Sunday, December 23, 2012

Season's Greetings

     As I write this, one of my babies is bundled up in two snowsuits and a wooly sleeping bag in her stroller on the balcony and the other sleeps peacefully in her bed. Kids from all around the neighborhood are sledding down a small hill across the courtyard behind us. I can see our friends' kids. It's been snowing all day and that makes my heart happy. Tomáš is at the grocery store buying stuff for our day tomorrow. I hope to get some baking done today, and maybe even a little cleaning. His parents are coming over and bringing with them a whole Christmas spread. Slovak Christmas dinner is something that Tomáš could never live without, and so far something that I could never attempt. Just the words breaded deep-fried fish make me a little skittish. Thus far we have spent all of our Christmas eves at their house, but I decided this year that I wanted to be home. I'm hoping this will make for a much more relaxed time for everyone, since Lily will be free to roam, more or less safely. Otherwise there is always someone having to play defense, protecting dishes and plants and picture frames. So hopefully this way the only thing we'll have to be super careful about is not swallowing a fish bone. The last two days have been spent trying to teach Lily not to touch the tree. It's been mostly successful.
     Yesterday we also had our yearly photo shoot for our family Christmas card. I don't know what it is about these sorts of things, but it feels like there is some force in the universe that is against them successfully happening. First Tomáš put me in a foul mood by criticizing my vacuuming or something ridiculous like that, then he told me to snap out of it and I actually did. But then as I searched for something to wear that I didn't look enormous in, the tension started to build. It was one thing after another: T didn't like what I chose for Lily to wear, so we got into an argument, then we realized the batteries weren't charged for the camera, then we disagreed on where to take the picture, then Lily was sweaty, then I was sweaty, then right when we had everything ready, Rosy needed to be fed and by the time I got that done I was so crabby I couldn't even imagine faking a smile for the camera, much less giving a real one. But, goshdarnit, I was determined not to let this get the best of me. I was gonna have my photo. And then...THEN Lily saw the camera. And she wanted to take pictures. And she broke down in a terrible twos toddler tantrum (a TTTT), full of tears and slobber and snot. And after about 10 tearful shots, we found the key. With each shot we would tell her who we were taking this picture for. First Grandma and then uncle Cody, uncle Jase, Babka and so on and then she started declaring who each picture was for and screaming ''AAAAGAIN!'' with each shot. Hallelujah. We got our shot. Maybe it's not perfect, but it's perfect to me. So, with that, I wish you all a very (very) merry Christmas, št'astné a veselé Vianoce, joy, peace and a relaxing time with loved ones.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Five Weeks and Five Years

This week Rosy turned five weeks and I passed the five-year mark of living in Slovakia. There is much to be said about both of these things and, correspondingly, much time necessary to do so which I do not now have, so instead I bring you the much-anticipated (by my eleven faithful readers : ) picture post about becoming a family of four. Enjoy...    

The morning of the big day
My sister-in-law came in on one of her precious few days off to deliver our little bundle of joy. It was a perfect birth if ever there was one. Your prayers carried me through an unbelievably smooth and short labor and on into a tearfully joyful welcome of our darling little flower. To all of you who prayed for us, I will never be able to thank you enough. It meant so much.
Lily meets Rosy
 Lily took it all in stride, like she does everything. You would have thought she actually understood all those months when we told her her sister was in my belly and would be coming soon.

Say whaaaaaaaaat?

I had been looking forward to this picture ever since I found out I was pregnant

Coming home

We took advantage of a sunny morning to have a little photo shoot and I'm so glad we did. We didn't see sun again for weeks, I don't think. And cloudy-day photos ain't much to write home nor blog about, if you know what I mean.


The following pictures are more precious than gold to me. My angels.

And this is about as far as I get from home nowadays. A local supermarket about four minutes' walk away. I feed Rosy and then hurry up and take Bug out for eight minutes of fresh air.  

Saturday mornings. Best friends

Our first haircut.
Like my mom before me, I saved the little ringlet from the back of her neck, of course. My little girl is growing up.
First Thanksgiving as a four-person family. The fact that we had one is a testament to how good of a baby Rosy is.

Tomáš' go-to method of grabbing a little him time
Looking at pictures on Daddy's mobile, which Lily inexplicably calls a l'ubol
Daddy and Lily 2010

Daddy and Rosy 2012

What our mornings look like

Sleepy head

I adore this picture.

Going out to help Daddy sweep snow from the car

Lily loves to scour the ads looking for dogs and cats and she finds every single one, right down to the teeny tiny ones on cans of pet food.
I had to take some quick snaps of the sunlight. We're pretty starved for it lately.

So that's about it. Thanks for reading and following and cheering us on. More to come as the sunlight permits. We now have two more glorious weeks of Tomáš at home with us for the holidays. He will tease me about the use of the word glorious there, I'm sure. But I'm looking very forward to it. Happy pre-Christmas weekend to you!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sister love

     When I thought about bringing Rosy home, I didn't know what to expect. Lily is only 25 months old, so I had hoped that jealousy wouldn't be such a big issue, and so far it hasn't been. She is well into her terrible twos, which for us means that her favorite word is no (her second being nie in Slovak), she shrieks quite a bit and definitely runs from anything we want her to do, whether fun or not fun, hiding in corners until we physically pick her up, at which time she shrieks ''no'' or ''nie'' repeatedly. She is asserting her independence, certainly, but thankfully it seems to be separate from her relationship with Rosy. What I mean by that is, she doesn't seem to attribute her no longer being the center of our world to the arrival of one soft, squishy, pink, mostly-sleeping-but-occasionally-crying little bundle. I had visions of her, when she didn't get her way, running up and shoving or hitting Rosy, and that's not to say it won't happen, but so far all we've seen is nothing but sister love. Every morning she runs into our room, excitedly looking for ''whoa-zee,'' and squeals with delight every time she sees her. Whenever she catches sight of her throughout the day, she points at her and says ''Rosy is here,'' beaming. When Rosy cries, she tries to give her her pacifier or she tells me that she's crying etc. In other words, Lily has become a big sister overnight. Tomáš' boss has two daughters and she told him that when the younger one arrived, the older one was instantly 18. I can see what she means. They suddenly seem so big and so old, and they are filled with a sense of protectiveness and pride.
     When Rosy was born, Tomáš was able to take three weeks off of work, so for the five days I was in the hospital, he was home taking care of Lily, and for the remaining time we were all home together. It was wonderful. I feel so, so blessed to have had that time together, not to mention his help during the (beginning of) the transitional period. I'm not going to pretend our life is not a circus right now, what with Hurricane Lily swirling through our flat, doing her utmost to defeat order of any kind, but let's be honest, with Lily, every day is a bit of a circus. And I mean that in the nicest way possible.    
     All of Lily's life I suspected that I would come to appreciate her fierce independence if and when we were to have another baby. And that has definitely been the case. This week since Tomáš has been back at work, she has just been playing on her own, looking at books, feeding her (stuffed) dog, talking on her phone (read comb), changing her footwear regularly and looking out the window at the snow. She has an ongoing dialogue with herself in which she mentions something and then answers herself back with an affirmation. Cutest. Thing. Ever.
     So for the rare times I have to let Rosy cry while I finish up whatever it is I'm doing, I can be thankful for all the times I manage things just fine. I have an ongoing dialogue with myself of all that I have to be thankful for. When I feel grumpy with Rosy's cluster feedings, I remind myself how endlessly thankful I am that I can breastfeed. And that she has a good appetite. Or when I feel frustrated when Rosy wakes every hour at night, I remind myself that she sleeps all day long (contributing greatly to the ease with which I am managing everything now). And a big one, when I wish I could go somewhere, I think of how lucky I am to be able to stay home with my girls. The list goes on and on. So, when I say I didn't know what to expect in bringing Rosy home, I can add that I never could have expected it to go this well. So far she is very much living up to her name.  

Monday, December 3, 2012

What's in a name? Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet?

     When we found out I was pregnant toward the beginning of the year, naturally we started trying to think of names. With Lily we seemed to have several girls' names, but really struggled to find a boy's name. This time, though, we decided early on it would be Dorian if it was a boy, despite the distasteful character in Mr.Wilde's novel. I also really loved the name Henry, and even tried to sway Tomáš with a reminder of his favorite soccer player, Thierry Henry, but to no avail. For a girl, my first plan of attack was to think of people I have loved throughout my life. I remembered a very special little orphan girl in Mexico I'd grown very attached to when I was 14, but her name, Ledecia, just didn't seem to quite fit. Then I remembered another little Mexican girl I'd met the next year, a bubbly, bright, outgoing, curly-headed little sweetheart and I immediately fell in love with her name. I asked Tomáš what he thought and he liked the name, but was pretty concerned about the spelling. In Slovak, once you learn the alphabet, you almost can't misspell anything because everything is written just as it sounds. So he kept imagining year after year, teacher after teacher calling out her name, mispronounced, and how annoying that would be for her. Then we thought about an alternate spelling, which would do away with that problem, not to mention give an extra sweetness to the meaning but we discovered that that name would not be accepted in Slovakia. Here, you cannot name your child anything you want. The name has to be on a particular website in order to be accepted by the state. I was crushed. Then we found out that Tomáš had looked at the wrong website, and that our spelling actually would be accepted. I was on cloud nine. But then...
     Tomáš' dad pointed out some things that kids might call her or say to her in Slovak, and it seemed to me that he was right. They seemed very obvious teases and I couldn't stop thinking about it. Thus began the great name search of 2012. Never did I ever think it would be so hard.
     One of the main difficulties in coming to an agreement was that Tomáš and I grew up in different countries and, as a result, he tended to like the names that had never been used here in Slovakia, but were ones that I had grown up with and knew a million of like Abby and Amy. The Slovak names that I liked usually elicited a belly laugh from Tomáš along with his assurance that only grandmas use those names. And so the search continued...
     Next I googled French girls' names because I tend to like them and was excited when I found a lot that I liked. Topping the list was Leonie. I think it's so adorable, but got a big ol' no from Tomáš. I also really liked the idea of naming them a girl's name that could have a boy's nickname. This came from a silly old Cary Grant movie I liked called Father Goose, which had a little girl named Harriet who insisted on being called Harry. I begged Tomáš for Henrieta so we could call her Henry, or maybe Georgine or Georgette for Georgie, but again, no dice. Other misses included Esme, which I've always loved, but Tomáš found ridiculous and thought it didn't even sound like a name. Delphine, which means dolfin in Slovak. Hazel, which sounds all too much like hajzel in Slovak. Emeline, Eliza, Etta, Elsa and Sylvie. We both liked Lejla (Layla) quite a bit, but I wanted to love it. I thought of another little Mexican girl I'd adored at a children's home in Tijuana named Lisette (Lizet), but T didn't like it either. Otherwise, the closest we had come to an agreement was Dotty or Ida (pronounced Eeda). Then one night, mere weeks before my due date Tomáš came into the kitchen and asked, ''so, is it gonna be Ida?'' I told him that I liked the name, but it just didn't seem like her name. ''What does seem like her name?'' he asked. ''Rosy,'' I replied, which is the original name we both liked from day one. The curly-headed girl from Mexico. ''Rosy it is, then.'' he said, followed by a good scolding for creating seven months of drama. Oh, how I had agonized over the name.
     So, at 1:43 pm on Sunday, November the 11th, 2012 we welcomed little Rosy Štrbavá into the world, weighing 3 kilos, 200 grams and measuring 50 cm in length. She turned three weeks old yesterday, which I will write about in an upcoming post.
P.S. I had some pictures for this post but was rudely informed that my storage is full. I'll see what I can do about that...

Friday, November 2, 2012

Gourd hoard

     I've been going a little pumpkin crazy around here. They don't sell canned pumpkin in Slovakia so I am going to milk this season for all it's worth. A friend with a food blog wrote about making pumpkin butter (like jam) and I was intrigued and excited. I still haven't made that, but I started out with this..

The most gorgeously orange pumpkin puree I have ever seen. And it was as sweet as candy, I tell you. Somehow it seemed like a shame to use it to make jam when it was so sweet already, so I mixed a little into my oatmeal,

made pumpkin cinnamon cream cheese spread,

did a little taste testing,

and butchered some pumpkin pancakes in my hurried frenzy to get out the door for my doctor's appointment. I was so, so excited to try making them, but I don't know if it's just our cheap pan or if you have to make some alterations to account for the pumpkin addition, but they stuck like crazy and just failed miserably. So, a day or two later I made normal palacinky (crepes), the most beautiful in my whole life (aka not a single one stuck or burned), and filled some of them with the pumpkin cream cheese. They were heavenly.

The white is tvaroh, a common ricotta-like sweet cheese

 So! Next up is pumpkin cheesecake, I think. We finally have all the ingredients in one place at one time so, we'll see. Other than that around here it's just been belly shots (as in photographs where my belly makes uninvited appearances),


 and plenty of cuteness.

Happy November!