Monday, February 27, 2006

Saturday hike

On Saturday we went on a short hike to the top of Multnomah Falls in the Columbia Gorge. The path is all switchbacks going pretty much straight up a steep hill. It's Monday now and I'm still sore! It was fun. Jonah's uncle Andy came too - something that doesn't happen very often. I put pictures in a new album called "more outdoor adventures."

Friday, February 24, 2006

Montana ladies

Tim's Mom, Aunt, and Great-grandmother came to visit from Montana this week. I had such a fabulous time with them! I loved just spending time talking, telling stories, and laughing in the hotel room, passing Jonah around from grandma to great-grandma, or GG as she likes to be called. That's my ideal way of life - surrounded by family and friends, more like what I imagine life to be in the past when people lived in the same village for generations.

No offense to the men in the family, but it was so great to have some time with just the ladies. I feel like I got to know them so much better on this trip. Tim's Aunt has got to be my new favorite. She is a riot!

Here are a couple pictures I took.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I see something

"I see something," a co-worker said to me today, pointing at my belly, a knowing smile on his face.

"Yeah, you see a fat belly," I replied. "And no, it's not another baby."

He started peddling backwards, trying to save the day: "Uh, that's not what I meant. In my culture it's a compliment to tell a woman she is big... Well, you were pregnant before and now there is nothing. I mean, in Africa, if a woman wants to get married, she has to be fat. Sometimes if she is too thin, they will lock her up somewhere and feed her. Or if her legs are too thin, they will beat them or something, so they look bigger. It's the opposite here."

Obviously he meant to tell me that he thought I was pregnant. There was no denying it, no matter how much he tried to cover up his faux pas. As if that weren't enough to make me clench my fists under my desk. He was already the second person today to ask me whether I was pregnant, for goodness sakes! "You don't say that to women," I told him. He knew he had made a mistake, at least I hope he learned from it.

The other socially inept co-worker today was a woman. She didn't beat around the bush. "Are you expecting another one?" she asked me by the copy machine. "Ah, just a little fat," she nodded, patting her belly but looking at mine.

"I did start going to the gym two weeks ago," I told her. It must have been the clothes I was wearing today that emphasized my gut, turning it into a conversation piece.

My student's reaction was sweet. "That's natural." (Meaning having a little bit of a pooch after a pregnancy). "This is not natural," and he pointed at his pot belly. That gave the rest of us ladies a good laugh.

Yes, I am the heaviest I've ever been, but come on people, manners!!!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

growing fast

Look at the comparison between a two-months and six-months-old Jonah (same bear)

Friday, February 17, 2006

brand new person

Holding a brand new person in your arms is the most magical experience in the world. It is so moving!

I got to see my friends' new baby the other day, still at the hospital. What a precious little being!

The baby was hungry, impatiently waiting for mom's milk to come in. It was strange holding him and feeling the urge to feed him. That had never happened to me before. Of course, I restrained myself, thank goodness.

Hospitals are definitely not my cup of tea. The scrubs, monitors, fluorescent lights, the apparent sterility of it all scares me. Walking through the halls of the hospital and feeling apprehension was a good confirmation of my choice to give birth at a free-standing birth center. Overall, the birth was a good experience for me. It was hard seeing my friend in so much pain and so drugged up after a C-section. I hope she recovers very soon!

cat and tulips

Here is a picture I took of our cat Pancho and the tulips I got from Tim for Valentine's Day. Pancho is enjoying the long-awaited sun streaming in through the windows while keeping his eye on the baby nearby on the floor.


Jonah had his six-month doctor's appointment yesterday. The nurse weighed and measured him and gave him his next set of shots. He weighs 16 lbs 9 oz, measures 27 inches, and his head circumference is 16 3/4". That means he has gained a little less than two pounds and grown about two inches in the last two months. In height, he is in the 75% for his age; in weight, in the 30%. He is on the thin side, but most likely not for long since he recently began eating solid foods.

Lately he's been enjoying his rice cereal quite a bit. We are thinking of adding another feeding each day! In about a week we plan to introduce some type of a veggie. We tried carrot a few days ago, but it was promptly rejected! Perhaps it was too soon or it wasn't mashed up smoothly enough. We will probably try peas or sweet potato next. Of course, we will keep you posted.

Tim took a couple of short videos with our digital camera of Jonah eating his rice cereal. I will post those shortly.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

good news in the PE department

I am proud to say that this week I started going to the gym. I begin my routine with some stretching, then work out on a few machines, then do a little cardio - treadmill, bike and the like, then do some more stretching and a couple of floor exercises (e.g. sit-ups). It feels so good to exercise. I've been a bum lately.

We used to go hiking and/or cross-country skiing every weekend, but now with the baby we haven't been going as much, so I really need more movement. I hope I can stick to my new routine.

The gym where I go actually has a view. It looks out across a field at a small forest-like patch of old trees - very calming when one is sweating and cussing on a robot with a conveyor belt.

There are some interesting characters that go to the same community center to work their buns out. There is the lumberjack that likes to use the machines wearing a plaid shirt and jeans, there is the slim old man with an unusually long white beard, there is even a black Richard Simmons! How lucky am I?

Valentine's Day

Though we really celebrated Valentine's Day on the coast, Tim surprised me yesterday with flowers. Beautiful tulips and violets too - for work. We went out to dinner to one of my favorite restaurants, a Vietnamese restaurant that serves my favorite dessert ever called che van. It's a drink with beans, mung bean paste, jello candy, ice, and coconut milk. This time we ordered something new: roasted catfish. It was a whole fish, served with the head and all. What made the meal fun was assembling it - dipping the rice paper in hot water and filling it with noodles, lettuce, basil, cilantro, apple, pineapple, pickled carrot and dikkon, and finally fish meat that was so delicious! Then there was the dipping sauce, of course, to dip the wrap into. Tasty!!! We forgot the camera, but I found a picture of the fish online- from the same restaurant, I believe. I'll admit something to you. I'm still scared to eat shrimp since I had such a strong reaction after eating them last time. So fish was a good choice this time.

new friend for Jonah

I am so excited! Our friends had a baby on the 13th! A new friend for Jonah, little Ira (love that name, by the way!), was born. Today I plan on visiting them at the hospital. Can't wait to meet this brand new little person!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

six months old!

Jonah is six-months-old as of yesterday!

favorite shot

This is my new favorite picture of Jonah and me. It's blurry, sure, but it captures the moment and our relationship in a nutshell.

trip to the coast

We just got back from a fabulous weekend at the coast, celebrating Jonah's six-month "birthday" and Valentine's Day. The weather was exceptionally great for this time of the year. It only rained at night and during the day it was sunny one day and overcast but warm with NO wind the next. We rented a room with a fireplace and kitchen only a block away from the beach. A year and a half ago Tim and I stayed in the same room celebrating our one-year wedding anniversary. It was amazing to come back with a six-month old baby.

Jonah was a happy camper. It didn't even phase him that he was away from home. He slept just fine and loved napping on the beach in his stroller. He didn't mind the long drive either - slept almost the whole way to the coast and back. He couldn't get enough of the fire in the fireplace. Also, he has learned to stand, holding on to furniture. He can really balance himself on his feet for quite some time. Of course, he does tend to topple over, so one has to be very watchful.

Here is a picture of him standing holding on to a chair and a picture of him enjoying the fire and the beach. I also included a whole bunch of new photos in the top two photoalbums on the right.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

the doctor's

Yesterday I went to the doctor's for a check-up. It was my first time with the family doctor that Jonah sees. Though the building is quite generic and the architecture impersonal, the waiting room looks far into the distance across the city. And on a sunny day during a dark rainy winter just seeing the blue sky brings relief that there is a world beyond the grey bubble one has been inhabiting.

In the waiting room I skimmed The New Yorker, a magazine that usually leaves me cold, but that once in a while offers an entertaining and insightful bit of prose. The poetry usually seems too forced and more of an intellectual game rather than a small meditation or still life - the type of poetry I enjoy. Yesterday for the first time, I found a gentle and evocative poem in The New Yorker. It reminded me of my sister's song lyrics. It was about the memories of a woman who used to live on an island. The magazine also had a non-fiction piece about a couple taking a trip to an old New England cemetery and visiting the graves of their relatives who lived in the 1700's. It made me think of similar trips I've made, though I've never seen the graves of those beyond my great-grandmother's generation.

The other day Tim stated the obvious - that Jonah is the first generation in my family born in the U.S. He's right, I thought, as his words sank in this time, suddenly realizing the significance of this in the scheme of my family history beyond the tiny bubble in which I normally live. The feeling that accompanied that realization was an intriguing coupling of excitement and gravity. I am grateful that my family immigrated to this country. One of the biggest gifts life here has given me is open-mindedness and a broader view of the world and the people in it. But what many immigrants feel here, and I am among them, is a sense of impermanence, isolation, and a vastness without depth. I don't know if this makes sense to those born and raised here. There is also the unshakable sensation of being uprooted when one leaves the only culture he knows to live in another. But though I still feel all this, I also know that this place is my home now and that it's Jonah's home as well. As an immigrant, however, I will always probably feel split - a big part of me here and another part of me elsewhere. This can be confusing, but useful as well. It enables me to be more empathetic towards those who navigate between cultures, languages, races, etc. And that's why I gravitate to the work that I do.

But I digress. This entry was about me going to the doctor's, wasn't it?

When the nurse called me in, I wasn't quite done with the cemetery article. She seemed like a smoker - slightly gruff with a raspy voice and deep lines on her face. She wore cheerful scrubs, the kind that is supposed to make children less afraid of the doctor. The top had the word hello written on it in dozens of languages in bright colors and juvenile fonts. Well hello, nurse! Happy to see you today, I thought.

She weighed and measured me. Since I don't own a scale, my weight is always a surprise to me. This time I was dismayed to find that I am the heaviest I've ever been (excluding the pregnancy). It is time to bust that fat! Where is that Richard Simmons when I need him? I was so distracted by the numbers on the scale that I stopped paying attention to the nurse's instructions. I didn't realize she wanted me to turn around to be measured and then to follow her into the examination room. I must have seemed a little slow, if you know what I mean. But what I was doing was scheming about how I need to start an exercise program. And I do have plans, so stay in tune.

The doctor was pleasant as always. I found out she was expecting her second baby who is due in June. Too bad my leisurely visits with the midwives aren't the norm. Where are the times when I was served tea and had my feet or shoulders rubbed for the last part of my appointment? It's hard to get used to the pace of conventional medicine. The most memorable part of my appointment nowadays seems to be the wait.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

rice porridge cold, rice porridge hot

Jonah had his first taste of "solid food." It was rice cereal, blended with breast milk. He opened his mouth readily and tasted the food without really spitting it up. He didn't even grimace. After his first taste, he wanted more. But I'm not sure if he just wanted the spoon in his mouth or if he wanted more rice cereal. We will try again tomorrow.

Saturday, February 04, 2006


I've had dreams about floods and saving children from drowning lately. It has been raining pretty much non-stop in this part of the world for the last two months. The river in our city is inching up day by day, getting closer to spilling over the banks. The last time that happened was ten years ago, only weeks before I moved to this town. Along the freeway on the way to Seattle we saw many areas under water - boarded up houses, abandoned factories, flooded plains. Hopefully the rain will stop soon before our city floods.

two days away

I had the most fabulous time on my trip, accompanying my sister for a part of her West coast tour. So much fun! Our mom came along too while Tim stayed home with Jonah. We got to see my sister perform and stayed in apartments where the musicians playing at the same swanky club stay. I even had a one-bedroom apartment with a kitchen and cable TV to myself! It was so relaxing! My mom and sister had the penthouse suite, a large party pad with seventies furniture and decore, a terrace with a view, piano, and fireplace. We hung out there with friends after the show. I had a good time rummaging through the kitchen cabinets in both my apartment and the penthouse where I found some fascinating items. These included a blueberry ice balm mint foot talk treatment in a pouch shaped like a foot, dehydrated chicken called "shake & bake" that springs to life once moistened and shaken in a plastic bag, and a Jehova's Witnesses booklet with a picture of paradise in which a church lady pets a tiger. I took pictures of these strange items for your viewing pleasure.

One of the days we toured Seattle, visiting the spots where we used to live and go to school. My mom and sister hadn't been back in over ten years. One night I took my mom out for dinner and dessert while my sister performed. The next night we met up with friends for dinner before going to see my sister's show. Both meals were delicious. Tim's cousins made it to the dinner and the show too. Everyone that said would come did which was impressive. The show was excellent! My sister sounded great as always. I was also impressed with the bass player. Our high school Russian teacher and principal, who is now retired, came to the show. It was fun to see them.

It was simply a great trip. Jonah too had a good time with his dad and uncle, who was around quite a bit while I was away.

We got back and my sister played a show here too. Tim got to see that one. I met everyone afterwards with the baby who wasn't allowed in the place since they serve alcohol. After the show a few of us went to a cafe where the music grated on the ears and a rude waitress accidentally spilled a glass of water on the bass player. A bad Portland impression to say the least.

When we got home, we realized that both keys for the house were locked inside. Thank goodness my sister had a cellphone. Well past midnight we had to call around for a locksmith. Not an easy thing to do. Most of the phone numbers we got from the directory were either not in service or, for some odd reason, routed to Colorado. I even called the police who said they couldn't really help us, but gave us a working phone number for a locksmith. Finally, after about a dozen calls we found a locksmith who came and helped us break into our own house, as the police defined our predicament. And by 1 am we were home at last. Breakfast at Helser's near Andy and Jenni's house redeemed all the bad Portland mojo. The food and service were outstanding! Thank goodness.

Here is a picture of my sister holding Jonah. A bit blurry, but oh well.