Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Toads and Other Spring Adventures

Sunday hike. Raffi was very proud to be wearing his own backpack. (Thank you for the awesome little ladybug backpack, Morwenna!)

Our destination on that fine, sunny day.

Some leaves were moving in a corner of the playground. When I lifted them, I found these mating toads. First time I've seen this. Glad I had my camera!

Frog eggs. Laid in the same tiny pond every year. Nature's calendar.

Wild chives growing on the side of the hiking trail. Raffi tasting lungwort blossoms.

Exploring a big, magnificent playground in Tulln.

Peek-A-Boo! Hello, Spring!

This season is renewing my gratitude for a life in the countryside. I am so grateful to be able to share all of these tiny wonders with my son. 

Today we wandered around the woods, birds singing, warm breezes. Raffi threw stones down the side of the hill and picked flowers; stomped in shallow puddles and watched a furry caterpillar crawl in the palm of my hand. It feels like the ultimate luxury to walk down a sunny forest path aimlessly, with little snacks and a bottle of water, and tree stumps to rest on. My heart is so happy when I think that we have many more such days ahead!


P.S. The frog eggs in the same pond in past years here, and here.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A String Of Perfect Moments

Friends: February and March were incredibly difficult months for me. The worst since the loss of our first baby.  

So this current string of perfect moments and days has come as a complete surprise. 

Rafael is one-and-a-half now, and this is funnest I have ever had with him. His character has blossomed, and every morning I wake up excited about the day ahead. 

The most wonderful part of life right now is the realization that Rafael loves nature as much as I do. Now that it is warmer, we spend many hours outdoors, and while I snap photos and the dogs sniff and prance around the path, Raffi clamors onto tree stumps, lets little stones sift through his fingers, jabs at bushes with sticks, and asks me what everything is called. 

It's incredible how much joy we both get out of discovering caterpillars, bugs, and salamanders. The fact that he crouches close and listens intently when I show him a wild herb or flower makes my heart burst. He now knows and identifies wild ramsons, liverwort, and anemones. When I tell him we are heading into the woods, he asks, "Lungenkraut? Salamander? Baerlauch?" ("Lungwort? Salamander? Ramsons?") And I say "Yes!"

I don't know why his enthusiasm for nature surprises me but it does. Since he is verbally advanced for his age, it's added fun to hear him say the names of wild plants and critters. And then I start imagining what the years ahead will be like....having my little companion with me, pointing out plants and animals. Collecting fallen nests, feathers, berries, heart-shaped stones, acorns and wild edibles.

When Rafael was between 15 and 17 months of age, every day was incredibly exhausting and being a parent just felt like WORK. Now, each day feels like PLAY, and we are having so much fun.

Isn't it amazing how life gives you ups and downs? Gives gifts and takes away? How you can feel like you are drowning one moment, like your life is upside down and you don't even know who you are or where you belong....and you wonder how long this pain and upheaval will last (you feel like it will last forever). And then one day you realize, you are OK again, you can breath again, your feet are planted firmly on the ground and your heart isn't aching anymore.

Spring, and my little boy, are helping me smile.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

If Ever I'm A Mother In Law....

If ever I'm a mother-in-law, I vow to....

1. Be happy for my son because he is happy, even if his 'happy life' looks different than I expected or perhaps secretly hoped for.

2. Respect his choice of partner.

3. Dedicate time, love, and interest to his children, which will mean automatically helping him and his wife have time for themselves.

4. Support him and his wife in the way they raise their children, including methods and choices different from those I made.

5. Keep an open line of communication with his wife, and let her know that she is like a daughter to me.

6. Pay attention to the needs and wants of him and his wife, being there when they need me and giving them space when they need space.

7. Make sure my husband is included in the time we spend with our grandkids.

8. Be careful not to favor any grandchildren, and be sure to spread my time and attention evenly. 

9. Only give advice if I am asked for my advice. 

10. Only give my opinion when I am asked for my opinion.

Can you guess the things I've been frustrated with lately?


Monday, April 1, 2013

Cold Spring

Happy Spring everyone! We are still covered in blankets of snow here in the Austrian countryside. It's been such a long, long winter. You all know I love the seasons, but I have had quite enough of being cold. The first wild ramsons sprouted during a row of warm days, but are now covered in snow again. Rafael and the dogs enjoy playing in snowdrifts, so I try to find joy in watching their enthusiasm. 

We are struggling a bit with the time change. Isn't it something we would all be better off without? 

So many trees were cut along our favorite way in the woods. I know they only do it when it's necessary, and the stacks of branches and logs flanking the path look beautiful, but I still mourn for the trees and wonder if any critters lost their homes.

I hope spring is blossoming wherever you are! And that it will shine it's bright colors and sunshine on us soon.



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