Saturday, December 12, 2015

baby graduate

In less than two weeks, little man has graduated from scooting to crawling, and now to walking on the soles of his feet as he half-crawls and half-walks. The way it's going, he will be walking in no time!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

baby giggles

She is 2 1/2 today and loves to make her baby brother laugh.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Scoot scoot!

Our young one is now able to get around. And he is fast! The movement is a sort of a scoot which started on his 8-month-old birthday to the day. The world is his oyster now. Look out, family!


Little boy got his first two teeth simultaneously at 7 months old. Yes, that was last month. Go, baby!

Sunday, October 4, 2015


Two days ago Anisa "read" a book for the first time by narrating the pictures in it. Until now, she has been using giberish to pretend-read. She also pretended to read in Czech for the first time using the rhythm of the poems in the book she was "reading."

Sunday, September 27, 2015

nami, nami banana

Solomon had his first taste of solid food yesterday. It was crushed banana with breast milk. He truly enjoyed it. No digestive problems yet. Hooray!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Man vs. Rhino

Last night I was chased by a slow, lethargic, sweaty rhino, thinking I should probably be very afraid. My man took no chances, and to save me, shot the animal. Our community claimed he had killed the last rhino on Earth, and for that we were going to be excommunicated. A strangely vivid, mysterious dream.

Monday, July 27, 2015

I smell

"I smell," my daughter says as she crinkles her nose. And she begins to cry. "I smell poop." It's because Mommy tooted, little one. My farts are so stinky they make her cry.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


It was a warm day, and he had a long way to go. He hadn't gone more than half-way when a sort of funny feeling began to creep all over him. It began at the tip of his nose and trickled all through him and out at the soles of his feet. It was just as if somebody inside him were saying, "Now then, Pooh, time for a little something."

Anisa has started to occasionally ask for something. When she says, "Mom, I want something, pleeeeease," or, "Mama, can I have something?" she scans the kitchen counter and the top of the fridge in case she sees a snack she wants up there. By something she really means a treat. Hello, Nisa-the-Pooh?

"What about a mouthful of something?"
Pooh always liked a little something at eleven o'clock in the morning.
- from Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne


My baby is slick! I took him shopping with me and loaded the cart all around his carseat, which I placed in the middle, with groceries. When we got home, I found a triangle of brie cheese tucked under his blanket in his seat. We apparently snuck that one out of the store. Good one, son. Good one.

Bad car, ma

We've had the worst car karma this entire calendar year so far. Cars crashed by "friends" and strangers, cars broken down. . . The front of our house is starting to look like a wrecking yard. Please put a good word in to the car gods for us. We need this trend to reverse itself. Or, solution pictured?

Monday, July 6, 2015

Dander zone

You know you need to plan a serious intervention when your baby gets snowed on as you lean over him for a little bit of coo-nversation--you know that infant-mama back-n-forth? I saw the dander falling on my baby's perfect skin as I smiled at him from above and thought, oh no. This dandruff problem I have is out of hand. And guess what. I gave into a TV ad and got myself some Head & Shoulders shampoo. (They should be paying me for this.) In the shower, still with the foam in my hair, I became the girlfriend handing her boyfriend the shampoo with a disapproving face and simultaneously her man closing the shower curtain and reappearing with a huge smile and a smooth scalp. Surely enough, the shampoo worked instantly! I mean, where did all those truckloads of dandruff go (besides on my baby's belly)? It's truly a mystery. I'm a convert now. Head & Shoulders is pure magic at work.

Saturday, July 4, 2015


This is the awkward stage when I still look five months pregnant, my boobs are big enough to feed an army of babes, and my hormones are wreaking havoc on what used to be a head of thick, luscious hair. Ladies and gentlemen, I am afraid I'm going irreversibly bald. Will you still love me in a wig?

Monday, June 29, 2015


At 24 months, the average toddler is supposed to know between 50 and 75 words which the child is beginning to string together into two-word verb-noun "sentences" such as "baby sleep" and "want milk." Well, my daughter is way ahead of time, as you can see here. Yesterday she asked her dad, "What time is it? Is it six o'clock?"

There is a girl at her daycare who is about three months older than my daughter. Our daycare provider always raves about how this little half-white, half-Asian girl knows her ABCs, children's songs, and now her shapes. Anisa knew all of that when she turned two as well... besides the shapes. Maybe I'm overly paranoid or hypersensitive, but my half-black and half-white girl is as smart and equally verbal as the other girl, and my fear is that the daycare provider, who is otherwise kind, generous and loving, does not see that because of my daughter's race. I worry that at age two she is already being underestimated as a learner.

This possibility has inspired a strange reaction in me. I'm thinking about the long road ahead of us on which we may be forced to prove others' assumptions about our daughter's intelligence wrong. I am noticing around me the manifestations and defiances of the myth of white superiority, Asian model minority and Black inferiority. I have never been a drill sergeant-type mama; I never felt the need with my white son. So, I hardly recognize myself already starting to feel protective of my mixed-race daughter. I'm seeing how bias, albeit unconscious, could hold her back in the future and I'm feeling the urge to compensate for this. Should I be more deliberate and structured about her learning, already at age 2, than I ever was with my white son who is about to turn 10? Should I start teaching her some explicit lessons besides casually teaching her words in Czech? For instance, teach her the names of shapes and the sounds of letters which is not something I worked on with my son at this young age because, since he is white, the thought of having to prove anything about his capabilities to anyone had never occurred to me? I wouldn't want to do this to burden her. We would have to have fun as we do this--my criterion. But it somehow feels important to arm her with quantifiable knowledge for the long road ahead. Is that what King's father was thinking when he and his son embarked on Learning Time with Daddy?

My 3yr is a whiz kid. Is your Three year old on this? and he just turned 3#father#power#eachoneteach2
Posted by Donald Hill on Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Sunday, June 28, 2015


I just discovered some rotten baby spit up in my infant's neck folds. No knowing how long this moist residue has been there. Am I a bad mama?

How long?

How long is it going to take for my belly to deflate?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Growing up

My oldest son is suddenly so grown up. He has his own cell phone, and instead of pooping, he talks about taking a huge dump.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Blame game

Yesterday marked a milestone. I discovered my daughter drew on our outdoor bench with a pen while I wasn't looking. I told her that's not okay, that she should only draw on paper, which she knows well. In response, she said: "Písi bratr" which in Czech kid language means, "Brother wrote it."

Can you believe it? Already trying to blame her brother and she is not even two yet? We're in for a real adventure ahead.

Saturday, May 2, 2015


Solomon has started to smile at people. His smiles are no longer indicative of just gas incidents or other digestive moments. He is beginning to interact. Happy day!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Filter me this

How is it that by my son's age, my sister and I had developed such refined filters. By nine we definitely thought before we spoke. Our main objective when speaking with relatives was not to offend anyone in the family and to preserve a sense of harmony. This was instilled us so strongly, yet my parents' childrearing style was so loose and liberal. We never got spanked or punished, but we were very polite and thought carefully about what we say and how we behave. My son, on the other hand, has a very feeble filter, if I can even call it a filter. He doesn't have much of a concept of how others may perceive what he says. Two examples from today:

I was driving all three of my kids in a highly unreliable car. He knows the car has issues and is a little sketchy to drive. The baby was starting to cry, and my almost-two-year-old was starting to whine and scream in irritation as well, which always makes me frantic behind the wheel. When I started singing "If You're Happy and You Know It," he corrected me, saying there is only one way to sing the song in correct order. I responded that pretty much anything can be inserted in the blank in the song, sort of like in the game Simon Says. And then my son joked about how he could insert a line that says to crash the car. Yikes! How would he not realize that's not a funny, but a stress-inducing thing to even put out there.

The other example from today would be that when he found a basketball on his bed which I had given to him as a surprise present, he immediately questioned whether it was new because of discoloration he had noticed on it. He argued that the ball must be used which irked me mainly because he kept arguing and not listening to what I knew to be true, and what he said seemed judgmental, like he wasn't appreciating the present.

How can it be that his politeness filter is so underdeveloped when I constantly model empathy and when we talk about impact of words and actions quite a bit. Is he just not very emotionally mature? Is it the larger societal context in which he is growing up? I just don't understand.

Assistance for me?

When the city bus driver lowered the ramp for me, and I was the only passenger getting on, I knew something was off. He must have had a reason. Did he think I needed assistance? Why? And then I looked at my reflection in a window. Ah, yes. I'm only four weeks post-partum and I still look about four months pregnant. That must have been it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Oh my goodness! I just tooted at my son. Sorry, my boy. Hope you'll forgive your crude, mean mama.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Mommy got away

Mommy--yes, that would be me-- finally had her first moment away from the kids in about a month (since the birth of our youngest). Yay, Mommy got to leave the house by herself! This was a big deal since for the last four weeks I have been eating, sleeping, and even going to the bathroom with at least one, and sometimes all three of my children. Daddy who's been busy working at his newly opened business gave me a break for a couple of hours. And where did Mommy go, you may wonder? She went to the store to shop... guess for who? The kids. So in my brain, it was still all about the kids. Being home with little ones can get extra isolating, so I chose to go mingle with the populace. Since our cars are pretty much done for, I took the city bus to our "neighborhood" supermarket which reminds me that Americans like to live large, and America likes to spread that love of things large around the world. The size of this supermarket was unheard of in the Old Country back when I was a kid, but American-style supermarkets have made their way there. Still; just look at this place. Isn't it just crazy giant? And this is only a quarter of the space. No wonder it always takes forever just to get the basics there. I got the kids some clothes, got myself a frothy iced beverage, and made my way home. Really all I actually wanted to do was take an extra long nap. But the day when I sleep again will come. Hope my brain continues to make sane decisions on so little sleep.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The real deal

Being home on a mostly unpaid maternity leave really crystallizes how much wrong there is with this society. I knew it would, but reality has hit hard.

When I see happy, smiling portraits of parents with their multiple joyful children, I wish it could be like that all the time. I wish I never felt alone or isolated. I wish I could always feel complete as a mother AND a thinking person contributing to change-making in the world. But mothering alone, especially in isolation, does not satisfy this urge. I miss teaching. I miss being out and about in the community. So many amazing events I've had to miss because our cars are shot and because getting out with two under two is just too difficult. Also, there is the fact that a newborn needs to nurse and be changed frequently and makes a lot of noise, so I can't really take him to too many places where noise would interfere with an event.

Having no family nearby is difficult. My mother was here to help for the first three weeks after Solomon was born, which was a godsend. But now my man and I are alone. He has a new business to tend to and no employees beside himself, so he is not able to help very much or to take care of essential things that need to be handled on the daily. Life is stressful right now. We are both sleep-deprived, one of our kids is sick, the two under two need constant attention, we are struggling with transportation issues, we don't have much of a support system... This is hard!

Birth story

My youngest was born in March, nine days before his due date. The process closely mirrored that of his sister who is twenty-one-months older than he. My water broke, not dramatically, but in a "trickly" fashion. At first they sent me home from the hospital where they did tests which did not turn up a sign of amniotic fluid, perhaps because the baby's head was blocking the opening at the time. But my water continued to trickle out throughout the night. The next day my doctor confirmed this and sent me back to the hospital where they induced me with pitocin, starting at 5 pm. Like all three of my previous births, I requested for this one to be unmedicated. By 8:30 pm I was in full labor, and by 10:35 pm baby Solomon was born with just a couple of pushes. The birth itself was so quick that my recovery period was significantly shorter this time which is a good thing considering I have a toddler running about who requires a lot of my attention and reassurance. We are still adjusting to this new reality. It's a lot to juggle. When we get into a groove, I will let you know. Welcome to the family, Solomon.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

More kid quotes

(My oldest son's quotes from his first years can be found here)


I asked Jonah if he had a choice if he'd go to school five days a week, two or three days a week or learn outside of school. He said he would like to learn outside of school. I asked him what he would do with his time, he said he would have gym every day because P.E. is his favorite subject. He said he would skateboard, play basketball and ride his bike. 

A: When I grow up, I want to be a lion.

me: Do you want to see what you were doing when you were your sister's age?
J: No. 
me: Why not?
J: It's just embarrassing. It's embarrassing when you do things like that, Mom.

A, coming home from daycare: I played with some babies and I made a few dollars.

Jonah: "I´m great at limbo. I´m the best limboer in 5th grade."

Anisa, singing: "This is how you rub yourself, rub yourself, rub yourself early in the morning."

Jonah: My poop comes whenever it wants."


A: I'm super super.

Anisa to me, playing with her wallet: You can watch me get money!

Daughter takes out her play pliers and says: "Mama I'm gonna cut you off your head."

me: You're a genius. Do you know what genius means?
A: Yeah. It means who's my daddy.

A, playing with a potato while in the bathtub: The potato's in my 'gina.

Daughter asks, "What does sorry mean?" She apologizes at the right times, usually after screaming or not listening, so I'm surprised she doesn't know the meaning of sorry. I explain that it's said when someone feels bad to make the person feel better. She wonders, "Is it like happy birthday?"

A, waking up with a stuffy nose: "My nose is not going to work today."

Daughter: "I don't want dinner every day. I don't like dinner."
me: "That's crazy."
Daughter, shouting: "That's not crazy!"
Pause. "Sorry I screamed, Mama."

When I gave her the choice of cereal or oatmeal for breakfast, she said: "I don't know how to think," meaning she couldn't decide. 

A: "Oxygen! My favorite!"


• me: Do you want the sound (track) of rain as you fall asleep?
A: No, I not want rain. I want rainbow.

• Anisa, seeing her dad and me hugging: Dada, you hug mama really well. 

• Jonah: I'm going to find out if the Tooth Fairy is real. I have a motion detector in my doorway.

• J: I farted three times.

• J: I don't have arachnophobia. I just don't like spiders in my personal space.

J: I like Mr.H (his teacher). He tells jokes. They're not funny, but it's funny that they're not funny.

• A, climbing on the doctor´s stool while at the doctor´s office: Iḿ trying to be the doctor.

• While putting on a fireman´s hat, Anisa says, ¨I´m fire dada.¨
Me: I love you, fire dada.
A: You not love fire dada.
Me: Who do I love? Coffee shop dada? (Her dad runs a coffee shop).
A: Yes, you love coffee shop dada.

• Anisa: It´s too way hot.

• A: Dada, I wanna play with your peter (peter = computer)

• A. seeing me come out of the shower: Mama, you're so big. 

• A, holding a small ball up
to her chin (as if it were a goatee): "I'm a man."

• Anisa: I love ice cream ever much. 

• A: Mama, I'm going to turn round and round and get busy. 

•  Hugging me, as A falls asleep: You're so big, Mom.

•  A: I wanna go to HR. (We often spell out "the park" when we talk about going there so Anisa doesn't understand until we've resolved to go to the park. She figured out what the spelled letters mean. P. A. R. became H.R.)


•  As Anisa pretends to eat a piece of her dad, he asks: Do I taste good at least?
A: Yeah. 
Dad: What do I taste like?
A: Cheese. 
•  A to a doll on her lap sitting at her kids' table: "That's my phone. Don't touch it. Don't touch the peter. Did you touch the peter?" (peter = computer)

• I burp, my daughter says, "Excuse you."

• Anisa to me: "Do you adore me?"

• Anisa at a playground, running after boys playing basketball: "Boys! Boys!" Turns back at me: "Boys are not talking to me."

• Jonah says he wishes that he didn't have to go to school; that he only goes to spend time with his friends.

• Anisa: (Pointing at a kid she plays with sometimes) That's my friend. 
Me: What's your friend's name?
Anisa: I don't know. His name is Friend. 

• A: I love mama, I love dada... (She continues to list family & friends she loves), I love candy. 


•  A, singing a made-up song: "My doggy fell down on the ground." Another time: "Don't touch my food. It's my special one."

•  Me: Do you like hugging mommy?
A: I like noodles.

•   me: If you cry this much, you need to go lay down for a nap.
A: I just want to cry.

• A: Jonah kick(ed) the ball. What the heck?

•  A, watching Puss in Boots: What the heck?

• me, to J: Are you looking forward to school starting?
J: No.

• A: I give the baby a peter (aka computer).

• A: I get my person (aka purse).

• Me: Do you want me to take a bath with you?
A: No, I don't.
Me: You don't want mommy to bathe with you? That's amazing.
A: It's not amazing, mama.

• A, brush in her hand: I make you pretty, mama.

• A: I wanna play domi-hoes.

• Dad, to A: Do you want to go to the store?
A: Not tonight.

• A: I'm a lady, dada!

• J, to me: You have leg hair on top of your bulging vein. Now ot looks like a furry vein. 

• "Don't kiss my doctor,"Anisa said after playing doctor with a doll and me kissing her nose.

• A to our repair man: Hi, guy. Hello, guy.

•  A, bringing her toy computer to me: "I got a peter. I got my peter. . . I don't like this peter."

• A, pretending to talk on the phone: "Hi mama, hi dada, hi milk."

•  Lately Anisa has been walking around with her unmistakable pretend face saying, "My back really hurts," or "My feet really hurt."

• Jonah's list of comebacks for when he's playing sports and someone says, "What was that?"
1. Wiki that.
2. Google that.
3. Who knows.
4. I don't know.

•  Me: Do you ever wash your belly button? Because I think I see something in it.
My son Jonah: I don't wash it until there's a dirt hill coming out.

• A: I'm a princess.
Me: What's your name, princess?
A: Pink.

• A: I'm scared.
Me: Of what?
A: of Jonah. Jonah's scary. (Pause). I scary, too.

•  J, in a sweet voice to his sister while playing with playdough: Nisa, did you destroy all the bears?

• J rated all the household members on the cuteness index. Baby brother came up on the top, I was last: "You're not cute."
Me: I'm not?
J: Not anymore...
And when my puddle of tears turned into a lake and he finally noticed: You're not a baby anymore. . . But you're awesome.

• J: Mom, do you know much about vanity and fashion?
Me; No, I don't.
J: Oh no. I wanted you to give me advice on what would make my guy look cool.

• A: I pooped a snake.

JULY 2015

•  A: Dada is my mommy.

• Looking out the window: That's my friends.
Me: Who are your friends, Anisa?
A: Mommy.

• A, first thing in the morning: "I wanna watch the news."

• A, while crossing the street in a stroller: "Better hurry."

• Anisa: I want strawberries. (Showing me to the fridge.) Come on, let's go to strawberries.

• me (thoughtlessly, about the baby): He's working on a poop. He's a workoholic.

• me: Do you want popcorn?
J: Oh, poop corn? Yeah. There is also mouse turd. Get it, mustard? Ham boogers and Toot-sie Rolls.

• A: My butt hurts.
me: Come here. Let me check it. It looks fine.
A: Ouch.
me: Do you want a band aid for your butt?
A: No.
Jonah: Do you want a but transplant?
A: (smiles) Yeah. 

• Anisa, yelling at her brother: "No, don't clean me!"

• Looking inside her dad's mouth at his teeth at bedtime: "I see 'dilla in there." Yep, quesadilla between his teeth. Time to floss.

• Anisa looking out the window at the neighbor across the street: "I wanna look neivor. I see neivor. Hello, neivor!"

• Anisa while playing outside in the sandbox: "I smell mommy poop."

• A, randomly while falling asleep: "Hi, doctor."

• Anisa: "I wanna do something right, mama."

• Pointing inside her nose: "Is burger."

•  Anisa puts on her pink tutu wearing nothing else, smiling and pronouncing herself "Princess Lolly."

• Me: Where are you, Anisa?
A: I don't know. (Pause) I over here.

• Me: What do you want to do at the library? Use the computer?
A: Go see Peter.

• After I got Anisa ready, she stood at the door, all dressed, obviously feeling like a million bucks, saying: "I princess," and adding, "Mommy princess."

• Anisa, randomly: "Oh, man!"

• As I finish dressing Anisa in a swimsuit to go in a pool, she looks at me and says: "I'm ready, dude."    

JUNE 2015

• Anisa, asking dada: "What time is it?... Is it six o'clock?"

• After seeing and me naming her brother's private parts when changing his diaper: "I have a penis too."

• On her birthday, while eating a cupcake deep in thought: "Happy birthday to me."

• Me (referring to baby): He's really fussy.
Anisa: I'm fussy too.

• Me: What is your favorite age so far?
My 9-yr-old son: Eight
Me: What happened when you were 8?
Son: I learned to cook eggs.
Me: Is that why it's your favorite?
Son: Yes.

• Anisa: What's smell?
Me: Does it smell stinky?
Anisa: Yeah.
Me: It's the neighbor cutting grass.
Anisa: Cutting grass? (I nod.) Cutting grass? (I nod.) Cutting poop?

• My 9-year-old son Jonah asking if I'd like to read a book with him: "I'm warning you; it's a graphic novel, and it's full of sound effects which you are really good at."

• Me to my son Jonah: "You are special to me." My 2-year-old daughter Anisa: "I'm special too."

• Jonah: One time I threw a ball so hard my ribcage almost fell out. It almost burst out. Do you know where the ball ended up? In a wheelchair."

MAY 2015

• Anisa, as we approach our house in the car: "Doma!" (which means "home" in Czech), immediately followed by: "Smells like poop."

APRIL 2015

• It's been almost three weeks since I gave birth to our youngest. Today my 9-year-old son taps me on the stomach and says, "Your belly is still fat." Thanks, son.

• My daughter dreams in two languages. The other night she said, "Uh-oh. Prd" in her sleep. Prd means fart in Czech.

• My daughter looks at me and says in a singy-songy voice used to talk to babies: "Mama, you're cute."

• My oldest son tells me I'm "the best mom in the world."

• My daughter pretends to talk on the phone: "Hello, I wash my belly, I wash my hair."

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Quote of the Day

My daughter's first noteworthy quote of the day:

I pooped. I did, mommy. I pooped.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Mastering sleep

Sleep is an acquired skill, they say. And we have been coddling our daughter too long, rocking her, consoling her, sleeping by her side just so she goes to sleep and stays asleep. But has this helped? She remains a poor sleeper who wakes up multiple times a night moaning or crying, demanding one of her parents help her fall back asleep.

Well, with the new baby coming in the next few weeks, we have decided to take the leap of finally letting her learn to sleep on her own. Our doula gave us the book, The Sleepeasy Solution, which I have heard about.

Last night was the first night we tried the method. I made a stick figure book describing what our sleep routine is and how it would change now. We read the book several times before starting bedtime. When it was finally time to turn off the lights, Anisa protested. She sounded like the devils in hell were forcing her to walk across a sea of sharp blades. I could see her dad's stomach come up to his throat. But guess what. Her torchure somehow magically stopped after twelve minutes of hysterics. And then it was quiet. She fell asleep on the floor of her room. Yes, she woke up multiple times at night, but only "needed" us to check in with her twice. She actually slept better than her parents.

Now we're trying the same for her nap. She cried for a total of one minute. Not bad at all.

After she quieted down last night, Anisa's dad and I were able to sit in the living room together and talk like two grownups without our time being monopolized by kids. My son and I even had a chance, for the first time in a long while, to play a board game, one of my favorite pastimes ever, without his sister getting her little grabby hands on the pieces.

I am feeling hopeful


My son draws cats everywhere, on everything. He is obsessed with cats. At his dad's house, he has an orange cat named Conan who sleeps with him. We used to have cats. They all died. He still remembers them, talks about them and keeps a photo of all three of them by his bed.

One day recently he was bragging about having exceptionally good night vision. He said it must be because he is probably related to cats.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Queen of feist

 Our 20-month-old has entered her Terrible Twos a bit early, it seems. She goes through mood swings like there is no tomorrow, from screaming mad to lovey dovey within seconds.... fifty times a day. That girl will not take a no for an answer. A no will make her yell, kick and scream till it shakes the house. We're learning to respond in a variety of ways that don't exacerbate the deal. Our girl just likes to keep us on our toes and make sure her opinion is heard by all... including those who live blocks away.

By the way, this is the first fortune she had ever received. I don't doubt it's true.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Remembering her

Today, my daughter Amalia who died several days after being born because of complications associated with a breech birth, would be turning seven.

Over the years, I have made peace with this. As much peace as anyone who has lost a child can make. I only knew her for eight days--the eight days that she lived--which means I never got to know her. She struggled to breathe that entire time. My sister and I sang to her in the hopes of bringing her back or at least softening the cold, impersonal hospital environment. From the beginning I told Amalia that I am okay with whatever her spirit decides. I would love for her to stay here on Earth, but if she needs to go, I need to be okay with that.

The hard part now is being asked how many kids I have or which one my current pregnancy is in order. I loathe that question. It reminds me that in this society there really is no tolerance for ambiguity, no accounting for stories of death, loss and tragedy in everyday discourse. My son always counts his first baby sister when people ask him how many siblings he has. He also counts his step-sisters and their siblings. He makes it sound like our family is huge!

I don't talk about Amalia much these days, but she is always with me. When her dad and I buried her ashes in a river next to which we got married, we noticed it was full of heart-shaped stones. After losing her, I used to see hearts everywhere-- in the sand by the ocean, on the pavement, carved into tree trunks. I still see hearts, though less frequently now. To me, the hearts are little messages from Amalia.

Here is a poem I wrote about my brief encounter with her:

Each thought of her
an invitation
to cross
the bridge over the river,
an arch over an abyss,
a concrete thread over
the ashes of my daughter: ivory
and turquoise, glistening in the stream,
swaying against
heart-shaped rocks,
inching their way slowly
towards the Columbia, the Pacific.

My girl in the river.
Her dust swallowed up among the fish,
the moss, the grasses, and sticks,
the water insects, when close up, bigger
than the valley hem made of jagged mountain peaks.

My girl in the river and the sky.
The river's name, the Seeker.
Her name, Hard Work.
Hard work to stay alive.

We sang to lure her back,
--mama a teta, two sister-mermaids--
songs to bring her home,
summoning the onion sellers, the shepherds,
the dove, the cat, the dog
to help whisk her
away from machines that beeped,
strangers in scrubs, tubes penetrating wrists.
Home to a wash of chamomile,
warm cotton,
skin on skin.

Grief mutes,
but I speak to her
greeting her there on that bridge
as fast as one breath in and out
over the water-filled wound in the earth,
warm vapor rising.

Amalia: deep down in the water,
burnt bones. Such beautiful burnt bones. 

Originally posted here where I blogged about Amalia before.

Friday, January 30, 2015

The mouth that runs too much

For a while now I have been working with my son on him not arguing back when I make a request for him to do a task or when I challenge something he has or hasn't completed. I am not sure we're making progress. When I get upset, he regrets talking back and says--genuinely, almost with a tear in his eye, "It's not me. It's just my mouth. It runs way too much."


At 19 months old, my daughter has quite a sense of humor. She also likes to find any excuse she can to avoid sleep. The other night at bed time she burped, then apologized with a sweet "sorry." She must have learned this in daycare because at my house, who says sorry after a burp? Next, she produced a fake burp and apologized with the cutest little "sorry." She laughed at her own joke and proceeded to make a fart sound with her lips, followed by yet another sorry. This went on for some time. She even remarked "funny," entertained by her own jokes.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Proper home for a proper homme

Middle class American homes still amuse me. I do feel like a bit of a tourist when I travel up the class ladder to visit a "proper" American middle class family household. Sometimes it is the "talking points" that I can't relate to, other times it's the arrangements of stuff, showroom-style.
Case in point. The other morning I observed the immaculate air of a neatly organized home where a child under 4 resides! Everything was in its place, no speck of dust to be found anywhere. Most amazingly, each item in the house was being used for the purpose for which it was intended!

In such homes, order is established and upheld from the big to the little things. The playroom is designated for playing, and that's where the toys stay. Kitchen is for cooking, dining room for eating, living room for relaxing. There is not much crossover, and one feels awkward and cautious uprooting an item that belongs in a particular part of the house. Tea bag holders are used for still hot freshly discarded tea bags on their way to the compost; a mixing spoon rest sits in the middle of the stove, sparkling clean, waiting for its next date with a busy mixing spoon; a toy holder with a mesh bottom to drain water holds bath toys on the side of the tub; a plant table displays a beautifully arranged and perfectly watered array of succulents lining the dining room window. Shiny brass fireplace tools show no sign of ever having been singed.

I did not grow up like that. Yes, in the Old Country we had plumbing, electricity, TV, and even a living room and dining room. But what was most striking about our home, wherever we moved, was original art on the walls and a large quantity of books filling the bookshelves. We weren't sticklers for order or restricted use of household items. From the time my family immigrated with just one suitcase full of summer clothes, for quite a while we had almost nothing to use as utensils, nothing to arrange or rearrange. Cardboard boxes or crates wrapped in fabric served as shelves and coffee tables; toilet paper doubled as napkins, paper towels and tissues for cold-afflicted noses; and we've never had enough proper furniture to even sit on. Coming home from the houses of dot commers, lawyers, doctors, and the like can still be a shock.

My son's classmates practically live in mansions. Our house is small, humble and yes, generally a bit unkempt. Sometimes I actually steer away from inviting the fancier echelons over. There. I said it. Our "perfect home" is closer to a shanty. That's right, fancy people. Come over if you want to see how the primitives live. Come over at your own risk.

Saturday, January 24, 2015


Some days my house descends, then continues to swirl in and out of total madness. My 9-year-old and one-and-half-year-old fight over toys, she scratches and kicks him, he yells or cries... Wow. Can't wait to see what happens when the youngest comes.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Great Pretender

She hates to sleep, but doesn't mind pretending.


• At four-months-old, Anisa had her first four teeth.

• At 5-months-old, she started rolling over from her belly to her back.

• At 5.5 months, she tried solid food for the first time. It was banana mixed with breast milk. She liked it, but then her stomach gave her problems. She had trouble digesting solid food for a long time. Sensitive stomach.

• When she was six-months-old, Anisa and her brother, along with Mom and Dad, got to visit Dad's mom, grandma and aunties. A wonderful trip!

• In March 2014 when she was 9-months-old, Anisa started crawling. A short-lived period since...

• At ten-months-old, she learned to walk. No matter how many times she fell, she wasn't going back to crawling. Her brother Jonah didn't start walking unsupported until almost 13 months. He didn't like falling. Different personalities.

• In July 2014 Anisa, along with Mom and brother, visited the Old Country, her mother's homeland, for the first time. The trip was a realization, or confirmation, that the Czech Republic is not ready for a mixed-race child like my daughter. People stared, gossiped, acted as if she could contaminate or sicken their children, and made hurtful comments, calling her "monkey." No, it's not a comfortable place to visit, let alone live.

• At 16 months Anisa stopped nursing.

• In November 2014 she started daycare.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

What she says

I've been keeping a log of the words and my phrases my 19-month old daughter Anisa says. Her first word was mama, next tata and Mario, our dog's name. At 14-months-old, I counted 14 words, half of them in Czech. They were:

Joh (for Jonah, her big brother)
pejsek (which means doggie in Czech)
papat (to eat in baby language, she used it to ask to nurse
v (for voda which means water)
au (Czech for ouch)
pipi (short for pipinka which means birdie)
ne or no (which mean the same thing)

At 17 months her repertoir consisted of these words:
hami (for eat)
hačí (meaning sit)
meow (for cat)
kaki (for poop)
book or booka or bookaka (a combination of book and knížka)
pipi, she also says "ah-ah" for the sound of the crows and other birds
baby (for baby and doll)
peaz (for please when she remembers)
stop it
není (which means, there is no more, or it's not there)
mé (short for méd'a which means Teddy bear)
high five
papír (which means paper)
baba (short for bottle)
koník (horsie in Czech)
br (first sound of brouk which means beetle)
houpy hou (which is the sound for swinging) eye or oko
nos (Czech for nose)
auto (car)
oh no

At 18-months-old, Anisa began to use complete or toddler-style sentences:

What's that?
It's cold.
It's hot.
Don't touch.
It's (a) coat.
Want this.
Want some?
Go outside.
I see you.
I love you.

Now at 19 months, she has added the following to her vocabulary:

I gotcha
Renika (her sister's name)
bratr (which means brother)
noo-noo for noodles or nudle
mlíko (milk)
býle (brýle means glasses in Czech)
What's this?
boty (shoes)
nohy (feet and legs in Czech)
button for belly button
moo for cow
maso (meat)
voda (water)
písy písy (means to write in kid language)
eh-eh (for yuck)
kuku (for peek-a-boo)
bubble (for bath)
bubbly (for selzer)
oko for ear (but it should be ucho)
amen (for open)
for me
Don't touch and Don't touch it
Mnam mnam (for yum yum)
"Pop pop" when she wants to hear the Dr. Seuss book, Hop on Pop
Where's it?
It's mine.
Here you go

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Beyond the story of one

From the time my son was born, I kept a blog to chronicle our journey together. Looking back, the entries describing his language development, activities and observations, our move to the Old Country and back, and more are precious. Without them, my memory of raising him would be nothing but a blur.

When my boy turned five and his dad and I divorced, my blogging eventually slowed to a halt. Facebook took over as my primary mode of communicating with friends and family. But facebook lacks the more focused nature of a blog. And archiving, searching and sorting there is a non-existent option.

I want to give my daughter and soon-to-be born youngest son the same gift that I was able to give my oldest; an archive of thoughts that honor them in a special way. I called my first blog Adventures with Jonah. Its URL began with storyofjonah. The url of this new blog begins with storyofmore.