Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sunshine and Flowers

     You know those days that come along about once in a blue moon that go just exactly how you would like them to? And it's not that you had the day all planned out or anything, but everything that happens is just...perfectly wonderful. I had one of those days last Sunday. I woke up to Lily chirping happily in her crib, like I do every morning, and I prepared to get the show on the road when Tomáš turned to me and asked if I'd like to sleep in. ''I'd like to,'' I said, as I turned to hug him, and he stood to his feet and quietly closed the door behind himself. I didn't sleep any longer, but it's always just glorious to lay in bed (especially when you weigh as much as I do) and listen to him get Lily dressed and make her breakfast. I got up and made waffles with raspberry puree and fresh whipped cream and watched them play Legos in the middle of the kitchen floor. The morning fog burned off to reveal a gorgeous fall day and we just spent our morning as a family, playing with Lily wherever her whims took us. There was dancing which, when Tomáš really cuts loose and Lily follows suit, might be one of the biggest joys of my life. Then after chicken burritos for lunch (a delicacy around here, I assure you) with CHEDDAR CHEESE, no less (which is not available here except for when one grocery store is having their British Week), I took a snooze along with Lily. When Lily woke up, Tomáš suggested we go to his parents' for a visit. He helped out with the apple gathering and Babka and I chased after our little wildfire and it was all just so wonderful. Every day has wonderful things that happen, but it's not every day that everything that happens is wonderful. 
     Tonight I was watching Bug do something or other and I just made a little mental note about how happy she makes me. I know everyone loves their kids, but every day it's just like complete and total adoration. I just sit and enjoy her, adore her. And I know it's the same for Tomáš because I can feel it and I can hear it in his words. It's not that I never get frustrated, but those are by far the minority of my feelings. For the most part I just look at her and wonder at her...wonderfulness. As anyone with a little bit of insight knows, it's the little quirks that make kids wonderfully special, that make people wonderfully special. And I had to laugh a little bit tonight, thinking of that, when I asked Lily for a hug. Little lady gives lousy hugs. Kind of robotic as she leans into you for her obligatory five seconds (more on that in a minute) and claps you on the back kind of mechanically, waiting for it to be over and she can get back to whatever it was she was doing. Let me clarify that; a snuggler, Lily is not. Nor has she ever been. She's far too curious and far too busy to waste time cuddling, when there is so much of the world to explore. From day one when I tried to hold her close to myself, she would throw her little head back in protest, and we had to hold her facing outwards from that day until the day she learned to walk. I don't have a single picture of her sleeping on my chest or Tomáš'. But (and that's a big but) when I say she gives lousy hugs it's a bit of a misnomer because at the same time they are the best hugs in the world. They're not warm and squishy hugs, but when she pauses to come close to us it's rare and precious. As for the five seconds, out of a desire for longer hugs Tomáš invented this thing where, when she hugs him, they count to five. Cute, quirky, definitely a little bit funny and totally them. And these are the things that bring us joy. If we just stop and let them. Ok, I'll stop gushing now...

Some days just call for a fancy cup

Post prego photo shoot

It's no Montana fall, but this helps

We went looking for the goat, but she was too far away. The tiny, faint moon, however, Lily spotted in a second.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


 I'm going to speak from the heart here. A lot has changed since I moved to Slovakia. When I first moved here it was really hard for me to go to Tomáš' parents' house. They invited us regularly for Sunday lunch, for example, and it was always a struggle for me. Relationships are often hard in the beginning, but add to that the in-law factor, a language barrier, different cultures and very different types of families and not a smooth transition does it make. When I first met Tomáš's family, they were all pretty apprehensive about talking to me, probably mainly because they weren't sure how to. They didn't know how much Slovak I understood, so they just preferred to talk through Tomáš or not to talk at all. Couple that with me being very shy to speak, and the result was a lot of me sitting silently, smiling, hands in lap, feeling awkward. One difference between Slovak families and American families is that typically in Slovak families the lady of the house serves all of the guests. Hand and foot. In my house when we have a meal, everyone is to serve themselves (I mean from the meal laid before them), take as much as they want, have seconds, choose what they want and don't want, get up and get more water etc. etc. In other words, make themselves at home. Some Slovaks would consider this an outrage because to them hospitality is king and that means no one lifts a finger...except the hosting woman. *I must enter a sidenote here because I can already hear some of my friends screaming. There are some Slovak families that function a little more like my American family, but even they, I would say, still slant more to the guests-don't-lift-a-finger mentality than I do. Some would say I'm a terrible hostess, but the truth is, both sides want their guests to feel welcome and good in their homes. I just think there is a difference of opinion on what makes that happen.
     But back to my rough beginnings...Not only did Tomáš' mom, let's call her Babka (I do : ), serve my meal, make my coffee and clean up after me, but she sent us home with leftovers and an abundance of whatever she had or whatever we needed. In the summer this meant: tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, raspberries, currants, kohlrabi, baby lettuce and many things I'm forgetting just now. In the fall: apples, plums, grapes, potatoes and walnuts. And during the cold months: pickles, jam, canned fruit, currant and raspberry syrup, lečo, čalamada and who knows what else. Paradise, right? I know. But the truth of the matter was that I felt really embarrassed by it for a long time. I just was not used to this. With time, things got better with the communication side of things. Babka, especially, started talking to me more when she realized that we could communicate quite well. I've actually probably learned more of my Slovak from her than anyone else. But then I had Lily. This amped up my aforementioned embarrassment tenfold, because she started coming to our house twice weekly to help out. Not only did she bring the food that she always sent home with us before, but now she started cooking meals and bringing those with her too. She would take Lily out for walks, fold laundry, iron and sometimes even vacuum.
     But somewhere along the line I started to accept the help gladly and just decided to be thankful. We've never asked her to do any of what she does so if she wants to do it, I'll take it as a(n enormous) blessing. And when I say things have changed, it's because the other day Lily and I went to visit Babka (by ourselves, which, in itself is also huge. This never would have happened even a year-and-a-half ago) and I started thinking about how much I now enjoy these visits. It's a chance for me to get out of the house, enjoy a beautiful garden on a quiet street, have some help watching our little livewire, but most of all just to watch Lily and her together. Our Babka is a spry little lady and she always finds something fun for Bug to do like go see the goat up the street or pick raspberries or draw with chalk on their patio or this:

Collecting fallen, inedible apples
  I love where we live, but it leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to places for kids to play. For that there is nothing better than a house with a garden, I've learned. Beauty and nature and interest and fresh air abound, and we don't have to contend with broken glass and cigarette butts and cars. Heaven.

Did I mention it's apple season?

On the way to Babka's house
 Relationships have loosened with the other family members too, which I'm very thankful for. They are all really good to us and I could blog about each of them. And I'm very thankful that Lily (and baby #2) has them too.  
Oh, and speaking of changes, here's a quick before and after of our living room chairs that I re-covered. (I would say reupholstered, but that would be giving wayyy too much credit : ) What do you think? I think it really cheers the place up. Now if Tomáš would just let me paint them...

Chair(s) formerly re-covered by me too

Chirp, chirp

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Big T-W-O

    Two years ago right now I was still in the hospital after having given birth to Lily. Tired, excited, nervous, uncertain and completely in love. I distinctly remember having the feeling that I wanted time to slow down, or even to stop. I didn't want her to grow up too fast. I wanted to remember everything, to capture everything. Unfortunately we don't always get what we wish two years (already!) and here we have a beautiful bouncy blonde ball of energy. The absolute joy of our lives, who is brilliant, hilarious, mischievous, curious, sweet, quick and wonderful. Tomáš tells her every single night before bed that she is a good egg, and it's true. We celebrated this little egg on Saturday and I was very pleased with the party. I tried to fill it with personality, because she has that to spare. And what we lacked in decorations, she more than made up for in radiance. I may not have gotten my wish for time to slow down, but I got more than I ever could have wished for in her. Happy second birthday, Bug. We love you.
I hung this outside our door. Her sign reads ''Welcome'' in Slovak.

Cousin Verka congratulting Lily, a Slovak tradition

Lots of fun gifts from ''Auntie Doctor Bea,'' as Bug calls her

Favorite picture of the day

Birthday outfit I made for her


She took one dainty swipe of frosting

and that was all she ate
As for a theme, I went ahead and went with the ombre idea, but didn't take it too far. I just wanted something pretty and feminine. I already had the material for Lily's dress and kind of just jumped off from there. We also had fresh pineapple and Tomáš made his delicious gulaš for dinner. You can't see the window decorations very well but they're supposed to be clouds, stars, a sun and moon because Lily loves those.

Hop, hop, hop!

Trying on her backpack from Grandma Montana

And of course checking herself out in the mirror

Description Happy Tuesday to you all!

Thursday, October 11, 2012


     This morning I wanted to make a quick trip to the grocery store to pick up a few things for Lily's birthday party this Saturday. Then I remembered that there is no such thing as a quick trip with a toddler. Especially in cold weather when tights are necessary under multiple layers of clothing, which all requires lots of chasing and plenty of come-here-ing, not to mention getting myself ready and out the door which, let me tell you, is no small feat. Pun unfortunately intended. I wanted to go on foot without the stroller because Lily loves the freedom, and really needs practice holding my hand. It actually ended up being pretty great because it was a sunshiny, chilly, perfect morning and she did better than usual with holding my hand. Plus I got the pineapples I'd hoped to get before they sold out. And happy tights for Bug, on sale. I couldn't stop smiling and kissing her the whole time as she called out things she saw like, ''tomatoes!'' ''boy!'' ''second boy!'' etc. And after multiple stops to pick up rocks, we made it home and I started in on my well-versed returning-from-the-store routine (in order of importance): take off her shoes and coat, take off my shoes and pants, put the groceries out of reach, wash my hands, quickly get perishables into fridge, take off the rest of her outside clothes, wash her hands, start to heat up water for her bottle, get into home clothes, put away other groceries etc. etc. all while trying to prevent impending disasters and tending to her cries for crayons or an out-of-reach book. And after I got her down for her nap I started thinking that, man, things are not as easy as they used to be. With this giant belly on the front of me. I had to kind of smile, thinking about getting down on the floor to put Lily's shoes on and having a hard time reaching around myself, or what a sight it must be watching me get up from being on the floor. Or, for that matter, what a sight it must be watching me do just about anything nowadays. Even typing this now, I felt a little sheepish in front of Tomáš as I tried to reach the keyboard from so far away. But it all makes me so happy. There is a beautiful, somersaulting baby girl growing inside of me and that is miraculous. I get the privilege of being home to her for nine months and that is amazing. I cannot wait to meet her. And I cannot wait for her to meet her older sister. Every day Tomáš and I are more in love with Lily and I know it will be the same with this little one. This makes me so excited.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


      I really don't know which week of pregnancy I'm in. All those pregnancy calculators online leave me confused because I can never tell if I'm in that week or that's how many weeks are behind me. Couple that with different due date predictions and other unclarities and I guess I'm somewhere between week 30 and week 32. I want so badly for it to be 32. This pregnancy has not been the breeze that I lucked out with with Lily. With her my first trimester, the worst it got was feeling blechy and having smells bother me. I never once threw up and the blechiness stopped at 12 weeks. But with this one it wasn't morning sickness, it was morning, noon and night sickness. It's true that I only threw up five times or so, but I took nausea to a new level. I had the pretty typical phenomenon of I'm starving but nothing on this earth doesn't make me want to vomit.  For the first time in my life I lost my taste for sweets (for which I was reeeeally grateful) and craved meeeeeat. Of course smells absolutely turned my stomach, but when I say new level, I mean that I still get nauseated when I think about doing the things I did back during that time such as reading certain books and writing in my journal. The journaling I have pushed through because it is so important to me, but I have not been able to return to those books. And the other day I saw the extent to which this nausea still affects me. During that time Tomáš and I watched a Slovak reality show about six teachers who volunteered to teach a class of very poor students to try and prepare them for an important exam. And the other day I came up behind Tomáš on the computer and saw just the logo for that TV show and, no lie, I felt sick to my stomach. I've even realized that certain songs that were played a lot on the radio or wherever during that time also make me want to hurl. Case in point, Moves Like Jagger. Ok, it's true, that song probably makes most people want to hurl, or it should. And then there are the...the...well, I'll leave that detail out; let's just say I have a pregnancy side-effect that makes me very uncomfortable at all times. Very. All times. Ok, I'm alright when I'm sleeping. Anyhoo, my point is that I have been fighting myself wanting to wish this pregnancy to go faster. It is our last planned baby and likely the last time I'll experience pregnancy and therefore I'm really trying to enjoy it.
     The other day I had this flash of perspective while trying to eat my breakfast. I was sitting at the table and Bug came and climbed up into my chair behind me. For a second I felt frustrated and muttered, ''Can't I eat just one meal in peace?'' and then I had this feeling that it won't be like this for very long. Before I know it she will have her own things going on and she won't be interested in crawling into my chair or even what I'm doing, for that matter. I also realized that after a very short time it won't be just me and her ever again. Of course we will have our times alone together, but I mean on this earth. I don't know if it's the pregnancy hormones or what, but I have been having these feelings a lot lately. Once my mom shared with me something an old guy said to her while she waited on him at a dry cleaner's. He asked how she was and she said something about wishing it was Friday and he said, ''Oh, honey, don't ever wish your life away like that.'' And I always think of that whenever I'm tempted to rush something along. I've tried to be very mindful of this ever since Lily was born. There's something about becoming a parent that makes you keenly aware of the quick passage of time. Our time with our kids and our time here on this earth really is fleeting and it would behoove us all to keep that constantly in mind, whether wishing something would hurryupalready, or, and more importantly, in making decisions about what we give our time to. Our time is precious, but I feel like my time with her is especially precious. Maybe because every day is a constant reminder as I watch her grow before my very eyes.
     I hope this post does not come off as whiny, because that was not my intent at all. I know that my struggles are/were nothing compared to what some women go through, and I am grateful for that. I just want to encourage us all to enjoy the heck out of this wonderful life we've been given. Slow down. Drink it up. Take it in. Notice. When we decide for this it changes everything.  
     And for the record I am in my 34th week of pregnancy. I started this post a couple weeks ago and have since gotten things clarified. And with that, a few things I've been drinking up lately and not-so-lately...

Pasta with lemon, basil, cheese and veggies from the garden

Babies driving Beamers



Visits to friends'

Visits from friends

New socks



Her potty chair getting some use...even if it is this use

Fashion shows

Learning her colors

Bundle-up weather, and Tomáš noticing this ''thumbs up''

First signs of fall and...

The sprucing up of the neighborhood that's been going on

So that about brings us up to date. The baby-naming saga continues as does the waiting game. But what a beautiful game it is. Happy Thursday to you!