The Herron blog has reached post #100! To celebrate this milestone, we bring you Carter's Top 10 things in L'viv.
Although Carter cannot articulate his favorite people, places, and things in an organized fashion, we thought we would create a list of the top ten things we suspect he will miss about L'viv. Looking at L'viv through a toddler's eyes is quite different than through an adult's eyes. He could not care less about the beautiful architecture or the museums, although we have pointed out all of these things to him as part of his early cultural education. But he has really enjoyed his time here. There are several items deserving of honorable mention - mostly the people, Walter, Ewa, Jani (aka Thomas' mommy), and others, whom he has grown close to - and some other favorite places, such as the Taras Shevchenko monument which he loves to climb, the puppet theater, the lions that were displayed on Rynok Square but have now gone to sleep for the winter, conkers, and more, but here are the finalists:
10. Mushroom Ravi Place, aka Puzata Khata. Carter has been tricked by his parents into thinking that cabbage vareniki are mushroom ravioli, one of his favorite foods, so he loves to go to this restaurant and eat the ravi. Puzata Khata also children's playroom which he enjoys immensely. He even remembers that one of his bottlecaps - see #7 - is from the Mushroom Ravi Place. Every time we walk by it, he says"there's mushroom ravi place."
9. Balloons. For the first couple of weeks after our arrival in L'viv, Carter insisted that he wanted a balloon. We inexplicably could not find any. Then, suddenly, everywhere we turned, he could get a free balloon, usually from a political party or the local yogurt company. Balloons here are not knotted, but the ends are pulled around an odd piece of plastic which keeps the air from coming out (we just call these "plastics"), and these are attached to a plastic stick. These keep the balloons up in the air without helium. Carter loves playing with balloons and with the sticks. He has invented crazy games including how many balloons he can balance in the poor houseplant in our living room: "5 balloons in the plant (aka 3 balloons in the plant and 4 balloons in the plant depending on how many he has at the time)" and making letters and shapes out of the sticks.
8. Estonian Mac and Cheese. Finding toddler-friendly foods here is difficult. Children we have observed seem to be on a constant diet of cookies, candy, and chips. Carter's favorites from home were difficult to make here - no quesadillas, portabello mushroom ravioli, nutri-grain waffles. One thing we have made a lot here is macaroni and cheese on the stove (our oven does not work, as we have mentioned). Usually, this dish is synthesized with a Ukrainian-made cheese called "Estonian." Estonian cheese has been quite a staple of Carter's diet here, although the previously self-made vegetarian ("no meat") has started eating chicken and has turned into a huge sausage fan.
7. Bottlecaps. Carter has become an obsessive collector. Like Bert, Carter has discovered the joy of bottlecap collecting, and has been gathering them as fast as his parents can drink fluids. In fact, he does not like to wait until we are done, asking for them when our bottles are still half (or more) full. He likes to count them, sort them by color and size, and make the shapes of letters out of them. He also keeps close tabs on the total number: the count is now up to 62.
6. Waterfalls. Carter discovered "waterfalls" shortly after his arrival. This term is used broadly to include actual waterfalls, water from faucets, and fountains. He loves to go to the fountains on Rynok Square to determine whether or not they are on. Now, they are all off for the winter.
5. The Tramvai. He loves riding the trams, but more importantly, he loves counting every one he sees. Each day, he will assign the number one to the first tram he spies and continue to count them throughout the day.
4. The Parks. Carter and Lea spent much of their time in parks - Striisky, the duck park, Ivan Franko, and the small playground up the hill. Lea remembers spinning him around in a beautiful leaf-covered Ivan Franko Park. He has really enjoyed the playgrounds, walking in the parks, feeding birds (of course), sledding, and attempting to empty every sandbox in town.
3. The Apartment. Yes, this sounds crazy, but we asked him several times what his favorite thing is about L'viv, and he always says "the apartment." Whenever he asks why, he says: "because we're here."
2. Feeding the Birds. He has mostly fattened the pigeons in town, but he has also helped out the ducks and swans. Feeding birds was definitely his favorite activity in L'viv. After his departure Friday, they may starve.
1. Thomas. Most of all, Carter will miss his best friend. But, Thomas just arrived in his new home in Tbilisi, Georgia, and we must move on to our home as well.