Last week we had fun learning about monkeys while we rowed Caps for Sale. We’ve read this book at least a hundred times over the course of the last few years, but still had so much fun with it. We were lucky enough to live within a short drive of Austria’s Monkey Mountain.
The park is a protected area where approximately 160 Japanese macaque monkeys are able to run freely. They are so entertaining and I could’ve spent all day watching them (as long as they don’t get too close).
From the parking lot, we had to cross a large pond. We heard frogs and saw a few jumping amongst the lily pads. Poor Benjamin kneeled into some type of stinging plant and his leg hurt for a while. Luckily we found a water pump and the cold water relieved a bit of the pain.
I’m not sure what kind of stinging metal this was, but his leg was pretty inflamed for a bit.
It was a beautiful overcast day — perfect for watching mischievous mimicking monkeys gallivanting around their environment. The monkeys are free to run around and get so close that you could touch them. Of course they ask you not to… and who want to anyway? Monkeys are mean!
I’m glad he wasn’t begging at my leg. This was an employee, but I did spy a few monkeys doing this to visitors at different times.
Isn’t this mama and baby the cutest??? The way she doted on him was so sweet.
It was a joy to watch them frolicking around the forest.
We watched them dive for treats in the pond.
And do balancing acts on their “tight ropes”.
This monkey climbed the tree to use the bathroom. So glad we weren’t standing right under, though this proved to be the kids favorite moment of the entire experience! Ha! I suppose they do not take my “potty humor” lectures to heart.
Of course we couldn’t get out of there without a couple of pet monkeys.
Such a pretty spring day.
Next to monkey mountain was a castle and bird refuge. We started the hike and were greeted with glorious views of the Austrian countryside.
Now for the bummer… right when they got there the employees rattled off an announcement in german. We realized after the fact that they were announcing the last bird show of the day. We missed the bird show, but enjoyed these guys flying around overhead nonetheless.
We made up for missing the bird show by finding a horsey to ride — made Clara’s day! Yeehaw!
I guess this is the sign of a good day. Both kids were passed out within a few minutes of heading for home. So precious… I love these babies.
Next up… I’m finally getting around to our last week of school.
We are continuing on our quest to find Papa Piccolo in Venice. If you care to catch up on part 1 of our journey, you can read about it here.
We were determined to find the edge of the main islands and forged ahead exploring the city’s canals, bridges, and alleys.
We passed the Venice Arsenal – the heart of the Venetian naval industry since the 12th century. This was the first time I have been able to make it this far down the islands. It was wonderful! Most of the alleys belonged to us! (At least by Venice standards, that is.)
We climbed on anchors…
Gazed at the boats whizzing through the lagoon…
Inhaled the delightful aroma of wisteria…
And we even found a park! I think it may be the only playground in Venice. It was a large garden at the bottom of the city. Somehow, they seem to forget how tired their legs are when there is something to climb!
After “resting” our legs at the park, we had a long trek back to the hotel for our dinner reservations and it was time to pick up the pace… but not before we stopped to admire the sun slowly sinking over lagoon.
We made it to dinner — albeit 10 minutes late — but perfectly on time by Italian standards. And boy did it feel good to sit down and refuel!
We finished up dinner just in time to check off one of my bucket list items — dancing in Piazza San Marco under the light of the moon while the musicians perform every favorite cliche Italian folk song. That’s Amore!
Sorry for the blurry picture, but nighttime photography with dancing kids is not my forte!
Who could possibly resist another chance to chase pigeons?
They were amazed with the toy demonstrations from the “pesky” sales guys. Being the only kids out there, we were definitely a target that night.
On our way back to the hotel, we found all of the gondolas “parked”. We counted them and noticed how the gondoliers (mostly) grouped them in fives.
We were ready to crash after such a long day of walking when Benjamin found How it’s Made on TV. He was so thrilled and shouted, “That’s what I watch with grandpa!” So we capped off a great day by learning how race cars are made.
We woke up to another beautiful day feeling refreshed and ready for more! One nice thing about staying in the heart of Venice, is that you have the place to yourself in the early mornings and late evenings. I was surprised how much they loved wandering the streets — taking notice of every nook and cranny — and especially loving the dead ends.
Benjamin and Clara took turns leading the way and we spent almost the entire morning getting lost.
I actually took a selfie!
I have to post another one, because… look at Clara’s “duck face”! It was totally unprompted.
We eventually found ourselves in the Dosoduro neighborhood of Venice, known for being a tad more local than the other side of the Grand Canal.
We visited the Leonardo da Vinci museum. It was a bit of a disappointment. Usually da Vinici exhibits are very kid friendly, but not this one. We go in trouble twice! Once for being to loud and once because Benjamin tried to use a machine on his own.
We stumbled upon the Squero San Trovaso, the oldest boatyard in Venice, which first opened in the 17th century. We watched them at work for a while. This gondola was waiting in the canal for some time. When the workers were ready, they placed rollers on the ground and they all worked together to hoist the gondola out of the water. It looked heavy! We compared this to a garage where cars would be worked on and took note that everything requires maintenance to run well.
Next stop… the Ca’ Macana for a mask painting class. I highly recommend this if you are traveling to Venice with kids. The shop was not a bit stingy with supplies and helped the kids with technique. It was a highlight for all!
They had a huge selection of masks from which the kids could choose. (They had another large table in the back) and the masks felt very sturdy.
After the difficult choice of choosing a mask, they selected a color scheme and got painting.
The instructor taught them how to blend the colors together.
Time to dry!
Now for the accouterment…
All of that painting gave us an appetite for gelato!
Not sure what is happening in this one, but… doesn’t Clara remind you of President Trump here? Haha!
Our trip to Venice was finally complete after a much anticipated gondola ride. We named the gondolier Luigi Barbero – just like in Papa Piccolo.
Benjamin marveled at the water level overtaking the ground level of the houses.
We headed out of town in style…via water taxi. Time to say goodbye.
Sadly, this brings our adventures with Papa Piccolo to a close. We had such a fantastic time! The kids have turned a corner in their ability to travel and we had almost zero fighting and whining for a whole day and a half! That is monumental!
I don’t know how much the kids will remember of this time, but I will treasure these memories in my heart forever. Ciao bella Venezia!
This week we jumped ahead to a selection in volume 1 of Five in a Row – Papa Piccolo. Since it is set in Venice, I just had to fit it in before we say arrividerci to Italy.
Papa Piccolo is an aloof tomcat who rules the streets of Venice by night. His life changes for the better when he becomes less selfish and lovingly decides to adopt two kittens — teaching them everything they need to know to survive on the streets.
Before we even began the story, Benjamin got to work building a lego Venice. So darling! He even made a display with the books for the backdrop.
We read many stories and facts about Venice and studied the journey of Marco Polo – Benjamin loved hearing of his adventures.
We studied the book’s beautiful watercolor illustrations and created some of our own. I guess I missed a picture of Clara’s. She decided to paint “all different kinds of pictures” instead. I wish I had snapped a photo nonetheless.
We discussed the qualities of fatherhood found in Papa Piccolo and how he had to sacrifice his own desires in order to care for the kittens responsibly.
Of course, we can’t examine fatherhood without including our perfect Father in heaven. We discussed both God’s heart for orphans and also how He adopts us when we choose to believe and receive His Son Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. The Living Breathing God – Creator of the Universe – chooses us! And He delights in us despite of our broken, messy, wandering sinful nature.
Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.
He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.
Then…we got to take our studies to Venice! Though we live roughly an hour away, getting to Venice still feels like a lot of work and takes much longer than an hour. When we finally arrived, the first bridge we happened upon was the Ponte Dei Tolentini – the very home of Papa Piccolo! I believe I was way more enchanted with this than the kids were, but Venice is tricky and NOT very well signed. Kids would never understand.
We slowly meandered through the alleyways while we made our way towards the hotel.
We passed the Rialto Bridge and admired the view of the Grand Canal.
If you’ve been to Venice, you will appreciate how empty the Rialto was.
We stayed at the Hotel Bonvecchiati which was only about a 3 minute walk from Piazza San Marco and it was fantastic! The room was huge by Venetian standards and had very updated amenities. I got an amazing rate as I was able to book last minute.
This is the view from our room. The canal was directly beneath and every now and then we’d be blessed with the delightful sound of a gondolier serenading his way through the canals while accompanied by an accordion. The kind of atmosphere that makes my heart swoon.
After soaking in the view and resting our feet, we had a reading of Papa Piccolo and ventured out for more exploring.
Along the way, we kept our eyes open for some things we had learned about Venice, such as the fact that they use boats instead of cars. We imagined what it would be like to live there and had fun searching for different kinds of boats.
We found police boats…
Food delivery boats…
And we think this was a laundry boat…(?)
We searched for vocabulary words from the story around the city — gilded decor, trinkets, pots perched upon a ledge, sardines, and chiming bells to name a few. We never found sardines, but plenty of other fish we thought cats might like to eat.
One of our favorite things to play was eye spy with the Venetian flag and the winged lion. We learned that the winged lion, the symbol of Venice, is holding an open book with the latin inscription Pax Tibi Marce Evangelista Meus: Peace be unto thee Mark my evangelist. When the book is open, Venice is said to be at peace; when the book is closed, Venice is at war. I have never seen the book closed.
We logged a lot of time trying to catch pigeons in San Marco.
After chasing pigeons and more exploring, it was definitely time for a gelato break.
We loved the pizza faces!
We found another “tipping tower”.
And best of all… we found Papa Piccolo! He lived at the Acqua Alta bookstore and was the only cat we saw in Venice.
The kids loved the Acqua Alta – especially seeing books piled up in gondolas and old bathtubs. We discussed the flooding Venice is plagued with and how the gondolas and bathtubs help protect the books.
We braved the wobbly book stairs.
We were greeted with this view at the top.
They even had a book courtyard. The musty, tattered, weathered books were intriguing for us all.
This post is getting a bit too long. Join us next time while we finish exploring Venice in an effort to find Papa Piccolo.
We went skiing in Sappada over the weekend. Sappada is a cute little ski town in the Dolomites about 2 hours from us. We always stay at the Hotel Haus Michaela. The owner is so kind and helpful and the kids love her. She always gives them a bag of candy when we check-out and will customize their gelato order. That is service!
Sappada has a perfect ski hill for kids. I’m not sure if Clara will ever really take to it, but Benjamin is really flying now. Wish I had pictures of him in action.
We also enjoyed Nevelandia – which translates to snow land. It’s just a big snowy play land. They have bounce houses, an ice skating rink, sledding and tubing, trampolines, and a lot of room for snow angels. I wish I had taken more pictures, but picture taking with cold weather gear on is no small feat!
I went to look for Clara at one point and found her in this little cave.
We were lucky and got about 4 inches of fresh snow the night we got there.
I love the little alpine huts!
This was Clara’s favorite ride ever! I think she went around in this tube for 45 minutes. I thought she was going to sleep!
We even got to play in a real igloo!
We picked up this hand carved wooden mask at a local shop. These masks are used for Carnevale and are typical of this area.
I love this mask! The carver had even burned his name and date into the interior.
We just happened to be in Sappada for Carnevale last year. This is the full costume and a sample of more typical wooden masks.
Glamping seems to be an upcoming trend. I had read about this glamping resort Garden Village in Lake Bled and had to give it a try. This is definitely camping done right!
We were welcomed with a local Slovenian aperitif while the kids explored the pool and playground.
The pool was “living” meaning instead of cleansing the water with chemicals they plant a certain variety of plants for a natural filter. It seemed like a good idea, but attracted a lot of ducks. I guess that’s when you pretend to be in a lake and get over it! We only got to enjoy an actual swim one time because of the rain.
Garden Village offers several accomodations — we wanted the tree house, but they were booked so glamping tent it was! It ended up being a good trade off because only the glamping tent comes with a private wooden hot tub!
Our secluded table overlooking the stream was most perfect for enjoying coffee each morning. (In full disclosure we didn’t actually do this…it’s just what I had envisioned upon seeing the setup.)
Our tent had full plumbing (some tents on the property use shared bathrooms) including an outdoor shower which I loved — especially while hearing the pitter-patter of a nice and warm summer rain.
The tent was surrounded with its own private yard and gardens all throughout the resort. Guests are free to pick and enjoy anything they find. Strawberries, apples, raspberries, and blueberries were our favorites!
The raised bed above the trough was full of fruit and vegetables. We could watch the kitchen hands wandering around the grounds picking herbs for tonights dinner.
This little creek was just outside of our tent. Perfect trickle of water for sleeping. I didn’t need earplugs or a sound machine!
Now for the star of the show…the wooden tub! We enjoyed a few bottles glasses of sparkling wine over the weekend in this! I could’ve used a little more heat, but the temperature was perfect for the kids. We spent more time at the resort than normal because the weather was so iffy — rained on and off the entire time. The private wooden tub was the perfect remedy!
These are the smaller tents perched over the larger river. They allow people to fish in the river and I’ve read they are happy to throw your catch on the fire for dinner!
The restaurant Vrtnarija is worth visit even if you don’t stay there. Everything is seasonal, locally sourced, and mostly grown on the property — it was delicious! You could taste freshness in every bite. The tables had grass planted right into them! It came in handy…when one of the kids spilled their juice it soaked right into the grass without creating a scene! What a win-win!
A small stream ran right through the restaurant and was also filled with fresh grown herbs and produce. The walls and most of the ceiling were all window which created a wonderful outdoor ambiance.
The kermna rezina, the cream cake of Bled, is made of delicate layers of pasty with vanilla cream and custard on top. Delicious, but I still feel I’m missing out on the original. This was the restaurants variation. According to what I’ve read, the cake must be sampled from creator — the Park Hotel. Guess I still have an excuse to go back…
Beyond our glamping site, we checked out some of the surrounding area. We checked out the castle towering over Lake Bled. The castle is beautiful, but was somewhat unimpressive at the top. It consisted of trinket shops and had beautiful views hard that were a bit difficult to enjoy in the pouring rain.
We stopped at the sleepy village of Radovljica.
We got some lunch and visited a gingerbread house museum in the basement. Derek ordered some kind of dumpling and any time goulash is on the menu it is a definite “yes, please!” for me.
On the way home we stopped at a beautiful park/garden. I can imagine how lovely it is on the weekends. I was surprised it was so empty, but we were there on a weekday. I would’ve gotten more pictures, but it seems like tension was high that day and none of us were in the mood.
We visited the unconquerable Predjama Castle built within the mouth of a cave in Slovenia. It has been my favorite castle by far — mysterious, fascinating to explore, and has an incredible story behind it.
The castle belonged to the renowned robber baron Knight Erazam of Predjama (Robin Hood of Slovenia). According to the legend, he sought refuge here after fleeing the Holy Roman Emperor, Fredrick III. He then found an ally with the Hungarians during the Hungarian and Austrian war. He hid in the castle for over a year while under siege, mocking the enemy (Austrians) with fresh cherries — they were bewildered about how he was obtaining food and supplies. Turns out, the hidden passageways within the cave castle allowed him to smuggle in supplies without the enemy knowing. In the end, he was betrayed by a servant and was blasted by a cannonball while sitting on the toilet!
Underneath the castle is a network of cave passages over 14 km in length. This is one of the tunnels leading out of the cave.
It was often hard to tell when the castle walls would end and cave would begin. Many of the walls inside were solid rock.
These were not easy stairs to climb, but led to a rooftop terrace and beautiful view of the valley. The grassy area is a tournament field where the knights used to compete. Every July the castle holds a reenactment of the medieval tournament. I would love to go back!
I really loved how the museum displayed how the rooms were actually used. Most castles are simply rooms with artifacts and lovely grounds to explore. (Interior photos by thousandwonders.net). The dungeon was a little graphic for the kids, but Benny LOVES a good dungeon.
I was so glad we made this stop! It was definitely a highlight and totally worth seeing. I was not surprised to learn it’s been featured on ghost hunting shows and has been investigated by the Discovery Channel for “unexplained events”.
My brother Adam, an amazingly talented artist, came our way for a quick visit before he soaked in all of the art history Italy has to offer. We met in Venice for the day. He took in the museums and I wandered the alleys with the kids.
If you want to experience one of the most miserable experiences of your life, take the big water bus. Otherwise, the water taxi is totally worth the splurge. Venice is one of those cities where you will blow through money faster than you could ever imagine. I think it is best to mentally prepare yourself and enjoy your time.
We were so lucky to have beautiful weather all weekend because it had been raining buckets for months!
While wandering through Venice with the kids, we looked at the fish, chased bubbles, enjoyed gelato, and watched the gondolas row by.
I think every kid in Venice logged time with the bubbles. These guys must make a killing.
We all dined at this lovely spot right outside of the hotel for dinner. The hotel was wasn’t fancy by any means, but with a five minute walk to Piazza San Marco, the location couldn’t be beat.
I left Venice with the kids as soon as possible as it is not a bit child friendly. The crowds are insane, it’s just too much walking, and a bathroom is impossible to find! My brother enjoyed another day getting lost in the alleys.
The next day, we showed him around Maniago, Lago di Barcis, and drove through the Dolomites.
We enjoyed a coffee while the kids played at the playground. Sister will always find a place to relax.
The last day of his visit we took a day trip to Piran, Slovenia. Slovenia’s coastline only stretches 27 miles. Piran is located at the very tip of a narrow peninsula. It’s old town is one of the best preserved historical towns anywhere on the Adriatic.
We enjoyed lunch and a good bottle of local Slovenian wine in the square.
The kids had time to run around the square.
We strolled through the old winding alleyways.
We climbed the bell tower for spectacular views of the city and Tartini Square. From up here we could hear a choir practicing on one of the balconies down below. We never did figure out where the sound was coming from, but listening was treat!
Laskos under the sun at this seaside cafe — does life get any better?!?
Looks so inviting!
We capped off our time in Piran with a gelato stop. Benny was served his first ice cream cone. He felt like such a hot shot.
Looks like we missed another day of rain in Maniago and came home to a beautiful rainbow. We had a good visit with my brother and now he’s off to explore Italy’s endless treasures.
We took a day trip to the white hill town of Ronda, which was a good plan because it was way too cold for anything involving a bathing suit. With twisty wet roads on the edge of a cliff, the bus ride was terrifying, but the scenery was breathtaking. Continue reading “Andalucia, Spain: Ronda”→
Next stop… Marbella! We took a public bus from Granada to Marbella. We were pleasantly surprised by the bus ride and found it enjoyable and relaxing. The countryside was almost entirely olive groves and much greener than I had expected.
Pool time at last!
The pool was far too cold for me (and everyone else). I don’t know how the kids braved it!
The resort had given them a sticker activity book at check in. It was quite a hit!
The beach near old town Marbella had a great playground.
It was cold and windy and there were several people on the beach determined to sunbathe. They looked so miserable. I wish I had gotten a better picture — this was before the weather turned really nasty. They still toughed it out.
Throwing rocks in the sea and finding shells is always a joy.
Time to warm up — coffee con Bailey’s hit the spot! Benny and Clara chose to warm up with gelato instead.
The beach was getting far too cold so we took shelter wandering Marbella’s whitewashed alleys.
This could possibly be my favorite wall of all time. I adored the blue flower pots clinging to the walls.
This is one of many, many paella samplings.
Old town Marbella is incredibly picturesque!
By this time, Clara was ready for a good nap. She sleeps well in the carrier though it gets painful quickly.
We spent the most splendid afternoon in this little bar sipping sangria and munching on more paella. We visited with Germans at the next table while all of the kids played soccer in the street. When the rain picked up we moved the party inside while the owner played his Spanish guitar and our waitress burst into song. It was perfect!
The kids ran up and down the street over and over and never seemed to tire.
Finally some sunshine!!! Time to enjoy the beach. Benny loved finding jellyfish on the beach and immediately found a “bellyfish” sword.
Poor Sissy was knocked down by a wave and was so upset. She looked cute in my jacket though!
We tried the pool again, but the weather was just not on our side. It was even to cold for Clara this time. Benjamin braved it a little, but it wasn’t long before we were all in the hot tub.
It was a perfect night for bubbles!
More paella! We ate a lot this trip! The truth is neither one of us are crazy about sea food, but feel guilty for not eating it when we are sitting on the sea. We finally had to search YouTube for directions on how to eat the shrimp out of its shell. Pathetic. I know.
We’re off to Andalusia! It doesn’t seem too far from Italy, but with a fairly long layover in Madrid, it was a full day of travel. Luckily, the Madrid airport had a few playgrounds to ease the waiting time. Why aren’t these more common in the states?
The lobby of our hotel had ancient ruins on display. The kids enjoyed imagining what this would’ve been. Benny decided it was a good lion cage.
Granada was quite vibrant and bustling with an exotic feel. I loved the spice markets on the streets!
We stopped for an aperitivo to get our bearings and unwind a little. The cafe came with a view of the cathedral, flamenco dancers performing on the corner, and the sound of a spanish guitar across the street.
No European Square would be complete without a carousel ride!
I was worried about going to Spain since I’ve heard they eat so late at night (even later than Italians), but the tapas bars were open so we always had options. Our server recommended this tower. Everyone in the restaurant seemed awestruck as it was served to us. The French people at the next table asked to sample it. That was a first! We couldn’t figure out what it was and finally concluded it was squash battered and fried with a molasses based glaze. It was good, but I think we were all expecting french fries?
Derek couldn’t wait to sample the famous Jamon Iberico or Iberian ham.
Apparently we were early risers by Spanish standards. Somehow, all four of us managed to get ourselves ready, eat breakfast, and STILL take to the streets before anyone! That’s an accomplishment! We killed time by chasing pigeons…
Strolling through tiny sleepy alleys…
And best of all… getting Clara decked out in a flamenco dress! I don’t think the shop was technically open, but she was nice to let us come in. And yes, I was secretly wishing I was the one trying on dresses! They were all so colorful and exotic!
The cathedral of Granada is magnificent! Mostly done in Spanish Renaissance style, its design is based on the triumphal arch and it is built over the site of an ancient mosque.
I love how Benny truly seems amazed by these incredible structures. The interior was spectacular!
The plaza outside of the cathedral was full of gypsies pushing bunches of rosemary. I had encountered a particularly pesky lady who simply wouldn’t take no for an answer. While my hands were occupied carrying Clara, she attempted to stuff the rosemary into my purse while screaming “regalo, regalo”(gift)! Fortunately, I had a purse that zipped and managed to escape without a forced palm reading and a 20 euro loss.
We grabbed lunch at what is supposed to be one of the oldest restaurants in Granada. This tapas dish had eggs, spicy sausage, potatoes, and some other kind of meat. It wasn’t my favorite, but Derek seemed to enjoy it.
It was time to do something for the kids so we ventured out to the Science Park – Museum for Children.
They did some drivers ed …
Worked on a ball track …
Studied a giant globe (actually, Derek and I were the ones fascinated with the globe)…
And constructed and tested a boat made of corks …
We had to leave the science museum as we couldn’t be late for the main attraction of Granada: Alhambra! Tickets are hard to get and they sell out fast. In fact, I had dropped the ball and didn’t order tickets in time, but a tip from Rick Steves saved the day! In that situation, he suggests purchasing a Granada Card which includes a visit to Alhambra. It worked out beautifully.
We had a delightful stroll through the gardens. The gentle sound of water trickled throughout garden’s water features, Clara was sound asleep on my back, the sun was shining; it was tranquil and beautiful!
I loved the intricate designs of the walkways and the beautiful flowers.
Now for the main attraction: Nasrid Palace! Nasrid Palace is very restricted and each entrance ticket is assigned a visitation time. We dutifully arrived about 15 minutes early and were one of the first in line for our time. Naturally, a few minutes prior to the doors opening, we hear Benjamin shout “I need to go potty”! We were stuck. Had we gone to find the potty, we would’ve missed our time slot.
So, we then did the great sprint through the Nasrid Palace (our entire reason for stopping in Granada)! We were basically elbowing and pushing our way through throngs of people. It was a giant maze that never seemed to end! I managed to snap a few photos with my phone as we plowed through the crowd.
Clearly these pictures don’t do it justice, but the detail is absolutely stunning! I wish we could’ve taken our time and learned something about it, but… alas, it was a great parenting failure and it served us right for not thinking about it. It took us a moment to recover from the shock of missing the very thing we came to see.
Carrying on, we explored the last of the grounds. We climbed a steep, twisty, narrow, crowded staircase to the top of bell tower plaza. My legs almost gave out on me with Clara on my back. I’m fairly certain I was climbing with all fours at one point! There was wonderful view of the Albayzin Moorish quarter at the top. I wish we would’ve had time to visit this area…oh well, we definitely have good reason to return!
We finished the evening with dinner in a touristy plaza where the servers tried to swindle us and we were constantly interrupted by pesky salesman. They didn’t bring us our glass of wine, charged us for it and also seven coffees we hadn’t ordered! We learned a good lesson — always study the bill!