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?