If you’ve been following us for a while, then you’ve probably heard about a beautiful little girl called Otja, who got her name after our very own rabbit from the Pine Forest. It’s been a while since we last saw her though — she visited our studio with her mom back in the summer of 2018. She’s now 17 months old and we’ve been wondering what she’s up to these days and whether she’s gotten even cuter during our time apart (the answer, as you can see from the pictures, is a resounding yes). We’ve decided to get in touch with her mom and dad — Tea and Igor — who kindly invited us over to their recently refurbished place in Ljubljana for a cup of tea.
Upon our arrival, the smiling family greeted us at the door and welcomed us to their cosy apartment. But as we said our hellos and walked through the door, Otja started crying. Oh no! What a bad way to start our little get together. Fortunately, we had thought ahead — we brought some chocolates and carefully handed them to Otja. We held our breaths as she accepted the gift with curious grace, her tears stopping instantly. We let out a sigh of relief — crisis avoided, phew! Tea and Igor then invited us into their pleasant living room, where we got comfy, sipped some hot tea and started talking.
Tea began by telling us that she had met Igor while swing dancing. This is something they both love, but have lately been so busy being parents that they just haven’t found the time for it. “We’re definitely planning on going dancing again — very soon,” Tea assured us, and we nodded supportively. All this was fine and dandy, but we became increasingly curious about the youngest (and cutest) member of the family — so we began to ask some more questions.
What can you tell us about this little cutie-pie?
Tea: This is our little rascal Otja. She’s very lively — she’s probably only still while she’s asleep.
Could you tell us a little bit about why you named her Otja?
Igor: That’s the most important part! (laughs)
Tea: At first we were going to name her Ula — it was really the only name we both liked and agreed upon. But, as I was scrolling through social media, I kept seeing a lot of posts by Little Otja. And the name stuck with me — it had a nice ring to it and I kept thinking about it. At first, we weren’t sure if it was even a real name or not. One day we were in a bookstore and found this big book of names. We said to ourselves: “OK, if it’s in here, we’re going for it!” And sure enough — there it was.
Igor: It came as a bit of a surprise to our relatives, who were all expecting Ula.
Well, we think Otja suits her just perfectly.
Igor: Yeah, we agree. We can’t imagine her being called anything else now.
Anyway, how would you describe your lifestyle?
Tea: It’s really changed since Otja came along. We’ve had an active lifestyle before, but we always managed to find some time to relax. Well, not anymore. Now it’s just non-stop action, all day long.
Igor: It’s hard to find someone to babysit. Our parents live out of town, so we have to put in a bit more effort in order to coordinate things.
Do you find time for any hobbies?
Igor: When I get some time off work and I’m home alone, I use it to clean around the house or go do some sports. And I got an acoustic guitar for my 30th birthday, so I try and play a little bit. I played as a kid, but I’ve forgotten a lot of it. I practice in Otja’s room — so I don’t bother the neighbours too much. (laughs)
Tea: As for me, I try to go out with my friends for an hour or two every now and then. Sometimes I bring Otja with me — it’s never a problem as I always like having her around.
What are your favorite weekend activities?
Tea: We like to go hiking or we go for a stroll around the old town. We get some coffee, while Otja falls asleep in her carriage. Of course, she wakes up by the time the coffee arrives, and then it’s party time! (laughs)
Which places do you like going to?
Cafetino for coffee, Vigo for ice cream. And Dabuda for lunch. And that’s it! These are our top three favorites.
As we were talking, Otja opened a kitchen drawer and started taking out pots, pans and tin cans. She then brought the cans to everybody present, distributing them among her guests.
Thank you very much, Otja. Does she do anything similar when you’re out and about?
Igor: I just have to say that I’m really proud of her, no matter what she does in public. The more embarrassing it is for me, the happier I am, really.
Tea: She observes people when we go shopping, for example. If someone is sitting on a bench she goes right up to them, admires them and doesn’t want to leave.
Now tell us a bit about your home. How did you approach decorating it?
Tea: Basically it’s like playing the Sims, only in real life. We add a piece here, we add a piece there, and then we see whether we like it or not. Then we add another piece and so on. That’s pretty much how we arrived at our current arrangement.
You said you’ve renovated the entire place?
Tea: Yes, except the kitchen and the bathroom. That’s why the bathroom is so black, and the kitchen is so — orange.
What are you planning on doing next?
Tea: We’re planning on getting a new kitchen this summer and making the space more open.
Meanwhile, Otja was still giving out cans of food. Some of us got corn, others received canned tomatoes. Some were even lucky enough to get both.
Are there any particular items that you really like and want to point out?
When it comes to details, we like local products. We have this lovely picture by Rob Svenšek. The wreath is by Sanjski šopek — they made it for a photoshoot I had while I was pregnant. Those pots over there are from Klavdija Zupanc, and we also have a print from Nina Kovačič.
We have some cups from JNŽ ceramics, she’s from Ljubljana. We appreciate these sort of things — pretty, well-made local products. The pillows and bedding in Otja’s room were made by MU - Mala Ustvarjalnica.
Is the dining table custom made?
Tea: Yes, it was made locally in the city of Maribor. We wanted this type of table but couldn’t find one anywhere, so we ended up having it custom made.
Your apartment is so lovely. Do you put a lot of effort in decorating it?
Tea: Since Otja was born, our priorities have changed. We don’t spend a lot of time thinking about decorating our home — it’s more like, if we happen to see something we like, we get it. And if we don’t, we don’t.
Do you still look for inspiration online?
Tea: Sure, I still like using the usual apps like Instagram and Pinterest. I don’t really use Facebook as a social platform all that much, but I do like using it to look for inspiration and get ideas.
By this time, Otja had completely emptied the kitchen drawer and crawled inside it. She began posing for pictures and coquetting with the camera. “She was doing this for half an hour yesterday. In and out, in and out… It’s like that every day,” Tea explained.
Tea: Every day. She used to do it in her room, but this thing with the pots and pans is new.
Is there anything else she likes doing on a regular basis?
Tea: We also play hide and seek every day.
Igor: And she likes playing catch with the Roomba. She goes up to it, turns it on and runs away — and then they chase each other around the house.
Wow, cuteness overload! What kind of children’s products do you like?
Tea: We like wooden things. We don’t want to have too much plastic, but we can’t always be in control. And it’s something that can’t be completely avoided nowadays.
What else does Otja enjoy doing? Watching cartoons?
Igor: She doesn’t really like cartoons, the two of us watch Masha and the Bear more than she does. (laughs)
Tea: If we hand her the remote, she usually wants to listen to music. Come on Otja, show us a little dance.
Otja showed us a little dance and everyone present was charmed by her moves. We then moved to her room, filled with toys and a really cool-looking climbing wall — hand-made by Igor’s mom. Nice!
Can Otja already climb up this?
Igor: Yes, yes. She’s already got it!
What are some of her other favorite toys?
Tea: Everyone on Igor’s side of the family is a handball player, so the first gifts she got were all balls. It’s a bit funny, but I think they’re great for developing coordination. She also likes rattles has two of them — a wooden one, and one shaped like a strawberry. They’re probably her favorites.
And what about this snake here? It looks cool!
Tea: Well, I have to confess that it was actually me who wanted this snake. I had a baby on the way so it was a perfect excuse for buying a cute stuffed toy! And it came in handy later when we were taking pictures of Otja — we used it as a reference to see how much she’d grown. Just like a growth meter. And Otja really likes it too. I got it at Najin Dom.
That’s a neat looking little scooter. Does she ride around on it?
Igor: Yes, she scurries around the apartment. Backwards, mostly. (laughs)
Does she have any children’s books?
Tea: She’s not very interested in books yet, although it’s something we want to encourage later on. She likes this one with the three little pigs.
Otja came over and demonstrated how the Big Bad Wolf huffs and puffs.
Tea: We found it in the Zebra bookstore in Ljubljana, an institute for persons with hearing impairments. It’s the first children’s book I’ve seen that has tactile features.
What are your future plans for Otja?
Igor: To encourage her to take up climbing, of course. (laughs) But really, I think it’s a great sport, even for when she’s older. It’s a great way to gain strength, endurance, and flexibility — things the youth of today are generally lacking.
What kind of values do you want her to have?
Tea: We want to raise her to be simple and not complicate things. To not be materialistic. She’s a bit headstrong by nature — we don’t think that will change and that’s fine. We want her to be brave and not afraid.
Igor: And to be compassionate.
When finding this apartment, how did you know that this was it — that this was home?
Tea: I think that you just know, you just feel it. Of course, the place isn’t perfect, but every time I come back here I somehow feel like: yes, this is home.
As we chatted, the afternoon began to turn into evening and Otja’s bedtime was slowly approaching. We decided to wrap up the conversation and thank our lovely hosts for their hospitality. As we were making our way out, Otja picked up her little shoe, put it in her mouth and started chewing on it. “Shoes aren’t for eating, honey,” Tea explained and slowly grabbed the shoe from her grip. ”She’s having some trouble with her teeth.”