This has been a big month for you. You took two big airplanes and got yourself all the way over to Croatia (“BIIG air-pane,” as you say. Always with big eyes at the top of your voice)!
Since then you’ve taken a road trip south to Dubrovnik, and this weekend you’re going to take a boat to the islands. Hvar, to be exact (one of your mama’s favorite spots in the world).
This month you’ve tried octopus and four different types of fresh caught fish (from the Adriatic Sea). I love that you like seafood just like your mama! :) So healthy. ;)
You also adore čevapi (Croatian sausage) just like your dad. You call it “choppi.” :) Not quite as healthy, ha. :)
The biggest news is that you are getting lots of time in with your baka and dida (Aki’s parents, Mateo’s grandparents). You videochat with them plenty from Chicago, but you haven’t been able to hug them since right after your first birthday. This is special.Your baka (grandma) laughs at you all the time. She thinks it’s funny that you’re so little but you act like a big boy. :) I think it’s because you “chat” so much (half real words, half silly “expressing yourself”). :) I think she also likes that you say “mmmmm” after every bite when you eat her food. :) You say “HI BAKA” or “HEY” to Dida every time you enter their flat and never leave without saying “Ciao Ciao” (Ćao Ćao in Croatian) and giving hugs or blowing lots of kisses. I like that about you, Mateo. :)Your Teta Žeki (Aunt Željana, Aki’s sister) and Barba Danijel (uncle) came with your cousins Natan and Domagoj just to see you! Uncle Danijel had to go back to Istria (the northern region where they live) for work but Teta Žeki (you LOVE her) and your cousins (2 and 1/2 and 8 months) have stayed to visit! Uncle Danijel is coming back this weekend to pick everyone up but don’t worry, we’ll return the visit in Istria next month.
At first you were a little suspicious of Natan taking over all of baka and dida’s toys but now you are total buds. :) You boys yell and run and tear baka & dida’s flat apart together on a daily basis. ha. :) The best part is that you are doing a little language exchange! You’ve got Natan saying “ready, set, GO!,” “hi,” and “NO.” :) It’s so cute watching you two “speak” to each other in your own toddler versions of your own languages. :)I love that everyone (and not just your Tata) is speaking to you in Croatian. You now say “još” (more), čekaj (wait), papa (papati = eat), dođi (come) and šator (tent, cause forts are very important ya know). Today you said “pazi auto” when a car passed us (watch out car)! :) You also now call your trucks “kami-truck.” (kamion = truck in Croatian). Although you still mainly use English, it’s so good for you to hear your second language all over. It seems like you understand pretty well. Everyone calls you a “mali Hrvat.” (little Croatian). :) You are.
You’ve been to four different beaches so far (between Split and Dubrovnik) and beaches are definitely your FAVORITE thing. You think the water coming in and out is hilarious and you like sand and rock beaches equally. Most beaches in Croatia are rock beaches, and you just love throwing those rocks. The sea isn’t warm yet but you don’t seem to notice, crazy boy. That’s fine, I’ll sit in the sun, you can enjoy the water with Tata. :)
Croatia has a strong singing culture. It’s normal to pass a group of people singing together (with or without a guitar). If we’re taking a walk, you make us stop to listen. Sometimes you dance. You always ask for more when a song ends. :) I love to hear old Dalmatian songs (so Aki tells me) when we’re by the sea. Dalmatia is your Tata’s region of Croatia. You seem to like the old song traditions as well. :)You are such an expressive kid, Mateo. You use 2-5 word sentences now and are rambling about something from the moment you wake up until the moment you go to sleep.
Speaking of the moment you wake up. We are awakened every morning to a call of: “Hennaaaaa!! Henna! HENNAAAA!!” Luckily you usually revert back to “mama,” “mommy” or “mom” during the day (I won’t respond to you otherwise). Unfortunately I’m the only one calling Tata (dad) “Tata” during the day. You call Tata “Aki” much to our chagrin. Yes, you’re the kid saying “No, Aki” and yelling “Aki WAIT” down the street. Oh man…
Your friends in Chicago miss you. Three different moms have told me their kids have been asking about you. We’ll have to send postcards! :)
And maybe my favorite, whenever you are introduced to someone new you usually point to me and say “mama.” I like that you always introduce me. :) You like your mama and want everyone to know that I’m someone they should know too. ;)
On to more adventures my little man! It’s a BIG world out there. :)