Wednesday, October 31, 2007

crazy month

This has been a busy month for us. So much going on! We just got back Monday from a three-day stay at a beach house in Washington state to celebrate Jonah's uncle's birthday with him, his wife, and another couple who also has a baby on the way, due only a month before ours. On the way up we stopped to visit Jonah's great-grandmother who lives half way between us and our weekend destination. I included a picture of her with Jonah and Tim. More pics here.

We had a nice time on our trip.

Other than work, parenting, and pregnancy I have been juggling academics for two classes I have recently taken and a family emergency of sorts many of you know about. If not, drop me a line and I will explain. I don't want to put this one in the public domain.

As if that wasn't enough, some jerk, either an unsuccessful thief or crazed vandal, completely smashed in the passenger window on our family car while it was parked in front of my work in the evening. So we had to deal with that.

I try to not let things get to me, especially being pregnant, since I don't want the stress to mess up my or the baby's health. But it hasn't been easy. The getaway definitely helped, as do autumn activities like baking, cooking, and fall holiday rituals.

Not to forget, on Monday I have my citizenship interview and civics test, for which I have to study, so keep your fingers crossed. (How many native-born Americans can correctly recite the thirteen original states, state the exact year the Constitution was written, name the person who wrote the Star-Spangled Banner, say how many voting members are in the House of Representatives or give the correct number of constitutional amendments? If you can without looking it up, holler.) By the way, how tricky of them is it to schedule my appointment the day after the time changes, huh? Since the clock moves back, though, coming in late is not as much of a possibility as showing up one hour early. That would be a drag! If all goes well, I will be able to vote in the next presidential election for the first time. Who hoo! I definitely look forward to that.

Mr. or Ms. In-Utero

Today was check-up day. The whole nuclear family was involved, as usual. Tim likes to be at all the prenatal appointments and Jonah always comes along as well. "It's a family affair," just like Sly and the Family Stone used to sing.

Jonah likes visiting our midwife. She has a basket of toys for kids to play with, which he enjoys immensely. Today he tried the child-sized stethoscope. Fun!

Mr. or Ms. In-Utero seems to be doing fine - strong heartbeat, about the right size and weight as far as we can tell ... I feel good. Twelve more weeks to go (or so). On Friday I will be entering the third trimester.

Jonah doesn't seem phased by the idea that there is a baby in my belly at all. He takes it quite matter-of-factly, a fantastic surprise.

When I told him that last weekend we were going to go to a beach house and see friends, among them one who has a baby in her belly, he said without pausing or flinching: "Like mommy." He totally gets it. How amazing.


Everybody at work wanted to know if we were taking Jonah trick-or-treating today. Because most of my students have children trick-or-treating age, I ended up canceling class, so as not to break up families, or at least not to feel guilty about ruining family bonding time. Jonah, on the other hand, is still too young for walking around the dark streets in a costume, looking for candy.

Tim and I were so lackadaisical about Halloween, as we are about most things, that we let the one pumpkin we brought home from the pumpkin patch rot through and through before getting to the carving. Luckily we had another one we bought from the farm store adjacent to the pumpkin patch. Tim tried to get Jonah excited about carving the pumpkin while I was at work today to no avail. He did get Jonah to scoop out some of the innards while quickly snapping a picture.

I don't believe in purchased costumes or ones made only by adults, and especially not in dressing up children that are too young to know what's going on just to parade them in front of the fam or everyone else on the block. Despite that, this was cute. Daddy decided to dress son up in a construction outfit comprised of items which are already part of his wardrobe: overalls, flannel shirt, and a hard hat Jonah recently got in the mail from his grandma. Tim helped Jonah stuff his pockets and loops with tools including hammer, wrench, paint brush, and screw driver. When I got home from work early, Jonah was in the midst of fixing everything he could get his hands on as sort of a combination repair/construction man. He instantly pulled me into his activities by handing me his tools and asking me to paint the mini cement mixer and fix his tiny pick up truck.

Right before dinner, we lit up the small pumpkin Tim had carved on the porch. Lo and behold, we did have one set of trick-or-treaters. They were a boy and a girl about six and eight years of age with their mom hovering in the background. The girl was dressed as some unrecognizable (at least to me) character and the boy had on a cape and a hideous gray plastic mask that covered his face with thick warty skin and head with fake matted hair. Talk about scary. They refused the candy I handed them and reached into the bowl for a different type: "I don't like that one. I want that one." Okay brats, I thought. Their mom, embarrassed, giggled in the shadows.

Jonah was scared and traumatized by this seemingly mundane event. He reached for me in a panic, wanting to be picked up as soon as ugly boy showed up. Afterwards he couldn't stop asking: "Where Spooky went?" We even made a trip out on the porch to check and make sure "Spooky" was gone. I tried explaining that Spooky was just a little boy wearing a mask, but the encounter was just too real and terrifying for Jonah. Bye, bye, Spooky a.k.a. Brat, don't you come around here no more, I say. And no nightmares either, please.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

first pumpkin patch experience

This afternoon we decided to venture out to a pumpkin farm with Jonah. The farm we picked was huge! It was the perfect day to go - no rain! Jonah loved the hay ride and then walking around the patch, looking for pumpkins, most of which were already rotten or blasted from the torrential rains we've had. We did finally find a good one. Jonah seems to love being on farms. I can tell farm life is in his blood. After the trip to the farm, Jonah said for the first time: "That was fun."

I put some pictures here and here is a couple of videos from our pumpkin patch adventure:

hay ride:

a walk around the pumpkin patch:

insomnia's here again

Well, now that I am nearing the third trimester of my pregnancy, my dear friend from the last go-around, insomnia, has visited me again. Almost every night I wake up between one and three in the morning, wide awake and can't get to sleep for about two hours. What do I do then? I get a snack and look up stuff on the computer. Sometimes I blog. I wish this wasn't the case. Now I'm dreading getting bigger, heavier, and achier and having to endure it for another three months. I'm actually still pretty comfortable, but compared to my non-pregnant state, I am definitely beginning to feel the discomforts creeping in - the tight back, the lessened ability to stand and sit for prolonged periods of time, the weight of my belly in bed at night, and the wariness of lifting things, which can get hard when Jonah insists on being picked up and carried.

Hopefully the next three months will go smoothly and quickly and then the next three hectic and sleepless months after that will all seem a blur in retrospect. I know it's all worth it. Just sometimes I get a little grumpy about having to shoulder the physical stress of it.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

full day

This was a full day for Jonah and me. In the morning, he got to "drive" a digger, fire engine, and ambulance as part of the Children's Museum's Truck Petting ZOO event. (I forgot to bring the camera, of course. But that's okay since taking pictures of your child during occasions like these feels a bit forced and cheesy.) You can guess what Jonah's favorite vehicle was. A digger, of course.

To avoid the rain which has been coming down in feet per hour, I swear, we went inside the Children's Museum and met up with a new/old friend Cari and her family. Her son is ten months younger than Jonah. I think we will see each other frequently since they just moved to town from New York and Cari is a stay-at-home mom by day and writer by night. We went to college together, but until this month, hadn't seen each other in twelve years! It's really great to connect again after all these years. I am excited to have a new friend with a toddler in town.

Just so you know, as an aside, here is what I think of the Children's Museum. First of all, it should not be called a museum. It's basically a big playhouse for preschool-aged kids. Hardly anything art-related or educational about it. Also, it's a germ trap with hundreds of little slobbery hands touching everything in sight. I'm no germophobe, though I know I'll have a hard time convincing you of that from now on, but runny noses and slippery fingers that have been god-knows-where have me cringing and washing my hands as well as Jonah's hands obsessively. Last year, Jonah had about eight colds. Pretty much one each rainy season month. This season, he is on his second cold. But I digress.

Back to my new/old friend Cari who, as if she hasn't had enough of us lately, invited us over for dinner this evening. I had such a great time eating and chatting with friends. I don't get to spend time with groups of adults very often. My life these days consists mostly of family time, work or one-on-one friend time, so this was a special treat. Jonah felt comfortable at Cari's house as well, playing with his new friend's toys and riding his tricycle all over the place. Poor Tim had to stay home with a bad cold. The funniest thing was when Cari told a story she remembered about me from our college days. I had no recollection of half of what she described, but it was slightly embarrassing to hear about my wild days that are all a blur now. I wonder what else she remembers about me that I would rather forget about now ;) I wish I could remember something naughty about her, but my memory is so poor that I really truly have nothing on file on her. Sigh.

Another highlight of the day was the new sofa that was delivered this morning. Ahh, smooth chocolaty leather! It's great! We love it! But it did get scratched on the way here. So it looks like we will have to have it replaced. Darn. We fell in love with it and now we'll have to part with it again. Who knows how long this replacement process will take. The old sofa I promised I would write about is now advertised on the web as a free giveaway. A few calls have come in, so it will hopefully be out of our hair shortly. It has served us well. I will commemorate it here soon.

Friday, October 19, 2007

car talk

Often when I drive with (or without) Jonah in the car, I complain about others on the road. And I mean it. With Jonah there I am pretty mild, just making innocuous remarks. Alone, it's a whole different story.

When he hears me comment on the rudeness or calessness of the other drivers, Jonah asks me: "What's happened, mommy?" I usually reply: "Bad drivers."

Today while Jonah and I were getting in the car, a car parked in the same parking lot honked with such a force - I am certain not at us - that Jonah wondered: "What's happened?" Then he answered his own question: "Bad driver."

I almost fell over laughing.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

work song

I hardly ever write about my work on this blog, but it is a big part of my life and I, for the most part, like my job quite a bit. My students periodically evaluate the courses I teach. I want to share some of their feedback here with you. It makes me proud:

"I improved my English."

"I received much information [about] medical careers."

"I know how to successfully apply for a job."

"The teacher teaches clearly."

"[I liked] the enthusiasm of the teacher."

"All the lessons really helped me to realize the skills needed to work in the office."

“Everything was great. . . thank you for everything.”

“I learned a lot of things.”

“This program is well organized and the instructor always supports us. I’ve learnt a lot of hands-on experiences, especially the resume, cover letter, and job interview techniques. They are very useful!”

“I liked to learn both in the class and field trips. Tereza arranged (for) us to go some places to visit, and they did help me a lot with my future career.”

“[I would] definitely [recommend this class to a friend]. This course helped me to get a broad view of the healthcare industry in the U.S. I think that this course is well-organized and practical. I believe I’ll find a good job in the U.S. soon.”

“Tereza, I think you are a great instructor. I really enjoyed my studies here.”

“[The course provided] valuable information and ideas you may not get on your own. [Also,] good feedback from instructor and peers.”

another ZOO adventure

Today Jonah and I went to the ZOO, though the weather looked quite unpredictable, as is the case every day this season. Of course, it did drizzle, but we were ready. The biggest attractions at the ZOO for Jonah are . . . drum roll . . . the out-of-commission tractor for kids to “drive” and the sand box with trucks, buckets, and shovels. The animals are largely an aside at this point.

I love going to the ZOO because it’s lush and green - actually gorgeous colors of autumn now, it’s one of the highest points in the area, thus the air there seems the best, and because I like to check in with some of my favorite relatives (read monkeys) and friends (read otters and sea lions). It’s a good place for Jonah to run, because of the relative absence of cars.

The weather today was sketchy, like I mentioned, which meant that we were there practically alone. What a treat since the ZOO is exceedingly crowded at all times of the day in the summer months. It seemed as if we had snuck in over the fence on an off-limits day since most of the morning it was just us and the employees cleaning and setting up Christmas lights for the annual ZOO Lights display.

This had its advantages. The animals seemed more responsive to our presence and less tired of the crowds. They also seemed a little less inhibited than usual. The monkeys especially. We caught the mandrills in their most intimate moment (if you know what I mean), a first for me and my as-of-yet unaware child. The amazing thing was that these creatures were so casual about their encounter. No frills, no big deal, nothing that required any sort of a ritual or noise. Wham bam and not even thank you ma'am.

The marmoset, the smallest monkey in the world and one of my favorite distant relatives, flirted with us through the glass. It seemed to want to be pet, so it jumped around, switching between teasing us from its branch and coming up close with just the glass between it and our fingers. Jonah loved that little dance.

The orangutangs lounged around lazily, switching between eating leaves off birch branches and gazing at us with their sad human eyes from underneath cardboard. Jonah wanted to know: "What's that doing there?"

Something I was proud of was that Jonah went without a diaper. He peed on the potty before we left, then at the ZOO on the big toilet twice. I had to initiate each time, but it worked. No accident. What a good boy!

Monday, October 15, 2007

into the distance... diaperless

Last Friday marked a big milestone in Jonah's life. He walked with me all the way to the "park on the hill," as we call it, and back. No stroller or backpack. The park is ten blocks from our house, which is quite far for a two year old. Not only did he walk there and back independently; he also ran around the park like a maniac. And to top that off - he was diaperless. When he has no diaper on, I have to constantly remind him to pee. He gets excited to pee on new and interesting objects in the great outdoors.

"Jonah, do you want to pee on a tree?" is usually followed by an excited: "Sure," even if Jonah doesn't really need to pee at the time. In that case, he will push as hard as he can only to admit: "It's hard to pee now."

I have been taking him on short trips diaperless too. To a restaurant and the grocery store, for instance. He did great the other day when I took him to the women's restroom and let him stand on the toilet and "pee like a man." Occasionally he still pees his pants, but he's getting much better at this and is proud of his accomplishments.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


The other day I came across a conversation I transcribed that Jonah and I had seven months ago. It's amazing to see how much his language and brain development have progressed since then.

Jonah turned 26-months today. This time my monthly email article from which sends me updates on Jonah's development said this:

"By now, your child should be able to use at least 50 single words, construct simple two-word sentences, and follow a two-step command such as 'Please get your shoes and bring them to Dad so he can put them on.' You can probably understand what she's saying about half the time, but don't expect to make sense of everything she says until she's around 4. Young children often confuse pronouns — so you might find her avoiding them completely by saying 'Brother get' or 'Baby throw.'"

I can't even count the number of words Jonah knows, but his sentences consist on average of four to five words:

"What's daddy doing there now?"
"It's hiding now."
"What's that one, mommy?"
"How to do that, mommy?"

Tim's observation the other day was spot on. Jonah has transitioned from mostly naming objects about seven months ago to discussing and asking about ideas: how to do something, how to describe something, etc.

Jonah uses the present continous (e.g., "Jonah's cooking something.") as well as simple past (e.g., "I dropped it."). Not always, but often. Very interesting.

Jonah's word choice can be quite entertaining too. Today the landlord was around, tinkering with things. Jonah watched the landlord, who was standing on a ladder and playing with the house paint, out the living room window. He kept yelling: "Landlord! Landlord!" with sort of a British accent, trying to get the landlord's attention. Then he graduated to yelling: "Landlord, fart! Landlord, fart!" I don't know where he came up with that idea, but it was the perfect way to counteract our landlord's robotic demeanor as well as his odd, if not alarming habit of inserting "caulk" into every conversation he has with us. Nicely done, Jonah.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Some may call this the nesting instinct, but whatever it is, Tim and I have been reorganizing our house and ... drum roll, please... splurging on new furniture. Using a gift certificate from Tim's parents for the new Ikea store that opened in our area, we bought new bookshelves. One for each member of the family. Jonah loves his and Tim and I are just putting together and organizing ours. Ours are made of real wood - quite special these days - and painted a bright cheerful red. We decided to add on glass doors to keep the kids from messing with our books and to keep the dust out. So far, I love my new bookshelves and I have been relishing my time ordering and re-organizing my books.

We also ordered a new sofa. I'm really anti-dust these days. I think my sensitivity to dust has been elevated due to my pregnancy. So, we decided to get a leather sofa. Easy to clean and not a dust trap! When it arrives, we will have a party to give it a test run.

Buying new stuff is a big deal for both Tim and me. We are generally thrifty and uncomfortable with spending too much money on any one item. The new sofa we are getting is the most expensive single item we have ever bought for ourselves other than our *used* car. It feels daring and a bit scary, but exciting too.

Sometimes it's good to treat yourself, I guess, especially considering that our last sofa cost us five dollars. How we acquired it is actually a pretty sweet story that I will share next time I blog.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

midwife appointment

I had my monthly midwife appointment today. Jonah knew why this time. Our midwife's office is so cozy and great for the whole family. She makes tea for us, we chat, then we get to business. The atmosphere is so relaxed that I look forward to my visits there. There is always a basket of toys in the room that Jonah loves to play with. Today our midwife let Jonah stand on the scale and help her put the gel away after she listened to the baby's heartbeat.

All is going well with the pregnancy (knock on wood). The heartbeat is normal. My iron level is strong, I feel good...

For those that don't know, Tim and I decided to keep the sex of the baby a surprise until the baby is born. With Jonah, we wanted to find out and did so as soon as we could. This time I wanted a different experience. The mystery appealed to me. Plus, if it's a girl, maybe we can avoid the flood of pink frillies at least until the baby is here. Everybody tells me they think we are going to have another boy. I am not sure. Let us wait and see.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

"See him?"

Yesterday at a bookstore I read -or more accurately narrated- a children's book to Jonah about a mom expecting a second baby and preparing the older sibling for the change. I wasn't sure if it was too early to start the preparation, but thought I would see how he reacted. When I got done describing the pictures in simpler language than the book offered, Jonah asked me to read the book again. He was intrigued. I then took the next step and posed the question:

"Did you know mommy has a baby in her belly too?"

Jonah thought about it for a second, then repeated in Czeglish: "In the pupik (meaning belly)," pointing at my stomach. The most amazing thing was that he didn't seem surprised.

We didn't discuss it much at the bookstore, but when we got home, I brought it up again. This time Jonah got very excited. First he asked: "See him?" I told him we couldn't see the baby yet; that the baby was small and needed to grow and sleep inside until it was ready to come out and that then it would come out of my vagina and cry and we would hold it and feed it. He has, by the way, already known about male and female anatomy (as much as a two-year-old can grasp) for some time, so this simple explanation of birth was not a big surprise either.

Jonah then began to fantasize about all that would follow. His stream of consciousness went something like this: "Baby sleeping in there. Still growing. It's still growing."

I nodded. He went on like this for some time: "And then the baby come out and then baby cry and Jonah hold it. And then baby walk and open the door and Jonah walk and hold baby's hand. And mommy put baby in Jonah's stroller and baby eat something."

I couldn't believe how easily he grasped the whole concept. I actually expected him to be confused and was ready to instantly abandon the topic if he showed any signs of confusion. I guess I underestimated him. A friend of mine told me that she began to talk about her pregnancy with her two year old daughter too, and that her daughter was receptive. So I thought I'd try it.

Later in the day, Jonah brought up the topic again while I was at work, discussing the new baby with Tim. What a marvelous little two-year-old brain.