Ollie’s Ninth Birthday

Ollie’s Gang

We had a special day on Wednesday to mark the ninth anniversary of Oliver’s birth. He invited four friends over for a Nerf gun extravaganza! There were bullets flying all over the house and the kids had a great time. A highlight was the weekly radio check to the US Marines at the embassy. We walked to Ollie’s favorite restaurant, Quan Du Je, in Senjak. It is a nice thing about Serbia is that they love kids and chaos, so no one was bothered by the boys chasing each other and being loud in the restaurant.

We finished the night by watching World War Z and reading a bit of the Zombie Apocalypse Handbook. It was a total boy’s party. Another interesting moment was the candle explosion during singing Srećan Rođendan (Serbian Happy Birthday) and you can see the video here.

Happy Birthday to our charismatic, high-energy, mischievous, boundary-testing, curious, knowledgeable, warm hearted, loving little guy! We love you and enjoy your tenth year!

Oliver Turns 4: Srećan Rođendan! Happy Birthday!

The Gang, originally uploaded by bill kralovec.

Yesterday we held Oliver’s birthday party because the May Day holiday. We invited some friends of ours and their children to come and celebrate Ollie’s big day. The kids, shown above, had a wonderful time, running around, laughing, and screaming and mostly leaving the adults alone for us to enjoy ourselves too. Our pergola is the perfect place to host parties, where both children and adults can have a good time. The name pergola is a bit pretentious, but it is the proper term to describe our back gazebo/patio set up in our yard. We have the incredible vine that has been trained to grow over the lattice and it really is our summer house. We spend as much time out there as we do inside the house during good weather. That is a nice thing about Belgrade, is that the spring and fall is warm and long. We use the pergola from August – mid-November and then again from mid-March to June. We are on holiday and outside the country in July.

Janko loved the strawberries!
Janko loved the strawberries!

We were concerned in the morning because it was cool and cloudy. I spent most of the day cutting the lawn, trimming the vines on the pergola, sweeping, preparing the grill, and getting the drinks ready for the party.  The sun came out later in the day and by the time the party began at 4:00 PM, the day was beautiful. It did cool down later in the evening and we all went in to watch the kids dance party. The main course was of course the Serbian specialty, a BBQ. I prepared “pljekavica” as well as chicken shish kebabs wrapped in bacon. Nadia made a cake for Oliver’s birthday and a dessert for the adults which was a delicious strawberry truffle the kids then enjoyed ice cream cones .

The kids played with sidwalk chalk
The kids played with sidwalk chalk

Oliver received two toy motorcycles, one from our nanny Vera. He also got a water gun and a nice book, “We’re Going On a Bear Hunt.” He laughed and had a fantastic time, being the complete wildman he is. Right before the party, true to form, Oliver fell when Owen was chasing him with water balloons. Oliver had a big bump right in the middle of his forehead. We used to call him unicorn boy because of this and it was appropriate that he did this on his special day. He is such a little character and talks to everyone.

It was nice to have a Serbian touch to the day and Owen’s teacher Verica sang Srećan Rođendan (Happy Birthday). We were laughing at the kids trilingualism, Spanish-Serbian-English. Nadia and I were exhausted at the end of the evening. The party didn’t end until around 9:00 PM.

It was a good day had by all! Happy Birthday Ollie – We Love You!!!! To see more photos of the evening, please check out my flickr.com account.

The Girls Had a Good Time Too
The Girls Had a Good Time Too

Happy Birthday Oliver!

Olliebirthdaycollage, originally uploaded by bill kralovec.

Oliver turned four years old yesterday. We are having a party today, May 1, as it is a national holiday in Serbia. I’ll be posting photos later.

The collage shows Ollie in his three significant places. The first, starting from the upper left and going clockwise, shows Nadia holding Oliver outside our home in Venezuela. Oliver is then shown mowing the grass in our former home in Iron Mountain, Michigan. Lower right shows him climbing rocks in the Mesa area of central Anzoategui, Venezuela and finally, it shows him in the swamp at our former family country house in Bolivia.

Oliver Featured In Web Banner

The International (USA-Canada) Joint Commission  for Great Lakes Water Quality is using a photo of my son Oliver. They found the photo on my flickr.com account and asked me permission to use it. The photo you can see above is from last summer on our annual trip to Lake Superior. We stopped after a day of hiking in the Porkies, just west of Ontonogan, Michigan. Oliver and friends Brandel and Lauren were throwing rocks into the water and running from the waves. The photo will be representing the beaches aspect of Commission’s mission.

The Great Lakes Regional Office does valuable work preserving and improving the water quality of the Great Lakes. It is great that perhaps Oliver’s joy will inspire politicians, scientists, and citizens to prioritize a preservation of this beautiful area.

I have travelled all over the world and seen many places, and one of my favorite, is still the south shore of the “big lake they call Gitchigummee.”

The communication that the internet has made possible never ceases to amaze me…

Oliver Takes After His Uncle Andy



Oliver is showing off his two stitches. Yesterday he fell going up the steps in school. When I got over to the Lower School, he was on the bus with a crying mother, the school nurse, and our head of security. We headed down to Bel Medic. Oliver has a half circle shaped deep gash on the bridge of his nose.

At the clinic, the doctor sewed up the cut without local anesthetic. I thought the doctor was going to do it, but he just started stitching. Oliver was a tough little guy. They have a tendency in former communist Serbia not to use anesthetic. It hurt both Nadia and I to watch him go through that. He was wailing, but he stayed still. He went home after, took a nap, and then later that night was up again and playing soccer in the yard.

He was doing fine today and went to school. I guess Oliver learned from his Uncle Andy

Potty Training Oliver

Oliver M&M Ceremony, originally uploaded by bill kralovec.

This clip is a short ceremony we held to encourage Oliver to use the bathroom. He is now wearing big boy underwear and Nadia came up with the idea to have an M&M jar on top of the fridge. When he tells us he has to go to the bathroom, he receives M&M’s. Yesterday he was 3 out of 5 opportunities.

We hope to have him perfect before school starts in August.

Ocean’s First Time In Swing

Ocean First Time In Swing, originally uploaded by bill kralovec.

Tuesday I was left with Ocean and Oliver when Nadia was out doing errands with the rest of the family. We went for a stroll around the campus. Oliver rode his blue bike with my help and Ocean was in her stroller. We stopped to pick mangos and I put Ocean in one of the swings in the play ground. It was her first time in a real swing and she was laughing. She was also a bit scared. She is so cute and cuddly!

That is one of the nicest things we like about our time at Escuela Anaco-the fact that we live on campus and have a large area for the kids to play. We have plenty of space here, with two playgrounds, trees to climb, green areas to explore, the gymnasium, etc.

Ocean & Oliver

Oliver’s Third Birthday Party

Wednesday afternoon we celebrated my son Oliver’s third birthday party. Birthday parties in Latin America are a big deal and we went all out to give the little guy a nice day. His first two parties were small affairs, so we wanted to do something special for him. I also think that this birthday was special because Oliver was born in Anaco and this will be his last birthday he celebrates here.

Oliver’s favorite color is green and he loves to dance so we made the theme “Green Music Party.” Nadia spent a lot of time and money in planning the party. She made cute CD invitations, made green t-shirts, made a playlist of children’s music, etc. We invited 15 children and held it in front of Alejandra’s house at the school. There is a perfect cement dance floor underneath a Merey (Cashew) tree for the kids to dance on. We played musical games like limbo (see video above), hot monkey, musical chairs, etc. Everyone had a good time, especially Oliver. Ollie is currently in the stage of hitting other children and he did throw of few tantrums, but other than that, things went smoothly. He really enjoyed blowing out the candles on his cake.

Happy Birthday Oliver – You have brought much joy to our lives.