Tags: Children, Fall, Family, Farm, Hay, Indian Summer, Nature, Outdoors, Photography, Play
“How wonderful yellow is. It stands for the sun.” — Vincent van Gogh
We celebrated the end of a week of sore throats on Sunday by emptying our pockets of cough-drop wrappers and hanging up our scarves. We headed for a farm about an hour outside of town and spent the afternoon wandering in a corn maze, playing in the sand, climbing hay bales, hula-hooping, and swinging from live oaks. The hours squinting, sweating, and laughing in the Indian-summer sun reminded me why I love this place I’ve called home for a decade. In other ways, I felt a keen yearning for Romania, with its billowing fields and village cottages surrounded by hand-baled haystacks. At the end, I was grateful for a few simple hours with my family, no matter where our dot blinked on the GPS.
Is it sun or scarves where you are? Have you ever navigated a corn maze? And how long can you hula-hoop?
See more yellow at Beth’s.
Tags: Art, Children, Creativity, Fun, Growing Up, Imagination, Kids, Perspectives, Play, Poetry
Haiku Friday: How He Rolls
“It’s my lucky day!”
He shouts, because the toilet
Paper roll ran out.
He jumps down the hall,
The cardboard tube carefully
Cradled to his chest.
He dreams up tunnels,
Giraffes, telescopes, trumpets,
His for the making.
I see one more thing
I need to buy, where he sees
The sum total of
What his brain and the craft drawer
Can concoct today.
What household items get your children excited? How would you define possibility as they experience it? And when do we lose that simple excitement about all an ordinary day can hold?
Tags: Boys, Broken Arm, Cast, Children, Expats, Injury, Play, Poetry, Romania
Haiku Friday: Juiced
This boy and his cast
Have four more weeks together.
I’m going crazy.
He runs, chases, climbs,
Spins, scooters, shimmies, and jumps.
You’re not healed! I plead.
He’s juiced, batteries
Recharged, practically humming,
My electric boy.
Children are resilient: discuss. And what do I do with all his energy??
Tags: Boys, Children, Curiosity, Expats, Perspectives, Play, Poetry, Prague, Travel
Haiku Friday: A Sewer Note
Prague, oh, lovely Prague!
Castles. Gardens. Kafka. Beer!
And don’t miss the sewers.
Do your children have their own vacation agenda? Does it involve castles … or dropping Cheerios down gold-plated sewer grates?
Tags: Babies, Birthday, Boys, Children, Expats, Family, Milestones, Motherhood, Play, Relationships
I can’t write this post. I just can’t.
I sit. I check the laundry and the celebrity headlines. I stare at the cursor. Blink, blink, blink. No words come pouring out, as they usually (eventually) do. And with every hypnotizing pulse — blink, blink, blink — I talk myself out of a nap I desperately need.
Because today you are two.
And I want to write this. For you, for me, for all those future girlfriends (or boyfriends) I’m going to embarrass you in front of and (let’s be honest) never consider good enough.
I want to write this because I’m your mom. And you’re my baby. My perfect baby.
The one who takes the batteries out of my alarm clock.
The one we call Napoleon because you’re short and demanding. And because you make nasally, guttural growling sounds, just as le petit caporal must have done when his troops flanked left instead of right.
The one who scuttles about with your pacifier hanging out the corner of your mouth like a soggy, half-smoked stogie.
The one who throws stuff. Lidless markers. Tonka trucks. Cartons of mints from grocery store shelves. Rocks, socks, books, pants, cups, caps. All of it.
The one who turns the oven on and off and on and off and on and off when I’m not looking.
The one who eats no pasta. Or bread. Or beans. Or cheese. Or carrots. Or meat. Unless it’s called a McNugget and contains your recommended daily allowance of yuck.
The one who carries around a nub of blue chalk for hours and hours until you turn into a Smurf.
The one who charms the şosete off all the little old Romanian ladies waiting for the 35 bus on Calea Turzii.
The one who poops more than any other child I’ve ever known.
The one who barters hugs for crisps of cereal or chunks of pistachio and then adds an “Ohhhhhh! Love you!” to sweeten the deal.
The one who could stay in the bath all day long, filling and dumping and filling and dumping and filling and dumping your little yellow cup.
The one who climbs on the kitchen table so often that I forget to be surprised when I see you there, unwinding a roll of Scotch tape or poking leftover muffin crumbs with your toes.
Those perfect toes. My perfect baby.
Growl on, my little Napoleon. Growl on.
Tags: Children, Expats, Family, Kids, Outdoors, Photography, Play, Romania, Spring
“If you never did you should. These things are fun and fun is good.” — Dr. Seuss
Have you gotten out the bubbles and chalk yet? How else are you having fun where you are? And isn’t the spring sunshine wonderful?
Tags: Children, Color, Expats, Family, Outdoors, Photography, Play, Romania, Snow, Winter
“Maybe we should develop a Crayola bomb as our next secret weapon. A happiness weapon. A beauty bomb. And every time a crisis developed, we would launch one. It would explode high in the air — explode softly — and send thousands, millions, of little parachutes into the air. Floating down to earth — boxes of Crayolas. And we wouldn’t go cheap, either — not little boxes of eight. Boxes of sixty-four, with the sharpener built right in. With silver and gold and copper, magenta and peach and lime, amber and umber and all the rest. And people would smile and get a little funny look on their faces and cover the world with imagination.”
— Robert Fulghum
What crayola colors do you see in your part of the world? Which are bursting through the cold, dreary winter? And did you covet the box with the sharpener when you were a kid?
Tags: Challenges, Children, Expats, Family, Outdoors, Photography, Play, Romania, Snow, Winter
“Hear! hear!” screamed the jay from a neighboring tree, where I had heard a tittering for some time. “Winter has a concentrated and nutty kernel, if you know where to look for it.” — Henry David Thoreau
Thoreau’s jay obviously knows something we don’t. We are winter novices. Where we come from? The city all but shuts down with the tiniest dusting.
So these daily snowfalls we’re having in Romania, these slick sidewalks and frozen trash-can lids, this maze of wet-boot tracks trailing through our apartment building … Well, it’s strange.
And not altogether pleasing.
We took the kids ice skating last weekend. My daughter fell and cut her hand before she’d even gotten in the rink. Before she’d even gotten her skates on. Things did not improve, tears were shed, and we soon headed for warmer ground. And frothy mugs of hot chocolate.
Yesterday, after school, we tried sledding. First time down the hill? The kids hit a bump, tumbled off, and face-planted in the snow. They could not be talked into a second run, no matter how much we coaxed and soothed. The only remedy was the car heater. Cranked on high. To sufficiently thaw frozen noses and eyelashes.
Yes, we are winter novices. And we are ready. For sun, for spring, for a day without perpetually wet mittens, for a day without mittens at all. It’s coming soon, right? Right??
Is there winter where you are? How do you (and your children) make the best of it? And how do you hold on till spring?
Tags: Birth, Birthday, Boys, Creativity, Family, Growing Up, Motherhood, Personal, Play, Poetry
Right this very moment, four years ago, Giggles came into the world, the exact same weight as his sister but a good inch shorter. That trend continued for the next two years as he grew out before growing up, sporting Marshmallow-Man thighs that still make my uterus giddy.
Then, of course, he abandoned babyhood for fire trucks and sandboxes.
His legs and waist are now a long, lanky, elastic-requiring unit. His eyelashes reach to the moon and back. And his laugh, the one that earned him his nickname here, still persuades waiters to bring him an extra peppermint. Even after he’s dropped three forks, an open salt shaker, and a glass of juice on the floor.
He uses made-up words like “yesternight,” which I think might actually have a valid place in the English lexicon. He loves “babloons” and “bestruction paper.” And he’s always doing some “special project” or other, even if it’s just rifling through the bag of cotton balls and picking out three he can glue-stick to a straw.
His favorite number is 2. His favorite color is green. His favorite fruit is banana. And his favorite banana is the one he chooses from the bunch.
When he feels like he’s not being heard above the din of his sister singing Romanian Christmas carols and his brother wailing for another juice box, he says, “But it’s my turn to talk now!” Then he says it again, until finally we all stop and listen.
He has a monster growl that he uses to annoy his sister. And a shriek he uses to annoy his parents. And a sweet way of kissing our cheeks — “Mmmmpahhhh” — that makes us forget about the shrieking.
He’s equal parts creative and clumsy, like me. He’s intrinsically gentle, like his father.
He likes to orbit things like lampposts and tree trunks and coffee tables. He emits more energy than the sun.
And his smile? Is just as bright.
Can your mind’s eye still see your baby’s chubby thighs? What traits of yours and your partner do you see in your children? And do they have a cotton-ball obsession, like my Giggles?
Tags: Children, Expats, Family, Friendship, Life, Photography, Play, Relationships, Romania
“Some people are so much sunshine to the square inch.” — Walt Whitman
Maybe I’m nostalgic because of the almost-just-like-home Thanksgiving celebration we just had. But as the halfway point of our year in Romania approaches, I realize how grateful I am for the people we’ve met here. Friends from India, Jordan, Sweden, Australia, New York, and Texas. The American boy who loves trains as much as Giggles. The German girl who regularly swaps princess dresses with Lollipop. Women who, three months ago, barely knew me but quickly mobilized to bring food and comfort to my doorstep when they heard about my accident. Our nanny. Our neighbors. My physical therapist. The list is as long as our time here is short. As winter closes in and the dreary, foggy cold settles over our city, I see only sunshine in the faces that have quietly yet quickly become part of our daily routine. And I’m not ready to contemplate saying goodbye.
See more people photos at Beth’s on Thursday.