Monday, June 30, 2008

Crater Lake

We just returned from a trip to Crater Lake, Oregon's only national park. What a magical place! I will write more about it when I have time. Here are some pics.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

workin' it

I've started putting an effort towards finding a teaching job in Prague. Last week I emailed my resume and cover letter to three language schools there. Within a couple of days I heard back from two. One wanted to set up an interview using Skype (basically a free internet phone service with a video option). So, this morning I had to get up at 6:30.

Tim woke up Jonah too, quickly changed him out of his pajamas and whisked him over to his new favorite breakfast joint. I showered, dressed up in business attire, did my make up, and got ready for my video appearance.

As it turned out, the school did not have a way of seeing my image, so we just used the audio part as if talking on the telephone. Darn, I could've stayed in my sweats! I was nervous about the interview (and I teach these skills!). The reason is that this was my first job interview ever in Czech.

I think I did OK, though the two grammar-related questions they gave me to test my knowledge really had me sweating. I could explain the difference in meaning between sentences in several tenses, but I didn't know all the terminology for those tenses (first, second and third conditional - anyone?). The school didn't seem to mind. All they cared about was how well I can describe the different meanings.

After my interview, I called a friend, a fellow English teacher I met in teacher college. We talked about the phenomenon that in this country it's possible to go through seventeen plus years of school and never learn grammar terminology or too much about the grammar of this country's primary language, for that matter. I don't think Europeans quite grasp that. Language instruction is predominantly grammar-centered there.

Soon I will hear back from the school to find out whether they have decided to offer me the job which consists of teaching English to employees at a variety of businesses, generally large Western corporations such as banks and chain stores. The school has a good reputation and is located within walking distance from the pre-school where we signed Jonah up. I could easily then pick Jonah up from school on my way home from the school.

Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

my son the hooligan

It is very odd observing one's child exhibit behavior which proves that humans truly are beasts. Our toddler is no exception. We, the parents, try hard to acculturate our little caveman into Society, to teach him to curb those primordial violent urges: no hitting, kicking, punching or scratching other fellow creatures, namely us humans and our furry companions. Our child's father and I work hard at being the models of emotional maturity, but one wonders sometimes.

The other day, for instance, I happened to walk in on a gruesome scene: Jonah brutally and repeatedly kicking Elmo, who was doubling over, laughing, shrieking and begging for more in his battery-powered voice: "That tickles! Do it again!" I assure you that this event ranks up there with one of the creepiest slices of life I have witnessed.

And here is my dilemma: Do I ignore this odd bout of violence, instead sneaking out quietly without my son ever knowing I was there, happy no sentient being was the target this time, or do I tell him to stop, forbidding him from abusing his animated robot friend with a human-like voice ever again? If you guessed that my reaction was the former, you were correct. But Tim's, on a separate occasion, was the latter. (For his love of Elmo?) Here is where we differ. What would you have done?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

melu, melu pšeničku...

For the first time today Jonah recited a Czech nursery rhyme to himself. While spinning the handle of a pepper mill, he muttered to himself: "Melu, melu pšeničku..." . The rhyme actually had to do with using a mill. It means: "I'm milling, milling wheat..."

I was so excited that my eyes welled up with tears. I never thought that would happen. My persistence is paying off!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

our father's day went like this

Because I was too disorganized to make a Father's Day brunch reservation, I suggested we try out the Hot Cake House down the road from us, a diner-like joint open 24 hours. The place was crazy: a blue-collar family hangout where people from all walks of life queue to order gynormous heaps of grub from ex-cons greasing the greasiest of grills. I had never seen such mounds of food before - one serving of biscuits and gravy could have probably fed half of a refugee camp.

We had ourselves a merry breakfast. Jonah went wacko on the pancake and sausage. Tim was in Dad Heaven. The place was fun for people watching. While taking in the sites and zeroing in on a man filling up his coffee cup at the self-serve station, Jonah remarked: "That man has funny hair," prompting me to respond: "Those are called dread locks, Jonah." You live and you learn.

The place was definitely a breath of fresh air for Tim who is sick of being surrounded by hipsters.

Alas, the restaurant adventure ended with Jonah kicking me repeatedly in the booth, followed by me whisking him outside and Jonah screaming his head off. A Father's Day off to a fabulous start, eh?

After about ten minutes, Jonah calmed down at home and we had a nice rest of the day. The highlight of the day was a little girl --only about a year older than Jonah-- who just happened to be visiting her uncle, our neighbor next door. The girl played with Jonah most of the afternoon. They were both in heaven, running back and forth between our backyards and houses. Jonah asked the girl to hold his hand, which she did. He gave her a flower, which she refused. He hugged her, which she didn't know how to take. But they had such a good time that she cried when it was time to go home.

Tim and I were both thinking about Amalia and feeling melancholy throughout the day. We both think of her constantly, though we don't talk about it much. But today she was really missed.

Friday, June 13, 2008

the storm that he is

Little Mister has some good days and some bad. But by bad I mean BAD: a minimum of three huge tantrums in a single twelve-hour period. Drama at its utmost. His grandparents saw this happen numerous times last weekend and it truly is a wonder.

Just about anything will set Jonah off and he'll lunge into a screaming fit that from afar sounds like the child has been overtaken by Satan. All kids his age go through this. That's what those-in-the-know say, but some days I feel like I have to walk on egg shells. Of course, I want him to know he doesn't run the world, but sometimes I have to pick my battles. Parenting gets harder and harder and Tim and I have already found our styles differing.

This is the age when wild beast (within) battles man, I guess. Let's hope man wins.

To add to the tantrum-filled stage, Jonah has also become quite unpredictable with his insatiable quest for learning what's right and wrong - physically. He will prance around the house happily, telling stories, and all of a sudden 'bonk' one of us in the head or back with a bat or a hammer or a drumstick... I guess it's a stage of testing, but it's hard to relax sometimes when there's no telling what's coming your way when.

But we're doing our best to navigate the stormy seas and to appreciate the good days and moments of absolute joy and tenderness.

Just tonight before going to sleep, Jonah whispered to me: "I love you so much, mom," which just about melted all the stress away.


We just got back from visiting the grandparents in Montana. Jonah had such a good time! He was so used to attention and someone always there, ready for action, that it took a few days to adjust back to mellow life at home. Here are some pictures. More here. We all enjoyed the visit, as you can see.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

still here

I can't believe it's been so long since I've posted here. Just got back from visiting Jonah's paternal grandparents in Montana. The trip was relaxing for the parents and fun for Jonah who got more attention and play from grandma and grandpa than ever. A big thanks to them!

Pics coming as soon as I can get my act together.