Image Map

Monday, 28 November 2016

Thoughts about Christmas Shopping

My dear fellow gentleman and gentle women,

Quite soon - under a month! - Christmas time will be here. It's not a surprise and most probably some of you already did some shopping towards that or at least made a list (even a mental one) about what you should get for whom. Christmas becomes more and more a commercial holiday and that saddens me... I must admit I am the kind of person that loves gifts but most of all I love making gifts for others. The smile and joy and surprise on their faces is priceless and it warms me up from the inside. Giving someone a gift makes one feel like a child again and when unwrapping the gift you can see all the personalities possible... from the one that unties the ribbons gently and tidily, placing them on the side and making sure they could be used again, slowly getting the wrap from the box, folding it and then placing it next to the ribbons... to the one that cannot hold himself from ripping the wrapping apart to eagerly get to the present! It's how I can see the child in each person when they feast their eyes upon their presents for the first time... and it actually does not matter the size or the price tag as long as it's truly something that their hearts desire.
Nowdays people started buying generic gifts that don't say anything to the ones who receive it. Or they buy year after year a more and more expensive gift - especially for children. Let's face it, some parents just buy some gifts in order for them to use it as the small ones are to little to even understand them. Trust me, a one year old does not need a PS3; a seven year old does not need the latest model of iPhone and for sure your 14th year old does not need a car! Maybe some parents think that by getting a more expensive gift they show their love more or they make up in that way the time they don't spend with the little ones... this often happens and I think it's rather sad :( I sometimes wish - since the little #ladybugbabygirl was born - that I could make the days longer and somehow use the time more efficient. How can one trade money and gifts for the time spend with the wee ones? It's a conundrum of our days... we need to get to work and stay overtime to make (more) money to spend more wisely on the raising of our children - the best kindergarten/school, the best after hour classes, swimming classes, ballet classes, aikido classes, workshops... you name it! We somehow are never satisfied :( and the sad part is that all we want is to give them what we maybe did not have when we were small. But we never stop and think of what we had when we were little and how happy we were by skinning our knees instead of doing a game on WII.
Christmas is a wonderful time of the year, when one should be with their families, with the ones that they love. We underestimate the power of love, that is a gift in itself.  We did our shopping list and we are eagerly waiting for the discounts but you don't think of the one gift that matters the most: LOVE. Christmas is a time for remembering that our Lord, Jesus, was born - and he gave us our greatest gift: LOVE. We just tend to overlook that and focus on the material things. It's easier to say that Christmas is all about a big fat man dressed in red, brining presents - and by the way, just so you know... Santa was not always dressed in red. His original color of clothing was green, but Coca Cola changed it into a commercial for red and that's how it stayed. Now that's what I call good marketing! Now... let's come back to our topic of ranting: Christmas shopping! Most people do it in the last moment and face the rush and the craziness of all people at once in the shops and of stocks falling and not being able to get what you wish for. Some people like this kind of stress... I don't! I like taking my time and finding something that fits for the ones I love... so November is a good time to shop for Christmas ;) if you really wanna go wild... go! But try to think practically about what the ones you buy presents for really needs. I know this might take a bit more time but the results are way more satisfactory.

Here are a few small tips:
1. If you don't have a Christmas list, make one! Name & idea of what kind of present it should be.
2. Settle a budget limit for every person you need to buy a gift or a grand total budget for all the shopping.
3. Buy the gifts in time - try not to leave them for the very last week (or the very last moment...).
4. Prioritise who comes first when it comes to gifts - family > friends > acquaintances.
5. Don't get drawn into buying useless stuff or pretty stuff that you will never use... or things that have a huge discount but that would not fit anyone you know! Don't think you will use them - you won't!
But most of all... try and be sensible about this whole process... there is no need to overspend and no need to be a Scrooge either ;) don't be a joy kill but try to be joyful in a reasonable manner. And most of all... do it with LOVE!

Yours very sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves ❤
Read more ...

Friday, 25 November 2016

Krakow - Breakfast At Awiw

Dearest sweethearts,

Did you know that every name and every word in hebrew language has a hidden meaning in itself? When I was young and I started reading the Bible I thought that the best way to do it, the right way to go about it, was to start at the very beginning (a very good place to start, according to Maria from The Sound of Music). So I started with the Old Testament ... but as many before me, I got stuck at the Book of Numbers! When you read it as it is translated it is row after row after row of names (that tell you nothing and make you wonder why you read this...) you might fall asleep...  but Jewish people never get bored as they know it's secrets: every name translates into something else!
Let's take for example the word "Awiw" - it is a male word and it means spring/springtime. Krakow is famous for it Jewish District - Kazimierz - which used to be at the beginning a different city, attached to the city of Krakow. As you take off the tram - tram stop Miodowa - and you walk towards the Old Sinagogue you will see a lovely restaurant with outdoor seating and daily live music playing. That restaurant is typical Jewish and it's one of the many typical Jewish restaurants in the square ;) but it is surely gonna make your stay worthwhile. Especially if you come in the late afternoon when the band plays live ;)
The "Awiw" has seatings both indoor and outdoor, in the square that holds the 3 sinagogues. There is almost always someone to show you in and help you with a seat. We went there early morning and it was quite cold outside but already there were couples - both locals and visitors, foreigners - having their breakfast and coffee. There were 2 lovely young ladies that invited us in and as we got seated they brought us red blankets to warm up - I love when they do that for the outdoor seating, it feels so cozy!
The menu: typical Jewish - Polish menu and it's written both in Polish and in English language ;) not to mention it also has pictures so you can't complain you have absolutely no clue what you are eating. The ingredients are also listed so don't worry if you have an intolerance of any kind ;) in case you have any questions the ladies command of English is perfect so you can ask away. 
The service: both the 2 young ushers and the lady who served us knew English very well and when I tried speaking Polish they were all smiles and curtsy. We were given blankets to warm up and the hot drinks that we requested came first and quite fast - I had an amazing mint tea with fresh mint leaves and my mother had a very nicely shaped cappuccino. The serving of food was quite fast and it was at the right temperature. The only minus with the serving is that we had to wait quite a bit to get the bill. Don't forget to add around 10% tip as it is not included in the printout ;) You need not worry as you can pay both cash or credit card. They also accept different currencies ;)
The food: I had a typical Jewish breakfast - which included 2 soft fried eggs, the typical bread "pita", fresh salad with baby tomatoes and hummus with avocado. My mum had the Jewish - Polish traditional bagel. You can't come to Krakow and not try the traditional "obwarzanek" - round bagel with a whole. Well this bagel was done with soft creamy white cheese and fresh salmon with a side of salad with baby tomatoes as well. We agreed we should share and it was the most perfect breakfast I had in a very long while! The combinations of taste and smell were divine and I would love to have that again. Very much :) Don't forget that here the breakfast is served only until 1 PM.
The prices:
- Fried egg with hummus, avocado and pita bread - 19 zloty
- Bagel wih riccota cheese and smoked salmon - 14 zloty
- Green Tea with mint - 9 zloty
- Cappucino - 12 zloty
The overall experience: Both me and my mother loved it :) it was a nice and peaceful time, not filled with tourists, the weather was crispy and the blankets were warm. We admired even the lovely red flowers on the tables, matching our blankets... the serving was nice, the drinks were warm, the food was delicious and we ate it to the last morsel even though we had a snack when we left home! It was a good experience and for sure I will love to go there again. Maybe even to try something else from their menu - maybe again something traditional Jewish :) this restaurant landed on top of my favourite places in Kazimierz so if you are brave enough to venture to Krakow and its Jewish District, make sure you put "Awiw" on the list ;) even if it's for a brief snack. Maybe I will try again when it's a concert! 

Yours sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Breakfast
Read more ...

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Travel Tuesday: Why You Should Travel With Your Half

My dearest traveller friends,

Welcome to yet another #traveltuesday post :) last time I was telling you why you should travel alone at least once in your life and today I have flipped the coin and I mean to tell you why you should travel with your half, or even a dear friend. Travelling is all about experiences and collecting memories so collecting memories with your better half is always the right thing to do. Just think about it, as you get older you will remember the good old days and the fun trips you had together. By that time you will most certainly forget the bad things or see them as a special experience on the learning curve.  So... without any further ado,  let me tell you why I think you should travel with your half/in couples or with a dear friend:
1. Planning in 2 is way more fun and this way you know you won't forget anything. As long as you keep tabs on whom does what and whom is responsible for one thing or another, you will see that planning a trip is much more easier. One half might be in charge with booking the plane and where to stay and the other will do the planning on what to visit and what to pack. Sharing the responsibility is great!
2. Developing patience and understanding - you might not like the same things and want to go to the same places so this will make you compromise and meet each other half way through. It will strengthen your relationship and test your limits and boundaries. 

3. Get to know each other - you might get out of your comfort zone and pushed into different situations... you will see what each other likes to do in the mornings afternoons and nights... you will see what they eat and how they eat, how they behave in public or in situations one would panic. It's gonna be fun!

4. You won't have to do another selfie - you will have someone constantly with you that can take your photo(s) ;) it might be an issue if you want a photo with the both of you... but you can always ask a passerby or ask your lovely half to carry a tripod! 

5. Travel delays or "dead time" in the airport or waiting for the buses/train/tram will pass in an instant when you have someone to talk about. True: the cell phone, WiFi and a good book will always come in handy but... a human interaction always bests that!

Bonus: In case you forgot something there is a high chance he/she might have it so... as I always say: sharing is caring! Travelling in 2 is always great fun but don't fool yourself, as travelling alone, it does have its pluses and minuses (waiting after someone, handling tantrums, compromising where to go...). How about you? How do you prefer to travel? 

Yours sincerely, 
The Twisted Red LadyBug that loves to travel with her better half (my awesome husband)
Read more ...

Saturday, 19 November 2016

200 Years of Warsaw University

Dearest hearts,

Today Warsaw University celebrates its 200 anniversary! Of course it's not as grand as the Jagiellonian University that has over 600 years, but I believe one can boast when 3 digit celebrations are involved ;) The Warsaw University was established on the 19th of November 1816 and it is currently the largest university in Poland. But let's listen to our good old friend Wikipedia what it has to say on the topic:
It was founded as a Royal University on 19 November 1816, when the Partitions of Poland separated Warsaw from the oldest and most influential Jagiellonian University located in Kraków. Tsar Alexander I granted permission for the establishment of five faculties - law and political science, medicine,philosophy, theology and the humanities. The university expanded rapidly, but was closed during November Uprising in 1830. It was reopened in 1857 under the name Akademia Medyko-Chirurgiczna (Academy of Medicine) based in the nearby Staszic Palace with only medical and pharmaceutical faculties. All Polish-language campuses were closed in 1869 after the failed January Uprising, but the university managed to train 3,000 students, many of whom were important part of the Polish intelligentsia, meanwhile the Main Building was reopened as the Imperial Russian University aimed at training military personnel. Over 70% of students were of Polish nationality, but after the revolution in 1905, the proportion dropped below 10% as a result of the boycott. The university was resurrected during the First World War and the number of students in 1918 was estimated at 4,500. After Poland's independence in 1918 the new government focused on improving the university, and in the early 1930s it became the country's largest. New faculties were established and the curriculum was extended. The university was named after Chief-of-State and Marshal of Poland Józef Piłsudski after his death in 1935. Following the Second World War and the devastation of Warsaw, the University successfully reopened in 1945.

Today, the University of Warsaw consists of 126 buildings and educational complexes with over 18 faculties: biology, chemistry, journalism and political science, philosophy and sociology, physics, geography and regional studies, geology, history, applied linguistics and Slavic philology, economics, philology, pedagogy, Polish language, law and public administration, psychology, appliedsocial sciences, management and mathematics, computer science and mechanics.

The University of Warsaw is one of the top Polish universities. It was ranked by Perspektywy magazine as best Polish university in 2010, 2011 and 2014. International rankings such as ARWU and University Web Ranking rank the university as the best Polish higher level institution. On the list of 100 best European universities compiled by University Web Ranking, the University of Warsaw was placed as 61st. QS World University Rankings positioned the University of Warsaw as the best higher level institution among the world's top 400.
To be noted that the great Chopin was an actual student here, and on a slightly more funny/puzzling/inspiring (you choose which one fits best!) note, Czeslaw Milosz was a janitor in the Warsaw University during the Second World War. And he ended up with a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980!

Yours sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves History 
Read more ...

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Common Misconceptions About Expats

My dear fellow expats and not only,

This one is dedicated to you and all those crazy people out there who have misconceptions about expats and living abroad. Usually these misconceptions arise from other people's lack of knowledge and/or lack of empathy - the power to put oneself into other people's shoes and understand that not everyone is the same. We all carry in ourselves greatness and infinite options. We dear to dream and some even managed to live their dreams. Don't think for a second though that it's all rainbows and unicorns - take for example being an expat mother having to rely upon your half and yourself vs. having your mother/granny/sister/aunt to give a helping hand... 
  1. When people become expats it is a choice that they make - a choice that should be understood and accepted by their families. The world is such a beautiful big and wondrous place! Each country and each city has something magical and intriguing in itself and... you might fall in love with different cities and leave there a part of your heart. Home is where the heart it and if your heart is in a million places than the entire world is your home. People who never experienced that may think you are eccentric or that your life is a continuous holiday... nothing can be more wrong. All the holidays that you will have you will probably spend back in your homeland with family and friends; hence no actual vacation or travelling.  
  2. Expats know loads of languages - mmm... yes, maybe... it depends from where that expat comes from. Generally people in Europe know at least 2-3 languages if not more. Usually the Latin languages group is easy to handle - for example Romanian people might not have an issue speaking fluently Romanian and English & understanding perfectly and maybe even speaking Italian, Spanish and French. Or the Polish people would understand Czech or Slavic languages. On the other side, people from across the pond, from good old USA might know only English. That is no issue as mainly expats are hired for their mother tongue and/or English. All jobs inside corporations have English... so that's one misconceptions that's total bollocks!
  3. Expats have LOADS of cash, they are impossibly rich! That's why they left their motherland! Partially correct - mostly expats choose a better place where they feel more secure economically, where they feel they can develop their selves, where the paycheck is larger and in more accordance with what they do but... think of the extra expenses! Home you might have stayed with your parents or you would have owned your flat/house and you might have extra help from parents and grandparents when it comes to food or helping with kids. Now you are in a new land and you need to buy/rent a house/flat, think of all expenses on your own, consider holidays that you will actually not have but spend them all back home so you can see your family, taxes, medical coverage... and so on! 
  4. Expats MUST learn the local language or else they are doomed!!! They might as well starve to death or... God knows what! This always cracks me up :) it is partially true as well. If you live in the big cities and if you shop at the supermarket or in the big malls or online (for example Tesco, in Poland, even brings the food to your door!) there is no need for learning. It is nice to do it and the locals will be even nicer and smile more wide but it's not obligatory ;) it might be harder if you live in a village or... some remote and weird location... but if everything else fails there is always sign language ;) been living in Poland for over 5 years now and the first 3 years I was too scared to talk and I still ended up being just fine. It's important not to panic and be positive :) 
Oh, but of course these are not all the misconceptions I have encountered. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Just ask any given expat about expatriate life, what other people think about it and what is the cold hard truth. Everyone is entitled to an opinion but forming an opinion about expats and judging them over how they live and what they do, without having the decency to check the facts and ask some expats themselves how the world truly is... well then that's just bollocks! Ask an expat! 

Yours extremely sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Is An Expat For More Than 5 Years
Read more ...

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Krakow - Lol and Pop - Lollipop time!

My dear sweethearts,

Today I have a very sweet treat for you: an introduction to the land of sweet lollipops, soft marshmallows and colorful times spent at a workshop while creating your own sweet masterpiece. Everything is possible when you are in "Lol & Pop" Land. I have bumped into this adorable shop as it was in the neighbourhood I live in, and as I walk on with my little LadyBug Baby Girl I am more and more tempted to test all the local goodies. But lo' and behold! This colorful sweet place was not a local shop as I have presumed... it is a concept brought by its owners from Ukraine and this is not their first shop!
Although all the goodies that you will find in their single shop in Krakow, located on ulica General Fieldorfa Nila 11 (a stone throw away from Krowodrza Gorka main station), are produced locally with natural ingredients, the brand is 100% Ukrainian. Lol & Pop also has shops open in Ukraine, Israel and Bulgaria. All products are 100% handmade and you can actually watch them producing the sweets. Lol & Pop does handmade candies since 2013! And they are present on Instagram (#lolandpop), Facebook and they have their own Web page.
The team at Lol & Pop specialises on caramel sweets, marshmallows, jelly, lollipops and hard candy. The products as the interior of the shop are very colorful, but fear not! All the aromas are natural - fruit and vegetables extracts help create these colorful symphonies. As they say on their flyers, in Lol & Pop sweets you will find sugar, glucose, lemon juice and love :) I think love is the most important ingredient of them all!
The shop:
- located in the neighbourhood of Krowodrza Gorka, a few steps away from the tram/bus stop. It's very easy to find and colorful enough not to miss it ;)
- it hosts workshops for kids (and not only) and you can also use its products for catering weddings or business meeting (you should keep always an open mind!)
- there is, as you enter on your left, a large bank where the sweets are produced.  Enjoy the view when they prepare the delicate little things!
- the team that works there speaks English and they are extremely nice and accommodating. Top marks for customer behaviour!!! I went in with the carriage and the lady jumped in to open the door for me and she also helped me on the way out.  I wanted to try the marshmallows and she gave me some to try and that's how I ended up buying a jar with apricot (polish: morela) flavours. They also shared with me the story of the place and the fact that they also host workshops - adorable people!
Tips and tricks: the shop also has a fidelity card with stamps to collect in order to get some free goodies so don't forget to ask for that as well! ;)
The prices:
- small lollipops (different flavours) = 4 zloty per piece
- a jar of flavoured marshmallows of about 150 grams = 8 zloty - the warranty term is about half a year for them but it won't last ya that long ;) The calories for 100 grams = 331 kcal
Overall performance: I loved it and I will visit this adorable place again. I will also tell people about it as the products are good and the service is impeccable. The minus for me was that it was so quiet, no background music :( but in Poland you have to pay for that and they opened the shop in September last year so... I guess there is still time to improve :) but you go test them and let me know your opinions! :)

Yours very sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves To Discover New Sweet Shops
Read more ...

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Autumn - The Perfect Season To Let Things Go

Dearest hearts,

Is not Autumn the greatests season of all? It's that long deep breath before winter catches us unawares - it always does, each year, doesn't it?! Autumn makes one smile wide and cuddle and dream, it is the perfect time to wrap yourself in a blanket and enjoy a pumpkin spiced latte and a yummy apple pie with cinnamon but it's also the best time of the year to let things go. Autumn is the perfect season to look upon your life, your style, you ideas and your closet and throw away everything that is not good for you. Keeping the unnecessary stuff (just in case we might need it...) only clutters your home and your mind. Let's do an exercise today towards being less materialistic and more minimalistic in our way of living and thinking!
We will start this exercise just as I did a while ago - with the closet of clothes. If you are brave enough, after that you can check the shoes and purses closet (you know, you lovely ladies out there, that we have a habit of hoarding all styles of those items just in case we might need them and they would match a certain object - accessory). Now take a deep breath and play some relaxing music or some kind of music that make you happy/smile/in a good mood. Open the closet and go drawer by drawer, shelf by shelf and take out everything. Here is what you should put in the pile "to go away": 
- something that you have not been wearing for a year or more (let's face it, if you didn't wear it for 365 days for sure you won't be wearing it in the new year ;) be true to yourself!) - I sometimes do the hanger thing: put all the hangers facing one way and as you wear them through the year turn the way they face. By the end of the year you will have hangers facing the same way at the beginning = pile those away!
- items that no longer fit you - stop saying you will get to the gym one day and train hard! When you will do that you can treat yourself to more items but for the time being... put that on the pile!
- items that are too big - nope, those don't suite you and you should not keep them. You are tempting your luck and wanting to make sure you have something to wear in case you put an extra kilo or so. Don't! Keep only things in the size you wear now! 
- items overworn or with defects or that look over washed or that have small stains or wholes - No! No way you should keep that even it they have a certain memory value to yourself... you won't use them or wear them or do anything with them... they take space and you don't need clutter in your life. Collect memories not things!
- items that are no longer your style - the way you are changes throughout life and maybe at one time of your life you would not get out of your jeans and t-shirts.... and now you are more into dresses or black pants with and nice blouse.... well it's time to throw all those jeans and t-shirts away! Declutter!
The typical sign on the front door for clothes pickup 
Now living in Poland I have more options of what to do with that pile of items I have de-cluttered. To tell you the sincere truth I have 2 huge wardrobes filled with loads of dresses and bags and shoes and what not... so I felt the need to minimalise... at least a bit! Once the little LadyBug Baby Girl was born I had a bit more time on my hands to work home at the things I have postponed for quite a while... like cleaning up the closet(s)... I wanted to narrow things down drastically and I must admit I did not crept defeat and I have taken out items my heart broken for... like the lovely blouse I got and wore for my 18th birthday from my mum... but hey! It's not like we will take things to our grave! So... after a week of constant taking things out of the closet and daily thinking and taking another item and another and putting it into the pile, I have summed up to 2 bags filled with shoes and bags and 8 filled to the brim with clothes and scarfs. Now the entire wardrobe can eventually fit into one big closet (not two!) and guess what?! In the end it actually feels rather good and it got me thinking of doing it again!  Maybe more often... as I have not done such a big checkup in years! 
Boxes for letting anytime/anyday the clothes you no longer feel you should keep (hoard)
As I said... in Poland letting things go is easier and more convenient than one would imagine and I wish it would be like that all over the world. Here are some options: 
1. At the beginning of each season (and actually I think even more often!) you will see signs posted at the entrance in your block of flats or in the area that you live in. They usually have the same shape and size: a half of a A4 paper or a A4 sized paper, landscape oriented, usually written with green and red or simple black color. It will have a red stamp with a date - that date (and hour) is the day when the local charities come and collect bags of clothing that you leave at your home door or at the block of flats entrance.  All you have to do is put it all in a large bag and leave it to them to pick it up. It's for charity so do leave only the good looking items not those worn and tear up! Think of the families in need and the people who sort the clothes for them - don't make them waste their time. 
2. If you missed the date on the piece of paper placed at the entrance to your block of flats worry not! In Poland and especially in Krakow you can find in the neighbourhood you live in containers for clothes where you can drop off your pile ;) the are usually green or white and with some children sticker on it. Inconvenience: it might be a few blocks away from you and you need to take the things there are drop them off in the bin. The plus: you can do this at any given time ;) so if you are in a cleaning spree you can always use that... or wait for an announcement at the front door.
3. Selling them or offering them to the ones who wish to pick the items up - if you have the time and patience for it there are many Facebook groups that do monthly swaps or daily postings of what one has to offer.  I think that is quite of a hassle and not quite my thing but it is an option you might consider and you would get cash back from it ;) just don't go spending that on more clothes!
4. Giving the items away for friends and family - if you think someone might benefit from it, if the items are good and your family/friends wear the same size as the things you let go, then the nice thing would be to let them know and see if they would pick it up.  Maybe you might make someone happy with that ;)
5. Taking then and leaving the  at a charity shop - in the good old USA you might do a yard sale and get a buck or two, but in Europe it's not that common so the last thing you could do is just take the items to a second hand store and see what you can get. It's an option, I never done it, but I guess it's worth a shot?!...

Anyway having said all that, I really hope you will consider de cluttering your life, thoughts and closets at least every fall. Do this now and let me know how many bags you pulled out and if you broke my 10 bags record. What did you manage to throw out? And don't look back at the things you pile up - they are just items you can sincerly live without! 

Yours very much sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Autumn (and letting things go...)
Read more ...

Monday, 7 November 2016

Thoughts On Motherhood: Being An Expat-Mum

Good day everyone!

It's me again, sharing my thoughts and feelings about being a mother. Well... that combined with being an expat. Now everyone knows 2 things about families: you do not get to choose the family you are born in and you can't help loving them even when you have moments in which you would hurl a book at them (I always have a book about me, but you can pick your weapon of choice ;) ). Family and love are the most important things in our life yet we do not always admit it - or we admit it too late... Being a mother now makes me reflect on all the small things I might have neglected until now. Being an expat, being home away from home, you realise that in certain circumstances you wish that the mileage between your "homes" would very much be short... shorter than a stone throw away!
Baby walks will help you breathe in some fresh air and enjoy being out of the
house, seeing other people and hearing the regular sounds of life - do it daily! ;) 
The usual problem about being an expat mum is the fact that you will probably take the time off to be with the wee one and take care of him/her and collect memories together. But that also means that the 2 of you will see very much of each other but way less if other people you used to see on a daily/weekly basis. Life with a small one is totally different than the life in a couple and waaaaaaay different than life on your own. The time you have is no longer your own and the little free time that you will have you will desperately trying to use it as sleeping time. The nonprofit American Pregnancy Association estimates that up to 80 percent of new mothers suffer from “baby blues,” a mild form of depression... so imagine having a wee lad/lass and being stuck in the house with only your thoughts and the babies screams/cries day after day for several weeks/months - things can get rough! You sometimes just need to hear a word or let your thoughts take word and have someone listen. The problem is that your family is hundred miles away... and for example in my case 2-3 flights away (no direct connection).
Have some "Me time" - even if it's 15-30 min - and something your really like and that makes you smile. I love taking photos and wondering around H&M to see what they have new ;)) (you don't have to shop - window shopping counts as well)
If you think about it you just put together anxiety and/or depression with the added communication differences/difficulties (no matter how well you know and understand the language it ain't your mother tongue!), cultural differences and other possible barriers and you might understand that getting help can feel quite a burden in itself. Being an expat is not all roses and rainbows and unicorns... especially when you give birth and you feel the direct need for maternal help - especially in cases like myself when I was/am/will be very attached to your Mum. You need to figure out a program and a way in which you will also make yourself happy and not drop into depression, so here are some things that helped me:
1) having your family over for as long as they can, especially in the first weeks of the wee one - they will be of immense help! My Mum and Granny were with us for the first 6 weeks and that helped me more than I can say. We also had extra sleep due to that ;) (God bless them!)
2) keeping in contact with your close family - they will share the news with the bigger family ;) I love that my Granny is on Facebook. It makes things so easy: both me and my sister + Mum and Granny can have a Facebook chat in real time and even group call. 
3) having some "Me time" at least once a week (if possible). Have a bit of time for yourself when you are on your own, exploring your world. Do something that makes you smile and relax. Do something that gives you pleasure and boosts you up, even if it's just 15-30 min. Watch a short movie, run to H&M and see what's new, window shop, take photos of nature or architecture, read a chapter of your favourite book, have a short date/walk with your better half (if you have someone who can take care of the little one).
4) baby walks - they help you get out of the house on a daily basis and they are good both for you and your little bundle of joy. You can see other people, hear the daily sounds of life, see the leaves fall and contemplate even how your life has changed ;) enjoy them to the max - plus the wee one will probably be sound asleep due to the change in the air and the sounds.  
5) connection to other expat mothers like yourself - knowing someone else is struggling as you do or the fact that they have "been there, done that" and they can give you advice actually helps! I attended birth school and gym classes for pregnant women and I met there many lovely expat mums. Some at their first one some at their second or even third. If they can do it, so can you! Listen to their stories - some au help you more than you think ;)

How about you, expat mums, what is your opinion on the subject? What helps you through the day? What comforts you and makes you smile when your wee one has crying fits? Do tell :)

Yours very sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Her LadyBug Baby Girl 🐞
Read more ...

Friday, 4 November 2016

The Stories Of Krakow Doors (Entrances) - Part 4

Dearest hearts,

A while back I started on my Instagram page a series about Krakow's doors / entrances. Each door in Krakow, for me at least, has a story to tell. Let me know if you think the story fits or if the picture tells you a different story than the one I think of :) You can also read here the first 2 short stories, here the second batch and the third!
Short Story number 7 - It looks like nobody should go in... this door seems so heavy under the attack of man, that it looks to me as if it would like to shout out... as if it would like to scream out: #iwanttobreakfree ! Maybe the old, wooden door, with its columns guarding, is just waiting for a light touch of a hand to spring open and show the beauties inside... yet the door is not allowed, and maybe it's sad because of that... 😢 this one goes to all those beautiful yet sad door in Kraków, that don't get much attention...
Short Story number 8 - While strolling though the Planty area (the park surrounding the Old Town Kraków), next to the Wawel Castle, you will discover where the seminarians live and learn how to be priest - the healers of the soul. The building is old and made out of lovely red brick, contrasting with all the greenery around. It must be lovely to wake up in the morning and see the Wawel Castle just outside your window and hear the birds in the trees from the Planty sing... 🐦🌳
Yours sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Magical Doors That Tell Stories
Read more ...

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Travel Tuesday: Why Should You Travel Alone

Dearest sweethearts,

Here it is: goodbye sweet October and hello rainy November! What better way to start the month than having a post about travelling the world?! It's #traveltuesday and I was thinking about the reasons why one would choose to travel even being alone. I know some people who wouldn't get out of the house if they don't have company... I'm of another sort... the one that would travel anytime at any given moment - no matter if by myself or with family or friends.  I said it before and I will say this time after time, again and again: travelling, memories and feelings are the only things that we can take with us. You won't be able to take your Ferrari or iPhone to the grave with you (I mean you can, like the pharaohs... but what's the point?!) but you will be able to take the love from the memories you gathered with the ones you love and doing the things that you love.
But without any further ado let me tell you my thoughts why you should try to travel alone at least one time in your life!
1. It's a challenge for yourself - it will test your limits as you will be made to think outside of the box and step out of your comfort zone. Maybe you are shy and you have issues talking to people... well you may get lost once and you will have to ask someone else for help, for direction ;)
2. You will make new friends - especially if you will live in a hostel/motel/hotel/guest house.  There will surely be people like you who will want to discover the city and you can always tag along and do that together. The best ways of making friends is by joining a tour of a popular destination (let us say something like Wieliczka or Auschwitz for Krakow) or by joining a Free Walking Tour of the city you are in.
3. Practicing the language - if you go abroad on your own you will most likely be forced into conversation when buying/ordering something and you won't stress about your friends and family hearing your language mistakes but at the same time you will do your best to be understood correctly.
4. Logistics reasons... tickets are easier and quicker to book, you don't depend on anyone, you don't need to wait for anyone and you can be your own master. Plus if you get stranded somewhere it is easier to get a fast ticket for the plane - 1 instead of 2 or 3...
5. Finding your inner self - it's a good time to focus on your needs and wishes. It's a perfect time to pamper yourself and treat yourself to the thing you usually don't... sleeping late, having an extra slice of cake, maybe a glass of wine under the Eiffel Tour or a very long relaxing walk in the Versailles garden... heaven for your heart :)
6. Freedom learning - you will see that with freedom comes also responsibility. And that is not always a bad thing ;) it allows one to be more certain of himself. You will learn more about yourself bering alone with your thoughts than in a year surrounded by others.  You will learn that you need to care about your things, check (double check and triple check!) the plane tickets, be there in time, learn how to pack (what you definitely should not take in your hand luggage!) and how to behave in a public place (never yell BOMB!!!).
7. Home is where your heart is - you will learn like myself that the world is actually a very big place and that you might feel at home thousand of miles away from your birthplace/homeland. Home is actually where our heart is and when our hearts is in love with the world... well... you do the math! ;)
Overall I believe that everyone should travel alone, in a different country, at least once in their lifetime. Don't stress about it, just take baby steps... one at a time! You might find out that you enjoy it or that it is not your thing... but you should do it at least once. You should make that a part of your #bucketlist - step out of your comfort zone and you will be proud of what you will discover you can do on your own. Be brave!

Yours sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves To Travel And Discover New Places
Read more ...