Saturday, December 23, 2017

Christmas Card, 'n Stuff

Well, it's that time of year again, where I put my girls in itchy sweaters in our 40 degree (celsius) flat and set the timer on our camera and make everyone sit and grin one million times. We eked out one family shot, but the real gold is in the sister shots. When they are free to do ballet and Rosy can do her flying splits maneuvre. Not much more to report, at least not at this late hour. I hope you are cheery and have a tummy full of butter cookies, or, perhaps, like my friends Rachael and Gretchen, spent the day watching the Christmas movie Die Hard. Merry almost-Christmas!!! 

Thursday, December 14, 2017


Ten years ago this day I left my home and flew away...

... and then two snowflakes came to stay, and made our lives merry and gay. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Rosy's Fifth; Flowers All Around

 Well, my baby's passed the half decade mark and I'm scrambling to make it all slow down. Lily's behaving like a teenager and therefore I'm clinging to my little pumpkin muffin (read: Rosy), who is also turning into quite a lovely young lady, and just trying to savor every moment. (What else is new?)

 And despite the party going quite well, afterwards I felt a deep sense of sadness. And I didn't really know its source. Maybe it was that old faithful feeling of failure as a mom. Feeling like despite my best wishes to raise girls who are not spoiled or entitled, I see the earmarks of their spoilage and entitlement. I turned to one of my students for advice. He is a Seventh Day Adventist and has a two-year-old daughter. He has told me that they do not celebrate birthdays or Easter or Christmas in the traditional sense with gifts and decorations and Christmas trees, but that they have a nice meal together as a family, putting the focus more on Jesus and not the commercial side. He told me that his daughter does not have a lot of toys or games, and that her play is mostly just being with him or his wife while they work.

 This morning when I dropped Lily off at school, her teacher grabbed me and asked if we'd talked about what had happened yesterday. I looked at her, confused. She asked if I'd read the note in Lily's notebook where she communicates with us. ''No, her daddy looked at the book.'' ''And did you guys have a talk?'' She called Lily over and told her to tell me what had happened. She didn't. Then her teacher told me that she had run away from her class at lunchtime to join the third-grade boys, and it wasn't the first time. She told me she needed to be punished, that she needs to have boundaries set and I completely agreed. As her teacher walked away, I called Lily over and she bolted into her classroom. I caught her by the backpack and yanked her back out into the hall to talk to me. I asked to see her notebook. She told me to go home and that the bell was gonna ring. I insisted. Then she admitted that she had hidden the note. She actually glued another innocuous note about picture day over the top of it. Seeing my shock she burst into tears. I told her I was gonna show her teacher and she begged me not to. I considered it, but decided it best to show her. She very wisely reconfirmed that she really needs a stiff punishment. That she always told her own children that honesty is the most important thing and that dishonesty cannot be tolerated. She said if we don't have that honesty, we don't have any influence. I agreed. I remember reading once when Lily was little little, that when children tell the hard truth we should do something really big to celebrate it. That whatever we do to reward them for some other good act, telling the truth when it hurts deserves a party. And shortly afterwards I discovered a cracked DVD case and asked Lily about it. And I watched as she struggled and wriggled and finally fessed up and I praised her to high heaven. I felt sick leaving that school today. I called Tomáš and told him what had happened. We're going to have a big talk tonight, but I really don't know what the punishment should be. As the wise old dramatist W.S. Gilbert (or more memorably the wise old Camp Inch camp director, Miss Inch) once said, ''Let the punishment fit the crime.'' And her crime has to do with being wild and unruly and disobedient and dismissive. Ugh. If anyone has a good antidote to those things, please let me know.

Best moment of the night. 

 So, about that spoiled, entitled thing...I think I'm just going to need to start having incredible self-restraint when it comes to buying them things. Never in a million years would I have thought I would be the problem in this. I think I thought it would be the kids wanting and asking for stuff all the time and the parents giving in. But it's absolutely not the case. I am the one who sees that irresistably cute dress or super-fun game that I just can't leave in the store. Sure, before long they learn to be demanding and entitled. But it's taught them by us. By me. And the crazy thing is I actually do try to have restraint. I feel like I buy them so much less than other parents. But they need so little. So precious little.

My little flower girl(s). I don't want to leave this post on a sour note. Actually, some very good things have come out of all of this. It has got me taking a very good look inside myself and why I do the things I do. That all is for another post, but I'm very hopeful just in the knowing. In the awareness of the things I do that I don't want to do. In a week-and-a-half we'll celebrate Thanksgiving with dear friends. What a precious opportunity to get it right. Food, friends, family. No froufrou. 

Came across this old gem online somewhere and snagged it (and two others) from Amazon. We had it growing up and it makes me so happy. 

Looks like a little Troll was walking around on my cake. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Jesus Party or Lily's Seventh Birthday

     Well, last Saturday's party was pretty par for the course, save for one thing...Babka and Dedko offered to watch the girls while we got ready for it, which prevented a whole load of nerves and yelling matches and so on and so forth. 
     Lily requested a Jesus party, which at first had me grappling with how to not make it kitschy. I had visions of marzipan Jesus' sermon-on-the-mount cakes and flannel board parable decorations (which might not have been too bad, mind you). But then in a moment of characteristic grace and class, Lily rescued me with a ''no, mama, I just want a bible cake.'' Sweet, simple and lovely. My Lily.  She went on to describe exactly how it should look, with its dark blue cover and dark blue ribbon in the middle. Who knew dark blue would be so hard to achieve with food coloring? I just kept adding and adding and adding. And the blue cover went out the window when I realized the cake was much too small to support it. Nevertheless, I was pleased with the end result, and I think Lily was too. She had asked for a lime cake so I made lime curd for the filling. 
     She had asked for a pennyboard for her birthday, a leopard print pennyboard to be exact, and much to Tomáš' chagrin, I bought her one. His chagrin came not for the fact that I bought her a pennyboard, but because it was a leopard print one, hehe! That guy does not like himself some leopard! Anyhoo, Lily seemed far less enthusiastic about the pennyboard than the knee/elbow/wrist pads. Upon opening those she yelled, ''I'm gonna get sporty!'' and changed out of her heart dress into some leggings and a t-shirt. 
     There was pizza, there were Legos, there was dancing and new bedding (the cutest!) and because I never in my life got the ol' Crayola 64, there was one of those too. A Star Wars one. Never one to pass up a sale, I figured Lily'd forgive me the ''boys Crayons.'' All in all it was a lovely party. And now on to planning Rosy's...

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Our Summer, 2017

Fuuuu. This was a LOT of pictures. We didn't stop the whole summer, between two (two!) Montana visitors, our first trip to Croatia (and three girls' first trip to the sea), three English camps and everything in between. Hope you enjoy catching up on our life in Slovakia. We miss you!
Yearly trip to the strawberry field

Can I-I-I have a lick?

Road to priehrada




Picking chamomile for tea

Our friends from Singapore!

Birthday cookie

Dedko and his granddaughters

Lily's request for a snack

Kindergarten graduation


Rosy's friend Adelka

Testing out vacay walkie-talkies

Do you copy?

Leaving SK


Favorite half hour of the whole summer! 

Eating the ''giant chocolate muffin''

Here-comes-the-cowpie! swings :)

''If mama buys three lollipops and I buy two lollipops, how many do we have together?'' 

Liverpool forever! 

New hat


Jurček caught a sepia


Another cutie

Narrowest street in the world

I yawned our entire trip


Home for ten days

A little obsessed with the vintage clothes hangers

Second favorite half hour of the summer

Rosy yawned our whole trip too : )


My man

Tata, how did they get that grass inside there?

Glenna's orchid hospital

Bright eyes

Bojnice Castle



Assembling every single Lego set they own

Castle Uhrovec


What's that guy pointing at?

Oh. Creepy. 

Finally met Terri

And had this deliciousness

At this sweet Missoula-ish breakfast nook Muj Salek Kavy

Oh, the irony. 

Not since Petersburg have I seen escalators like these

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Old Town Square

The best gelato

English camp

Trencianske Teplice