Tag Archives: Toddlers

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…

20 months: cozy, cozy, tatu, cozy, cozy

cozy cozy toddler

This has been my favorite month so far. 20 months has been an explosion of imagination, language, and cuddling. Awesome, Awesome, and Awesome. And we’re just in the middle of it!

Shhh, don’t tell anyone but I’m not really a “baby person.” I don’t naturally reach for babies and my heart doesn’t melt when I see them. I mean, they’re just babies. Don’t worry, Mateo was an exception. Your own baby seems to be an exception to well, EVERYTHING. So yeah, don’t worry, he’s been loved and blah blah from day 1. The kid has always been adorable, but THIS — this toddler stuff…this is what I’m talking about! I know, I know…I’m sure I’ll be eating my words. Toddlers are “terrible.” Terrible Twos, Terrible Threes I’ve heard. Just let me have my moment.

We’re going to try to keep up the monthly Teo review. I got started last month with his 19 month post and it really made me wish I’d done this all along.

HERE’S WHAT’S UP @ 20 months (that’s a year & 1/2 + 2 months in normal time):

You have real friends. Aravis and Everett think you’re hilarious (you’re definitely the clown in the group). You jump up and down when you see them pull up to the house. You’re definitely crazy town with them, but you’ll listen to anything Aravis has to say. You adore that girl.

toddler friends: friends are awesome

Your bud Lawrence and you are like brothers. You get each other into laughing fits but also like to push each other’s button (oh boys). You’re both “drama kings.” Always yelling “Oooohh NOOOOOO!” Lawrence asks where you are when he gets to his Nature Class every week. As soon as you’re old enough we’ll get you enrolled. I love that you guys do so many things together. He call you “Tio” and you call him “Warnss.”

We’ve known since you were tiiiiiny that you’d be a little talker. It’s just your personality. I don’t think there’s much a parent does to affect when a baby’s milestones get ticked. A lot of it seems to be about personality. Some kids just need to “EXPRESS themselves” (maybe ones whose mothers’ blog? ha). This month has been an EXPLOSION of words. Crazy boy, you say over 100 words and have started to use two and sometimes three word sentences. You still need an interpreter though. ;) I got your back.

You’ve started to say “knock, knock” or “knock, knock door” before opening a door. Not actually knocking, just saying “knock, knock.” :)

OH MAN, this month has been all about COZY, COZY. You love getting into bed and pulling all the covers up to your chin. We call it “cozy, cozy.” Cozy, cozy is better with others. You always invite us and “Monkey” too of course. “Mama, cozy, cozy?” (runs to room). “Tata, cozy, cozy?” (runs to room). “Auntie cozy, cozy?” (runs to room). We’ve managed to share “COZY, COZY” with Auntie, Angela, uncle Christian, Noni, Papa, Aravis and Catherine as well this month. You’re all invited, haha. It’s been a good month for “COZY, COZY.”

cozy toddler cuddlingcozy baby monkey

You’re reeeaaaallly into mopping. Tata sawed off the handle of a real mop so you could have your own. You’re obsessed. And you’ve named it “Tatu”?? Where do you come up with these things? (that’s Tatu below leaning against your lil’ fridge).


You’re also really, really into your play kitchen. I love your little imagination. You like to cook pasta, wash your dishes, have tea, and fry eggs. Your sound effects while doing the aforementioned are

play kitchen: toddler play

Still obsessed (correct word for sure) with trains, airplanes and trucks. Your mind is blown every block or so when we take a walk.

toddlers and trucks

The last few days you’ve been zooming around the house with your “wings” out making airplane sounds. Cuteness for sure. :)

You love to run. We’ve dubbed it the “chubby run.” :) Yep, still plenty of chubs on you at 20 months. ;)

The weather has been pretty erratic around here, but the few warm days we’ve had have been heaven for you. The boy who hates coats and loves water.


We’re off to Croatia soon and it’s the perfect timing. You’re starting to repeat what we say and I think you’re just going to absorb all of the Croatian language all around you over the next couple months. Your little (HUGE) personality is really coming out. I’m pretty sure you’re going to charm the pants off the country, ha.


babies & cardboard boxes. it’s a thing.

So, let’s talk baby marketing. Not really, but just a tinsy bit.

Guys, anything that you buy for your child ends up becoming a big, huge research project if you let it. I love online reviews, but seriously, sometimes way.too.much.information. And I’m just talking about toys here. For Mateo, we wanted to keep things simple. I didn’t want all the things, just essentials. You know, the good looking, eco toys that will turn your child into a genius. It’s just hard to pick because there are a bazillion choices, and the good looking ones that bring out genius are never cheap.


That was phase one. Then I entered the tired phase, and just started looking for things that would keep that boy busy and entertained. I’d scan reviews for something along the lines of, “kept little baby Z busy for half an hour.” ADD TO CART. You just hope that it’s not too ugly, it’s non-toxic, and maybe doesn’t dull your child’s intellect.

We’re now in phase three. I’m not as tired. Phase three is good. I couldn’t care less about any marketing. We still (try to) keep it simple. And yeah, yeah, I still like pretty things that are “developmental.” But we don’t shop often, hand me downs are great, and  a n y t h i n g  with a little imagination can be a toy. OH, and phase three also means that when we DO buy toys, they better last a few years and really, do I want to play with it too? Let’s just say that Mateo has the most rocking little play kitchen you’ve ever seen.

Whew, that was a lot of intro. I kinda just wanted to show you photos of Mateo in a cardboard box. Babies love cardboard boxes. They are the best.


I hear that when I was a child, that’s all I wanted to play with. Baby trends be damned. Decades later and still a hit in 2013. Pretty sure those boxes made me the woman I am today. Good luck, Mateo.


kids these days

man to man

In other news, Mateo, at the ripe old age of 18 months has decided that he’d like a more “man to man” relationship with his father. Out of the blue this morning, he dropped “Tata” (“Dad” in Croatian) and started addressing his father as “Aki” (the nickname we all call Andrija).

Not a fluke. He’s kept it up ALL DAY.

I know we should probably nip it in the bud soon, but quite honestly, it’s hilarious, and I may or may not be encouraging it just a tinsy bit. What can I say? The boy is a showman and he’s been getting good audience response.

So far, my formal title doesn’t seem to be in any danger — Mama, mama, mama, mama.

I’ll keep you updated.

*photos taken October 20, 2012