Sunday, January 31, 2010

So Many Burritos, So Little Time

On just your second day in this world, Rai, you held a burrito for the first time. You may think you don't remember the experience but I know that you do. Like the first time one flies in an airplane, or one's first love, the first burrito is one of those 'firsts' that can never be forgotten.
That first burrito of yours was almost as long as you were at 2 days of age. Buried somewhere in your subconscience is the warmth of that burrito as it lay across your chest. You can still feel the smooth, taut tinfoil covering. And the weight of it, all that rice and beans. The sound of tinfoil tearing, that first smell and intermingling of doughy tortilla, spicy salsa, and steamed veggies done just right. You remember it, don't you Rai? Of course you do!
You know, Rai, if I had had my way, in the first minute of life, when the faces of your parents were imprinted in your mind, I would have presented to you, instead, a burrito. You could have been like those famous geese who, imprinted with the image of a man in their first moments of life, followed him in his lightweight airplane as if he was their mother, for the remainder of their lives. You, every time you saw that glint of light off the foil of a burrito, would shout out, "Momma, I'm coming...!"
Today, as you prepare for the world of real food, the burrito is foremost in your mind. And as you become more aware of your dining options in San Francisco, a little frustration sets it, doesn't it? This city has probably hundreds of taquerias! One could spend a lifetime trying them all, searching for that one most perfect burrito. It's a good thing you're starting young.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

What If?

The classic 'what if' scenario for expecting parents is: "What if our baby is a boy or what if she is a girl?" Many parents resolve that 'what if' after just a few months when a sonogram confirms the gender of their baby to be.
Your Mom, Rai, is a master strategist. Even after we knew you were to arrive a boy, she continued to play with all the possible scenarios. What if the sonogram was wrong? What if that was really your leg? What if you look better in pink even though you're a boy? What if, sometime, you need to go undercover as a girl? What if you you like to cross-dress?
Not a contingency was left unconsidered. Clearly, we needed to stock up not only on boy's clothes, but on clothing for a little, baby girl, as well. And so, your Mom, planned for all possibilities. In my final year of business school, I remember contingency planning being a key component of all my strategic management courses. Like a master CEO, your Mom planned and prepared like the best of executives.
As every contingency above seemed to point to us having girl's clothing ready for you, that is exactly what we did. If an ad on craigslist promoted a bag of random girl's clothing for sale, we were there. If a Mom on freecycle posted about a box of 6-12 month pink dresses ready for pick up, we were there! We were more than ready for the chance that there could be a month-long period in your first year during which you would need to pose as a girl.
That month never came. While your Mom was satisfied that she had planned for the possibility, I was unhappy that we had all this unused clothing sitting around. Trying to put that chest of clothing to use, on many occasions, I tried to dress you in girl's clothing but your Mom would have none of it (neither would your Grandma).
Finally, my chance has arrived. Mom is at one of her science classes at the Exploratorium this morning. It's just you and me, my boy. The perfect opportunity has presented itself. While your Mom may be a contingency strategist that knows no peer, I am strong in another area of management; capitalizing on a golden opportunity. A chance like this comes but once in a lifetime... let's realize our dreams, Rai!

Friday, January 29, 2010


Hi there.

Note: It is now the day after I posted this 'story'.
I was surprised to see that we had harvested a comment from our readership in response to this story. Hmm... why post real stories and photos if all it takes is a simple 'Hi there.' to get a response! I'll have to do that more often! Rai says, "Thanks for the comment, Auntie Kate!"

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Special Bouquet

Who needs flowers when you've got little Rai to stuff into a giant flower vase?
You're more colorful than any bouquet, Rai, and you'll last longer too! We'll take you in our little vase labeled 'Fleurs' over flowers any day!
Now, the only thing we need to do is work on that fragrance of yours. Most of the time you've got that baby smell but, life would be better, if we could just get your morning diaper to smell like a dozen, fresh roses.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Saturday Morning Cartoons

By the time that you can read this, Rai, you'll know that your Dad is an early riser. Even on weekends, while so many of my friends were sleeping in, I was up by 5:30 or 6:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, ready to take on the new day. And, every Saturday began with Saturday morning cartoons. I loved that part of my weekly routine.
One day, Rai, I hope that we can enjoy together this early Saturday morning tradition. One hurdle stands in the way, of course, and that is the fact that we don't and will not have a television. However, I'm certain that by the time you're ready to watch Saturday morning cartoons, we'll have some wi-fi, internet device on which we can watch 'tv' shows.
Prime time for Saturday morning cartoons in my day was around 9 a.m. so I had little to choose from at 5:30 or 6:00 when I woke up. That early, all I had to watch were the oldest, syndicated cartoons. Rocket Robin Hood was one and another, and one of my favorites, was the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.
So, when your Mom brought you home the other day wearing a Bullwinkle hat, I couldn't be happier! You look so cute in that hat while bringing back some fond childhood memories for me.
Just a half decade from now (I can see it now), while your Mom sleeps in, we'll be up together at 5 a.m. on Saturday morning, making some vegan sausages and tofu scrambled (like my Dad and I used to do) while watching some cartoons on the holograph machine! Can't wait for that!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Okay... That Was NOT Our New Home

Hmm... it seems that even after a couple hundred stories, many of which are infused with my attempt at humor, many of our readers were not sure if the 'New Home' announcement a few stories back was a joke or the real thing. In fact, Rai, several people wrote to us wanting to confirm the validity of the story.
So, this post is to say that at this time, we are neither considering nor can we afford to buy a home in this city and that we would never dream of putting a half century's worth of income into a home as dilapidated as the one we showcased in that story.
The only home we could probably afford in San Francisco is the one pictured in this story. A home AND a car in one? Ideal, right? It's parked just down the street -- maybe they're looking for a buyer?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Who Says Brushing Teeth Can't Be Fun?

Being a 'people person', Rai, you like to spend as much time with us as you can. That means being in the kitchen while we're preparing dinner, sitting at the table with us while we eat, and joining us back in the kitchen when we clean up. If you're so eager to follow us while we do chore-like activities, we definitely will not object to that!
Now that you're becoming more capable with your limbs, you not only like to join us but you also like to mimic us if possible. If we're drinking, you want a cup. If we're cleaning, you want to hold something and pretend to clean too although that usually means you making more of a mess. Recently, this carried over to the bathroom too.
You were hanging out with us while we brushed our teeth and just had to do the same. With six teeth, you have more than earned the right to brush your teeth! We gave you your mini-brush and you did your best to do as we were doing -- moving the brush this way and that in your mouth. Ultimately, as with everything that goes in your mouth, you just ended up chewing it. Still, if you're interesting in imitating us when we do good things like brushing our teeth, we're glad to see it! Next time I'm sweeping the floor, I'll make sure to have you nearby.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Yes, It's Raining!

It may seem strange to celebrate rain, but the first big rain of the season is always an exciting time in our home. Rain means water and water means waterfalls. There are many incredible waterfalls in the Bay Area and they all roar to life when these first, week-long winter rains arrive every year.
One of the best, and one of our favorites, is Cataract Falls in Marin. As a couple, it has been become tradition to visit these cascading falls after the first hard rains of the season. Now, with your visit to the Cataract yesterday, it has officially become a family tradition. So, Rai, from now on, whenever you see rain, think Cataract Falls. It will be a wonderful rainy day sometime in the future, when we first hear you say, "Mom? Dad? It's raining. Can we go to Cataract Falls?"
Our answer will always be "yes!" because these Falls are the kind of place one can never tire of. The funny thing is that you'll soon learn that any trip north across the Golden Gate Bridge also means a stop at our favorite taqueria, Lucinda's. In other words, anytime we go hiking in Marin we also make a stop at Lucinda's for some delicious burritos. So, your request for a hike at the Falls may actually be more of a "I'll pretend I want the hike but really put up with the hike so that I can have one of those burritos afterwards..." With that in mind, let me say it now: the more you resist, the more we'll take you out to nature, little guy!
The cataract through which the water flows and falls is located in the lush forests of the Mt.Tamalpais foothills. This huge expanse of untouched wilderness crisscrossed by dozens of trails is a hiker's paradise. In one day, or just a few short hours, you can hike through deep, redwood valleys, past lakes and rushing streams and up to the bald hills of the Marin Headlands with views of the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco that will leave you awestruck. A paradise like this is an incredible gift to have just minutes from the city.
Our hike through the Cataract was not only a celebration of the beginning of the rainy season, but also of your 9-month birthday and our anniversary and there couldn't have been a better way for us to spend the day. For the entire length of the 4-hour hike, you sat peacefully in your backpack carrier, moving your head this way and that, taking in all the green all around and listening intently to the thundering sound of the cascading waters. Cataract Falls is more than just one waterfall. There are dozens of small falls and cascades, but 3 or 4 major falls along the stream. The grandest of the falls is the final waterfall, a giant wall of water that bursts unexpectedly from the end of a quiet stream. Standing at the wooden rail, looking at the Falls, we were approached by many, all of them wanting to meet you, drawn in by your smile and giggle. Here's one compliment you received, little Rai: "He is much more beautiful than the waterfall." That's saying a lot, Rai -- don't let it get to your head. To bring you back down to earth, follow the photos here to follow our footsteps through the Cataract this day. All that's missing is what happened after you went to sleep for the night when your Mom and I continued our anniversary celebration with dinner out and our first 3D movie experience: Avatar, whose green planet of Pandora could be based on the world of trees, ferns, moss, and rushing water we had hiked to that day.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Introducing: Our New Home!

Yesterday, Rai, your Mom and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary (and you thought that your 9-month birthday was the only important thing that happened yesterday)!
After six years of marriage, there are some typical, almost natural, steps a couple takes. First, there's the baby. Check; we've got you Rai-ski! Next, is the minivan. Check; we've got our I've-got-a-few-short-months-left-in-me Nissan Sentra. Not quite as roomy as a minivan, but close.
The third key acquisition for a married couple, of course, is a house and, we are proud to announce, we have finally joined the ranks of indebted homeowners!
Living in San Francisco, we thought we could never afford a home. For many years, simple, small starter homes in need of renovation hovered in the million dollar price range. This past year, however, the housing crash has finally made it's way to The City. We've seen home prices drop significantly until, finally, there are homes in our price range. Where, in the past, $550,000 could buy you a tear-down, that same amount today can buy you a perfectly good crack house beginning it's journey on the road to gentrification!
And so, we finally found our dream home and, at $549,000, it's a downright bargain!
As the photos clearly show, it has been left virtually untouched or uncleaned since it's former life as a haven for crack addicts and heroin junkies. The tattered curtains still hang in the windows, that giant hole in the living room hardwood that was burnt out when that Bunsen burner tipped over is still there, that bathroom floor soiled for years by passed out, vomiting addicts remains, and the filthy kitchen still has dirty fingerprints and crumbs, a reminder of late night munchie runs by the home's illustrious former residents.
$549,000? What a deal! We'll take it! Bet you can't find a better deal in any other city! We're just hoping they throw in that beater of a car on the driveway so that not even one aspect of the life that was once led in this home is left to our imaginations. And, Rai, the good news is that if we leave the home as is, you'll have so much to explore! San Francisco - a home buyer's dream market!

Friday, January 22, 2010

9 Months Old Today!

Today, little Rai, you are 9 months old!
9 months in this world, in our lives already?
Wow, what a ride it's been and we've loved every moment of this journey so far!
At 9 months, your personality is quite evident to those of us who spend so much time with you. Like the characters of the film 'Nine', you are now a little body inhabited with a personality, a 'soul' all your own. And, as in the film, the world around you, as you become more and more mobile daily, will soon become a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a world destroyed by the curious exploration of a rampaging toddler.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Strolling with Mom

It's an unlikely scenario for you, Rai, to find yourself alone with either of us. We are a family that sticks together and since your Mom and I are teachers at the same school, we're never apart. We leave together, we return together, and we spend all our free time with you.
Still, there are those rare times when you get to spend one on one time with one of us. Your Mom may be gone for the day taking one of her classes at the Exploratorium or maybe I need a few uninterrupted hours to get some work done, leaving you some valuable 'Mom time' or 'Dad time'.
This happened last weekend. I stayed home. Mom took you out and, as always, you had a great time out with her! She took you over to Fort Point, walked you along the Bay and up through the Presidio to remind you that there are endless places in this city from which you can enjoy views of our beautiful Golden Gate Bridge.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

There's More to LIfe Than the Tent

Rai, we wouldn't want to give anyone the impression that when we're at home, your play area is limited to that tiny tent we wrote about in the last story. No, oh no, your play area truly knows no bounds. Our home isn't quite the 'watch-your-step-because-you're-likely-to-trip-over-a-toy' kind of place but that's not to say that there isn't evidence of your presence everywhere one turns.
In the kitchen doorway, we have your Jolly Jumper and in the dining room, random toys such as exer-saucers, walking aids, and little playstations. It's all organized but, it's everywhere.
The piece de resistance, of course, is 'Rai's Corner', a giant corner of our living room which has naturally become your place. It began with a couple bins of toys and quickly mushroomed into an all out toddler heaven. A shelf holds bin after bin after bin of toys and manipulatives. The floor, strewn with mats and blankets, offers even more toys, games, a chair, pillows, and giant cushioned steps and slides. Your own playland right here in our living room. Life is good.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Home is Where the Home Is

Just this past week, your Mom made the wonderful decision to get for you a tiny, little, Rai-sized tent. But, this isn't just an ordinary tent. It has mesh siding for maximum visibility, and a sturdy front gate for maximum security.
This teeny tent has become your spot of choice in our apartment. You could even say that the tent is now your home within a home. It's your place, your domain and visitors are welcome... sometimes. When you swing that front gate open, we can reach in to see what you're up to. But, when the gate's closed, we've got to knock. Or, better yet, we should ring the doorbell, right? A large red button lets out a chime that put's our home's doorbell to shame!
You can have this home, but don't ask for your own lawn, please.

Monday, January 18, 2010

El Nino Strikes Again!

Yesterday, Rai, you were the first to notice that water was falling from the sky. As I held you, you took on a perplexed look, your nose twitching slightly, looking around and then up. Each time a drop of rain fell on your cheek, you would close your eyes and shudder with surprise.
Our good friend El Nino is back in town, bringing with her the winter rains. Not to fret, my little boy, you're well prepared. First, you've got your big rubber boots. You also have that bright yellow rain jacket.
The forecasts call for some serious rains, winds, and even snow, though. Are we prepared for the biblical floods that we may be faced with? Doubtless. Your new inflatable bathtub doubles as a tiny raft so even if your Mom and I end up trapped on roof of our home, you can paddle out to pick up provisions. I've said it before and will again: it's never to early to put you to work.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Oy! Oy! Oy!

Not long ago, Rai, your Dad was a bit of a punk. Punk music was a big part of his teen years and, although he never actually dressed as one, he subscribed to much of the philosophy of the punk movement. Libertarian value-infused anarchic politics resonated with him. The idea of challenging norms, dismantling systems, and starting fresh was always something he respected.
Now, we see again that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Rai, over these past months you've grown into a young man. Your youthful optimism and perspective has now brought you to the very same crossroads your Dad once stood at. You too see something more to the punk movement than just mohawks, chains, studs, and boots. So many systems must be destroyed and rebuilt. Change has to begin somewhere even if it's just with a hairstyle. Every generation needs a revolution. This is the face of the modern revolution.

Who Gets to be the Amphibian?

Rai, you love your bath time. So much so , that it's often tough to get you out of those warm waters. Incentive. We had to find some incentive to lure you back to dry land. Those cute, soft and colorful towels with pocket for your head worked for a while. You'd love to get put your head in that little nook as we wrapped the rest of the towel around you. But soon the novelty of that wore off.
We had to find something bigger... something better. Enter amphibian. We found a great towel that goes right over your head like a cloak. Now, your head not only enters a little pocket but a super pocket that, with a few stitches here, a little embroidery there, has been transformed into a frog. Now, getting you out of the bath is easy. The prospect of dressing like a frog is too much to resist. Who wouldn't want to be a frog?
And, if the frog wears out its welcome?
There's an orange fish waiting in the wings (that's if Dad doesn't get a hold of it first!)