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Archive for the ‘Photographs’ Category

Bon Cumpleannu a Cheli du ’92

02/09/2016

Flashback Friday

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

At 6 o’clock this morning, after a night punctuated by the bat thumping round her box like a stroppy adolescent, the dog padding incessantly back and forth from the sofa to his water bowl and odd snatches of half-sleep where I dreamt that my pillow was covered in spiders, my room was full of people and from which I eerily woke myself laughing, I just gave in and got up.

And this is the bewildering sight that met my eyes…

Whoopee! I’m Always Up for a Bit of Anarchy

But What Can It Possibly Mean?

The Thot Plickens…

The Mayor! (apparently I don’t warrant a mention even though it’s my street too, sob)

The intrigue was exacerbated by the fact that all this unexpected graffiti was in dialect, rendering most of it incomprehensible to me.

So, unable to…

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Pooch’s Pool

25/08/2016

Tired Old Tales for Thursdays

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Pooch is wilting.

This despite the fact that for the first two years of his life he lived in a country where the summer temperatures overshot 40ºc on a regular basis.

Throughout the day he flops like a moribund fish from the sofa to the cool tiled floor under my bed and back again, with his tongue hanging limply round his ankles and a look of mournful dejection on his face.

I would feel more sorry for him if it wasn’t for the fact that he also periodically throws himself into his outside bed to roast his remaining brain cell in full sunlight.

The high point of both our days are our walks down to the river, where Pooch swims around in hot pursuit of water skaters and stones whilst  I sit on a rock watching the dragonflies…

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Across the Forest and Back

14/10/2015
România

România

I didn’t know just how much I was dreading it, until earlier this year my husband brought up the subject of a return visit to Romania. My rational mind (the one I apparently leave at the back of the cupboard to gather dust for the most part) told me that it was highly unlikely the trip would be a repetition of last year’s fiasco. My irrational, anxiety-ridden (and even slightly paranoid) every-day psyche, however, was spinning me an entirely different line.

So from booking the plane tickets (we’ve been put off the idea of road trips for about the next twenty years) in May, until we got up at 4am on the 27th of September to drive to Turin airport, memories of pain, heatwaves, misery, whiffy long-drop toilets and having my child incessantly whisked away from me by in-laws I was unable to communicate with effectively, ensured the panic bubbled never far from the surface.

Ensuring she wouldn't be forgotten.

Ensuring she wouldn’t be forgotten.

The journey to Torino went suspiciously smoothly, as did the flight to Bacau, the car hire pick-up and the drive to Mother-in-law’s village. But there would be no lulling me into a false sense of security. Not a chance: things could still go tits up and the butterflies tanking around my midsection were assuring me they probably would…

But who could ever have imagined? The fatalistic lepidopterans had got themselves in an abdominal flap for no reason at all – our suspiciously smooth journey was followed by some of the most straightforwardly enjoyable seven days I have every spent away from home.

The only way to travel!

Not the hire car, sadly.

The first few were passed reacquainting Maya with her Romanian family (and reacquainting my backside with the whiffy long-drop: a surprisingly liberating experience when not crippled by serious illness), slightly awkward given that she is currently going through a clingy, anti-social phase that involves much wailing of “Muuuuuummy!” and “Muuuuuuuummy Milllllllllllllk!” whenever someone else so much as looks her way, a state of affairs that led to her Romanian family being deprived of longed-for cuddles whilst being repeatedly visually reacquainted with my breasts. Oh well.

Giro giro tondo...

Giro giro tondo…

Bigger cousins can be useful!

Bigger cousins can be useful!

Mamaia and the wheelbarrow queen...

Mamaia and the wheelbarrow queen…

Apples taste better en famille, even if cuddles are off the menu...

Apples taste sweeter en famille, even if cuddles are off the menu…

When released from familial obligations, we even managed a leisurely trip into Bacau, the nearest town. Bacau may be far from the prettiest place in Romania, but I was pleased to discover that it is home to a fantastic bookshop that enabled me to overheat my bank card and quadruple Maya’s Romanian book collection in an unstoppable orgy of literary acquisition.

Bacau is also home to A LOT of pigeons.

Bacau is also home to A LOT of pigeons.

On Day Three of our trip we hopped back in the hire car, waved goodbye to Mamaia (Romanian granny) and tootled off towards Transylvania and the lovely city of Brașov.

Brașov’s Tâmpa mountain

I would love to say that endless cultural exploration was undertaken, but we were there for less than 24 hours, it was damn cold and we are the perma-knackered parents of a small child. So it wasn’t.

But we did manage to visit the famous Biserica Neagră (Black Church), which had long been on my list of things to do.

Biserica Neagră being admired by babywearing father and ignored by his sleeping sprog.

Biserica Neagră being admired by babywearing father and roundly ignored by his sleeping sprog.

And enjoyed a relaxing wander around the genteelly attractive historical centre – so very different from the unloved scruffiness of Bacau.

Piața Sfatului (Council Square)

Piața Sfatului (Council Square)

Biserica Buna Vestire (Orthodox church) with the old fortress on the hill behind.

Biserica Buna Vestire (Orthodox church) with the old fortress on the hill behind.

For Maya, once she had woken from her sightseeing-induced nap, the highlight was without doubt the fun-filled delights to be found in Nicolae Titulescu park.

DSCF8072

Horses vs Ladybirds

DSCF8073

A dolphin slide. As you do.

Springy

And a “proper” playground!

Next stop after Brașov was Bran, and the castle now renowned the world over thanks to the bloodthirsty writings of an Irishman. With this in mind, I was relieved to find it hadn’t been turned into a tacky vampire theme park and we instead enjoyed a mooch around a very pretty (and utterly unscary) castle, whilst reading about its history and that of its inhabitants and the surrounding area. Mentions of Bram Stoker and his twisted count were restricted to one room, and were factually informative about the lives of both the writer and Vlad Țepeș (the real-life prince of Wallachia on whom the character of Dracula was loosely based), as opposed to a titillatory insight into the lives and loves of fictional bloodsuckers.

Roofs

Nowt scary about this…

stairs (a recurring theme)

Stairs (a recurring theme)

Two recurring themes combined Zzzzzz

One snoring ignorer of sights (another recurring theme)

view

A view from the castle

The next leg of the journey was the one I had most been looking forward to: in fact the prospect of two nights in the depths of the beautiful Piatra Craiului national park was almost the only thing that had kept me going during the those final few weeks of dread as the Romanian holiday loomed.

View from Măgura Village

View from Măgura Village

I had long been dying to explore the fabulously unspoilt countryside; and with a little help from my mate Google I came across the webpage of Carpathian Nature Tours. Based in a lovely little village by the name of Măgura, a German couple have created a simple but functional guesthouse (Villa Hermani) from which they offer their guests the opportunity to explore the surrounding countryside through walking tours which they run themselves, before filling them full of freshly-prepared Transylvanian cooking back at the pension.

While we didn’t opt for any of the tours on this visit, I have promised myself the luxury of returning for a longer stay when we next go to Romania. I shall definitely be dragging the Mothership along with us – there is nobody else I would rather wildlife spot with. I shall also enjoy another opportunity to brush up my smattering of German – we were the only non-Deutsch speakers in the guesthouse, which soon had me morgen-ing, danke-ing and tschüss-ing as if the nearly-twenty years since I was serving kaffee und kuchen in the restaurants of Mallorca had simply evaporated.

I also love sheep...

I love sheep…

Awake, for once!

Awake, for once!

Cabriolet piggy wagon...

Piggywagon cabriolet…

The winding drive back to Bacau was only slightly marred by my daughter chundering all over us both, necessitating a full strip down by the side of the rather busy hairpin road.

Once the smell of regurgitated stomach acid had subsided, we were able to enjoy the sights as we trundled through villages – seemingly every house selling potatoes and other products from outside their back gates. One village almost exclusively sold Kürtös Kalács (chimney cake), a lovely sweetbread baked in the Hungarian tradition.

Potatoes, anyone?

Potatoes, anyone?

DSCF8328

Or onions, perhaps?

I would certainly recommend some Kürtös Kalács...

I would certainly recommend some Kürtös Kalács…

Gypsy girls selling soft fruit.

Gypsy girls selling soft fruit.

I became rather obsessed by the wonderful wooden gates...

I became rather gate-obsessed…

It is important to add to this, however, that not everything you will see on a drive through Romania is pleasant. For all the ornate wooden gates, home-made delicacies and stunning views there are also disturbing traces of the country’s communist legacy. The abandoned farming collective buildings are harmless, but the starkly hideous and depressingly soulless apartment blocks that visually pollute almost all Romanian cities are a reminder of the life changes people had to submit to in the name of Communism.

And it was not just humans who suffered the change – those forced from self-sufficient individualism into the monotony of cramped identicality were also forced to leave behind their four-legged companions.

The legacy of this widespread and sudden abandonment can be seen almost everywhere you go, especially when close to human habitation. Packs of semi-feral dogs wander in search of food and shelter, lie listlessly at roadsides or cross them to their pitiful deaths.

Life in much of Romania is still hard, and many Romanians have neither the means, nor the culturally-imposed compulsion to concern themselves with the welfare of these hopeless canines: animals that were bred over centuries to be the companion of man, only to be kicked once again to the fringes of human existence.

A group that is trying to help where they can is the Romanian Rescue Appeal. Visit their website or their Facebook page to see what they are doing – perhaps you could even be persuaded to sponsor or adopt a pooch!

Back at the ranch...

Back at the ranch…

Our journey ended where it began; back at in the bosom of my husband’s family where we spent the last few days of our holiday enjoying the sight of Maya tentatively interacting with her cousins, granting her Mamaia the odd cuddle and generally enjoying life in the fresh clean air of the Romanian countryside.

I thoroughly enjoyed hearing my daughter’s Romanian vocabulary and comprehension increase daily, and even got a bit of practise in myself, although my 21-month old understands considerably more than I do.

Perhaps she will teach me one day.

...small concessions were made.

…small concessions were granted.

 

Having a Ball

30/06/2014

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Can't think who that could be...

Mirror mirror on the floor…

Try as I might, I cannot quite get over my disbelief that in less than two weeks I will be the mother of a burly six-month old; whilst at the same time struggling even to recall a life before this practically new baby arrived to take up the majority of my thoughts and about 99.8% of my time.

Even more curiously – whilst I am pretty certain these have been by far the most exhausting six months of my entire existence; other than keeping one small child fed, cleanish and relatively perky, I am also pretty certain that I haven’t managed to achieve anything else of any real importance.

Motherhood, it would seem, is nothing but a wily manipulator of the very concept of time, as well as being an endless serious of contradictions.

But, oh… how indescribably delicious it is all proving to be.

Hard work? Moi?

Hard work? Moi?

Our last five weeks have been spent chez la Mothership, who assures me she has been delighted (perhaps in a way only a newly fledged grandmother can be) to sacrifice the relative peace of her rural existence to the endless and noisy demands of a tiny, attention-hungry egotist.

Her recompense (other than my finely honed washing-up skills) has been the witnessing of a quite astonishing array of Maya milestones: the sudden appearance of the back-to-tummy roll only slightly marred by a periodic inability to reverse the process – frustration that leads to much slobbery, heartfelt sobbing into the play mat until our need to retain some sort of hold on our sanity obliges us to flip the pitiful creature over onto her back, only for the process to be repeated again almost immediately.

This'll be fun for at least two minutes!

Well this’ll be fun for at least two minutes!

Being in a house with two endlessly yakking women has also borne fruit, this time of a verbal nature, with a babbling stream of chat that is (I imagine) my daughter’s take on what she is hearing.

In which case it would appear that what she is hearing are two rather deaf simpletons, if decibels (lots) and content (arbuldarbundarbuldar) are an accurate reproduction of reality.

(On an idly curious note, I do wonder if the sound and rhythm of this more sophisticated pseudo-speech would have been different if it had manifested itself while we were still in Italy, where she had daily exposure to Italian and Romanian, as well as English…?)

Sadly, the odious and unloved distant cousin of conversational chitter chatter has also recently made an appearance. Yes, the trepanning squeal is here, and apparently to stay, if my desperate questioning of mothers with older tots has been answered truthfully.

Previously restful pit-stops in eateries and coffee houses are now often rushed and red-faced affairs, and to be avoided altogether on particularly squeally days.

Even my plethora of crappy plastic toys can't muffle the din!

Even my plethora of crappy plastic toys can’t muffle the din!

But it’s not all screeching and chagrin; added to the list of the rather more pleasing developments is the fact that Maya can now also sit for more extended periods of time – always providing she does not reach for a toy too far to her left or to her right, in which case she executes a slow motioned yet surprisingly ungraceful face-plant into the floor.

Just waiting for Mummy to get cocky, then I'll pitch headfirst off the sofa and ruin her day...

Just waiting for Mummy to get cocky, then I’ll pitch headfirst off the sofa and ruin her day…

But not content with almost having conquered the rolling and the sitting, she has also taken to stubbornly straightening her little dimply pins when we are attempting to lower her down, forcing whoever is doing the baby wrangling into patiently assisting with the not unimportant issue of balance as she stands there, proud and plump, until gravity and muscle exhaustion bring her back to earth with a bump.

Naturally I am thrilled with all these new developments – not least because of Maya’s unmistakable excitement at getting to grips with her world and her own dinky limbs, but if it does transpire she takes after her happily static mother (who didn’t take a step until she was 18 months old), that would be peachy too 😉

Is this walking, Mummy, is it? Is it?

Is this walking, Mummy, is it? Is it?

The entertainment value of a cheery nearly six month old is quite frankly priceless, even at witching hour.

Being woken up by fake crying that promptly turns into a gusty giggle if I sniff or cough is enough to tell me that madam simply feels at a little bit of a loose end, and reckons that a midnight cuddle and two and a half sucks at the maternal udder might be just the thing to lull her pleasantly back into the land of nod.

Unfortunately for her, she is in possession of not only a most unconvincing fake cry, but also a mother who does not consider two and a half paltry sucks at the maternal udder worth getting out of bed for. So I muffle my laughter as she manfully attempts to keep up the fakery whilst being inconveniently distracted from her mission by the fascinating patterns on her quilt, the pleasing scritch scratch of her nails on the cot mesh, her teddy’s astonishingly soft fur, and, after not too many minutes, the welcome onset of sleep…

Yippee!

Baby-led weaning, AKA – a legitimate food fight.

At our last paediatric appointment before we left Italy, the doctor informed me that at nearly four and a half months old, Maya was now old enough to start sampling solids. Of course by “solids”, she really meant purees (naturally, it being Italy, the recipes suggested did include a healthy wallop of olio di oliva and a hearty dusting of parmeggiano).

But having been witness to the unidentifiable and frankly unappetising gloop being spooned mechanically into my niece’s mouth, I decided to have a gander at this “baby-led weaning” I had heard whisper of.

Now I usually cringe unavoidably at anything possessing a fancy-pants modern parenting moniker (even when I myself am indulging in the practice) – “baby-wearing”, “co-sleeping”, “attachment parenting”, “mommy blogging”, “permissive parenting” are just some of the many descriptive titles which induce in me a perceptible shudder.

I would hazard a guess that regardless of the parenting style you adopt to raise your offspring – neglect, psychological or physical abuse being the obvious exceptions – and allowing for micro-differences in nature and nurture, the end result will be fairly similar.

And I would also hazard a guess that sticking too religiously to the concepts set down by such styles, could easily and stressfully complicate what is already a fairly daunting task.

So in the end I didn’t plump for baby-led weaning because I feel that it is a healthier or more life-affirming option for my sproglet. I have plumped for it because it just seems like a hell of a lot more fun – and who doesn’t need a little of that in their lives?

(Although I am not yet sure how I will explain it to our pediatra italiana… what on earth is the Italian for baby-led weaning??)

Glorious messes here we come!

Hmmm… what do I fancy for lunch today.

Hmmm… what do I fancy smearing in my hair for lunch today.

This is Status Viatoris, delighted to announce that a) her roof is nearly finished b) the “goodies” won the mayoral elections and c) hubby finally passed his driving theory exam! Whoopee!

 

 

 

 

 

Gone to Slush

12/05/2014

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

My days seem to have taken on a slightly drifty quality since we arrived back in Italy. I would blame it on the baby (she certainly provides excellent cover for tardiness, absence, unfinished tasks and odd smells), but I suspect that it’s really just my true nature kicking in.

After years of attempting to keep up the pretence that I seek a fascinating existence, I finally have the perfect excuse to fart around doing very little of any note – an endless succession of happy toothless smiles reassuring me that any guilt I might feel about such idleness is nothing but wasted emotion.

Qui, moi?

Qui, moi?

So time passes in a lazy haze of cuddles, storybooks, long walks, cautious exploration and mutual adoration – with the soundtrack of experimental squeals, cheerful chuckles and incomprehensible nattering that has accompanied my baby’s transformation from helpless newborn to increasingly characterful four-month old.

(It would be remiss of me not to also give mention to the poo explosions, the occasional unexplained crying – both hers and mine, the regurgitation splats that land on most of my clothing within 10 minutes of me dressing, the dearth of more than half a minute to myself at any one time, and the realisation when I leave the house that I have apparently been rendered invisible by the plump and sumptuous little creature strapped to my chest – although in all fairness, my years with Pooch should have inured me to the pain of being overlooked in favour of a more charming companion…)

You got time to burn, I got the matches...

You got time to burn? Coz I got the matches…

Being a new mamma here is certainly an experience – the Mothership was astonished to note that Italian men are just as keen to rush over for a goo goo gaa gaa as the women (most British men preferring to devour their bowler hats rather than interact with a small child).

On the downside, I am still having to work hard at ignoring the insistence of some on telling me how to care for my daughter: “Put a hat on her, there’s a breeze!” “Put some socks on her, there’s a breeze!” “She should be wearing thicker clothes, there’s a breeze!” “You shouldn’t be going for a walk with that baby, there’s a breeze!” and one of my personal favourites: “Does your husband know you brought her out in this breeze?”

Oh please don’t tell him, signora! I’m still sore from the beating I got for not having warmed his slippers…

What do you mean "underdressed"? I've got my cosy socks on, haven't I?!

What do you mean “under-dressed”? I’ve got my cosy socks on, haven’t I?!

I’m also getting it in the neck on a daily basis for the sling, although it quickly became apparent that the pressure to trundle Maya around in a pushchair as opposed to attached to me, has rather more to do with people’s desire to get handsy with her, than any real concern for her well-being.

Many dive in anyway, huffing breathily into my cleavage and grabbing at my spare tyres in their eagerness to lay claim to a beaming grin or force a finger into the gratifying grip of a fat little fist, while I attempt to repress the very British desire for personal space that threatens to bubble out in a blur of aggressively wielded elbows and a swift knee to the groin.

Hanging with Mummy

I’m the only one allowed in Mummy’s personal space, ‘cept perhaps Daddy…

Repressed crossness with an overenthusiastic fan club notwithstanding, overall this is proving to be a magical time.

I never anticipated just how quickly the helpless eating/sleeping/crying stage would morph into something hugely much more entertaining, and I am now captivated by my daughter launching herself with joyful excitement at each new developmental milestone.

The fragile little soul that lay obediently on her playmat until someone saw fit to move her, now throws her way vigorously around the floor with kicks and semi-rolls, frequently parting company with the mat altogether to end up partially wedged under the surrounding furniture.

(No need to panic – we usually manage to hoik her back out before the dust bunnies can get at her.)

Help! The dust bunnies are nibbling my toes!

Heeeeelp! The dust bunnies are nibbling on my toes!

Feeds are interrupted every few sucks with an unmistakable demand to be sat up so she can check nothing exciting is escaping her notice, and even if the view that greets her remains unchanged from the previous inspection, it doesn’t seem to dent her delighted surprise at being faced with it again.

Vocal chords that previously only served to utter monotonous complaints, have stretched to accommodate a spectrum of sounds and volumes ranging from giggles to gusty belly laughs through shrieks and shouts to chatter so conversational that it almost makes me believe we are really communicating.

(I have been told that bringing up a child in multiple languages can make for late speech development. And as I natter away to her primarily in English, hubby in Romanian and most everyone else she comes across at the moment in Italian, I will raise my hat to her if she manages to produce a coherent sentence before puberty.)

You can look, but you can't touch!

I are cute, but confused!

But all this change does bring with it a pang of worry that everything is going by far too fast, that so many delightful moments will be forgotten as she learns and grows.

So at the expense of those readers who would rather eat their headgear than read stuff about children, I am simply going to have to record those moments here from time to time:

Chuckles of hungry excitement at glimpsing an approaching boob – dimpled arms reaching up to guide it home, little mouth pursed into an “O” of welcoming anticipation.

Being woken at 6 in the morning by her chattering and laughing to the teddies in her cot.

Little fingers tracing lazy patterns on my breast as she feeds, playing with my shirt buttons, catching at my necklace – smiling eyes never leaving mine.

Taking a hank of my hair in each hand for added stability whenever I carry her in my arms.

Cooing meditatively at the trees we pass on our daily walks, before resting a chubby cheek on my breastbone and dozing off.

The fist-sucking, body-contorting, fussing and squalling fight she puts up every other time her body clock tries to lull her into having a nap.

The constant and enthusiastic squealing that goes with us lying on our backs reading a book – not forgetting the over excited fist in the eye I get with every page turn.

Kisses to her cheek that she ambushes and turns into drooly, gummy, open-mouthed and milky-breathed declarations of love pressed to my grateful skin.

I am in love.

Just hanging out...

Just hanging out…

This is Status Viatoris who would just like to say – Hang in there, Folks! It’s election time in My Little Italian Village, and the political intrigue is more hot than not… will be digging the dirt for my next post, in Italy!

Home from Home

28/03/2014

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Maya samples budget transport...

Maya voices her opinions on budget travel…

Well, Maya and I finally made it back to Italy where we were duly greeted with much affection and a kind, if unfortunate, deluge of pastel-pink velour.

Pastel pink is just not my daughter’s colour.

Ok, ok. It’s not my colour. And while she’s still small and relatively malleable, I exercise my parental right to deck her in the hues of my delectation – with nary a pastel tone, nor a bow or frill, nor a single cutesy wootsey fluffy image of what society seems to think little girls should represent.

Which might well be why many Italians are wrongly identifying her as a boy (luckily for me, and my belligerent stance against gender pigeon-holing, she couldn’t care less about that… at least not yet).

The only non-pink offering. As you can tell, she's not entirely convinced...

The only non-pink offering. Note she’s still far from convinced by the sheer fluffy bunnyness of this get-up…

Our eventual return to la vita italiana was precipitated, not by the joyous installation of a brand new roof, but by a husband and father who – understandably after five long months and still no apparent end in sight – got thoroughly sick of being without his newly-minted little family.

But as Sod’s Law would have it, and as indeed I had predicted many moons before, the permission to get our roof replaced came through almost as soon as we had finally given up waiting and hoping: in fact on the very day the Mothership, Baby and I flew out of Luton Airport…

The relief after so many months of evasiveness and obfuscation (them), frustration and despair (us) is almost impossible to describe. So, it is with fingers, toes, legs, arms and eyes crossed, that we can now tentatively assume the leaky lid will at last be lifted from our living quarters sometime in late spring.

That would be late spring of THIS year, Provincia di Imperia, do you hear me?

Baby-in-the-nuddy pink? Now THAT is a pink we both heartily approve of...

Baby-in-the-nuddy pink? Now THAT is a pink we both heartily approve of…

Maya is adapting well to Italian living.

The clucking concern about her being horribly under-dressed – hypothermia is apparently but a cotton vest away (she’d be so much cosier in pink velour), suffocated by her sling, and traumatised by her backward-facing back-seat car seat, must be a reassuring indication that here her interests will always be defended; even as the grindings from her mother’s pearly whites float down into the dandelion-fluff of her hair.

The first question on all Italian lips seems to be: Are you breastfeeding? Or as they rather clunkily put it: Are you giving her your own milk?

To which the answer is unfailingly: Yes, and lots of it.

Frustrations over sodden nightwear and chafed nipples aside, I find breastfeeding to be an absolute joy – especially now the dinky diner has entered that charming stage of staring adoringly up into my eyes as she guzzles; occasionally breaking suction in order to further wow me with a beaming milky grin.

I've been spotted!

Ooops! I appear to have been spotted…

We have become unabashed public feeders (always doing our utmost not to flash possibly prudish bystanders with unacceptable levels of bare boob, naturally). Maya has now noshed on a train, on a plane, in a train station and in an airport, on a bus, in many and varied cafés and restaurants, in public offices, in a curtain shop and even walking down the busy shopping street of a swanky coastal resort.

She has also weed on a desk of the local Fiat dealership, but that, dear Readers, is a story for another day…

Some of the older residents of My Little Italian Village are obviously slightly baffled by my sling-wearing, gender-ambiguous, meteorologically-unconcerned approach to motherhood in a place where prams appropriately decked with either pale pink or pale blue tend to contain infants bundled like Eskimos against those dreaded colpi d’aria.

And the younger mothers couldn’t help but express their astonishment when I declared my allegiance to washable nappies. All that extra lavoro! I must be completely fuori di testa!

Pocket nappies ahoy!

Pocket nappies ahoy!

But I honestly don’t find the additional maintenance to be all that onerous – rinsing off a bit of poo and setting the washing machine to a cool wash every three days seems pretty simple when coupled with the satisfaction of not having contributed to the grotesque state of our landfills.

Plus they are wonderfully colourful and give my daughter the most squeezably plumped-up backside you could possibly imagine.

What’s not to like?!

This Living business is exhausting

Life is pretty exhausting when you’re only ten weeks old…

Another frequent question – and one I sometimes sense may be laced with a certain amount of sympathy-masked glee – is how we are sleeping.

She’ll be keeping you awake all night, I imagine?

Pacing the tiles from dusk to dawn with a squealing bundle in your arms, are you?

And for the first couple of weeks that’s exactly what happened, but as we approach the three-month mark I am hugely grateful to be able to announce that (at least for the time being) we have a baby who seems to have grasped that nighttime is for trundling off to the Land of Nod.

With just a little encouragement, and a tummy full of warm milk, she currently goes down at about half past seven every evening, waking for two or three dozy snacks during the night before finally rejoining full wakefulness any time from about half past seven in the morning.

Long may it last.

A sneaky doze on the Mothership is what's required...

A sneaky doze on the Mothership is what’s required…

So Life trundles on, with me still alternately overjoyed and petrified by the weight of my new responsibilities; not wanting to take them either too seriously, nor too lightly. Trying to continue being An Independent Woman, but whilst losing myself in the gloriously fascinating changes that mark Maya’s development with every passing day.

I helplessly confess to it: I’m having a blast. But as the nth nosy neighbour asks me if I’m expecting baby number two, it is brought to my uncomfortable attention that there are some things this Mummy has to set her mind to doing just for her…

Hey ho, it’s time to put the bikkies away and get out those trainers!

This is Status Viatoris, heading off to hang out a horde of vibrant crap-catchers and shockingly non-pink baby garments on her sun-drenched washing line, in Italy.

Where oh Where Does All the Time Go?

27/02/2014

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Thoughtfullness...

Thoughtfullness…

I am only too aware that my posts have not only become pitifully sporadic, but that their recent content is also yawn-inducingly repetitious.

What can I say? My daily life has been reduced to the dietary and waste disposal requirements of a 3.66kg, 50cm being – and it doesn’t leave an awful lot of time for philosophical ponderation, observational rumination or even an uninterrupted couple of hours in the company of a good book…

However I would most certainly be lying if I said that I minded even a little bit.

For a newborn baby, as part of its clever armoury of evolutionary tricks to lure unsuspecting adult humans into providing for and protecting it, exerts a positively hypnotic effect on all but the most hardened characters. And if you happen to share genetic material with the tiny scrap, then surrender now; for you haven’t a hope of escaping the magnetism.

Snooziness...

Snooziness…

Awake or asleep; ever-changing facial expressions (babies are the world’s most natural gurners), fleetingly angelic smiles and astonishingly whirly limbs provide a constant source of entertainment – effortlessly filling the hours between the cuddling, the comforting, the feeding, the burping and the mopping up of possets, poo and pee.

In fact, as befits the modern middle-class mother (according to all the lit-rit-chur on the subject, anyhow), it would appear that my daughter has unwittingly become my brand new project.

With no immediate plans for learning a new language, moving to a new country, trying out a new career, attempting a new e-book, or even a diet; my goals are now frighteningly baby-oriented: tummy-time to ensure Maya has a strong neck and good balance, plenty of music, storybooks, conversation and visual stimulus to ensure Maya’s brain synapses start connecting the dots, an hour or two a day in the fresh air to set up Maya’s body clock and enable her to sleep better at night, and at least half an hour of skin-to-skin contact every day to reinforce Maya’s bond with her mother (moi) and help boost her immune system…

And whilst I didn’t go so far as to fry up the afterbirth, I don’t intend to  breastfeed her up to the age of five, and I even occasionally allow other people to hold her; in most other aspects it would appear that despite my best intentions I have lost myself happily in the all-consuming minutiae of proactive mothering.

At least for the moment.

Baby orangutangness...

Baby orangutangness…

But its not all dimply smiles and talc-scented cuddles. No; there are hidden dangers in this world of baby wrangling:

Boobs, for example, that sprout milk leaks in places other than the conventional nipple tip; liberally soaking unsuspecting babies, clothes and bedsheets alike.

Nipple tips that suddenly go white and burn as if some unkind soul is holding a match to them – the only solution being to tug them from their restraints and leave them bobbing free until the blood flow returns. (Apparently, in the Western world, this is not a socially acceptable thing to do in public places 😦 )

Caesarean scars that get infected, requiring antibiotics, which give the baby oral thrush, which in turn gives you nipple thrush (ex-cur-rooooo-shee-ate-ing), which in turn gives you mastitis (in-des-cry-bab-lee ex-cur-rooooooooooo-shee-ate-ing), which in turn requires more antibiotics.

Babies that wait until you have placed a new nappy under them before shooting out a high-speed squirt of poo over nappy, changing mat, table and beyond. You laboriously clean that up, place a new nappy under little pink bum, and then sit back to watch a fountain of pee soak nappy, changing mat, babygrow and most other things in the vicinity. Sigh. And repeat.

Babies that have fussed frustratingly at the breast all day, only to regurgitate their one hard-won and satisfactorily thorough feed down your back after a particularly aggressive hiccough – just as you were preparing to go somewhere, and when you are already horribly late – before succumbing to hysteria as they realise that at least half the contents of their tiny stomachs has been forcibly and snottily ejected via their even tinier nostrils.

And then of course there’s the crying for no discernible reason: she’s fed, she’s changed, she’s been played with and cuddled – but nothing, absolutely nothing, is right. You throw your hands despairingly to the sky and think about throwing the towel despairingly in (only a very very bad mother can’t soothe the fruit of her loins, surely?) when suddenly the sun comes out and all is just as inexplicably peachy once again…

Sunniness...

Sunniness…

…until the next time.

This is Status Viatoris, hoping this particular project doesn’t lose its appeal after a few years as has happened with most of her past ventures… 😉

Maya

24/01/2014

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Home at last

Home at last

I have been trying to write a blog post for a number of days now, but something always seems to crop up at the most inopportune moments.

Beatific - for a moment, at least...

Beatific – for a moment, at least…

And that something goes by the name of Maya.

Daddy's onesie - a temporary alternative to Daddy himself

Daddy’s onesie – a temporary alternative to Daddy himself

The reason I no longer have five minutes to myself, can barely string together a coherent sentence and am lugging around udders that would do Daisy the Cow proud, finally made an appearance on Friday 10th of January at 21h32 after a fifteen hour labour followed by an emergency caesarean section, and weighed in at a modest 2.56kg.

A lady always crosses her legs

Even the littlest of ladies should always cross her legs…

And as soon as I manage to snatch an hour to myself (ha ha ha), I shall offer up the warts n’ all birth story – why the grimace? sharing is caring, don’t you know… 😉 But for the moment I leave you with a few photos of the new arrival, and the unsurprising news that I am exhausted but exhilarated, terrified by my new responsibilities but bursting with excitement about what the future may bring.

Also comes with eyes!

Also comes with eyes!

This is Status Viatoris: no longer just a Modern Day Nomad, now also Mummy to a tiny daughter. Who’d a thunk it…

Plodding Towards the Finish Line

11/12/2013

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

I honestly never believed I would be a mother.

In fact, having made peace with the unlikelihood of ever meeting a suitable life partner; a future filled with foreign languages, travel, writing and the occasional empowering but short-lived sexual fling with a modest succession of mysterious strangers came to seem like a pretty reasonable alternative to family life.

So it is with repeated and overwhelming surprise that I greet the swollen, irrefutable evidence of how very much things have changed each time I happen to cast my eyes feet-wards.

The Incredible Bulk

The Incredible Bulk

I am full of baby. How wonderfully barmy and improbable that feels.

And the side effects no less so; one of the most unexpected being that I have at long last made peace with this lumpy, bumpy body of mine.

Such a visually unimpressive mishmash of flesh, bone, fat and sinew which has caused me nothing but shame and regret for so many years finally seems to have come into its own as it goes about, without any apparent help or guidance, building a brand new human being.

A little person, who despite having been gifted half of my DNA and lent the use of my innards for almost nine months, is already an individual in its own right; hardwired with its own personal strengths, weaknesses, preferences and potential for opinion.

In fact as I feel the determined kicks, wiggles and stretches – perhaps the most bizarre, occasionally unsettling but often wondrous, aspect of late pregnancy – I find it hard to imagine that this creature, so apparently purposeful and in control of its destiny, will pop out of me as vulnerable and helpless as any other newborn.

(Although in retrospect, if it instead popped out and strolled from the room in search of coffee and a newspaper, that might be more disconcerting…)

Having largely managed to avoid the whole preparing-for-motherhood behemoth so popular in the UK (I’m utterly intimidated by those gangs of pregnant women and/or new mums often to be found lurking in Starbucks et al) my midwife recently ordered me, on pain of anesthetic-free episiotomy stitches, to attend at least one antenatal meeting.

A meeting in which a group of fat, knackered-looking “ladies” with bumps of all dimensions, sat around in increasing horror as it was explained how best we could assist our poor bodies in expelling their oversized burdens, and what drugs (not as many as I had hoped) would be on offer to us in the event of the whole unlovely process smarting a tad.

Naturally there are always those who loudly declare their intention to eshew any type of pain-relief – does wanting to really feel the burn mean you will be a better class of mother? These declarations certainly release a sort of smugness into the air which is indicative of such an opinion.

Which would therefore mean that I am destined to be a pretty crap parent, given that I would be more than happy to take a needle to the back if it all gets too much.

The conversation then moved on to breastfeeding, another touchy topic offering mammas-to-be a hint of the ruthlessness of future motherhood-related peer pressure…

Personally, I do want to breastfeed: even as I recoil from stories of cracked nipples, mastitis, and dodgy latches, I still find myself hugely looking forward to those intimate moments with my child.

Going the boob route also seems (to the lazy layperson, me) to be a far more convenient arrangement than faffing around with tubs of powder, bottles, teats, sterilisers and microwaves at 2 o’clock in the morning.

And as for the miserly layperson (me, again), she is very much swayed by the lack of any financial implication involved in swinging her breasts around.

But all in all I feel that it is a matter of personal choice, and not a potential guilt-stick with which to belabour women already made vulnerable by the physically and emotionally arduous impact of pregnancy and childbirth.

In fact I know plenty of people – the Mothership, my lovely husband, and all of his siblings to name but a few – who were not breastfed. And who all enjoy health far more robust than my own boob-nourished, asthma-riddled, allergy-beleaguered, sinusitis-whipped, IBS-slapped, migraine-mangled-immune-system-of-a-newborn-kitten.

Hmmm…

Drug-free birth, only breast milk will do – could this be just the tip of the iceberg in the game of guilt-ridden parenthood chess??

This is Status Viatoris, thirty-five weeks and counting (and hoping and praying and loudly pleading with sproglet not to leave her trapped in this penguin-waddling, back-aching hell for too much longer)… 🙂

Another Sort of Twitter

14/06/2013

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

It’s that time of year again.

The time of year when I have to try, but usually fail, to keep my cool as I ask people to please, please, please LEAVE BABY BIRDS WHERE YOU FIND THEM!

It’s the great irony of human nature that vast numbers of human beings plod through life utterly oblivious to the life cycles of the creatures with which they share their ecosystem; unable even to name the most common of the feathered songsters that provide the soundtrack to our daily lives; clueless as to the whys or wherefores of their frenetic springtime activities.

And yet, upon coming across a newly fledged emergent sitting around minding its own business waiting for mum or dad to bring it a worm or a seed or a wriggly insect or two, an ornithological expert is miraculously born.

So year after year I am forced to watch, as the undoubtedly well-meaning but indisputably ignorant, cart baby wrens, house martins, great tits, sparrows and the rest off to a future where their chances of survival have been slashed from already-fraught-but-at-least-mum-and-dad-have-got-my-back, to nil.

Sure enough, within a few days of being force-fed unnatural food in a highly stressful and unnatural environment, a small feathered corpse will be winging its way to a nearby dumpster.

Having verbally tussled with friends and neighbours on the subject – and got precisely nowhere – I was sad but resigned when some local girls brought me my very own little sparrow just a few days ago.

Beginning its numbered days...

Beginning its numbered days…

Two days of suet pellets, bits of dried mealworm and an assortment of seeds were not enough to appease the agitated mite, whose only goal was to get back to the place from which it had been “rescued” – an environment for which the basic rules of survival have been written into its DNA.

A stiff little body at the bottom of a poo-stained cardboard prison was the pitiful result.

Life is a bitch. Baby birds die – that’s why the adult birds tend to lay a clutch rather than a solitary egg – but their already slim chances of survival are vastly reduced by human interference, however well-intentioned.

So, at risk of making myself very unpopular, I shall continue to harp on to my friends and neighbours – urging them to by all means move exposed baby birds to the safety of a nearby bush or hidey-hole, but just not to take them home. Their parents will be looking out for them: they will run themselves ragged and tatty bringing food to their young until they are fully independent.

That’s what parents do, and nature should never be underestimated.

This is Status Viatoris, a soap box for every occasion and boy what a collection I have amassed over the years, in Italy.


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