Well folks, it’s already the middle of October and the mornings have officially veered into “crispy” territory. The longer between posts, the harder it is to write because I feel like I have to catch the reader up on everything, but I also know that just writing is better than nothing at all, so here I am, talking about the summer our baby was one year old and what a special summer it was.
July started off beautifully with our first visit to KVIFF (Karlovy Vary International Film Festival) as a family, complete with dog and baby. It was also our first festival after the pandemic, mostly because Alex wisely vetoed going when the baby was less than a month old. Obviously the baby and dog didn’t go to any films but we had no problem switching off while the other adult enjoyed the warm weather and fun festival atmosphere. Like many things attempted this summer that once sounded ridiculous: it was one-hundred percent worth it!
On the train to KV (below) I was a little bit nervous at how much of a handful traveling with a twelve month old would be. (This was clearly before our transatlantic travels! I’ve definitely gotten over any fear of long travel at this point!)
A film festival vacation certainly isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time but I’m thankful it definitely is for both of us! This year’s festival brought to you by all those cans of free Nescafé beverages, all the fun zones to hang out in, seeing a quite respectable amount of films (Past Lives and Restore Point being pretty memorable) and stealing moments of beautiful alone time here and there. I already can’t wait for next year! They actually do have a little daycare for children 18 months and older and screen some children’s films as well! I feel heartened knowing the festival can also be very family friendly.
The next weeks in July after the festival we had a long, terrible heatwave (ugh) which I found especially stressful because of Mouse’s sleep and not wanting him to overheat in a sweaty house. Also, it was my introduction to the official toddler age: learning how to open cabinets and thinking, “you know what? This is a September problem” so we all flew to Washington state – baby’s first overseas flight! I’d love to do an entire post on how the flight went so I’ll save most of the details for then, but it is totally not as bad as you think. Here I was, thinking I was going to have an active toddler on my lap for a ten hour flight and I completely forgot that babies sleep too. Of course they do! Especially our little guy.
Every year, to us on a teacher’s schedule, summer feels like accelerated living, like we’re just all holding out for those sweet, fleeting months from which all the good things flow forth. This summer in particular, the first trip to the USA with our Mouse felt like the summer of “more of everything”. I would’ve never thought that could be true, but it was! More of all of the best things about life. I consciously had lowered my expectations, having a one-year-old and all but with over seven weeks in Washington and Michigan, we managed to do all the best and favorite things. Beach and lake days, trivia bar nights, date afternoons at the cinema (saw two movies!), just the right amount of good American television and not too much, singing along to classic rock on the car stereo, countless instances of Thai food. We camped twice with our little one and he did wonderfully! Saw a handful of good friends.
We did not visit Tennessee, as we had planned to at the end of the trip because two weeks in, I got the shocking news that my dad had passed away — he had a heart attack as a complication of the cancer his body had been battling off and on for the last three years. It hurt to be one month too late to visit him after not seeing him for so long. So close to meeting his first grandchild. He was really proud to be a grandpa. I was really glad to be home in Washington and around my immediate family at that time. It would’ve felt even worse being halfway across the world, almost certainly. Still there is not as much closure as there could’ve otherwise been and sometimes my mind goes to the “what if?” place. As it was, I was in my childhood home we shared, out on the water amongst the island we had sailed around. I knew that to be one of his favorite things and it made me feel closer to him.
We had a quick week in eastern Michigan at the end of the trip and were “treated” to all types of weather that could even be possible and probably the worst mosquitos of my entire life. Still, it was worth it to be there for the first time after the pandemic and see all the friends and family we have missed very much, and the good people at British Airways understood my situation and very kindly changed our flight so we could fly out of Detroit instead of Chattanooga (Tennessee). I have nothing but love for flying British Airways.
My favorite things about the summer were, of course, being around family and friends and many of them meeting our baby! As there is so much, here are some other random things I love this summer…
Delighting in the product selection in American grocery stores and seeing what’s new since last time – it is truly so good. If I could pick in choose certain things to make up a “perfect life” it would be PNW nature, the walkability and ease of life in the Czech Republic… and American goods.
Library story-times in the park with Mouse on sun-drenched, hot summer days were a real “who’s who” of all the millennial-aged parents in my hometown! They are so much fun.
Walking to the lake from the house in fifteen minutes. I mean. Talk about something I took for granted my entire youth!
Introducing Mouse to beaches, waves, and water – he loved playing with the pebbles and we are still finding them in random pockets of our diaper bag. One child handed him a kelp once when he was done playing, like “here you go”.
Mouse cheering us all up on sad days – he is such a beacon of light and joy. (Above, on a day I really needed a hug… my favorite photo of the entire summer, I think)
Our beautiful family weekend in Ballard (district of Seattle I lived in right before ~all of this~) and hanging out at all our favorite places we loved when were had just started dating… and it all felt like yesterday.
Dragging everyone to the UW campus (my alma mater) so I could go visit all my favorite spots after so many years. It was truly one of the more surreal moments of my entire life, to be honest, to bring my baby there.
A woman telling me “thank you for your music” at a karaoke night <3
All the Hello Fresh meals and us all taking turns to prepare them! They are so fun.
Driving for the first time with your baby in the backseat!!! Was not prepared for that sort of nervousness and anxiety. Fortunately that feeling subsided a bit over the weeks to follow.
Boating with good friends in the islands! Nothing like a gin and tonic on the beach, is there.
Drinking Caffe Vita coffee while camping in the islands sure felt like a luxury! There’s camping… and then there’s camping with access to delicious pizzas and good coffee.
Loop walks and hikes with our borrowed hiking carrier. Another thing it takes coming from a different continent to notice: how good and fresh it smells even walking around my neighborhood. All of those trees. Old-growth forest right in the backyard. It’s truly unbelievable. Would you believe me if I told you the below photo was taken right behind the house?
Enjoying Arts Fest with my family & soaking up all the local artists I have missed so much!
Mornings of doing my yoga practice outside. The only way to do yoga (if you have the option) which normally I soooo do not.
How sweet life is with an adorable one-year-old and the new tricks he’s learned this summer.
A summer of joy, sadness, light, luck, gratitude. I have a lot of thoughts but it’s certainly for a future post.
I hope you had a wonderful summer too full of all the best things and life and will see you in this space (hopefully!) a bit this autumn.