Wednesday, April 30, 2008

He's OUR Little Boy

Last night we attended a witches burning party of sorts. It was more like a bonfire party thrown by the students at Chad's school, but it was fun even though the only evidence of a holiday celebration was on the invite. The students were exuberant & fun to be around. We went after Thomas's exercise class, it was quite a walk uphill across a few fields, and then a climb up a basalt mountain. We enjoyed it, and locating wood & feeding the fire exhausted Thomas by the end of our party-time. We walked back home in twilight close to his bed-time. When we entered our hall & started to remove our boots, Thomas started to pull down his pants. Then he turned around, looked at us both while pulling them back up, laughed and said "OOOPSY," and sat down to remove his boots. This tickled Chad & I to pieces. Can't really explain why, but this was his first admitted silly mistake and I think baby books should have an entire chapters earmarked for the archiving of such events.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Thank You, Nana Dar

This January we started using a little thing called the internet to call our family & friends. We love Skype. We hope it stays practically free.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Things People Say

So once a woman is pregnant, it's like all season on her conscience. These are just some of the things people said to me while my hormones raged out of control.

"So you're close to having this baby? When I delivered, I almost died in childbirth, so I'm worried about you."
Gee, I never thought of that possibility in the past 9 months, maybe I should have opted for a white water rafting trip or bungee jump instead. I'm going home to rethink letting this baby out.

I never felt bad when I was pregnant. I just loved it so much nothing bothered me and I was never tired."
Gosh, guess I don't love gagging on air enough to prevent my body from totally changing to support 2 life systems. I'll work on my level of love, snore as I fall asleep mid sentence.

"Are you sure there aren't twins in there, you're huge."
Wow, maybe I should check on that since it's been 7 months now.

"Are you sure you're pregnant? You don't look it, maybe a couple of beers and a pizza heavier."
Let me just go pee on one more stick after 6 months of pregnancy.

"Have you seen someone yet, well let's weigh you, I don't know about this..."
Said a nurse when we entered for a pediatrician interview when I was 9 months pregnant. Poor Ms. Nurse.

"Smell this, it's disgusting."

"You married? So, I just heard this great joke about huge breasts..."
I try to make eye contact by ducking down as this guy continues to stare at the ever ballooning breasts while I'm standing next to my husband.


I've waited through 7 1/2 months of cold and gray winter weather and finally spring is showing its head every other day or so. We had a week of warm sun & on Saturday it rained for our trip, but wait, I'm not complaining, it was fine. More than fine, we had a wonderful trip, filled with beautiful castles, and the rain let up every time we exited the car, Thomas had a blast, & some fantastic photos will be posted soon. Right now I'm focused on the fact that I can't sleep. I guess one of my personal pregnancy symptoms is insomnia, my body's way of preparing me for the inevitable sleepless nights that will follow baby's birth in November. That's right, the girl who said she wouldn't have any kids is having 2 in less than 5 years. Chad & I will be enrolling in a sex ed course soon after re-entering the states to figure out how the heck this happened, a g a i n. Just in case, we'll be storing our socks in separate drawers until then. At 10 weeks I'm starting to feel less nausea all of the time. Thank you for the prenatal vitamins, Mom! Poor Thomas however is not getting to enjoy the full effect of our spring yet, though. Mommy has had a bit of difficulty with the following:
No Vitamin=Nausea
Mommy wants to hide under the blankets until this all blows over. Wait a minute, this isn't the flu, there's a baby growing in my body, and it will need to come out at some point. Mommy is going back to bed to contemplate this and other less scary thoughts such as how we are going to feed, clothe, and send two to school.
So far, this round is completely different than the first, except for insomnia & bra issues. All of the tactics I used for digestive harmony last time, ginger, ice cream, potatoes, yogurt, and salads, are out. Plus, we're in a completely different environment, one that doesn't offer saltines, organic greens, or 2 ply toilet paper. Hmmm, a list of things I just recently realized were related...

Friday, April 18, 2008

And Now for Something Completely Different

The sun is shining today! And it shined yesterday! The dollar is still plummeting against EVERY type of currency out there, anyone planning on voting this fall? Never-mind, we're going on a day trip to Cesky Krumlov tomorrow, can be seen here,Český_Krumlov, and check out its location dot on the little map to the side of that page. Then check out the location of our town, , where we will set out from tomorrow morning at 7 A.M. I think it's about a 4.5 hour drive. I'm looking forward to it though, Chad has been very excited about going, since he saw it the first time he visited the Czech Republic & I'm game for some new scenery.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

High on the Hog

A few years ago a friend of ours summed up our existence as US citizens as, "Living high on the hog, and that hog is going to roll over and crush us." I thought it was an accurate metaphor for our consuming culture, and wondered if he thought it up all on his own. Moral outrage was part of the Seattle's welcoming package, we were new transplants to the emerald city, and our popular disdain for the mainstream was appropriately honed over the course of our next 5 years there. I've never felt patriotic, actually I feel that my political view, while strangely mainstream, has been marginalized by the media. When my husband considered applying for the grant that would lead us to a remote part of the Czech Republic for an extended period of time I was skeptical. We weren't sure if it would generate enough income to support 3 of us, and there were no work options for me. If we were in Prague, maybe. I've always looked at the opportunity to live abroad, wherever it might be, mud hut, Paris, etc. as wildly romantic. The experience of living abroad seemed to me a badge of courage, evidence of intellect, cultural superiority, and tons of other snobby validations. That said, actually leaving the country was preceded by a complex set of sacrifices and generosity from friends and family. I considered not going. People all around me raved about the wonderful opportunity it would be for us to live abroad as a family. Slowly I started to convince myself that the benefits were worth the sacrifices. I warmed to the idea of leaving our corrupt consuming country, evil politics, & actually considered what it would be like to leave all of my frustrations with the US behind, my only responsibility to be Thomas's mother.

We have been living in the Czech Republic for 7 1/2 months now. We've seen magnificent things, and experienced beautiful acts of generosity. Still, we aren't on vacation. We aren't even living here on some fancy expait package. We are three people trying to live this adventure to the fullest, off of a stipend meant for one without whittling away at our meager savings in the states. Our income isn't terrible, considering it's about what the average school teacher makes here, but the cost of living gets tricky. The cost of living here can be quite low, but unfortunately to keep it so means sacrificing petroleum products (thus a car & the freedom it allows), electricity beyond one tank of hot water per day, nutritious meals that include fresh fruits and vegetables, 2 ply toilet paper, cleaning products, periodicals, and household goods that last beyond one day of use. Well made clothes, shoes, furniture, shoes (did I mention shoes?), electronics, books, autos, petroleum, electricity, and fresh foods are wildly cost prohibitive when compared with the average income. We shop like our neighbors in this small town, between stores full of affordable clearance-house food, illegal imports, knock-offs that break or rip before they reach home, and stores filled with packaged organic products and solid wood toys, plastered with pictures of blond grinning German models using the well made purchases in sparkly clean homes with 2.5 golden children at their sides. It's daunting. I spent a good portion of the winter trying to figure out how to minimize our energy use even more & wondering if I was just a wasteful American. And the politics? I can't speak too much about it, since to truly understand how the average person here feels I would have to have a phenomenally better grasp of the language, but I can say the politicians are corrupt and selfish and aren't keeping fair representation of their citizens at the top of their priority list.

I don't mean to sound whiny or discouraged, just a bit humbled. Prior to this experience I thought I could be happy as a stay at home mom living in a mud hut, maybe not. I need to have a job and to contribute financially to our family, or the concerns of daily life just grow and keep me awake at night. Mud-hut is no longer on my to do list. I bet people in mud huts feel pretty damn politically and economically marginalized themselves. When I return to the states I want to rub my body all over the racks of adequately designed and tailored clothes at Target. I'm going to lick every green leaf I see in the grocery store & the organics? Watch out! A trip to the GAP just might take the edge off the reality that is our student loan debt.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Feeling a bit homesick

Well the sun is out today, but I'm not fooled. There was a wave of fog this morning, and it's Friday so of course it must be time to snow again.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

This evening I cleared some of our clutter, yes even though we came with a couple of suitcases and we live in a space we could do backflips in, we've created clutter. Anyway I had to do some organizing and found a stack of beautiful cards our loving family and friends sent to us over the winter holidays, and I thought it would be cute to display some of them on our table once again. Thomas took the rest and played post office. Fast forward to dinner. Mouth full of burrito, Thomas grabs the cards and starts telling us about the love you pictures, love you birds, love you trees, love you hearts, and when Chad & I didn't understand he simply said, "These are LOVING PICTURES!"

A couple of years ago I heard a recording featuring Anis Mojgnai, and I lost the clip featuring it. His publicity at the time was rather underground & not really featured on the web. I just found him on youtube. His words copied below are only half of the beauty that is his work, so if you plan to listen to him, don't read the lines below.


This is for the fat girls,
this is for the little brothers,
this is for the school yard wimps,
this is for the childhood bullies that tormented them,
this is for the former prom queen,
this is for the milk crate ball players,
this is for the Night Time cereal eaters,
and for the retired elderly Wal-Mart store front door greeters…
Shake the Dust..

This is for the benches and the people sitting on them,
for the bus drivers driving a million broken hymns,
for the men who have to hold down three jobs simply to hold up their children, for the nighttime schoolers, and for the midnight bikers who are trying to fly
...Shake the Dust...
This is for the two year olds who can not be understood because they speak half English and half God, shake the dust,
for the girls whose brothers are going crazy!
For those gym class wall flowers and for the twelve year old kids afraid of taking public showers,
for the kid whose always late to class because he forgets the combination to his locker,
for a girl who loves somebody else shake the dust.
This is for the hard men...the hard men who want love but know it won't come...
For the ones who are forgotten,
for the ones the amendments do not stand up for,
for the ones who are told to speak only when spoken to and then are never spoken to.
Speak every time you stand so that you do not forget yourself,
never let a moment go by you that doesn't remind you that your heart beats 900 times a day...
That there are enough gallons of blood to make you an ocean.
Do not settle for letting these waves that settle and for the dust to collect in your veins.
This is for the celibate pedophile who keeps on struggling,

for the poetry teachers and for the people who go on vacation alone, and for the sweat that drips off of a Mick Jaggers singing lips, and for the shaking skirt on Tina Turner's shaking hips,

and for the heavens and for the hells for which Tina has lived. This!
Is for the tired and for the dreamers, for those families that want to be like the Cleavers, with perfectly made dinners with songs like Wally and the Beaver. This! Is for the bigots, this is for the sexists, this is for the killers, this is for the Big House; pin sentenced cats becoming redeemers, and for the springtime that always shows up right after the winters, this is... This is for you...Make sure that by the time the fishermen returns you are gone, because just like the days I burn at both ends, every time I write, every time I open my eyes I'm cutting out a part of myself to give to you. So Shake the Dust, and take me with you when you do none of this...What has this has fucking ever been for me, that pushes and pulls.. pushes and pulls for you! So grab this world by it's clothes pins and shake it out again and again and jump on top for a spin and when you hop off shake it off for this is yours. Make, Make my words worth, make it not just another poem that I write not just like another poem like another night, make it like it's heavy about us all, walk into it breath it in let it crash through the halls of your arms like the millions of years of millions poets coursing like blood pumping, pushing and making you live, shaking the dust! So when the world knocks at your front door clutch the knob and open on up, running forward into it's wide spread greeting arms with your hands before you your fingertips trembling, though they may be. -Anis Mojgani

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Here's a Haircut!

There's a hardware store in Novy Bor with a Serbian manager who speaks wonderful English. He learned as a teenager, and even now, as a senior citizen with no daily practice, he speaks fluent English. Puts my poorly pronounced Czech verb-nounage to shame. He's always very excited to see us, and eager to converse. The last time we went to his shop, he didn't have the item we were looking for and to ease his disappointment, we let him show us the local barber shop so Thomas could get a haircut. It was very kind of him, although we really didn't need any translation at all. The woman who cut Thomas's hair didn't speak one word, English or Czech. All she had to do was try to make eye contact with our little "Cousin-It" child, hand him a bowl of candy, and snip, snip, Thomas can see again!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Spring Again

We were on the bus yesterday in wonderful sunny weather that has almost melted the huge gray piles of snow left on every corner by plows. The birds were singing and I was pointing out wildlife to Thomas along the grassy meadows dappled with young flowers who've re-emerged brightly even after our recent freeze. I stuffed our jackets into my backpack & prepared to exit the bus with Thomas as we rounded the ever more populated curve into town & noticed a well kept yard. Someone had just cleared all of the brown leaves, branches and debris left from the melting snow & manicured a yard of pretty little garden patches. Then I saw an elderly couple of the rotund variety, sunning themselves in this beautiful yard on main street. Oh, how sweet I thought, then I noticed that the woman was topless in a supportive, but unmistakable bra.