique; we decided it reminded us of green JELL-O. It looked thick and creamy, but so richly colorful. And the ducks floating atop the blue-green dessert looking water: they were the real highlight for the kids. As per usual. We can take them to many different countries, all the coolest tourist attractions, and give them the most stunning views to behold, but all that really matters in the end is the DUCKS. It's a good thing they are everywhere. I'm dubbing them the universal animal. And it's a good thing too, because one quack within earshot and Lyla's day is instantly made.
 The next morning Jeff grabbed breakfast for him and the girls and they ate it by the lake while I ran around the lake. The entire thing was a little over 6 kilometers all the way around so it was a perfect and beautiful morning run! I think my favorite part of traveling is going on scenic runs.

 And after I finished running around, we all started walking around. (well, jane RAN a lot too. Probably at least half of the way!)
 It's a real and true miracle that none of these 3 kiddos ever fell into the lake. They got dangerously close multiple times. I suppose that in their little minds, something of such great beauty and intrigue couldn't possibly pose a threat to them. Regardless of their wreckless curiosity, they managed to stay dry, happy, and entertained all day.
 ^^ Such an awesome family!! We love them and are so glad they got to come with us!
The kids eyes lit up as we hopped on this boat and rowed to the island. I remember Jane asking SO many questions about the man who was rowing our boat. She is really good at asking very detailed questions, and I often don't have the answer to them.
These stairs near the church in Bled are sorta kinda sorta famous? Or something. There is a superstition that if a husband carries his wife up the entire staircase (100 stairs), then they will have a happy and lasting marriage. So I hopped on his back, and he carried me up like the stud that he is. Then all the asian tourists cheered for us. Thanks for humoring me, Jeff :)

 I cannot go another second without praising this absolutely heavenly weather. We lucked out with perfectly sunny days, and it did all of our hearts good.
 REALITY: Trying to take a picture of them together. Jane tries to grab Lyla's hand. Lyla protests loudly as if Jane is chopping her arm off. Jane is stubborn, won't let go. Tears on both ends. Wish I could say this was out of the ordinary for them....
 Still a little traumatized by the invasive hand grab...
 Ending the day on the grass eating ice cream in the sunshine. PERFECT. We drove to Croatia after this and checked into our airbnb which just happened to be this adorable cabin right next to a river.
 Complete with 2 random dogs that would chase us; much to Jane's pleasure and my dismay. But in the end, I'm grateful for the dogs because Jane said those dogs were her favorite part of the trip.

 The river right next to our cabin. There were even canoes we could ride; and Jeff took Jane out for a ride one evening. So perfect! We woke up early in the morning to take a stroll around before heading to Plitvice National Park.
 And BOOM. This was the first scene. In my mind I was thinking..."dang, why would they show us the grand finale at the very beginning? Now everything else will be a disappointment!"  I was WRONG. We walked 10 kilometers through this park and the crystal blue-green water was rushing and gushing all throughout, forcing its way through every crack and crevice. Amazing us all.
 Jeff explaining to everyone the history of the park. Of course!

We walked down to this waterfall and fought a comparatively small group of asians to get this picture. Jeff and I were talking about how funny that is...when we are traveling ANYWHERE that is even a little bit touristy, the greatest task is to get a picture without any asians in it. They travel in HOARDS, never in pairs or small groups. The good thing is that they are so sweet and kind and are always asking to take pictures of my children, and their selfie sticks are sacred to them. They've become a comfortable constant in our travels ;)
Jane conquered that rock like a champ. I love how determined her little mind is. She loves to do hard things and try, try, try again if she can't do it at first. And, as you can see, Lyla's never far behind. 

 One of the many schools of fishies we saw swimming in the water. And somehow, each fish was just as exciting as the next for our little girls. Lyla was smacking her lips like fish all day long to show her appreciation.
 ^^ this was the part of the day when I had to hike ahead of everyone for a few let off steam. Jane had FOUR accidents today and it was incredibly frustrating to me. Especially since she would pee only minutes after I asked her "do you have to go potty?" After I could calm myself, I walked with her and had her recite potty training affirmations that I was making up off the top of my head. "I can control my body. I WILL control my body. I will pee in the toilet, because I'm a big girl!"

 Lyla getting out of the carrier to stretch her curious and adventurous little legs!
 They simply had to scoop up armfuls of leaves and throw them in the air every chance that they got! Sometimes they humored me by posing or smiling for the camera, other times I had to trick them by asking "Who wants a snack?" and then they would both at least look at me, while raising their hands enthusiastically.
 Sandwiches on our boat ride.....taming the hangry beasts. 
 That water! I'd never seen water so clear AND colorful. We could see every single thing that was on the bottom of the ponds/lakes. It was actually really interesting to see what was under the water.
 AMAZING! I was gushing as hard as the waterfalls themselves. 

 REAL men carry infants in hiking back packs :)

 This was one of the last scenes and the grand finale. So beautiful! I love that we got so many family pictures on this trip since Amy and Sam were kind enough to take turns taking pictures.
Another kilometer or 2 of walking, overlooking the park from a distance, and we were finally got to the busses. 10 kilometers and Jane only started whining a little bit towards the very end. I was so proud of her! We all felt rejuvenated and refreshed and I cannot think of a better way to spend a day than out in a natural beauty like Plitvic Lakes. We went back to our cabin that night and listened to some general conference, and ate salami and cheese sandwiches. And Jeff took Jane on a canoe ride which resulted in many bursts of giddy laughter on her end. A sweet, perfect, simple evening.
This trip was our very favorite of all the family trips we've taken. My goal was that it would rejuvenate, not replete. Calm, not stress. It was just what we needed and we've been on a family high ever since :)


  1. Beautiful scenery! LOVE seeing your travels!

  2. I love reading about your adventures and thank you for sharing the beautiful pics of some breathtaking places in nature..... it was so calming and enjoyable to read about it on your blog.....

  3. This looks like the most beautiful place you've been! Your girls are just beautiful! And I am so dealing with the same potty stresses. I too have a stubborn almost 4-year-old who is still in diapers for the 10th time. I keep praying for patience. I don't want my frustrations with this to ruin our relationship. I will pray for you, my friend. Please keep posting these amazing adventures!



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