Okay, we've been back from our trip long enough that it's starting to seem long ago and I can't quite remember what I wanted to write about. It's ridiculous.
The main thing is that we spent two weeks with my family and there were plenty of opportunities for bonding with grandparents and cousins. We got there December 27 and the very next day I helped mastermind a full family Christmas from which my husband (an only child) is probably still recovering. All my brothers and sisters and their children were there - there are five of us and three of us have two children each. It was crowded. And kind of overwhelming for two introverts like the Slovak and me.
The next day we went to a Christmas celebration for the other side of the family, where my aunts were playing the mastermind role and I didn't feel even a little bit bad about not helping coordinate logistics. I had just done that the day before! I sat back and chatted with one of my sisters. And a cousin who it turns out is into Doctor Who. We may have more in common than I thought.
But in all of that my five year old had a blast playing with her cousins - she has several her age, two other girls within six months of her. Their lives are very different from hers, but they enjoyed playing together. I overheard the following conversation more than once during our trip:
"What's your brother's name?"
"I can't tell you, because it's in Czech and you won't understand."
"His name is MAREK. Do you understand?"
"Katka" didn't seem to strike her as a Czech name. She expected everyone to understand that one.
I remember last year K asked that same cousin if she spoke Czech or Slovak as well as English. The girl had understandably never heard of "Czech" or "Slovak", but also didn't really know what "English" is. Like I mentioned...our lives are very different.
A young cousin on the other side heard my husband speaking to one of the children and started making gibberish noises at him. The Slovak was less than impressed.
This was our first time doing Christmas (even if a bit late) in America, and my first Christmas there in at least ten years, so it was a cultural experience for us all. We do American Christmas traditions at home, of course, but there's a difference between doing something yourself and seeing EVERYBODY else doing it, too. The Slovak alternated between fascinated and repelled at the whole spectacle, I think. He thinks mall Santas are really weird, for instance, and didn't want our kids to go to one. Lucky for him I'm such an accommodating wife... I think he liked the Christmas lights, on the whole, but some people really do go overboard.
I would ask him for his impressions, but 1) he isn't home yet and 2) I'm pretty sure it would boil down to "You people are weird."
I'm still glad we went. I'd like to go again...one day. In several years. I'm glad to give the children an opportunity to experience both sides of their heritage, but that was enough for now. :)
Oh! While we were there we managed to leave the children with my mother for a few hours and went to see Les Miserables. It was our first movie in a theater possibly since M was born? We went to see Brave, but not together. It was also our first non-dubbed, non-subtitled movie (other than DVDs) in many, many years. The Slovak and I both love musicals and we got to go with my sister who also loves musicals, so we weren't alone in being ridiculously excited.
We listened to the soundtrack in the car over the next week or so, and it caught K's attention. She insisted on being told, in detail, the stories of each person singing - mainly the little girl Cosette and the Valjean-Javert dynamic. She is still working on memorizing Castle on a Cloud and, amusingly, the confrontation scene between the two men.
I think I mentioned before that we got several chapter books for K - we already finished the first two Magic Treehouse books and are clearly going to need more, and yesterday we started Farmer Boy (Little House series #2). We're still reading Harry Potter, so we'll alternate for a while.
We also picked up a few seasons of TV on DVD while visiting, so we're enjoying some good shows at the moment. Better than endless episodes of Panelák...even if that does happen to be what we have on at the moment. ;)
...and that was our latest visit to America. With two family Christmases there and our own Christmas at home with Babka and Dedo, our children didn't know what hit them! 2012: the year that Christmas just kept on coming.