Thursday, December 14, 2006

update on grandpa John

Jonah's grandpa John is doing so much better, I'm happy to report. He was released from the hospital yesterday. We are all very excited and relieved!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

shameless plug

I was interviewed by an L.A.-based podcaster recently about my immigration experience. Check it out here if you are so inclined.

the story of Jonah's aunt & Kenny G.

My sister Marta, Jonah's aunt, is a singer/songwriter, as most of you know. Well, she is performing in Thailand right now at a Jazz Festival in honor of the King's 80th birthday and the 60th anniversary of his reign. She's in the league with the masters now - Nancy Wilson, Ahmad Jamal, and... (drum roll, please)... Kenny G. Check out this picture of a poster for the festival ;)

first time across the ocean

We're getting ready for our trip to Prague to visit Tim's Czech grandpa and great-grandmother. This will be Jonah's first time in another country and on another continent. We leave Friday and will stay for two weeks. Cross your fingers for a smooth plane trip with a restless toddler for us!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

it's Mr. Senator, not grandpa, to you!

Lately, I have been a negligent blogger. Last month I did not even mention one of the biggest news items of 2006. I will try to make up for it now. Jonah's Czech granpa is a Senator now! How about that? He ran for political office for the first time this fall... and received the most votes of anyone running for office. Wowoweewah, is what Borat, my hero, would say about that. Name recognition and popularity as one of the counry's most well-known actors did wonders for his numbers, I'm sure. I am very curious to follow his path as a politician now. Congrats, dad!!!

And independent of that bit of Jonah's family trivia is the fact that the little bugger Jonah is a citizen of both, his mom's and his dad's country of birth as of October. That's why I call him the luckiest family member.

hospital visit

We just made a quick trip to Montana to spend some time with Jonah's grandparents. Grandpa John has been in the hospital for a while after a couple of surgeries. Lately he's been doing much better. We are all so relieved! It was great to see both grandparents even if just for a couple of days. I've put up some pics in my online photoalbum.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Clueless in Portland

"Nevim kudy kam," he says walking in from work, flinging his bag and coat on a chair and scooping up Jonah. My poor little husband is lost, yet he's grinning from ear to ear? "That means I'm clueless, doesn't it?" He's been listening to a learn-the-Czech-language podcast and learning some phrases. Now that is exciting. "That is one phrase I can really use," he says, picturing himself wondering around the streets
of Prague. I nod and smile remembering Jonah's story/bath time last night. The whole family participated with Tim in the lead, naming all the objects in Jonah's bath book in Czech. First the articles of clothing, then the animals... Tim knows more Czech than Jonah. And if he keeps up the pace, he might soon surpass me with his knowledge of colloquial idioms.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

the thrill of trash and other household phenomena

Jonah's favorite word these days seems to be "gar." To my embarassment, he is always identifying crumbs, dust bunnies, and other types of dirt on the floor. He points to whatever it is, looks at me with wide eyes, and exclaims loudly: "gar!" Yikes. I never realized how much garbage there was lying around our house!

In the evenings, we always let him run around in his birthday suit before his bath to air out. He loves nothing more than running around stark naked. His voice becomes shrill and his feet speed up to a trot. Of course he always manages to pee a couple of times during "naked time." Each time he points at the puddle and yells out something unintelligible excitedly. He then runs to get a diaper, which is what we use to wipe up his pee, and helps to clean up. Sometimes he goes to his dresser to get a crib sheet or a towel instead. But he is very eager to help. He also loves to "sweep."

Whenever I take out the broom, Jonah goes berzerk, humming, shrieking, and turning red, trying to grab the broom and dustpan from me. This scenario typically boils over into a power struggle (we are two strong-headed Leo's afterall), which I quickly realize and diffuse by either distracting Jonah (which is getting more and more difficult to do) or giving in and letting him "sweep" for a while, which is usually the case. With a little practice, maybe he can actually figure out how to use the darn things. And then we'll have a little chore man to employ. Oh, the whole house can be his kingdom: the dishes, the windows... And why limit ourselves to the house? There is the car, the yard... Hey, isn't that why most people have kids anyway?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

new words

Since my last survey, Jonah has added new words to his lexicon. Here they are:

nose (nos in Czech)
"co" as in computer
"gar" as in garbage
fork, which sounds more like poh
pán, which means gentleman or man in Czech
buh-buh which means borůvka or blueberry
I think he says pea as well, but am not sure

Can't think of anymore. That must be it.

say bye bye

It looks like I have officially stopped nursing. For the last several weeks I nursed about once or twice a day. Jonah's interest began to decline, and as of about three days ago, Jonah lost interest altogether. That was probably because my milk production decreased to the point of futility. So, bye bye boobie it is? I still can't get used to that. I spent fifteen months nursing afterall. I never thought I would say this, but I do miss it in a way. I miss two things about it. The physical closeness and the satisfaction of providing my child with the best nutrition he can get. But all good things must come to an end, as they say. So, say bye bye to the boobie.

back from Seattle getaway

Tim, Jonah, and I just returned from our little getaway to Seattle for Thanksgiving. What a treat. Our friends prepared a delicious meal and had us over along with family. Good times, the only sticky point was Jonah not wanting to sit still during dinner and the open fireplace - I mean no screen or anything blocking a toddler running right into it! Yikes. All worked out fine with Tim and me taking turns either creating a physical barrier between Jonah and the fire or running around the house, making sure Jonah doesn't break a valuable item or hurt himself in the new surroundings.

One of our friends let us use her apartment for the weekend while she was gone, catching some rays in Hawaii. What a luxury it was to have our own place to stay! I hope we left it as neat as we had found it.

One afternoon we went over to Tim's cousin's house. Her son is only nine months older than Jonah. Jonah was in seventh heaven seeing another kid, a dog, cat, and toys galore. He stayed entertained the whole time. Nothing like a little playtime for a toddler.

On the way back to Portland, we stopped over to visit Tim's grandma. It was so nice to see her and spend some quiet small group time with her. I have only seen her at big family gatherings usually. Jonah's favorite toy at great-grandma's was the cane. Boy was he thrilled to lug that thing around. He looked like a little shepard. And was it hard to give that cane up when we had to go.

In other news, Jonah has been enjoying using a toddler-style fork and spoon during meal times. One of the benefits, besides learning table manners like a good boy should, is that he lasts in his high chair longer and that gives the parents time to stuff their faces.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

thanksgiving and more

We're off on a little family getaway to Seattle. Friends invited us to spend Thanksgiving with them. Lucky for us, we get to stay at another friend's apartment while she is out of town. What a luxury!

I haven't been posting much lately, but I did want to share a story from a week ago. Tim was out of town for "men's weekend" and I was driving Jonah to meet a friend and her son at the ZOO when a cop pulled me over for blocking an intersection on a red light. I thought I could clear it, but the light turned red before I made it and I ended up blocking one of the four lanes of the wide street. Fine, the cop was right. He gave me a ticket, my first traffic ticket, but that wasn't all. He started checking Jonah's carseat and reprimanded me for the harness being a little low. Then he checked the tightness of the straps and said they were too loose, that this time he was going to issue me a warning, but that I could get fined for it next time. On his computer, he printed out not only the traffic ticket, but also the warning. My offence? Endangering a child's life. The cop said he was a safety instructor and asked me to tighten the straps before I took off. I was so stressed out I couldn't do it, but he didn't offer to help. Instead he said that I can tighten the straps at home. That really got my goat. If he cares so much about my child's safety - enough to issue me a printed warning - why doesn't he do the least he can to ensure it... Then pulling out of the place where I was stopped was a challenge, with traffic wizzing by from around a corner. The cop didn't think twice about helping me pull out. I was so distressed by the situation that I couldn't stop crying afterwards. That definitely didn't add to my child's safety in the car. In short, the cop endangered my child's life much more by stopping me and not only putting these infractions on my record, but also making me feel like an irresponsible mother. Shame on him.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Jonah now speaks in simple sentences. Yesterday he said, "Mama, go down." Today, "Go the door," meaning: "I want to leave this room by going through that door." Cool, isn't it?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

little man applies for a passport

Today is a big day. Jonah will be applying for a passport, so we can go on our trip to Prague next month. The application asks for his occupation and employer. I was tempted to write in "toddler" and "parents" but then Tim convinced me to leave those sections blank. We had to also provide Jonah's height and since we haven't been to the doctor in months, we had to measure Jonah. I couldn't find a tape measure anywhere, so I used a 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper. I got 30", but who knows how accurate that is.

The funnest part of the process was getting the photos done. This was the first time Jonah had to officially pose for a photo. I crouched, holding him while he sort of stood on a chair with a white background behind him. He was very sleepy, which slowed him down and worked to our advantage. The pictures turned out great! I can't believe he'll soon have an official picture ID! I think I'll start calling him Mr. B.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Jonah lexicon inventory

Here is what Jonah has been saying lately:

"ka" - short for "knížka" or book
"ca" - short for "cat" or "kočička"
the book
"da" - short for "voda" or water
the door & door
the book
box (without the final x sound)
"co je to?" which means "what is this?"
"Here you go."
"papat" = nurse
"ta" - short for "bota" or shoe
"ba" - short for "babička" or grandmother
diaper (though that one is hard to understand)
the bag
"bah-bah" for bottle
"ka" - short for kornflejka or conrnflake
"ba" = bath
"ka" - short for kačenka, which means duck

Jonah has started to wave back at me as of two days ago!!!

He can also follow simple instructions like "Put the duck in the box," "Bring me a book" or the same phrase in Czech: "Přines mi knížku."

He now also picks out and repeat words from a conversation he overhears. For example, if Tim or I mention the word "car" in our conversation, Jonah will repeat it.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

scratch me, hit me, pull my hair

Do you realize I'm talking about Jonah's new hobby here? When I say Jonah's really into inflicting pain, I know I'm not only speaking for myself and the baby's daddy. I'm also speaking for the kitties. Yes, I've read that toddlers really like to conduct the old "cause and effect" experiments. But no one ever told me I would be a part of it!

The toughest part of this phase, other than the physical pain, is knowing how to react. A firm "no" doesn't seem to matter. If anything, it makes Jonah laugh and mock me. "This hurts" he doesn't understand yet. Spanking his hand (which I've tried once, gently, of course) seems totally confusing. The best thing to do is to redirect his attention. But that's damn hard to do when he's got a firm grip on your hair or lip. Wow, grip and lip rhyme. I think I'm gonna go and write a rap about this now to get my aggressions out. Wait, that's already been done (e.g. a rap song with a very similar title to "scratch me, hit me, pull my hair"). Catch my drift?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

some parents...

Do you ever hear a name and think to yourself, "Thank goodness I am not named that." Or, "Boy, what were those parents thinking?" I had a moment just like that today, walking in to work. Downstairs at my job, where I was for the last time today by the way, is a daycare center. One of the parents, though she seemed more like a grandmother or nanny, was walking out with two kids. She yelled at the one dilly-dallying behind: "Napoleon!" I just about lost it. "Napoleon?" Okay. Which of these shady characters would you like to evoke the image of each time you introduce yourself to a new person: the temperamental, war-hungry emperor-conqueror Napoleon Bonaparte; the weirdo Napoleon Dynamite; or Napoleon the Stalin-like pig from the Animal Farm. Some parents...

Sunday, October 29, 2006

uncle Andy's birthday & Saturday hike

We went to celebrate Jonah's uncle's birthday today. Jenni served delicious chili and I pitched in by making a spinach ciabatta casserole, topped with cheese and walnuts and complete with freshly picked porcini mushrooms from our hike yesterday. I'm thinking I should make this new dish often.

The party at Andy's and Jenni's house was nice, but as is the case with most parties, they start very near Jonah's bedtime. So we had to leave just as everyone dug out their pumpkin carving utensils and long before dessert was served. Darn.

Andy got a rain-proof jacket from us. The idea is that he will be able to bike to work rain or shine.

As I mentioned, Tim, Jonah, my mom and I went hiking yesterday. It was a gorgeous fall day. Sunshine, perfectly clear skies and no wind whatsoever. The trail led steadily but gradually up to the top of a mountain from which the view of the surrounding Cascades, Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson was stunning. Almost no traces of man anywhere in view other than a couple of very small clearcuts on a hill across the valley. Unbelievable! Of course, I forgot the camera. Go figure.

On the way up we encountered a few patches of snow, which Jonah found greatly amusing. For a good chunk of the way up he wanted to walk. So we took turns guiding him along the trail which was no piece of cake for a new walker. Rocks, roots, hills. But he was relentless. I dressed him in snowpants and a snow jacket since he tends to get cold easily. He looked like a true mountain climber.

It's been a little too cold for mushrooms, I think. But we found a few. Thus the mushroom, spinach, ciabatta casserole.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Do you know who Jonah looks alike the most? Yes, Tim of course, but also Tim's mom when she was little. When I saw a photograph of her when she was about three or four-years-old, my jaw dropped. The likeness is uncanny. Tim's mom just sent us a copy of that picture and I still can't believe the resemblance. Jonah likes looking at that picture too. He always has a big smile on his face when he sees it. Maybe he thinks he's looking at himself :)

On another note, last night I had a dream I befriended an ape whom I met in a college class we were both taking. I got to hear about what it's like being an ape and how much prejudice the poor creature experiences. Where does my mind come up with these ideas?

Monday, October 23, 2006

retreat & dreams

Just got back yesterday from the girls' retreat at the coast. This was my third time away from Jonah overnight (two nights this time). All went well. I was secretly jealous to hear that Jonah only woke up once both of the nights I was gone. When I'm home, he wakes up about three times a night! I have my fingers crossed, hoping once a night at most will be a new pattern.

The girls' retreat was fabulous. Everyone got along great and enjoyed the company of all who were there. Unfortunatelly one of my friends wasn't able to make it because we didn't coordinate rides in time. We'll have to do a different kind of girls' thing. Maybe a girls' night out. This time we were so lucky with the weather. Couldn't have asked for a nicer weekend. Here are some pics.

After I got back and spent some time with Jonah, Tim and I watched a movie at night. It was a very good movie, but pretty intense in content. I won't go into the details here, but just tell you that my night following the film was filled with nightmares.

In my dream, I first witnessed the death of a dog. Why, oh why? Next, I was driving in some city when thick smoke started filling the streets and the car. I rushed out of the car thinking I could still get some fresh air, but soon realized it would be better to jump back in, close the windows and hope for the best. This was some sort of poison gas, afterall, a form of biowarfare. I survived that, but then a vicious group began to take over and attacking with liquid acid that would burn the skin. These Nazi-like devils tried to trick people into following their orders, eventually hoping to eliminate everyone. I could see right through their tactics and found a way to escape. In the end, I ended up in the same room with the Nazi head honcho. I had no choice but to confront him. He tried to shoot poison darts at me and succeeded with two, but before it was too late, I came at him with a knife. His back was too hard, but I got his neck pretty good. He was still not dead. I shot a poison dart at him, but did not trust anything more than my giant knife. Just to really make sure this man was history, I ended up cutting him up into small, porkchop-like pieces. I'd like to think I rid the world of evil last night. Thank goodness I woke up to Jonah's sweet little smile.

Friday, October 20, 2006

baby events, mama events

Jonah and I have been going to the library for story time every week. He enjoys it. I took my mom there to show her what all the fuss is about and she thought it was great. The toddler group gets to do rhymes that are more physical than the ones for little babies. So, we do things like Ashes, Ashes, walking around in a circle and falling on the floor. Jonah loves that. We also do a little rhyme called Little Red Caboose and stomp around, pretending to be trains. Also quite fun.

Just like when I took my grandma to story time at the library last summer, I stopped over at an authentic French cafe across the street to treat my mom for coffee and a pastry. Jonah can't sit still for more than two minutes, so we ended up taking turns walking him around the restaurant, but the baked goods were heavenly. This place is a must for anyone visiting Portland.

At least once a week I have also been taking Jonah to the indoor playground at the community center gym. Now that it has been raining more often, it's the perfect activity for a restless toddler who's always busy running around and trying to climb things. It's good for Jonah to be around other kids too, though at this point, objects are as fascinating, if not more so than other children.

As for mama activities, I'm going on another little trip this weekend. I organized a getaway for girls at the coast. We'll be gone for two days. Don't worry. Tim will get his jitters out too next month when he goes on a bachelor party weekend with his guy friends.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

getaway report

My little overnight getaway turned out very nice. I feel refreshed after spending some time relaxing and hanging out with my sister. We're so close. I miss her already. Her show was great! She sounded better than she ever has. It's great seeing her have fun on stage. I was reminded of how important it is to pursue one's passion. I love seeing how far my sister's hard work and dedication have gotten her. Truly inspiring. Another thing I enjoy is hanging out with musicians. I spent many years around musicians before I moved to Portland and that world feels sort of like family to me. And I enjoy conversations about music. So, that was fun.

After the show all the musicians, an Olympia-based dancer and musician we met that night, and I went back to our hotel and hung out at the bar. Our waitress was one of the worst I've had. The clarinetist that plays with my sister and I were laughing like crazy. This high school age-seeming girl with a fake tan had a bit of an attitude, was unresponsive most of the time and when we did finally catch her attention to ask her about items on the menu (which, by the way, only contained about six items), it turned out she knew nothing.

"I see you have two kinds of buffalo wings." I said. "What does kalbi-style mean?"
"Oh, it means spicy, I think," she replied.
"So, you have either hot or spicy buffalo wings."
"Well, I'm not really sure what it means. It could mean mild."
"So, could you go and check?"

Every conversation with her was like this. My sister brought a bottle of wine to the bar. We were told they would open it for us for a $10 corking fee. Great. So our by now infamous waitress comes and fights with the cork screw and bottle for ten minutes, saying things like "Oh, oh." and "I have no idea how to use this." and "I'm scared." Wow, scared of what, I thought and teased her, "It could explode, you're right." She finally broke the cork in half still in the neck of the bottle. So, my sister's bass player had to finish the job. And the restaurant still charged us the corking fee. I tried to challenge this to no avail. Welcome to Olympia.

At the end of the night, a moment I had been waiting for impatiently arrived. I finally got to show my sister a couple of video clips of sketch comedy I recently found. The character's name is Borat and his comedy is the funniest stuff I've seen in a long time. Every time I watch one of his sketches I laugh so hard my stomach hurts and my eyes water. I made the mistake of watching one of his sketches while my sister was taking a nap in the hotel room. I had to laugh into a pillow. And at one point I had to leave for the bathroom. I highly recommend this dude.

Well, now it's back to Portland on the bus. It's raining cats and dogs outside, which I don't mind at all. I sometimes enjoy the melancholy mood of wet weather. And we needed the rain "like salt," as the Czechs say.

In other news, I will be returning to my old job in November. Yay!!! More of a challenge, a lighter schedule. I will only be working three days a week, which means I'll be able to go back to teaching Czech at the community college, which I love! So, life is good. (Knock on wood.)

Saturday, October 14, 2006

getaway & afternoon with friends

I'm reporting from my little getaway in Olympia, WA where my sister will be performing tonight as part of her West Coast tour. She performed in Portland last night. Tim went and I babysat. So tonight is my night out. I'm just staying overnight and will be cathching... drumroll, please... the Greyhound back. Ah, just like the college days.

It's so good to see my sister. Whenever I'm with her, I'm secretly (and not so secretly now) scheming about changing things so we can live closer to each other and so Jonah can have her aunt nearby. They are so darn cute together. But those who know me well always hear me scheming about a million things, most of which rarely come to fruition. But it sure is fabulous to spend time with my sister. Jonah loves live music. He was all over my sister's cuatro (four-stringed instrument), examining it and plucking it with a curious face, as you can see from the pictures I've just posted.

I also posted some pictures from our afternoon with my friend Mia and her son Ira yesterday. Ira is six months younger than Jonah, but nearly the same size. By the time Jonah outgrows his clothes, it's almost too late to pass them on to Ira. Those two had a great time together. Jonah kept handing Ira miscelaneous objects, which Ira would examine with great curiosity. I love Ira's hair. It juts straight out in all directions as if electrically charged. His smile floors me - sweet like a little koala bear's. Seeing Ira and hearing his mom describe the things he's been up to always takes me back. Six months seems ago seems more like six years ago. There was actually a time when Jonah couldn't walk? Oh yeah, and we had to walk him, our backs aching. Ah, babies.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

my job, my dreams

Perhaps you're wondering how my new job is going. Well, funny you should ask. I've been there less than two months and I'm already bored. So far, I only have one student in my class. He's a good guy - he is polite, serious about education, and a fast learner, but it's a little awkward to spend so much time with just one student. He comes to class four to five times a week after working all day and stays for our three-hour sessions. That's almost more time than I spend with my husband on weekdays! So, at this point I'm sort of a glorified tutor.

My student mostly needs conversation practice, so we spend a lot of time discussing various topics that I suggest or that we stumble on naturally. Since he understands much more English than he can formulate into sentences, we sometimes clarify certain points or vocabulary in Spanish. Practicing Spanish is a definite perk for me. The other good thing is that I can structure my own curriculum, but don't have to if I don't want to since we have sequenced textbooks from which I can draw materials.

So far, I haven't needed much preparation time, but for some incomprehensible reason I was told to be at work two hours prior to the beginning of class. So, that leaves me with a lot of time to do non-work stuff. I use the time to catch up on my correspondence and various other odds and ends. The fact that I get this time is a real luxury for any mom of a little one. So, I can't complain there. In fact, I am finding myself becoming a bit like what Jerry Seinfeld once described in one of his routines- a person who is obsessed with protecting her time for doing nothing. So much so, that if a phone call or another teacher comes into the room, I get mad: "Come on folks, this is my quiet time. Go away!"

But the ambitious side of me is not only bored, but embarassed by the fact that I often do nothing while I should be working. My lazy side is satisfied and growing big, feasting on nothing. So big and powerful that it's squeezing out the ambitious side. My ambitious side is not dead yet, only dormant and getting restless. That side wants me to have bigger impact in the world than what my current job offers. And I know I can handle more than helping one student. So I keep dreaming and scheming about what I want to do next. I have some ideas. Now my son is small, so maybe it's good to be working a job that's not too demanding. The schedule works for Tim and me for now and I get health insurance with my job, which is a luxury as well these days. So there are trade-offs. But I will soon be ready to move on to bigger and better things. I feel the itch already.

But speaking of dreaming, my student told me a whole bunch of stories about things that he has seen and experienced that scared the be-Jesus out of me last night. These were very much like ghost stories. I thought I wouldn't be able to sleep last night. But after a little wine and dessert I surprised myself. No problem falling asleep and no nightmares! Two nights ago I did have a nightmare, though. I was in San Francisco when I realized I was completely lost. I did not remember any names of hotels or streets where I was staying. No phone numbers either. Yikes! And not only that. On top of being completely and hopelessly lost, I also noticed that the water surrounding San Francisco began to rise and consume the city, street by street. Oh my goodness! What a terrifying dream. Well, I hope for no more scary dreams for a while.

Friday, October 06, 2006

baby talk

Jonah learns new words, uses them for a few days and then seems to drop them in favor of new words. Interesting. Here are the ones he says these days. Some of them have stuck around from the get-go.

"da" - short for "voda" or water
"ta" - short for "bota" or shoe
"ka" - short for "knížka" or book (he loves books!)
"papa" - short for "papat" or to eat
"ah" - meaning "up"
"co je to?" - what is this?
"bah" - short for "bottle"

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Montana adventure

Just got back from our second trip to Montana with Jonah. This time, the occasion was a somber one. We went to take part in Tim's grandfather's memorial. Most of Tim's family was there and the ceremony, of which a part took place by the Yellowstone River, was lovely and moving. I love that Tim's family is so big and close-knit, and that, even if they weren't related to Tim, I can imagine being friends with most of his cousins, nearly all of whom are our genration. We always enjoy each other's company.

Jonah did great on the trip. New places excite him. The hotel, for example was a fun playground. The plane rides are not bad when two hours or less in length. It may be a whole different ball of wax when we go to Prague in December - nearly 24 hours on planes and in airports!!! Plus the nine-hour time difference. Lord have mercy! But what is life without adventures.

Tim's parents think Jonah is the best thing since sliced bread. Grandpa even played horsie and let Jonah ride on his back around the living room. Fun times! Grandma's waffles were a hit with the junior, who's been pretty lucky to see his Montana grandparents about every other month.

Well, that's it for the latest update. Hope all is well in your neck of the woods.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

this week's adventures

This week we went to the indoor play park twice. Jonah enjoyed it very much. He especially liked the oversized plastic wagon which has a large long handle, little doors that open and close, and benches that fit two children inside it. Jonah got to ride in the wagon with a stranger kid about his age. I wheeled them around the gym cautiously. It was quite a funny sight. The two kids sat on the benches in the same exact pose, facing each other and staring at each other silently. I always imagine adults doing the same thing kids are, which makes me laugh, but often times I'm the only adult laughing for some reason. Come on folks, aren't kids funny?

The first time we went, as you may remember, Jonah got sucked halfway under a foot-powered mini car. The second time at the gym, at one point I saw two legs sticking out from under the front of one of those cars. Scary picture. We're talking legs under a car - something that shouldn't happen. The lady with the little boy pulled him right out from underneath the toy car. He was fine. It made me laugh and deep inside I was glad I wasn't the only mom who let such a thing happen to her child.

Other than indoor playtime, we also went to my favorite place, the rhododendron garden, with Jonah's friend Finn and his mom. That was great fun until a gang of geese and ducks started chasing us all over the park demanding food. Toddlers and big mean geese with humongous necks and beaks and no shame... not a good combination. I made the mistake of bringing some bird food and feeding the poultry at the park. The birds got a little too excited, and two biggest and boldest geese strutted their stuff right up to us, flapping their wings and screaming to show who's boss. A little duck joined them and the three menaces started following us around the park, shrieking and displaying their grandeur, so close to us that we couldn't put the children down on the ground until we lost the birds a few turns later. That's what I call a nice day at the park. I'll think twice about bringing bird food next time.

At story time, Jonah met another Jonah. To my dismay, I was told that there was a third Jonah that frequented the very same library. Oh, oh, I thought. What if suddenly the name Jonah becomes one of the most popular ones and I start hearing: "Jonah! Jonah!" on every corner. Hopefully there won't be a new pop superstar named Jonah in the next few years. That could spur all kinds of ideas among the populace.

We finished off the week with a nice hike in the woods near the Columbia Gorge. The forest was beaming today. I say that because finally after months of dry weather, it has rained a few times recently and the forest was moist and more alive than I have seen it since the spring. Jonah got to walk around in the woods. He loved it and was impressive at navigating among the stumps, branches, and roots. The day was perfect - upper seventies, clear skies, sunshine.

So much for this week's report.

Monday, September 18, 2006

something new

Jonah and I tried something new today. Playtime at an indoor playground, really a gym chalk full of toys for toddlers and preschoolers. Great option on a rainy day for a little thunder bolt of a boy.

I had never seen so many wheelie toys in one place: foot-powered plastic cars, pretend shopping carts, and mini tricycles. That's what I call a little boys' heaven. Jonah didn't know what to try first. He ran from toy to toy, sampling each along the way. The rag doll, the foam blocks, the crawl-through tunnels. Watching him in this new and exciting territory, I learned that Jonah can't quite navigate a baby-sized car yet, but he did manage to make one go - uh... backwards. His face was sheer bewilderment mixed with fear. This frantic foot dance went on for what seemed like five minutes until Jonah managed to get sucked down in through the opening meant for his feet. In reality, the backwards speeding car incident happened so fast that I didn't have a chance to prevent it. It was as if he had started sprinting and suddenly, without a warning melted like the Wicked Witch of the West or slipped down into a drain with the bath water. Not completely. Just half-way. Surprisingly Jonah didn't cry, only grimaced. I helped him out and he was on to a new adventure.

In the shopping cart that he grabbed next were some peculiar objects. At first I thought the non-discript brownish plastic mass the size of an adult fist was a partially melted dinosaur. But no. The mangled animal turned out to be a barbecued chicken leg. Someone must have gone shopping. Next to the chicken leg we found a single pile of sliced carrots, the kind with ridges found in the frozen food section of the supermarket. Very realistic too, shellac and all, unlike the chicken. Jonah grabbed the chicken leg, walked over to an older boy in a mini car, and gave it to him. What a generous guy. The boy took one look at the strange plastic object, stuck it in the car's trunk, and continued on his merry way without a single word. Such are little children. Never ceasing to amuse.

A half-hour in a palace full of magical toys and speedy children was enough for little Jonah. When we got home, it was snack time then nap time. I think we'll go again soon.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Jonah phrase book

Here is a little guide to Jonah's language. It may come in handy. I will add to it as he learns new words.

  • ta (short for "bota") = shoe - NEW!*

  • ka (short for "knížka") = book

  • da (short for "voda") = water - NEW!

  • koka (short for "kočka" or "kočka") = cat

  • pey (short for "pejsek") = doggie - NEW!

  • mé (short for "méďa") = baby word for bear

  • kytí = baby word for flower

  • kačka = ducky

  • papa (short for "papat") = baby word for "eat," but I use it exclusively for "nurse" - NEW!

  • co je to? = what is this/that?

  • English:
  • door

  • kitty

  • book - NEW!

  • cup - NEW!

  • gun - NEW!

  • dada (or daddy)

  • mama (also Czech)

  • I think he also says "ka-kuh" for cracker (same word in Czech), but that one is very new

  • By the way, I just read that the average 18-month-old says ten words. Jonah knows more than that already. Hey, maybe he'll skip kindergarten altogether and go straight to baby college!

    * By NEW I mean Jonah started saying the word in the last two or three days though he understood it much longer ago.

    Thursday, September 14, 2006

    how to survive anything

    A strange ad flashed across my computer screen as I went to check my e-mail today. It was a photo of a nuclear bomb exploding with the headline: "How to survive a nuclear bomb." Next to the orange-colored mushroom cloud was a photograph of dry cracked earth with the heading: "How to survive an earthquake." I was tempted to click on the article or ad, but didn't do it. My curiosity got the best of me when later this afternoon I returned to the same website and sought the ad out.

    Lo and behold, the ad led to an entire website dedicated to advice on surviving the worst of natural and man-made disasters. You name it, they've got it covered: bird flu, animal attacks, meteroid destruction, and more. If you ever find yourself in the shadow of an erupting volcano, there it is - the handy "How to Survive a Volcano Eruption" guide.

    What does this have to do with being a mother? A mother needs to be prepared for anything. So I got to work and here is what I learned:

    Erupting Volcanos:
    "There is not much an individual can do to prepare for a volcanic eruption, but it is always good to have a good knowledge of this phenomenon. Be aware of the hazards that can come with an eruption: the flying debris, hot gases, lava flows, potential for explosion, mudslides, avalanches, and geothermal areas... Also be ready to get up and outrun flowing lava. " Very useful, thanks.


    Falling asteroids:
    "There simply is no good way to fight or run away from a killer asteriod - not alone anyway... Some of these mechanisms [for deflecting asteroids] are more realistic than others.

    "Most proposed methods have been rejected due to risk and economic and/or technical feasibility in the near future. The remaining methods seriously considered to date include:

    1.) Blowing it up by nuclear bomb...


    2.) Nudging it by nuclear bomb"

    Great! I love it! Keep it coming. How about tornadoes?

    "Determine the best location in both your home and place of employment in which to seek shelter when threatened by a tornado." Uh.. at home... under the bed perhaps? At work... maybe the half-dilapidated teacher's desk?

    "Conduct periodic tornado safety drills with your family." I'll get right to it. Jonah, where are you? Let's practice.

    My favorite section of the website, however, is the "How to survive the dating game" link. Fits right in with the other disasters. It's really an ad for a book; a book that promises to be the ultimate guide for the ultimate male who exudes "confidence, charisma, and sex appeal" and whose life consists of many dates with many women simultaneously. In fact, this Casanova is so popular he's stalked by women. Sounds like a fabulous life, doesn't it? The ad continues, offering to teach men to "crush the competition" and become "natural seducers." In a nut shell, the book provides "a complete psychological makeover," turning losers into ladies' men.

    So much for the study guide for emergency preparedness. A caring mother can only be grateful for such a fabulous resource.

    call me pathetic

    Last week I thought it was about time Jonah and I went back to story time at the library. It had been months. Now he's considered a Tiny Tot (code word for toddler) and so he gets to mingle with one- to two-year-olds.

    By the time we got out of the house, plowed our way through crosstown traffic, found parking, and raced the stroller over to the library, it was five minutes past the beginning of story time. Not only did we get there late, the room was full and they weren't letting anyone else in. I was so looking forward to Jonah interacting with other little tots and so was he. He stood there listening to the children behind the heavy wooden door, leaning on it as if he wanted to push it open, his eyes wide open looking up at me quizzically.

    "We can't go in," I told him, scooped him up, and sat him down in the stroller. Let's go to the park instead. For some reason I felt so sad and rejected that tears started rolling down my cheeks on our way out of there. Did I revert back to my tiny tot stage? What was this spell the library had cast on me? Call me pathetic. I guess we all have our odd "boo hoo" moments. That was mine.

    This week I was not going to get squeezed out. I made sure we were so early that we turned out to be the first ones there. We were so early, in fact, that the library was still closed. Jonah and I paced back and forth on the sidewalk until a shabby looking man - did he work at the library or was he a homeless volunteer? - opened the door. First ones on the list, first ones there. And I was glad, since Jonah thoroughly enjoyed himself. We sang I'm So Glad to See You, I Almost Couldn't Wait; Toes, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes; The Noble Duke of York, and many other favorites. There were bubbles flying through the air. Fortunately the toys stayed on the floor or in children's hands. I was waiting for that stray block to come flying, but the tiny tots are perhaps a little too tiny to be interested in that sort of stuff. The content of the giraffe book the librarian passed around for us to read to our toddlers didn't interest Jonah. Not as much as the phone jacks on the wall anyways. The only part of the book worth his attention was the circular opening on the front of it, sort of like a window into the book. Holes! That's his thing.

    On the way back, Jonah fell asleep in the car. A morning well-spent.

    Sunday, September 10, 2006


    Here is some more talking over the rustle of a bag of chips. Here Jonah says "koka" (cat in Czech) a few more times.

    this is an audio post - click to play


    I had just gotten home from the grocery store. Jonah reached into one of the grocery bags and pulled out a bag of chips which got him very excited. He walked around the house with the chips, squeezing the bag and making it rustle all the while talking up a storm. I decided to record him in action. Notice at one point he says, "koka" - short for "kočka" or "kočička" or cat in Czech.

    this is an audio post - click to play


    Hello long-lost friends. I haven't been posting as frequently lately, because I started my new job at the high school and things have been busy.

    Tim, Jonah and I went hiking yesterday. Jonah enjoyed walking around in the woods. The terrain was a little rough for a person who has only been walking for a week and it was tough to stay interested in the trail enough to stay on it, but the woods were fun nevertheless. Especially intriguing was a pinecone that had apparently just fallen of the tree. How did I know this? Jonah got fresh sap all over his hand. A strange sensation and smell to say the least.

    On another note, no mushrooms yet. We were disappointed. It's been so dry. We are impatiently waiting for that magic fall rain.

    New photos here.

    Monday, September 04, 2006

    this is an audio post - click to play

    Sunday, September 03, 2006

    J. Walker

    That's my new nickname for Jonah. Not because he likes to drink or because he disobeys traffic laws. No, it's because as of yesterday he's become a walker!!! We practiced unassisted walking for two days. Jonah started off walking from dad to me, then back. He got more and more courageous about walking in his own until he started to trick us. He'd walk over to me, but turn around to walk back to dad without touching me. Then he added an extra turn until it looked like he was dancing. Of course, he was laughing and squealing with excitement the whole time. Two days of practice was enough. He then decided he was ready to use walking as his main mode of transportation, though he still crawls when he needs to.

    He loves to walk so much that he sometimes gets going a little too fast and loses his balance. Today he walked on pavement, alone for the first time and fell on his face. Not hard, but he did get a little scratched. Ah, battle wounds. I guess they are a part of growing up.

    Tim's cousins April and Peter came into town to see us today, which was nice as usual. They got to witness Jonah's brand new skill as well as the fall. We had lunch and walked around Saturday market, their first time there.

    Other than walking on his own, Jonah has been learning new words. His first word, about six weeks ago, was mama. Now he can say "mé" (abbreviation of bear), "kočička" (kitty), "kačenka" (ducky), "kytí" (flower), "co je to?" (what is this?), the door" or just "door", "book", and he's starting to say "papat" (to nurse). He understands several things that he can't yet say: "up", "chceš papat?" (do you want to eat/nurse?); "chceš vodu?" (do you want some water?), "táta" (dad), uncle Andy, "babička" (grandma), and "no!" I think he's starting to understand the word "bath" as well.

    That's pretty good for a twelve months old, I think.

    Saturday, September 02, 2006

    California cont.

    Other than Bolinas, the closest towns were Stinson Beach - slightly bigger and more touristy as well as Olima and Inverness to the north. These were very small as well. As far as we saw, Inverness only had two restaurants and one of them happened to be Czech. What do you know? In business since 1960. Cob webs galore and true Czech hospitality. Though they were open, they weren't serving food. What they were dishing out, however was attitude. Mr. owner sat inside reading the paper while we waited for him for five minutes outside. I finally went in and got yelled at for trying to order lunch. Oh those Czechs. Gotta love them.

    The house itself provided a quiet respite from our busy lives. The atmosphere forced us to slow down. No phone, no computers, no internet. I did experience some withdrawal, but it wasn't as bad as I had expected. Other than the deck with the peaceful view of the lagoon, the hot tub out in the forested backyard was the best part. I dream of owning one some day.

    My dad got to know his grandson. It was fun watching them interact. I think Jonah's favorite was playing driving with grandpa Tomas. My sister made it too, which was quite a treat for all of us. I just wish we lived closer to each other.

    Our day trips to San Francisco across the treacherous terrain ended up being fun, of course. Who could top that city in its picturesque beauty. We walked to the famous Fisherman's Wharf with its colony of sea lions; we drove down San Francisco's most curvy street and up the city's steepest street; we ate in North Beach, the city's Italian neighborhood and in Haight/Ashbury, the neighborhood known for its hippie history. We also explored one of my favorite spots, the Palace of the Arts; we saw the famed Victorian houses - "the Painted Ladies;" and before running out of time, we made a stop over in Sausalito, a small harbor town across the bay. Sausalito was once a fishing town settled by the Portuguese. Today it's a tourist mecca full of boutiques and restaurants. Cute as can be. And the view of San Francisco from the waterfront is superb. If you've ever been to Lugano, Switzerland, you may experience a huge deja vous. I did.

    After our week near Bolinas, Tim, Jonah and I spent an additional weekend in Frisco as a little family. We stayed right in the heart of it all - in Union Square. It's easy to catch a shopping fever there. Everyone is doing it. Our old-fashioned hotel was full of Italians. The streets about 90% tourists. My favorite oddball place was the 50's-style diner across the street from us. In fact, we could see in from our hotel room. The staff was full of colorful characters. The prize winner was the door man. An aging Charlie Chaplin with runny make up and a plastic (?) triangle-shaped Hitler mustache. He would unexpectedly bust out tap dancing to fifties rock, getting even the bums to join in the jig. As he ushered us in, he gazed at himself in the mirror. Boy, do I look good today, he must have thought. Charlie Chaplin would have been proud.

    Tim and I enjoyed more of San Francisco- China Town, Embarcadero, the Financial District, Golden Gate park... Some day we shall return and see more of what we missed.

    Friday, September 01, 2006

    California as I remember it

    It was the kind of cold that got under your skin; the kind of cold none of us was prepared for. Hey, no one told us it would be fifty degrees in the summer! We had arrived. First things first. Tim and I claimed our room, dug out the only sweaters we had brought, and plumped down on a sofa, finally having a chance to admire the view of a peaceful lagoon full of migratory birds, fish, and harbor seals. The road to Bolinas made my knees tremble and I dreaded the thought of having to traverse it yet again for our daytrip to San Francisco in a couple of days. A narrow, windy road on a bald mountain range rising out of the ocean. Several times we had come across cracked pavement where the road had partially washed away. Earthquake country, I thought, gritting my teeth. The benefit of being so high up with no obstructions right above the ocean are the views, of course. So I focused on that, trying to steer my mind away from playing out all the worse case scenarios - its specialty.

    The house I had picked for all of us to rent - sister, dad, wife, Tim, Jonah, and I - stood on a hillside, overlooking a lagoon. The closest town, about a five minute drive, was Bolinas. A place legendary for its residents' intensity about wanting to remain off the beaten path. Stories abound about the locals tearing down the Bolinas signs along the road so as to remain inconspicuous. It's as if time has stopped in the town itself, as my dad remarked. Bolinas - one bar, one market, one restaurant... surprisingly a post office and even a tiny museum... you get the idea.

    The old saloon-style bar opens early, making sure the locals are satisfied. The barn-like supermarket seems a bit crooked and partially dilapidated. But have no fear. They are well stocked for their size, complete with liquor and fresh meat. I was surprised a cowboy on a horse didn't come riding through the place, grabbing merchandise off the shelves while I was there. But rather than cowboys on galloping horses, the town consisted mostly of slow-moving balding hippies in dirty plaid and gray pony tails and the occasional surfer, seemingly lost but ready to brave the mucky waters frequented by the great white sharks.

    The community altar dominates the center of the town. It's a place where the townspeople bond over wishes and prayers written on pieces of paper and placed under small rocks by the feet of the Virgin-like deity. My sister and I, too, added a couple of wishes to ones encapsulating the local flavor: "Peace, love, harmony globally for all beings."

    Unfortunately we hadn't managed to add anything to the community collage bulletin board which consisted of rant-like poetry and random newspaper cut-outs. The sign next to the community collage described Bolinas in a nut shell "Welcome to Bolinas. Nothing here to do. That's the way we like it, hope that you do too."

    To be continued.

    Tuesday, August 29, 2006

    we're back

    We're back from our trip to California. We had a good time. I want to tell you all about it, but it's past midnight and I need to go to sleep so I'm well rested for my new job which I started today.

    I've put up a selection of the best pictures from our trip into a new photo album. I will add more pictures as family members send them to me.

    Wednesday, August 16, 2006


    Thank you, everyone, for your birthday wishes, cards, gifts, thoughts... I had a nice day and a wonderful dinner with friends. More pics (thanks to Mia) in the 1 year old plus.

    Here is a limerick my friend Karin wrote and performed my birthday dinner. So much fun!

    There once was a girl from Prague
    who grew up and larned how to blog.

    She keeps in good touch.
    We love her so much.

    Without her we'd be in a bog.


    Thank you, Karin!

    one-year appointment

    Jonah had his one-year appointment. We decided to split the amount of shots he was due to receive since most of them don't have to happen until he is 18 months old. He now measures 30 inches, which puts him in the 55 percentile for his age. He weighs 20 lbs 8 oz, which puts him in the 20%. He has a normal level of iron, which especially pleased me. So, he is getting good nutrition.

    We were told Jonah is now ready for a car seat that faces forward. That will be a new experience for us all.

    Our regular doctor was out on maternity leave and we learned that she also named her new son Jonah. Tim said, "I wonder where she got the idea." We are only hoping that this is not a sign of a trend to come - an overabundance of Jonahs. Hey, if it does happen, at least we know we were first :)

    Monday, August 14, 2006

    Sunday hike

    We went to yet a new place last Sunday. Two pretty waterfalls in the Columbia Gorge. The top waterfall was very unusual. A part of it flowed through a barrel-like cavern and formed a wind chamber called Pool of the Winds. Very cool. Here is a photo of Jonah enjoying the forest. I started a new album, as you can see on the right. It's called hiking: 1-year-old plus.

    Friday, August 11, 2006

    birthday boy

    Alas, we didn't get to camp on Jonah's first birthday as planned. The campsite was already full when we got there, but we still went on a short hike along the Sandy River and picnicked along the shore. Here is a photo of Jonah with his birthday cake (carrot cake I made & whipped cream). He thought it was quite strange, but ate a little anyway.

    More pictures in the new album I created entitled 1-year-old plus

    czech proverbs

    I ran across a list of Czech proverbs today. Most of them I had heard before, but the list included a couple that were new to me. And they are great! They reveal quite a bit about the Czechs. Don't get scared reading these. Instead, take these proverbs with a grain of salt. All in all, we are good people, though we may have some trust issues...

    Host do domu, hůl do ruky.
    If a guest comes to your home, grab a stick.

    Vyhni se opilému, jakož i bláznu.
    Avoid a drunkard as well as a fool.

    Stokrát nic umořilo osla.
    A hundred times nothing killed the donkey.

    Hloupý kdo dává, hloupější kdo nebere.
    He who gives is foolish, he who doesn't accept is even more so.

    one year old!!!

    Jonah turned one today!!! On one hand, I can hardly believe he is one already, on the other hand, I feel we've known each other a lifetime. I love that little sprout!

    Photos coming soon. (If he ever sits still for them)

    Thursday, August 10, 2006

    typical Czechs

    Read this great real life story depicting typical Czech attitude. Source: message boards.

    At least, the Prague city officials are trying to cope with dog droppings. I noticed paper bag dispensing staions at several parks in Prague, so people can scoop up the dog stuff and dispose of it in a trash container in a reinforced paper bag.

    However, all good things at times are abused. As I was passing two elderly ladies were at the "bag disposal station" , having a conversation. I overheard the reply one old lady gave the other:

    Q. What do you need all these bags for?
    A. I'm getting these bags for my husband to carry his lunch to work.

    "That is a good idea!" Replied the other:"I think I'll get some for my husband too!"

    By the time they left, the dispenser was empty.

    Tuesday, August 08, 2006

    something new

    Jonah now responds to the question, "Where is the bear's nose?" He touches his teddybear's nose. We discovered this Sunday. He will do this with a stuffed dog too. Tim has been teaching Jonah the names of a select few body parts. Responding to a question like this is a huge step for Jonah. He has looked at a bear before when asked where the bear is. Same with the cats. This is the first time he has touched the thing he was asked about. Exciting, to say the least.

    Jonah is also getting quite tricky. He knows he is supposed to stay away from the cats' water bowl, but sometimes the temptation is just too much. The other day he dropped his toy right next to the water bowl and pretended he crawled there to pick it up while instead he wanted to stick his hand in the water. I watched him perform this elaborate scheme and just when he was about to touch the water, I said a big loud "No!" That startled him, but didn't stop him from trying the same trick a couple more times. Cheeky, cheeky monkey.

    Saturday, August 05, 2006

    today's hike

    Tim, Jonah, and I went hiking today to a place not far from town. Surprisingly we had never been there. The hike was relatively short, but along a windy path going straight up to the top of a monolith. Beautiful views of the Columbia Gorge all along the way up to the top. The color of the river today reminded me of the Mediterranean or the Caribbean. Turquoise blue. This may have been Jonah's last hike as an infant. He will be turning one next week! We plan to go camping that night. It will be Jonah's first time camping. Fitting for a first birthday - a summer birthday at that - we thought.

    Thursday, August 03, 2006

    watch out for the czechs

    The Czech conversation class that I'm teaching at the community college is so much fun! I wish I could continue teaching it in the fall, but with my new job all my weekday evenings will be booked. Speaking of guarding your valuables (see previous posting), I posted this article recently on the website for the class. Hopefully my students weren't too freaked out by this. Just a gentle reminder to watch one's stuff when traveling.

    According to the Czech newspaper Lidove noviny, you're more likely to have your pocket picked in the Czech Republic than anywhere else in the world. This was the finding of a survey carried out by a leading British insurance company Norwich Union. The survey examined theft and personal safety statistics in various holiday destinations around the globe.

    But don't worry. The Czech Republic has a low crime ratio, so the worse that can happen to you is theft. Which means, take the following precautions: put documents in a safe at your hotel. When out and about, guard, if not hide your valuables, including jewlery and cameras out of sight. And of course, watch your bags and pockets like a hawk.

    More in the following July 2006 articles: Prague Daily Monitor or Radio Praha.

    Monday, July 31, 2006


    We went hiking finally last Saturday. I miss being in the forest when we don't get out to nature in a long time. I put pictures of our hike in our outdoor adventure album. Here is Jonah with the "safeguard your valuables" sign in the parking lot. Cheeky little fellow.

    By the way, he has been standing without holding on to anything routinely and taking a few steps on his own here and there when encouraged!!!

    Thursday, July 27, 2006

    last hoorah

    Yesterday my friend and I had our goodbye lunch at work. The two of us are getting laid off this month. Officially, my last day is Monday. Our babies and husbands joined us at the restaurant. Tim was funny. After almost everyone had left the restaurant, he said, "I kept waiting for the drinks to be served." I responded that since the bosses were there, people didn't dare order drinks for lunch. Tim countered: "I thought your bosses would be buying drinks for you." I guess that's the difference between working for a corporation and a social service agency. My friend's lunch and mine were paid for, but incidentally when she ordered an iced tea, she was told that she would have to pay for that herself. Everything has its limits, I guess.

    Yesterday was also the last day of class for my students. Half of them ended up dropping out during the course of the program because of scheduling and childcare issues mostly, but those that graduated were true troopers. Kudos to them! As is the custom, my students cooked up a storm and brought food from their countries - Japanese potato salad, Vietnamese salad rolls, Philipino noodles, etc. Yum! Tim thanked me for loading him up a plate for later.

    We finished off the day with a free concert at the park. My friend's Cuban band was playing. Quite a few friends made it too, and some with babies. So we had lots of fun.

    Tuesday, July 25, 2006

    my daily stop at the pump

    As a dedicated mom, I've put in my fair share of hours at the pump. Breast pump that is. I express milk at work, so my baby can get his nutrients while I'm away. Because a friend and coworker of mine complained at work that there wasn't a proper space available for breastfeeding moms, our workplace decided to designate a multipurpose room with a lock on it as the official breastfeeding/pumping room. Of course, it's used for a whole host of other things, and because there are many impracticalities about the logistics of this space, I have found my own alternatives.

    Today I had to use this room. As if having to hunt down the appropriate person with the right key and signing in to use it (I expected to have to fill in my reason for using the room as well) wasn't enough of a nuisance, when I was opening the door to the room, my boss, who was passing by, asked me what it was that our program was storing in that room. In other words, what is it that I was going to do in the room. I just smiled and kept going about my business.

    When I walked in, I noticed that the video camera that lives in that room and points right where a breastpumping woman would sit to express milk, was plugged in and filming. Fortunately this was immediately clear since the picture was broadcast on the adjoining oversized TV screen. Great. I talked at the camera for a few seconds, then attempted to turn it off. I hope I know how to turn this puppy off. And I hope that I actually do turn off the video camera and not just the tv, I thought. Well, on top of all the equipment issues, I had a difficult time telling whether the door was locked or unlocked from the outside. Of course, when I was done, I noticed that the whole time the door was unlocked and anyone could have walked in on me.

    The saving grace of this whole experience was a children's book I found in the room, displayed on one of the tables. It was called Where's Weenie?. I was sure it was an educational book in the vein of Everybody Poops. But to my surprise, the book had nothing to do with what most people understand your typical weenie to be. Sure there was a wiener dog hiding somewhere under some flap, but because I don't even have what it takes to read a board book appropriate for two year olds, I was thoroughly confused about the purpose and the message in the book. Once a coworker showed me how to open the flaps and read the text underneath them, the book made more sense. But even with the flaps, the book is quite ridiculous. Decide for yourself. Here are a few excerpts:

    Rise and shine, Weenie. Time to get up!

    Come on out, Weenie. You're going to miss the parade.

    Aha! There you are Weenie!

    That's not Weenie!

    Hi, Henry. Hi, Daisy. Is that Weenie hiding under your blanket?

    Ohmigosh! I hope Weenie doesn't miss the parade.

    my new boss

    My new boss met with me last week to initiate me into his cult, of which I will be a member in a month. I have signed the papers. Now there is no turning back. I nearly fell down when he walked in for the inauguration meeting. The force of his perfume or aftershave or whatever man smell it was, was something to reckon with. His faded tropical shirt with ladies relaxing on the beach under sun umbrellas had seen a better day.

    During the meeting I kept getting distracted by a faint voice inside my head telling me this man reminded me of someone. Finally I figured it out. The wrinkles on his face, his narrow eyes -outside corners pointing downward- and his reddish sun-lashed skin reminded me of my college theater professor who chainsmoked in class and had a perpetual stain on the backside of his pants. This professor, along with another of one of my professors, his lover two generations younger than he, ended up making my last semester of college a living hell. I will spare you the details of that episode of my life and instead bring you back to the slightly ratty and very stuffy office of the high school principal whom I now call my supervisor. Aha, I thought as soon as devil man's face, I mean my late college professor's face, superimposed itself over that of my new boss as he was talking to me. No wonder I had an unexplained unsettling feeling at first. I was glad I had solved that puzzle.

    The meeting was mostly forgettable until Mr. Boss went off on an unexpected tangent inspired by I don't remember what. Suddenly he launched into a speech about how our students from other countries are chastised for smoking while the U.S. cigarette companies market their tabacco products around the world, trying to hook young people. Then he continued, his monolog rapidly gaining in scope and heat. "It's like with fishing. We market all kinds of chemicals and pesticides in South America and then they use it and the DDT gets in the water and in the rivers and flows into the ocean from there, the fish die, and the people need to go fishing farther out. Then we get into disputes over whose territory in the ocean is what, bullying everybody..." My head was spinning to say the least.

    When it came time to review the school policies, is really when the fun started. Dress code. This must be a favorite topic. "Of course, we are pretty relaxed about our dress code here. As long as what we wear is professional and does not impede learning or offend anyone, it's fine. For example," he decided to illustrate his point, "if I decided to wear spedos to work one day..." No, not this visual, I thought. Talk about distracting! He punctuated this segment of our meeting by relating his fantasy, which went something like this: "One day we will break the dress code, dictated to us by our sponsoring organization, and wear everything we're not supposed to. Like logos and shorts..., he said." Wow, can't wait for that day. Hope he doesn't decide to wear his spedos.

    While explaining the health benefits to me, the principal confided that health insurance was why he decided to go back to work after retiring. He must really love his job, I thought.

    My final favorite moment was my new boss bragging about how democratic his leadership is. My interpretation of what really goes on at the school, based on reading between the lines, is that the employees pretty much take care of most issues on their own instead of relying on the boss. Democratic my ass, is what I thought. But hey, you can surprise me with your prime leadership skills any time, boss man. I'll be waiting to see if you can walk the talk.

    Saturday, July 22, 2006

    toothy grin

    This picture was taken three days ago. Would you believe his upper teeth are already starting to bulge out from under his gums? The bulges are a lot bigger than in this picture. The force of this has been waking Jonah up at night. Last night we had to give him drops. Though it never got below 84 degrees inside and below 80 outside, he slept "like a baby." And so did mama, thank goodness.

    Friday, July 21, 2006

    grandma's visit

    this is an audio post - click to play

    One more thing to add. My grandmother really hates the heat. We were very lucky that for almost the entire three weeks she was here, the weather was much cooler than before she came and after she left. Today, our thermometer shows 106 in the shade!!! Can't imagine what the temperature is in the sun!

    Tuesday, July 18, 2006

    summer update

    As you may have noticed, I haven't been posting as frequently as usual, all because my plate has been quite full lately. Between family visiting from Prague, teaching, being a mom, looking for a new job, and various other summer activities such as trips to the coast and garden parties, I've found it difficult to find the time to even wash my own underpants, let alone keep up with my various blogs. Hey, I'm sure you wanted to know about my underpants.

    I do have some big news. I just got hired at a new place, a welcome development since I am getting laid off from my current job (vocational ed) at the end of this month. The new job is at a very small alternative high school where I used to work once upon a time. Only one teacher that I used to know has remained there since my hay day. I will be teaching evening ESL or ESOL classes, as they are sometimes called. ESOL stands for English for Speakers of Other Languages. The students in the evening program are pretty serious about learning, since they usually work full-time jobs during the day, and are often counted on to support families. They are generally motivated and polite. I know because I used to sub in that program. My new schedule will be a bit of an adjustment, but I think I may enjoy it, though I may miss out on a few dinner parties or evening lectures. The work hours are 4-9 pm Monday through Friday (=25 hrs/week). That means that Tim will get in nearly a full day of work each weekday, which he will be grateful for, I'm sure.

    The fun part is that I get all of August off before I start my new job (except for the first three days when I will be subbing in another ESL program at my old job). A nice perk with the new job is that I will be on the public school schedule, complete with winter, spring, and summer break, as well as inservice days. I'm starting to like this already. Plus the job offers a lot of autonomy and health insurance as well, if I'm not mistaken. I hope I'm not mistaken.

    So, I was just offered this job yesterday. Tomorrow, after my grandmother leaves town, I go sign the papers. And then it's off to the coast for "Couples and Baby" weekend with my in-laws (sister- and brother-in-law) and friends from Seattle. Can't wait.

    In August, Tim, Jonah and I will be going down to the Bay Area to spend a week with Jonah's other grandfather, my dad, who will be meeting the baby for the first time. My dad's wife, my sister, and hopefully her boyfriend will be joining us too. Tim, Jonah, and I will spend a weekend in San Francisco alone after a week with family in Bolinas, a quiet little town close to lots of hikes and beautiful natural areas. Can't wait for the adventures.

    And of course, August will be an eventful month with all the birthdays, wedding anniversary, etc. coming up. I just realized it may be a nice idea to throw a little kid get-together for Jonah's first birthday. Something like a wading pool and water baloon fun in the backyard. Sure, he is still too small to remember somthing like that, but hey, it would give mom and dad something to talk about.

    Jonah is doing great. He loves having extended family around all the time. At our garden party in honor of my grandmother last Sunday, he had such a great time being passed from one person to the next. He even forgot about his parents for a while. Wow! My grandmother had a nice time too. We served mojitos - my first time making such a drink, with fresh mint from our garden. A refreshing experience for the pallet for sure.

    My Czech class is going well, though the grammar does get harder as one delves deeper into the jungle that Czech is. Last time I confused and frustrated a few students. But hey, language students need to realize and get used to the fact that there will often be a certain degree of ambiguity when it comes to trying to understand a new language. So, there. Not my fault entirely. Next week we are going to begin looking at noun cases. My students are going to kill me. Maybe I should wear a bullet-proof vest.

    Wednesday, July 12, 2006

    eleven months old!

    Jonah is now eleven months old. I can't believe it. He is almost a toddler. His teeth are pushing their way out at breakneck speed. His top ones have almost cut through his gums. On the bottom there are already two poking out. He will probably take his first steps within the next two weeks. He is so eager to be independent. But of course, he likes to be looked at and admired as he explores his surroundings. He checks our faces for our reactions constantly.

    The most difficult challenge has been putting Jonah to sleep, whether for naps or for the night. Unless he is absolutely exhausted to the point of passing out as soon as he lays down, which never happens, he insists on being angry about having to even be in the same room as his crib. Tim has mastered the art of putting Jonah down. It does take him fifteen to thirty minutes each time, but he has the patience to do it, and somehow Jonah seems much calmer with him. With me, Jonah is as hyper as if he'd had a giant espresso drink. He has also become extremely attached to me in the last two weeks. Today when I left for work, I sware I heard the windows cracking from how shrill and loud his cry was.

    I wonder if my grandmother is right that he doesn't want to be seperated from me even because of sleep, so when I try to put him down, he stays wide awake and playful so we never have to say goodbye. I hope she is right when she says that this phase too shall pass.

    Today he surprised me. When I said "bear" in Czech, he turned his head and looked right at a teddy bear on a quilt from Tim's grandma Mary Lou. He then pet it and laughed. He did the same thing later today. So, now he says mama and understands "up," "kitty" and "doggy" in Czech as well as "Chces papat?" which means "Do you want to eat?" For a while I thought he understood "uncle Andy" and "babicka," which means grandma, but I am not sure anymore. He also understands dad, it seems.

    Tuesday, July 11, 2006

    first word

    Jonah's first word is mama. He has been saying it with unmistakable purpose for about a week. I am so touched.

    the beach

    Just got back from a weekend at the beach yesterday. Had a marvelous time with my mom, grandma, Jonah, and Tim. Two days are never long enough. My grandmother loves the ocean, so our trip to Cannon Beach made her happy. I put pics in our outdoor adventures album.

    Tuesday, July 04, 2006

    Fourth of July

    We had a very mellow Fourth of July. No fireworks, no madness. Just my mom, grandma, Jonah, Tim and I in the backyard, drinking cocktails, bbquing, and eating.

    I admit I hate Fourth of July. I'm not one for home fireworks productions, which are mostly just good for messing with people's body parts. I'm glad Tim is not a pyromaniac. Thank goodness for that. On New Years Eve and 4th of July, I tend to turn into a cat wanting to hide under a bed. I completely emphathise with my cats on the days when it sounds like the war has started outside, as Tim put it yesterday.

    Our neighbors did have a party and our neighborhood had a block party. Neither was too raucous. None of us was in the mood, so we stayed close to home.

    Last week I had fought off a cold, but in the process gave my grandmother the germs. So now she is resting in bed with a head cold. I feel bad about that. I hope she feels better by tomorrow.

    Jonah's favorite pastime these days is pushing the stroller. Though someone still needs to steady it and make sure it doesn't move forward too fast, Jonah is getting very good at it, taking one hand off to practice balancing or to touch something interesting nearby. While pushing the stroller, he also likes to stop and squat just for the fun of it. Start and stop, stand and squat. A whole half hour can go by with Jonah just happily pushing the stroller and experimenting with his weight.

    Jonah has also been enjoying tasting new foods. I am taking full advantage of my mom and grandma being around to encourage me to feed Jonah new things, the "scardie cat" that I am. My fear is that he will either choke on something or have an alergic reaction to something new, but variety is good, and nutrition is too. Jonah's latest favorite is bread. He loves to hold and chew chunks of bread, preferrably whole slices. He has also been enjoying cheese! That's a new one. Tim can't wait to feed Jonah his first grilled cheese sandwich!

    Sunday, July 02, 2006

    babi is here!

    It's been so wonderful having my grandmother here. I think I want to keep her here! Jonah is enjoying his time with his grandma and great-grandma. So much family around.. and he loves it. More attention for him!

    Today we went on a nice trip to the Columbia Gorge, a magical place called Sherrard's Point on Larch Mountain. It's a spectacular viewpoint from which one can see all the volcanic peaks in the area - Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, and even Mt. Rainier which is almost a hundred miles away. I put some pictures from our trip in the outdoor adventures album.

    Yesterday we went to my favorite farmer's market and to an art gallery where a Czech friend of my mother's has a show. Inspired by the Bottmans, we decided it was about time to establish a cocktail hour at our house. So from this weekend on, we're having cocktails between five and six in the evening in preparation for dinner. So far, cocktail hour has been a big hit with the grandmas (great-grandma and regular grandma). And I'm happy about that. Tonight we had gin and tonics.

    Friday, June 30, 2006

    first time audio blogging

    this is an audio post - click to play

    Love this technology! I'll be doing these audio blogs once in a while I think.

    Tuesday, June 27, 2006

    great-grandma and teacher stuff

    We are impatiently awaiting the arrival of my grandma, Jonah's great-grandma, from Prague. She arrives tomorrow and will be staying with us for three weeks. I haven't seen her in nearly two years and that breaks my heart since we are so close and such good friends. I wish we didn't live so far apart.

    In other news, last week I was told that my coworker and I will most likely get laid off since the organization that funds us is taking its sweet time to make the formal decision to renew our program for two more years. So, come August, I will most likely be jobless and come October, I might be hired back. But I emphasize might. So, I've been on the lookout for other jobs, applying for all kinds of teaching gigs, including ones in virtual classrooms. Strange, huh? The things that go on on the internet these days are mind-boggling.

    My Czech class at the community college starts in two days! I have eighteen students signed up. Daring, daring people. I will take this new course as an opportunity to reinvent myself. This time as the toughest teacher my students have had. Should I wear my World War II German army suit or the lion tamer outfit? I know. I will start the class by giving the students the evil stare. I will survey the class for a long while until it's so quiet one can hear a pin drop, and then I will quickly raise my fist and hit the desk with a loud bang to establish who's boss. No one will mess with Tereza the Terrible, or else. All of us have had teachers. But do we ever hear what teachers fantasize about? Well, I just let you in on my teacher fantasy. But I digress. Come Thursday, despite my sizable muscles, strong voice, and a will of steel, I will be as sweet as a lamb to those innocent students... until one tells me his dog ate his homework... Ha ha!

    Monday, June 26, 2006


    Yesterday I was giving Jonah some water to drink when I heard something hit the glass, creating sort of a ringing sound. It was the moment we had been waiting for! Finally after days of fever and restless sleep, Jonah's first tooth had broken through! Believe it or not, this is up there with the most exciting moments of parenthood.

    heat wave

    The temperature has been climbing up to just over 100 degrees every day. Yikes! This is what Jonah has been doing to cool down.

    Sunday, June 25, 2006

    launching Czechs in America

    I am proud to announce the launching of my new project, Czechs in America, a bilingual podcast about the lives of Czechs in the U.S. For those of you not familiar with the podcast format, podcasts are audio clips that can be listened to via the computer or downloaded onto other devices such as MP 3 players and iPods. Many podcasts come in daily, weekly or monthly editions. Mine will most likely be sporadic, but the premier edition is ready to go. Tim will help me upload the sound file and make it available for you to listen to in the next couple of days!!!

    The first episode of Czechs in America features an interview with my sister, Marta Topferova, a New York-based singer and songwriter whose original music is inspired by Latin American and Czech folk music. In the interview, my sister discusses her experience as a Czech immigrant, her first impressions of the U.S., her memories of the Czech Republic, what inspires her as an artist, and more. You can find more information about the podcast at, where the episodes will be available for your listening pleasure.

    Future editions of my podcast will feature interviews with other Czechs living in the U.S., including artists and entrepreneurs; spotlights of interesting Czech-related organizations and events; as well as a bit about the history of Czech immigration to the U.S.

    I will let you know when the first episode is up. It should be by the end of this month! It would be great to get your feedback!

    Friday, June 23, 2006

    men at work

    Here is a list of three men caught in the act -

    1. Today while trying on clothes at a store, I caught my little man Jonah kissing himself in the fitting room mirror. "I'm so pretty," he said and planted one on. "Yep, I still like myself."

    2. The other day I was shopping at a produce store when a man around forty with a muscle shirt and an unkempt stubble walked in whistling matter-of-factly and casually rattling his car keys. He had a serious expression and a rough look to him, but not to the point of appearing homeless. Far from it, in fact. He did, in some distant way, resemble George Michael, though I am pretty sure he was unaware of that fact. Do you know what he came in whistling? Drum roll, please.... it was "Little Bunny Foo Foo." Incredible.

    3. This afternoon Jonah and I went for a walk in one of the largest and most frequented Portland parks. And what do I see, a man facing the bushes and relieving himself right next to the path. This was a reputable-looking gentleman too. In his sixties or seventies, I'd say. He turned around and saw us coming. Then he pretended to be surveying the trees and the sky. Good one.

    In many parts of the world there is nothing unusual about spotting men peeing out in the open. In Prague, for example, it's quite a mundane spectacle. Oh, there is another drunkard pissing in the park. Just like his dog right next to him... Little children, too, when they have to go, they are allowed to go just about anywhere. In the gutter seems to be a favorite place. A busy city street? No problem. My gutter is your gutter. But in Portland urinating in public is a rare sight. Boy, were we lucky to spot such a rare specimen today.

    Sunday, June 18, 2006

    father Tim's special day

    A special brunch awaited father Tim in the backyard today - freshly picked raspberries from our garden, red grapes, baguette with cream cheese and smoked wild salmon, mimosas and coffee. Almost everything, except for the coffee and the salmon, was organic. Jonah ate along with us, seated right at the table behind the house in his high chair. No wasps, which was truly a treat.

    I had told Tim a couple of weeks ago that on Father's Day I was taking him and Jonah somewhere and that "somewhere" was a surprise. In fact, the place was a bit of a surprise to me as well since I had only read about it.

    After brunch, Jonah napped and we got ready. At two I had scheduled us a tour of the Macaw Landing Wildlife Refuge, located right in Portland, just a twenty-minute drive from our house. The Macaw Landing Foundation is a conservation organization dedicated to the preservation of Macaws, wildlife, and to environmental education. The macaws that have a home at the foundation were placed there by their previous owners who believe that macaws should not be kept as pets and that their birds would be more contented living in the company of other macaws. One of the macaws at the refuge represents a species of which there are only twenty-four alive in the wild!

    The refuge houses more than ninety macaws in a public viewing space and is also home to a donkey (which I completely fell in love with), pygmy goats, geese, turtles, snakes, frogs, as well as deer, coyotes, raccoons, beaver, turtles, rabbits. We got to see a list of these creatures. Too bad we forgot our camera!

    Tim didn't let me forget that once in my yester years I had the role of a parrot in a college play, directed by one of the drama professors. I took the role because I thought it would look fabulous on a resume. Little did I know that I would get to be a parrot on a stage in New York City!!! In order to prepare for the role, I studied parrots and when my mom would get mad at me, I utilized the cold stare and jerky head motions I had learned from parrots to further irk her.

    But back to Father's Day. Jonah thought all the birds were amusing and strange at the same time. He didn't seem to know what to quite think of them. When he saw one by itself sitting on a perch without the distraction of dozens of others shrieking and flapping their wings for attention, he demanded to touch it, but we didn't dare let the two of them make each other's acquaintance.

    Since my role as a parrot, I have come to love these birds. Until then, I didn't know that parrots were so smart and could be so loving. When I was pregnant with Jonah, I fell in love with an African grey parrot that was for sale at the pet store where we get our pet food. This bird would bend its head to get it scratched every time I would come by. He seemed to remember me. I cried, feeling terrible for the bird trapped in a cage and tried to convince Tim to let me buy him. $1,500? We can do it, can't we? I insisted. But Tim had barely anything to say about this. His silence discouraged my need to constantly bug him about this poor bird. Pretty soon my emotions cooled. But I still feel terrible for birds that have to live in tiny cages.

    In the spirit of working towards wild habitat preservation, the Macaw foundation is affiliated with an ecotourism travel agency called Tropical Nature Travel, whose website and brochures are tantalizing to say the least. Perhaps some day our little family will travel to South America and stay at one of their wilderness lodges in the jungle of Peru or Brazil.

    Now that we are home, I miss the birds, but mainly Spekles, the donkey. Maybe I was meant to be an animal care taker. Hopefully I will get to see Speckles and the birds again.

    For dinner I cooked steamed vegetable mushroom buns I got an Asian market with teriyaki-style dipping sause I made, steamed broccolli, and fried rice. For dessert there was still some raspberry rhubarb crumble I made from fruit from our garden! After Jonah fell asleep, we made a fire in our garden and finished off the champaigne from the morning.

    A Father's Day well-spent, if I may say so myself.

    Wednesday, June 14, 2006

    ten months old!

    As of last Sunday, Jonah is ten-months-old! Only two more months and he'll be considered a toddler. Whoa!

    Monday, June 12, 2006

    (no) more sad news

    I am very sad to share with you that Tim's grandfather Art, Jonah's great-grandfather, passed away Friday night. His passing was sudden and unexpected. I think he would have been pleased to know that we all got together in his name on Sunday, and were still able to have a wonderful time together even on such a somber occasion. I know that to Art, family was everything and I also know that his legacy will live on through his children, grand-children, and great-grandchildren.

    I've included a picture of Art and his sons with spouses from last summer's family reunion. Art, of course, is seated in the middle with his wife Thelma.

    Wednesday, June 07, 2006

    evil chicken burrito

    I must record this event before it is too late. For posterity. It happened recently, but because of the traumatic nature of this incident, I have already almost completely blocked it out of my memory.

    I was in a rush to get ready to go to work - no time to make lunch - when I remembered that there is a little shack in my neighborhood that whips up and sells what must be authentic Mexican food. "Perfect," I said to myself. "I've always wanted to sample this place."

    The trouble was that the restaurant was completely hidden among a myriad of warehouses, garages, loading docks, and fenced off truck part cemeteries. I had forgotten exactly where I had seen it, and to find it meant I would have had to zoom up and down cracked paved roads, dodging fork lifts and men in muscle shirts, with the visibility hindered by whirling dust devils and giant unpredictable trucks. I had, however, made the decision that I needed a burrito that fateful day in May.

    Burning up in my car and tapping my fingers on the steering wheel, I finally shoved the delivery trucks out of my way (or I like to think I did), and made my way to the parking lot of the tacqueria. To my surprise, the restaurant offered indoor and outdoor seating. The white walls, turquoise trim, flowers on the tables and curtains over the windows transported me instantly to a world south of the border. What cleanliness, I remarked to myself. One could eat off the floors. This time I dared to speak to the lady in Spanish, which I am normally too shy to do. What the heck, I thought.

    I told her that I lived in the neighborhood and that this was my first time at their restaurant and how excited I am that their place is nearby. She was polite but didn't engage in idle chatter with the gringa customer that I was for very long.

    My chicken burrito came out of the kitchen fast and traveled to work with me. While eating it later that day, I thought of my favorite chicken burritos and compared mental notes. This one fell in the average category. A little too salty and not enough lard.

    Off to teach my class I went, and lo and behold - some three hours after eating the darn burrito, my stomach began climbing into my throat. Oh oh, I panicked. Am I pregnant again? Can't be.

    I told my students I would be right back and went to the bathroom to check the day's vomit alert scale. "Red, orange, yellow, blue or green?" I asked myself. Orange: high. A couple of dry heaves later it was time to return back to my students, intently working on their computer assignments. "Oh, I feel so much better," I thought. But not for long.

    The computer screen shivered in front of my eyes. It hurt to look at it. People passing by began to comment on how pale I looked. I sat there looking at the clock while my students stayed busy with their work.

    And sure enough, the wave surged again. Off to the bathroom I ran. But nothing happened. This time I told myself that it's better to get whatever was bothering me out... and I did. Red alert: danger severe. And while I puked I thought, "It really is a pity that the staff bathroom is adjacent to the lunch room. Whoever came up with that design?" First time throwing up at work. And I wasn't even pregnant or drunk. It was clear. The burrito was the culprit. What a shame. I regret to inform you that I have resolved to never go back to that Mexican joint in my neighborhood again. And my students? They never knew I had just turned inside out in the employee bathroom adjacent to the staff kitchenette. And Jonah? The evil chicken burrito cast no spell on him, thank goodness.

    Tuesday, June 06, 2006

    first plane trip

    We just came back from spending four days in Montana, visiting Jonah's grandparents. Jonah did great on the plane. For the most part, he stayed entertained and quiet. He even slept for a little bit. Worried about his ears hurting from the air pressure, I fed Jonah cereal and breastmilk neurotically for most of the flight. It seemed to do the trick. His ears didn't seem affected. He did have a couple of shrieking spells, but they were short-lived, thank goodness.

    In Montana we just mostly relaxed - took walks, hot-tubbed, hung out in Tim's parents' beautiful backyard... In fact, I told Tim that their backyard is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. The lush grass and trees surrounding a small creek are a home to countless birds, deer, and other furry creatures. And in the distance across the dry valley covered in sage, cactus, and wild grasses, the yellow sandstone cliffs topped with pine trees frame the view... That's the scenery Tim grew up with, lucky boy.

    Tim and I got to go out to dinner just the two of us. What a treat! One day all of us made a trip to a historic landmark, Pompey's Pillar, which was an important point for the Crow Indian tribes as well as a stopping point for the Lewis & Clark expedition. The well-designed new interpretive center provided some interesting information. The view from the top of the Pillar was worth the climb in the hundred-degree weather. The lush area surrounding the Yellowstone River made for a perfect spot for our picnic lunch.

    One of the highlights of the trip was the performance we saw, thanks to Tim's parents. It was Stomp, a musical I had always wanted to see. What made the experience even more special was the fact that we were surrounded by the Stomp crew on our flight to Montana. So seeing the performers on stage after observing them doing mundane tasks such as drinking beer on the plane, playing computer games, making funny faces at the neighboring babies, and teasing each other, was quite amusing. Hey, that's the guy that was so rude to me, I whispered to Tim while tugging on his elbow as one of the performers made his first appearance in the show. Check it out, that's the guy that was rocking out to his walkman. Oh man, that's the dude that was watching that stand-up routine on his lap top.

    The show was fun. It didn't quite make me want to run away with the circus... or the troupe, I should say, but it was entertaining. What I liked the most was the audience interaction and the parts that were quiet and subtle. Also some of the slapsticky humor was right up my alley. My humor is, after all, still stuck somewhere in the first grade.

    I've posted some new pictures from our trip here.