Sunday, February 27, 2011

I want to go there! or Supporting a love of travel in small children

In our living room we have two paintings hanging on the wall. We also have about four more sitting around somewhere because we put our foot down at two to hang up - my in-laws gave us at least six of them when we got married. Apparently a lady in their building in Košice is a painter and gives FIL a painting every time he fixes her toilet or whatever. Which, since he is a handyman and the go-to man for building maintenance, is a lot. The paintings are mostly castles, cathedrals and other historical landmarks or landscapes.

So these two paintings have been hanging in our living room for a long time, but a couple of weeks (?) ago, K was sitting next to me on the couch, staring off into space, and spoke up: "But how are we going to get there???"

I of course replied with my standard excellent-parenting "Eh?"

"There! I want to go there," she said, pointing to the wall. "Can we go there in the car?"

"Ohhh... [pause for a prayer of thanksgiving that we didn't hang up paintings of the Taj Mahal or Great Wall of China] ...actually, we CAN go there! That one is called Týn Cathedral and it's here in Prague. We can get there on the tram. I'll take you there again soon."

"What about THAT one? I want to go there, too. We take the tram there?"

"No, THAT one we can go to in the car. It's called Alžbetin Dóm and it's in the town where Babka and Dedo live. We can go there next time we go to visit them."

K was very excited at the prospect of visiting both 'castles' (they're both actually churches but are big and stone and have towers, so I guess it's a logical mistake). She has asked several times since that first day, when can we go there? Is that place far away? I want to go there...

I've been looking forward to taking her to see Týn especially, since it's in town and, honestly, how awesome is it that I can fulfill a wish like that? I've blogged before about how exciting it is for us to see K developing an interest in new places, travel, castles, cathedrals...the same things WE'RE interested in when we visit a new city, basically. A fantastic development for a family that travels as much as we do for our various reasons.

Unfortunately, flu, bronchitis, arctic winter, blah, blah, it took us a while to find a chance to go, but today was the day! We were downtown already (for the first time in AGES) so I asked K, "Do you want to do something special?"

"Yes!" came immediately, eyes shining...

"Do you want to go to the castle in our painting?"

"But it's far away."

"No, it's here around the corner! It's in our city, Prague, and right now we are downtown. Do you want to go?"

The answer to that one was a resounding YES!! obviously, so we went to Old Town Square and found the spot on the square that most closely approximated the angle of the painting. In doing so we realized that the painter actually moved the statue of Jan Hus at least 20 meters to the right to be closer to the church, so we couldn't replicate it exactly... K instantly recognized it though, and we got a picture of us there so we could look at it at home later in case she didn't register that it was the same place. She wanted to know where the door is (it's hidden behind some houses) and to go inside and look around. We walked over, I showed her the 'secret entrance' and lifted her up so we could peer inside, since the church wasn't open for visitors. K was disappointed we couldn't go all the way in, but very interested in what we were seeing and what is THAT and what is over THERE.

When we got home I asked her which castle we went to, and she pointed to the correct one on the wall - so she did recognize that it was the same place. She was pretty impressed.

And, as you can probably tell...we thought it was great! Our daughter's first experience of dreaming of going someplace and then really going there. I love that we can support her desire to go somewhere and see something beautiful. I hope it will encourage in her a feeling of adventure and involvement with the world and all sorts of positive stuff like that. :)

And in conclusion, here are Mama and K being touristy in front of Týn and Jan Hus.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Holding On...and Preschool Update

I've been trying to think of something to update about, but frankly, we've barely left the house in weeks. Did I mention the bronchitis? Did I mention that when a kid goes on antibiotics, the doctor recommends staying home from school for three weeks? Don't tell anybody, but I'm thinking of making an executive decision and sending her back to school a few days early. All of this, of course, while I'm dealing with my own case of (untreated) bronchitis and morning sickness. Actually, it's been kind of nice not having to get out of the house while I'm not feeling well!

As stimulating as our weeks-long Buffy and Doctor Who marathon has been (good parents let their kids watch sci-fi), I'm afraid the time is coming for K to go back to school. She has tolerated being cooped up at home pretty well, actually, and we haven't really been driving each other as crazy as one might imagine. She still talks about school and her friends there, and I think she'll be thrilled to go back sometime next week.

I never did write in much detail about the new school, but we really like it. She's been attending half-days five days a week since right after New Year's (except the recent time out sick). She was a little nervous to be left, once or twice, but generally was more upset about being picked up than dropped off! In fact, we had to have a serious discussion about NOT SCREAMING WHEN YOUR MOTHER PICKS YOU UP FROM SCHOOL. Once or twice it's amusing, but every day just gets old. The new system is that she gets her favorite afternoon snack only if she makes good decisions at pick-up time. Otherwise it's no pink milk for the rest of the day. Only had to enforce that once and her behavior underwent a magical change. Hah.

Her teachers are very nice and I like their attitude with the children - warm, nurturing, relaxed, reasonable. They seem to consistently speak Czech with K, which I appreciate. She's a new experience for them, since she understands Czech - unlike the other two foreign children there - but doesn't speak it.

"It's amazing - she totally understands everything I say and answers back in English!" one teacher told me. And then one day, after three weeks in school, "She talks now!!" I answered, "I know!!" - I had noticed the previous day a large increase in Czech phrases used at home and wasn't surprised they were showing up at school, too.

Interestingly, K is continuing to use increased amounts of Czech even during this extended period at home. She uses it to the Slovak and me as well as in her imaginary play. It's pretty cute. The other day I actually noticed that K was attempting to have a conversation with the Slovak ENTIRELY USING SLOVAK (/Czech). It was hard to tell because she got stuck pretty quickly, not knowing how to complete her sentence - but she was trying, instead of filling in with English. She also chewed me out for telling her Ľubím ťa instead of I love you. First time she's ever cared which language someone speaks to her.

Generally I feel like other than getting sick from exposure to germy kids, which can't really be helped, K is really thriving in her new school. She loves her teachers and has a best friend. The kids and teachers like her - every time I ask how her day was (or similar), the teachers say how involved and active in class K is. She draws and paints and comes home singing new songs.

And she's really looking forward to being a big sister...

Friday, February 18, 2011

To My Newest Love

Dear maybebaby,

You are two lines on a stick. You are two lines on two sticks. You are not a blood test, not an ultrasound, not a warm milk-smelling weight in my arms. No doctor has told me you exist, but I don’t need one: the pain in my belly, the ache in my head, the midnight yogurt are all your messengers. The two lines, the four lines. They all tell me you are coming. They tell me you are here, waiting for us. As we have been waiting for you for so long.

Just wait a little while longer, sweet one. Soon enough you will be big and strong enough to come out and meet us face to face. Your big sister is already preparing for your arrival. She has big plans for what she is going to do with you: change your diaper, undress you, hold you gently, THROW! you up in the air. As you can imagine, we still have some distance to travel regarding appropriate handling of babies. You might consider it a good thing you’re tucked away safe inside for now. A few months ago, talking about the possibility of getting a baby sister or brother someday, she instantly jumped to her feet and said, “Yes! Let’s go!!” So you see she has been ready for you for a while already. She will love you so, so much, sweet baby, and you are going to adore her. Her blend of maternal and bossy will drive you crazy and make you feel safe, making her the perfect older sister. I should know, since I was an older sister, too.

Grow, sweet baby. Be healthy. Be strong. Come home to us – not too soon, not too late. We’re preparing a place for you.




(written a few days ago, before yesterday's doctor visit. aka my second 'flu' of 2011 that wasn't really the flu...)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Word from the Sickroom

2011 has really knocked me for a loop so far. We started off with ear infections, soon moved to (consecutively) flu, sinus infection, flu, bronchitis... K is home from school this week and next, so we're spending our days curled up on the couch watching Buffy Season 3. Also just started Doctor Who Season 3. (What? Good parents let their preschoolers watch scifi. Seriously.)

Then factor in keeping relatively busy on the translating front and I find my blogging mojo seriously flagging. I am good at multi-tasking on the micro level but seem to have trouble devoting my attention to multiple endeavors at once. Currently child-rearing and working have been winning the race for my attention, I guess.

I have so many blog posts half-written in my head that I haven't been able to write out or publish. I don't seem to be the only one who's gone quiet in the beginning of 2011, though. Seems like lots of us are MIA for one reason or another.

I had been waiting until I felt better to try to write something here, but it seems that is an unreasonable goal for this winter! I am settling for "somewhat less pathetic than I was" as a more attainable level. Also factoring into this is the second "flu" in the list above, which turned out not to be flu at all. On which more later.

K loves her new school, by the way, and so do I. She has a new best friend and is using more and more Czech at school and at home both. I went to pick her up one day about three weeks in and the teacher said, "She talks now!!!" She's doing really well - just have to get rid of this sickness so she can go back again. Poor sweetie.


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