Thursday, May 29, 2008

aaah... the dreams of a mother...

Yes, I am a citizen now. Yes, I can vote, but come on Republicans... get out of my dreams!

Why is it that while still pregnant I dreamed that I went into labor in Dick Cheney's SUV and that he invited me to give birth in his New York City 5th floor walk-up apartment? (Which I refused, of course.)

And why is it that the other night McCain, sporting white pants with a zipper on the butt, invaded my sleep, primping for dinner which I was to attend?

To the big Republican players I say: get out of my dreams! No matter how much you wine and dine me late into the night, you will never have my vote! Not in my dreams and not in yours.

Monday, May 26, 2008

riding at the fair

Jonah's first county fair, just down the road from us, was a hit on Friday. His favorite activity was driving a pedal-powered front loader, though he still doesn't quite have the pedaling skills down.

He also enjoyed riding a pony for the first time. The rides at the adjacent amusement park? Not so much. Too fast and noisy. But farm-style fun was right up his alley. It is in his blood after all (wink-wink, grandma MaryAnn!)

More pics here.

Friday, May 23, 2008

a visit

Jonah's grandparents have been in town visiting. Always a treat. Jonah got to play and swim with them in the hotel pool. More pictures here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

the demons that come out at night

During the days I've been doing pretty well, though I do occasionally get sad when I think of Amalia or imagine what our family life would be like now. I also sometimes feel angry about what wasn't done leading to the birth that could have prevented her death. But at night is when the demons seem to appear. Laying down to go to sleep especially has been an experience filled with a relentless onslaught of images of Amalia's birth, hospital stay and death.

Stress dreams, too, have found their way into my sleep. Last night, for instance, I dreamed that I had ingested glass. My mouth was filled with sharp little shards of glass. I had to take every care to remove the pieces one by one, before any get swallowed. And one did. Another ended up in my eye, piercing it, like the blade of a miniature knife, though I could still see, but not for long, I worried. I then searched around frantically for someone -- anyone -- who would reassure me that glass has the potential of decomposing quickly, practically melting in the throat, doing no damage.

Other stress dreams have mostly focused on natural disasters - usually pertaining to tsunamis or some other type of a flood. I have often had natural disaster dreams over the years. Sometimes my dreams have matched a real natural disaster that ended up occurring simultaneously or a day later somewhere in the world. The only redeeming quality of all this, as I see it, is that if I establish myself as a natural disaster forecaster, a natural hazard psychic of sorts, Tim and I could perhaps capitalize on this some day somehow. Heck, we might even be able to position ourselves strategically in the lucrative field of "shock doctrine economy."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Jonah glanced at the picture of me voting today and said: "You're putting in your vote there, mommy?" He remembered.

I thought, wow! Maybe I've planted a seed... and then his imagination took off: "You'll open your mouth and I'll put a vote in there." At least some strange new idea to incorporate into play.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I voted today

My first time voting... because now I can!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

what's this "mellow yellow" mom's talking about?

I ran across a couple of articles and web pages listing a few ways we can make our imprint on this planet smaller. I thought some were good ideas, so I wanted to share a few highlights with you.

Speaking of conserving resources, I've been trying to teach Jonah certain basics, especially not to waste water by flushing repeatedly because it's fun. When I tried out on him the good old eco adage, "When it's yellow, let it mellow; when it's brown, flush it down," he didn't quite get it. But he did shout about "mellow yellow" at the top of his lungs at the bookstore the other day. So maybe I have planted a seed?

Back to the advice I thought was worth sharing:

One less meat-based meal a week helps the planet and your diet. For example: It requires 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. You will also also save some trees. For each hamburger that originated from animals raised on rainforest land, approximately 55 square feet of forest have been destroyed.

By turning off your computer instead of leaving it in sleep mode, you can save 40 watt-hours per day. That adds up to 4 cents a day, or $14 per year. If you don't want to wait for your computer to start up, set it to turn on automatically a few minutes before you get to work, or boot up while you're pouring your morning cup 'o joe.

During an average year, an American uses approximately 2,200 napkins—around six each day. If everyone in the U.S. used one less napkin a day, more than a billion pounds of napkins could be saved from landfills each year.

Each year, Americans throw away 138 billion straws and stirrers. But skipping the stirrer doesn't mean drinking your coffee black. Simply put your sugar and cream in first, and then pour in the coffee, and it should be well mixed.

Buy a reusable bottle that fits your lifestyle (and your purse) and skip buying a new one at every lunchtime stop. Need a reason? Americans use 3.3 million plastic bottles every hour but recycle only one in five.

The Federal Trade Commission website,, spells out how to remove yourself from lists. (Click on “For Consumers,” then “Telemarketing,” then “Unsolicited Mail, Telemarketing and E-mail: Where to Go to ‘Just Say No.’”) You’ll save trees, water, and emissions, too. If everyone in the United States reduced the junk mail he receives every week, 100 million trees would be spared each year.

Standard washing machines use 40 gallons of water per load. If your clothes don’t stink, don’t wash them — and save a load a week. If American households were more judicious about laundry, each year they would save enough water to fill more than 7 million swimming pools. When you do wash, put full loads (saving 3,400 gallons of water a year) in cold water.

More here and here.

are you having a laugh?

Little Mister has been experimenting with what is and isn't funny. Here is the first joke he has learned. Thanks to his dad, Jonah can now start entertaining at cocktail parties, which will come in handy on our trip to New York in a couple of months and with the barbecue season here and all. With a few more jokes in his bag of tricks and a mini tuxedo, heck.. we may just take him on the road...

Transcription (in case you have a hard time understanding): "I walk into a bar... and I say: 'ouch!'"

Friday, May 16, 2008

a find

Look what I just found while clearing out the basement, a process that will take a million years, I swear. Here I am at 3 and 1/2 years old, nine months older than Jonah is right now.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

how I traumatized my toddler

If you at all have doubts, listen to your instincts. I didn't and this is what happened: I traumatized my son. At least I'm worried I may have.

Yesterday we ventured to the ZOO, as we do at least twice a month. This time, to a new exhibit - dinosaurs! (Hear me roar to illustrate: dinosROARS! - They should've named the exhibit that). But these were not just any old plaster dinosaurs; these ones were robotic, life-size, and chatty - in their primal dinosaur ways. Indeed, they were reminiscent of the dinosaurs we recently saw at the science museum, BUT these ones were let loose outside in the mini jungle, sandwiched between the polar bear prison and the poorly camouflaged ZOO keepers pooper-scooping on the elk lawn. These dinosaurs surprised us --to put it mildly--, some displaying their toothy, warty might readily without abashment, others lurking behind shrubbery and bamboo, huffing and grumbling, surely preparing to pounce on our poor little homo sapiens frames, resolved to tear us to shreds. Because we were there for the sneak preview on a drizzly day, we were practically there alone, feeling lost in prehistory and faraway from everything we have come to know and love. At least, that's how Jonah seemed to feel.

I must admit, though, that the grand finale --the T-Rex-- was almost too much for the thirty-something-year-old me to bare, its super bassy roar rattling the air. Jonah clung to me like a teeny koala bear. I was sure he would pee his pants in fear, but my brave little jungle soldier hung in there, albeit extraordinarily pale (paler than his usual pale self) and rendered nearly speechless.

You see for yourselves (though those of you familiar with Mad TV Stewart may notice the roar of the dinosaur captured on camera here sounds suspiciously similar to the throaty sound Stewart makes when he's angry):

P.S. I borrowed Jonah's logic here. When he is afraid of something, he tends to disarm it by talking about making it his friend.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

kitchen beats

Apparently the Ikea store is having a contest as part of which people send in short homemade videos of "kitchen rhythms" - people making music with kitchen utensils and such. Jonah and I watched and rated a whole bunch of them today. (It just so happens that Jonah has lately been quite enthusiastic about the "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" gestures, the rating system used to pick a winner in the contest). This video was a favorite (you can find more here):

Here is a version of Jonah turning the kitchen into a garage band practice space. (This one goes out especially to Jonah's soon-to-be uncle, who is a real-life drummer.) We filmed it last week before I even ran across the Ikea contest. Too late to submit, I guess. And yes, those are chop sticks he is using.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Practically all of Portland is abloom. Take a look at these pictures (scroll down a bit).

Sunday, May 11, 2008

a mother's day well spent

Tasty brunch at sister- and brother-in-laws with friends, a nap, pizza with Jonah and Tim. Even a little bit of sunshine outside.

The nice thing is that one more Mother's Day celebration is coming up later this week when Tim takes me out on a date. Yippeee!

Aside from eating, also got some pre-moving sorting done in the basement (will try to do a little every day or at least every other day). Today I focused on old boxes of mail. Talk about energy-consuming. Letters from friends and family that go as far back as twenty years! I kept all personal letters and cards, of course, and only threw away old statements and the like.

By the way, Jonah is thirty-three-months-old today. We just weighed him. He weighs 30 lbs, which apparently puts him in the 25 to 50 percentile of children his age. He is a skinny, but healthy-looking kid. Not a picky eater, but we have had to hand-feed him lately since, even sitting at a table, he seems too busy to focus on feeding himself. I never thought I would be one of those ridiculous, obsessive moms running around after her toddler with bites of food.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

play, rewind, fast forward

Though I don't write about her much, I still think of Amalia quite a bit. Her memories fill me largely with anxiety, sadness or sometimes with no feeling at all. Just images of what I remember, running through my head like a movie reel. Sometimes random things remind me of her. Yesterday a tree in our neighborhood pruned and sculpted to stand flat against a wall brought back an image of Amalia pressed against her hospital bed, with her motionless arms and legs bent and spread and tubes coming from a hundred different places.

My memories of her are so fused with the anxiety I felt about whether she would be ok that I am not able to divorce thinking of her from feeling stressed. Most of the time, though, I focus on what is directly in front of me - Jonah, work, friends, summer plans, preparing for our move and that helps me feel upbeat. I can go a couple of hours now without replaying Amalia's life and death. I don't even notice anniversaries until much after they have passed by. It has been more than three months since Amalia's birth and death.

But when I feel too upbeat and forget to remember Amalia and my grief, I wonder if I'm just pushing back dealing with the trauma. Is being happy and upbeat ok and healthy or am I refusing to acknowledge what really happened? I feel good physically and that to me is a huge indicator that I seem to be dealing with Amalia's death alright.

I did have some heart palpitations and shortness of breath a while back -something I self-diagnosed as a delayed stress reaction- but that has gone away. So, maybe I am on the right track when it comes to healing.

Friday, May 09, 2008


As my child grows older, it seems that the nearly weekly milestones of an infant and young toddler are now few and far between. Jonah's been walking for god-knows-how-long and talking up a storm for months on end. He's been weaned off breast milk for about a year and a half, so there hasn't been much to report on the developmental front. But.. today I do have a couple to share.

Jonah has had the bad habit of drinking a bottle of milk in bed at bedtime to help him fall asleep - with follow-up toothbrushing, of course. But because we accidentally -not purposefully- forgot his bottle in Seattle last week, we have switched Jonah to drinking milk out of a cup while we (or mostly Tim) read him a bedtime story. The transition has been much smoother than expected.

Jonah has also been doing well falling asleep on his own (without mom or dad laying down with him or sitting down in his room).

The next step will be to have Jonah learn to fall back asleep on his own if he wakes up in the middle of the night. His solution to night wakings now is to call to dad and dad lying down with him. That's fine since Tim doesn't mind, but it would be nice to teach Jonah to fall back asleep on his own.

As far as diaper training, Jonah's pretty much been potty trained since about two, two-and-a-half. He still needs to be reminded to go to the bathroom occasionally and still has an accident once in a while, but has been doing well with peeing "like a big boy." He still wants his diaper to poop in, though, and throws a huge, panicked fit if we try to get him to use the potty or toilet. He also still wears a diaper at night. We have been having him take naps without a diaper, but that means that more often than not he wakes up with a freshly soaked bed. More work for us, yay!

The next milestone, I hope, will be Jonah learning to fall asleep for a mid-day nap by himself. At this point, we still walk him around in a stroller. But we plan to leave the stroller behind when we move.

My next goal is to teach him more Czech in preparation for our move. He understands quite a few words and phrases and incorporates some of them into his speech occasionally, though most of the time he responds to me in English. It is quite a challenge for me to always try to speak Czech to him when I'm alone with him, because English tends to come out automatically since I've used it as my primary language more than half of my life. My dad and his wife are coming to visit us in two months and I don't want to feel embarrassed that Jonah doesn't understand much. Avoiding embarrassment is sometimes what it takes to motivate me. So, I'm intensifying my immersion program ;)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

think globally, act ...

... locally, of course. Well, this is the first year that I can vote in this wonderful US of A. So, I'm gearing up for voting in the local elections - ballot measures, city council members, mayor... You know the deal. I think that voting locally is as important, if not more important, than voting for the President.

I spent some time listening to the mayoral and city council candidates on our community radio station. Very interesting indeed. While I listened, Jonah played and randomly repeated words and phrases he heard (e.g. "low-income housing") with a huge toothy smile just like a miniature budding politician.

For those of you who live in my neck of the woods, what are your thoughts on the local issues and how you will be voting and why.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

big boys are the best

We spent last weekend in Seattle, visiting friends and family, most of whom now have kids. Jonah was in heaven. The big kids were his favorite. He ran around with the pack, asking, "Hi there. What are you doing there?" In fact, he cried when it was time to go, not wanting to leave. This picture just about captures his utter bliss. More pics here.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

brag bag

One of my students told me today that my class is the first time she has been in an environment of total support where there is no backstabbing. She said the atmosphere in my class is "a breath of fresh air." That warmed my little blunted, raisin-sized heart.

in my blood

For the first time in my life I had my bloodwork done as part of a complete physical check-up. What I found out is that my cholesterol is slightly high - the "good" cholesterol, HDL, too low and the LDL, or the "bad" cholesterol, elevated. Surprise, surprise. Not really. So, I, of course, celebrated the discovery with some delicious Belgian chocolate truffles and a glass of red wine.

I could have actually diagnosed myself. Remember the time I talked about the lifestyle changes I wanted to make? More greens and salads, less meat, more exercise? Well, that's exactly what my doctor told me to do.

I have been cutting down on animal products and sugar and increasing my veggie intake. I have been doing sit-ups and stretches every day. The daily speed walk and/or Pilates routine has gone by the way side for now, mainly because I stay up too late to get up early enough, but I plan on incorporating it into my morning routine again.

I hear green tea lowers cholesterol, as does garlic and ginger. (I also hear stress increases the levels of bad cholesterol.) Any other tips?

I have recently discovered an interesting website which analyzes the healthiest diets of the world and breaks them down into nutritional pyramids. As far as I can see, and based on other literature I have read on healthy eating habits, the website provides some great guidelines for healthful eating. What do you think?

And now on to more chocolate candy...