Ah! Summer vacations have finally begun. I.. we have been counting down to this day for weeks now. Finally no alarms. The kids don't go to camp.. and save for a swim crash course later in July we are free. A few years ago I read somewhere.. and it's the most obvious thing but it hadn't occurred to me before then; 18 summers is all we get with our children.. maybe more if we're lucky so we need to try to make each one count. Which means I may disappear here and there..

The weeks leading up to today were crazy busy with the end of Ramadan and Eid celebrations.. I had friends visiting. One I hadn't seen in 5 years and another in 3.. I met some of their kids for the first time.. and while we only had a few hours together we had a wonderful time catching up and it was a joy to watch all our babies playing together.

We celebrated D's 9th birthday over the weekend.. more details on the birthday to follow soon. And H graduated Pre K.. He's off to public school next year, riding on the school bus with his big brother.


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2nd Chance by James Patterson

2nd Chance by James Patterson

Synopsis A brutal madman sprays bullets into a crowd of children leaving a San Francisco church. Miraculously-or was it intentionally?-only one person dies. Then an elderly black woman is hung. Police homicide inspector Lindsay Boxer senses a connection and together with medical examiner Claire, assistant D. A. Jill, and Chronicle reporter Cindy, finds a link that sends a chill through the entire nation. This killer's motives are unspeakable.

Thoughts The book snob in me would have never thought of reading something by James Patterson but then I read two of his books last year and enjoyed both of them immensely. One of them was part of the Women's Murder Club series. It's of course another crazy killer and impossible case but with Lt. Lindesy Boxer as the main protagonist partnered with three other fiercely strong, independent and brilliant women it makes it a great girl power kinda read which is a huge plus. Also you don't expect to be getting all teary eyed while ready about grisly murders but this one had been welling up on the second page and then again 3/4th in. I'm definitely going to continue reading the other books in this series.

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Friday Photography

As I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago unfortunately not all photographs do well as just photographs and when I see them sitting in my shop getting no love I give them something new to do. This particular photograph was taken in Baltimore

Zippered Pouch - Available in 3 different sizes. Buy any two and get 15% off

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Three Beautiful Days in Prague

We left Vienna in the afternoon and arrived in Prague at night.. hungry and tired we grabbed some Burger King at the train station and then a taxi to our hotel. The hotel, Hotel U Zlatých Nůžek was in the Mala Strana area also known as Lesser Town. The hotel couldn't be more perfect. It was a one bedroom and in the most charming area right under the famous Charles Bridge. There was no elevator but we we only had carry ons so not a big problem.

The hotel offered a free breakfast. 

We spent the day exploring the area...We stopped at the John Lennon wall. Once a normal wall, but since the 1980s it has been filled with John Lennon-inspired graffiti and pieces of lyrics from Beatles' songs. Located in a small and secluded square across from the French Embassy, the wall received its first such decoration following the 1980 assassination of John Lennon when an unknown artist painted a single image of the singer-songwriter and some lyrics. It has been painted over numerous times and the next day it is full of lyrics and flowers again.

We passed by the St. Nicholas Church.. did not go inside and headed to Nerudova street.. we walked along it peaking in to the various shops.

Nerudova street ended at the Prague Castle. We bought a Circuit B family ticket that gave us access to the castle, cathedral and the Golden Lane.

 Super creepy gargoyles on the cathedral.

 View from the castle

On the castle grounds there were food stalls, a blacksmith that captivated H's attention and other vendors as well. We ate there.. then headed to the Golden Lane where there was a armor museum

and small houses preserved as they once were.. the lane ended in the Dalibor Tower which was once a dungeon.. some torture devices still hung in the dungeon. -_-

While heading towards the Charles Bridge we accidentally stumbled upon the Wallenstein Palace. It is a Baroque palace that served as a residence for Imperial Generalissimo Albrecht von Wallenstein and now houses the Senate of the Czech Republic. The gardens were beautiful but the best part was the white peacock who was not shy at all.

It was one of the highlights of our day. 

The boys also encountered a man with fluffy pigeonesque birds that they held.

M had a friend from Germany who also happened to be in Prague. We were going to be meeting him and his family for dinner on the other side of Charles Bridge..

Charles Bridge is a pedestrian bridge.. and so crowded! I headed up there at 7am the morning we were leaving an there were still people up there.. and so many brides too.. seems like a popular wedding photo spot.

There were still a few hours before dinner :) A chimney cake full of soft serve.

We did a quick stroll through Old Square before heading towards the selected dinner spot. We had planned to explore the square in more detail the next day..

The next morning we started off with another breakfast at the hotel and then crossed the Charles Bridge and headed towards Old Town.

You can see Prague Castle in the distance.

We headed towards the Spanish Synagogue and surrounding area called Josevov but unfortunately everything was closed.. we continued to stroll.. passed by Our Lady of Tyn Church.. we didn't go inside and eventually ended up in the Old Square. Stopped by a market to buy berries.. 

We had lunch in a restaurant right across the astronomical clock and saw it do it's thing at the hour.. it was incredibly unimpressive. If you find yourself in Prague don't stand around and waste your time to watch the clock.. even the kids were not interested.

and then we wandered around some more.. we went to Wenceslas Square which is the center of New Town.. 

a little travelling with kids pro tip - whenever our kids started to get tired of walking or the heat or anything we duck into a book store. It didn't matter that the books were not even in English.. we also play a lot of Eye Spy.

We'd all been itching for some gelato when we found Amato. Tying with the rose gelato in Budapest this was some phenomenal gelato.. the flavors were so flavorful! 

More pictures taken along the way. We walked all the way to the Dancing House aka Fred and Ginger a nickname given to the Nationale-Nederlanden building. It was designed by the Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Milunić in cooperation with Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry (huge fan.. saw some of his buildings in Boston)

We were getting a little tired now.. we spotted a playground nearby, the kids played while we took a break. Along the water we noticed these large floating orbs.. which we later learned are called zorbs and decided to go zorbing!

It was such a cool experience! If you ever get the opportunity I would highly recommend it. It was a 20 min session.. D and I went in one and M and H in another. 

We crossed the Charles Bridge again and headed back to our side of the city.. we walked through Kampa Island where there were a few sculptures made by Czech sculptor David Černý I wanted to see before we ate dinner. 

Can you guess the boys favorite?

We had planned on going to a Thai restaurant but turns out we needed to make a reservation.. then found a Mexican place that too didn't have any tables available.. instead we placed a take out order and ate in our room..  the staff at the restaurant, Alebrijes were very nice and the food was good too. 
Before we knew it it was our last day.. it was a chilly one.. we had our morning breakfast at the hotel and after waking through Kampa Island again we made our way to Petrin Hill. We made a stop at Cafe Savoy on the way but as our luck had it, they had no tables available. 

At the top of Petrin Hill is the Petrin Tower which looks like a mini Eiffel Tower.. we took the elevator up and walked down.

There was a Mirror Maze at the park that the boys got a kick out of.

On the way out of the park we found our way back to Nerudova Street where we had lunch, aptly named Good Eats.

Now in all honesty.. looking back at the itinerary I think we could have done without this last day in Prague.. or maybe spent two and half days in Prague and spent 1/2 a day more in Budapest. We were trying to figure out what to do next. We found the Karel Zeman Museum right around the corner from our hotel. It was a small museum focusing on the special effects in Karel Zeman's films in the 20th century. While we had never heard of Mr. Zeman we still had fun and learned a little too.

Afterward we hit another bookstore.. 

then the narrowest street in Prague .. we had no idea this even existed until we saw this crowd of people waiting near what we thought was a restaurant. The street had a signal light.. when it was green you went down the stairs.. then once down it was a dead end so you had to wait for the light to turn green again so you could go up it again.. 

our last dinner at Street Burger Bistro and then our last gelato at Amorino

It was such a great trip.. can hardly wait till our next adventure :)

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