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Friday, 31 March 2017

10 Amazing Things About Poland

Dearest sweethearts,

There are so many preconceptions nowdays about everything and anything and anyone that you can't get out in public without somebody saying something stupid. The image that we make about things we do not know usually comes from the media - be it television, radio, Internet and it's many twisted social media ways. We don't think things through and we do not filter the information we receive, we just take it as it is. I've seen a lot of hate about Poland or simply misconceptions that have appeared from what some heads in certain parties may say. I find it funny, if not downright sad,  that some people believe that Poland is not a democratic country or that women don't have free will. I have been living in Kraków, Poland, for almost 6 years now and I have not been offended in any way for being a woman. And guess what? I had the same pay as my male colleagues.  But let's not get into politics - just yet! - as today I wanted to share with you 10 Amazing Things About Poland that you might not know:
View from Florianska street toward the Main Market Square in Krakow 
1) The largest LED display in Europe is on the Tauron Arena in Kraków, Poland. 
2) 100% of the sewage in Kraków is purified - too bad the air quality is still so bad during winter months  :(
3) Krakow was the first Polish city that preserved the city centre by special legal regulations (Cultural Park).
4) 7 out of 9 species of Polish woodpeckers live in Kraków, Poland. 
5) The first Long Night of the Museums, in Poland, was hosted by no other city than three cultural Kraków.  
6) Kraków is known as the best area for global business services in Europe! 
7) The biggest Film Music Festival of the world is hosted in Kraków, Poland! That's right, you read that well. It's the amazing Festiwal Muzyki Filmowej that I've been telling you about ;)
Adam Mickievic statue in the Main Market Square in Krakow, during World Youth Day 2016
8) Krakow owns the longest tram in Poland. To be mentioned the fact that even the Pope, during World Youth Days 2016, took a ride in it ;)
9) The Main Market Square in Krakow is the biggest medieval urban space of its kind. It forms an almost perfect square - total area of 40.000 square meters!
10) Geographically, Poland is in fact the very center of Europe! It is not actually Eastern Europe, so I guess that is also what makes them even more proud.

Yours very much sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Poland 
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Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Travel Tuesday: Is Iasi Children Friendly?

Dearest sweethearts,

In case you were wondering if Iasi, Romania, is a good place to plan a weekend break with your wee ones I need to tell you straight that things might not be as easy as you think! When we travel we mainly think of ourselves but when you start having/raising children it all changes. There is no more ME but rather THEM - where will they sleep, what will they eat, where and how will they play? How about medical insurance? How about safety, transport and emergency cases? Mums and Dads top priority will always be the children before them. Probably that's why in the plane instructions they always underline that in case of the pressure dropping, one must first put the mask on them and after on the children; as the first motherly instinct would be to place it on the kid. Makes sense ;) but... what if you wish to visit Iasi, my hometown?
Well... if you would like to have a weekend break in Iasi make sure your child at least knows how to walk. It will be much easier for the both of you, especially if you will want to go out daily. The sidewalks here are definitely not done for prams / carriages / disabled people - they are tall, the ramps are basically nonexistent, space for the carriage to pass is almost null (take for example Cuza Voda or getting further to the Filharmonic House). The best option would be to have an elastic wrap / a sling or a carrier to keep the baby close and shield them. Getting the pram out, especially during wintertime can be quite a challenge! (Especially due to the amount of snow and ice and the piles of muddy snow on the sidewalks). Also there are few places where you could go out with a pram, for mothers and babies. True, Palas Mall offers for rent baby prams inside the premises, but still that's not much...
On a positive note, almost all the restaurants and cafes have a "children menu" so the small ones wouldn't have to face the huge portions that are practiced here. Also, somehow interesting, people are quite find of children here and feel the need to give you advice and best practices on what you should do with your child. Some may even feel it's a must to come and tell you that you dressed them up to warmly / cold, that they are crying because they are hungry / they want a hug, even try to give them stuff to eat even though you previously told them what they can / should / shouldn't eat. It's all done in good will... but it may end up pissing you off.
Try to avoid getting sick... having an international insurance won't work and the fact that you have an European Medical Card will allow help only from the local hospital. I, for one, will always avoid them... hearing my friends tell horror stories on how they went there for a checkup and came home with extra diseases makes my skin crawl. So... I'm happy that working in a corporate environment allows us to have private medical care - that happily is also available in Romania! ("Singing Hallelujah") Medicover Romania accepts temporary transfers from Poland to Romania and the coverage stays the same. I really recommend you to look into that and ask for the transfer before coming here - in my case it took around 10 days to get in the system, as everything is routed via Bucharest.
Now don't get me wrong... Iasi is a beautiful city filled with lovely places that small ones can enjoy, but I think truly it would be easier if the child wound be bigger. Walking on their own is a great help and raises less problems. I wouldn't quire say Iasi is children friendly... I might say even the opposite! But I really hope it will change in time... for Heaven's sake... even the public transport would drive parents mad - there is no way you will use a pram inside a tram and buses only if the driver is kind enough to help. Dreaming on for a better future... maybe, one day, things might turn up ok... 

Yours extremely sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Iasi But Also Feels Sad About It's Downsides...
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Saturday, 25 March 2017

Iasi: Cafeneaua Noastra - Cozy and Rustic

Dearest sweethearts,

Here I am again with yet another gem from my hometown, from Iasi. Probably you might think Iasi is not worthy to be checked out but I beg to differ! There are many museums and coffee shops and parks to be discovered. It is true that you could probably do a tour of the city in one day but I think it's wiser to select a full weekend to take your time and enjoy things. Spring is a perfect time to wrap yourself softly and enjoy the first rays of the warm sun in the park. You could enjoy visiting the Palace of Culture (Palatul Culturii) - the full ticket for the 4 main exhibitions is 40 RON. You could also check out the Clock Tower and then have a stroll in the Palas Mall. Now... inside Palas there are a lot of coffee shops (including the well known Starbucks) but I think you should give chance to a local coffee shop really close by. 
Where: Right next to Palas Mall, on the Sf. Lazar Street. If you are inside Palas Mall get to the floor where there is Librarium (great bookstore by the way!) and KFC. Take the KFC exit out and walk straight. To the left, as you cross the small street, you will spot a couple of cute wooden benches with moustaches on their board and with a traditional cover. You are at the right spot! Welcome to "Cafeneaua Noastra" (Our Coffee Shop). You can have the coffee to go, quick, by ordering at the window or you could come inside and enjoy a lovely, friendly atmosphere while you sip on your addiction ;)
Why: "Cafeneaua Noastra" is a very friendly place and you fall in love with it as soon as you cross it's step. It's a small little place that strives to be homely to everyone that comes. There is free and stable WiFi (ask for the password), there is a shelf with games and books, there is good coffee and tasty sweets and a general artistic vibe about the place. The coffee shop owners take good care of the marketing part of the business and they host games and they do contests where you can win fidelity cards for free coffee. The people who work there have a positive can do attitude and make you feel very warmly welcomed. 
What to have: I had a mint lemonade and a sour cherry muffin that totally blew my mind! The muffin was the best I have ate for years!!! It was fresh, soft, held itself together wonderfully and had plenty of really good sour cherries inside. The sour cherries were not sweetened and they were whole not halves. Each bite had a sour cherry to offer. I think each muffin had about 8 or more inside! The lemonade is done without sugar or honey - the best option, if you ask me! And it was very sour, just as I like it. But if you can't handle it, you can have some sugar or honey ;) for the coffee lovers I have to say that they are very artful in the decorations, as I could see on my friends order, and the combination of cappucino + muffin (chocolate or sour cherry) costs only 10 RON (less than 3 euros!). It's a bargain! An offer you can't refuse! The mint lemonade is only 7 RON - 330 ml. The tough ones can try the ginger option ;)
The downside: The toilet - to my defense I have not yet personally checked it, but from my friends saying it is quite small and awkward. The Romanian laws concerning coffee shops and small business places like this one, obliges the owner to have at least 2 places in the bathroom - a loo for the ladies and one for the lads. The alcohol - now I don't see this as a issue, considering we are talking about a coffee shop here! But some may complain there is absolutely no alcohol on the menu. But! There is mulled wine during winter ;) The space - one would wish this place would be bigger, yet on the bright side it's so cozy and homely and nice! :) plus, they promote handmade products and they sell Ukrainian candies! On nom nom! I say you should pay them a visit as soon as possible! ;)

Yours very much sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves To Discover New Places When Traveling In Her Hometown
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Wednesday, 22 March 2017

A Piece of Romanian History: 22nd March 1965

Dearest hearts,

Welcome to my homeland, Romania, and it's interesting past. History always is a fascinating thing, if one looks at it closely. It's a merry-go-round, a wheel that keeps turning, having ups and downs along the way. Indeed history repeats itself in one form or another.  Some things that we may think are wrong one day we might think, on the long term, that they were not that bad considering the present time. But we are human, we make mistakes and such is our nature. Today I wish to bring to you a piece of Romanian History.  When I say that I am Romanian, people all over the world connect that fact with a couple of our symbols: Nadia Comaneci - for being the first gymnast that scored perfect 10 at the Olympic Games, Hagi - if someone is into football, Brancusi - if someone is into art, Transfagarasan - if people watch Top Gear, Transylvania and Dracula - if they are into horror stories and... last but not least, everyone (especially former communist countries) knows a bit about Ceausescu. For me that was always a rather sad story to think about, once I got a bit older and start thinking things through. No matter how bad/evil/negative someone can be it's not as bad as to take someone's life, especially in the harsh/cruel/animalistic way it was done. Life prison, life punishment and serving the community would have been the way I would have approached it, but shooting someone like that... and especially during that time of year (Christmas)... it looks like taking pigs to slaughter. It's degrading both for the ones executed and the executors alike. But nevermind that, the story from today is how it all got started...
Partidul Muncitoresc Roman (The Romanian Labour Party) used to have as the leader and Prime Secretary the man called Gheorghiu Dej. Now he died on the 19th of March 1965 due to cancer. The Party needed a new leader and whom else should emerge but Nicolae Ceausescu. He was a leader even before he took over Gheorghiu Dej's job/title.
He was in charge with the key sectors of power: the Army, the Security, the Justice Department and to top it all up the Militia as well! Nicolae Ceausescu was elected on the 22nd of March 1965, as the next Prime Secretary of the Party. Odd thing is nowdays people tend to look at him as if he was a monster... but looking back in history there are many positive steps that he took. For example, Romania was the first country in the socialist camp/block that established relations, diplomatic relationships, at embassy level with Germany - 31st January 1967. Also the Romanian Socialist Republic was THE ONLY communist state that has not severed relations with Israel after the "Six Day War".  Sometimes I think that maybe his advisors were not all that truthful in telling him how the country, how the people, felt about the changes that took place in the last year's.  But well... I guess we won't ever know the whole truth. I think that's why we always love pointing fingers and shifting blame, so we could feel better about ourselves. I wonder what his thoughts were, this very day, 52 years ago... I wonder if he thought how he could change the world, how he could change Romania. I wonder what he would say if he could see it now...

Yours very much sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves History
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Sunday, 19 March 2017

Childbearing: Romania VS. Poland

Dearest hearts,

I'm into developing further the motherhood topic today.  Today I celebrate 3 months in Romania with my little LadyBug Baby Girl. It's the longest I have stayed since 5 and a half years ago when I left for Krakow, Poland. Staying over was usually for a week or two but I never had time for more. Now, with the little one, I could stay longer so she could meet the family and her my native language. I knew there was a cultural shock incoming but boy, did it test my nerves or what! But that's another story to tell ;) today I wanted to tell you a couple of differences in childbearing in Poland vs. Romania. One would think, considering their position and their similar background (Communism and all that...) that the mentalities and the way motherhood works would be similar. You could not be more wrong! A EU research shows that Bulgaria (25,7 years) and Romania (25,8 years) are in the first place of women giving birth at a young age, the average age being 29 years. Poland comes close with 26,7 years, along with Lithuania.
Another interesting fact in Romania is the "culture of abortions". Of course they were not permitted during communist times but there were certain doctors, nurses, midwifes who would risk their jobs and going to prison in order to "help" the ones in need. Of course not all were trustworthy and a huge number of women died or suffered diverse problems with the reproductive system. If you wish some light shed in the subject I suggest you to watch the movie "4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days" by Cristian Mungiu. Nowdays they are allowed and yet another research shows how Romania leads in Europe when it comes to the number of abortions - not proud to say this! It also holds one of the highest numbers when it comes to pregnancy related deaths. According to United Nations Population Fund, Romania had 3,2 abortions for every live birth in 1990! It's come down to around 2,2 but when you think that Russia has about 2, Czech Republic and Hungary had 0,6 and Germany 0,2 you start questioning things...
Now let's take Poland for a short run... everybody knows that the second biggest Polish city in the world, after Warsaw of course, is Chicago. It's also well known that a lot of Polish people work abroad and that many can be found in Great Britain.  Well... it seems a little study has been made just about Polish women in Britain. It seems that once they reach British ground the Polish women have more children. The birth rate is 2/3 higher than in Poland! Now... hearing my friends in UK and friends in Poland, adding to that my very positive experience with giving birth, I would certainly choose Poland over UK!
But let's get back to childbearing in Poland vs Romania (or the other way around...). I remember my pregnancy period as a time of low energy and constant need for sleep. But other than that and the swollen feet... I must admit it was rather touching to see the positive vibes from random people on the street. People in Poland raise up and give you seating if there is none in the public transport. They ask if you are alright, if you need help with the grocery, they don't feel the need to touch you or the growing bump. They maintain your space to breathe. Here, in Romania, back home, I am saddened all this is nonsense... I took the public transport only once since I came here and I swore I won't be using it again. Here receiving odd/nasty comments is at the order of the day, the fact that you are pregnant is of no consequence! It makes me question the values and the upbringing of youth nowdays... I always stood up if an elderly or a pregnant women came in. I guess that's considered "old fashioned" now...
Add to that the public and private sector of medical care and only that can send me running away back to Poland! To take regular blood tests you need to schedule yourself on the 15th of February, let's say, so you could do the tests at the beginning of March! And for tests of course you need a paper from the doctor and that, my friend, takes ages to get :/ And guess what? When you're pregnant you need to do certain tests more often than once a month! And guess again! That type of paper can be given only once a month... yey to the joys of running around town to get everything you need... there will be queues everywhere, and even though that there are signs that pregnant women should come first, no one gives a damn :/ so... why bother? 

Please, don't think I'm against motherhood or that I don't love my country. I have many friends that have birth in Romania and they are alive, kicking, with lovely babies. I, for one, can tell you I am glad someone up there loves me and that I could give birth in Poland and that I was there when pregnant. I wouldn't have it any other way! Truly!

Yours very very very sincerly, 
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Her Country But Loves Her LadyBug Baby Girl More!
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Thursday, 16 March 2017

Why Celebrate St. Patrick's Day?

Dearest lads and lasses,

Welcome one and all! I don't think I get to tell you as often as I should, how much I love Ireland and what it has "produced" along time. Tomorrow proud ginger Irish people celebrate St. Patrick's Day all over the world.  Even in Chicago the river turns green and leprechauns can be seen - of course fake ones, so don't go running after any pot of gold ;) The first St. Paddy Day was celebrated in 1756 in NYC at the Crown & Thistle Tavern. In case you did not know, it was made an official Christian feast day in the early 17th century. This feast day us kept by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Lutheran Church as well! It is the day that remembers the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, through Saint Patrick himself! It's a celebration deeply rooted in the heritage and culture of Irish people (and not only!). Nowdays it is rather popular for big cities to host parties on the 17th of March, for St. Paddy's, and have an Irish theme about it. I remember going to such parties in my hometown, in Iasi - Romania.  People would have Irish beer (like Guinness or Kilkenny) or Irish whiskey, dress up in green, sport a 4 leaf clover and listen to some good old Irish tunes. 
It is said that the shamrock, the clover, as a symbol of Ireland, came from the times of good old Saint Paddy. It is said that when he came to bring the fairy in Ireland he explained the Holy Trinity by using a 3 leaf clover - The Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost. It is also said that since Saint Paddy stepped in Ireland the country was "cured" from snakes and there are no more of them - I wonder if that still indeed is true... I still have Ireland on my #bucketlist even though I came very close a couple of times... But why should you celebrate Saint Patrick's Day?! Why I would celebrate it for this fine country alone! I celebrate it because I've always had a crush on Ireland, ever since I was a wee lass. But then... why love Ireland? Because...
1) It has the most amazing music, played from the soul, with all of their heart. They pour forward their sorrows, mix them with grief and elevate them to dark humor and pure laughter. But they don't just leave it to that, they have the most amazing dances I have seen... I remember being small and watching for the first time Michael Flatley work his magical feet onto the floor.  It seemed to me as if the ground he was walking was of fire! The way that Irish people tell stories through music is just unearthly and totally eary. Also... should I even try mentioning the most amazing band still running... that's right! U2!
2) History alone would recommend Ireland! Some countries boast of being old and filled with history lessons, but Ireland has that even before 8.000 BC!
3) The stories, ghost, ghouls, fairies, leprechauns and all the mystical creatures that are roaming about Ireland... I will always believe that pixies and fairies are real, no matter what everyone says! And for sure when I'll see a leprechaun I'll try to be swift and catch it so he can take me to his pot of gold, at the end of the rainbow ;)
4) Horses as a symbol - that's right! Horses are a symbol of Ireland, wild and beautiful. They are a national treasure and they are cherished.  Even in famine times people did not want to eat horse meat, considering it too precious. Maybe for the Irish is indeed safe to say that the horse is their best friend :) and such magnificent creatures they are!
5) Free national museums and galleries - enough said! They had me at "museum"... everyone who knows me knows that I love a good museum and it seems Ireland has quite a few nice ones to offer.
6) The spirits... as in the alcohol... as in the wonderfully one of a kind beer like the dark Guinness or the "Red haired" Kilkenny. Pure love for smooth and silky taste - that's Ireland alright!
7) Eurovision record... they took it home 7 times! But I think the real winner behind this is the amazing Riverdance (first performance in the 1994 contest). Long may the magical Michael Flatley live! 
BONUS: The Book of Kells (held in Dublin). If you have no clue what that is but you love beautiful things, if you love art and design and history... well this baby is a must! There is even an animation about it, so beautifully done it will break your heart. Just so you know... in 2009 the animation The Secret of Kells was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. It tells a fictional story about three creation of The Book by an old monk and his apprentice Brendan.

How about you lads and lasses, will you be celebrating tomorrow St. Patrick's Day? Will you be dressing up in green or have a clover with you? Will you tap dance? Any plans on visiting Ireland soon? I find it, through pictures and movies, the greenest place on earth. Have you ever been there? I would love to hear your stories in relation  to this celebration. 

Yours very much sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Ireland 
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Monday, 13 March 2017

Iasi - Pizzeria Mamma Mia - Desserts

Dearest sweethearts,

I don't get to write often about places in my hometown, although there are quite a few restaurants and pizza places that should be mentioned. Nowdays everyone that gets to Iasi, Romania, flocks to the Palas Mall and they usually grab a bite at the food court or the restaurants around the mall. It's a pity though, people rarely fall out of this pattern.  No offence, Palas Mall is indeed "the heart of the city" as it's motto says - due to its location, but there are dozen of other places - some a stone throw away - that are worthy to be checked out. Now today I wanna present to you Mamma Mia - the pizza place on the street Stefan cel Mare. You need only to ask for the place and everyone will be able to point it out ;) it's very well known and it's always filled with people, no matter the day or the time.
Oddly enough, even though it is a pizza place, most of the people recommend the shaorma there. In general the portions are big, enough for two in some cases! Take for example what we ordered: pancakes - the portion contains 2, "papanasi" (traditional Romanian sweet) - the portion contained 2 small "mountains". Have not tried the food there in a while, but when I was during uni and master they had good food, served at the proper temperature. Now this time I went there with a dear friend that wanted to have some "papanasi" - seeing the menu we agreed that "sharing is caring" so we tried 2 desserts ;)
Of Course, when you are having a caloric bomb like that, such a sweet tooth must be paired with something sour that would keep you down from acting too hyper ;) so for me a lemonade is must! Even better if it's done with honey and not sugar (healthier!) and it has mint in it. The seating options vary from tables for 2 to connected tables for more. In the summer time there is also a small terrace in the park over the street, under the shade if trees. The cute this inside is the ceiling, with mirrors and plants.  The serving is fast, even when crowded, and it's the first restaurant in Iasi that I saw it has table bells - to order, place order and ask for check. 
The prices:
- Honey Mint Lemonade - 10,50 RON - done with honey, not the awful sugar that does not do good to your amazing body ;)
- Papanasi (we had them with sour cream and yummy jam) - 14,90 RON - the portion is perfectly done for 2 persons, as you can see in the pictures as well :)
- Pancakes With Cheese Made In The Oven - 11,90 RON - filled with cheese from cows and sour cream, vanilla and raisins, this is a dessert that always reminds me of childhood. Serve it while it's hot! ;)

How about you, my dears? Have you ever been in Iasi? Have you ever had some lunch or just some sweets at "Mamma Mia"? It's always crowded here and people enjoy this place. It's been there for years and it looks like it's here to stay. Decent service and prices and yummy desserts ;) I can say that #twistedredladybug recommends it!

Yours very much sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Food
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Friday, 10 March 2017

The World's Greatest Invention

Dearest sweethearts,

Did you know that this very day, in the year 1876, the 1st telephone call was made by Alexander Graham Bell - to a certain Thomas Watson. Ever since, the World has never been the same. Can you imagine now life without the phone? I believe it's indeed the World's Greatest Invention of our time. And it's truly amazing how much phones have changed in the last 30 years. I look at my life and I remember things from my childhood... I remember the phones that would have a round dialing board that you had to stick your fingers in and that if you would put a wrong number you would have to stop, hang up and start from scratch again. I remember the excitement of receiving a call and not knowing whom it was. I remember making prank calls to random people, phoning them and asking them weird stuff. I remember the central phone boards and the ladies that would make the connections to longer distance calls. I remember the public phones with coins and later on with colorful cards that kids would collect. I remember uit all like it was yesterday! Now fast forward to today: the home phones kinda became extinct and everyone has a mobile phone next to their hand. You (theoretically) can find everyone anywhere at any time - somehow the privacy has decreased, as a consequence.
Why are we so addicted to phones nowdays? It's mainly because they are no longer just a means of communication, but much more than that. First phones were all about the status of the people who had one - only the wealthy could afford it. Then it would be gradually about communication and reaching people faster than the letters would.  Next step: commodity - you could phone your friends to come by and hang out or do homework a via conference calls. Then the mobile phone appeared - a wonderful wonder... I remember I had my first cell phone when I was in high school. I used it for texting mainly and sometimes phones. I feel old when I look at phones now vs. my first cell phone. They were such uncomfortable heavy things, but their battery lasted for months! Nowdays we have everything on our cell phones yet we rarely use it for its base purpose: communication, calling one another. Nowdays the battery barely lasts for a day, but you can have all your life on that device. It's your camera, your video player, your map, your guidance, your connection with your family and friends, your bank, your alarm... your everything. I guess we should thank Mr. Bell for that ;) Do you think you could handle today without the phone? 

Yours very much sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves A Good Story From History 
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Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Travel Tuesday: Travelling In Iasi With A Baby Under 1 Year

Dearest sweethearts,

I don't know where time flies like that... it's like it has its own hidden agenda! I remember when I was a wee lass and it seemed I had all the time in the world, now I have no idea how the Sands of Time slip through my fingers. I remember thinking that reaching 40 years of age meant one was already old, but now when I look at things I think of 40 as the second period of youth. You gotta look on the bright side of life, else you can get depressed! I always wanted to have a baby until I reach 30 - 30 years sounded like a round and reasonable age to be a serious and grown up mum! Well, all I can say is that someone up there loves me and that 2 months before reaching 30 I got the best gift ever: my little LadyBug Baby Girl.  Now being a mum is unlike everyone tells you. Let's face it, everybody lies! Even Dr. House knew that ;) so taking care of a baby 24/7 can come as a challenge, so you will want some help. I was blessed to have both my mother and granny with me in the first 2 months of Emilia Elena's. We needed that, we admit it! Else we could not have had any sleep... For Christmas I wanted to come home with the little LadyBug and enjoy time with them. The stay planned was quite long - over 3 months - and I quite experienced new feelings towards my hometown.  
Now Iasi would be similar to Krakow as Bucharest would be for Warsaw. Iasi is the rather old cultural capital and it has many good (recognised) universities. It is a beautiful city filled with history, a city that was more than once compared with the ancient city of Rome. As Rome, it also resides on 7 hills and it boasts (mmm rather I should say "used to") of lovely green spaces for relaxation. Krakow during winter months is a pain, due to the lack of air circulation there is always fog and smog, so taking the small one to Romania for the fresh air was important! Now I always have a cultural shock when coming back home but coming back home, during wintertime, was both magical but also highly depressive. Magical in terms of Iasi under clear and crisp white snow, a magical world, a true wintery fairyland. Depressive in terms of comparison to the infrastructure that Krakow has vs. Iasi. I have been discussing with a dear friend that comes to Iasi once a year for family and friends and she finds Iasi changed in a positive way, cleaner and more organised. True, you can perceive it like that if you stay only in the center of the city, travel only by cab and stay on a few days and don't need to get involved with any public institutions. 
Ladybug Hand Resting With Her First "Martisor"
I feel the need for the Government to have a year in the life of a regular person and see how they handle it. Add to that having a small baby under a year old. Travelling in Iasi with a baby under a year old can be quite a challenge. I came prepared, knowing the roads here... but still daily I grew more and more disappointed. I had both the carrier that saved my life - my favourite, the Madame GooGoo Carrier - but also the carriage. Let's face it, once you have snow there is no way to get the carriage out of the house and into Iasi streets. The way they clean the streets does not allow you to have a casual walk, it transforms into a challenge of going up and down snow hills and hoping nothing breaks. There is also the hazard of snow falling or icicles breaking and crashing on you from the houses or buildings that you pass - nobody cleans the roofs and they prefer of placing signs like "Be careful. Snow falling" - zero responsibility! The streets and the pavements are not created for carrying a carriage or for people with disability and if there are ramps for helping one off/on they are so badly made it feels like escalating a hill... The carrier, in these cases and not only, is a must! You can walk faster and use the stairs without cursing every 2 seconds. You can feel normal again! Until someone feels the need to give you advice about your child, on the street. A random person telling you what you should and should not be doing with your child. It's... refreshing :/ here everything seems everyone's business and the fact that you carry a child in a carrier or a pram will not stop people bumping into you or wondering why you don't move out of their way. It makes me sad as I remember the Iasi of my childhood without greater pleasure; wishing my little LadyBug could have seen it then. Don't get me wrong... the problem is not in the city, but in how people have changed - if this is evolution I don't want it!

Yours straight from the heart, 
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Iasi, Even when It Drives Me Crazy...
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Saturday, 4 March 2017

Things I Am Thankful For - February 2017

Dearest hearts,

I don't know if you remember the exercise I was promising to you just the other day, but I will share it again with you now, so might try to join in as well. This post is all about counting the good things in life that have happened to you the past month. This post will try to make you think, even for a wee moment, about the positive things that happened to you and you might have overlooked. A month ago I was telling you about the things I was thankful for in the month on January - you don't have to make a full list, as you can see it's better to start small and build it up. I encourage you to think of 5 Things, 5 Moments, 5 Memories from the past month. Pick the ones that made you smile the most and write them down. Without any further ado and not necessarily in this order, here are my 5 Things I am Thankful for the past month:
1. Cutting down one item off my #bucketlist - watching "The Sound of Music" (the musical). It was done by the National Opera in Iasi and presented at the National Theater in Iasi. It was done in Romanian language, translated, but very well put together! It was a beautiful surprise to finally see it and be there with my mother. I wish, one day, I can share a similar moment with my little LadyBug Baby Girl.
Standing ovations for "The Sound of Music" ("Sunetul Muzicii") in the National Theater - Iasi, Romania 
2. The Little LadyBug Baby Girl just got her first tooth! I'm a proud mum that loves her little lady, but I don't feel the need to post pictures of my baby daily, nor update everyone on my Facebook list on when my wee lass is having her poo or when she sneezes. Some things are just private! But I am very happy to say we went through this challenge as well and we were victorious. We are becoming a small bunny with white front teeth and we bite everything we can get our cute hands on!
Ladybug Hand Resting :)
3. Being able to get to Laura and Mr. Tic's book gathering. You heard me talking about Laura before, and her adorable fluffy little bundle of joy: her dog Tic. She writes stories about her, Tic and her better half, Andrei. Andrei is a brilliant photographer that strives for perfection. They all 3 make a lovely crazy family. Reading their stories makes me smile :) so I had to make sure my collection is complete. I already had volume 1 and 2 so... I just had to have number 3 ;) and I was happy to see Laura again, in flesh and bone :)
A book for my soul, with a lot of soul inside it ;)
4. The opera recital at the Central Library of the University (BCU - Biblioteca Central Universitara). It was another gift... another beautiful moment in time next to my mother.  I missed going to the Opera and being home and doing this with my mother filled my heart with joy. I am thankful I got to spend this time with her - I felt again as if I was in high school or university and had a night out together :) In Krakow getting tickets for the Opera is always a fuss... they get sold our 3 months before the show (at least!)...
Me, Mum and the Griffin from the BCU Iasi :)
5. Little LadyBug Baby Girl is getting bigger and bigger, now she is sitting on her tush ;))) next thing you know she's gonna start running around the house! I cannot believe where time has gone by... on the 20th, last month, she turned 6 months! It's as if time flies at the blink of an eye. I'm happy when she is happy and I am sad when she cries. How can a small bundle change one so much?
Now... what are the things YOU are thankful for? What made you happy, what made you smile this past month? Search in your heart, think about it and put it on paper. You don't have to share it if you don't wish to. It can be only for your eyes, but nonetheless try to do this exercise. Do it regularly and with all your heart.  #countyourblessings and be happy!

Yours wholeheartedly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Wants To Be Thankful For The Little Wonders Of Life
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Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Spring in My Childhood

Dearest hearts,

I don't know if you ever thought about how much you miss childhood. We are always taught to live the moment and get prepared for the future, yet I believe I always liked the past more. History is do much more fascinating and interesting than sometimes times nowdays. Not to mention the fact that history seems to repeat itself once in a while - it's a windmill, a merry-go-round... even when I travel, and I really love to travel, I prefer locations that tell a story vs. all inclusive locations where all you do is eat-sleep-bathe and repeat.  I think that looking back at our past is something we should do, once in a while, but only with the true purpose of making us smile, not ponder upon things that we have done but cannot change. You cannot turn back the Sands of Time but you can learn from your mistakes. That's why when I think of the past I prefer to think about my childhood, the time of dreams and joy in ones life. The month of March always gets me thinking of my childhood...
In Romania, the month of March always gets celebrated rather colorfully and joyfully.  On the 1st of March we celebrate the "Martisor" aka "The Year's Rope" - a string of white and red symbolising the spring coming. On the 8th of March there is the Mother's Day. Plus all the month you get to wear "martisoare" and women get flowers and gifts. You also should pick and choose a day between 1st and 9th of March included (before the 1st of March) and it is said that how the weather is that day that's how your year will be ;) March is the month that shows nature coming back to life and when dozen upon dozen of flowers start to pop up seemingly out of nowhere ;) There is a certain burst of color and you know spring is here when you start seeing people selling spring flowers at every corner.
I remember being a wee lass and being absolutely anxious about the time between 1st and 8th of March. There were flowers to be bought, cards to be made (coloring, cutting and glueing flowers and other odd bits and pieces, not to mention coming up with a nice text!), surprises to be kept hidden from mum and granny. I remember asking my Granny or Granddad to buy me flowers for my teacher and "martisoare" for all of my colleagues at school + something extra for friends. Everyone had "martisoare" for everyone in class during my first to 4th grade. The typical motives were for good luck: the chimney sweeper, the four leaved clover, the horseshoe... but there were other essential ones made out if only white and red string. Of course you would give the prettiest ones to the ones you liked most and at the end of the day you would come home with your chest covered in them. I always felt proud coming home all decorated with them, buying flowers for mum and granny - that was when sprung started for me :) the garden in front of the house started to turn green and the small white flower buds would come out creeping from under the snow. You could hear the birds singing more often and with more power and miraculously the day would become bigger and bigger and we were allowed more and more out of the house. Of course it was sad seeing the Snowman melt... but then again, we would make sure to do a bigger one next year so it would last longer ;)
I'm looking at kids nowdays... and I'm sad to see them getting older before their time. I done see them feel a difference between the seasons, other then when the next phone comes out or what parents need to buy them or people need to do for them. I sometimes get sad that generations have Fast Forward pressed on their life. I would not trade my childhood without anything in the world! And I wish I can make a beautiful childhood for my little LadyBug Baby Girl.  A childhood filled with dreams, love and natural beauty. A childhood in which she will wear a "martisor" and at the end of the month March she will make a wish and place it in a tree that blossoms.  I surely hope you'll do the same and find your inner child!

Yours very much sincerly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loves Childhood 
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