Thursday, November 29, 2012

Having Babies and Making Glossaries

I have spent my blogging time yesterday and today writing up information and a Czech-English L&D glossary for a friend who is about to have a baby here in the Czech Republic. I am thinking I should expand (or condense? I tend to be very thorough) it and publish it here as "The English Speaker's Guide to Giving Birth in the Czech Republic".

My sample size is not large (my own two babies plus comparing notes with friends), but I think I still managed to cover some ground in the area of what to expect, what not to expect, and preemptively explaining some potentially mysterious things that no one will explain to you because they assume you already know. Like why they may only give you day-old bread. Also the word for "dilated", because "how far dilated am I" is usually the lifeline you're hanging your every hope on.

Having written all that up I have been in flashback all yesterday and today to my two very different experiences with my own two children.

I also made a Facebook page for this blog, but I haven't figured out how to make a button or whatever else you're supposed to do with it. For now you can see it here:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Planning for the Future, Preschool Version

"Mommy, I'm going to get married to M at school."
"Does M want to get married to you?"
"Um, I don't know, I'll ask him tomorrow."

Like many women girls, K is in love with the idea of weddings and the groom is of secondary importance.

The next day K told me that yes, M definitely wants to marry her, they will have the wedding now while they are still students but wait to have babies until they are grown-ups.

K's teacher told me about the wedding, too - apparently they have it all planned out - and said M is just as eager to marry K as K is to marry him.

The Slovak didn't take the news very well. He is used to K wanting to marry HIM and isn't ready for any other boys to take her heart.

Apo: (SK) "But K, I thought you want to marry me?"
K: (CZ) "I did, but you said you have Mommy so I found someone else."

Then yesterday she poured salt on the wound by talking about how all the boys at school want to kiss her.

Poor man. He can't take much more of this. I can't say I much liked the idea, either!


But then K had an issue last night where it turned out she is upset about getting older - she is afraid of getting old and dying and wants to stay how she is. We had a bit of a chat about the nature of life, time and fear of the unknown and I felt a tiny bit reassured that she is not rushing headlong into adulthood quite yet.

But soon enough.

Friday, November 23, 2012

5th birthday Interview and Story Time

Tomorrow is my daughter's fifth birthday. I tried to convince her to just turn four again, but she is determined to move on to five.

Yesterday I did the following interview with her, in which she demonstrated that she either doesn't know what "favorite" means or doesn't know what her favorite things are, because most of the answers are wrong (i.e. what she had for lunch that day at school, not her favorite lunch). I will share it anyway.

1. What is your favorite color? pink
2. What is your favorite toy? My little ponies
3. What is your favorite fruit? Tomatoes. Strawberries and boruvky [blueberries]. Apples.
4. What is your favorite tv show? charlie and lola
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? Rybicku, maso, ryze a mrkvicku [what they served yesterday at lunch]
6. What is your favorite outfit? My pink dress and beautiful shoes what are red
7. What is your favorite game? The one [new best friend friend] gave me for my birthday
8. What is your favorite snack? Bananas and jahody [strawberries]
9. What is your favorite animal? frogs
10. What is your favorite song? Katyusha
11. What is your favorite book? The Gruffalo, o zviratech [books about animals]
12. Who is your best friend? [new friend and Russian friend from school
13. What is your favorite thing to do at home? Watching TV but not all the time. Going to school.
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside? If somebody will pretend to be a policajtka [policewoman] and try to catch me
15. What is your favorite drink? Apple juice.

16. What is your favorite holiday? Halloween and Mikuláš.
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night? giraffe
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? yogurt
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday? cake
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? I didn’t decide yet

Also, in the last several months I have been giving K the opportunity to tell me a story and I write it down for her. She loves doing this and will rattle off several in one go. Her stories make almost no sense, and she seems to feel like they ALL have to be about pigs and/or wolves and/or the forest.

Here are a few of the stories she has told me:

Pinkie Pie went in the forest. She was so happy because she heard apples and candy. And then she went home and found a big dragon and it couldn’t scare her because it was too scared. So she went home then and she found a big dog and it was so big that no one could ride on it and so she went home and she found a big, big, giant man. And that’s the end. – 23.7.2012

(note how Pinkie Pie goes home about five times in this story)

Once upon a time there was three pigs. The mommy and apo went on a walk outside with the babies. They went on a walk with their apo and mommy. Then the three little pigs went out for a walk on their own. Their grandmama went with them because they were really scared because they were still babies and because they were still little and they didn’t even know how to walk, so that’s why their grandmother went with them. And then they looked on the clock and then they went home again and that’s the end. 2.9.12

Once upon a time there was five pigs. And they lived in the forest. And they went to a walk in the big bad wolf forest. So the big bad wolf ate the pigs. But the pigs wasn’t scared because the pigs was so, so brave because the pigs had a sword together. And that is the end. 15.10.12

(I really did leave a bunch of pig-wolf stories out. There were more.)

Once upon a time there was a pig and three wolves. And there was one wolf who wanted to eat the pig. But she didn’t eat him. But when the other wolf, second wolf, said "I want to put that pig into my tummy!" So he said, "I am a bandooda" (that’s the wolf’s name). And that’s the end of the story. Oh, and I still wanted to say the pig is alive and Baby M is the pig. It was just a mask and the three wolves was K, mommy, and apo. Three wolves and one pig named M. End of the story. 19.11.2012

(I like how this story comes with an interpretation at the end)

Once upon a time there was a žralok [shark] and a sklenička [drinking glass]. Sklenička wasn’t a socha [statue]! It had legs, arms, and it had eyes. And it had a nose and it had a mouth. And the žralok ate the skleničku but he was sick so he couldn’t ate her the skleničku. He said, "I don’t want to eat that" and he pokakat [poop] on his eyes. And he said "I don’t know what’s my name I forgot what’s my name! Spoon, spoon, what’s your name? I don’t remember what’s my name," said the žralok. And then they went to a big moře [sea]. There it was hot and warm and there wasn’t even rybičky [fish]. But there was only whales, only žraloky, and the žraloky ate the whales, and the whales ate the žraloky. And that’s the end. 20.11.2012

(In which we prove that poop is funny to all preschoolers in all languages. Also I tried to record exactly what K said, so this is a fairly good representation of how she speaks. This story has a lot more Czech in it, I think because Apo was home and listening while K was telling it. You have to adapt your style to your audience. She doesn't mix so much most of the time.)


All of which is to say - happy birthday, K! You are one silly girl.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Multilingual Birthday Party

This weekend we celebrated K's fifth birthday with her first party with friends. We have considered it before, but this was the first time we really did it.

We invited three friends from school to come to our house on Saturday afternoon for a couple of hours. I ordered a small cake from a bakery since one of the girls has a gluten-free diet and I don't have the things to bake gluten-free.

Other than eating cake and singing happy birthday the girls just played in K's room the whole time - and all thought it was the best party ever. Take that, big fancy parties. :) We spent about 350 kc (less than $20) on the cake and somewhat less than that on other snacks.

One of the moms left her daughter with us and came back at the end to pick her up, but the other two moms stayed. One stayed because her daughter wouldn't let her leave (she is a little younger than the others and doesn't speak Czech well) and I'm actually friends with the other.

It's a good thing the Slovak was here, too, because the first mom is Hungarian (we invited the little Hungarian girl) and speaks decent English but minimal Czech, and the second mom is Czech and speaks no Hungarian and an unknown amount (but not a lot) of English.

This meant there was a lot of me talking to the Czech mom in Czech while the Slovak talked to the Hungarian mom in Hungarian (he is a man of many talents). Then I would talk to the Hungarian mom for a bit in English or we would all have a simple English conversation. It was a challenge to balance things but I think we managed all right.

I actually originally invited K's Russian friend, who does now speak Czech just like K, but her parents don't speak it as well (they can make themselves understood but with a strong Russian accent and limited vocabulary). She had something already scheduled for that day so couldn't come, but the language situation would have been even more fun if she had.

K made welcome/thank you cards for her guests before the party. She was jittery and excited waiting for the girls to come, and I asked her if her tummy felt funny like there were butterflies flying around inside it. She said, "YES! There are! Real ones!" I told her that people often feel that way when they are excited and nervous about something.

She still managed to be a good hostess, though, despite her nerves. By the time the last guest left, they were having so much fun they kept begging for just five more minutes with the Legos. I asked her later which birthday gift she liked best, and she said they were all great.

The two Czech moms and I agreed (separately) to set up playdates in the near future. I've met one of them in the park and for ice cream and such during the summer but we may meet at one of our apartments over the winter. I haven't met with the other mom outside of school before but she is nice, we often chat at school, and the girls really hit it off recently. She said her daughter would like to invite K over to play one afternoon after school. Not bad for a language that (to my knowledge) doesn't have a word for "playdate". :)

So it seems the day was a success. This next Saturday is K's actual birthday, and we will have company from out of town to help us celebrate again. I'm planning to make a cake and we'll give her the rest of her presents (she got two small ones from us on the day of the party).

Assuming we don't convince her by then to skip her birthday and just stay four for another year. Four has been a good age.

Friday, November 16, 2012


This week's lack of posts has been brought to you by Work. I got slammed on Tuesday and have been slinging off translations left and right since then.

I just submitted the final one but will not have time for a nap before picking up the girl child from preschool. Maybe I'll go pick up a chai latte and vanilla steamer for us instead.

Yes, our daughter has her own coffee* order. Recently she even got her own thermos cup to drink it from (we both have our own and decided she could use a small one).

* No actual coffee in it, just like mine, but it's from a coffee shop so we call it coffee.

Anyway, work. It's been crazy. I don't even try to get anything done in the afternoons any more, because it takes five hours to get one hour of work done with both children home. Morning and after-bedtime work is better for the family but worse for me due to lost sleep and no free time. I can be awfully efficient with limited working hours, though, I have to say.

I will still be happy to switch to days in a couple of years when I can.

This afternoon and evening I can get reacquainted with things like dishes, showers, tidying up, and reading something other than reference sites. Maybe even a BOOK!

Unless I take another assignment before the end of the day, of course. :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Small Children and Historical Perspective

I took the children for a short walk downtown on Friday and we walked a slightly different way than usual, so I was pointing out some things K doesn't see regularly.

We walked up the center of Wenceslas Square and talked about the man in the statue, Svatý Václav (the square is named after him). I explained that he was a kníže (prince or duke, an independent ruler but less than a king) who lived a long time ago, ruled over this country and people now remember him as a protector (patron saint).

K wanted to know where he lived. I considered the fact that I don't technically know anything except that he died in Stará Boleslav, but went with the most likely answer, that he moved around some but was probably based in Prague.

Then she wanted to know why he is riding a horse. I said because that's how he got around, because before people had cars they traveled from place to place on horses, and that they didn't have cars at that time because he lived over a thousand years ago.

Then she wanted to know if he is still alive and was disappointed when I said no, because she wanted to meet him. I stressed that he lived one - thousand - years - ago, which is a very long time.

As we talked we passed by the memorial for Jan Palach (right in front of the statue) and she pointed out the flowers laid out, asking if that was for someone who died. I said yes, that is for a person called Jan Palach, he also died, which was very sad but happened a long time ago. K nodded her acceptance.

As that last sentence left my mouth, I realized that for my daughter, 935 and 1969 are essentially the same era. As is 2005. Anything before 2007, the year she was born, is ancient history and impossibly long ago. Children have no sense of historical perspective!

We have had many discussions lately about if certain people are alive or not (historical figures mainly) and how people used to do things before they had __. For instance, we just finished reading Little House in the Big Woods, which involves both concepts.

K finds the idea that people haven't always had access to the things we have now to be mind-boggling. I can understand that, because as a child I had the same problem. The difference between 1979 and 2007, however, is that I couldn't imagine a world without refrigerators. She can't imagine a world without cell phones. She sees a world with no DVDs to be just as distant as a world without cars.

Today, this line of thought led her to ask me, "Before people had bags, did they have to carry their snacks in a box?" I said bags have been around for a very long time, at least as long as boxes.

She has also asked me things like,

"Did Dedo [grandfather] have a mommy? Oh, I know, Babka [grandmother]."
"He did have a mommy, but it wasn't your Babka, it was Apo's Babka."
"Oh! Have I met her?"
"No, you never met her, and neither did I, because she died when Apo was very young."
"Because she was born a very long time ago."
"When you were a little girl?"
(mildly offended) "No, your great-grandmother was not born when I was a little girl. It was much longer ago than that."

I know these things are really hard to grasp when you have no frame of reference and your concept of a "lifetime" is five years. I really enjoy watching as K grapples with ideas bigger than she is, though, and I love the conversations you can have with a nearly five year old.

Even if she does apparently think I was born in 1907.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Lantern Parades and Pumpkin Carving

This week we had a jack-o-lantern carving and lantern parading day at K's preschool. I thought the combination was interesting (Halloween is not very widespread here).

The lantern parade (lampionový průvod) is a tradition in this part of the world, though nobody can tell me why exactly other than it was mandatory-participation under the socialist regime. This is a good description of the German version, which is probably similar to what the Czech one was before it was co-opted for the glory of the Red Army. Now, however, it is just for fun.

The Slovak couldn't take off work for the afternoon, so Baby M and I headed out to school by ourselves, armed with a pumpkin and a knife. When we got to school, however, I discovered we were in fact armed with just a pumpkin. The knife must have fallen out along the way!

M was gracious enough to be unusually content sitting by himself in the stroller so I could borrow a knife and help carve K's pumpkin.

K of course left me to do the scooping and carving because she wanted to roast an apple. Then she wanted me to roast her apple for her, too (I didn't), presumably WHILE carving and looking over my shoulder praying her brother wouldn't decide he'd had enough with waiting patiently.

The pumpkin turned out kind of wonky looking, but for never having done it before and having the shortest amount of time possible for actual carving, I considered not cutting off any of my fingers to be a rousing success.

Then it started to rain so we all huddled under the cover available.

Then it stopped raining, they handed out paper lanterns with tea candles in them, which K obviously wanted me to hold for her (I didn't), so we could set out on the walk.

The teachers had set all the jack-o-lanterns along the path so we could pass by and admire them. At the end of the path the children gathered around in a circle with tea candles in the middle and sang a few songs about autumn. Also Boleslav, Boleslav.

K was in her element as she is one of her school's star singers (according to her teacher), which may have to do with an actual sense of pitch or may simply indicate that she sings nice and loud. When the teacher said in the middle of one song, "Sing louder, kids, I can't hear you!" they all perked up and K and her friend were very nearly shouting.

(K does, in fact, have a good sense of pitch and I believe she will have a good singing voice when she is older, but especially in groups she seems to believe volume is key. Maybe because they're always being told to sing out, I don't know. It was sweet, though.)

About that time Baby M decided he had truly had enough and started making his feelings known from (and about) the stroller.

Then we headed back to school, picking up our pumpkin on the way, said goodbye to our friends, and headed home in the dark. I was watching the path the whole way, wondering if someone had found and hurt themself/others with my lost knife.

Along the way we stopped for a pastry and met Apo, who was just coming from work. He carried the thoroughly-fed-up M on his shoulders and I pushed the way-too-tired K in the stroller.

We stopped at the Chinese take-out place, which also serves fried cheese and french fries (a typical Czech meal). We always order it (along with actual Chinese food) and laugh that our children will probably think smažák is a traditional Chinese dish. In fact that's just the only restaurant around that does take-out.

As we walked the last stretch home, we filled Apo in on what he had missed.

Me: "...and then we did the lampionový průchod." (lantern parade)
Apo, looking at me like I'm dumb: "Průvod."
Me: "Seriously? I may have said průchod earlier today. I hope nobody heard me."
Apo: (laughing at me)
K: "Mami, co je průchod?" (what's a průchod?)
Me: "PRŮVOD, člověče, copak to nevíš???" (it's PRŮVOD, man, everybody knows that!)
Apo: (still laughing at me)

Just to show that I still make dumb mistakes once in a while :)

Then we went home, where I found my lost knife in the entryway. It must have fallen out right after I put it in my bag.

It was fun, but I think I've had enough lanterns until next year!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Big Kid Skills: learning to whistle, learning to knit, learning to read

I've spent this morning brainstorming birthday/Christmas/knitting ideas for my soon to be five year old.

Birthday and Christmas because, well, they're coming up. Knitting because this weekend K asked me if she could please learn to do that thing with the needle thing where you make things, which I determined to be either knitting, crocheting or sewing based on her hand gestures.

I was already thinking of getting her a children's knitting kit, actually, but then I would also have to get her a person who knows how to knit in order to teach her. I like the idea of knitting but am not very, ah, coordinated. I also have my doubts as to how well she would handle the needles. She is currently learning to tie her shoes but hasn't mastered it. (Though she has only had shoes with laces for a week or so.)

Then I had the inspiration of finger knitting! No needles and a relatively fast payoff, right? I remember doing it as a child and making endless chains. If and when she masters that we can look into something more involved.

Is that a good idea?

Is there anything else in this area that would be suitable for a five year old with an unskilled parent?

I'm also considering getting a learn-to-read book (we have some workbooks but they are more about individual letters or doing mazes and other tasks) or some other kindergarten materials. This is still a problem, but I hope that in the next year it will be easier to find a few minutes here and there for some English learning activities.

Is THAT a good idea? Does anyone have a recommended book/curriculum or should I not even use a formal curriculum and just continue freestyling and/or letting K learn to read on her own?

Anything else I should buy while I have the chance?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Naughty Doesn't Begin to Describe It

Yesterday my daughter misbehaved enough that she got sent to her room. This was her version of events when the Slovak got home:

"Apo, já jsem dneska trošičku zlobila a mamka byla cross tak jsem šla do mojej izby ale teď se už ukľudnila"

(Apo, I was a tiny bit naughty today and mommy was cross so I went to my room to play and then she calmed down again...)

First of all, how's that for a trilingual sentence?

Second, both the Slovak and I had to turn away so K wouldn't see us laughing.

Third, which part is best? "a tiny bit naughty", "Mommy calmed down" or the claim of voluntarily going to her room?

Fourth, I think the clear lesson here is that everything depends on your point of view. From K's perspective this was a perfectly valid representation of events.


K enjoys helping out around the house, but of course only on her own terms. She recently requested to help put the groceries away by saying, "Můžu je dát pryč?"

Literal translation from English "put - away". Not what she intended to say, though.


I have noticed several times that K has mixed up the words "lend" and "borrow". This is a typical Czech mistake (půjčit v. půjčit si, so the distinction is hard to remember when learning English), so it is mildly grating to hear coming from a native English speaker (even if a child).

Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks so, because this week K was telling me how a friend "borrowed" her a toy when the Slovak stepped in to tell her no, it has to be "lend", and explained the difference.

At least she doesn't say "willage". I definitely couldn't live with that!


Related Posts with Thumbnails