Thursday, October 20, 2016

Apple of my Eye

     Lily asked for an apple party for her sixth birthday. I was giddy with excitement at the thought of crab apple garland and hollowed-out apple tea lights and homemade apple cider and gorgeous apple tarts. None of which ended up materializing. In fact, the party ended up kind of summing up my life in no uncertain terms. Plenty of good intentions, very little follow-through. I even went out and gathered a bag full of wild apples, made sure we had tea lights and all the mulling spices. Had a tart pan and everything.  Still, somehow, like every other party I've ever thrown in my entire life, it was a rush to the end just to make the place presentable and pretend like yeah, we always have our bookshelf dusted, are you kidding me? And no, I didn't just clean the gunk off the bottom of the windowsill, it's always like that. 
     The next day at church a friend asked how the party went and I told her my cake turned out poorly and Lily heard me. ''Mama, bola to vyborna,'' (Mama, it was excellent) she said, looking almost a little hurt. And just like that my world refocused. I had had a breakdown after the party due to feelings of failure and inadequacy, and Tomáš chastised me a little bit, ''Why-y-y-y do you try to please [people]? It's like trying to stay dry in the rain. It is impossible. You come in from the rain and you're upset that your shoes are wet.'' And of course he was right. Again. And the truth is, it was actually a really nice party. The girls had a ball. Lily ate enough cheese to keep her bound up for a week, but she was happy. Really happy. And this, this is going to be my focus. I have another chance in three weeks to get it right. Rosy's fourth birthday party. There is a phrase in slovak, kašli na to, which means literally ''cough on it.'' It means something like don't worry about it, or more closely don't care about it.  And this is going to be my goal. Not to not care, but to care about the right things. Because the price of caring about the wrong things is far too high. I recall again the great words of my friend Ad'a who once said of her mom, ''I would rather have a roll and a glass of wine in peace on Christmas than 100 kinds of cookies and a stressed-out mom.'' And it's so true. For as the balloon says (below) You are the apple of my eye. My love bug. 

Gotta love the two photographer shots. 

Friday, October 14, 2016


At 3:50 this morning, this little muffin turned six years old. It couldn't have come fast enough for her, but I could have done with some slow-down. Don't grow up too fast, little one. Keep dancing your way through life.

I made her leggings out of a sweater I liked but never wore. My elbow patches = her knee patches. It looks much better on her : ) 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Come, Fall: Pumpkin Cookies

In my extended family, pumpkin cookies have a long and glorious tradition. Perhaps this is true for many families. But I dare say no one does pumpkin cookies quite like us. I admit I was a little bit excited to go to the candy aisle and pick out bags and boxes of artificial colors and flavors with abandon, which is not (any longer) my habit. Excited, that is, until I saw the price tags. In Slovakia, unlike the U.S., brightly colored bags of HFCS goodies are still not the norm, people typically satisfy their sweet tooths with homemade koláče made with walnuts, poppy seed paste or fruit. I don't know if those M&Ms were shipped priority from the U.S. or what but I almost fell over when I saw the price, so I made due with one tiny box of the far-inferior Lentilky, and cheered myself up with two tiny bags of real Skittles.
Still, my family are novices when it comes to the art of pumpkin cookie decoration. I was reminded of this when we Skyped with my mom this last weekend and she showed us some pictures from pumpkin cookie past. Let's just say Obama made an appearance. In fact, with my brother and cousins it was usually an all-star lineup on our kitchen table. Yes, our girls have a long way to go before we see any Donald Trumps on their plates (who would eat that anyway?!), and I trust better candy will help with that, but they still had a ball. And it definitely scratched an autumn itch for me (ew).

Forget about making faces, Rosy just tried to fit as much candy as was humanly possible on hers. 

Even Tomáš got in on the fun with his...
...sad clown cookie. 

What are your autumn traditions?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Story-a-day - Day Thirty Nine

This post is part of a series of short stories and poems.

Day Thirty Nine

Well, I did it. This morning, a day before my 40th birthday, I shipped off my book to be published. Ok, ok maybe that's embellishing a little. I just wrote a children's book and created it on a photo book website, but still! It's in the works and I am so excited! And how funny that this post came on day thirty nine of my story-a-day series! So, in lieu of a story (because allllll of my time has been poured into this) here is one more little taste. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Story-a-day - Day Thirty Eight

This post is part of a series of short stories and poems.

Day Thirty eight

A peek at my book...

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Story-a-day - Day Thirty Seven

This post is part of a series of short stories and poems.

Day Thirty Seven 

On Saturday we climbed a mountain with our close, dear friends
You’ll never guess just how this lovely fairytale ends
Now let me say the weather was the best it’s been in months
I did not turn down anything they offered me, not once
That means I ate black currant cake and beer and ice cream too
Fresh snap peas from the garden, bacon, what’s a girl to do?
And then the coffee, bread and veggies with my bacon lunch
Let’s not forget the wild strawberries on the hike I munched!
Now there were games and goats and sheep and a horse named Skarlet
But it was Balthazar who proved he was the worthy pet
A mouse and then a bird breathed their last breath on this dear earth
The bird he could have left, but with that mouse he proved his worth
Now I could have gone three more days without eating one thing
But when we got home I just had to have one more big fling
I downed a candy bar, and I just shoved it down the trap
And soon thereafter all I could think was why did I do that?
And with a bucket next to me, I went to bed, my friends
And that, dear ones, is how this lovely fairytale ends

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Story-a-day - Day Thirty Six

This post is part of a series of short stories and poems.

Day Thirty Six

Fathers Day Edition

Probably my favorite stories of my dad happened two summers ago when I went to Montana with our girls. The first time he met them, he gave them some clothes he had found in a to-give-away box and a stuffed Mickey Mouse who’s dressed like a diver. Whenever the girls wear the clothes we ask them, ‘’do you know who gave this to you?’’ And they know. Lily sleeps with the Mickey every night. My dad brought gluten-free cookies to our meeting, which just blessed me so much. I sat on a picnic table by the river and watched as the girls explored and my dad followed them and held their hands. Another time he met us at a school close to my mom’s house and brought lunch. Sandwiches and chips and strawberry and chocolate milk. Oh, the flavors I hadn’t tasted since childhood. Lily loved the sweet milks. He pushed them on the swings and followed them around the playground equipment. Then we went with him to WalMart and he tried on sunglasses with the girls and introduced them to the one thing that became the talk of our trip. Drinking fountains. They don’t exist in Slovakia and Lily was in awe. I mean, try to imagine when you used a drinking fountain for the first time. You were pretty excited, weren’t you? As it splashed your nose and spilled down your shirt a little. Anyhow, ever since then we have been skyping with my dad and younger brother, Cody, on the regular. Sometimes they play guitar for us. Sometimes Tomáš joins in. It makes me really happy when he does. It reminds me of another special memory, when Tomáš asked for my dad’s blessing to marry me. This is not tradition in Slovakia and he was nervous. My dad played guitar and sang  a song as Tomáš and I sat and listened at my grandma and grandpa’s table. Seeing my fiancée value my dad like that (the first time he met him) was so precious to me and I will never forget it.