For Good

June 26, 2014 at 3:28 am | Posted in Bun, Family, Giggles, Photo Tuesday | 12 Comments
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“For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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F is “for everything Thy goodness sends.” See more F’s at Jenny’s.

Jenny Matlock

Days of Summer

June 12, 2014 at 12:38 am | Posted in Bun, Lollipop, Photo Tuesday | 12 Comments
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Downpour

Distraction

Delightful

“Summer afternoon — summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” Henry James

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D is for downpour and distraction and delightful. See more D’s at Jenny’s.

Jenny Matlock

Day Dreams

June 15, 2013 at 2:35 am | Posted in Bun, Family, Giggles, Lollipop, Photo Tuesday | 14 Comments
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4.

5.

“If you want sweet dreams, you’ve got to live a sweet life.” — Barbara Kingsolver

What makes your life sweet? What’s your favorite Barbara Kingsolver book? And what fancy hair trick (à la French braids) can you do?

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D is for dreams. See more Ds at Jenny’s.

Jenny Matlock

Our Summer Crush

June 7, 2013 at 8:43 am | Posted in Bun, Giggles, Lollipop | 16 Comments
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Three kids. One mom. One house. One week. Only 79 days of summer vacation to go. But who’s counting? (Me, me, me!)

Here’s a recap of our first week of vacation:

Trips to Target: 1
Icees: 3
Scoops of ice cream: 13
Trips to splash park: 1
Goose eggs acquired at splash park: 1
Number of times swimsuits laundered: 5
Water-bottle refills: Oh, who can remember?
Containers of yogurt consumed: 19
Items lost: 1 dress, 1 hat, 1 stuffed bunny, 1 temporary tattoo
Items found: 1 jacket, 1 flag pin, 7 bottle caps
Books checked out from library: 15
Episodes of Curious George watched: I plead the 5th.
Lunches at Daddy’s office: 1
Tantrums while lunching at Daddy’s office: 4
Number of homemade muffins delivered to the fire station down the street: 23
Firehouse tours: 1
Ice-cream factory tours: 1
M&Ms smashed into ice-cream-factory floor: 7
Scraped knees: 5
Band-aids applied: 3
Summer reading logs in progress: 4
Tubes of sunscreen used: 1 1/2
Roly polies collected: 9

What’s your summer been like so far? Are the heat and the boredom crushing you, too? And how many roly polies are living in a jar on your coffee table?

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C is for summer crush. See more Cs at Jenny’s.

Jenny Matlock

Photo Tuesday

September 13, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Posted in Family, Giggles, Lollipop, Photo Tuesday, Transylvania | 27 Comments
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“The golden-rod is yellow;
The corn is turning brown;
The trees in apple orchards
With fruit are bending down.”
— Helen Hunt Jackson

As summer wanes and the days get shorter and cooler, people in Romania are scurrying around their gardens and kitchens, collecting hodgepodge bounties of this and that, then chopping, boiling, stirring, and scooping into rows and rows and rows of glittering glass jars. Cold is coming. Everyone can feel it, including my own unseasoned family. Just like Hunt’s apple trees, we are bending down, acknowledging the shift in the seasons and the cool air on our shoulders, even as we turn our faces one last time to the sun. We’ve already rifled through our boxes of warm clothes and pulled out jackets, fleece pants, and fuzzy hats. We’ve hammered out a morning routine that will get us up for school and out the door on time, even when it’s still dark. And we’re harvesting a bounty of our own. But instead of fruits and vegetables, ours is filled with crayon drawings, math worksheets, and wrinkly-cornered books. These things — with their bold, bright, wobbly scribbles and accidental creases made by tiny elbows — will sustain us through the cold just as much as the jars in our pantry.

Can you feel the cold coming? How are you acknowledging the end of summer? And do you know how to can stuff??

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Fluffy Bunnies in Romania:
Read the tales
.
See the photos.

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See more apple themes at Beth’s on Thursday.

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Off the Beaten Path

August 8, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Posted in Family, Transylvania | 19 Comments
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Off the Beaten Path: How to Get Away for the Weekend in Romania

1. Reserve a hotel room via e-mail. Write it in English. Send it to the Romanian innkeeper. Get a reply in German. Consider sending homemade cookies to the programmer who wrote Google Translate.

2. The week of your trip, call to confirm your reservation. Ask if anyone speaks English. They don’t. Ask if anyone speaks French. They don’t. Fumble around in Romanian before getting handed off to a hotel guest, who translates for you and the innkeeper. Yes, your reservation is confirmed.

3. Pack for a two-night stay for you, your husband, your two children, and your baby. This will take four hours. And fill up the entire trunk of your car. And the back-seat floorboards. (And you will still not manage to pack enough clothes for your son, who attracts dirt, crumbs, and spills like Nick Jr. sucks in the five-and-under crowd.)

4. Drive to get your husband from work. Make a left turn from a right-turn-only lane. Barely blink at your transgression since the two cars in front of you did it, too. Asta e.

5. Be proud of yourself for remembering to turn left just after the gigantic, half-finished gypsy house next to your husband’s office. You made it! Now gladly hand the key and clutch over to him and the GPS.

6. Head out of town. Go the way the GPS tells you. Begin to wonder if that was a good move when the road turns to gravel.

7. Keep wondering when people stand on the side of the road and stare at you driving by.

8. Keep wondering when small children wave excitedly at you, as if they don’t see many cars passing through their village.

9. Stop wondering and feel pretty certain the GPS has led you astray when the road turns to mud. Dotted with holes. And horse poop. And switchbacks. Curse the GPS.

10. Curse the GPS some more and keep going. That’s your only option since there is no freaking way to turn around.

11. Keep mud-bogging. Pass three cows. Pass some chickens. Pass an old-school Dacia that has surely been parked since Ceauşescu was ousted.

12. Grip the door handle and laugh hysterically when your husband asks if you want a turn driving.

13. Wonder about the insurance coverage on your Romanian car. Wonder how you will get un-stuck, if worse comes to worst. Wonder how your sons can possibly be sleeping through all this. Wonder when you’ll regain feeling in your rear end.

14. Finally make it through the mud. Be absolutely ecstatic when the road turns back into gravel. Pass the same three cows. (Clearly, they know a shortcut.)

15. Make it back to a paved road. Consider writing an ode to concrete. Consider writing a nasty-gram to the GPS company. Realize you’re too tired and tense to write anything, except a text to your parents letting them know you made it safely.

16. Arrive at one of the most beautiful places you’ve ever seen. It pops up out of nowhere, around a bend, in the middle of a big swath of green. Wonder if it’s a mirage. Then see the sign and realize this is where you’ll be spending the weekend.

17. Park the car. Look for damage. Look for things that leak. Look for dents. Take pictures of the mud streaks. Lock the GPS in the glove compartment as punishment.

18. Spend your weekend hiking, eating, relaxing, and playing. A lot. Marvel over milk straight from the cow and raspberries fresh from the side of the road. Have homemade crepes. Crepes! Discover your new favorite Romanian word.

19. Pack up. Drive home. Stick to concrete roads. Teach the GPS the route. Pass those friendly cows. And daydream about mămăligă.

Ever traveled off the beaten path? Cursed your GPS? Discovered a new favorite word or food?

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Fluffy Bunnies in Romania:
Read the tales
.
See the photos.

Slide Rules

August 1, 2011 at 6:00 am | Posted in Giggles, Lollipop, Transylvania | 13 Comments
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There’s a saying in Romania. Asta e. That’s the way it is.

Because everything was horrible and nothing ever changed under Communism, people here tend to be stoic, resigned, apathetic even. Even as they feel their way through democracy and membership in the EU, they shrug their shoulders at problems big and small, from corruption to potholes.

They don’t think much about how to make things better. Because asta e. That’s the way it is.

I found myself smack in the middle of this mindset the other day. We discovered a new playground, and I took Lollipop and Giggles to explore. It had horse swings! And a super-tall, super-twisty slide! And parking places! (Okay, that last part was my favorite.) It also had lots of asphalt, something our usual haunts lack, which had turned them into goopy, muddy messes after a few days of solid rain.

The kiddos chased pigeons and frolicked on the swings for a while before trying out the slide. I showed them the semi-hidden ladder, and they headed up. One of the dads there touched my shoulder and pointed. “Nu,” he said, “apă.” No. Water. I followed his finger and saw about a gallon (two? three? a lot!) of rain pooled at the bottom of the slide.

I hollered up at Lollipop and Giggles to hold on a minute. I got down and scooped out the water with my hands. Then I took off my jacket and used the sleeve to soak up what was left. “Okaaaaay,” I yelled up at the kids. (Did I mention this slide was really, really tall?) “You can come on dooooown!”

And suddenly kids came from everywhere. They abandoned their swings, their seesaws, their snacks. They dashed for the ladder. Up they went, down they slid, again and again. Taking turns. Going head first. Cheering each other on.

I looked around at the moms, dads, nannies, and grandparents. They sat on park benches. They stood watch on the sidewalk. They smoked in the corner. And, soon, they were cheering, too. “Bravo!” one grandfather with the cutest beanie cap ever said to Giggles after a particularly rough landing. “Bravo!”

I stood there kind of stupefied, holding my sopping jacket and blinking a lot. Surely it had occurred to someone else to clean off the slide before we got there? Right? Surely?

But no. Because it’s summer. And it’s the rainy season. And the slides get wet. And asta e.

That’s the way it is. Except when you don’t know it.

Have you ever encountered a cultural mindset that goes against your own? How did you handle it? And would you have cleaned off the slide?

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Fluffy Bunnies in Romania:
Read the tales
.
See the photos.

Photo Tuesday

July 12, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Posted in Bun, Family, Giggles, Photo Tuesday, Transylvania | 22 Comments
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“He was in love with life as an ant on a summer blade of grass.” — Ben Hecht

I hate summer. I hate the heat. I hate sweating. I hate the sun beating down on me. And while Romanian summers are cooler than what we’re used to back home, we’ve had an exceptionally hot week here … and there is no air-conditioning. The only thing that’s kept me happy (okay, realistically, what’s kept me less cranky) are sticky ice-cream faces; sweet, sweaty baby curls; my smart husband, who gives me his hat when I forget mine; and this beautiful place, which distracts me with its history, its skies, and its impromptu fields of flowers.

How do you keep your cool when it’s hot? What distracts you from the heat? And what’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

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Fluffy Bunnies in Romania:
Read the tales
.
See the photos.

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See more summer at Beth’s on Thursday.

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Haiku Friday

September 17, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Posted in Giggles, Haiku Friday, Lollipop | 12 Comments
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Haiku Friday: Mighty Kiddos at the Bat

Take me out to the
Ballgame; take me out waaaaaaay past
My normal bedtime.

Ply me with cotton
Candy — electric blue — and
Hot dogs, hold the bun.

I don’t care if I
See players, umps, dugouts, mitts …
Where’s the ice cream cart?

Root, root, root for the —
Wait, there’s a game going on?
Oh … Vanilla please.

For it’s one, two, three
Desserts — you’ve hit a home run,
At the old ballgame.

What do you remember from your children’s first big sporting event? What do they remember? And do you like cotton candy or do you have to go with the peanuts?

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Haiku Friday

Photo Tuesday

August 3, 2010 at 11:08 pm | Posted in Giggles, Lollipop, Photo Tuesday | 31 Comments
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“In summer, the song sings itself.” — William Carlos Williams

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Bask in more summer at Beth’s place.

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