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.