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Sunday, 15 January 2017

Iasi - Urban Legend: Polish Statue of Stephen The Great

Dearest hearts,

There are more connections than one would think between my homeland Romania and my "adoptive" country Poland. As you may (not) know I live in Krakow, Poland, for more than 5 years now. I come from Iasi, a rather historical center that has been long forgotten. It also was the capital of the country for a while ;) but people tend to forget that and praise Bucharest... nevermind that! I wish to share with you today a story about these two fine countries. There are more than 130 years since Stephen the Great (ro: Stefan cel Mare) had its statue placed in front of the Palace of Culture in Iasi. The statue was done by a renowned French sculpture maker, Emmanuel Fremiet, and ever since it was brought to Iasi it has sparked a lot of intrigues and a certain urban legend that I will share with you ;) 
The Palace of Culture in Iasi and the statue of Stephen the Great (Stefan cel Mare), ruler of Moldavia
This legend states that Stephen would actually not be Stephen the Great but a Polish knight that would have requested a similar statue at the exact same time from the same sculptor. It's also being said that the Stephen the Great statue was brought instead to the Polish knight and that now it resides in Krakow. Truly, in Krakow, there are 2 statues of males riding on horses, statues that resemble the looks of Stephen the Great. But let's come back to the statue that is located in front of the Palace of Culture in Iasi. It is made out of bronze and it's 4,5 meters tall. The male upon the horse has a beard and a Catholic crown resting upon its head. Because back then there was no model for the crown of Moldavia, the sculptor used the model of a Catholic one. This sparked a lot of controversy considering that Moldavia (Romania) was always an Orthodox land ;)
The specialist infirm this rumour and say it was a simple misunderstanding in terms of how Stephen the Great looked vs. how Emmanuel Fremiet portrayed him. Maybe he just had too much wine and fromage and got carried away in the artistic spirit. Looking on the 2 supposed Stephen the Great from Krakow (the one from the Grunwald monument in Plac Jan Matejko & the one from the Wawel Castle) I really don't think it's any of them... but neither the one in front of the Palace of Culture in Iasi does not look like him... What are your thoughts on this? Do you think the statues were misplaced? Or just the sculptor took too much liberty with his piece of art?

Yours very much sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Urban Legends
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Thursday, 12 January 2017

10 Common Sense Things To Do During Winter

Good morning everyone!

It seems indeed Winter came to town! We didn't have a White Christmas (neither in Poland or Romania) even if the temperature was low and it was chilly. True, we had the cold wintery wind and the frost and the occasional bit of snow, but there was not much of the Wintery Fairyland I remember from my childhood... New Year came and then... Poof! After a few days Winter came in with full rights, temperature dropping under -10 degrees Celsius, wind howling and snow falling hard and covering everything. One day it was all muddy and grey and I was thinking of spring and then... in the blink of an eye, everything turned white and magical. Don't you love the first heavy snow that covers everything up and makes you wanna go outside and play? Make angels in the snow, build a snowman or just go sleigh riding! I dunno about you, but when I think of Winter there are a few things that pop into my mind as "common sense", something that I try to do every year.
The National Theater in Iasi, under snow :)
Here is my list:
  1. Ain't no Christmas unless you carol! Caroling has been a family tradition ever since I was a wee lass. Even if I am far away from home I always call my mum, sister and granny and sing carols to them. It might be an indication of Winter approaching when after Halloween I start listening to carols... you know what's coming ;) 
  2. Christmas celebration - festive dinners, Christmas tree decorating, visiting the Christmas Markets around the place you live, going to church and listening to the carols that celebrate Jesus's birth... all are things that I have done since I was small. Somehow it's also celebrating childhood :)
  3. Making snow angels in the fresh snow - there is no greater fun than waking up one morning seeing fields of white, rushing outside all dressed up and jumping in the fresh snow - flapping your arms and legs and laughing while doing snow angels...
  4. Do you wanna build a snowman? All you need is love and snow :) materials you can find outside... a branch for the hands, some rocks for the eyes and mouth... roll up the snow until you get frostbite and make your own Frosty the Snowman :) or an entire family of them!
    Let it snow, let it snow... - Palas Mall, Iasi, Romania
  5. Invest in winter gear - it's either layering up like an onion vs. buying some hard-core insulated clothes. I prefer the second option ;) a good coat gets you the option of wearing even just a t-shirt underneath. Yep, been there, done that! Feels awesome ;)
  6. Get away from the city and head for the mountains - my favourite time of year to get to the mountains  is winter and autumn season. Autumn's changing color of the leafs is magical and only fresh snow in wintertime can top that out. The evergreen under snow makes me think that the world can be pure again...
  7. Sleigh riding - another childhood memory :) you don't need much to have fun... I've seen people using toilet seats in order to slide on the snow, so a sleigh is not absolutely necessary ;) the best ride I had was on a huge banner (the advertising one...) where we did a small "train" of people... it was fun!
  8. Start thinking ahead for the new year - it's a perfect time now to start thinking and planning your next year, your next holidays. You may even buy the plane tickets - they will be way cheaper now! and they might make a great Christmas gift for your other half ;) 
    Palace of Culture, Iasi, Romania 
  9. Enjoy as much time you can with the family - Usually Winter is connected to Christmas and staying home with the ones you love. It means that at least for a short period of time you should try to "shut down" social activities and focus on the ones you love. I say we should do this every day of the year but we are all busy bees, are we not?! Or at least we give the appearance to be as such. We don't think that maybe the next moment the ones you love might not be here... take a moment and close your eyes and think about it. Now whom would you want to have next to you? Whom do you miss? Enjoy the holidays, this wonderful celebration with the ones who truly care!
  10. Celebrate the birth of our Saviour - Catholic Church, Orthodox Church and Protestants alike celebrate in December the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.  Even though I am not sure if Jesus was actually born on the 25th of December... maybe he was born on a different day and the people just matched it with the pagan holiday of Julletide! Either way it is good to have a day to celebrate his birth, even though he deserves more!
How about you? Do you have this kind of list of "common sense" things to do during winter time? What are your "must do" things? Do share until the snow melts and spring comes, so we may try your thoughts as well :) 

Yours very much sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves To Point Out Obvious Things To People Who Don't Understand Normality
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Monday, 9 January 2017

7 Ways Motherhood Changed Throughout Time

Dearest sweethearts,

Motherhood, at first sight, seems like a very easy and straightforward fun and exciting thing to do. Guess what? Nobody will tell you it's "dirty secrets" as if you knew them you might probably think twice before taking the step. In life everything comes with both pros and cons, so does being a mother.  It's not all roses and rainbows and unicorns... it's impossible to imagine that one can love a small human being with such Force and passion yet in the next split second to feel the need to run away from it all as fast as you can... and then they smile and the world of worries just melts again into love... and then the cycle starts again ;)) Well... I was thinking about Motherhood and how many things have changed throughout my little life...
Joy comes from the little things in life, like watching your very own LadyBug Baby Girl grow :)
I turned 30 years old recently and I've been looking at my little LadyBug Baby Girl and how I was raised by my mum but also how my mum was raised by my granny vs. how you granny was raised by my grand granny (which, BTW, I have managed to met and dearly remember the holidays spent at the countryside). Everything changes and the way we see how a child is being raised is different in a way or another, so without any further ado... let me point out some observations:
  • The number of children per family decreased. Both my grandparents had big families with a lot of brothers and sisters - the kind where you need both hands and a bit extra to count them... We - my generation of friends, in general - were 2 sisters. My husband's case is a bit different as he comes from Poland, Catholic country, where anticonceptional methods are not that much "approved" by the church and where people usually stick to the traditional way of living the life in Big, wholesome, friendly families. He has 4 brothers and 2 sisters.  Usually due to lack of time, commitment, financial reasons... people nowdays usually stop at having 2 children max. It's, I think, a way of reassuring oneself the continuity of the species... from 2 people came 2 more! 
  • The age of the person giving birth has increased. The people nowdays want to make sure they take the best chances, they make the best decisions before they take the big step. Having a child is considered a lot of responsibility and people prefer to have fun, travel, live their life, build a career, make sure they have some money in the bank... and so on... before they have a child. There is always this preconception running around that once you have kids you'll be a full time grown up that should not have fun/travel/smile/go out, but focus 110% on your child. Smother him! 
  • The Mothers have their own jobs now, not only Fathers work for the living! A couple of decades ago, not very long, though! the women were supposed to be the ones staying at home - cooking, cleaning, shopping and taking care of the children. Read the old novels and find me one women working outside of the house! Well... now women are allowed to vote and work in positions that were before labeled as "men only". True, they do have maternity leave but only for a short period of time! And guess what? After that they need to be mum + work at the same time! It doesn't get any easier... 
  • Mothers are expected now to spend more and more time with the children. Before, the babies would stay with the grandmothers or in special schools from a very young age. They would also probably have a nanny... Guess what? I had for a while a nanny as well! But that never replaces the sweet time spend with Granny and Mum :) nothing replaces that! And nowdays you will probably be hanged upon the cross if you dare say you wish to leave your small one with a nanny... just a few days ago I was reading in a Facebook mums group a post about a lady with a baby under 1 year that asked for a nanny recommendation... almost everyone jumped on her calling her a bad mum because she needed some time off and she wanted to leave her baby... Some people should learn the fine art of behaving in public, along with patience and understanding! 
  • Views on breastfeeding vs. The bottle ;) oh! This topic sparks like wildfire! Just ask any mum... some would rip heads off! Some would say there us no mother that cannot breastfeed their child: either you will or you won't! Well... I won't express my options here, I want to avoid any quarrel, but just FYI that a couple of decades ago the bottle was the only ladylike option, breastfeeding was not considered decent, it was something that only lower classes would do; and for sure it would not be done in public! The bottle was the way to go. Nowdays it's the other way around. Researchers have proved how beneficial the maternal milk is, especially in the first 6 months! It provides anticorps that the baby cannot get in any other way! 
  • Giving birth naturally was the way to go. Just you and the midwife (and the doctor, if you came from a high ranking family). There were no drugs, no epidural, no clue section. All was natural and painful and sometimes dangerous... some births might jeopardise both child and mother... thankfully nowdays you can tell in time and different decisions can be made to save lifes. It is so true nowdays it's highly recommended to give birth naturally if possible and there are hospitals specialised in that, as there are others specialised in c section. Either way it is a risk operation so... I would rather be in pain during birth then after, when you are in rehab. Then again my hips are wide so I am lucky :) 
  • Having a son was a must, to keep the inheritance in the family! Just take for example the lovely/amazing/funny/dramatic novel "Pride and Prejudice". Poor Mr. Bennett tried to have a son but he ended up with 5 daughters instead... there was no other way to do it... keep on trying until you make it! Nowdays at least laws are a bit more better and girls are considered as equal successors. All hail #womenrights :) 
Yours very much sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves To Discover Motherhood
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Friday, 6 January 2017

Thoughts Upon Star Wars - Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Dearest sweethearts,

**WARNING!!! This post contains opinions on the latest Star Wars movie: Rogue One - A Star Wars Story. It will be an extensive post and it will have pictures as well. This review contains SPOILERS so read it at your own risk ;) please do grab a cup of tea / warm blanket and enjoy!**

In case you did not notice through my occasional rants and posts on my Facebook / Instagram / Twitter ... well... I am a huge Star Wars fan ever since I first layed my eyes upon the Millennium Falcon and R2D2 and that fine man Han Solo. I had a major crush on the Episode 4 Luke Skywalker and I was devastated to see what his accident did to his pretty face :( I always thought Leia was an unusually kick arse Princess that raised the bar and the expectations to the Princesses to come. She was unlike any other... and now, considering her a Disney World Princess is quite tough to place her next to the rest. Maybe Mulan and Merida come a bit closer but they are miles away... Carrie Fisher (May The Force be with her!) was The One for the part and as The Force Awakens line says... General Leia? She will always be Royalty for me! But hey... I'm today going to speak about Rogue One - A Star Wars Story. The movie that is being placed as a stand alone between the prequels and the originals, between Episode 3 and Episode 4. Remember the crawl sequence at the beginning, explaining the Rebellion and how they got the plans for the ultimate weapon of the Empire? Well... Rogue One is that text scroll ;) and before I tell you anything more please consider the SPOILERS ahead.
I'll try to make this easy to get through and use bullet points but I don't promise I won't skip around from one idea to another...
  • Unlike the other 7 Star Wars movies, this particular piece is not an episode, but a story - a stand alone movie - that is part of the Star Wars expanded universe! Don't look for the Skywalkers there - although you will see Darth Vader and Princess Leia. This is a story about the Rebellion and how the plans first the Death Star were taken.
  • It seems that The Force Awakens started a small trend of bringing female leads into action. TFA had Rey as the leading character. Rogue One had Felicity Jones playing the young rebel Jyn Erso. We also get to see female rebel tie fighters - they were in the original trilogy as well but they never made the directors cut! 
  • Sadly it is the only Star Wars movie without an original John Williams soundtrack. Michael Giaccino was the one in charge and he did a great job but if you love music and Star Wars you will notice the difference ;)
  • There is no opening scroll text! I was shocked and grieved but looking back it does make sense... it's a stand alone movie, it's more serious and more dark than any of the other ones. There was no need for any intros... the fans knew what they were up against! On a positive note, it still opened up with a picture taken from space and an Imperial ship coming in ;)
  • Sorry to break it to you... though if you are a hard core Star Wars fan you should have seen the movie by now! It's almost a month (soon) from the release date!... so... there are absolutely no Jedi's in this movie! The only lightsaber you will see is the one that Darth Vader holds. You will see though the moon Jedha, presumably the birth place of the Jedi? 
  • Small / big cameos of characters both from the prequels but also from "A New Hope" (Episode 4). My personal favourite was Bail Organa, Princess Leia's stepfather. Also you will see more references to Episode 4 than you can imagine! Again my favs are the guys from the Cantina and the "blue milk"... mmm I still wonder how that tastes like :) I would not say Darth Vader is a cameo as he is in multiple scenes as is Mon Mothma.  
  • Creepingly good CGI done for Moff Tarkin. Peter Cushing has been dead for a while now... so seeing him again on the big screen was a huge shock. It was so well done that my jaw dropped... on the other hand there was just one scene with Leia and her CGI was not as spot on as Tarkin's :( 
  • Beautiful new challenging characters that die by the end of the movie... they all die and it will break your heart! Starting with the new Imperial reprogrammed droid K2SO, that reminded me so much of Sheldon in Big Bang Theory :) to the amazing power couple Chirrut (blind yet Force sensitive) and Baze (reminding me of The Mountain in Game of Thrones...). 
  • Amazing visual effects when it comes to the Death Star and the destructive force it has. It's true, back when Episode 4 was filmed there was not much one could have done to show what destruction the "moon" would be capable of... but now... it was perfection! When watching A New Hope you don't feel the pain and terror and horror even though they blow up an entire planet! It's a shot of a planet being destroyed... made star dust! But it Rogue One it feels so real and painful and tragic... it made me think of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Death Ray destroying the 2 locations, the earth moving and lifting up to a 360 degrees angle (made me think of Inception as well...) and the horror and terror upon people's faces... now that is something that adds depth into the pain. That is so much more than the single shot of Alderaan exploding! 
  • The fact that there was no beginning roll credits gets us a bonus of the intro about the Erso family. Galen Erso is the genius behind the Death Star (like the atomic bomb) and we get the introduction to the hero of this story, his daughter Jyn. I'm just gonna put it out there that I love Glen's part - even if he gets short time on screen, his presence is significant! The actor playing (you may recognise him as Lecter from the Hannibal series) is simply brilliant! And to be able to be the one man doing an inside job against the Empire.... wow! 
  • Even though our characters survive the Death Star first attack it's pretty obvious they won't be able to make it out of the second one... that's when you start to tear up... I started sniffing when K2SO went down (my second favourite droid now after dear old R2D2). When Chirrut died I wanted to curl into a ball and say "I am one with the Force, the Force is with me. I am one with the Force, the Force is with me..." till my lips went dry... but when I saw the command and knowing that everyone else was dead, unable to command a ship, ships being destroyed... it was all but inevitable: Jyn and Cassian were sacrificed along the way as well :( and it will break your heart when you think about their background and their family issues, trust issues... and when they finally find their "home", as Cassian puts it ;) and when you think there is "hope", that's when the movie comes and kicks you to the ground in anger and rage... it's a tragically well done love story, being told realistically, not even with a single kiss... may the Force be with them!
All this being said, I have watched Rogue One on the big screen, 3D version, and I will watch it again and again. It's brilliant and beautiful and it connects like magic the Episode 3 and 4 of the Star Wars Saga. It has one of the best fighting scenes in space I have ever seen (the one where the rebel ship pushes into a Star Destroyer that fully scrapes another Star Destroyer and they end up taking down the shield is... mind blowing!!!). It also has down to earth relatable characters and a decent story line. I even heard many SW fans saying it was better than The Force Awakens, but I would not risk saying that ;) I can tell you that after seeing it I felt like a child again. And once again I told to myself that our little LadyBug Baby Girl will know about the Force and the intriguing space adventures of the Skywalker family. 
P.S. As a fan of SW since I was a wee lass, I would like to dedicate this post to the lovely, fun and down to earth human being that was Carrie Fisher. She passed away in December after a heart attack. She will be sorely missed. She was the true Princess of this Universe - May The Force be with her, Always! 

Yours very much sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Star Wars
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Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Travel Tuesday: Why You Should Visit Iasi

Dearest sweethearts,

Welcome to 2017! Hope you had a very Merry Christmas and a fabulous New Year next to the ones you truly love and care about. I hope you had time to relax and reflect on the year that passed - both the joys and troubles are part of our life's and they help us grow and develop. I know you probably already setup your New Year Resolutions... but to tell you the truth I have not been so specific this year. All I want is love, being next to the ones I care, good health and the possibility to travel once in a while, especially now that the Little LadyBug Baby Girl is getting bigger ;) and it's a bit easier to move her around without constantly thinking "I might break her!" ;) Anyway... if in your Resolutions you also listed travelling inside Europe, trying out different countries and not necessarily the hyper known locations... maybe you should try Romania! That's right... the land of Dracula! But I ain't saying you need to get to Transylvania... you can always try having a small city break in Iasi ;) (also known as Jassy) - that's my hometown! Here are a few reasons why:
Traditional Romanian Christmas dances
1. Iasi is the most important political, cultural, economical and historical center/city in the Moldavian region. It has been the capital of the country for a while and it has the oldest and the more renowned University in the country. It was historically very important due to its trading routes with Poland, Russia, Hungary and Constantinople.

2. It is considered the center of Moldavian culture since 1408! In Iasi the first Romanian newspaper was published and the first Romanian University was established! Today the city has 5 universities and comparing that to the world it may not be much now, but the students of these uni's are very much searched for by companies worldwide ;) should I mention that in Microsoft the second most used language - the official one! - is Romanian? 
Mitropolitain Church on Stefan cel Mare Street
3. Iasi is a city of churches - Orthodox Churches are very well represented here. As I was saying that in Krakow you can find a church at every corner, the same goes with Iasi.  Probably the most well known one is the Mitropolitain Church located on Stefan cel Mare (Stephen the Great) Street. It boasts of holding the remains of the great saint Parascheva. In October people flock from all over the world to come and pray and touch her (for healing purposes). 

4. When it comes to churches, there is another "must see" beauty on Stefan cel Mare Street: Sfintii Trei Ierarhi (Church of the Three Hierarchs) - constructed 1637-1639. You will be amazed of its stunning decorations: the exterior is covered entirely in delicate and intricate patterns sculpted in stone (over 30 friezes!). The stone work is a mixture of western gothic, Renaissance and Oriental motifs. Legends say that the exterior was covered in hold and silver centuries ago, but when the Ottoman Empire tried to conquer Moldavia the invaders set the church on fire and melted all the gold.
National Theater in Iasi, Romania 
5. The Moldova Filharmonic House has been renovated and looks now as I remember it when I was a small child. It is indeed a lovely place to admire the old style architecture but also go inside and listen to a concert. It has pretty ok acoustics. I need to mention that on January 18th, 1847, that's almost 170 years ago! The famous composer, Franz Liszt played there! Also the National Theater is a "must see", being the very first to have played a play in Romanian language.
Traian Hotel and The LadyBug
6. The Hotel Traian, built in 1879 in neoclassical style. It's not well known buy the engineer that worked on its plans was none other than Mr. G. Eiffel - that's right! The one that designed the worldwide known symbol of Paris/France: the Eiffel Tower. The hotel was also one of the first in Europe to be molded on a metal frame! Talk about innovation! ;)
7. The Hall of Lost Footsteps (Sala Pasilor Pierduti) located at the University Al. I. Cuza, in the Copou campus, building A. Frescoes made by the local artist Sabin Balasa will make you dream and will melt your heart... it's one of the "must see" places. Don't forget to get your camera with you ;) the predominant color is blue and almost all the female characters have fiery red manes :)
8. The most beautiful parks where you can have some fresh air, have a stroll with your loved ones or just enjoy the chirping of the birds while you read a good book. A favourite of the locals in the Copou Park. In 1834 it became the city's first public garden and in 1860 the street lamps were installed here for the first time ;)

9. Romanians first, oldest and largest public botanical garden: Gradina Botanica Iasi - Iasi Botanical Garden. It has one of the prettiest pathways and it's very popular due to its awesome chrysanthemum displays during autumn time. It's very well maintained and totally worth your time ;)
Palace of Culture #nightlights 
10. If all the above fails to attract you... and you are a die hard shopping fan, you can mix that up with a bit of art and architecture and hit the Palas Mall, right next to the good old Palace of Culture (Palatul Culturii), right in the heart of the city.

Yours very much sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves To Discover New Places When Traveling 
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Saturday, 31 December 2016

Thoughts On Motherhood: What I've learned this year

Dearest hearts,

I know I have not been a mum for a very long time, considering that my little LadyBug Baby Girl has turned 4 months old just a couple of days ago; but I still firmly believe that I am entitled to say what I think out loud. You may or may not agree with me, but I will just put it out there so other mums / future mums will know about this. Maybe they will find it helpful and maybe some will find it reassuring that one has "been there, done that" and that they are not the only ones who toss and turn at night over thinking baby issues... so, here are some thoughts about Motherhood - pre and post birth: 
1. Pregnancy can be split in 3 different types of period: 1) the first 1-3 months when you have no clue what is happening with you, you don't feel any changes yet you need to slow down your pace and be responsible, it's also the time when you should not travel as it may be harmful for the development of the baby. 2) months 4-6 are the best ones! You have energy, you are not so big - if it's first pregnancy u you might not even show! You are also allowed to travel and it's a good time to enroll on a gym for pregnant women.  You will glow and look the best during the pregnancy! 3) months 7-9 you will feel tired and energy will drop down fast ... the last month for me was a constant "are we there yet?!" moment... 

2. The books and movies and what people say should have importance only if you wish it. Every pregnancy is different so trust your instincts and your gynecologist. If you feel the need for a second opinion ask another gynecologist not your friend from work. The qualifications are different!
3. Being at peace with yourself is more important than being at peace with others. If you do not accept and love yourself how do you presume others will? And how can you not love yourself when you will become a mother? You will go through the finest act of creation. Sure it will hurt like hell... sure you won't get much sleep... but you will have a little person who will love you unconditionally!

4. Being fit before giving birth gives you an easier labour. I have been for several months before birth to a gym center especially created for ladies that are pregnant or that have small ones over 6 weeks - the first 6 weeks after birth (8 for c section cases) you should not exercise. It is the recovery period. No discussion! These kind of gyms focus on exercises that strengthen the muscles you will use during birth and trust me, you will be thankful you did it! I know ladies that exercised even a day before they entered labour! Talk about dedication!
The 2 great Loves of my life ❤
5. The pain during natural birth is real! You feel that someone is tearing you apart from the inside... and I know that they measured it and it is as if you would have 20 bones broken at the same time... well I had my bones broken more than once but this does not compare to it! The pain is real and I did not forget it after birth, as loads of mums say. Would I do it again? The first months it was a definite NO! But now... after 4 months almost... I would maybe give it another go... in about 3-4 years or so ;)

6. The first months (even the first year/s) of a child's life are quite solitary for both the mum and baby. I ain't the only one saying that! Let's face it... your friends and family have their own life and job and dreams and aspirations and plans, that may not longer match your own. You will probably stay on maternity leave for a while (Poland: half a year payed 100% your salary or full year for 80% ; Romania: you can take 2 years off and as far as I know there is a fixed amount you are payed). Your friends will continue to have a job. You will lose touch. You will need to focus on the needs of the little one rather than your own. You will feel alone and sometimes when you will think it through you will realise it's quite odd talking to yourself - the small one will not talk back for a while...
7. You will stop buying things for yourself and start focusing on the little one. You will probably buy in advance clothing and books and toys just because you saw something cute/nice/cuddly that he/she might like. Mmmmm... actually I think we buy - in a way - the things we would have liked to have. The small one does not have an opinion yet... or maybe they do but verbalising it until they reach a certain aga is hard. Of course my small LadyBug Baby Girl was dressed in a LadyBug suit at her first photoshoot. Of course she has LadyBug toys and books. Mummy's girl ;)

8. Nothing is too much when it comes to your babies health.  You would spend any time and money to make sure all is fine. Having 3 types of insurances when you go abroad might be considered a bit over the top, but screw that! Do what is best for your little one and/or for your mental sanity. You will be stressed if something should happen and if it does you will be thankful you had things covered. You know... it's better to be safe than sorry!
DO! Take daily walks with your little bundle of joy 
9. You might have considered travelling fun and you might have had a relaxed attitude about it, but once you need to fly with a small one is guarantee you that you won't be able to sleep in the plane anymore ;) Our little LadyBug Baby Girl had her first flight just one day before she turned 4 months old. It was supposed to be a 2 flight with a 4 hour break in between so we could relax and take things slow... Guess what?! First plane got cancelled and we got 3 flights instead, each of them delayed and for each of them we had just few minutes to catch (before being announced that there is a delay...). Not fun at all :(

10. Babies are awesome! If you never smelled a baby you should do it asap! The are the softest, cutest and most cuddliest human beings! On the downside they drool and fart and the poo smells... God! You just can't compare it :/ but they are wonderful! Their brains are indeed like sponges and they learn so fast things that I am constantly amazed of my little LadyBug Baby Girl. I could stand and look at her sleeping serenely for hours and hours... she makes me smile when I am sad and no matter how much of a pain she is when she cries out loud for the whole day... I still love her, more and more everyday! It's an amazing feeling!
Nobody teaches you how to be a mum and everyone will come with tips and tricks and ideas of how you should raise your child. You can listen to them and take notes and try things out but in the end... your instincts will teach you more ;) feel the Force, just let it in! :) if you are a mummy as well, especially a fresh one, I would love to hear from you your thoughts and feelings  about being a mother... do you feel the same? :) 

Yours very much sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Her LadyBug Baby Girl
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Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Made in Poland: Madame GooGoo - Baby Carriers and not only

Dearest hearts,

As a fresh mum there are so many things I get excited from when it comes to my little LadyBug Baby Girl - what to dress her in, what toys to buy, what music we should listen to... bur also practical things like how to carry around my little bundle of joy without killing my back. Let's face it, kids grow up so fast! She is over 4 months now and more than 12 cm longer than the "original size". I want to keep her next to me and also be flexible about it.
My dear friend Claudia is a huge fan of carry on options for the babies - she knows everything from cotton wrap to elastic wrap to carriers - and I am proud to say I was her padawan :) she was the one who told me about Madame GooGoo for the first time. Claudia lives in Romania and heard about an amazing company for baby carriers #madeinpoland ! I could not believe it - I live here for 5 years and had no clue... but then again I am a fresh mum and the "mum topics" never interested me until now... But when we settled that I shall be talking my little LadyBug Baby Girl home to Romania for a few months I began searching for the best options to travel. I was already familiar with the elastic wrap - that saved me from many cries and tantrums... - so I thought carriers would be the next logical step ;) That's how I got in contact with Justyna Grzegorek, customer service specialist at MADAME GOOGOO. She was kind enough to accept a small interview for my blog, as I was dieing to show you their magical world - they create true pieces of art when it comes to carriers ❤🐞❤
1. Good day MADAME GOOGOO :) can you tell us how the company started, when and why you choose this name for it?
It all started a few years back when Agnieszka Lipińska was looking for a baby carrier for her little daughter. However, none of those which were in the market back then could really satisfy her needs. A boring design and plain dark colours were not what Aga would see herself wearing. However, her creative spirit combined with excellent sewing skills encouraged her to make a carrier on her own! Soon she found herself doing first prototypes in her apartment, which she later meticulously tested on her family, friends and babywearing mums met online. When designing the carriers, Aga was not afraid to choose vibrant colors and fun patterns, combined with stylish hoods and adornments, which soon were to become the characteristic features of her recognizable style. Months of hard work paid off. Finally, she could open a small sewing studio and started receiving first orders. The company needed a name, though. When trying to come up with a catching phrase, Aga found an inspiration in her baby daughter’s cooing sounds, which gave her an idea for the name “MADAME GOOGOO”. So here’s an advice for all parents out there: always listen closely to your little ones! ;)

2. What are most important 3 things that you consider when you are creating a carrier for the little ones? 
We put a strong emphasis on the ergonomics, safety, and fun design of our carriers.
An ergonomic structure should be a key feature of every babywearing product, as it needs to ensure a comfortable and healthy position for both the baby and the wearer. MADAME GOOGOO offers a wide range of sizes, which can also be individually customized with each customer. Every single part of the carrier is designed with utmost care. The panel equipped with deep seat darts and legs out padding provides plenty of room for the baby’s bum and protects the baby’s legs. Thickly padded shoulder straps and waist band ensure maximum comfort for the wearer by evenly distributing the weight of the carrier.

Out of concern for the safety of our products we use highest quality components: certified buckles, strong threads, and Oeko-Tex certified fabrics which were tested for harmful substances. All MGG carriers are made by skillful seamstress in our two workshops in Warsaw.  
We believe that babywearing should be a joyful experience for the whole family so we don’t forget about aesthetics. Customization is the key word here. Our customers have a possibly to customize their orders by choosing their favorite fabrics and design features. Additionally, we offer many fun accessories: ears, dino spikes, wings, decorative gems – you name it! All this makes their carriers even more special to them… and to us :)

3. How did you extend the market from being a #madeinpoland product and selling just in Poland vs. opening up worldwide?
It’s funny cause we’ve always been more popular internationally rather than locally. Majority of our customers come from North America, Asia and European countries, whereas orders from Poland constitute a rather small percentage of all sales. I believe this is due to the fact that babywearing is a relatively new thing in Poland and you don’t see many people wearing their babies here. However, things are changing rapidly! With each month we keep noticing an increase in inquiries and sales from Poland, which makes us extremely happy!

4. What are your greatest achievements this far? What are the 3 things you are most proud of?
We are super proud that MGG is constantly developing, trying to improve the quality of products and services, and ever aiming at perfection. We keep adding new options to our offer, for example we’ve recently came up with an idea for an adjustable panel, which turned out to be enormously popular with our customers.

Excellent contact with our customers is yet another aspect of our job which we value very highly. We always try be attentive to the needs and requests coming from the MGG community, as very often they are a great source of inspiration. Our customers come up with amazing ideas we wouldn’t have thought of ourselves! It is only now that we’ve completed a custom carrier inspired with a cat – it has whiskers, a tail, and cat’s features – all made at a special request of an individual customer.
Lastly, we are proud of the recognizable style MGG has developed over the past few years and been known for in the babywearing world. Being true to oneself is something that each designer wishes for.

5. What plans do you have for the future? What is MADAME GOOGOO up to next?
Currently we are working on a collection of in-stock carriers with fully adjustable panels. And then… who knows! We are open-minded and look forward to new challenging projects!
Bonus question: If you could turn back the clock of time and grant one person a MADAME GOOGOO carrier, whom would that be and why?
It’s a tough question, as there are too many people who would deserve being given such a lovely gift. However, if I were to turn back time and pick only one person, I’d give it to my mother, as a sign of my immense love and gratitude to her :)

Yours very much sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Madame GooGoo Carriers ❤
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Sunday, 25 December 2016

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas!

Merry Christmas dear hearts!

Hope that this year you got all the gifts you needed, not necessarily the ones you wanted. This last year I had a few revelations of my own over the difference between what we wish for, what we want and what we actually need. And guess what?! What we actually need in order to be happy is not much - most of the times it is to be next to the ones you love.
The Christmas Tree In Piata Unirii - Iasi - Romania 
I hope that at least in this season of joy you will open up your hearts to the world and think not only of yourself. Teach Yourself and the ones around you kindness. Start that by having a look at your closets/wardrobes and do a thorough sorting of what you have there. Take all that away and give it to the poor, the homeless, the needy. You don't need dozen of bags and shoes and for sure if you haven't used an item for more than a year you will 99% not use it again. Take that away and make someone happy! Minimalistic living is the way to go!
The Christmas Tree In Krakow Main Market Square 
It's the most wonderful time of the year so open up your heart to joy and laughter and be human. Be nice to the people around you, smile and listen to those in need. If you can't help with physical things you can always help in matters of the heart. Think about the ones you love and try to spend as much time possible as you can with them. You never know what life throws at you and when you will see them again. It's Christmas time so there are queues everywhere... make an elderly person smile by granting them your place in front of the queue. The little things matter the most and we should do them everyday, not just for Christmas... but it's better to start from one Point, one day at a time! 

P.S. don't be a Grinch! Dr. Seuss knew what he was talking about: Christmas is a time for love. Let your heart be filled with love and spread the good spirit around - all the year round, if you can! Challenge yourself to be good to others. 

Yours very much sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves One And All
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Thursday, 22 December 2016

Christmas Markets in Krakow

Dearest sweethearts,

In Europe I believe that's quite a madness over the amounts and styles of Christmas Markets. Once December settles in the best place to go out to is your own, local, Christmas Market.  It provides the fun and excitement for children of all ages, ranging from 0 to 99 years old ;) it's never too old to be a child! And I always like to say that one is as old as one actually feels, so if your heart is young... well... you know what I mean ;) you may physically get old but you can remain young at heart. For me Christmas was always a time when I could see people turning, even for a split second, in children again. 
Watching the snow fall for the first time - the first snow in a crisp December, unwrapping the Christmas gifts, putting the decorations around the house... even thinking about these things makes one smile. It makes us remember of childhood, about the time when we were small and little things in life made us happy, the time when the worst worry was how we should dress the dolls or how much cereals one would be able to stuff at once in your mouth ;))) December comes with a clean white slate of wonderful times to come. Where best to discover them if not at a Christmas Market?
Christmas in Poland is lovely as every city hosts at least one Christmas Market - Krakow has quite a few of them, of all shapes and sizes, but my favourite ones are the ones in the main market square, right between Sukiennice and St. Mary's Church (or as the locals call it: Kosciol Mariacki) and the one next to the Galeria Krakowska and the old Main Train Station (Dworzec Glowny). The first one due to its size and the fact that you can get almost anything there! The first one due to commodity reasons and due to the fact that it usually has quite a decent skating ring that runs even later in the night.
My top things to do once the Christmas Markets are open are the following:
- get myself some (plenty!) of "oscypek" - that is the traditional Polish highlander cheese. My favourite version is the yellowy one, smoked and very salty. It the Christmas Markets everywhere you can get the regular oscypek grilled for only 4 zloty but I rather like the "upgraded" version wrapped with bacon and with a dried plum on top, for only 6 zloty ;) 
- have some fresh mulled wine - you will spot the barrels with the "good stuff" in a jiffy as there are always large queues in front of them... hey, you can't blame people for wanting to get warm! ;) you can buy it in the plastic/paper cup or you can pay extra and get it in a ceramic mug that you can keep ;) it's a nice gift for yourself! 
- listen to some live caroling - in the Christmas market near Galeria Krakowska they have a small stage buy I rather recommend you attend the larger stage in the main square, hosted by the national radio RMF FM.
- get some other traditional food fresh done there - the smells will definitely call you and drag your nose to the place of your choosing. You can eat traditional pierogi or some bloody sausage or some pig knuckle or... be brave and try the homemade bread slices with lard! I know... sounds scary but if it is fresh and nicely done you will want more! Plus that's a traditional Polish snack for before or during drinking parties ;) just so you know!
- immerse yourself in the crowd that flurries past the stalls - if you get upset due to all the hustle and bustle there is no point of you going to any Christmas Market. It's a given that it will be crowded and noisy so better relax and go with the flow. I love watching people especially the little ones and how their eyes light up from all the goodies on display :)
- handmade wooden Christmas decorations - you gotta get YOURSELF some! It's a must and if you have kids you'll be happy as they won't be able to destroy them anymore ;) they can pull down the Christmas tree as hard as they can! These ornaments won't pop and crackle and snap ;) 
Usually the Christmas Markets in Poland start in the last week of November and lasts through December 26th at least - after that places usually get cleared up and stages are being raise for the New years Eve concert. But fear not! Most of the times the organisers, looking at the weather and - no doubt! - at how much money they make (especially from the tourists!), keep the markets open till January 6th - the Epiphany festival.
When it comes to the Christmas Market in the Krakow Main Market Square (the biggest main square in Europe, if I may add!) you need to know that the stalls are generally open from 10 am to 8 pm and this year 2006/2017 the cheerful atmosphere will last from  Friday, November 25th till Sunday, January 8th ;) so make sure you come in time to catch this beauty!
When it comes to the Christmas Market near Galeria Krakowska, market known as the Galician Advent Market, located on Plac Jezioranskiego, otherwise will be open only until 24th of December and the stalls are open a bit longer - from 10 am to 10 pm. Probably due to its central location, next to the Galeria and to the main train and bus station. It's worth a look if you have time ;) and as I have said, almost every year there is a piece of ice for ice-skating ;) 
Of course, maybe you will say that other countries are more popular when it comes to hosting Christmas Markets but trust me, nothing beats up a white Christmas in Poland! Pair that up with some mulled wine or hot chocolate (the best one is in Nowa Prowincja if you ask me!) and take some time to enjoy the local treats. You will see why people who come here once will want to come again ;) after all... it's #themostwonderfultimeoftheyear and Krakow is a magical place to spend Christmas! Have you been in winter in Poland? How was it for you? :) 

Yours very much sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Christmas With All Her Heart
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