Thursday, 31 March 2016

fastforward to spring

All of a sudden, it's spring!

In the last three days since this photo was taken that narrow edge of ice has melted away, and the river is free again. On the banks, there are little scatterings of the shy little coltsfoot, and under shrubs there are snowdrops.

That's how it feels exactly, that we are free again too - from the woolly layers, the rigidity, the limitations and narrowness of winter. Muscles can relax, there is no more crunchy, slippery sheet of ice, no more biting wind, no more short little breaths.

Walking around in the blue skied sunshine surrounded by +10 degrees, taking deeeeep breaths of the balmy air feels more than lovely. It feels like the loveliest thing in the world right now.

Spring has so much lightness, so much grace, so much more space and air than winter. So much more to do and explore and enjoy. Hopefully April will bring more warmth and we won't see another snowflake again until October!

Thursday, 24 March 2016

easter greetings

Easter greetings from under a fresh yet already melting blanket of snow.

This is all the egg-decorating we will do this year... may be more crafting next year. Hyacinths and narcissi are currently a no-no because of that pesky pollen allergy of mine. Instead, pine needles that my boy picked up on one of our walks and a pine cone. Which could be a little bit like an egg - let's say a dinosaur egg, from a certain angle.

So happy Easter everyone!

Monday, 21 March 2016

thrifting with a toddler: simple matters

By now, I got it down how to do thrift shopping with my little one in tow. Things have become simpler as we left the baby days behind and he grew into a toddler. I got to know him (and myself) better. We can communicate more and I feel that we make a better team.

Keeping our thrifting trips simple provides more of a chance for it to be a pleasure rather than a pain. Over the past 18 months I learned what is important for a nice thrifting experience:

Less is more. Going less often but with more planning is better for us. Setting off on a whim can and usually does become stressful, and more often than not I feel guilty about it later. With a planned visit, say once a week there won't be any guilt, and with simple preparations (water and a snack for both of us, nappy changed, etc) there won't be stress either.

Buggy access and child-friendliness. There are only a few places where I go hunting, due to buggy access. Places with a higgledy-piggledy layout with tight squeeze between rows won't do. Places where I'd get the stink eye for bringing a small child along won't do. Dingy cellars with steep stairs and bad air just won't do.

Clarity. Knowing what I want to find is essential. Before, I preferred jumbly, messy, mixed-up places. Now I favour the kind of merchandised tidy stores where everything is sorted into groups and placed in dedicated areas - clothes, kitchenware, craft, furniture, etc. Clear to see, easy to shop. Before setting out, I also consider how we feel - are we both in a good mood, are we well rested? If either of us is tired, we won't find anything and it won't be possible to do any shopping to the soundtrack of his escalating Eeeeeeeeeeee! which means let's get the hell out...

Fair play. It's a given that I like thrift shopping, but it's only fair that my boy feels entertained too. So before I get looking, first I find him a toy car, a book, or something to engage with. At the end we put the distraction item back and he helps me pay for the find (if there is one) by holding my card and giving it to the cashier. I learned to quickly safety check the chosen distraction item - no broken or loose bits, clean enough - once I watched his nappies for a few days for a plastic bead after giving him a play mobile phone, and realising it was missing a part which I didn't know if he ate or was already like that...

Focused. For quick visits I go to the one store that's on the way to the swings. In the shop, I head straight to the bargain bin area, the kilo price area or the mixed stationery area and ignore everything else. If there's nothing to be found I will know it in seconds. If I find something good, it will be so cheap that I won't have to think about it lots before I commit. This way I might bag a bunch of nice envelopes or a useful biscuit tin, I'll get my thrifting fix without stretching my wallet or the patience of my child, and will be able to shoot off to the playground before any complaining would start. Happy all around!

Friday, 18 March 2016

flea friday: flaaag!

A pennant, actually. It's just that my toddler points and yells FLAAAG in Hungarian every time we see a flag somewhere. Or a pennant, like the time when I found this one in the cozy little charity shop we don't often go to.

It's a small little place, with an old lady or two manning it. I try to be very careful when we visit. There are glassware, pottery and all sorts of random stuff everywhere - which I want none of knocked off and have to be paid for...

But of course my little boy spots a red toy snow shovel on a low shelf as quickly as I notice a whole box of old pennants on an upper one. It was tricky to look through it while trying to restrain the boy from scraping imaginary snow along the shop floor. I did my best as quick as poss and fished out three little pennants for a penpal and this glorious big blue one for ourselves.

After a lot of in-shop snow works and shouting flag in Hungarian, we payed for the pennants and also bought the toy shovel (he would not let go of it). It was very cheap, but was it broken already or did we do that in the shop? I'll never know but it didn't matter. We went and had some real snowy fun with it in the nearby park. And just as well, the next day it was all melting away and it's been getting more springtime-y ever since.

Monday, 14 March 2016


This winter has been so very different from all the other ones before. I have been enjoying it.

I get up in the morning and pull the curtains, like before. I see the day's presentation of the cold season - most likely snow or at least frost. Some days it might have melted and it's slushy, sleety, or just steel grey with a mean windchill. Some days it's all of those at once.

I never thought of myself as an outdoorsy winter-type person. In fact I was the one to to sulk, shiver and complain a lot during winter in each country I lived in. I used to look out at the coldness of the wintry world with contempt and stayed in if I could help it.

Not this winter. My boy and me had been stomping around outdoors pretty much every day, even before he could walk. I'm so surprised at myself how I don't mind the actual going part. Pre-parenthood, it used to take at least half an hour to just get into the mindframe of going out there. Now I look forward to it.

It needs to be said that on days when the weather is not kind, there's not a lot to do outside. We still have a quick spin in the buggy though, check the local team's flag on the football grounds, see if we spy a snow plough or a doggy in a jumper, then dive into the shopping mall to go up then down in the bim-bam lift to warm up before we turn the buggy homeward.

I never thought that I will be this fond of the gumboots with men's wool socks look... I'm happy that I can show this little boy all sorts about winter. There are so many different features to this season I have not appreciated any of before. Even layering up is an interesting little ritual: always the same each time we go out. He knows already what goes on which bit and in what order, so sweet.

I've not been ill with flu much this winter, nor has he. It's possible that our diet plays a part in that too, but I feel that cold fresh air paired with good winter clothes is pure health. What a change, I almost can't believe I wrote that.

So blessed to have this little boy - the cutest little lifestyle coach and personal trainer if there ever was one!

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

thrifting with a toddler: time matters

Before baby, thrifting was a lot about switching off from the world around me to be absorbed into hunting mode, meandering from booth to booth, browsing one crammed shelf after another. Sometimes I'd spend a couple of leisurely hours at a place getting lost in the variety of it, other times I'd go on a planned route of visiting several places scanning each for specific items. Either way, it was always refreshing and relaxing.

I don't have hours for it anymore. Thrifting now is more like a premeditated exercise in focus and effectiveness. Once there, I usually have limited amount of time and attention - certain little someone is always with me, and he's got the last word on how long we stay. I'm not complaining, I want him to be with me. Yet it took me a while to adjust and figure out the hows - just like in all other areas of my life.

I'm sure others with a small kid know what a fine balancing act any kind of shopping can be. A shopping list is a must - without one it's rather tricky to shop in a sane way in my experience. As for a casual,  drop-in visit to a store that was not planned ahead, all the variables would have to come together into an optimal mixture to come away still in a good mood, with a bag containing a good decision, a non-rushed, calmly considered purchase.

Even with planning ahead, there are many times when we pop in and quickly leave - my boy can communicate it very clearly if he doesn't like something. Sometimes a shop can be overwhelming for him in many ways. There might be too many stimuli or too many people. At times he might feel bored or get a bit frightened. During the cold months he might get too hot in his many layers, even with the removables removed.

I try to avoid getting into stressy vibes and negative experiences so we thrift shop only when everybody is happy. It's been good for me to cut down on thrifting time this way - now I spend a lot of it in the fresh air outdoors instead, with the coolest little dude I know.

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