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What can you expect from this blog?

The best description of our family would be – always on the move. There has been barely a weekend in this year that we have stayed at home. We love and need travelling – just like air to breathe. So the major topic that will be covered will include  travelling : how to travel with two small kids only with the hand luggage, about transport and eating on budget, enjoyable long flights etc.

Title of the blog’s domain mentions Montessori – I will explain how we incorporate Montessori philosophy in our every day life, how we use long journeys in car to teach our kids practical skills (putting on socks, shoes, etc.), how our kids are aware of geography and to which extent. As well when finished I will also put how i made some DIY Montessori materials. Every day of parenting brings new challenges so many will be discussed – like how does toilet learning process look like when you travel so much? How do our kids deal with being surrounded with 4 languages on daily base?

Enjoy:)

slikablog

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Miro’s Montessori journey 15-25 months

As from my previous post about 12-15 months of Miros journey, where I mentioned the crucial importance of movement in his life, the need has just increased with time. There is not a single shelf he has not climbed, not a single fence he did not try to cross or a tree he did not intend to climb. He is so much more into climbing than his sister who was more into dancing and fine motorics in the same age. Every child is so different. I am sure you have not heard a lot about children who go to sleep with their metal pan or bagger, well our Miro does ❤ He in unique in ever sense. Having a strong willed child can bring so many challenges, but it also results in your increase in knowledge and keep learning every day. Most materials that were interesting to Natalia in this age, such as sorting by colour and real puzzles (3 piece etc) are of no interest to Miro. In this regard I really love following Montessori citations:

It is necessary, then, to give the child the possibility of developing according to the laws of his nature, so that he can become strong, and, having become strong, can do even more than we dared hope for him.

I must say especially this phrase resonates with us, we did not have a lot of expectations from Miro, since he loved so much running after ball and dribbling we thought he could be a good football player (for few months he showed interest only and exclusively in ball). We even made fun that at least as football player he ll be able to earn more money and have a decent life, and many family members just compared Miro to Modric (famous Croatian football player).

But the truth is we did not try hard enough to really follow him, especially in those challenging months (15-18 in his case;). He has just suddenly surprised us from speaking only few words in summer to complete explosion of vocabulary in december where he started fluently speaking in 3 languages, speaking actually more than Natalia in that age. Ofcourse, he has an amazing mentor – his older sister, and she did not have this privilege. I would love to add two more beautiful Marias phrases:

The child is the spiritual builder of mankind, and obstacles to his free development are the stones in the wall by which the soul of man has become imprisoned.

“The secret of good teaching is to regard the child’s intelligence as a fertile field in which seeds may be sown, to grow under the heat of flaming imagination.”

We have discovered the true passion of Miro – cooking, I thought Natalia likes cooking, but this little guy, he adores cooking. Whenever he sees you are taking some pan or bowl to do something in the kitchen he ll just appear there bring his chair and demand he takes part in cooking. And cooking is our main educational tool with Miro – thanks to cooking he is amazing in fine motorics (mixing, pouring, adding, cutting, frying just name it he is an expert) and counting. When we make cakes he counts spoons (he can follow depicted recipe but still doesn’t recognize written numbers so I just draw 5 spoons and he adds than 5 spoons..etc). There is a video in the comments here Miro like pro preparing lunch

https://www.facebook.com/mateahinkoadventure/videos/324110831536517/

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In order to provide your kids freedom and teach them idependence and avoid hearing constantly “Mom ,please give me some water, I’m thirsty – the best ever 4 euro investment was into the water pitcher which is in daily use:D

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About toilet learning – lets say we are not in hurry, whenever Natalia goes to toilet he also has to go and then he really uses toilet, also when we re in restaurants, for some weird reason he loves to do his stuff in restaurant toilets regularly but not at home, hmmm… He still does not self initiate and we do not plan to force it, his time will come, I know when he will be ready transformation will appear in one day.

He loves to help around the garden but most of all he loves to copy paste the work of his big sister, whatever she does he also has to try, one must say he indeed has the best teacher possible, Natalia is so patient and sometimes knows better than me how to avoid any of Miros tantrums 🙂

 

What are your 2 year olds up to?:D

Mini Balkan road trip – Part 5

After waking up in Theth and having a nice hike in the area we decided to head south. Since the rain started to fall, we made changes to our original plan (which included kayaking around Koman lake) and went in the direction of Tirana. Since we were already tired and very hungry after hike we decided to stop in some restaurant In Shkoder. They did not have most things on the menu and food was very average which we learned was typical for out of the season period. We learned the hard way if you want to eat good food. stop at some restaurant next to the road, and look that there are many local families gathered and eating – than it’s a good spot;)

Shkoder is a sweet town with a spectacular castle! Apparently on Sundays the entrance is free, otherwise entrance is 200 Lek and it is well worth it, in any other european country it would be much more expensive. Its area is huge and you manage to get a wonderful look on Shkoder lake and all the surroundings, showing you the magical cultural blend of Albania. Inside Shkoder castle there is a small shop where we bought a map and a small guide-book which had great suggestions of what to visit in Albania and had a lot of stories from its history.

Even driving inside Shkoder and going by the side roads you ll have a feeling you have entered one of Kosturica movies. A great thing about being there end of october, being November was that everything was full of delicious grenades, you could just pick them up everywhere and refresh yourself.

After visiting Shkoder we headed as we thought to Tirana, we stopped on the road in some restaurant (PLLUMI 87) full of people and enjoyed delicious meal there. It was slowly getting dark and the road to Tirana seemed to be completely block and due to that we changed our initial plan and this time decided to skip Tirana and we headed to Durres. In case you have more time than we did you should definitely stop by at Kruje, historically important city of Albania. It was my husbands birthday that day so we decided that night to sleep in some fancy hotel, thing we usually do not do. So we went randomly do Hotel Iliria Internacional, for our standards very fancy hotel located just at the beach. We paid the hotel 45 euros, breakfast was included. There were lots of bars and clubs around. Also there was amasing Konditorei, where I wanted to try everything, luckyly they were closing at 22 h, otherwise I would spend all the budget on amazing cakes and icecream there;) The best part when we woke up the next morning we could swim in sea!!! It was end of october and sea had 22 C, for locals too cold for us perfect;)

Where did we go after our amazing breakfast at the beach and more about Albanians gems in the next post:D

Mini Balkan road trip – Part 4

After leaving amazing Montenegro and crossing another border control we have entered – Albania (country nr 6). This is one of rare European countries whose language neither me nor my husband speak. Since we wanted to explore countryside, before entering Albania we decided to learn some basics of Albanian. Here are some of the phrases we found useful and learned before crossing the border;)

English                                            Albanian

Yes                                                    Po

No                                                     Jo

Thank You                                      Faleminderit

You’re welcome                             Ju lutem

Do you speak English?                 Flisni Anglisht?

How much is it?                            Sa kushton?

Beef                                                  Mish lope

Chicken                                           Mish pule

Fish                                                  Peshk

Vegetables                                      Perime

Where?                                             Lu?

Left                                                   Majtas

Right                                                Djahtas

And that’s about it;) With the exception that the first phrase we remember was Naten e Mire (goodnight) cause it consists of names of our kids;) It was enough to fully enjoy magical Albania!

Our first destination in Albania was Theth – since we did not have any Albanian money (lek) we decided to go to the closest town to ATM to withdraw some cash, since we doubted there would be any ATM in Theth. That was indeed a smart decision!:)

We didn’t book any accommodation for our trip in advance, since we were going end of October, beginning of November we were sure there would be no issues without finding something on the site.

Why did we choose Theth as our first destination in Albania and how to get there?

Theth is a small village in Skhoder county, located in the mountains in north of Albania. It is extremely picturesque and a must see for all nature lovers. Theth is located in the center of Theth natural park. Local population moved to Theth some 400 years ago in order to preserve Christian traditions. In order to reach it you should have a 4×4 car since most of the road has no asphalt or take a beautiful all day hike:) My better half agrees with me that next James Bond should definitely be filmed in Albania, we already have ideas for scenario;)

In order to reach it by car we turned in Koplik (where we had short ATM break) to the road SH21 which leads to Theth. On the road to Theth you will meet all the possible animals on the road, we have encountered donkeys, goats, pigs, cows and turkeys;) You will have to drive slow but you will enjoy every second of it, sometimes doubting are you in a dream or reality?  From Koplik you need 2 hours to reach Theth. First 30 – 45 minutes there is asphalt – and then suddenly there is no road at all;) Unless you have 4×4 better do not go there with car, you ll destroy it most probably. We had lots of luck, already it was getting dark and some guy saw on our faces that we look lost in-car cause according to our map we should already be in Theth. He spoke some English, asked as do we have accommodation we said no, he asked do we want to stay in his house, he has some rooms and his wife can cook for us. Ofcourse we said yes! He called his son to come to lead us to their home, and for the next 45 minutes we were in the car more jumping then really driving on the road – reaching the house. He called immediately his wife who was waiting for us with 3 course dinner – tomato soup, delicious lamb, salat and dessert 😀 Later we found out that they have also Airbnb so in case you plan to go to Theth we recommend you to stay at family Pashko and amazing Vera as host. We paid 14 euros in total for amazing studio (room with bathroom), huge dinner, huge breakfast and a local guide who was showing us the next day beauties of Theth and hiking together with us to the waterfall and buying as later tea at the local bar. In case you decide to go to Theth like us out of season take care – in November only 15 families stay here and you can not reach it from Koplik, we were lucky to be there on the last day the road was open. After mid November till May only very bad road is open with which you need 6 hours to reach Koplik, since in Theth in winter can be up to 6 meters of snow.

More about our Albanian adventures in the next post:D

 

 

Mini Balkan road trip – Part 3

After waking up in magical Kotor we went for a walk around the old town. At first sight it looks like the city is ruled by cats ;). Cats are literally everywhere around the old town and there are some spots where you can spot more than 30 of them. But now back to Kotor itself, after amazing breakfast in city bakery (which we paid for both of us only 2 euros in total!) we went to search for a walk around the city walls. After we climbed up we realised it costs 8 euros to make the full walk, since we did not have time (guess you would need 2 hours just for the full circle) we decided to drop it for this time and do it when we ll be next time in Kotor, and for sure we will come back. Just get lost around the narrow streets in the old town and feel the magic of the place, honestly I felt much more magic in Kotor than in Dubrovnik, maybe due to lack of crowds;) Go to the old market spot and just look around, as memory we bought a medieval map of Kotor bay. Visit some of the Kotor amazing museums (either Cat museum or Maritime museum). Great tip for Kotor – you can partially walk on city walls for free, maybe not completely legally but no-one complained we went through their magnificent gardens, guess that’s the advantage of travelling in low season. After 2 hours of amazing Kotor it was time to slowly go further.

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Our next stop was Budva, we had an amazing brunch at restaurant Vista Vidikovac  with the view of old town and the sea all around you. Extremely romantic spot, slightly expensive for Montenegro itself but compared to Austria extremely cheap. For 5 Euros you get brunch composed of 3 eggs, bread, amazing Njeguski cheese and Njeguski jamon – which I could compare without doubt to Jamon Iberico of best quality. Also deserts are extremely tasty,,,mmmm I still remember taste of them. Our observation it is much cheaper than Dubrovnik with much higher quality of service for the price. They opened restaurant just for us with smiles on their face, on contrary to Dubrovnik where people were annoyed by us asking are they still open, staff were not annoyed we set super far from the restaurant itself, cause we wanted closest spot to the sea and made us enjoy this so we felt again like on honeymoon! We completely fell in love with Montenegro, can not believe we have not come here before:D

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Than we headed for a short stop in St Stefan, very sweet fisherman town and then continued our trip to Albania (country nr 6). Before reaching Albania we made a stop at Cijevna river canyon close to Podgorica, truly magical spot, and according to local policeman soon they will open a border to Albania there – awesome for our next trip there:D Entering Albania, by passing just along the coast of Lake Skadar is truly magical, but more about our Albanian experiences in the next posts!:D

 

Mini Balkan road trip – part 2

After waking up in Novigrad and going through traditional Novigrad morning routine, which consists of eating in the bakery and going for a coffee in Flash, we headed more south. Our next destination was Klis.

All Game of Thrones fans have probably already been there. So far, I did not see a single episode of Game of Thrones – but after visiting Klis fortress (entrance ticket 40kn) I fully understand why they chose it as one of their filming locations. It is truly magnificent fortress on 3 levels kept in a great state. There are two small museums with the permanent exhibition where you can learn more about history of Klis and its warriors (famous Uskoci from Klis).

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After our nice visit to Klis and having a brunch there we realised we did not print our green card (OOOOpsie ) so we headed to Split in hope to find a print shop which would print us the green card. Since we were anyway heading to Split we also made a stop in OBI to buy a rope with which we can attach our kayak to roof. We had luck and the first print shop we called – Orion – was able to print our green card even in three different shades of green – yuhhuuuu we can continue.

Next stop was Dubrovnik – not that I planned it – but my better half has been complaining for the last 7 years that he is married to Croatian and has never been to Dubrovnik so to stop him from nagging we made a stop so he sees it at night (of course he was not satisfied and we had to stop on the way back during day). I can tell u immediately he liked it more in the night:P  In order to reach Dubrovnik you need to cross BIH (country number 4) at Neum passage – which is great cause gasoline prices are much lower there than in Croatia so if you need to tank your car, use the opportunity.

Honestly I was shocked that there were so many tourists in Dubrovnik out of season – but I guess Game of Thrones did increase its popularity. The old town is indeed magical – but prices are crazy,,,one pizza margarita 66 kn!!! Ufff so much more expensive than in Naples, the place of its origin,,,such a shame,, Honestly I can not recommend you place to eat in Dubrovnik. We did not explore a lot we made just a 2 hour break, and took in the end fast food Girice (small tasty fish) and enjoyed them:P

 

After short sightseeing of Dubrovnik we headed to Kotor, meaning we had to cross one more border. You can not enter Montenegro (country number 5) without green card that’s why we are so grateful to Print shop Orion from Split😀 Guys working at the border control are one of the nicest I have ever met during my travelling history. They were making nice jokes and letting me know that I should not forget my husband has a birthday in two days;) They also told us where to take care cause there are police controls:D In Kamenari we took a ferry to Lepetane which costs 4,50 Euros. The ride along the seaside to Kotor is just priceless. Too bad I do not have a good camera so I could not capture a nice photo of Kotor in the night – but definitely it is one of the top 3 magical spots we have visited in our lives. More about Kotor and Montenegro in the next post:D

 

Mini Balkan tour – or how did we travel across 7 countries in 7 days

We have always dreamt of making a big Balkan tour, but we seem to postpone it ever since. That is why this year we decided since we live in Austria we should use the opportunity and make a mini Balkan tour. On the picture below you can see our tour:D

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Starting from Austria (country Nr1) we passed through Slovenia (country nr 2) which we visit regularly so we decided not to stop this time. In case you have never been to Slovenia do not miss the opportunity to visit lake Bohinj, Bled and Ljubljana, each of which tell you an amazing unique story. Our favorite spot in Slovenia is Bohinj, lake is truly spectacular and there are amazing hiking routes around it.

We continued to Zagreb (capital of Croatia, country Nr 3) to leave the kids with grandpas since we wanted it to be our romantic mini Balkan tour;) Zagreb is in a way like mini Vienna, you should not miss it during Advent.

Our first night of mini Balkan tour we spent in Novigrad close to Zadar. It is the place from which I originate, so as you might guess big plus of it is that we could sleep there for free. That on side, Novigrad is truly a beautiful little fisherman town which you should visit if you ever happen to be close to Zadar. There is a very small fortress on the top of the hill. You don’t need to be very fit to climb the small hill and reach magnificent fortress from the 13th century. During climbing you become aware how huge complex this was long time ago. You can visit a chamber where once queen Elizabeta Kotromanic was kept – more known as mother of famous queen (in Poland known as king) Jadviga. According to the legend her older daughter Marija was saved but the queen Elizabeta was killed and thrown to the river of Zrmanja. Being there you must feel special – from the fortress you can enjoy the view of the amazing sunsets in Novigrad. Also you should be aware that till beginning of 19 th century Novigrad was more like an island there was no road to reach it you could reach it only via boat – it used to be isolated pearl of Dalmatia. You can also see on the first level the well which was found out recently.
Climbing the stairs you can notice holes in which once cannon balls were – which are at the moment kept in the museum of Novigrad. Definitely a must visit – either just for romantic sunset, amazing history or view.

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In the next post comes our adventure number 2 and crossing other two countries:)

Making cookies with toddlers

I love making cookies! My kids as well:D

Here I will share with you our advent favourites, starting from the simplest one that requires no baking so it can be completely performed by 2 toddlers to slightly complex (toddler’s complex ) apple dessert:D

  1. Home made praline

Ingredients you need: 400 g digestive biscuits (Vollkornkekse)

500 mL condensed milk (Kaffe Milch)

5 big spoons of coconut flour

4 big spoons of cacao

200 g butter

for decoration : almonds, walnuts and coconut flour

Recipe: Melt the butter in microwave. Smash the biscuits so you turn them in powder like matter. My kids put biscuits in the plastic bag for freezing and used rolling-pin to go over them few times. Than you mix it all with melted butter, cacao and coconut flour, add condensed milk and put on a big flat surface and place on balcony so it cools down. We protected our with aluminium foil so birds do not eat it all:D After it has been cooled in fridge or outside you can cut it in squares and make balls of it, roll them in almond, walnuts or coconut and serve. VERY IMPORTANT : do not let your kids make this before they ate dinner – cause they ll eat all the time along the way:D

2) Banana cookies Our home favorites, we make them every week:)

Ingredients you need: 1 ripe banana

200 g flour

100 g butter

20 g vanilla sugar

Recipe:  Just mix all ingredients, roll it , cut in fun shapes and put to bake on 200 C for 13 minutes and you have super tasty cookies that fill your house with an amazing banana smell:D I have shared last year recipe for them as well, but this year I discovered you do not need baking powder at all:D

cake13) Gingerbread cookies

Ingredients you need: 340 g flour

1 tablespoon of cinnamon

1 table-spoon of milled ginger

1 small spoon of NaHCO3 (soda, Natron,,)

a pinch of milled cloves

115 g of butter

5 spoons of honey

almonds and food colour for decoration

80 g powder sugar

1 egg white

2 spoons of lemon juice

Recipe: First in a separate bowl mix all the solids (after passing them through a sieve, so all the solids are in a form of fine powder). In another bowl place honey and butter and put in microwave to melt. After it is slightly cooled down mix it all well together and place in a plastic bag and put in fridge for 30 minutes. In the meantime prepare the decoration cover: Mix the egg white with powder sugar and lemon juice till you get a very dense mixture. Separate egg white in few small bowls so you can use different colours for decoration. After you take the mixture from the fridge roll it with a roller pin, let your kids cut the cookies and decorate. After they are finished decorating place it in oven at 200 C for 15 – 20 minutes and enjoy!:D

3) Simple almond cake🙂

Ingredients: 200 g milled almonds

80 g of almonds for decoration

1,5 eggs

50 g of sugar

Recipe: Mix 1 egg with al the rest of solid ingredients, and then add additional yolk. Mix it very well, pour into the cake form and bake for 20 minutes at 200 C,,,Njammmm

4) Apple, orange chestnut wonder (Apfel kastanie)

Ingredients:  2 big apples

2 big oranges

100 g of cooked meshed chestnut

3 spoons of sugar

2 spoons of rum

whipped cream

Recipe: Make a hole in apples in oranges so you can fill them with the mixture of chestnut, sugar and rum. Bake in preheated oven at 200 C for 20 minutes. Decorate with cold whipped cream and enjoy!!! Me and kids prefer apples my husband prefers oranges:)

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What are your favorite Advent cookies or sweet desserts? Would you like to try some of my?:D