Wednesday, August 31, 2005


August 30th was our 2nd wedding anniversary. Tim gave me beautiful flowers and we went out for sushi!!! August 30th was also supposed to be Jonah's birthday. But he was eager to make his appearance, so he came on August 11th.

Monday, August 29, 2005


Also, today Jonah went to his first art event ever. We went to see a mosaic my friend Ruth Greenberg designed to decorate New
York's Design & Decoration Building in Manhattan. The mosaic will be shipped off tomorrow, so Ruth had a viewing in her studio. It was really fun. Good cup cakes and champagne too!

first rain and thunder

Today Jonah witnessed the rain and a thunder storm for the first time. I don't think it'd rained here in at least a month. Jonah laid in my arms while we listened to the sound of rain drops on leaves outside and of thunder reverberating through the air.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

first hike

Tim and I took Jonah on his first hike today! Right here in our city forest called Forest Park, the largest urban park in the nation. It's definitely something Portland has to boast about.

night and day

We have two baby "manuals." It's amazing how differently each treats the idea of co-sleeping. One says, "Is it all right to let your baby sleep in your bed? Yes! It is not only all right, this is where we believe babies belong."

The other book says, "Co-sleeping, parents and children sharing a bed at night, does work well-but chiefly, it seems, in other societies. In a society like ours, which stresses the development of independence and the importance of privacy, co-sleeping is associated with a wide range of problems."

Here is a peak at the problems the book deems are caused by co-sleeping: sleep problems, dental problems in baby, developmental problems, peer problems (school age children may be ridiculed by peers for co-sleeping), marital problems, safety problems, and drawing-the-line problems. Whoa!

Here is what the book that encourages co-sleeping gives as reasons to sleep together (I have already noticed many of these points are true): babies go to sleep better; babies stay asleep better; mothers stay asleep better; breastfeeding is easier (I can't wait for this!); sleep sharing fits in with busy lifestyles (as more and more mothers, of necessity, are separated from their baby during the day, sleeping with their baby allows them to be reunited at night - this will be the case when sadly I go back to work when Jonah is 16 weeks-old); and finally, babies thrive.

Our baby sleeps in a co-sleeper next to our bed, and sometimes with us in bed. I can't imagine training an infant to become independent. What a bunch of bologna. Might as well train him to go to the fridge to pour himself a glass of milk when he's hungry!

Co-sleeper bed (pictured) courtesy grandma MaryAnn and grandpa John. Thank you!!!

Thursday, August 25, 2005


Jonah had his two-week exam today - first one back at the birth center. The midwives have done home visits up until now to check up on baby and me. That's been so nice!

We got to visit the room where Jonah was born. I took a picture of the very bed where it happened. If I described the birth center to you as a bed and breakfast, you now can see what I mean.

Also, I took a picture of one of our midwives, Lynnette, listening to Jonah's heart and lungs, both of which sound nice and strong.

They did the second part of the newborn screen, a blood sample, and of course baby hated it. Tim and I made the midwives hold him so he associates the pain with them, not his loving parents. The first part of the newborn screen done a week ago came back normal. Yay!

The best news was that he has gained nearly a pound in the last week! The goal was to get his weight up to his original birth weight, since he lost some in the first couple of days. He surpassed the goal by half a pound. Yippeee for our favorite breast milk drinker!!!


I took Jonah on his first ride in a stroller. He liked it. He was asleep the whole time. And my back thanked me for a little break from the sling.

Blanket courtesy aunt Jenni. Stroller courtesy mamma's aunt and uncle Lenka & Marcus. It works great. Thank you!!!

up yours

Junior played a joke on me. While nursing I looked down and what do you know... he was giving me the finger!!! Good thing the camera was handy.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

guess whose birthday

Yes, it was daddy's turn to celebrate. August is our little family's month. Baby's b-day was supposed to be last. But no, he wanted to kick off the August string of festivities for us every year. So his big day is August 11. Then comes my birthday, August 16, followed by Tim's, August 23. Next is our wedding anniversary - August 30. This will be our second.

So, for Tim's birthday yesterday we planned our first outing to a restaurant with baby.

First, baby got a sponge bath. This woke him up and made him hungry, Next, he had his dinner, served up homestyle. Then we were ready to run out the door, knowing we would have anywhere between an hour and a half and two and a half hours of baby quietly sleeping between meals.

We zoomed downtown to one of our favorite restaurants at which birthday people eat for free.

Tim was in heaven eating just about everything the buffet had to offer. Especially the Korean short ribs, as you can see pictured here.

Eating sushi was blissful for me since I couldn't eat it while pregnant. (They say to stay away from raw fish because of bacteria...) My favorite dishes were: sushi (different types of salmon rolls), green beans, cesar salad, teriyaki chicken, mango (the freshest and most delicious I've ever had!), chocolate mouse, creme broule, and something like a mini canoli.

I was so excited to eat sushi that I couldn't stop talking about it. When Tim left the table for a while, it was just me and my sushi. Nothing else in the world existed for a minute.

Tim made fun of me and said he will just give me a raw piece of fish to go to bed with that night. He said, "In fact, we have some frozen salmon in the freezer. I'll just defrost that for you to go to bed with."

After Tim ate his thirty-two course buffet dinner, he said, "I wish someone could burp me." I just about fell out of my chair laughing.

Jonah slept peacefully through the whole thing and was ready to eat when we got home. How perfect!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

sleep is good, but...

When are the nightmares going to go away? Last night I had to endure watching a little girl get swept up by a waterfall. It was a little girl I knew. She was in the day care program where I used to teach. A troubled child about seven or eight years old. Awkward. No one wanted to play with her. One time she was very upset and she ran around screaming, "Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear, Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair!" at the top of her lungs. I didn't know how to help her.

One day I got an idea. I brought her my hand-held tape recorder and let her borrow it. I told her she could carry it around and record herself. She loved it and it made her popular with the other kids. But the tape recorder was broken by the second day.

Another nightmare I had a few nights ago was about my mother-in-law, MaryAnn, who got scalded by hot water in a bathtub of a supposedly fancy hotel. Except the hotel was falling apart and the rating was only two stars.

I want the nightmares to go away!!!

Monday, August 22, 2005

first train ride

Jonah and I went on a little adventure today. I whipped out the grandma grocery cart Tim's mom got us for laundry, put baby in a sling, and off we were to the supermarket. The train you see pictured here stops about a five minute walk from our house. We took that to the store. In fact, as you can see, we chartered the ride today :) This was Jonah's first time taking public transit. Our friend and mass transit advocate Ezra would be proud of us.


We took baby on his first picnic at the park. Guess what was on the menu for him? That's right, breastmilk. Served right under the blue summer sky and lush linden tree branches. It just so happens that the linden tree is the national tree of the Czech Republic. Its leaves are in the shape of a heart.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

tree full of eyes

When we stepped outside the birth center to go home several hours after Jonah's birth, it was already dark. About midnight. The tree out back was full of little racoons sleeping in the branches. Or were their sneaky eyes peering down at us? The mom was right next door on the fence facing away. Tim said, maybe the racoon is Jonah's animal spirit.

guardian spirit

When I was in labor, I had a vision of my paternal grandmother who passed away when I was ten. It was as if she was checking in, letting me know she is thinking of Jonah and me. I acknowledged her wishes and thanked her.

I've been told this grandmother, or babicka Bedriska as we called her, felt the closest to me of all her relatives even though I was just a child. I remember often rubbing her shoulders with tiger balm. She had a lot of pain in her shoulders. I can't imagine living through what she had lived through. She survived a concentration camp during the war. Her first husband did not. She remarried. Her second husband Otto, my grandfather, survived Auschwitz. I imagine his story of the last months of the war was very similar to Elie Wiesel's memoir Night, which I conincidentally taught a unit on to tenth-graders last year.

After my grandmother died, I had a dream that we ate cookies together. Since then I dream about her once in a while. At first the dreams were often scary. I'd call out her name, looking for her and she would answer with an enormous thunder and lightning that would awaken me. Or I'd meet her in her dark kitchen, afraid of her. But in one dream she was a teacher. She invited me into her classroom and had me copy a rhythm she was tapping out on her desk with her palms. I asked her if she could feel when people were thinking about her and she said she could. Then I asked her if people, especially her sons, thought of her often and she looked down, implying a no. This made me cry. She then gave me advice a part of which I remember clearly and a part of which is very hazy. She said I should never let anyone tell me what to do. And then she begged me to not let the world get red, the earth get brown and the fairy tale green.... or something like that. It was very symbolic, but I don't remember exactly how this went. I know I have it written down somewhere in a journal. I should go look it up.

Before Jonah was born, I imagined he might look a lot like me as a baby. And as a baby I looked quite a bit like babicka Bedriska. Sure enough, Jonah does look like me as a baby and a little bit like my paternal grandmother.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

perfectly even

Guess what! Jonah balanced our family. Now there are six of us, including our three cats. Three boys and three girls. I am the only human girl though.

our house

The house we live in has witnessed so much of our lives!

When Tim and his brother Andy lived together in another one of the four apartments in our building, Tim and I started dating. That was over nine years ago.

Seven years later Tim and I moved back into the building. We both turned thirty and got married. I finished my Masters in education, got pregnant and had our first baby.

So many significant life changes happened in this house on Albina Avenue. Recently I realized that Albina was the name of my grandmother's great-aunt who took care of her and her brother when they orphaned as little children. The way my grandmother has always talked about Auntie Albina, I figured she was nearly a saint. Now it seems that she has kept her watchful loving eye over us on this street, under this roof as we go through so many lifechanging events. Thank you Auntie Albina!

What's in a name?

How did we pick our son's name and what does it mean? One day, months and months into my pregnancy I was listening to the radio. The due date was coming up soon and Tim and I hadn't come up with a name yet. Suddenly the name Jonah jumped out at me. Instantly I thought, that's it! It was as if baby called out to me and said, that's the name I want. The name had the qualities I was looking for. It was a Hebrew name which I wanted for our son to honor my Jewish heritage (my father is Jewish); it flowed well with the baby's last name; it had a nice Czech equivalent (Jonas, pronounced Yoh-nosh); it wasn't common; it was easy to spell and pronounce; and finally it had a beautiful and symbolic meaning. Jonah means dove in Hebrew. I'm so glad Tim liked the name too.

A while after we settled on the name Jonah, I dug up my family tree in the basement. To my astonishment, I noticed that Jonas is the first relative we had been able to trace on my dad's side with my last name. Jonas Topfer was born in 1767. It is an an Ashkenazi Jewish custom to name a new baby after a relative that has passed away. This keeps the name and memory alive, and in a metaphysical way forms a bond between the soul of the baby and the deceased relative. So even in this way naming our son Jonah was symbolic.

Now, Jonah's middle name we came up with after he was born. Tim and I wanted to give him a middle name that would represent our love of nature, but nothing sounded right. So, we almost settled on no middle name. When Jonah was one day old, Tim said he wanted to use the middle name King because Martin Luther King is one person he would want to name his son after. I thought King was a bit too strong-sounding, so I suggested Rey. Rey means king in Spanish and when said out loud, it sounds like Ray in English, which has a beautiful meaning... Ray of light or hope. It flows well with Jonah too. So we decided that Jonah Rey will be it!

Friday, August 19, 2005

the grandmas

On his first visit to his aunt and uncle, Jonah got to hang out with both of his grandmas. He loved being held by them

Jonah's first visit

On the day Jonah was one week old, he went on his first visit. It was just upstairs to his uncle Andy's and aunt Jenni's place. We had a fabulous dinner - wild Alaskan salmon that Jonah's grandfather John caught. And don't worry. Jonah is right next to us sleeping in his special chair (bouncer).

Jonah's first walk

Here we are on Jonah's first walk. He is one week old.

sleep but strange dreams

Last night I actually slept! I slept in big chunks - an hour and half here, two hours there. It felt so good to sleep. Except the nightmares keep coming and I don't know why. Strange silent characters waiting outside my sister's bedroom while she sleeps... trials in court, creepy men forcing me to swallow pills while Tim lies limp in my arms like a baby unable to help me... Also last night there was the plastic surgeon disguised as a hair stylist. I went to him to get my hair cut and while I was distracted looking in the mirror to admire his work, he stuck a couple of quick implants and botox shots into my face. When I left I also realized that my breasts had a couple of stitches in them to give them a lift. My face, when I looked in the mirror, started to swell. I have to go back and have this man undo his dirty work, I thought. But was it reversible? And how embarassing to have plastic surgery and not know about it...

Thursday, August 18, 2005

one week old

Jonah is one week old today. I can't believe how fast time is going. It feels like he was born just yesterday.

We're finally succeeding at breastfeeding. No more need for tubes, supplementing or finger feeding. Now that the gadgets and tubes have virtually all been eliminated, breastfeeding is becoming more meditative and calming for us. It's also much faster and not such a huge ordeal. Thanks to Tim's cousin Holly who gave us a special nursing pillow called Brestfriend, I can now nurse comfortably and can even use one of my hands free to hold a book with. Reading poems and stories to baby while he nurses is my favorite pastime.

Now that breastfeeding is easier and quicker without all the fuss around it, I have anywhere between an hour and three hours between breastfeedings. Last night I didn't know what to do with myself. I wasn't used to so much time to rest. But I tried taking advantage of it and actually slept several times during the night!!!!! Even an hour of sleep three times a day feels like eternity after getting at most two in the span of 24 hours for a week straight. I was worried about my body being able to take the stress of almost no sleep for so long, but the body is an amazing thing! I survived and feel great!

I'm noticing that everything is timed these days. The clock is my constant companion. I time sleep and feedings and the time between feedings. So longer stretches of time feel like a luxury.

Now that Jonah is a week old, Tim and I are talking about taking him on his first walk. We will just walk around the neighborhood today with baby sleeping in a sling. I can't wait!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

My favorite picture of Jonah

Welcome to the world, Jonah!

Tim's mom MaryAnn (my mother-in-law) gave me the idea to start a blog as a sort of a journal about my adventures with my little boy Jonah. I thought, what an excellent thought!!! Especially since knowing myself I am very unlikely to journal regularly. But I do enjoy playing around with the computer. So a blog seems like it will work great as a chronicle of this journey I've just embarked on as a mother. And my family and friends scattered around the world can read all about my life as a mother and baby's life as my son :)

So... here we are embarking on this wonderful journey together. Being a mother is the most magical feeling in the world. No words can describe it. I love being a family more than anything. And Tim is the best father I've ever seen!!!