A Typical Czech Weekend for an Atypical Mama in Czech

Last weekend, we went to the mountains and spent our weekend in a cottage with some friends.    We were blessed with perfect weather, so we spent a lot of time outdoors.  The scenery in the meadows was very beautiful.


My son had a lot of fun even with very simple things.


We went to a little village close to Broumov, on the other side of Adršpach.   In one of our hikes,   we came very close to Poland.

I’ve never seen border markers other than the actual borders with guards and everything.  It was the first time I ever saw a border marker in the forest.  Here is one of them.


Our friends chose  easy hikes since we were there with children.  It was also meant to accommodate my capabilities.  I’m glad that despite the heaviness in my belly, I still managed to walk and enjoy it.  Albeit, I didn’t make it through everything.  Plus, at this stage of my pregnancy, frequent bathroom visits is another big obstacle.

My son and my husband had a lot of fun though.  My husband found his little treasure – a mushroom.


On the next day’s hike, I decided to sit it out.  I just couldn’t manage to jump off rocks anymore.


I just busied myself with capturing images of my loved ones.


Anyhow, everything went well and I’m glad we made that trip.  It was one very typical Czech weekend and one worth remembering.

Pregnancy classes and Childbirth

As my due date comes to a close, we are now preparing the important details for the arrival of our little princess.  One of the most important things to consider is the birthing place.  Out here in CZ, everyone is covered by a national health insurance.  Although it is a good thing, one of the downsides is that there are really a few choices when it comes to healthcare.

Since we are from a little town, there is only one major hospital in this area.  There are a couple of hospitals in Prague, but it is a 45min drive from us.  So, without even considering other options, I decided to enlist at the Kolin hospital.  After all, the current Czech president, Milos Zeman, was born here.  It can’t be that bad, right?

So last week, we went on a hospital tour.  The tour itself only lasted 15mins, but there was a  2 hour class before it.  My husband came with me, so he translated some important parts of the class.

And then we got this….

prenatal box

A box full of goodies for expectant mothers.


It is not as great as the Finnish baby boxes, but at least it is something.

The class was in Czech and so was the tour.  Even though I didn’t fully understand everything, I was thankful that we enlisted for it.   It just eliminates the hassle of trying to find places and people on labor day itself.

When I was pregnant with Jakub, I remember attending all sorts of classes.  I was a first-time mother back then and didn’t know anything.  I had a pregnancy yoga class, a lamaze class, a general childbirth class and a detailed hospital tour.  When labor day came, I had prepared for everything.  I even had a detailed birth plan  where I wanted everything to be natural – with no epidural, and the anticipation of breastfeeding my baby right after he is born.  But on the day itself, none of it went as planned.  Needless to say,  I had an emergency c-section, was unable to breastfeed my baby on the first few hours of his life and he had to stay at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for a few days.

It’s a good thing to know a thing or two about childbirth and all the birthing techniques, but in the end it is really up to the child on how he/she chooses to be born.  This time I know better.  The only class that I ever attended was the one that came with this hospital tour.  I will just go with the baby’s wishes and let nature take its course.  As they say, “prepare for the best and expect the worst.”

Just Another Day in this Mama’s Life

We only have 2 months left before another member of our family is here.  Since this is already my third trimester, I have been feeling very sluggish lately and cannot seem to get myself off the couch.  I feel bad for Jakub because this is the time when he is most active and really wants some interaction.  But who can blame me, with a burgeoning belly like mine, laziness is an expected side effect.  All I can do now is do some educational things with him as we are stuck at home.

For now, this is the book that Jakub and I are currently reading.  It’s a great introductory book about the existence of different ethnicities.  This early on, I intend to make him realize that the world is full of different people, and it’s ok to be different.  In our area, we are the only multi-cultural household, so I think it is best for him to understand this at the onset.


One of the challenges of living in CZ is finding a good English book.  Of course, most bookstores do sell English books but the selection is very limited.  There could be a wider selection in the bookstores in Prague, but since it is 45mins away from us, travelling all the way there is such a hassle in my present condition.  Luckily, I found this great website with the widest selection of books even offering free shipping.  The items are reasonably priced and delivered on time.

If you live in an area where high quality english books are hard to find, it is worth checking out.  To go to their website, please click here.

Anyway, to keep myself occupied, I recently busied myself with “nesting.”  We have finished cleaning up our new arrival’s future room and I did some minor decorations.  I’ll post some pictures as soon as it is finished.  I also organized some of our picture albums and was surprised to realize how well I’ve documented the growth of my children from conception to birth.  As an example, here are 2 ultrasound pics of both my children at the same stages.

Jakub at 21 weeks
Jakub at 21 weeks
Jakub's sister at 21 weeks
Jakub’s sister at 21 weeks


Based on these ultrasound pics, it looks like both of them will have similar features.  They all look like me.  The excitement is mounting.  We’ll see.

Have a great week!

Krtek: The Czech Mickey Mouse

Because it is summer break, I am now constantly looking for exciting things to do for my active toddler. Between visiting the playground and going for a walk, there is also a need for quiet playtime, reading and learning. One day, as we were walking through a toy shop, I decided to buy him a puzzle to see if he will be interested. Sure enough, puzzles got him hooked! Maybe it is the feeling of completing something, the joy of seeing the picture unfold in the puzzle, or perhaps it is the mere challenge of solving something, but he loves puzzles.

And it’s not just any puzzle. It has to be a krtek (little mole) puzzle. Krtek is a very popular cartoon character here in Czech and in some parts of Europe. Its creator Zdenek Miler, was said to have gotten the idea of bringing this character to life after stumbling through a mole hill. Krtek was first shown in Prague in 1956, and now it is still running and has been shown in other countries as well. The character in itself has expanded to a whole brand of merchandise – from children’s books, to puzzles, to videos, etc. There is a shortage of Mickey Mouse merchandise over here but an abundance of Krtek.

I am still loyal to the mouse, but this mole is slowly winning my heart. Here is a short Krtek video of this endearing character.


Have a great weekend!


I just had my final class last Tuesday.   Through Skrivanek, I had been teaching English  to adult learners this past school year.  It gave me something to do while my son is out in school.

At first, I never really thought that teaching was for me.  I didn’t think I had the passion and diligence to do it well.  My mom was a high school teacher and she was very passionate about it.

When we got to the Czech Republic,  teaching was the only job I could find that didn’t require any Czech knowledge.  Since my Czech was not yet at a professional level, I thought, what the heck, I’ll try it for a year.   Little did I know that I would enjoy it and regretted that I didn’t do it sooner.  I was able to expand my network and meet new friends.

Through interaction with my students, I was also able to gain a deeper understanding of Czech culture and have come to love this country and its people.  My students were adult learners with advanced knowledge in English so teaching was not difficult at all.

I am quite sad that this chapter of my life is over, as I know I would miss it.  However, I am very thankful to all those people who were part of this life -enriching experience:  the people at Skrivanek, my students, the people at Krokodyl, who took care of my son while I was away, and especially my husband who had always been very supportive of this endeavor.

Anyway, I’d like to share with you 2 of my favorite art pieces that Jakub made in school.  As I was teaching, he was making these.


He calls this:  “Flowers for mama.”


Have a great weekend!

Weekend in Vienna – part 2

We reserved the second part of our trip for the Schonbrunn Palace and gardens, the summer  residence of the Habsburg Monarchs.   The place was located a little bit farther from the city center, so we decided to already check out of our hotel, spend a couple of hours over there, then head for home.


We entered the palace from the side entrance since it was where we found a good parking spot.  I also figured it was a great way to cut the walking distance.

But I was wrong.  In order to fully appreciate its beauty, one has to enter it from the main front entrance.


The place was so huge and grand.


We walked through the whole perimeter to view the gardens.  This next picture was taken from the right wing.


It has amazing French-style gardens that are simply breathtaking.


The rear side of the castle did not fail to impress either.


The gardens at the back were just as beautiful as the ones on the side.


There was also a huge fountain with the statue of Neptune at the far end.


With its huge expanse, it was quite a walk.

IMG_4206But the view from the fountain facing the palace was also awe-inspiring.


Furthermore, the area seems to be a runner’s haven.


With all its mazes, varied terrain and beautiful scenery, it makes up for a very good run.


After walking and admiring the beautiful sites of the Schonbrunn Palace, we headed for home.

If there is one person I know who likes to have everything planned, it is my husband.  But since we were on holiday, I somehow persuaded him to just follow where the GPS navigator will take us.  And so we did.  The funny thing was, it added  a twist to our already colorful day.  I chose a route that avoided toll roads and highways so we can see the countryside but it took us somewhere we didn’t expect – the ferry boat!


I thought it was a lot of fun, but he was not so happy about it.  My friend Georgia used to say that her GPS is a Global Piece of Sh*t, because of all the wrong directions that it takes her.  At this time, my husband was thinking the same.


Although later on, we all just laughed about it.  It’s another adventure added to our list.

Anyhow, the route did take us to the countryside.


It was an interesting drive through small villages and farmlands.


Until finally, we arrived at the border.   Home sweet home!


All in all, the trip to Vienna is now part of my most memorable trips .  My son who is turning 3 next month will surely remember this — specially the ferry ride.

Weekend in Vienna – part 1

One of our weekend travel plans this year included a trip to Vienna.  This past weekend, we made it happen.  Thanks to 2 days of great weather, everything went well as planned.

Our trip started Friday night as we drove 4 hours from Kolin to Vienna.  It was a surprisingly smooth trip with minimal traffic.

The following day, we started out early.  First on our list was a visit to St. Stephen’s Cathedral.


What was impressive in this cathedral is its prominent gothic structure.  Today, it is the seat of the Archbishop and the site for most of Vienna’s religious and social gatherings.


In close proximity to the cathedral are historical buildings, fountains and statues.  Just like the Old Town Square in Prague, it is highly commercialized and loaded with tourists.


After walking through this…


..and this…


…we found ourselves in front of the Imperial Palace.


It was here where the great empire of the Habsburg monarchy was ruled from.  I am not a history fanatic, but after visiting a lot of castles here in Czech and knowing whom it belongs to, I became increasingly interested with the Habsburg Monarchy.  It was interesting for me to see where the Imperial seat was.

At present, this palace is now used as the residence of the President of Vienna.

Next on our itinerary was a walk to the statue of the greatest empress in Viennese history, Maria Theresa, mother of  the iconic princess Marie Antoinette of France.


It was here where several guys wearing Mozart costumes where inviting us to a Mozart concert.  It would have been a nice concert.  Unfortunately, we haven’t planned for anything of that sort.

The statue was also in very close proximity to the Natural History Museum.


We then walked through the Viennese Parliament building.


Right in front of it was a Botanical rose garden where we took a quick rest and admired the beauty of the flowers.


It was very relaxing that I almost fell asleep in one of the benches under the trees.  My son had to drag me up so we can continue on our journey.


After another long walk passing through embassies and other historical buildings….


…we finally arrived at the last place on this day’s itinerary – the Prater amusement park.


One of its greatest attractions is the giant ferris wheel.


By this time I was already very tired from all the walking.  Of course we had the option of taking public transport,  but we didn’t want to miss anything,  so travelling on foot to these sights proved to be the best option.

IMG_4136My boys had a lot of fun absorbing the sights and that was all I ever needed to make me happy.  After going through Prater, we called it a day and went back to our hotel eager for the next day’s trip.

Happiness is…

This past weekend had been a special one for us because it was Father’s Day.  My husband had a business trip to Paris this past week, so we were very happy to have him back  for the weekend.


I can’t seem to get enough of these macarons that he brought home.  Macarons for breakfast?  why not!

Anyhow, our town also celebrated a big festival here in Kolin – Kmochuv Kolin.  It is mostly a music fest, but they also had  a program for kids.  Thus, we brought our little boy to watch it.




The first presentation we saw was a simple theater play for children.



Then there was a comical re-enactment of the battle of Kolin.



Finally it ended with a mini concert of children’s songs.

The weather was perfect that day, so everything went well.

On Sunday, I decided to make a cake for my husband.  Since it was a warm day, a no-bake cake was the best thing to make.



It was my first time making this cake.  The ironic thing was, I actually had to ask my husband for help because the recipe was written in Czech.  I had to make sure I get it right.  It turned out less than perfect, and I’ll probably need to do some modifications on the next trial.  I will share it with you once I get it right.  Anyhow, my little boy liked it and my husband thought it was ok.

So there goes another weekend for this Filipino mom in CZ.  Needless to say that I am content….and happy.


The Nursery Project

I’m not yet done with decorating the whole house and here I am already thinking about decorating the nursery.  It’s too early for “nesting,” I know.  But I don’t want to wait till I’m huge as a whale to start doing what I can still do now that I’m relatively strong.

I am thinking of transforming this space…..


….into this.

                                         Modern Kids by Seattle Interior Designers & Decorators Tewes Design
Minus the chair and the floor, this design makes use of what we already have now.  It seems very easy but the more I focus on the details, the harder it seems.  I am also a bit distracted with these other design ideas that I really find very interesting.
If only I had a bigger room, this is the kind of nursery I would like to have.
                                                      Modern Bedroom by Miami Artists and Artisans Lullaby Wall Decor
I love the color combination and  the simplicity of the room.  I think that the modern design fits very well with our modern house.
This next design is very luxurious, and I like it a lot.  I think it screams:  “I’m a princess!”
I just love the warmth of this room.  But  I’m one who likes to have a lot of light – natural light.  So this will not work.
                                     Traditional Bedroom by New Orleans Interior Designers & Decorators Nelson Wilson Interiors
This other one is very feminine.  The color combination, lace and ruffles says it all.  But with the pink overload,  I think it  will make my boys cringe.  My husband already told me not to overdo pink.  He says he only likes one type of pink — Pink Floyd.
                                       Bedroom by Spanish Fork Architects & Designers Joe Carrick Design – Custom Home Design
This next design may fit our modern house, but the color combination will not.  I’m not really a big fan of brown.  I like the warm cozy feeling that I get from this room though.
                                                 Modern Kids by Calgary Interior Designers & Decorators Wendinteriors
So, what do you think?  Am I making the right choice with the green bedroom for a baby girl?   Which one is your favorite?

It’s a girl!

Last year, we moved into a new home.  This year, I am expecting my second child.  And it’s a girl!

Yes, I am now 20 weeks pregnant and on my way to becoming a mother of 2.

happy mom- 4mos

I have been very lazy these past few months, as I was still battling with first trimester pregnancy symptoms. But now that I am on my 2nd trimester,  the aversion to food has now been replaced with a humongous appetite, and the constant tiredness is  now replaced with a new surge of energy giving way to my burning desire to travel again and experience Europe before I go for another hiatus.   Needless to say, I feel great again sans the big belly.

True to literature, 2nd timers really do show quite early.  The picture above is an old one when I was still pregnant with Jakub.  This is really how I look like now.

5 mos

And this did not escape Jakub’s observation.  One day as he was trying to play his make believe game with us, he said he’s a spider, his Tata is the dog and Mama is the elephant.  Oh well…