Babies Bonding

These past few weeks, I consider myself lucky to  have been visited by good friends.  On my last entry, I mentioned about the Swiss family that visited us.  This past week, our good friends from Innsbruck came by for a visit.

My friend Melba, with her daughter Nat, came and stayed with us for a couple of days.  Nat and Michaela were born a few months apart.  It was the first time they met.

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It was fun seeing the girls bonding with Jakub.

It was also interesting to see them talking to each other in their own little world.

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We got them identical bows, and placed them together in a mat for a photo shoot.

But it was a little bit difficult to get them to stay still and look at the camera.  Something else is always more interesting.

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Until finally….

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…Bam!  We eventually managed to get the coveted shot.

But more than anything else, the visit was more valuable for the mommies.  It was very therapeutic for Melba and I to talk about our experiences in raising kids in a multicultural household, adjusting to life in a foreign land, and most especially about adjusting to life as a stay-at-home mom.

We never got the chance to visit a lot of places due to the weather and to the children’s moods, but I had a great time just chatting with Melba and seeing our kids playing together.

At the end of their visit, Nat’s dad and her grandma picked them up.  Obviously, they have been missed.

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Luckily, we managed to get a group shot before they left.

I wish we were closer so a visit like this can be done more often.  But I can’t complain.  At least we get to see each other almost every year.

 

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Categories: Everyday Life, Friends, Parenting | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

A Swiss-Filipino Family Came to Town

I didn’t realize that it’s almost been a month since my last post.  Life has been going at full speed and I hardly have time to pen down my thoughts.

Anyhow, we had some guests from Switzerland last week.  It was my friend Mayette, her Swiss husband Thomas, and their very cute daughter, Thomara.

I’ve known Mayette since my university days, and we recently reconnected after knowing that both of us are married to Europeans.

After a long trip to and from Sweden, they decided to swing by Czech Republic.  Jakub had a blast when he got an early Easter bunny, with nothing but the best chocolate – Lindt.

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Their daughter Thomara is only a month older than Michaela, so they are technically batchmates.    It was funny getting the two babies to meet.

Looking eye to eye, they look like they couldn’t believe there’s actually another person the same size as them.

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We finally got them to look at the camera, but were unable to goad them in eliciting a smile.

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There was a little bit of movement, as they got curious about the other.

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But after putting them in the car, they both went down easily.

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My little boy on the other hand, acted like an older brother.

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He was happy to look after the girls while their parents were busy taking pictures.

And here he is happily posing for a photo with our guests.

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We brought them to Kutna Hora and to Prague, but three days was not enough to see everything.

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They did say they were going to come back and we are really looking forward to that.  Otherwise, we will have to visit them in Switzerland.

 

 

Categories: Culture, Everyday Life, Friends, Parenting | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

M’s first Visit to Grandparents

Last weekend, we visited my in-laws in Moravia.  It was Michaela’s first visit to her grandparents.  The trip took us 2.5 hours one way and  it was her longest car trip yet.  Both her and her brother behaved so well.  She was sleeping most of the time which made it a very smooth one.

When we got there, she immediately warmed up to her grandparents.  Here she is playing with grandpa….

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…and posing for a shot with grandma.

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It was also my father-in-law’s birthday celebration, so the following day most of our family came by.

She was quite apprehensive with Aunt Romana and Grandma Marta (mom-in-law’s sister).

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But she comfortably fell asleep in Aunt Hanka’s arms.

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The boys didn’t care much about the new baby.  They were busy doing their thing — running around.

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This is the usual scene.  The usual suspects in action.  Where am I?  Doing what I like best —taking pictures!

And of course the day is never complete until somebody cries.

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But all in all, the visit went very well.   Our little princess was happy for the most part.

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I hope your weekend was great as well.

Categories: Culture, Everyday Life | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Let’s Go to Vegas: A Guide to Sin City

This year, I am opening a new category in this blog called “Travel Picks.”  In this category, I am collaborating with travel experts and fellow bloggers on their favorite places to travel.  

My first contributor for this series is Kendra Thornton, a mother of 3 and an expert traveler.  Before being promoted to the full time position of mom, she was the former Orbitz Director of Communications where she was able to travel a great deal.  She now lives in Chicago with her family, where they are her number one priority in everyday life.  

Kendra and I have come up with this article about Las Vegas, her favorite place to travel.  So if the travel bug has hit you already, then let’s go to Vegas.

Photo courtesy of Kendra Thornton

Photo courtesy of Kendra Thornton

Over 40 million travelers head to this oasis in the Midwest for some excitement and daring entertainment. Las Vegas is an incredible vacation spot known for its casinos and celebrity shows. It’s where you can see Britney Spears perform live or catch the famous Cirque du Soleil “O” show on the strip. There’s so much to do in this town, and these are just a few of my favorite places when travelling to Sin City.

CSI Fans: Get a Closer Look
If you love the show “CSI: Las Vegas,” you can get an up close look at the television program at CSI Las Vegas at the MGM Grand. You get to experience the show and truly become apart of the crime scene experience. Visitors enter into a crime scene, collect information and help solve the case. Of course, it’s not always so obvious who the killer is.

Relax at Mandalay Bay
When traveling to Las Vegas with friends, there’s always one day when you need to just unwind and take a chill pill. Mandalay Bay’s Beach is perfect for that. There are several pools here with nearby tiki bars. You can grab a floating tube and just float for hours in pure bliss. Kids also can enjoy the wave pool, lazy river and water slides.

Photo courtesy of Kendra Thornton

Photo courtesy of Kendra Thornton

Pink Jeep Tours in Las Vegas

The main attraction for any Las Vegas traveler is the strip. It’s gorgeous at night, but there’s a whole other side to Las Vegas’ beauty on the outside. Pink Jeep Tours provides an adventure tour that takes you through the sights surrounding Las Vegas. You can take an air helicopter ride or hop into a Pink Jeep from your hotel and zoom across the Southern Nevada desert. Your guide will provide a totally unique experience and even take you on a day trip to the Grand Canyon.
Fine Italian at Its Best
The best Italian cuisine you’ll find in Vegas is at D.vino at the Monte Carlo in Vegas. It’s a gorgeous restaurant with a unique atmosphere that works for both romantic occasions and family groups. They have delicious food like stuffed zucchini, and you won’t find a better wine selection than at D.vino. The restaurant has an Enomatic system that has 18 exquisite selections of wine that are incredibly hard to find anywhere else. You can taste all the wine in 1oz, 2oz or 5oz pours.
Las Vegas is a wonderful place to travel with friends and even family! With its hotels catering to every type of traveler and family, it is a truly a unique oasis. Sites like Gogobot make it even easier to read user reviews so you can feel even more comfortable about your hotel purchase.

Categories: Places, Travel Picks | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Walk in the Woods

The weather has been slowly getting better in our side of the world, so I took my kids out yesterday for a walk in the woods.  Why the woods?  Well, you might as well say that I am slowly becoming Czech.  The malls are not as appealing as the woods anymore.

Anyway, here are a few pictures I was able to snap.

My little boy is growing so fast, and he really enjoys his new role of being a “big” brother.  While I was busy looking for things to photograph, he took over and pushed the stroller of his baby sister.

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Tired of doing it the regular way, he is experimenting with other ways on how to move it.

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At this point, I took over for fear that he may accidentally flip the stroller with his sister inside.  Instead, I asked him to lead the way.

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He obliged and even told me:  “Don’t worry, mom.  I will protect you and Michaela.”

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The end of the trail is the entrance to the city center through this bridge.

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There was nobody during that time.  It is still winter, afterall.

But we did see a fisherman on the river.   He was fishing while Jakub was feeding the ducks and swans.

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A new set of exercise bars were also built in a little space by the river.  I think they finished it last year, but I didn’t see it because I was too lazy to walk towards this side of town when I was still pregnant with my daughter.

When the temperatures finally go up, I think I would like to use one of these bars for fitness.

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But for now, I’ll just enjoy short walks with my kids.

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Despite the cold, it was a very nice walk.  Definitely another day well spent.

How are you coping up with winter in your side of the world?

Categories: Environment, Everyday Life, Parenting, Photography, Places | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

My Pretty Girl is Pretty Fat

Perhaps the biggest advantage of being a stay-at-home mom is that you get the see your children grow up.  I am experiencing it now.

My little girl is growing up fast.  At 3 months, she is now 6+ kg.   They say that breastfed babies are less heavier than their formula-fed counterparts, but this one is quite the contrary.  She is heavier than her brother when they were both at the same age.  Just for comparison, here are photos of them in the same outfit.

This was Jakub at 3 months.

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And now this is Michaela.

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Being a second child, she gets to inherit her brother’s hand-me-downs.  I hate throwing away such good stuff, so I am making her wear Jakub’s old outfits.  Although, I bought a couple of headbands to give it a little feminine touch.

Even though she is heavier, she is still within the ideal range, so I’m not so worried about setting her up for obesity.  I’m pretty sure that when she is able to run, she will be as active as her brother and will easily lose all those baby fats.

Jakub was pretty chubby when he was a baby too.  But now he is very lean because he’s getting taller.  I actually wanted him to gain a little bit more weight, but can’t really complain because he is very healthy.

Here’s both of them now.

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Anyhow, I am happy to have this chance to stay home with them.  I will never trade it for anything else in the world.

Categories: Everyday Life, Parenting | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Back from Hibernation

After a very long absence, I am now back from hibernation. Not a lot of exciting adventures lately, as we have been confined at home. I’ve had my own share of motherhood challenges, but everything is ok now. Things are slowly getting back to normal. My new “normal,” that is.

Winter is relatively mild on this side of the globe compared to what the people in the US East Coast is now experiencing. Temperatures are sub zero during night time but has been consistently positive during the day. We’ve had a little snow but it is now slowly melting.

So what’s new? Well, for one. My daughter is now 3 months old and at a stage where her schedule is more predictable. She is getting more and more curious about the world around her and somehow seems to communicate through babbling.

Here is a quick photo I snapped of both my kids.

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I am also starting to standardize our daily routine.  It is very difficult to manage a household with two very young children.  Although I am very happy that my eldest is at a stage where he is completely independent and even helps me out.  He is the  one opening doors for me when all three of us are out and about for our daily walk in our neighborhood.  I haven’t been in contact with the general public since winter set in.  It is pretty tough.

I couldn’t just go to a Starbucks shop and get a good cup of coffee these days.  Well, there is no Starbucks in this town.

Anyhow, we managed to bring Starbucks home — coffee beans straight from the Starbucks shop in Prague.

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It is the perfect pair for these shortbread cookies which we got as a gift from a friend.

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We also managed to get a taste of California through this bottle of Chardonnay from Tesco.

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There is nothing special about this wine, but it is the perfect pair for fish or pasta on these cold winter nights.  Reminiscing our life in California gives me a warm feeling inside.

If the forecast is right, it should get warmer towards the end of this month.  Once it does, we will be on travelling mode again.  I am anxiously awaiting the new adventures that lie ahead.

Happy New Year to all of you!

Categories: Culture, Everyday Life, Parenting | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

Our Very Own Czech Christmas

Our Christmas this year was spent at home.  Jakub is already old enough to understand and remember, so we decided to make it a semi-traditional one.

On Christmas morning, Jakub and my husband helped me set up the table. They made this traditional Christmas decor to adorn the table.

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One of the traditions here in Czech during Christmas is the consumption of dried fruit preserves.  And guess what? It can also be used as a decoration.  I am not really sure about the meaning of this, but it’s supposed to symbolize the world.  (Although it looks like a spaceship to me.)

In the Philippines, Christmas involves heavy meals with an abundance of food all throughout the day.  Needless to say, it is one of those times when it’s ok to pig out.  But here in Czech, people fast prior to dinner with the belief that one is eventually rewarded with the sighting of a golden pig.  You can read more about it here.

This is the part of the Christmas tradition that I don’t like.  To keep up with tradition, we only had fruits for lunch.  By 3pm,  Jakub got so hungry he would eat anything.  It was quite funny that he kept asking me:  “what’s that, Mom? Can I have it?”  He would eat onion if I let him.    Thus, to end our misery, we ended up having dinner around 4pm , just after sunset.

Another tradition is to eat fish, usually carp, at dinnertime.  In our case, we had carp soup  which my husband made.  I’m not a very big fan of fish soups, but it was pretty tasty.

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But our main course was salmon.  I don’t like carp that much, so Salmon was a compromise.  At least it’s still fish.

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A very significant difference in tradition is that Czechs believe that Little Jesus brings the gifts, not Santa. But since we are a multi-cultural household, Santa is still a part of our Christmas story.

It was quite difficult to make the Santa story work since we didn’t have a fireplace.  So, I made up a story that Santa got sick and told Little Jesus to bring Jakub’s gifts for him.    Jakub bought it.  After all, he is only 3.  Still very young and impressionable.  He had a grand time opening his gifts from Little Jesus and Santa.

Even my little daughter was very cooperative.  She allowed all of us to have a decent family dinner and was just watching us from her rocker.  She just recently started to smile which really charms me and made me forget all the hardships we’ve been through.

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and here’s another priceless moment…

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Everything went very well and it left all of us happy and satisfied.

I hope yours was great as well.  Best wishes for the coming year!

Categories: Culture, Everyday Life, Food, Parenting, Places | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

The First 6 Weeks

My daughter is now 7 weeks.  Although I can’t completely say that things are completely ok, it is definitely better than the first 6 weeks.   I had experienced several motherhood challenges – from recovering from a caesarean operation, to breastfeeding,  to taking care of an infant and a three year old.  Suffice it to say that I have been through difficult times.  It is difficult to be a parent to say the least.

Anyhow, I am glad that my daughter is growing and developing.  Although I love her very much, she is not a very easy child to take care of….or probably I’m too old for this.  She is truly draining all my energy and it seems like all of my time is spent on her.

This is her at two weeks.  It is one of those rare pictures (at this stage) where she actually had her eyes wide open.  She still loves to sleep.

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Luckily, my supportive in-laws were with us through it all.  They helped take care and maintain our household and my hyperactive toddler.

So what has been happening lately?

Last week, we had an unusual visitor. Mikuláš (St. Nicholas) visited us in our home.

Here in Czech Republic, Mikuláš day celebration is a tradition.  It signals the start of the Christmas season.

This year, a friend from the neighborhood organized a dramatization of Mikuláš’ visit for the neighborhood kids.

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We were lucky that grandma and grandpa were still with us, so they celebrated the occasion with us.  My son was so happy because he received gifts from Mikuláš .

As Christmas is fast approaching, we have a lot of preparations to make.  This year, we will not be able to celebrate it with the rest of my husband’s family since my daughter is still too young to travel and be around too many people.  However, I am happy and excited to celebrate it with my family — just us.  The team is now complete.  My daughter is the best gift this Christmas.

Categories: Culture, Everyday Life, Places | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

Halloween

Celebrating halloween is not customary here in Czech. This year we decided to carve out a pumpkin in keeping up with the celebration.

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The weather was wonderful on halloween day.  Since times like these are quite rare this season, my family and I decided to take Michaela  out for a walk in our neighborhood.

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Afterwhich, my husband and son decided to carve a pumpkin they got from friends in our neighborhood.

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Jakub was goofing around while I was trying to capture his dad in action.

The pumpkin that they carved turned out well.  It was my husband’s first carved pumpkin.  I thought he did a good job.

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Jakub had to take a posterity pose beside the finished product.

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There was no trick or treat, but we still displayed the pumpkin outside.  We then capped off the day with a nice dinner and some quiet time with the family.

 

Categories: Culture, Everyday Life, Parenting, Photography, Places | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

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