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.