Tag Archives: Split

22 months: let’s do this!

Oh Mateo. Dear Mateo. You’re almost TWO years old. Yep, THIS week! What?!

That means we’re behind on these monthly posts. We better catch up! At the time, I remember thinking that there was so much  to share. Gah, it makes me wish I took notes. It’s amazing how quickly it all becomes a big blur!

Thank goodness for my trusty camera. NOW I remember why this post never got written. We were busy. Your 22nd month was your busiest travel month yet.toddler travel in EuropeYou were in three countries (Croatia, Austria, and Italy). Four countries if you count driving through Slovenia (both on the way to Austria & again on the way to Italy). You traveled by car, by speedboat, by ferry, by water taxi, by city metro, tram, and by bus.  Funny that I titled your 21 month post: “you little traveler.” OH MAN,  then I better say — 22 months: you seasoned traveler! So without further ado: a little peek into the life of Mateo. June 16-July 15!

toddler travels in Europe: 22 month memories & milestonesYou really are a great traveler. PHEW! So many more adventures ahead, Mister! Hopefully some that you’ll actually remember, ha. Even if you don’t remember it all, I will. I promise you had a ton of fun. That’s for sure.

Kiddo, you’re not even two yet. But soon! ;)


Feel free to look back! Mateo at: 21 month, 20 months, and 19 months.

CHEERS! to family!

Did you MISS me?

Pretty sure  you have your own busy life to mind to, but I’ve missed you (whether you noticed or not!). And I really have been feeling bad about being so quiet over here. I can do better. I’ve been taking notes in my head of all the little things I want to tell you!

We’re still in Split, Croatia. Although if you follow us on facebook you know we ducked out to Dubrovnik (what a beauty!) for the weekend. We’re coming up on two weeks away from home. Still two more months until we return to Chicago, but we’re noticing how fast the time is flying already.cousins-yellow-beachWe have a pretty regular daily routine now. Mornings together, then lunch at Aki’s parents (Mateo’s baka & dida), nap time for Mateo at our apartment and then Aki starts his work day. Mateo and I spend the afternoon with his cousins and aunt (they’re visiting from the gorgeous Istrian region of Croatia), then dinner and bed. Rinse, repeat. The truth is, day to day life isn’t any more exciting or interesting than being at home. Just a bit less space, a bit less babysitting, and a bit less clothing options. Jealous? :)

Still, whenever you are away from home, and in my case, away from your “comfort zone” it makes you notice new things. There are new thoughts, new reflections, new challenges, new tastes, new entertainment, new scenery (I never get sick of it!), new language, and sure, new annoyances.

Problem is, OH MAN, I’m so tired all the time. I should have so much to share but when Mateo is napping or sleeping, I find myself doing the same.

I need to get over it and make the time. At home I thrive on my creativity and getting things done, but I’ve been a bit lazy here. There really is something to talking out loud (or typing) that makes the daily nothings add up to something. Yes, daily-life is just daily-life no matter where you are but it’s still worth paying attention to. One thing that we have been enjoying is a bit more family.

Our little family of three is together so much more. Mateo doesn’t have a babysitter, Aki doesn’t have an office, so we are together. A lot. Luckily,we like that (most of the time). And really, one of the biggest reasons that we are here is to be with family. It’s been so great to see Mateo bonding with his cousins and aunt Žeki. He asks for Žeki and Baka (grandma) all the time and gives them biiiiig hugs (he gives the best hugs). :) Whenever I see that, I think “THIS is why we’re here.”

cousins-bondingMateo is really bonding with his cousin, Natan who is seven months his senior.

Yesterday I was watching them and thought, you know, two pre-verbal (or at least two not yet fully verbal) toddlers aren’t so different than any other two (open) people of different cultures (and languages) bonding. Yesterday I watched them with a HUGE smile on my face. It got me thinking. I guess some things are just universal and don’t require words. You know, like laughing, art, group sports (so I hear), and well, drinks!

Yesterday the boys drew pictures together with colored markers [ART], played “crazy ball” (essentially throwing balls, kicking balls, yelling, and running in circles like mad men) [SPORT & LAUGHING], and after all the intense activity both gulped down big glasses of water [DRINKS]. ;) As usual, Mateo takes it to the next level. After his first gulp, he put his glass out to his cousin, Natan and said “CHEERS.” They clinked glasses and laughed. How ridiculously cute is that?!! Moments like that I wish my eyes could take video. Yes, it was that moment where I was thinking, YEP, these toddlers know how it’s done. Who needs to share the same language? Some things are universal, No words required.

cousins-trucksApparently cars are a big deal as well…

this is how we stroll: Split, Croatia style

Split, Croatia at Night: Traveling in Europe with a Toddler

So here’s the thing. Toddlers go to sleep between 7:30 and 8:00 pm. At least this one does. At home, that’s a beautiful thing. At home that leaves hours of evening free-time. Hours of necessary decompression (from toddler) time laid out on the sofa. ;) But when you’re away  from home, the sofa is just so much less attractive.

It’s hard to stay inside on these warm nights when you know that the cafes are buzzing, the sea is so calm, and candles are flickering on restaurant tables.

So we don’t stay in.

We’ve learned from traveling, that the stroller is our friend. Strollers are beds on wheels.

Our strategy is to take a quiet route in the evening and put Mateo to sleep. From there we either continue walking (I can’t get enough!), grab a drink, or even have a meal at a quiet restaurant. If we go to a restaurant we just choose a table that has an easy (roll away) escape route in case Mateo stirs.

We’ll see if the same strategy will work this year. Last year in Croatia we only had one dinner cut short, and maybe a handful of times where one of us had to take a quick shhhhh-ing round with the stroller for a minute or five. Of course there was that one day in Venice, Italy where the stroller strategy was a complete no-go. Not bad stats overall though!

This year we’re lucky. My sister will be joining us in a month (hello babysitter), and as soon as Mateo adjusts, his grandparents have volunteered to watch him every once in awhile at night as well (when we’re in Split).

Last night we put Mateo to sleep in the stroller and had a really lovely walk by the sea and through old town. Like I said, I can’t get enough. It always amazes me that Aki grew up steps from the Adriatic Sea and all of this HISTORY. Split is built around the walls of an old Roman palace!

At home, we always opt for a babysitter. But it’s nice to know that (although we have to be flexible), we aren’t prisoners to the toddler schedule. It’s just good to know!

Guys, I have more photos but Mateo is jumping on me yelling “outside, outside, goooooo!” (literally). So, we’re going to go outside.

Let’s catch up later! xo


PS  Did you know we’re on facebook now? We are! Come hang out! If you aren’t already following our facebook page, go on and “like” us. (please and thank you). :)

coffee and trucks: just an ordinary day in Croatia

happy toddler - day 2 Split, Croatia : summer in EuropeDay two and we’re settling in. Right now Aki’s working, Mateo’s napping, I’m blogging. We’re figuring out a routine. We’re going to try to spend the morning/early afternoons out and about together, and our late afternoons taking care of “normal life in a different place.”walking-to-gingolaThis morning we hung out at a local café which caters to families. They have a little play lot and lots of toys for the kiddos to explore and well, essentially leave their parents BE. :) I immediately noticed a few things that I found interesting. Little things that made the experience a bit of a cultural study.

In Chicago we have a variety of adorable kiddie cafés. Same idea: happy, distracted kids equal happy (more relaxed) parents. These types of places also fulfill city kids’ need for free range play. The difference is that in Chicago, all of the kiddie cafés/play places cost $12 to walk in and the whole environment and experience is set-up for the children. That’s the point, right?

In contrast, this café was definitely geared toward parents. There is nothing on the menu for a child; the offerings include a variety of coffee drinks and alcohol (like any cafe around). The café is for adults. The toys are for the kids.coffee & espresso in Split, Croatia: play cafeI find differences like this really interesting. Subtle differences which speak to a cultural variance. I rather like the idea of catering to families as “adults with children.” That’s what we are, right? So often in the U.S., once you become a parent, you are no longer an “adult,” you are now a “parent.” New category. I think you can wear both hats at the same time.gingola-play-cafeAnother difference is that this play space is not slick, bright, “safe,” or sterile. Quite honestly I’m guessing that there would be about 37 health and safety violations if the same space existed in Chicago. But maybe  Americans could benefit from relaxing a little bit. ;)

Funnily enough, in our family, Aki (the Croatian national) is the hyper-vigilant “American” parent and me (the American national), I’m of the “he’ll figure it out” and “a few bumps and bruises are no big deal” philosophy. Okay, I know I am generalizing. Yes, there are something like 105 million American families, so of course “the American parent” spans the entire map. yep, yep.

Today is just an ordinary day. But it made me think about why it’s so important to travel. It’s not always about seeing amazing things. Sometimes it’s just about seeing a different perspective or a different version of ordinary. This is why I try to experience the local “daily life” when I travel. The simple activity of having a coffee at a local café can make you stop and consider the different ways in which we think and live. There is always a benefit to that.gingola-rocksgingola-playgingola-shoesgingola-cargingola-smileI know Mateo had a great time (while building his immune system, ha kidding) and Aki and I absolutely enjoyed our coffee and espresso with cream in peace. Best of all, the café is just a street over. Trucks, gravel, and coffee is a formula that works for us. We definitely plan to be regulars.croatia-day-2-editAnd in other news, Mateo fell down today and yelled, “Opaaa!” haha, looks like he’s feeling his Croatian roots and already becoming a local. ;)

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND, friends!

It’s Friday, right? Yeah, pretty sure it is.

 

jet lag ain’t got nothin’ on Mateo. mama could use a nap.

toddler - first day in Split, CroatiaHello Split, Croatia! We’re HERE. We left a warm, bright and sunny Chicago day and arrived in Split on another warm, bright, sunny day 12.5 hours later.

We were met at the airport by lots of waving, hugs and kisses from Aki’s parents, Mateo’s “baka” (grandma) and “dida” (grandpa). Smart ones they are; Mateo was greeted with a little toy train. He was “choo-choo-ing” until the very moment he finally gave in to sleep (on the way home from the airport).

We’re settled into our apartment for the next couple months. (If you can call open suitcases “settled”). We’re just down the street from baka and dida and two blocks from Split’s Old Town. I’m anticipating lots and lots of visits and daily walks and exploration.

Knock on wood, little Mateo seems to be on Croatian time already. He fell asleep on the way from the airport (5:30 pm) and slept until 8:30 am (with a little play session/sleep-break at 11pm). He took his afternoon nap at his normal time and has been eating meals on Croatian schedule. I donno, if you want advice on instantly beating jet lag, don’t ask me. Ask Mateo. Although pretty sure he’d rather talk about cake, trains, monkeys, giraffes, BIG airplanes, and/or elephants.

Mama on the other hand, I’m a lil’ jetlagged. The boys slept like champs, but I was awake most of the night. It was nice to be greeted by palm trees and sun yesterday. Today is rainy and overcast. And that is okay by me. Today is a recovery day.chubby, rainy toddler knees. Split, CroatiaWhen we were in Chicago, Croatia felt like a world away. It felt like ages since our last visit (eight months ago). Funny though, as soon as we entered town it felt like yesterday. It was like no time had passed at all.

I’ll be back with a clearer head and lots more photos soon. I’m in a bit of a haze at the momento. I think I better ask Mateo if he has any advice for me.first day of jet lag in croatiaPS  Aki deserves an award. He’s already back at work today, working remotely. (!!) His reward will be a date with his zombie wife. We’re thinking to go get some local mussels tonight. Baka and dida have already agreed to babysitting duty. :)

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