Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy and Relaxed

Rai, everyone that meets you tells us one of two things: "He sure is a happy baby!" or "He's so calm and relaxed!" We agree.
The world sure looks good from your perspective, doesn't it? You bring smiles to everyone's faces and there isn't a person that crosses your path that doesn't want to talk with you a bit and look into those big eyes of yours.
With all that positive attention, it's no wonder that you're so happy and relaxed all the time. Hey, we may even consider the suburbs so that we can shelter you from the hard realities of the world a little more.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Costume Parade Begins...

Rai, the other day your Mom wrote to your readers about the extensive costume collection that she has already put together for you. So, tonight, with Hallowe'en just 2 evenings away, we had you model the costumes that you fit into this year. What a show you put on!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

That Creative Aunt of Yours

Dear Rai, it is quite normal for all families to have members with different interests, skills, and lifestyles. Some families are even lucky enough to have some eccentric family member that makes all gatherings a little more interesting. Your Mom's family has no lack of characters. Every family member on that side has their own, very unique personal story.
Last weekend, your Mom's wonderful Aunt Gayle came down from Cottage Grove, Oregon to visit for a couple of days. I've heard so many stories about Aunt Gayle, but one theme keeps presenting itself and that is: puppets. Aunt Gayle has a life story that seems to be just one puppet show after another. So, when she came to visit you on Sunday morning, she arrived with a friend. Rosco, the puppet.
Seeing the look in your eyes as Rosco spoke to you, I knew then and there that it would be a very good idea if we got a puppet too and used it to entertain and communicate with you. Who's to say when a puppet becomes an object devoid of life in an infant's eyes. All I know is that during those minutes with Aunt Gayle, you were convinced that that furry creature was alive and talking with you!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hallowe'en Came Early This Year...

Rai, as soon as I found out I was pregnant with you, I quickly got on Craigslist and scouted for the most essentials baby items: Hallowe'en costumes, Hallowe'en costumes and finally, more Hallowe'en costumes. I don't think there is a mother in North America who doesn't dream about that first Hallowe'en with her baby. Dressing her baby in an adorable Halowee'en costume, taking a hundred photos and then sending them out to everyone she knows with such pride. This is what it's all about.
For months before your arrival I picked up Hallowe'en costumes for you in every neighborhood of San Francisco and even in the most unexpected of places. I did not discriminate -- if I found a dirty, flea-infested Hallowe'en costume on some street corner, I picked it up, threw it in a plastic bag, washed it, and added it to your ever growing collection. My only criteria: it's cute.

At six months of age, Rai, you have an eclectic collection of about fifteen Hallowe'en costumes! For the last month, I've been trying to devise a way you could pull off wearing all fifteen costumes in one night. My plan began falling apart when you made it quite clear that "late nights" for you ended at 7 p.m.

Thanks to the Golden Gate Mothers Group, Hallowee'n began a week early and you got to wear your first costume (the classic 'baby pumpkin') last Saturday. You were nothing short of adorable! We took you to Julius Kahn Playground in the Presidio for the GGMG festivities. But , your own personal Hallowe'en parade didn't end at that party.
Keeping your Pumpkin suit on, we then made it to the Outer Mission for burritos and dessert, and finally to the Noe Street Harvest Festival. Every person that saw you, would exaggerate every syllable as they said, "Ohhhhhhhhhhhh, look at that adorable pumpkin! He is so cute!" and every person would stare at you until you were out of sight.
Many parents asked where I got your pumpkin outfit and even though I have a great memory I just couldn't remember if it was actually someone's house in Ashbury Heights or in the gutter near Clement Street or maybe it was at a home in St. Francis Woods. It was definitely one of the three.

You were the center of attention at Cafe Gratitude -- mothers and grandmothers picked you up, squeezed you, kissed you and a mariachi singer gave you kisses as he sang to everyone in the restaurant. And if your cutest wasn't enough, you entertained everyone by your fascination with the ceiling fans at the restaurant and swiveled your head as fast as the fan went round and round. Everyone laughed (with you) and smiled even more.

Hallowe'en hasn't even arrived yet and you have already made it the best Hallowe'en I have ever had! Thanks for indulging me by smiling and laughing with each costume we put you in. I'll tell you one day which ones were found in the gutter.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Hope. Peace. Progress.

Rai, last year a new President was elected in America. During the campaign and in the months following his election, there was a real sense of hope and and an anticipation of great changes and progress to come. In fact, these three words were essential components of President Barack Obama's campaign message.
Hope. Change. Progress. Yes, we can. Every democrat and liberal held these words close to their heart and no republican could avoid them. Now, almost one year later, is the hope still alive? It's hard to say. The excitement of those times has passed. Has progress been made? Plenty but still not enough. The gears of bureaucracy turn very slowly and democracy is often more of a barricade than a lubricant.
Hope for change and progress, however, cannot be placed on the shoulders of one man and his administration. It's the every day person and his or her actions that makes an impact. So, Rai, if we want hope then hope we must. If we want change, then we must be the agents of that change, step by small step in our own lives and communities. And, if we want progress, then we must clearly define and agree on what that progress must be and work towards it together, always.
Rai, you will be one of possibly more than 10 billion on this Earth when you're aware enough to understand politics, social systems, and the power of one to make a difference. A huge responsibility falls on you and your peers. We're counting on you.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Success!

Rai, do you remember about a month ago when we attempted to hike to Lake Pilarcitos using only a rough trail map drawn using Google Maps? If you don't remember that far back, maybe the memory of last weekend is more fresh in your mind.
Last Sunday, we made the attempt again (it feels like we were attempting the summit of Everest!) and, this time, we made it! Success, however, came at a price. It was a long, hard hike even for someone like you who was carried the entire way!
After dropping your Mom off at Union Square downtown where she was helping with the Nike Womens Marathon, you and I drove down to Pacifica to find that horse ranch from where we started our hike last time. We were on the trail by 4:30 a.m.
The sun has been rising much later these past few weeks so we hiked in darkness, our way lit only by the moon and the stars, for the first hour and a half. At one point, a heavy fog rolled in and we lost our light. The dampness of the fog combined with the wind that had brought it, made it too cold to go on. Luckily, we came across a bathroom and hid there for about 45 minutes. You were cold, hungry and your diaper needed to be changed. It was 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning. You were not happy. Good thing we had this bathroom in which to take care of you.
Once the first light of the morning sun brightened the sky, we were off again. The fog slid away and, by 7:00 a.m., we came over a ridge which gave us our first glimpse of Lake Pilarcitos, still a few miles ahead but shining like golden amber in the sunrise light.
From there, it was all downhill as we descended into that secret wildnerness that separates Peninsula cities like Millbrae, Redwood City, and Burlingame from the Pacific Ocean to the west.
As this entire area is gated off by the S.F. Water Department, I knew that we wouldn't see anyone on the trail. It really did feel more untouched than any other trails we've hiked on south of San Francisco. Along the way, we saw a few coyotes and about a dozen deer.
Four hours after starting, we finally made it to the lake. It's a beautiful reservoir that fills a deep, deep canyon. As we approached the lake, the barren hills of sage and thick brush gave way to pine and old growth. The change was dramatic -- all of a sudden, we were in a deep forest.
We enjoyed the forest and lake, relishing the thrill of our success. On the way back, I noted the mile markers to see just how far we had come. The walk had taken us about 6 miles each way, up and down.
It had been quite the journey but since this is just the kind of thing your Dad enjoys, you can bet you'll have many more adventures like this one in the months and years to come, little Rai! Everest, you say? Sure, I think we'll try that too!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Twin Day at Galileo High

It was Spirit Week at Galileo High School last week with each day hosting a different 'dress theme'. We had 'Nerd Day', 'Pajama Day', 'Mismatch Day' and, finally, 'Twin Day'.
For the last day, a fellow math teacher, Mr.Page, excitedly told me, "Let's both be Ms.Walker (another math teacher) for the day!" My response, "Doug, are you really going to dress as a woman?" I just couldn't see him doing it. "Of course." So, I arrived that day wearing a skirt, tight top, a bra and a woman's wig. I looked nothing like Ms.Walker. Still, I was all woman.
Naturally, after arriving at school, my first task was to hunt down Doug to see how he had done at becoming Ms.Walker. I couldn't find him, but a minute after the first period bell, he found me. Even as my students were still in shock over my appearance and claim to be 'Ms.Walker', Doug rushed into my room. "Okay class, we will begin with the Daily Check and then we will talk about..."
I looked at him, surprised. He was not a woman. Instead, he was wearing socks with flip-flops. Ridiculous, right? He was also wearing a tie with a bright t-shirt. Even more ridiculous, right?
Just as I was saying, "Wait a minute, you're not Ms.Walker..." it dawned on me: Doug was me. I'm the one who wears flip-flops, t-shirt and tie every day. That's the Flisak look at school.
The Mr.Flisak twin rushed into my classroom at the beginning of every period all day long and in the halls, I spotted more 'Flisaks'. Three others were Flisak for the day, including Ms.Walker. I was all alone as Ms.Walker on this day.
Just another typical day at our high school, Rai? Yes, it was.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Happy Half Year Birthday, Rai !

Rai, today you are 6 months old!
We've had so many experiences together that, today, you feel even more a cornerstone and our lives than ever before. The hardest and strangest thing for me is that as this day approached I couldn't get a simple calculation out of my head. I think it was the ease of the fraction, one half, that has had this thought constantly in my mind: Two halves in a year, maybe 20 years living with us, so that means we've had 1/40th of our time with you already. It makes me sad.
The months are passing by but our relationship with you gets better every day. And, how much you've changed too! You're growing so much and you're now more interactive than I'd ever imagine you'd be at 6 months. We saw a 3 month old the other day and the meeting reminded me of just how much and how quickly you've changed in the past 2 or 3 months. You're completely different now. You've always been very aware and observant but now those traits are so powerful. Now, we can only watch as you change and grow even more. One day, you may even be as tall as a giraffe, right?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

We've Got Spirit, Yes We Do

Rai, two Friday's ago, Galileo High School, our high school, held the 65th annual Song and Yell contest. It's the year's biggest pep rally with all classes competing against one another to determine which group has the most school spirit.
This year, the Song and Yell was held on our brand-new turf football field and one of the judges was the S.F 49er who had helped bring the field to Galileo. This year, your Mom and Dad were also lucky enough to participate in the competition. As class sponsors for the sophomore class, the Class of 2012, we were asked to be part of the skit and dance portion of their submission in the contest. Your Mom practiced for a couple weeks with the group. Your Dad, well, umm.. he joined them at their practices only 3 days before the big event. The results are quite obvious: just watch the video at the end of this message to see what an unpracticed dancer looks like!
Maybe your bad dancer Dad is the reason that our class got last place too... but, more likely, the reason is that we sold the fewest Homecoming Dance tickets and something about cheering when it was another class' turn to cheer. The good news is that we are destined to win, eventually. The senior class has lost only twice in the 65 years of this contest so, if not next year, then we will definitely win two years from now!
Now Rai, if we're lucky, we may end up with one of those unique scenarios where our child is in our school or, better yet, one of our students. I'm sure you're already looking forward to that too!

video

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Trolley Dances

Rai, one day, when you're riding one of San Francisco's streetcars you may, all of a sudden, see some folks break out in dance. It could be just another day in San Francisco where pretty much anything is possible or you may be findind yourself in the midst of the annual event known as the 'Trolley Dances' (click here for the website)
We'd like to say that it was by chance that we ended up on a 'Trolley Dance' streetcar these past two years, but it wasn't. It was planned, right down to the last detail including the exact time at which we'd hop onto the streetcar to experience the show!
Put on by a dance troupe, the Trolley Dances, give the average person access to a mix of modern, interpretive and classical dance. Last year, we saw dancers rappeling down the walls of a brand new glass and stone building on the UCSF Medical Campus and another group performing capoeira at the Bayview Opera House.
This year, we followed the dancers along the J-Church street car line, all the way south to Balboa Park. Along the way, we looked out the windows to see a couple running, dancing down the sidewalk, keeping up with the streetcar as they performed a latin dance routine. At Balboa Park, another group danced in the park and the show finished with a synchronized swimming routine in the pool. The best, of course, were their 'Superman' swimsuits and the musical score, a medley of superhero theme songs. After the show, one of the swimmers approached us asking, "Do you work at Galileo?" She's one of our seniors.
So, next time you see some dancers while on the streetcar follow those dancers! You may just get a great, free show out of it!