Monday, February 13, 2012

Snow Day

Drake and Alex

Luke on his sled shoes

Drake fying

Drake on sled shoes

Jack and Drake...I think Drake was the sled.

The woods were so peaceful and quiet.

The view toward our house.
We got a great snow Sunday, and with this being the kids' ski week, we decided to hit a hill a couple of minutes from our house.  With the sun shining, the 20 degrees didn't feel too bad, but we did only stay out about an hour.  Jack, Drake's good friend came with us.  Here are some pics of the fun the kids had.  I am so glad my kids are tough...snow in their mouths, down their jackets, in their boots, etc and no complaints or tears.  These make for some fun days!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Baseball, Slovenia style

The field.

Drake at 3rd.
Baseball in February... Slovenia style.  Both of the boys play on a baseball team here in LJ...Team Long Bridge.  They are having a great time with many local children sharing their passion for the game and teaching them how to holler and "look like"  American baseball players.  Would you believe there aren't Slovene baseball words...they shout, "out, strike, foul, etc".  It makes it easier for us to follow, especially when some of the indoor rules are a little different. 
Luke at bat.

When we heard the team practiced through the winter we wondered what that would be like....then we heard they actually had tournaments in the winter.  We soon came to discover that the tournaments were held inside basketball gyms.  While the "field" is smaller and they play with a rubber core baseball, the boys still have a great time.  Bases get taped to the floor and it is coach pitch.  Luke normally plays second base and Drake usually plays first or third base.  On a day like today, we were all glad that we were indoors.  If you look closely at the gym picture, you will see snow falling in the trees.  It fell all day and didn't get much above 22 degrees.  Definitely not baseball weather. 
The "dugout"

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Roma visit to Bostanj Castle Ruins

For the second time we joined up with some that we worship with on Sundays, to visit a Roma settlement and take them on a "field trip".  We had been 2 weeks earlier and had just hung out with the kids and had gotten to celebrate one of the girl's birthdays.  There was a young boy Blaz there who Alex kept trying to play with.  He would run away everytime we got close.  It has been so fun to have Alex with us on these visits, because she is a great ice breaker.  She has no inhibition towards anyone and goes right up to all of them.  They in turn are mesmerized by her and want to know where she is from.  This visit we were even asked if she was Roma, as she looked like darker Roma from close to the coast.

This visit we took the children on a hike up to the remains of a castle.  Blaz and 3 other boys joined us as well as a group of 2 girls.  The rest of the group was our Sunday morning gang.  We outnumbered them, but I pray that they felt loved and not forgotten. 

Becca, Alex and me
Alex and the boys
Luckily, the weather wasn't too cold and it was pretty dry.  We set out to the castle and except for having to call the boys back to us a few times, it went well.  I loved seeing the remains and the kids had a good time exploring. We hiked back down and the kids played a soccer game all together.  After playing for a bit, we headed back to the settlement to share some good ol' American brownies with the kids and their parents.  On the walk back home, it was obvious the boys didn't understand boundaries too much.  The boys would walk right up to a porch of someone else, or begin to play right at a front door of a home.  It reminded me very much of how Alex acted when we first got home from Peru.  On the walk home however, the boys began to become more comfortable with us.  They loved having their pictures taken and looking at them and Blaz even hugged Alex in a picture.  She recognized what that meant and was thrilled that he had accepted her.  The brownies went over well (more so with the kids than with the adults) and after sharing, we headed home.  As we headed home, we pondered something that had been pointed out to us.  After being in one of the homes, we realized, there were small kitchens, but no bathrooms.  No wonder the kids especially have such a hard time plugging into mainstream schools.  Again, I couldn't help but think of our time in Peru and seeing so many shanti towns.

Lili, the social worker who works with the Roma, and the girls!
I don't know how much we can change while we are here, but if we can take the love of Christ to these people, their lives will be changed from the inside out.  My heart is that they know that even though they view themselves as outcasts, they will know they are not forgotten.  With these visits, we as a family are reminded how blessed we are and that we have done nothing to deserve the blessing of being born into the familes and life that we were born into.  Serving on the outcasts and forgotten is truly a privilege. 
The whole gang

Friday, February 10, 2012

Idrija Field Trip

Tags the original miners used as they went down into the mine.
Original entrance
Heading Down
 One of the many blessings of being stationed overseas is that field trips for Luke mean field trips for Mom too. Yesterday, I got to chaperon a day trip to Idrija, Slovenia.  We started the day visiting one of the oldest mines in Europe where mercury was mined for 500 years after being found in 1508. 
We started the tour with a video explaining the process and history of Idrija, but I must confess I was anxious to get under ground. 

After the video, we donned our jackets and hard hats and entered through the original entrance.  You will see the word srecno over the entrance...this means Good Luck.  We headed into the main shaft, Anthony's Main Road and into the mine.

After the main hallway, we entered a room with a chapel where the miners would stop and pray.  
Chapel inside the mine where the miners stopped to pray before going further down into the mine.
While inside, we learned that the miners mined the cinnabar a red rock out of the mine and then heated it up to burn off the mercury.  
Some of the mercury also came right out of the shale and this was mined as well.  I couldn't help but think about the 7 dwarfs as I saw all of the rails that the mining cars used to use to get the heavy cinnabar out of the mine with.  After we climbed the 100 steps out of the mine, (glad that we didn't have to use 1000 steps like the original miners did), we headed to the local gostilna. For lunch we we had zlikrofi,  a dumpling with potato filling, famous in this part of Idrija.  After lunch we headed up the hill to visit a traditional miner's home.  
An original Idrija miner's home.

These homes would usually be occupied by 3 local mining families.  Idrija is speckled with these homes.  We then went "across town" to the castle, where we got to see many samples of cinnabar and mercury as well as instruments used in mining.  There was also an amazing area dedicated to the craft Idrija is known for, lace making.  
The bobbins tatting Idrija lace.
When miners flocked from across Europe to Idrija to become miners, their wives brought their talents with them.  Lace making from around Europe was perfected in the area.  Idrija lace is one of the traditional Slovenian gifts and the art of tatting continues to be handed down through the generations. 
Luke's class

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Matejaz Snow Castle Competition

Becca and Deb

Luke and William working from the inside.

The Lord's Supper
The snow slide
King Matjaz
Last Saturday afternoon, we were invited to help a team with Layne's boss to build a snow fort in a local village competition. We had no snow on the ground in LJ and we heard the kids could go up and play in the snow while we built, so we thought, "hey, this will be fun!".  Little did we know what we were heading to. After a 2 hour car ride, we arrived in northern Slovenia, close to the Austrian border.  Crna na Koroskem is a small village nestled in a cozy valley, that was begun as a mining town.  As legend has it, King Matjaz is alseep in a local cave and when the appointed time comes, he will awake and take his throne again.  He will need a castle of course, so every year, local teams build their best to see if he will pick theirs.  There were over 100 teams ranging from 4 people up to what seemed to be 100.  Teams came and set up camp for the day complete with camp fires, tables and chairs, and of course the local winter favorite, kuhano vino, hot mulled wine.  Some teams had members cooking for them and some had brought their squeeze box  to cheer their teams along.  At 10am, there was a countdown and the building began.  There were 2 huge piles of frozen snow, that teams  cut snow blocks out of the pile and hauled them to their building location.   After these blocks were stacked, water was poured over them to make them smooth.  Sculpting then began and as you can see from the pictures, there were some quite talented sculpters.  While the building was going on, you could grab a drink at the snow bar, built out of snow and the kids could slide down the 2 story slide built out of snow.  The town had been preparing for weeks.  Our castle building was a family affair as all 6 Trospers joined with the McKinney family to build our castle.  Teams built right up until 4pm, when all building had to stop.  By this point, literally hundreds of people were pouring into this village to behold the snow creations.   According to a local, this town of 3500 would end up hosting thousands of guests over the weekend.  As the sun set, torches were lit at each castle and the village turned into a beautiful glow of orange and yellow as the flames reflected off the white snow.  While our toes were frozen by this point, and we were ready for a hot fire, we all realized we had gotten to take part in a really fun tradition in this part of Sovenia.  It was truly an amazing day, we won't forget.  

Alex even helped out.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


 For most children, learning to ride a bike is a rite of passage.  This past fall for Alexandra, it was so much more than this.  When she came into our family at 4 yrs old,  pedaling any time of bike was very hard for her.  After lots of tears and persistence, she learned to ride with training wheels. 

As she started Kindergarten (Year 1 here) we decided she could learn this important task.  There were many days filled with "I can'ts" and tears (from her and me) as she struggled with this task. She saw it as just too difficult for her.  With her sweet Daddy's help and encouragement, she did not let herself give up.  These pictures are from the day she decided she could do this!  She came home from school and announced she was ready to try again.  There was cheering from all of us, including Becca, Drake, and Luke.  This was just the beginning of Alex learning how working hard toward something really pays off.  Since this day, one of her favorite activities is to go on rides with Daddy. 
Note:  She quickly got to the curb as this car approached!  :)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Party

It wouldn't be Christmas without a Christmas Party and today we got to spend the afternoon with our Embassy community at the Ambassador's residence. It is always fun to watch Alex at these events, even though patience is not her strong suit. Candy and deserts everywhere, tons of presents under the tree...who can blame her? When Santa came in her eyes lit up and she couldn't have been happier to see him! It was hard for her to wait her turn, but with a little help from Luke she got up to the front of the line and climbed on his lap. It is so fun to watch Christmas through the eyes of a child. The rest of us enjoyed it as well, getting to catch up with friends and watch the excitement of the little ones. Becca and Drake were of great help by helping many of the younger ones with the crafts.   It is fun to see just how down to earth people are and that we really are all the same, no matter what our position. I am thankful to be having this experience with my family and to be celebrating this Christmas season in this beautiful country. (Though some snow would be nice!)