Monday, March 15, 2010

Today We Ate Crab...

Great day at the market...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Wrong Cake

Blanka's baptism is this weekend.

So, I walked down to the bakery to order the cake and bread for the event. It's our favorite bakery and we know that staff well. So, I explain to them what we need in terms of bread and then turn to the issue of the cake. The cake expert is called in and she pulls out a book to show me page after page of cake pictures, all geared toward baptism. They even had one of them on display. And while it was sort of cute, I found them to be rather tacky. ...Heaps of frosting, molded into the shape of bibles...or baby booties...etc...

So, I point to the elegant chocolate layer cake with chocolate shavings on top sitting in the glass case and ask,

-why can't I have a cake like this?

-That's a birthday cake.

I move in for a closer inspection. It didn't say Happy Birthday on it or anything like that. So, I replied:

-I think it looks good.

-Yes, but for baptisms in our country, people take these cakes.

She proceeds to point to the pages in the book geared for baptism. So, I shore up my strength for the fight and I say,

-Well, I think these cakes are more elegant.

-I don't think you understand me. That's a birthday cake.

...and so on...

Ladies and Gentleman, I left the bakery with an order for three ˝birthday˝ cakes for Blanka's baptism. Later, I told my husband that it was fortunate that I handled the transaction. As a foreigner, they'll chalk it up to my being an idiot and not knowing how things are done ˝kod nas.˝ Moreover, they'll sympathize with my poor husband who has to be subject to my crazy American ideas.

The funny part of this is that she acted like I was assaulting some deeply held principle when in fact I know that 20 years ago no one would have been ordering anything from a bakery -not for a baptism or anything else. Some old baba would have made the cake. And guess would have looked just like one of my ˝birthday˝ cakes.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tuberculosis Shot, I Hate You

It's customary in Croatia to vaccinate newborns against TB. So, my little 3 day old daughter received her shot in the left arm. I was told that a small blister will form at the injection site within about a month's time. That stupid blister arrived a few weeks ago. Now you might be thinking it some cute tiny...nothing. Well, it's not nothing. It's an angry, disgusting, pus-filled monster - a monster that broke two nights ago and sent my ordinarily docile 8 week old into full-on hysteria.

If that's not bad enough - as is the case with TB vaccination - she'll be left with a scar on her shoulder that looks like I took a car cigarette lighter to it.


TB shot, I hate your guts.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Experience with Cloth Diapers

I have a 6 week old baby who, except for the first few days of her life while we were in the hospital, has never worn anything but cloth diapers. I'm not going to give you the environment as the impetus for choosing cloth because I'm sure there are legions out there in internet land who will argue that the water and electricity that I use to wash the diapers offsets the absence of poopy disposibles in the garbage dump.
My husband is partial to the diaper rash argument...that the incidence of diaper rash skyrocketed with the rise in use of disposible diapers. Frankly, that too will be written off by mothers who will argue that more frequent changing would abolish much of those incidents.
Originally, I think that the decision to cloth diaper was driven by the fact that the concept is entirely aligned with how my husband and I live. Nothing in our life is disposible - everything is solid, heavy...and will last 100 years. I actually liked the idea that all of our children will have the same diapers. There's continuity in that - history. These are OUR family's diapers now and forever.
So, now after 6 weeks of hard daily use, what do I think about cloth diapers? Are they worth it?
Absolutely. I wouldn't change a thing. She's happy in them. I'm happy with them. I have several cute diaper bags made for me by Kelly at Petunia's. The XL ICKY bags hold 1 load of dirty diaper laundry for my front loading washing machine. I have a few regular sized ICKY bags that I take on the road with me, while we're strolling around town and stepping over/rolling through the raw sewage that seems to be spilling out of several manhole covers near our apartment building (ah, yes...cholera anyone?).
Exclusively breastfed baby's poo is completely water soluble - meaning, I don't dunk anything or whatever you're thinking. I remove the diaper and throw it immediately into the diaper bag, poo and all. When the bag is full, I overturn the bag in my washing machine and then throw the bag in, too. Voila. I don't touch anything.
One cold water rinse and then a hot cycle using special cloth diaper detergent from Clean Rinse and the dipes are clean - enough to pass the most rigorous olfactory and visual tests (which is more than I can say for Zadar streets after a rainstorm). For whatever reason, I've always finished them off with a second cold water rinse with about a half cup of vinegar (for softening) and a few drops of lavendar oil (for scent) but it's not required.
Now, there are a variety of cloth diaper covers (not all cloth diapers require covers...but mine do). I went entirely wool - no PUL covers. I have a full stash of Aristocrat and Disana covers (pictured on the right). I embellished the covers with the crocheted flowers that you see. And despite being a natural fiber with a bad reputation, even the covers couldn't be easier to care for. In 6 weeks of daily use, I've washed and relanolized the covers once - once! And that, only because I thought I should rather than any particular need (meaning, they weren't leaking and they weren't stinking).
So, friends. My foray into cloth diapers has been an unequivocal success so far.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Zadar, Lebanon

It's that time of year again...

From mid-November through New Year's, Zadar sounds like bombed-out Beirut. Under the rubric of Anything-to-Appease-the-Kiddies, parents buy an arsenal of firecrackers which are set off day and night by their kids.

Walking to school? ...why don't you pass the time setting off firecrackers...

After lunch...what else is there to do but light firecrackers...

Do you hate the neighbor's dog? Shoot a firecracker at it and laugh like a maniac when the animal goes running...

This also marks the time when my husband wears out the speed dial for the Police.

Disptacher: Hello?
Husband: Yes, I'm just calling to let you know that there are a couple kids in front of my building that have been lighting firecrackers for the past half hour...
Dispatcher: And...
Husband: Well, it's illegal. And I'm looking right at them...right we speak.
Dispatcher: What do expect kids to do? When I was their age, we used live ordinance.

(actual call)

Ah yes...welcome to the Wild West...

So, when little Jimmy blows off his sister's arm or grows up to be a delinquent, the neighbors will all cluck their tongues and say, ˝he was such a good boy...˝ and they will be baffled.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Shopping for the Baby

I've been picking up some baby things via Etsy. I like the idea of have one-off pieces for the baby...something that nobody else will have...things that are handmade and unique rather than exactly like a million other pieces that roll off the assembly line of some Chinese factory. I'm not knocking mass production, but I'm merely saying that it's a different mentality. To give you a corollary example, my husband and I have all original art in our apartment. And not just that...we personally know each and every artist. We know their stories. We know what they were thinking about when they made each piece of art. Sure, it's cheaper for us to go out and buy pickles....but we make them, instead. But I can tell you the names of every person who made our baby's clothes. I can tell you where they live and how many kids they have... It illustrates a qualitative difference in the way that my husband and I interact with the world. Everything is personal. It's slower. It's more time consuming but for us, it's worth it.
As far as the clothes, my choices have been met with mixed reviews, but husband and I are thrilled with what we've gotten. Natural fabrics. Lots of wool. Lots of re-purposed things (sweaters that are remade into tiny pants or the little coat that's featured in these picture). These pictures are just a few of the items that I've bought so far (I couldn't fit everything into one photo; some things haven't arrived yet). By and large, my shopping experience has been overwhelmingly positive. I've asked for slight changes on some things...I've asked for completely custom-made items. No problem. No problem. No problem. The prices have been roughly similar to those found in store-bought items but the quality is much, much better.

Sure, some things don't make sense to get from sellers on Etsy. Things like little baby t-shirts and onesies. You can pick up a pack of t-shirts very inexpensively and they're almost disposable (planned obsolesence). But even for those items, I've been making appliques that I'll use as embellishments. For example, I made the little owls picture here and will sew them onto those fairly blah clothes.
Like I said, this approach is not for everybody, but it wouldn't be the first time that I've gone against the flow.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Summer is Over...

It's rainy, cloudy...cold. We actually installed air conditioning like 3 weeks ago - yes, at the END of the summer (we were stupidly resistent to air-conditioning - I have no idea why, now - not that we're using it much these days).

A friend of ours from Montreal visted earlier this week. Travelling alone. She's never been to Croatia before. Man, it would really suck to be traveling alone while the rain is pouring. But what a great attitude she has! She's a real renaissance woman - travels all over the place. Speaks 5 languages. Knits, sews...makes soap...builds things with wood - and I'm not talking about bird houses - the woman actually makes structures, like gazebos and things!

Otherwise, I'm happily gestating. 7 months, now. Waiting with baited breath and praying for a good outcome.