Meaningful Mommy

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Internet cafés and the island of Vis

Quick quick post from the Island of Vis! We are in the town of Komiza in the middle of the Adriatic Sea where it is laid back with the main pastime being swimming and drinking kava and vino. We’ve eaten many wonderful local treats like sladoled (icecream) and thin pizza (like Italian style), riba (fish) and palacinka (similar to crepes). Food is big here so you will definitely never be hungry!! There are so many languages being spoken around us its fun to try to figure them out. This is a big spot for European tourists. The girls have made friends from Holland, Slovenia, Croatia, Spain, and Ontario to name a few. All kids love the beach! 😊 Internet cafes have made it all the way out here since we were here 7 years ago which is making this post possible. We are sitting here with the girls coloring in their journals drinking fresh squeezed lemonade! We are hoping to travel to Bisevo tomorrow for a few days where there will be no internet and not many people. This is good. I think it would ruin
the remote experience. It does have one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen and holds a special place in my heart. I got engaged there standing on my husbands families property surrounded by an amazing 360 degree view of the Adriatic Sea 💜 Until next time!

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I will be back!!

Hi everyone!!

 

 

As you know I am on vacation in Croatia, yay! We are now in an area with very limited access to internet so posting is extremely difficult :(

 

I will be back in about two weeks sharing all sorts of new posts about our travels, what I’ve learned about myself and my family as well as tips we’ve gathered for making family travel fun and as easy as possible!

 

Until then feel free to read some of my archived posts! There’s some good stuff that is pretty much unread from when I started my blog in April

~Megan aka meaningful mommy

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Lessons learned from the beach on an island in Croatia

Lessons learned from the beach in Croatiabeach1

1. Everybody wears a bikini, and I mean everybody and every BODY! All ages. There is no body shaming here. It’s hot, you swim. No one gives a you know what! ;)

Lesson: Don’t worry about what you look like in a swimsuit! Enjoy yourself. That is why you are at the beach and definitely more important.

2. Kids under the age of 4 swimsuits seem optional. Tops on girls under 10 seem optional (and some beaches tops are optional period). Naked kids are running around and no one cares. No impossible attempts to discretely change your toddler trying to hide them in a towel. No swim diapers ect. Kids are just kids. No one worries about it or thinks anything of it!

Lesson: Modesty has a time and place. Your kids are fine. No one is looking at them inappropriately.

3. Crocs must be the number one beach shoe. I have seen more crocs here than anywhere. On everyone. Maybe it’s the most appropriate footwear for an island where you spend 90% of your time on a beach!

Lesson: Crocs are great beach footwear.

4. Kids pee on the beach. Girls sitting on the edge just in the water, little boys stand at the waters edge and just go right there. Again no one is stressing out about it. Urine is sterile. No biggie!

Lesson: Don’t worry about this. Pee is just pee. Don’t drag your child up some tangled mass of bushes to hide them while they go.

5. People relax here. They spread out their stuff and they stay a while. No rushing, no hurriedly picnicking to speed to somewhere else. They are here to enjoy the beach and they do!

Lesson: Relax!

6. Kids talk to other kids. It doesn’t matter if they speak the same language. They still play. Smiles are universal!

Lesson: Let your kids make friends in their own way. They will figure it out.

7. Parents let kids have some freedom. No helicopter parenting here. Kids are allowed to wander. Parents and grandparents are still attentive, just not attached to the kids. They will shout out a warning if needed!

Lesson: Let go a little. Kids need to learn independence. Allow this.

8.  People help each other. A rock stairway is slippery, someone warns you and offers a hand. Your inflatable is floating away someone will stop it and hand it to you. Your shoe gets caught in the surf, someone will throw it back to the beach.

Lesson: Be helpful

9. People acknowledge each other. They smile and say Hello…in many languages. Say Hi back. Smile. Try to say Hi in the native language of where you are. People love the effort!

Lesson: Engage with the people around you. Say Hi!

10. Take your trash with you or put it in the garbage. No one leaves their trash on the beach here. No plastic, no bottles, no junk.

Lesson: Be respectful of shared spaces! Do not leave anything.

Enjoy the beach…that’s why you’re there :)

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10 things about Kukljica that make me smile!!

We are on vacation and our first stop is an Island in the Adriatic Sea. The island is Ugljan and the town is Kukljica. Here are 10 things that make me smile about visiting here.

1. The sky! It couldn’t possibly be more blue!

10 smile sky

 

2. The colors here!! Everything is so vibrant, it’s a Technicolor dream! The sky, the water, the flowers….

10 smile colors

 

3. The fresh produce at the market. I bought 2 tomatoes, a cucumber, two nectarines, two peaches for 28 Kuna which is about $5.50 dollars (the stand owner threw in 4 plums). All fresh and local!

10 smile market

 

4. No packaged meat, cheese or bread. You buy meat sliced at the deli, a hunk of the cheese of choice and how much bread off a loaf. Whole, half, quarter, whatever, all fresh!

10 smile meat cheese

 

5. The fresh-baked breads and rolls. The girls are quite fond of the chocolate filled buns. All from the town bakery!

 

6. Pistachio yogurt! I have never seen this flavor where I live but I will be looking closely when we return. Yummy!!!

10 smile yogurt

7. Many of product packaging look like they are from the 70’s. I don’t know why I love this but I do!

10 smile 70's

8. The smell. The air here smells like pine trees and lavender!

10 smile pine

9. The kava (coffee) the waterside cafés everywhere are so lovely! You can’t beat the coffee or the view!

10 smile kava

10. The sunrise and sunsets are lovely.

10 smile sunrise

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A $50 unforgotten kindness chain reaction

This weeks writing prompt is Honey versus Vinegar  asking us to write about a kindness not forgotten.

One Valentine’s Day evening four women left a waitress a $50 tip on a bill of about $30, and a note that said, You’re wonderful! She hadn’t had that generous of a tip or a written compliment ever and being a college student her money was tight and the compliment validated her long hours. This unexpected gesture was never forgotten and little do those women know but they started a chain reaction.

That waitress once graduating from college and finding a teaching job would continue to leave a compliment and a $50 extra tip over what would have been the normal tip for her waitress/waiter every Valentine’s Day.

Later after marrying and having duel incomes to rely on she began to do this around other holidays as well, such as Christmas and New Year’s.

She before and now with her husband have been chased by waitresses out of the restaurant stopping us, sharing how they could now buy that special Christmas gift for their child, or go visit their  mother who was ill. A waiter who needed just that much more to pay his rent. We have left before seeing the reaction of the tip because the act of just giving that makes us feel good. We’ve been hugged by these strangers who are so grateful. Seen tears of relief, hearing how this means so much to them.

Waiting tables is a hard job, I know because I was the waitress that Valentine’s Day barely making ends meet. That unexpected gift brought a tear to my eye because when you are struggling it’s that little bit extra that can help you get a head or be able to do something that the lack of money was preventing. It’s funny. It seems to work out that every time the waiter/waitress seems to need that extra tip.

It’s a small thing, but a kindness I plan on continuing….

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Smile for Mommy…please?

My manic Monday post is about taking our kids pictures. How hard should it be?! A smile right? It should be a simple 1-2-3 smile! And bam! The biggest brightest smile, right?! Hmm… not so much at my house. Here is one photo session and the results…

 

Smile Honey,  just a quick pic for Daddy…

funny face 2

Oh Honey! Let’s try again…just a quick smile? Daddy would love to see your smiling face today! Please?

funny face 3

When we go inside for snack….Ok…well maybe we’ll try later. Inside.

funny face 1

 

Ok, it’s hard. Super crazy hard to get kids to smile on queue. This one’s at least closer! I’ll take it. Still not a smile really but at least I have some great blackmail pics to use for her High School graduation slide show. Will they even do those in 2029?! Oh god, just thinking about that I made those same faces!

 

Just to prove she will on occasion smile for mommy….

audrey smile 2

Happy Manic Monday ;)

 

Perfection Pending
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Bravery isn’t always about saying yes! Part 2

I recently wrote a guest post for Perfection Pending for part of her Bravery Series. You can read my post Bravery. It isn’t always about saying yes, here :)

My Bravery Series post is a reflection related to my post A Letter To My Sweet Daughter, how watching my daughter make a decision based on her inner feelings of safety and how she took the risk to stand up for herself made me think about my life and why I make the choices I make.

I’ve been giving this topic a lot of thought after comments about how to know when to push and when to not with ourselves and our children. I don’t know the answer to that. I think it depends on our children and ourselves. I think children do push themselves often in all areas of their lives. They are learning so much everyday.

My daughter will try things that surprise me! Brave things that I don’t think she can or should do and she keeps trying until she is successful. I think it is because she is ready and choosing this herself. If I push her she shuts down. I see it. I can ask her to try and if she says she is afraid I will not push. No one likes to be afraid and I know for a fact that different situations can make people feel that fear.

When I was younger and afraid of something, being forced into it because I “shouldn’t be afraid”, didn’t make me less afraid. Honestly it just made me feel unheard. I think that as adults we sometimes forget that all children will like to do different things. Some will be more independent wanting to go to sleepover camps or be on the stage playing an instrument or sport. Some children will want to be in the spotlight because they like it and others will be terrified.

I know I stopped piano lessons not because I didn’t want to learn piano. I loved piano…I just was terrified of the recitals. Silly, I know, but I never did well under pressure and I didn’t enjoy sitting there my heart pounding so loud I couldn’t hear the notes I was playing, the beat of my heart throwing off the rhythm of the notes. I would have liked to continue piano, minus the recitals…

I think for me it’s the end goal that will help me decide when to push and when to not. As for swimming, I want my daughter to have water survival skills. Be able to swim enough to hold her own buying time until I or anyone can get to her.  The floor to ceiling water slide was not an issue for me. She is not one for adrenaline as many aren’t. She may grow into liking that type of activity and she may not. Either way is fine! If my daughter wants to learn an instrument but not perform, we will work on her fear gently and slowly and if it means private lessons at home minus the recital then that’s what we’ll do. I want her to know an instrument, to love music, her way.

There will be times she will need to overcome some fear. I still had to give reports in front of my class, I played sports on teams and as an individual, I was able to grow and become more comfortable. But it took me a while. I wasn’t 5 years old. Even 7. It took me until I was about 10 to feel confident enough. I think in todays age we are expecting more and more at earlier ages and there is so much comparing of children by our peers we feel pressured to have our children doing what others are.

I just want others to remember that all children are individuals and they all have their gifts and strengths. I hope that by validating my daughters fear and honoring her when she says No, I will be building up her confidence to continue to stick to her guns and say No when it’s something big. I fear that if I always push her she will feel unheard and eventually stop saying No, going against how she feels inside. I want her to be strong and able when it really matters to know that she should be heard. Pressures she will face later in life will require her to make some tough choices. I hope with discussion, education and her self validation when she says No, she means it and that is it.

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Jet Lag, Lost Bag, Airport Tag

So after being in airports for three days connecting to free wi-fi intermittently now I can actually sit down and try to organize my thoughts a bit. I have written a few previous posts about our big family trip to Croatia (these can be found under the travel/adventure tab) and we finally made it. A friend of mine commented after hearing about our mishaps that if someone had told me that all of these things would have happened I probably wouldn’t have gone. That got me thinking.

That may have been true before, but here’s where this experience has changed my thinking. We made it. It did take three days and some extra trouble but we made it. Best thing is I learned some very important things about my family.

The main thing is that my kids are awesome! They slept in places I wouldn’t have dreamed them EVER being able to. They didn’t complain. I don’t know if it’s because they didn’t know any better, they didn’t have any preconceived ideas about the trip or because they are young. But they just rolled along with it. The treat bag I had packed came in handy. The little strawberry shortcake dolls were a hit! We also had mini color books, pens and stickers. My girls did get a new stuffed animal in Vienna, but mostly I was amazed at the made up games they played in the airport. They were bears hiding in between the seats in a cave, they sat in the airport chairs playing beauty parlor and they played mermaid tag (similar to duck duck goose). I was ready to tell any evil eye givers that they’d been in an airport for just under 6 hours with no such luck. Nothing but smiles around us. :) My tip, let them be kids. Give treats, make it a special occasion. Tell them how awesome they are and that they are true travelers. Let them know you are proud of them. Let them explore the airport with you. Play I spy, tell stories, play cards. Take time to get to know them better during the time you are stranded. Make it worth while. I wouldn’t trade it now for anything.

zagreb airport sleeping 2zagreb airport sleeping

 

 

 

 

 

We worked together as a family. I do have to say that if my husband wasn’t as calm a personality as he is then I may have been more likely to freak out and not give the situation a chance and thrown in the towel then and there. Also since being stuck in Paris wouldn’t be half bad (where we missed our connecting flight). Nothing fazes this guy, I mean seriously! He just takes things as they come. Pretty amazing actually. Some of you may be like that as well. But I am not. If there is a freak out allowed to happen (meaning my kids aren’t present to witness semi bad behavior) I am likely to be the one to do it. I am learning that if I take these type of situations one small step at a time then the problem doesn’t seem as horrendous. Plus I got to eat some French food, in France, yum!! It was in the airport but I swear the Quiche was the best I have ever eaten. My daughter was sad we couldn’t make a quick trip to the Eiffel Tower, but our 11 hour mostly middle of the night stay and 6am flight time didn’t allow for that. We have made a family plan to go back ASAP. My tip, be like my husband if you can. Model calm behavior and your kids or significant other will follow. Take it one small step at a time. It will work out.

 

ferry 4to paris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As for our lost bag…We have found some tips for recovering lost luggage. We are hoping to get our bag tonight. Some tips are from the blog foxnomad.com’s post How to Prevent, Track and Recover Lost Luggage. He suggests taking a picture of your bag so you can accurately describe it to the airport lost and found. He also suggest pictures of what you pack so that if your bag isn’t recovered you have pictures to submit with your claim to insurance. We have a pic of the outside, but not the contents. We will do this next time!! Do not pack electronics such as iPad because they have a high likelihood of being stolen. Our big tip, Do not take I don’t know as an answer!! We heard that so many times in the last 3 days that we were feeling extremely frustrated. Waiting is the worst. Finally we thought to just work our way back calling all the airports and airlines we had been on to see if someone could give us some information. Both our flights on Croatian Air had no idea where our bag was. Our stop before that was Vienna on Austrian Air. My husband called the airline first and got an automated message, so he called the actual Vienna International Airport Lost and Found and got a real live clerk! This man was able to find out that our bag was in fact still in Vienna and he was able to tag it urgent and get it on the next flight to Zagreb with a connecting flight to Zadar. My husband will be at the airport in Zadar at 10pm to get our bag!! (If all goes to plan). If we hadn’t gotten any answers from Vienna our next calls would have been to Paris and then to our starting point of Seattle.

Our checked bag

Another learning point for me was about Jet Lag. It didn’t manifest in ways I thought it would. For some reason I thought we’d just be tired at the wrong times. Naïve me. Having only traveled internationally with just my husband pre kids I had been able to just sleep if needed and force myself to stay awake. I hadn’t thought I’d rally experienced Jet Lag. This trip proved much different. I was exhausted, foggy and giddy at random times not just times related to my home time zone. My kids would just fall asleep at random times. My oldest literally while eating dinner last night. Just out cold pizza on her fork. My little one fell asleep at her normal nap time in the afternoon but would have slept for hours if we hadn’t tried to wake her. Trying to do that was heartbreaking. She just kept saying I need to sleep. It had hit her. Both of them were just goofy giggly messes most of the time. There silliness and random story tellings were hilarious. They kept our spirits up for sure. We are back on a pretty good schedule with my oldest sleeping through the night and the little one waking the last two nights at 3am being hungry. after eating some small snack she goes right back to sleep. We’ll see how tonight goes. My husband and I feel pretty good today after having more of a set schedule.

zadar airport cafe audrey2zadar airport cafe nora2

 

 

 

 

 

 

This taught me that as much as I plan and have my ‘ideas’ about how anything should go I need to understand nothing is set in stone. There is room for change and even if it doesn’t go as I thought that doesn’t mean it is a failure. I am actually glad our trip went as it did. I am even more likely to take my girls all over the world now knowing that they (and we) can handle most issues we encounter!!

zadar airport cafe norazadar airport cafe audrey

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t let the ‘what if’s’ stop you from going where you wish to! You’ll miss the beauty this world has to offer! Happy Traveling!

croatia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Travel woes and whoa’s!

Traveling seems to have a mind of its own. You never know what wrench might be thrown in, but then will be surprised what skill that wrench helps you build. There are a few situations I considered travel woes, some of which I was terrified of happening. Many of those happened this trip but (whoa!) was I surprised what came of them!

1. Missing a flight. I was so afraid of this ever happening…but now that fear is gone. It happened. It made travel a bit more stressful there were a few quiet tears, but once we got a new plan there was no choice but to roll with it. Life is an adventure and there needs to be flexibility. We adapted and the world did not end as I had feared.

2. Sleeping in an airport. Airport sleeping was not high on my list. After finding ourselves in 4 airports at all hours of the day and night we learned to sleep wherever we could. Across benches, in chairs, the girls half in the stroller half out, on our laps, leaning against each other. There were no rules. We just did what we needed to do. All of us can now sleep wherever. Which brings me to number three.

3. Having no where to stay. I feared this scenerio. I am a planner and there would be no reason not to have a hotel reservation waiting for you. Except maybe when your travel plans have changed multiple times and a lightning storm has delayed a flight five hours, putting your arrival time in a new city and country at 3am. There were no taxis, busses or anywhere to walk to. We slept in the airport. Pulled our stroller right up to a bench put the girls in covered it. Shoved the bags we had (see number 4) under the bench, laid down and slept for a few hours until the airport cafe opened at 5:30 am.

4. Being the ones whose luggage gets ‘misplaced’. Waiting at the baggage claim at the end of our travel we didn’t have super high hopes our bag would make it. We had ended up on so many different flights and delays it didn’t surprise us when everyone had grabbed their luggage and we were left empty handed. There is still hope but until then we may just need to take a mini shopping trip. Souvenir clothes!

On this trip we learned to roll with what happens, be flexible, be grateful for what we have, make plans but know they can change, sleep where we could and not care what people thought of us , smile and move on. My kids were awesome. My husband was awesome. I even smiled and was kind of awesome too ;)

I saw my daughters just expect the unexpected. It was all part of the adventure for them. They thought it was exciting. All new and all okay. I was able to learn from them that life just happens and it all works out. Maybe not as planned, it may take more time, but a final destination will be reached eventually :)

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Parenting Tip: Toy clean-up

Hmmm….toys, books, crayons, stuffed animals are everywhere…if your children are anything like mine they have an amazing ability to dump baskets of toys in the 5 minutes you leave to use the bathroom.

I know that I need to remind my children to put away what they have out before they get out new toys, because they never seem to remember for themselves… ;)

Well, I’d love to tell you that your preschooler should be able to clean up their mess all by themselves, but that’s not the case. If your child is between 2-5 years old, they actually do need your help cleaning up. But! do not clean it all up yourself, ask them what they would like to pick up and then leave that for them. Encourage them to do their part while you help with the rest.

Kids love a good clean up song and there are many to choose from. We do “Clean up, clean up everybody everywhere, clean up, clean up everybody do your share.” Timers also work well, my oldest loves to try to beat the clock. She is a very speedy picker upper when she thinks she can be the ‘winner’.

If your kids are between the age 6-12 they are able to pick up their toys themselves. You are welcome to work out a system that works for you both as to how this happens. One idea is they can pick it up or they can choose for you to do it, but…your way is what is on the floor goes into a bin and they get it back in an agreed upon amount of days.

The key is to have had a family discussion about the expectations of toy clean-up and what will happen if toys are not cleaned up. Then there are no surprises and fewer tears or power struggles.

Also take a quick look at the amount of toys available for your child to get out at one time. There might be too many available. A good idea is to keep some in a closet or shelving system and rotate them in and other toys out.

What are your best tips for getting kids to help clean up their toys?

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