Saturday, December 31, 2005

why give a fuss?

This is not really baby related, but it's something I've been really excited about. Lately I've been craving intellectual stimulation. I've been thinking about how I miss being in school and having analytical discussions, and then it hit me. About two years ago, I started doing research on various powerful corporations and lobby groups. I wanted to learn about the most influential players in this country. As soon as I plunged in to my research, I began finding out the most fascinating and at times spooky information. I still have the notes from two years ago, so why not share what I've learned so far. I am ready to pursue this project and continue doing research. It's pretty much a neverending endeavor. But I love the feeling of being a detective and then sharing what I find with my friends. So here is the blog where I will be publishing my findings: I call it Why Give a Fuss?: the dirt on your favorite corporations.

And if you're out there reading one of my blogs, leave a comment. I've gotten lots of emails from friends about my blog, but very few comments on the blog itself. So, leave a mark, okay?

hot toddie, anyone?

On Thursday we had a fun little party. We served cookies, hot toddies, and spiced cider, a good way to warm up on a cold, rainy winter night. Amusing coversation, laughter, gossip... The party did come to a momentary halt when a stool Tim was sitting on while holding Jonah caved in. The two of them came crashing down on our handsome wood floors. The guests' eye balls nearly popped out of their sockets and my heart stopped for a moment. No one was hurt. Jonah remained close to Tim's chest the whole time, never leaving his dad's arms or touching the floor. He got scared regardless and cried like never before, nearly shattering the glass window pains. Poor little bear. He eventually calmed back down and went to sleep, but boy, I'll never forget the sound of that cry.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

velvety red Hannukah tomato

I just had the most fascinating set of dreams. In one dream I was in a big hall with a whole bunch of people around my age. We were sitting in lines along long narrow tables on super tall square bar stools. These were maybe seven feet tall? We were practicing a Hannukah song from a song book. There was a men's part and a women's part. The song was a folk-sounding song about a velvety red Hannukah tomato. Using Yiddish terms, the conductor asked who in the room was a Jewish boy and who was a Jewish girl, wanting us to draw on our personal experience in our interpretation of the song. I debated whether I should raise my hand. I didn't want to lie, but didn't want to be left out. Not raising my hand would've been denying a part of myself, but also most probably missing out on dating Jewish boys. Lots of people raised their hands which made me feel excited. I raised my hands half-way shyly and hesitantly, twisting them from side to side to say "sort of." And I felt strange about my answer. There should not be a "sort of." It's a yes or no question. But the fact that I raised my hands even half way was progress. I am claiming my heritage, damn it, I thought. I don't want to care about what others think anymore.

After we sang a couple of practice rounds of the Velvety Red Hannukah Tomato, there was silence in the room. I clowned around on the seven-foot bar stool for a while, inspiring some muted laughter. Then I scooted my stool next to another young man's to ask what we were supposed to be doing. He was reading the narratives introducing the songs in the songbook. I asked him what we should be doing, but noticed him only spitting up into a plastic bag, eating his own spit up, making fart sounds, and smiling slyly while doing so. Very funny, I thought. And attractive too. This was the baby creeping into my dreams. At that point I began to wake up, realizing the baby was waking up too, ready to eat... and farting!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

holiday report

We had a great Christmas. My mom spent Cristmas Eve and Day with us. On the twenty-fourth we cooked together, sang carols, and then in the evening had a traditional dinner of fish soup, breaded and fried fish and potato salad, topped with mountains of cookies, of course. Jonah was too excited to fall asleep, so he ended up being up late, watching us open presents. Lucky Ducky got ten times more than the rest of us. I got a great present from Tim. It's a digital recorder. I can't wait to use it on some recording projects I have in mind.

On the twenty-fifth, I lit the first Hannukah candle. This was my first time celebrating Hannukah and I really enjoyed it. Of course, there are still a few more days left. I heard an interesting fact: every thirteen years Hannukah and Christmas start on the same day. This was one of those years.

We also had a friend from Seattle visit Sunday morning, and another friend join us for dinner that evening. Very, very nice.

I wanted to have something else to look forward to lined up, so we're throwing a little party on Thursday. We will be serving cookies, hot toddies, and spiced apple cider.

Then in January, Tim's parents will be coming to visit, and at the end of the month my sister will be here from New York. I can't wait.

Monday, December 26, 2005

first time at the ZOO

Today we wanted to go for a walk at a park and in a fun neighborhood with shops and cafes, but on the way, we took the wrong turn and ended up at the ZOO. We changed our plans and decided to go. It was a good day to be at the ZOO. It rained a couple of times, but very briefly. The rest of the time it was cold but sunny. Not many people around either until it started to get dark and families with kids came in to see the ZOO decorated with Christmas lights all over the place. I had never really explored the Oregon ZOO. We had gone there numerous times to see concerts on their outdoor stage, but never to really look at the animals.

The sea otter, sea lions, and monkeys were my favorites! The sweetest ones were the Gibbon monkeys. There were two, a black and white one that were friends. At one point one of them gave the other a little shoulder rub! The white one made a funny whistling sound. I immitated it and whistled at the monkey and the monkey whistled back at me! I briefly contemplated hiding in the bushes and staying past closing time, then sneaking in to the cages during feeding, and lurring the cute monkeys home with me. But I already have two monkeys at home. That would be too many monkeys.

The penguins were cute too. I made a motion with my hand, calling the penguins over to us, and two of them swam right up to my hand. Only the glass seperated us. Maybe they thought I was going to feed them.

The most beautiful animal was the leopard. We got to see him up close. His fur was so clean, plush and vibrant, so perfect that one could have mixed him up with a stuffed animal.

The most disturbing animals were the naked mole rats and bats, who were hovering around fresh bananas, melon, and broccoli they were just fed. The naked mole rats were all moving around in one big pile, rubbing their ugly flesh against each other. Their orgy disgusted me. I had to run out of that smelly pavilion fast.

Jonah watched the monkeys, fish, sea otters, and sea lions too the same way he watched us eat lunch. He seemed the most entertained by the kids running around the ZOO.

Here is a picture of Tim, Jonah and one of the sea lions, who kept swimming by playfully, as if to brush up against us.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

holidays in pictures

Here is a little Hanukkah montage I put together (yes, I finally found a menorah plus I made and enjoyed some potato latkes!)

Here is a little food montage including me baking a vanocka, traditional Czech bread. You can also see some of the cookies I made.

Plus some pics of our Christmas tree and Jonah wearing his new slippers and baby accessories.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

the menorah blues

Okay. Trying to find a menorah in Portland is like trying to find chicken and dumplings on the moon. What is going on? No one sells Hannukah paraphernalia in this town? Nothing besides paper plates and napkins with the star of David on them. What a way to celebrate. It looks like this year I will be using my tea lights.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

something fishy

Well, the snow only lasted over night and just when I thought I might not have to go to work, it started raining and the snow melted. That's Portland for you.

Things are going well. I'm getting excited for Christmas. For the past few years it was just another holiday to me, but now with a baby, the holidays have regained some of the magic they'd had when I was little.

I've baked two types of cookies. I'd still like to squeeze in one or two types more. And then there is this special Christmas bread that the Czechs make every year. It's quite a bit like challah, actually. I've made it every year for the past few years, and this year I plan to make it again.

When attempting baking, I have to choose the best moment. Either when Jonah is taking a nap, which could be as short as ten minutes or as long as two hours, or I have to wait until Jonah is in the mood to entertain himself in his swing or on his mat for a while. But there are always a lot of interruptions, which can spell trouble in the kitchen. Today I set off the fire alarm, but to my surprise, Jonah slept right through it.

Aside from the cookies and sweet bread, there is Christmas dinner. For some reason, traditional Czech Christmas dinner consists of fish soup, breaded and fried fish (carp) and potato salad. One step up from plain bread and water. But this way the Czechs can claim to be humble people. The Germans have another version of this meal, I heard the other day. Instead of fish it's hot dogs. There is nothing that says Christ was born in Bethlehem better than a hot dog and a side of potato salad. Tim would fit right in to Frankfurterland. I know he dreams of living in a place where cured meats grow on trees. One time my grandparents brought Tim some Czech salami as a Christmas present. He was in seventh heaven. But come Saturday it will be fish for us. Fishy fishy fish.

Sunday, December 18, 2005


it's snowing!!!

Yay! It's snowing in Portland, a moment we hope for every winter. I can hear kids screaming with joy outside. Pictures coming soon.... if the snow sticks.

first bath with mom

There are a few things that only Tim does around the house. It's just a pattern we've gotten into. Otherwise we split all the chores pretty evenly - I hope Tim would agree with that. He ends up dumping the cat litter and cleaning the cat box almost always. That started when we were trying to conceive since pregnant women should stay away from cat poo... and now, conveniently for me, the chore remained Tim's. With the baby, Tim always cuts Jonah's nails and bathes him because I'm too chicken to do it. When I tried bathing Jonah once, the baby freaked out and started crying.

For the first time yesterday, though, baby got in the tub with me and we had a fabulous time. He loves to kick his legs in the water, but in the big tub without the baby tub, he really went wild. The water had to be luke warm, of course, so I got a little cold, but Jonah got so excited that he was still kicking his legs on the changing table afterwards. Tim took this picture of us. I cropped it slightly so as to not make the audience of this blog blush.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

chinese garden

Today we ventured out to the Classical Chinese Garden. I got a membership to the garden as a gift from a friend and haven't really used it yet, though I would like to use it a whole bunch for the remaining few months.

The Chinese garden is such a peaceful place right in the middle of downtown. It's been cold here and the lake in the center was covered with a frozen crust, a sight unseen in Portland. The garden looks a little sad in the winter. Only one rose bush was blooming and though it was bright and sunny out, the stone and bare tree trunks are what stood out most. Still, it's worth going any time of the year. In the winter hardly anyone visits, so the garden becomes a quiet place to reflect and be alone, much more so than in the busy summer season. Of course, it's too cold to walk around barefoot on the foot paths made of small stones, which work the feet over acupressure-style - an intense, but pleasurable experience better left for the summer.

The tea house is my favorite! Hot tea and moon cakes was the perfect way to wrap up our outing on a chilly December afternoon. I've put a few pictures from today's trip in the "outdoor adventures" photo album on the right.

the best present ever

picture I took yesterday

Friday, December 16, 2005

four-month check-up

Jonah had his four-month visit to the doctor's today. He weighs 14 lbs 13 oz and measures 25.2 inches, which means that he has gained 3 lbs and 7 oz and grew almost 3 inches in the last two months! Apparently he is in the 50th percentile in weight and 75th percentile in height. After the nurse measured and weighed him and the doctor examined him, Jonah got his second set of shots, a moment I'd dreaded. He was sitting on my lap while the nurse administered the shots. She was quick, which was good. He cried for a couple of minutes and then fell asleep in the car. Now we're at home and he seems to be doing fine. He is a bit cranky and has cried a few times. It's tricky to find a good way to hold him without pressing down on his thighs which are sore. The doctor said that since Jonah didn't really have a reaction to the shots last time, such as fever, that he would most likely do well this time again.

When Tim and I were trying to decide whether to get Jonah vaccinated, we had read a whole bunch of pro- and anti-vaccination literature to educate ourselves. In the end, vaccinating Jonah was a clear winner. But in the back of my mind lurks the thought that many claim there is a link between immunization and autism in children. Yikes! The link supposedly has to do with mercury in the vaccines. From what I know though, the common vaccines no longer contain mercury.

On another note, it's been very cold here. Much colder than usual in the winter. It has also been sunny, also unlike the usual rainy winter weather. We're waiting impatiently for some rain since that means snow in the mountains. And snow in the mountains means cross-country skiing. We haven't gotten out of town in a while. Looking forward to it... maybe this weekend.

Monday, December 12, 2005

four months old!

Jonah is now four months old (as of yesterday)!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

the holidays are coming!

Tim and I got our first Christmas tree ever together yesterday. I haven't been this excited for Christmas in years. We started decorating the tree this weekend. More will be added soon - a cranberry-popcorn chain, for example. We also have to make something for the top of the tree. I've included a little picture story from this weekend.

This year I plan to celebrate Hanukkah too - in my own way, because it's important to me. I grew up celebrating Christmas and my dad, who is Jewish, did as well.

I love the feeling of lots of people celebrating all at once. This is one of the times of the year I miss the Czech Republic the most. Christmas in Prague is so magical. The season really starts on December 5th, St. Nicholas Day, when St. Nicholas, accompanied by a devil and an angel comes knocking on your door and asks you, if you are a little boy or girl, if you've been good or bad. Meanwhile the devil is rattling his metal chain and you're so scared he'll take you away that you're pooping your pants, that is if you're not hiding under your bed. Of course you hope your parents will say you've been good. Then you're asked to sing a song or recite a poem for St. Nicholas and he rewards you with a bag of goodies, usually fruit and candy. If you've been bad though, you get coal and potatoes. I did once, as a joke. Later I was given fruit and candy and the adults had a good laugh at my expense.

One time when I was about twelve years old I dressed up as St. Nicholas, defying status quo. My sister dressed up as an angel and our friend Helena as a devil. We walked around the neighborhood, knocking on doors and scaring little children to tears. They really believed I was Nicholas (or Mikulas, as we say). It must've been the fake beard.

I must have been around five years old when I recognized the devil as my parents' colleague from the theater. He was wearing white man flesh colored tights I still remember to this day. Everything I had believed up until that day had been shattered. I was so disappointed. I felt lied to and angry, very much the way children here must feel when they learn that Santa is really their parents' car mechanic, making an extra buck at the mall taking pictures with little kids on his lap.

Prague is so beautiful at Christmas time. The streets and the squares are lit up and full of stands with beautiful handmade crafts. The blacksmiths are out, hammering out metal buckles and knives. The carp sellers dish out live fish for Christmas dinner with their nets from their sidewalk barrels. The mulled wine sold in cafes and stands outside smells divine. And when it snows and the city grows quiet, and you can hear the horsehooves and carriages roaming Old Town, you're transported at least a hundred years back in time. I miss that.

But we're making new holiday traditions here and we're very excited.

Friday, December 09, 2005

daddy knows just what to do

Check out Tim bottlefeeding Jonah.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

latest developments

What I've been up to you know. But what has Jonah been up to, you may be wondering. Well, my little boy is still losing hair, but a new batch is slowly coming in. The bald stripe that he was born with over his right temple has disappeared and is now covered with brand new hair.

Jonah's been talking less, but instead he has been experimenting with squealing sounds and fake laughter. More than caring about his parents' reaction, he seems entertained by the sound of his own voice. He does not roll yet, but that could happen soon. And he is teething. No teeth in sight yet, but his hands, burp cloths and bibs tend to all end up in his mouth.

His favorite games are holding onto mom's or dad's fingers and sitting, then standing up, and also being lifted up and brought down to slobber all over his mama's nose.

Tim and Jonah have been doing great while I've been at work. It sounds like Jonah is getting used to the bottle.

On Sunday Jonah will be four months old! Next week on Friday my poor little monkey gets his second set of shots. Ouch!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Teachers keep on teachin'

I'm back at work and my class is in full swing. I have a Mien student in addition to students from Malaysia, Vietnam, Korea, and the Philippines. So far the class is going great. Too bad the agency doesn't currently have anyone to fix all the broken computers and printers. Computer lessons are an integral part of the course I teach, and right now we're strapped for properly working equipment. Welcome to the non-profit world of donated goods!

I love teaching adult education classes. The students are so dedicated and polite! Nothing like my last high school teaching experience. I still shudder remembering the students talking back to me and throwing tantrums and whatever else they could find in the middle of class just to distract from real learning. My favorite was the skinhead-looking boy who defied my authority by teasing his friend, refusing to do work, and putting his feet on the table. I asked him why he had such a hard time following my rules. He was so pent up that he began to tremble and through his teeth hissed, "because I don't like you." That's the best that he could come with. I felt like bursting out laughing, but kept my composure. On the last day of my assignment at this high school, a fight had broken out among two girl gangs. As I was leaving the school, I heard what I thought to be a miniature lap dog barking somewhere in the parking lot. It turned out to be a teenage girl, alone, handcuffed, screaming her head off inside a cop car. Adult ed is so much more peaceful.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

a short hike

We finally got out of town yesterday and went on a short hike in a very pretty park called Lacamas Park with a peaceful lake, a creek brimming with fast water, and foot bridges over waterfalls. Jonah was a little cranky at first, but once I fed him on the trail, he calmed down and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the forest and water. I added some pictures from our trip to the outdoor adventures album.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

dates or figs?

What's the last time you've gone on a date? Me? Glad you asked. Just last night! With my husband. Tim's brother and his wife came over for dinner and then stayed and watched the baby while Tim and I went out on a date! We had a great time - went out for dessert and a hot beverage, and then to shoot pool. I won only one out of three games, but only because my foe scratched on a break shot. My game left a lot to be desired, but still, no matter how much I suck at it, I love pool.

At my high school, we had a pool table in our English classroom. Students could take pool for P.E. credit, which I did. I was the slowest learner in the school's history. It took me months just to learn to move my arm right. I just didn't get that it's possible to move one's arm only from the elbow down. I learned the rules to several games and I also learned to visualize the possiblities in a game. As far as execution goes, it's always been a real hit or miss (like my pun?).

Last time Tim and I played pool was about two months ago. We were out with the baby who was asleep. The idea of a quick game of pool sounded great, so we hopped in to the nearby university student building, put the baby down on the pool table next to us, and snuck in a quickie. Baby woke up just in time for the eightball shot.

When Tim and I first started dating, we played a lot of pool together and with friends. For some reason, around the bar pool table, there is often the "know-it-all" guy with the "all-the-chicks-with-cue-sticks-need-my-help" attitude. I hate that. Unwanted advice from a stranger, always a guy mind you, really ticks me off. This fact becomes obvious pretty quickly. One time I got in a huge argument over unsolicited suggestions with a guy who actually later became my friend. At least he knew what he was getting into from the get-go.

But no know-it-alls or annoying advice last night. Just my fabulous husband and I on a sugar high in a cloud of cigarette smoke, like it used to be back in the days. Good times!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

work song

Today was my first day back at work after a sixteen-week long maternity leave. Time sure went fast! It was good to be back and to see all my favorite work buddies. I work for two different projects and have two different bosses, both all business almost all the time. One hugged me, the other only nodded his head in my direction: "Welcome back."

The bamboo plant on my desk nearly died without my care. I gave it some love by taking a pair of scissors to it. The haircut left it looking naked and pitiful. But hey, it's still alive.

It was a bit of a whirlwind once I got there - a lot of stuff piled up to do - supplies to order, surveys to count and collect data from, students to call to make sure that I have a full class starting Monday... Good thing I remembered how to use the work phone and computer.

One thing I had to do for the first time was express breastmilk at work. My workplace isn't the best for a private activity such as pumping. We have a lot of employees and a ton of open space, but hardly any secluded rooms that lock. Well, I grabbed the breast pump in the biggest and most conspicuous-looking case you can imagine and checked if I could use one of the computer labs. No one was there, so I went about my business. It turned out fine. But next week I will have to wash the breast pump parts - those giant, awkward tubes and siphon-like things that look like cold war NASA material - in the staff kitchen. Dealing with those in the staff lunch room, I imagine, will be akin to sorting menstrual pads and tampons on the employee kitchen counter. While I'm at it, I should really make the washing into a show, complete with hot pink rubber gloves, sparkly bottle brush, and a load of bubbles. Heck, maybe I should even wear an apron and one of those sterile plastic caps that look like they are made to be used in the shower.

While I yacked on the phone, pumped breastmilk, and shuffled papers, Jonah was at home giving the bottle a cold shoulder. Unlike on our practice days he wasn't so keen on drinking from a bottle today. He eventually ate, Tim said, but it took a lot of fussing and complaining. He'll have to get used to it. Tim and Jonah both will.

I don't go back again until Monday when the next course I teach starts. We'll see how next week goes.

back to work

Today will be my first day back at work. I will let you know how it goes. Fingers crossed.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

first memory

One of my first memories is of the sound of high heals clicking accompanied by the swishing of dry fallen leaves pushed around by feet on pavement. All this in bright yet low autumn sunlight. That's what I remember. The motion of being wheeled around in a stroller or buggie as I watched things around me happen.

Another one of my earliest memories is that of being alone behind the bars of a crib, crying for someone to come and get me and feeling abandoned.

My mom confirmed the second memory for me recently. She told me that in the summer she would put me in a crib on the balcony where she couldn't always hear me when I cried. No wonder that to this day I dislike cribs and have trust issues. Just kidding... about the latter.

I wonder what Jonah's first memories will be. Will it be the image of a giant cat staring in his face? Will he remember us dancing cheek to cheek to bossa nova as he falls asleep? Will he remember riding through the forest on his dad's chest? It's all a mystery.

I had a thought the other day. Maybe having children is our way of retracing the times we have forgotten - our infancy. By watching an infant, to some degree, we relearn what being one is like. The experience enables us to relive the part of our lives that we have forgotten, and when we are truly present during this stage, it makes us whole because to care for an infant, to muster up the compassion that we need, we must, in a way, become the infant. Or try to get inside the mind of the infant, anyways. The lines between self and other blur, and though we act as the responsible guardians, we must find the infant's angelic gentleness within us to be able to give it.

Also, observing our parents with our children helps us realize what made us who we are. We see our parents in a whole different light when they interact with our children. It lets us imagine what our mothers and fathers were like with us and shows us how much we have inherited from them unknowingly.

When my mom plays with Jonah, I find myself noticing how much some of my attitudes and mannerisms resemble hers. I am certain that someone on the outside would notice even more similarities between us.

Here are some lyrics (originally in French) by Angus Martin, a friend of mine, whose CD Presqu'ile I've been listening to:

A child is a declaration of hope:
A flare shot off into the dark mess of history
. . . A document signed against the ugliness
Of adults and all of their bullshit.

Friday, November 25, 2005

food is good

I am so glad that the night before Thanksgiving I decided on the spur of the moment to get everything needed for a Thanksgiving dinner. We were planning on joining Tim's family for the celebration, but it just killed me thinking about how we would have no leftovers once we got back. So I resolved we would make our own Thanksgiving dinner the day after Thanksgiving. That way my mom could join us too (she is still recovering from sciatica, so she wouldn't have been able to withstand the drive to Tim's grandparents). Upon realizing that baby could hardly breathe through his nose, we decided Thursday morning, only minutes before we were supposed to leave, to stay at home for Jonah's sake. It was a good thing that we had all the necessary ingredients and could make our own dinner here. How sad it would have been to be stuck in Portland with nothing but bread and cream cheese, imagining the turkey fat dripping down the chins of everyone but us.

I am proud to say I made tons of food that all tasted great! I even tried something new that I had been meaning to make for a while. I baked the turkey, made classical mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, steamed green beans, and - the new addition - yam fritters. My mom made the stuffing and baked a squash, and for dessert I made apple pie (bought the crust, but everything else was from scratch). The store was all out of small turkeys when I got there, so the smallest one they had was big enough to feed more than ten people! Sure enough, we have lots of leftovers. I love that! Of course, we missed seeing everyone, but had a delicious dinner over here. Tim says he is feeling better. Jonah is still stuffed up, but in good spirits. Here is a picture of us on Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

cold turkey

It turns out that Jonah is too sick to go spend Thanksgiving at his great-grandparents' where nearly thirty of Tim's relatives are getting together. Jonah is having a hard time breathing through his nose - it's that stuffy. Poor little guy. Tim isn't feeling so hot either. It's really too bad, because it would have been the first time for most everyone in Tim's extended family to meet the baby. But we had to stay home for Jonah's sake. He hates car rides as it is, but with his cold it would have been quite a trip. So, we will be having my mom over tonight and we'll be making a Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings and some interesting vegetarian twists (since she doesn't eat meat). But Tim and I will have turkey. And tons of left-overs, which is one of the best parts of Thanksgiving. Alright! Bring it on, cook! I guess that would be me.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

no violins

Baby doesn't miss me while I'm gone. It's true. We've been practicing for when I have to go back to work, which is soon. A little more than a week from now. The last two days I needed to run some errands, so we decided Tim would do his first official bottle feedings while I was gone for a few hours at a time. He had fed Jonah breast milk from a bottle once before a couple of months ago and so had Tim's parents once. But it will have to become a routine when Tim stays home with the baby while I work half-time. My fear has been that the baby would miss me and cry unconsolably the first few days. Yesterday I was gone for a couple of hours, and today for a full five, the longest I've been away from Jonah ever. And he did fine! Didn't seem to miss me at all. I am so happy it went well. Hopefully it won't be that much of an adjustment for Jonah when I go back to work. I will only be gone three days a week, but still, he is so used to me being around all the time. It'll be nice for Tim and Jonah to have their time together though, and it will be nice for me to be teaching again.

the saga continues

Just as I thought Jonah's cold was all better, it got worse. Poor baby cried so much yesterday. He must have had a sinus headache. He is still stuffed up. Hopefully he'll be well soon.

For a couple of days he seemed fine, so yesterday morning I took him on an outing. We took the bus downtown to run a couple of errands. I took our picture with my stand-in husband. Handsome guy, don't you think? And so nice too... hardly said a word. You could tell Jonah was quite interested in getting to know this man better too... since he seemed so exciting.

Of course, after we got home Jonah's cold got much worse. No fun for anyone.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

I spoke too soon

It turns out Jonah did get my bug afterall. Darn. His face is puffy, his eyes glossy, his nose stuffy, and he is very lethargic. Poor baby. I hope he gets better soon.

On top of his cold, he is also balding, I'm afraid to say, which is in no way related, mind you. I was in denial about this for a while, but it is becoming quite blatant. He has lots of hair behind his ears and above his forehead, but the rest of his head is becoming bald and naked-looking fast. With a hat on, no one can tell.

I'd heard of this. First hair tends to go, and the next set of hair that comes in might be drastically different. I'm guessing light brown and curly? Let's turn this into a guessing game and look forward to what will come.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Saturday in the park, I think it was not the Fourth of July

This has been a hard week. I've had a pretty bad cold and have been stuck in the house with Jonah since Tuesday while it's been beautiful and sunny (though relatively cold) outside. No walks, no friends, no trips to the store or coffee shop... I counted the hours every day until Tim comes home from work. How sad is that?

I feel much better today. The baby seems fine too. Cross your fingers, but I don't think he ever got my bug. We even went out for a walk today in a new direction from our house - to a nearby college campus, which is very picturesque. It has a lake and a trail surrounding the lake. We walked past the football field, on which were two teams playing rugby. I asked Tim about how the game works and he said that it's just a whole bunch of guys in a pile. That's what I figured looking at the soccer players turned bullies swarming around the field grunting and moaning. Tim commented, almost trying to convince himself, "They do have a ball."

The referee, who in his bright green shirt and tiny shorts looked like a granny smith on toothpics, almost got gobbled up by the crowd of shoulders and butts each time the game started anew. He was the most ignored person on the set.

"What happens in the pile?" I asked Tim. He basically said that the guys just touch each other's parts, which also seemed true. The players didn't have too many fans. Just a handful of girlfriends with dogs on leashes and a couple of thick-necked dudes shouting, "Rock n' Roll!!!"

We walked past a pretty outdoor amphitheater by a lake. A couple of students were meditating on the benches. Tim goaded me on to get up on the stage and fart, but I didn't feel the audience was worthy enough to witness my talents.

The other thing we noticed was that college students these days don't like wearing much clothing even if it's nearly freezing outside. Tim and I were both wearing jackets and winter hats, but the kids would walk by us wearing hippie skirts, tank tops, and flip flops. Or just t-shirts and shorts. I got colder just looking at them.

Then we decided we hadn't eaten out in a while, so we drove to a cafe and had us some grub. I think the cooks decided I haven't had my fair share of carcinogens in life, so they blackened my homestyle potatoes and the outside of my grilled sandwich so I had something to remember them by. Homestyle. Well, some people like their food on the burned side, I guess, in the style of "my roommate made this."

Because our wait for the table was a little long, we decided to browse the store next door, which was what I call a new age one-stop-shop. Everything one needs to decorate one's new age meditation gathering spot was there- crystal balls, wind chimes, steaming fountains that light up with the colors of the rainbow, books on how to find one's perfect spiritual soul mate, and much more. The man that worked there seemed a bit confused. Perhaps he would have been a better fit at a farm feed store or in front of the blackboard in a tenth grade math class. The music he had playing instantly put me in a trance - computer generated astral sounds - a perfect soundtrack to spice up your average Saturday afternoon.

My favorite item for sale was a standard paper size card of a mysterious function with a painting of a muscular, bare-chested blond man in ecstasy, his waist draped in light purple fabric. His body glistened as he looked up in rapture at the light source above him. Below him was the word "declaration." I pondered this curious item and thought, I must come back here and purchase this card for someone I know. It will make that someone very, very happy.

As we were leaving, Tim pointed at another piece for sale, "Hey, it's a woman having sex with a bird." Sure enough. This was a small print of a painting of a woman on the shore of a lake. She laid there, Barbie-like, arching her back, with a swan up over her. They were touching crotches, a pose that left you "guessing" and gasping for air. What did all this mean? Surely something more spiritual than one artist's rendition of one possible way to get the avian flu. Who was the target audience for this image? I could see grumpy, unshaven Czech city bus drivers plastering their dashboards with the likes of these candid yet fantastic scenes. The lady doing it with a swan would look so good beside the Czech immitation of Pamela Anderson on the hood of a ferrari. I doubt Czech bus drivers frequent this new age joint, however. But the poster might explain what the farm feed guy was doing working the counter of this fine spiritual establishment.

While we waited for a table back at the restaurant, the most voluminous spit up burst out of baby's mouth onto the restaurant floor, much like lava errupting from a volcano. I derived secret pleasure from watching the guests' faces, which involuntarily contorted into the most blatant expression of shock. "Ladies and gentlemen, and our special today is our legendary (drum roll, please) cream of wheat. Bon apetit."

As we were approaching our car, we passed by a guy in a black turtle neck, just a regular guy taking a Saturday walk. Except he wasn't pushing a stroller, holding hands with a girlfriend, or walking his dog. On his leash was a little black goat with a bell. What? I did a doubletake as did most others walking down the same street at the same time. Were we dreaming this? A sweet little black goat with a big belly, shaped much like one of our overweight cats. It was curious too, sniffing everything in its path, stopping to be pet by anyone who dared. A lady with a swan and a guy with a goat. What is the world coming to?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

foot and hand print

This is really interesting. We took Jonah's hand and foot prints when he was two months old. They are on one page, hanging on the fridge at the moment. I've realized that Jonah LOVES to look at them. When I hold him over my shoulder and I happen to be standing in front of the fridge, so that he has a close up view of the prints, he gets excited and stares at them, all the while talking at them. This has happened so many times that I am now sure he loves his own footprint and handprint. Sometimes when he is grumpy, taking him over to look at them cheers him up. So interesting.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Saturday we had a housewarming party. Pretty good turn out too, especially considering that it was a three-day weekend and that a guy I work with was throwing another party the same night, creating a dilemma for some of our mutual friends. The party was fun. I didn't want people to go home. The only thing is that I'm pretty sure I caught a cold from someone that night. So now I'm battling that, hoping baby stays healthy. No fun at all.

I took an advantage of the new evite survey option, and on the invitation to the party I told my friends I was doing a sociological survey, the results of which they would find out at the party. I asked the following three probing questions:

1. What do you usually wear to bed?
The possible responses were: whatever I can find, sexy underwear; pyjamas; my birthday suit; and sweats.

Whatever I can find won there.

2. Who is your hidden self most like?
The options were: audrey hepburn; mr. rogers; tina turner, albert enstein; oprah; richard simmons; arundhati roy.

Audrey Hepburn was the number one response.

3. In your next life you want to be...
I'd rather not be a human again; one of them creative types; an outdoor adventure thrill seeker; fighter - not a lover; lover - not a fighter; and monk/nun.

Two of the responses tied for first place: one of them creative types and I'd rather not be a human again.

Fascinating, isn't it?

Friday, November 11, 2005

three months old!

Jonah is three months old today!!! More pictures in the Jonah, Friends, and Family photoalbum on the right.

hello neighborhood

Unfortunately ours is a neighborhood with very little foot traffic. Not that I'm trying to run a business that relies on walk-ins here. It's just that I was raised as an urbanite and enjoy a little bit of friendly density and prefer people to cars. There are the occasional what-could-be Reed college students in rags that pass through here on bikes or on foot. Also one sometimes sees a pair of overweight lunch time speed walkers in sweats rushing back to their office in the nearby Fred Meyer supermarket headquarters. I once even saw another mother with a baby in the stroller, but she ignored me.

A bit further up the street, children walk to and from the neighborhood elementary school. Once a boy about eight years old with missing teeth and badly bleached blond hair, told me about how he has to wait for all the cars to pass before he can cross the street. He was rolling his eyeballs and twisting his body from side to side sort of like a hyper cork screw as he was sharing his frustration with me. The car he was hoping would pass soon was about half a mile down the road. I guess someone taught him well.

On my walks around the neighborhood with Jonah, I study people's houses and their yards, wondering who lives where and what their philosophy on life is based on the lushness and "kemptness" of their gardens, the colors of their abodes, the bumper stickers on their cars, and the various props strewn on their front steps and in their driveways.

Today I passed by a house that is most likely a hipster or college student rental. The tell-tale sign was the sofa on the porch next to the electric organ that served a a coffee table. The sight of a musical instrument left out in the damp cold made me sad. What kind of people would put a musical instrument outside permanently only to be destroyed by rain and the pervasive Portland humidity? Surely only ignoramuses. But maybe the organ never worked in the first place when the residents got their hands on it, I consoled myself.

The house of the young and the restless was painted the color of white man's flesh, the blinds were drawn, the yard nothing memorable. In one window was a small display board with removable letters, the kind one would find advertising a cigarette sale or soft drink special at a corner store or gas station. I expected an impassioned political statement, but was taken by a pleasant surprise and instantly overwhelmed by a nostalgia for a time before my time when Dada was king. "The roar of the masses may be farts." Hey, someone's words made my day.

Other than single family homes with yards and fences, interspersed with the occasional seventies apartment complex that loves to dress in grey or army green, this neighborhood boasts a few haphazzard businesses. There is the overpriced Japanese restaurant with bamboo shades, the sparse hip-seeming bar with a daily happy hour and wireless internet, and two dingy pubs - one with tainted windows, one with no windows at all. There is also the corner store where scruffy drivers of pick up trucks on steroids shop (the deli has a "porn corner" Tim just informed me. Yet one more reason to feel right at home in this neighborhood), and the adjacent Uncle's BBQ, which from what I can tell consists only of a dirty old barrel-style outdoor grill and no storefront whatsoever. Around the corner there is a printing business whose young receptionist I catch staring out the window, bored, every time I walk by. Across the street from the print shop is an autobody collision repair shop that once in a while spews paint fumes into the neighborhood. To add a little spice to our otherwise run-of-the-mill array of commercial spaces, an orange warehouse a few doors down from us serves as the regional capoiera (traditional Brazilian marshal art/dance) center.

A bit further is a mysterious photography studio I've wondered about since Jonah and I first passed by it. The converted tudor-style house sports a lantern-like five point red star above the entrance. Ah ha, a local communist stronghold I thought when I first saw the star. But no, it's a fancy photography studio, I realized. But why would they choose a symbol so many associate with totalitarian regimes to "say it all" about their business at a first glance? I guess some people just have no idea.

The large what-used-to-be living room window gives a peak into what happens inside - an overstuffed sofa and an umbrella in a tripod stand. That's all you can see. I've wanted to see more, but the window is too dark for me to get a better view of the inside without pressing my nose against the glass. I'd passed the studio numerous times, but had never seen anyone inside or any cars parked outside in the carefully landscaped driveway. Having recently inquired about the prices of professional photographs, I now know that a handful of customers a month would do the trick. But still, a photography studio needs customers. A photographer can go out on assignments and bring in money that way. Or is the studio a front for some other shady business? Finally yesterday, a fancy silver sports car stood outside, and in the display window hovered the ass of a bent over photographer hard at work. Picture perfect, I thought.

Just as much as every neighborhood has its corner store, each neighborhood, I am convinced, has its drug dealer den. In Seattle we lived across the street from one. All the fun ended when the police carried a dead body out of there on a stretcher. But our local one-stop shop is a milder affair, I speculate. I've seen a whole bunch of rough looking men over there, huddled over a duffle bag. But they seem to mind their own business which could very well be meth. Once they had a yard sale out of their house, trailer, van, and station wagon, but the smell was too much to get near the merchandise. Plus most of the items seemed useless, e.g. cat and dog salt and pepper shakers and stained tupperware. Also, I'll admit it, I was a little wary of the men. They talked loudly and hadn't washed their hair in weeks (who am I to talk, you may ask). That was even before I suspected them of dealing.

Heading south, a direction in which I hardly walk since it's noisy, is a self-serve car wash. I wonder if they recycle their water or dispose of it ecologically. Probably not. Not economical. Then there is a newly opened gas station. I met the manager a couple of weeks ago. He approached me in front of the pub with no windows. I wondered if he was lost. He was wearing an orange shirt and a gold chain, and looked very Roma (Gypsy). Perhaps he was Indian or Pakistani. He introduced himself as the neighborhood gas station manager and asked me if I knew of any apartment rentals nearby. I suggested a couple of places, but they were no news to him. "Good luck with the gas," I should've said. Or "Gas is a good business to get into." Because gas is funny.

Finally, this is not quite walking distance, but just a couple of minutes by car, there is a strip club. On Halloween their billboard advertised their "big event," Pornoween. I thought that was brilliant and couldn't stop laughing all day long. Tim and I have been wondering what their Thanksgiving event will be called. Any guesses? Or should I say, " Any gasses"?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

all the good stuff

What stuff? Well, let me tell you. There is this store that was pointed out to me today. It's called All the Good Stuff. On the outside it seems like a perfectly inviting junk store - dusty, cramped, and full of treasures waiting to be discovered. But on the inside you realize that this junk that the store owner most likely found in the trash or bought dirt cheap at an estate sale is ridiculously overpriced. And the guy that works there, or perhaps he runs the joint, is one hell of an asshole. Remember, the store is called All the Good Stuff and customer service there sucks ass. Why, you might ask. I'd be delighted to explain.

This morning my mom needed to buy something she knew this store had, so I drove her there. I couldn't get around the store because it was too crowded and the aisles too narrow, so I stayed right near the entryway with the baby in the car seat. And what was there to make my stay more enjoyable? A box of funny black and white photographs from the seventies. Posed shots of random high school football teams, scouts digging ditches next to an inconspicuously placed sign asking for a donation for the Boy Scouts, mustache-sporting businessmen in seventies attire in a meeting so fake you'd think they are Ken dolls.

I contemplated buying one of the photographs since it was guaranteed to make someone laugh. I didn't yet know which of my friends would most appreciate it, but was convinced it would make a great present. But, hold your horses, I thought, you don't yet know how much this amusing piece of paper would cost. I asked the guy stacking the merchandise and sipping coffee alternately. He mumbled, "Five."
I asked, "Really?"
"Ten," he muttered under his breath.
Now I was thoroughly confused. Five dollars for a photograph? Or was it ten? There are at least ten copies of each image in this box, I observed. These puppies are massproduced. Come on! I mean if they were one of a kind or of someone famous...
"Are you serious that they are five dollars?" I asked the guy.
"How many times do I have to tell you they are five dollars a piece?!" he attacked me.
Whoa, I thought. "Well, I'm just asking because I've seen old pictures sold in other places and they were much cheaper." I wasn't lying.
"Well, I have no problem selling them for five dollars." He hissed, looking at a rusty toilet bowl or whatever he was selling. Wow, I sure as hell don't want to come back here, I thought. But to my mom he was as sweet as a cherub. She was only buying something worth two dollars so it wasn't her "business."

What this guy's deal was I don't know, but as soon as I left there I vowed I'd blog about his poppycock attitude and his crappy kaka store. So, now you know.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

downtown where you can always go

The sunny weather today inspired me to go on a little trip with Jonah, his first time out and about downtown. Our adventure started in the morning with Tim dropping us off at the library which, it turned out, was still closed. I looked for a warm place for us to pass the time. It was chilly out, a thick layer frost on everything when I woke up. Most businesses were still closed, but I found a lobby of sorts with tables and chairs that was open and heated. Just a couple of morning birds were there reading the paper and a group of retired men happily chatting away over coffee about where it's snowed lately and the meaning of the word Arizona. Then there was Jonah and me, awkwardly smiling at the guard. When we finally made our way back to the library, the doors were still closed, so we ended up warming up the stoop with a whole bunch of homeless folks and strange types wearing strange outfits. Really I felt like we were extras on a movie set and I was the weird mom with the baby in a sling.

Before I set to do this trip I made a mental map of the possible places where I could nurse and change Jonah comfortably and somewhat discretely, need be. And sure enough, I used them all and then some. The funniest place to feed Jonah was the library. It was so quiet in there you could hear a pin drop. His slurping, burping, and pooping sounds must have carried far and wide. Jonah had his first diaper changing experience in a public restroom, not a type of an experience I would like to undergo more often than necessary.

With baby asleep in the sling, I took the Czech-made tram to my favorite bookstore where I had decaf coffee and a pastry, not realizing, of course, until I was midway through eating, that it was covered with chocolate. I'm supposed to be staying away from chocolate, remember? But, what the heck, I'll just finish this puppy, I thought. And tasty it was. Now that it's almost Jonah's bed time and he is fussy for the first time all day, giving dad a hard time, I'm wondering if he really does have low tolerance for chocolate. I promise I'll try even harder to stay away from it from now on.

At the bookstore I read a magazine and later nursed Jonah again. I had a pretty good spot at the cafe, turned away from nearly everyone except those out on the street in front of the giant glass windows. But there was one dude - overweight, dirty, scruffy, handle-bar-mustache-wearing graying man, scavenging the comics section, facing me, but half submerged in an aisle behind bookshelves. I couldn't see his face, but wondered if he was waiting for a peak at my boob. He lingered which made me even more uneasy. I saw his head move around like a jostled egg behind a magazine display rack. I gave him another chance to display some decency, but lost my patience pretty quickly. My heart beating fast, I got up in the middle of nursing and walked over to see for myself where this yuck meister was looking. I was ready to confront him in a rage if what I imagined was indeed the case. When I stood nearly face to face with him, he was non-chalantly staring at a comics book like he had been reading it for hours. Now, I have no way of knowing if the man was actually staring at me nursing, but the idea of it makes my skin break out in hives. The situation reminded me of a highly unpleasant encounter, to put it mildly, that happened while I was traveling solo in Mexico. I won't go into the details here, because the story would be just too disturbing. But let's say my radar has been out for creepy man behaviour more than ever since then.

When Jonah was done eating, it was pretty much time to head home. We took the bus (Jonah's first time) where he again got hungry and, after having another snack, promptly fell asleep. I included some pictures I took to document our "downtown adventure."

Monday, November 07, 2005

today in a nutshell

This morning I drove my mom to her chiropractic appointment, then after Tim went to work a friend came over with her one-year-old son and we went for a walk. Jonah was quite fussy today, spitting up tons. Our walk was cut short. He cried and wanted to go home to nurse and nap.

One-year-olds are quite a handful. One has to be extra vigilant. Fin had his hands on almost everything within his reach. But it was so much fun to see him explore his surroundings and to witness him say "apple," his second word after "mama." He was interested in Jonah too, especially when Jonah was crying. Fin had a look of fascination on his face.

I don't know what the spitting up was all about today. I've tried not drinking milk because I noticed a couple of times after having hot chocolate that Jonah had "digestive discomfort." But yesterday I craved hot chocolate so bad... as I often do after hiking in cold weather or cross-country skiing. Instead of a regular hot chocolate I made a soy milk hot chocolate. But baby spit up a lot today nonetheless. My friend told me that it could be the chocolate; that she's heard that chocolate is often a no-no during nursing. So I'll try to watch out for that. No chocolate? That's going to be tough :(

It's hard when baby is fussy and uncomfortable. I try everything possible to make him comfortable and get exhausted in the process. We did take a two-hour nap together today. Jonah doesn't really stay asleep for very long during his naps in the day time unless he is sleeping with me or unless I hold him. Setting him down while he sleeps still doesn't work so well usually. He'll only stay asleep for five to ten minutes. That will probably change later.

The other noteworthy thing that happened today was that our neighbor knocked on our door to ask about our cats. Instantly I wondered, oh oh, is Pancho making trouble already? The neighbor responded with this sweet, pinched, breathy voice like she was holding something back. I was just hoping that it wasn't anger. "Oh no," she said. "He wasn't bothering me. He was just sneezing on my patio." Well, I said. Those are allergies. "And what's wrong with his tail?" she wanted to know. I told her that Pancho had gotten in a bad fight about a month ago and that his tail got hurt in the process. Tim has taken him to the vet since and the vet shaved a small portion of the cat's tail to examine it and gave us drops for the little bit of infection that was there. But according to the vet, Pancho is just fine. Then the neighbor asked about one of our other cats, Sarafina. "And that black and orange cat is yours too?" Yes, I replied. "She is big," the neighbor observed, waiting for my reaction. I should've told her that Fini will be starting Weightwatchers for cats or something just so the neighbor would leave us alone, but instead I just agreed, "yes, she is big."

Only a couple of hours passed by and the breathy voiced lady was at our door again, this time with Pancho in her arms. "Here is your cat." Tim answered the door asking if the cat was bothering her. "Oh no," I heard the sugary voice respond. "He was just meowing on my patio. He has a cold and should really be inside in a warm place." Tim just thanked her and let her drop Pancho inside our house through the cracked door. "You thanked her for that?" I thought. But I know Tim. He was just trying to be a friendly neighbor. Though I can appreciate feeling bothered by a meowing cat on my patio, I don't appreciate being guilt-tripped. Just for the record - my cat does not have a cold, he is entitled to being outside as much as my neighbor's cats are, and if he bothers her that much, she has my permission to pour a glass of water on him to teach him a lesson. I guarantee he will learn fast. I'll give her that tip next time she knocks on my door and tries to disguise a scolding with motherly advice about my cats. Last time we had cat disputes like this, Tim answered the door naked to discourage the lady from ringing our doorbell and whining to us at odd times of the night and early morning. She never came back. But this neighbor lives right next door, not down the street, so we might have to think of another trick. Suggestions welcome.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

first snow

Today we ventured out on Jonah's first cross country trip. It's been raining here quite a bit and snowing in the mountains. The Cascades got a foot of snow on Friday alone.

It was a perfect day. The sun was out and the sky was blue with clouds moving fast. The snow was crusty and slick on top and powdery underneath. No cross country tracks. Those were mowed over by snow shoers and snow mobiles. But we managed, though I did fall once on the trail and then once right as we got back to the car, just after I thought, "it would be really silly to fall right here." Of course, the hardest thing about falling is getting up. Tim had to help me both times.

Back to the trail. The forest was beautiful. Heavy snow weighing down the trees and a gorgeous view of a sunny valley and cloud-covered Mt. Hood through the trees. The view opened up in one spot. We admired it, ate our lunches, took a few pictures and headed back. On the way back it began to snow. Baby slept the whole time, then ate when we got back to the car.

When we got to the trail after renting the skis we realized that we forgot to bring the baby carrier. You might see Tim's brilliant solution in the pictures. He put baby, wearing a sleeping bag suit, in his buttoned up wool shirt and wrapped a scarf around his neck on which he rested baby's head. It worked great!

Friday, November 04, 2005

family news

Tim's parents were just in town visiting. My favorite was seeing MaryAnn playing with her grandson. She's so great with kids! He really loved playing with her. They were talking back and forth and Jonah wiggled around on the playmat showing off his new toy batting skills.

In other developments, Tim's Montana cousin had a baby girl this morning. Everyone is very excited since this is her fourth child but her first little girl.

My mom is now back in her own place, doing better after some chiropractic treatment, going to work too. Still in pain, but getting better.

I feel like a regular housewife, taking care of the baby and making dinners just in time for the husband's return home back from work. I'm enjoying it for now. I'll be going back to work in less than a month. Time flies.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

dream bank

These days I'm a regular dream bank. Last night I dreamt that a girl about eight-years-old pointed out to me that I was prancing around out in the public with no underwear and no bottoms at all. I had no idea. Good thing the shirt I was wearing was long enough to stretch out over my bum once I was alerted. No wonder I still felt tired when I woke up in the morning.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

nothing but a piece of cake

Today at the store I noticed tons of babies around Jonah's age. No, they weren't for sale and no, they weren't scouring the isles for cheese and crackers or toilet paper and garbage bags like I was doing. Most of them were riding in car seat thrones atop shopping cart boats. With the younger babies I thought, oh, I remember when Jonah was that age. Funny since he isn't even three months old yet.

At a party recently Tim and I found ourselves sharing our "expertise" or shall I say, "passing our wisdom on," or was it "giving much needed and appreciated advice" to parents whose baby was about three weeks younger than Jonah. They really wanted to know certain somethings and we were happy to oblige them.

After weeks of learning to understand and appropriately respond to an ever-evolving array of signals an infant sends to his parents, it was a treat to be able to say, "this is what worked for us and may work for you." And it felt even better to make the advising session into a production complete with averted knowing gazes and waves of the hand to convey the attitude of "that's nothing but a piece of cake. Been there, done that."

Certain aspects of caring for an infant we've discovered on our own, others we've found in books or gotten as advice. It is fun to know that now one knows what one didn't know then ;)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

chubby cupid

I took this picture right as Tim was getting ready to bathe Jonah today. I really noticed then how chubby our little cherub has gotten.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Sunday miscellany

We're finally done moving. Tim did so much work! He cleaned our old apartment this weekend (I helped a little... very little since I watched Jonah and did other stuff around the house) and moved the few remaining items. Our new house is still full of boxes!! Sorting is one of my biggest nightmares. I swear I feel nauseous just looking at the piles of stuff we own. Having a large basement is a blessing and a curse. Some day I hope to reduce the amount of boxes I store... to two or three or five down from about a hundred!!!

In other developments, my good friend Lisa visited from Seattle today. It's always so inspiring to see her. She lives her life with such zeal. It's marvelous to hear someone say, without reservation, that life is great.

My mom has been staying with us for a week. She has had horrible back and leg pain, bad enough to make it difficult for her to walk. So I've been taking care of her. She has gotten a little better. The one advantage of this unfortunate situation is that she has gotten to spend a lot of time with Jonah. And she has helped us by holding him and playing with him while we chip away at our crazy mess.

Tim's parents are coming in a couple of days. It would be nice to at least make this house easy to walk through so they don't trip over the boxes full of who knows what.

All the essentials have been set up (except for the silverware and cooking utensils). Those are still in paper bags though they are used numerous times a day. I am even proud to report that I have started to decorate our house. Well, one decorative mirror is up on the wall. Hey, that's a start. I love this particular mirror. Its frame is a mosaic made of tiny mirror squares, hand-made by an acquaintance. Tim noticed I liked it and got it for me from the artist's stand at Saturday Market. It's special because someone I know made it. If I had more money, I would buy art from my friends. I already have a list of friends whose art I would love to look at every day. Some day...

I've included a picture of one of our other cats, Sarafina, looking out the window. There are more photos of our new place in the second photo album link from the top (right hand side). I'll add more photos as we set up the house.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

cat in a box

I took this picture of Pancho while moving. He found the smallest box in the whole house to sit in.

uncle Andy's birthday

On Thursday we celebrated Jonah's uncle Andy's birthday. Pizza and beer - Andy's favorite. Here is a picture of the birthday boy holding Jonah.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

no breastfeeding allowed

Last night I had a very vivid dream that I was getting ready to nurse Jonah at Fred Meyer's, a big local supermarket. Before I even got started, a guard in an all black uniform came up and rather aggressively tried to prevent me from nursing on the supermarket's premises. He started by telling me that La Leche League, a breastfeeding support organization, is shady. I didn't get why he mentioned them at all. Perhaps to scare me. Then he said that I am not allowed to breastfeed there. I got furious and began to argue with him, telling him that he is denying my baby food and that it's legal in Oregon to breastfeed in public. I wasn't going to quit or leave. At the peak of my argument Jonah spit up all over me as if to either punctuate what I was saying or to mock me. Impeccable timing. I am proud to say I took that guy on singlehandedly and wasn't gonna let him tell me what to do!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

all moved in... just about

We are just about all moved in!!! With the exception of a few more things we still need to gather at the old apartment. Several friends showed up and helped. I can't thank them enough. They worked so hard!!! I feel really bad for the person who hit his head extra hard... a couple of times while carrying heavy... machinery, was it? Perhaps I should protect this person by allowing him to remain nameless. Fortunately there was no lasting (brain) damage. Phew!

I love the new house! It's still full of boxes, but that will never stop me from enjoying it. It's so peaceful here. Can't hear the nearby train yard at all. Or hardly at all, I should say.

I took a walk to one of the two nearest parks today with Jonah in the sling. The park is seven blocks away. Most of the walk is on an obscure unpaved road (a rarity in inner Portland). The park is beautiful -one of the prettiest parks in the city- with two playground areas with play structures, lots of picnic tables, stately old trees, and gorgeous landscaping.

I met one of our nextdoor neighbors. She is very nice. She said to let her know if we ever needed anything. That is a very neighborly thing to say indeed. But she sounded sincere. Did I sound as sincere when I replied, letting her know she can expect the same from us?

Friday, October 21, 2005

new house

Yesterday Tim and I brought the first load of stuff to our new house. I just was mainly curious and wanted to see the place at night. Since we decided to go there we thought we would bring some books and plants along. The neighbors on one side had their curtains open and were thus in full view. And so were we. When we were standing in the kitchen, I noticed the neighbor standing by the window in his kitchen, looking at us with curiosity. Of course, like a good neighbor should, I pretended I didn't see him and he did the same. The second time our eyes met, I smiled and saw him waving to us. So I waved back. It really made me laugh. "Well, hello neighbor!"

I am anxious to start settling in and putting the furniture and things in their place. I hope we like living there enough to stay a while. Tomorrow is the big moving day!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

what is going on?

To those unitiated into parenthood it may seem that my days are somewhat uneventful, but my nights sure make up for it. The night before last I had a dream that large round rocks were falling from the sky. Last night I dreamt that a nearby volcano was errupting. The erruption was accompanied by an earthquake. Everyone jumped for joy when the erruption and the earthquake ended, but I had the haunting feeling that there would be another episode soon. I ran around, frantically grabbing things but not finding anything important. While doing this, I held the baby in one arm. Then all of a sudden the baby would be missing and I would have to search for him among the scattered clothes, shoes, and bags in the room. When we left the building I asked Tim if he packed anything for the baby. He said he only packed things for himself. I was disappointed at how selfish he could be. (Mind you, this in no way reflects our real dynamics.) Why am I having all these nightmares? When will it stop?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

moving soon

The moving day is getting closer and closer. Only five more nights in our apartment and then we move to our new house. I am excited for the change, but also sad to leave this place. This building has witnessed so many of our big life events and I've enjoyed living here. I'll miss having my brother- and sister-in-law in the same building. I will miss a few things about this neighborhood as well. The rose garden, for example. And the Overlook neighborhood which is so nice to walk through. I will miss having the video store and the pizza place just a couple blocks away. And also lots of parks and playgrounds to choose from walking distance. But I'm sure I'll get used to our new neighborhood and will discover some treasures there too.
Hopefully I'll meet some people in the neighborhood. Right now I don't know too many people that live close to our new place. It looks like there are some families with kids in the neighborhood there. It would be nice to meet some so Jonah has new friends to play with in a few months.

I wonder how long we will stay at that house. If we stay long enough, and if Jonah ends up going to a mainstream elementary school, he will be able to walk. There is an elementary school eight blocks from the house. I actually taught afterschool theater classes there several years ago. There is a high school about six blocks from the house. I met with the school psychologist there once because I had a teenage student who needed counseling. Ah, old memories.

Today was a good day. I went to work to submit and pick up some paperwork (I will have to do a few hours of work form home. Oh joy!). My co-workers that haven't met Jonah got to meet him. He was asleep though, which was a good thing. Then a friend of mine that I work with suggested we go out to lunch together. Perfect. We went out to one of my favorite restaurants. I had my favorite dessert on the planet, che van, a Vietnamese coconut milk dessert with jello and beans. Yuuuuummmmmm!!! Those of you that know I was supposed to cut down on my sugar, bread, and fruit intake now know that I have fallen off the wagon. To that I say, there are only so many rice cakes I can eat before going koo-koo.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sunday hike

Tim, Jonah and I got out hiking today. No rain which was good. It was cold up in the mountains. We went up to Hawk Mountain in the Clackamas River area, hoping for mushrooms. But alas, this year has not been a good mushroom year. Why I don't know. We were wondering if it was because our little fun guy or "fungi," as we like to call him (Tim needs to be credited for this nickname), is so handsome and charming that he may be too intimidating for the other forest fungi. Perhaps that is why they all hide when we come around.

Here is a picture of the scenery. The view of Mt. Jefferson, which is usually stunning, was obscured by clouds. But the panorama was still beautiful. More photos in my new hiking photo album, "outdoor adventures," (the other is full now)- first photo link on the right.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

parties are fun

Today was a good day. After breakfast I took a long nap with Jonah on my chest. In the afternoon our whole little family went to a bookstore. I read one of my favorite magazines, Bitch, a feminist critique of pop culture. The writing is so smart and insightful in that magazine. It's people like the writers in Bitch that will change the world! Jonah was asleep the whole time we were at the bookstore.

Next we went to my favorite resale store that sells used children's clothes and other things like strollers and cribs. We had to get Jonah some diaper covers. You know, those things that keep the cloth diapers he uses in place... they are basically plastic underwear that opens up and seals with velcro for changing ease. One pair that I picked out seemed too big to Tim. Tim said I should save that one for when he "becomes geriatric." Funny, funny guy.

The day climaxed with a party at a friends' house where I got to see several people I work with (among them my favorite coworkers). The food was excellent, so of course I enjoyed myself thoroughly. There was another baby at the party, three weeks younger than Jonah. It was fun to compare the baby's behavior and see how far Jonah has come since that time. He changes so fast!

His new developments include him grabbing onto my shirt when nursing and holding it as if he wanted to hold on to me so I don't go anywhere. Also, when he is hungry he grabs at things and pulls them to his mouth. He is now able to see further. I notice him focusing on trees and patterns as far as a hundred yards maybe? I'm bad with estimating distance. But it's obvious that he can see far. He is also keenly aware of where I am generally, and turns his head to look for me sometimes. His smile is really the best. He is close to giggling while smiling, I can tell. He is also starting to make baby language sounds like "goo." But they are still infrequent. Also, he has been sleeping for longer stretches... not consistently though... usually the first chunk of the night. He slept for almost six hours last night without nursing. Of course half of it was still before my bedtime. Those are all the latest developments I can think of for now.

Friday, October 14, 2005


The last few days have been pretty draining. Jonah has been quite fussy and hasn't been sleeping much during the day. It's hard when he cries a lot. I wonder why he's been so unhappy. Is his body still dealing with the aftermath of the shots he got on Tuesday? I try feeding him, changing him, burping him, comforting him, but sometimes he just can't be consoled. A little break away from him to recoup is long overdue for me. But when he is so fussy I feel like I can't really get away because he might cry too much without me holding him or he might need to be fed more frequently than usual. When he finally does fall asleep I need to hold him. If I put him down he wakes up and complains.

My days consist mostly of feeding, changing and holding Jonah. Once in a while I squeeze a nap or a walk in there somewhere. Meals are quick and haphazzard. Showers infrequent, I'm embarassed to admit.

Yesterday I went for a quick check-up. The baby was with Tim. The midwives asked me if it's strange being without the baby. They were in disbilief, it seemed, when I told them that it wasn't really that strange. It was nice to take a breather, in fact. In the back of my mind, though, I worried that he was home with Tim crying unconsolably because he needed me.

My days go so quickly, but the times when Jonah cries, even if he cries for only five minutes, feel like eternity. These days I look forward to the weekend like never before. When Tim is home it's so nice because we can share the caretaking responsibilities and help each other do the essentials, like eat for example.

When Jonah sleeps more during the day I don't feel so burnt out. The quiet moments allow me to rest mentally or to think about things bigger than my little universe.

A part of me feels guilty for complaining. I should love every minute of having this baby, that's what everyone who has grown kids says. "Enjoy it while it lasts, they will be big before you know it." Of course I am happy being a mother and love my son. It's just hard sometimes.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

visiting babies

Let me not forget to mention that Tim's cousin Holly and her husband and 11-month-old son visited us last weekend. It was a brief but nice visit. It's always a treat to watch babies eat green mushy food with enormous excitement, and so is seeing them figuring out new ways to keep their parents on their toes, literally. It didn't take more than a minute, for instance, for little Cole to find the cat food in a bowl. Ah, all the excitement that awaits us!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

two-months old

Jonah is two months old today! It definitely seems like we've known each other much longer than that. Today was an eventful day. Jonah had a doctor's appointment. He got weighed, measured, and he got his first set of shots. Honestly, it was a day I'd dreaded for some time. I was so worried about how he would react to the shots.

The doctor was as nice as I remembered. She wore the same ratty sweater and clogs as last time, which I found refreshing. We learned she had a small child, a one-year-old, herself.

They must have mismeasured Jonah last time because he measured less today than three weeks ago. Anyway, he measures around 22 inches and weighs 11 lbs 6 oz which means that he gained a pound and 2 oz in three weeks (nearly an ounce a day).

After they measured and weighed Jonah, the dreaded moment came. He had to get three shots. The needles were huge! Tim held him while the nurse administered the injections. Surprisingly Jonah cried hard for only about two minutes. Then he promptly fell asleep in my arms. He slept for a long time. But then later in the afternoon he had several crying spells. One of them lasted a long time and almost broke my heart. It made me cry, in fact. It was the first time Jonah had seen me cry and the sight puzzled him. He stopped crying and for and for a few seconds studied my face. Then he remembered that he was crying and started again. Now he is asleep in my lap. He has hardly eaten, but more than food he probably needs sleep now. I hope the pain he is feeling goes away soon.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

today's hike

We went hiking in the Mt. Hood area today. It was a beautiful sunny day after lots of rain. It was cold in the forest though. We were pretty much the only people on this hike. No mushrooms though. It's been a bad fall for mushrooms so far. Hopefully next weekend we will find enough to be able to dry some for the rest of the year.


I had a dream that I was flying last night. I can't even remember the last time I dreamt that!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

family from NY

My sister and her boyfriend were here visiting from New York. They left yesterday. It was so wonderful to have them here! I miss them already.

My mom, sister, and I sang some Czech folk songs to Jonah. He really seemed to enjoy it. He was alert and watched us intently. At one point when we stopped singing he got fussy and then when we started again he calmed down.

I should sing to him more often. It's just that I can usually only think of two or three songs to sing and I get bored with them myself. If I make a song list of all the songs I know and put it in strategic places, such as right above his changing table, it'll jot my memory and I'll be able to sing him a greater variety of songs. I usually sing Czech folk songs to him that I remember from being a kid. My sister got me a song book of Czech folk songs. I was surprised to find out that we used to sing almost all of the songs in the song book. That means I must know at least fifty songs!!!

On Thursday we went to one of the many art events here in town. This one was a gallery walk that takes place every first Thursday of the month and so it's called "First Thursday." I felt inspired and took a few "artsy" photos. I've included one.

dream within a dream

Have you ever dreamt that you were dreaming? I did last night. I had a dream that Tim and I were to watch someone else's baby one day. There were lots of people around and Jonah and the other baby, a girl, were just hanging out, lying down in the midst of the action. Everything was going fine, except that I kept finding things set on the babies. I found keys, for example, set on a baby's face. I tried to tell people that babies aren't shelves or drawers, but they just wouldn't listen.

Later in the dream Tim and I were at a performance of some sort. Tim was showing off and flipping the baby girl we were babysitting in his arms, when all of a sudden the baby's head came off as if it were a doll. Its arms came off too. At first I panicked, but then it all made sense. I turned to the person next to me and said, "Oh, we must be dreaming."

Thursday, October 06, 2005

dirty looks

I forgot to write about this a couple of weeks ago. I took Jonah on a little outing to the bookstore, hoping to have a little change of scenery. I browsed the new non-fiction section and selected a book to look through, then I grabbed a couple of magazines off the shelves. I ordered a decaf coffee, doctored it up with the perfect amount of cream and sugar, and sat down to read with Jonah on my chest in a sling. I skimmed the first few pages of my magazine.

"This is the life," I thought. "I'm learning about the world and enjoying a tasty beverage with my baby quietly sleeping on my chest."

As soon as I thought that Jonah woke up and began to make grunting noises. I patted him on the back, but his vocalization only intensified. Soon he started rubbing his fists against his cheeks and mouth.

"Aww, he's hungry again?" I said to myself surprised. "I just fed him a half hour ago."

The grunting didn't last long. Within minutes it transformed into crying. I rushed out of the bookstore to my car to feed Jonah. But on the way out, I was dismayed to see the first dirty look that I've gotten as a mother of a crying infant. It came from the security guard at the bookstore. I didn't even know there were security guards in bookstores!

I fed Jonah in the car, then returned to an already empty table. I made my rounds around the bookstore, picking up the same magazines and book I wanted to peruse. And again, Jonah began grunting and then crying instantly. So, I fed him in the car again and decided we better go home.

I told the story to a friend of mine who said that he used to be one of those people who'd give parents of crying babies dirty looks until he became an uncle and had to care for his crying niece.

And that's the story of the first dirty look I've gotten as a "bad mother."

I forgot my baby...

in the car in my dream last night. I happily locked the car doors and walked away. Then I saw some mothers and babies in the street and remembered I left Jonah in the car all by himself. I panicked and couldn't remember where I parked at first. Shortly I found my car and my baby crying inside. Ahhh, motherhood.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Jonah met a dove

Today Jonah met a dove. It was his aunt Jenni's friend's pet dove named Frances, a seventeen-year old grandmother bird. It cooed and laughed like a human. Its feathers were pink and soft like silk. The dove flew around Jenni's kitchen and settled on Tim's head. Jonah, who was resting in Tim's arms, watched the bird flap its wings and land on his dad's head. The whole event made Jonah grin from ear to ear. Jonah means dove in Hebrew. Maybe that's why they had such a special connection.

Jonah also smiled at his uncle Andy for the first time today. To see this moment captured on camera, go to the photo album entitled "photos of Jonah & family" on the right.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

fun day

My sister's boyfriend arrived into town and on Sunday we all hung out and had a fabulous time. We started with breakfast that stretched into brunch at my mom's place. Then we drove by the house our little family will be moving into later this month. We wanted to show my sister and her man the place so they can imagine where we will be living. Next we went to Powell's Books to browse and read while munching on a little treat of course (except I was a good girl and only got a beverage so as to follow my naturopath's plan for me). (Oh, another aside. This was the first time that I nursed in a room crowded with strangers and with more strangers walking by the large windows outside o the sidewalk. It went well too!). Afterwards we had a late lunch from the delicious salad bar at Whole Foods, and later that evening we went to one of my favorite restaurants in Portland, The Farm. I've tried almost everything on their menu. This time the salmon my sister ordered was by far the best dish on the table. So tender, moist, fresh, and subtle in flavor.

The biggest issue I have with the restaurants in this town is that they are inconsistent. I'll get one dish and love it, then order it the next time and it will taste completely different. For instance, last time at The Farm I ordered the hazlenut encrusted tofu and mashed potatoes. But not only did it taste different - a lot spicier than usual, it was prepared differently. There were no hazelnuts in the crust! And that's how it goes. No wonder I get disappointed so frequently by restaurants. One would think that if a restaurant has a good thing going they would stick with it for a while. Maybe they should pay their cooks more so there isn't such a high turnover. Maybe the patrons should be more honest too. Like my father-in-law John is in restaurants. I should've followed his example. There is always a next time.

Such a busy day was followed by a fussy day. Jonah cried a lot and was quite clingy. He must've gotten overstimulated. After a lot of fussiness he slept for six or seven hours in a row though last night. And I slept for a stretch of five or six hours myself! I did wake up a few times checking the clock, but was able to fall right back to sleep. What a nice treat it was to not have to wake up every two to three hours to nurse!

bad dreams again

The other night I had a nightmare again. I couldn't find my baby and couldn't remember who was supposed to be watching him. At first, someone thought she found Jonah, but it was a different baby. When we finally found Jonah, his ears and nose had been tied with those paper-metal ties that bread is sometimes tied with in a plastic bag. These ties deformed my baby's features. When I woke up and nursed Jonah, I cried. That was one of the most horrifying dreams I've ever had.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

autumn is here

The fall is definitely here. As soon as my sister got into town, the clouds gathered overhead and it began to rain, though the summer, as per usual, was dry, sunny, and hot. It pretty much has been raining non-stop for several days now. It's been cold as well, especially at night. After weeks of sunshine I'd almost forgotten what the rain feels like. The upside is that the rain makes the air in the city so fresh. And there is a part of me that really loves the rain. It makes me appreciate being inside, indulging in warm beverages and food. But what doesn't make me want to pig out? Especially these days when I'm nursing. I'm constantly hungry.

What makes my obsession with food worse is that a naturopath I just recently saw recommended I cut out bread, sweets, and fruit for a while. How can I live without bread, sugar and fruit? I have been eating a little bread here and there and sneaking a spoonful of sugar into my decaf coffee too. I just can't go cold turkey. I trust the naturopath, but, people have pity on me. I'm really suffering here. Without bread it's so hard to ever feel full. I will just have to be more creative with what I eat. If you have any delicious recipes involving whole grains, send them my way, please.

Back to my sister's visit. On Friday we went hiking. I insisted that we go, that Tim and I go rain or shine, but my mom and sister were hesitant. I chose a hike in an old growth forest and reassured them that we will hardly feel the rain through the canopy of trees. Little did I know that the rain was going to be torrential. We were drenched within the first half hour. But we didn't let that stop us, especially since we were on a hunt for mushrooms. Sure enough we found some boletes (porcini). For dinner my mom made delicious Czech traditional potato mushroom soup we call bramboracka.

The hike was along the Salmon River, but in a different section than where Tim, Jonah, and I hiked a week ago. This time, again, we saw salmon spawn! My sister, a typical New Yorker, inhaled so much fresh air in the woods that she felt lightheaded or "high," as she claimed. Though I'm not a New Yorker, that has happened to me too. So much fresh air that my body didn't know what to do with it. The rain must somehow increase the effect with all the water particles adding more oxygen to the mix.

More pictures in the "hiking with Jonah" album on the right.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

aunt Marta

My sister is visiting from New York now. It's fabulous having her here. I wish she didn't live so far away.

announcing Jonah

I stopped by the birth center and finally took a picture of the board announcing all the babies recently born at Alma Midwifery center. Elijah, as per my earlier posting, was born in the room next door on the same night as Jonah.

I also took a picture of the building. The room where Jonah was born is the one with the two windows on the top floor on the right.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

pictures of house

I drove by the house today and showed it to my mom. She liked it a lot. I told her I would enlist her advice when it comes to gardening since Tim and I are responsible for maintaining the grounds. Fortunately both the front and the backyard are small.

I took a couple of pictures. They didn't turn out so great, but at least you can see something. I can't wait to settle in!