Happy Mother’s Day!

Not only was yesterday Mother’s Day, it was also the Prague Marathon. My family and I didn’t make a special trip anywhere since we were glued to the TV watching the events of the marathon unfold. Once upon a time, my husband and I were runners and the Prague marathon has always been something that we were hoping to do one day. You will understand why if you watch this:

Anyhow, I got a beautiful set of flowers from my husband and my favorite chocolate bar.
I was asking Jakub if he had any flowers for me but he said he can’t give me any because they’re being used at the moment. I probed further and this is what I found.

Anyway, I hope all you moms out here had a great mother’s day! I sure did.

Destination: Chleby Zoo

May 1st was a Czech Labor Day holiday, so my family and I decided to do something fun.  My husband and I were initially thinking of bringing Jakub to the Prague Zoo, but knowing that there will be a couple of labor day demonstrations within the city, we decided against it.

After searching the net for possible destinations within our area, we have found the Chleby Zoo.


The Chleby zoo is located in the village of Chleby, out of Nymburk county.  It took us approximately 30 mins to get to the zoo from our place in Kolin.  Although the zoo was situated in a remote village, it wasn’t very difficult to find since there were road signs pointing to its exact location.

There are approximately 50 different species of animals and rare woody plants that can be found in the zoo.  But it specializes in breeding rare endangered species of birds.


However, what we found most interesting were the petting areas for the domestic animals.


First stop: the goat area.  Jakub had a lot of fun feeding the goats.


At first he was a little bit hesitant to touch them, but after finding out that they were totally harmless, he got comfortable.


He was even talking to them.  And they seemed to understand!  They were falling in line.


There was also a turtoise petting area.  It was Jakub’s first time to see and touch one.


….Here he is up close.


We then proceeded to the guinea pig petting area.


I know it wasn’t intended to be funny, but I thought the sign outside the petting area  was very funny.


In translation, it says:  “Boys up to 4 years old, girls without limitation.”  The second sign says:  “No chasing of guinea pigs.”

I was asking my husband why boys have an age limit and he plainly replied:  “…because once boys reach 4 years old, they start doing cruel, naughty things to animals.”  So that explains it.

After spending some time at the petting areas, we proceeded to look further at the other animals in the zoo.  I was lucky to snap a picture of this yawning leopard.


In the area for gibbons, the sign on the cage gives you a dose of Czech humor.


In translation, it says:  “The mobile phone belongs to the smarter one.”

But perhaps what left a lasting mark on me was this animal.  They call it Nutria.


And yes, it belongs to the rodent family.  Out here in the Czech Republic, these animals are farmed for their meat.  By all appearances, it looks like a rat but it can grow as big as a dog.  I must confess, I have innocently eaten one of  these.  It was mixed in a soup.  I didn’t know what or how it looked like back then, but they did tell me afterwards that it was an animal from the rodent family.  I didn’t seem to mind back then because the soup was pretty tasty.  However,  after seeing a live one at the zoo, I don’t think I will ever eat one again.  Don’t get me wrong.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.  It only eats fruits, vegetables and bread and is relatively clean.  But what I particularly find unappealing is that it looks like a rat.  I hate rats!

Anyhow, the trip to the Chleby Zoo was all worthwhile.  It is the smallest zoo I’ve ever been to, but it has its own unique charm.  For people with young children, this is a place I would definitely recommend visiting.

If you would like more information about the zoo, please click here.

Mommy’s little helper

Being the curious child that he is, my little boy almost always has to try everything that he sees I’m doing.  I am oftentimes annoyed with this gesture because it detracts me from doing my usual household chores.

Albeit one day, I decided to put his curiosity into good use by asking him to vacuum the area under the stairs for me.


I thought he was going to give up after one pass, but contrary to my expectation, he actually enjoyed it.


I was even more surprised when he actually did a good job.  Now I don’t have to worry about docking under the stairs.  I have someone to do it for me.


I’m glad that he is now finally able to help.  Now, spring cleaning wouldn’t be that tiring.

I hope you’re having a great week!

Easter Ready

Easter is coming early this year. It is this weekend already!

As I have mentioned in a previous post, Easter in CZ is celebrated quite differently from what I know. Out here, the boys whip women as a sign of goodwill to supposedly ward off bad spirits.

Another tradition is for women to give men painted eggs after they have been whipped. And yes, I still haven’t learned the art of painting eggs, so I still opted to buy my eggs from a local Easter market here in our small town.


I greatly admire the creative hands who made these eggs and always find a lot of amusement when visiting Easter markets.


This year, my husband’s mom will not be home for Easter as she just had a knee replacement surgery and will be in the hospital for therapy during that time. As such, the responsibility of preparing for Easter rests on me and my sister-in-law’s hands. With 3 small boys and 3 grown men in the house, I’m sure we will get very busy in the kitchen, not to mention the possibility of sore butts from being whipped six times.

My Funny Little Man

At 2.5 years old, my son’s innocence is a source of amusement for us.  I’d like to share with you some of his outstanding comments that are not only funny, but also taught me a lesson or two.

Since we have been confined indoors due to his illness, looking out the window has become a regular activity for us. Last week, as we were watching the garbage truck collect trash, we saw one of the garbage collectors take a leak by the roadside facing the woods. My son exclaimed: “Mommy, look! The guy is peeing in the woods.”   Since he is still on potty training, I calmly replied: “It’s ok for guys to do that. When you have to go, you gotta go.” After that incident, I thought he forgot all about it. A few days later, as we were driving through town, we saw a similar garbage truck along the way. My son excitedly exclaimed: “Look mommy!  A garbage truck….the garbage man…he will pee soon.”

Yesterday after lunch, I went upstairs with my son for his afternoon nap. But when we got into his room, he vehemently refused to go to bed and told me that he would like to play legos with me. I told him: “You have to sleep, and you have to sleep by yourself because mommy needs to clean up our mess downstairs.” He grudgingly exclaimed: “No, mama. I don’t sleep. You don’t clean. The cat in the hat will clean up our mess.”



Being the active child that he is, seeing my son sit still for a few minutes is an unusual sight. One day, he was quiet and doing just that —sitting still. I asked him what he was doing, and his curt reply was: “I’m relaxing, mama. ”  Lesson learned:  Perhaps I should too.


Since we had a lot of snow today, I told him that if he finishes his food, we can go sledding.  He then replied:  “No, mama.  No sledding.  I sick.”  And he is indeed.  Best lesson of all:  Never make promises that are impossible to keep.

One of Us

Due to this bug that have infiltrated my son’s system, we have mostly stayed indoors this past week.  Anyhow, it gave me time to figure out how to decorate the bare walls of our home.

I was browsing through some of the photos that can perhaps be made into a collage.  It is a collection of pictures of some of our most memorable trips in the West Coast.  Here’s some of them.


During a ski trip at Big Bear Lake, California.


Posing for posterity at Marina del Rey, California after biking from Will Rogers Beach to Redondo Beach.


During a short hike at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona…..way back then.


Posing at one of the rest areas (can’t remember the name) during a wine tasting trip to Solvang, California.


Posing with our friend Gus during one of the weekend runs with the Finish Line Freaks, our running team.  Boy, do I look freaky!


A classic pose after climbing the “delicate arch” in Utah.


At the Monument Valley in Utah.


Posing after coming back from a short hike down the Bryce Canyon in Utah.

As I was browsing through these pictures, my little boy was with me.  Everytime a picture is shown, he would point  to it and say:  “Tati” or “Mommy.”   But after this last photo, he exclaimed:  “Where’s Jakub?”    It was one of those very simple questions that touched my heart.  He is starting to identify himself as one of us.  He is starting to understand the idea of family.

Looking at those pictures made me miss the past.  But my little boy’s simple question made me appreciate what I have,  enough to get me excited of what’s to come.

Inside Our Passive House – Part One

As promised, here is my first post regarding our experiences living in a passive house. I’m sure most of you are more curious about the technical aspect of the house rather than the interior design, so this post is solely dedicated for that.

Our initial expectation of decreased heater usage was indeed met during our first 2 weeks here.

A sunny winter day like this is enough to raise the interior temperature to 1C to 2C.  Because of the thick insulation and air tightness, the house has the ability to keep the temperature stable.

Give us 7 sunny days like this and we may not need the heater at all.

But for days when it’s gloomy and Mr. Sun is hidden behind the thick clouds, the house’s integrated heaters are programmed to keep the temperature stable.  Potential “cold spots” within the house are equipped with heaters that look like this.


This is the biggest one  for the living room, but the smaller ones in the bedroom almost look the same.

The external blinds of the house has a central control unit that can be programmed to open and close at certain times of the day.  In winter, it is useful to open everything during the day to let the sunshine in and heat up the house.  But in summer, there will be a need to keep it closed.  Remote control switches are also available to adjust the amount of opening or amount of light that one would like to have.


With its air-tight feature, you may be curious about how the house breaths.  Well, this equipment makes it all possible.


Air vents are strategically located around the house to exchange the air.  There is no need to open the windows.  You are guaranteed to breathe in fresh air.


We still haven’t done much about the exteriors of the house, so this is pretty much how it looks like from the outside.  Come spring and the landscaping is another major project.

for blog

Anyhow, we are happy with our first few weeks in this house although it is not completely decorated yet.


Call it crazy, but we are probably one of very few people who are very eager to receive their energy bill.

‘Twas a Merry Christmas

Whew!  It almost seems like such a long time since I have updated this blog.  After moving to our new house 2 weekends ago, most of my time has been spent cleaning and fixing up the new place….and we are not finished yet.  With Christmas just around the corner, I found myself even busier.  Needless to say, life happened.

I will have a separate post regarding the house.  Meanwhile, here’s how we spent our Christmas.

On Christmas day, we drove to my in-laws’ place in Moravia in this weather.


Just looking at the frozen fog was enough to frighten me a bit, but it really is a way of life over here.  Everything seemed normal.

That same day, my husband’s brother and his family also came.  It  was a time for opening the gifts from Ježíšek (Little Jesus).  Instead of Santa, Czechs believe that Ježíšek is the one bringing gifts.  In our family, the children were asked to go with Grandpa and watch a pohadka (fairytale).


Meanwhile, the adults prepared the gifts and staged the room to appear like Ježíšek just left.  This was done by opening one window and tolling the bell.  When the children ran to the living room, they found presents under the tree.

Since they were too young to read, the adults helped tell them who the presents were for and they distributed the gifts.


Everyone was then busy opening their presents.


My little boy was very happy with the biggest gift he got from Ježíšek (a.k.a. grandma) – a toy digger.


At around 5pm that same day, we went to my husband’s grandparents to celebrate with the rest of the family.

There was another set of presents to open.  But the best part was just bonding with the family.


While the kids were busy distributing presents from the tree, the adults were doing their thing.


The kids got toys, candies and chocolates, the men got wine…..


…. or slivovice (plum liquor).


No matter what generation, it is always a hit.

In one corner, I was chatting with my father-in-law and his mother.


Although there are a lot of nice material gifts, I guess that the best gift of all is family.  Even though, my own Filipino family is too far away and I didn’t get to spend this Christmas with them, my Czech family provided me the necessary “warmth” I needed this winter season.

Mushroom Hunting: A Czech Hobby

Mushroom hunting is a favorite past-time for Czechs.   It is said that 7 in 10 Czechs go for some mushroom hunting between the months of July and November.

In keeping up with tradition, we had the opportunity of introducing Jakub to his first mushroom hunting activity this past weekend.

Dressed in our mushroom picking garb, we headed out to the woods close to Konarovice, a village close to Kolin.

Our first mushroom find got Jakub very excited.  Although he didn’t fully understand what a mushroom is, he was excited with the thought of looking for something and eventually finding it.

It was hard to explain that not all mushrooms are edible.

It became even more challenging when he started to pick out moss that was shaped like a mushroom.

I, on the other hand, had a hard time distinguishing the edible from the inedible ones since I am always more attracted to the colorful ones.  Most of the time, they are either poisonous or inedible.

But then they served a different purpose. If I can’t feast on them with my mouth, I might as well feast on them with my camera.

This year, we were not very lucky, because we didn’t follow one basic rule:  wake up with the sun.

When we got to the woods, a lot of people were already there before us.

But the whole activity in itself proved to be very worthwhile.  I found more enjoyment in communing with nature rather than picking the mushrooms.  I also enjoyed seeing my son seriously in the prowl for those precious goodies.

After finally admitting that there were no more to be found,  we found a precious spot were we rested and basked ourselves in the warm sun.

Our son on the otherhand, got busy pretending that he was drilling something in the trees.

It was such an awesome experience — one that we will definitely do over and over again.

Have you ever picked mushrooms in the woods?

This Little “Big boy” and His Crazy Mama

I was on the Krokodyl facebook page today and saw a couple of pictures of Jakub from their school activities.     I always appreciate seeing these photos since I am curious to know how my son is thriving in school.  From the looks of it, he is having fun!

This is his “take-a-picture-of-me” photo.

Photo courtesy of Zuzana Yousif

And when I say he is a handful, this is what I mean.

Photo courtesy of Zuzana Yousif

It’s hard to keep him still, as he always wants to be on the move.  Worst part is, he always wants to do what the bigger kids are doing….or the opposite.

Photo courtesy of Zuzana Yousif

Sometimes, he even wants to do what mama does to him.

Oh, this boy!

On another note, while I was on my way to pick him up from school this morning, I was wondering why people were looking at me like as if a nut fell out of my head.  It was then when I realized that I was pushing an empty stroller.   So those people may have passed me off as a looney.

Oh well, what can I say….I have my hands full.  🙂