Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Fantastic Spring Break So Far!

It's Wednesday and we just discovered the local library here in Markleeville, California. So, at least during library hours, we can add 'internet' to the amenities we enjoy while up at the cabin.
Without making it too long, we just wanted to post an update on our Spring Break visit to the cottage. We arrived to find most of the winter snow gone but, just the day after we arrived, a storm blew in and snow has been falling ever since. This morning, we looked outside to see about as much snow as there was in the dead of winter. Incredibly beautiful!
Now, we have half a week more to enjoy all the snow!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Future Life of the Party

Rai, there is no denying it: you love being the center of attention. You love people and you can confidently and fearlessly move from person to person, even when put into a room of new faces.
Since you've been born, we've rarely found ourselves at a party, but today, we had the chance to attend a couple parties where you quickly tried to establish yourself as the life of the party. At the first, a housewarming, you did all you could to get each person's attention. You have a few tools at your disposal. There's your laugh, your smile, your way of walking up to someone and tugging on their pant leg. And, of course, there's your vocalizations. Your favorite is the one question you've mastered. It goes something like this: "Baa..?" If that doesn't lure a person in, you throw out a few "da" and "ma" sounds, a friendly shout or two, and you've soon got them at your side.
By the second party, a birthday party for Auntie Kate, your nap time had come upon us so your energy was waning. Still, you charmed the guests and maintained your status as 'life of the party'.
Every wild day of partying needs to be followed by a day or two of peace and quiet. Balance is paramount. So, it is to the cabin that we go tomorrow morning. There will be no stories on this site for a week or so...

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Place with the Umbrellas in the Drinks

There's a silent but steady battle waged in the Inner Richmond, day after day, night after night. That battle is for dominance in the art of the Burmese kitchen. Separated by no more than three city blocks, Burma Superstar and Mandalay, two restaurants, fight daily for the dollars of restaurant goers seeking the best of San Francisco's Burmese cuisine.
For several years, we've given our money to Mandalay, the older and perhaps less popular of the two. Whereas you may have to stand in line for a half hour or more at Burma Superstar, at Mandalay, provided you arrive for an early dinner, you can always expect to be seated immediately. The food? Excellent! Better than Burma Superstar? Hard to say -- both share very similar menus and the marquee items such as the tea leaf salad are almost indistinguishable and Mandalay's own 'Special Noodles' are exquisite.
We ate there last night, Rai. You aren't quite ready for their dishes yet, but you definitely enjoyed the atmosphere and the hospitality of the family that runs the restaurant. Even though we haven't been there for many months now, they remembered us and you. How they could remember you, we don't know. You are nothing like that baby we brought in there those many months ago. Next time, you can even try the food and... what's that? You want one of those fancy drinks with the umbrella in it? Sure, that too!
video

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sleep Sitting

Just two days ago, little Rai, we let our readers know just how excited you are about being able to sit and stand up in your crib. You go through the motion so many times before falling asleep that you're liable to finally fall asleep in a crawling posture. Sleeping in a crawling position, that's not so bad. A little like sleeping on your tummy.
Tonight, you showed us that you can actually fall asleep during any stage of the lying to standing sequence of steps. Checking on you, we found you asleep in a seated position -- the second step on the journey to standing. We tried to imagine you flipping over, crawling, getting into sitting position and then running out of energy completely, and falling asleep right there and then. Incredible.
What's next? Tomorrow, will we find you sleeping while standing and holding on your crib's guardrail? Maybe.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Recruiting

When you become a new parent there is something that was never important before that, all of a sudden, becomes incredibly important and that is: to find and surround yourself with as many other new parents as you can. Having something in common with others is one of the main things that keeps people together and there is nothing bigger that two people or two couples can have in common than babies.
And, if you can't find other new parents, the only option left is to convince baby-less couples to have babies of their own. All newlyweds are ready for the pressure to have babies that comes from their parents, but few are ready for the relentless attack that comes from their friends with babies. "So... are you guys thinking about having a baby?" We've asked this question of all the young, married couples we know, countless times.
The message is clear: we want more babies and if you can't produce those babies, we want nothing to do with you. Fulfill your biological destiny, friends; make some babies! Our boy needs playdates and playmates. Make it happen!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sleep Crawling

One day, Rai, hopefully you'll think that your parents are cool enough to watch a movie together with them. When that time comes, we'll watch the comedy 'Step Brothers'. Together, we will laugh so hard that we may fall off the couch. One scene that you can especially look forward to is the sleep-walking scene. Hilarious.
But, you already know something about sleep-walking, don't you? Actually, in your case, it's sleep crawling. Now that you're a master of the back to front roll, crawl, sit, and stand in the crib, it has gotten tougher to put you to bed for the night. Whereas before, you'd lay on your back and drift to sleep almost instantly, there is now a 15 minute period of time during which you, almost involuntarily, go through the motions of flipping over, crawling, sitting and standing.
There's no stopping you -- it's like your muscles are practicing this new (important) sequence of steps. All we can do is stand there and lay you back down on your back, over and over again. Eventually, you wear yourself out. Still, even as you drift off to sleep, your muscles keep going: flip, assume crawling posture and... you're asleep, frozen in that half-crawling position. Hilarious. Maybe even more hilarious than that movie.

Monday, March 22, 2010

11 Months Old Today!

Today, Rai, you turned 11 months old!
On this birthday, just today, you've fully mastered something that you've been working on for quite some time. Skipping the crawling stage, you never found much incentive to master the back to front roll nor the front to back roll. Also, you never quite figured out how to go from crawling to sitting positions. Lately, however, you've discovered that being able to get from lying on your back to sitting is a very useful set of skills as it gets you that much closer to standing and walking, something you love to do. So, after what seems like hours of practice in your crib, you can now roll to your front, get to sitting, then grab the crib rails and pull yourself to standing.
What this means for us, your parents, is that we will essentially become obsolete in the not-too-distant future. All we're good for these days is getting you onto your feet so that you can start walking. Our days are numbered -- you'll soon be able to replicate what you've done in the crib all around the house. Check out the video...
video

Sunday, March 21, 2010

That Dirt Tastes Funny

It's no secret that infants and toddlers put everything in their mouths. We've heard this and we've learned it through first-hand experience. What we didn't know, however, is that 'everything' literally means everything.
I mean, there are varying degrees of meaning attached to the word 'everything'. We thought 'everything' meant toys and other small objects, cutlery, writing utensils, fabrics, linens, and papers. What we did not consider to be part of the 'everything' catch-all word were things such as dirty diapers, objects that exceed the mass of the baby, and dirt. We have discovered that these items can and should be grouped in the 'everything' category. Rai, yes you have attempted to chew on your own dirty diapers. Yes, you have drawn yourself towards objects that exceed you in both size and weight and attempted to gnaw on them. And, more recently, we've seen you grab handfuls of dirt at the playground and sand at the beach and sample that, as well.
Your chewing of 'everything' is so bad that Grandma has canceled all trips to the playground for the foreseeable future for fear that you'll choke on another favorite appetizer of yours: bark.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Friday Afternoons in Our Home

If someone were to drop in to our place on Friday afternoon, around 4:00 or 4:30, they could expect to find the same thing on any given Friday. What one would find is you, Rai, passed out in your crib, dead to the world, fast asleep (probably down for the night). What that visitor would also find is your Mom, also asleep, napping for a couple hours. All week long, Rai, you keep your Grandparents busy, refusing to nap, eager to see what new game or song they could come up with. By the time Friday afternoon rolls around, you're beat. It's hard work entertaining two grandparents! Your Mom, too, worn out from a week of work, needs to get some sleep and bedtime on Friday night always seems just so far away...

video

Friday, March 19, 2010

Boys Gone Wild

"It's just a weekend. Just two short days. What trouble could I get into, Mom and Dad?" We couldn't argue with that, Rai. You're getting older now and, if we've learned anything from teaching, it's that although youth need discipline and structure, they also need freedom and trust.
A while back, you asked if you could go to Florida for the weekend. "Just a weekend away with a friend or two," you told us. "Please, Mom and Dad. Don't be overprotective. Give me a chance." So, we did.
You returned with a tan and a Hawaiian shirt (or is that a Floridian shirt?) and stories of white sand beaches and beach volleyball. We were happy that we had let you go. Every young man deserves a weekend getaway with friends.
Then, by chance, we found some mugshot photos that had been leaked online. Nick Nolte.. busted?! But wait, who's that with him... ? Oh, dear. Rai Sequoia. We trusted you, Rai. When you said, "weekend with friends" we just assumed that you meant some other 9 or 10 month olds. Never did we expect you to be hanging out with a nearly 70-year old actor on the beaches of Florida. Who else do you have on speed dial? It'll take a while to make up for this one, my boy.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

There's Graffiti and...Then There's Graffiti !

Walking on Ocean Beach with you the other day, Rai, we noticed that the retaining wall dividing the beach and highway has a lot more graffiti on it then it used to. Whereas the graffiti used to be limited to one end of the concrete wall, it now covers the entire length of the wall from end to end.
Some of the graffiti looks good, the letters are well done, the colors well chosen but, unfortunately, most of it doesn't look too good. It's not that we're getting old, Rai, and can't appreciate graffiti art, it's just that there's graffiti art and then there's just plain tagging and vandalism. A lot of this Ocean Beach graffiti is more the latter.
And, we have proof. Haight Street is known for its graffiti art. When we last visited the Haight, we noticed that a few of the graffiti murals had been updated, redone. Now THIS is art. The murals are exceptional, sprayed by masters of this art form. The colors are vivid, the lines clear, the full images well-planned and beautiful. This is the kind of graffiti that we'd like to see at Ocean Beach. Maybe we could find out who did the work in the Haight and get them down to the Beach... Let's do it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

S.F. - A Diverse Place

The first thing most visitors to and new residents of San Francisco notice is the diversity. All kinds of people live here and each sub-group brings with it and maintains its own customs, culture, dining, and style.
The diversity of The City does not end with its culture. San Francisco is also socio-economically diverse. Those unfamiliar with the neighborhoods and the streets or hills that often mark the end of one neighborhood and the beginning of another are often shocked by how quickly they can go from a rich neighborhood to a poorer one. One block can often make all the difference in the world with little transition from glitz to decrepid.
For many of our international visitors, this fact has always been a topic of conversation and the biggest surprise. They come expecting the streets of America to be paved in gold and find that that is hardly the case. Those who have money flaunt it and keep a tight hold on it. "Sharing" is hardly a tenet of our economic and political policy.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bat-Boy

For those of you who have been keeping up with the world of Batman comics, you know that, about a year ago, Bruce Wayne was killed, while saving the universe, of course, by a ruthless demigod. Quickly, the other heroes of Gotham City recognized that a Gotham without its Dark Knight would be a Gotham that would fall into criminal chaos. A short challenge ensued and Richard Grayson, the original Robin emerged as the man that would wear the cape and cowl of Batman.
Rai, you weren't even born when this 'battle for the cowl' was going on. Still, it's never too late to go after what you feel you deserve. Now that you're walking, you're definitely ready for the acrobatics and physical feats that are necessary for success as the protector of Gotham City. So, you are calling for a new 'battle for the cowl', you enter as the last, and most worthy contender. If cuteness and an infectious laugh were the only criteria, you'd win this competition hands-down. They aren't, however, so you may be in for the showdown of your short life.
Whatever the result, whether you are the new Batman or not, doesn't really matter, though because these past few weeks have brought the latest news to Bat-fans everywhere. Bruce Wayne is not dead. An impostor corpse was discovered in his grave and a series of clues has enlightened everyone to the fact that Bruce Wayne is actually trapped in history. To escape his certain demise, he threw himself into the timestream and found himself lost in time. This summer, the Bat-books will follow Bruce Wayne as he makes his way from one important historical era to another, searching for a way back to his natural place in time.
With this development, the Batsuit that you earn, Rai, may only be available to you for a short time as Bruce is coming back to claim it. I think, instead, you should consider your future as a sidekick. No, I don't mean Robin. How about Bat-boy? That position is still available.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Two Wheels are Better Than Four

Back in the day, Rai, your Mom and Dad rode their bikes to and from work every day. We were fit, we had energy and the really enjoyed beginning and ending our work day with 3 or 4 miles on the bike.
Our biking dream came to an end in last February when the winter rains arrived. Oh, and your Mom was 6 months pregnant (with you!), too. It's tough to bike with a big, pregnant belly like she had. We haven't ridden since. Once you were born, we were too tired until the end of that school year to even consider taking our bikes to work. We began this school year intent on riding again. It didn't happen. Again, we had fatigue to blame for this. Still, as we got further and further into this school year, we kept promising ourselves and each other that we'd get on those bikes again.
We wanted to begin with shorter neighborhood rides to get back into it but, how to bring you on our bike ride? That question was answered the other evening when your Mom came home with a Burley Encore, a bike trailer for kids. No more excuses -- it was time to get on our bikes once again.
And, we did. This past Sunday was one of eight days this year called 'Sunday Streets'. This city organized event involves the closure of a series of city streets to vehicular traffic. The goal is to open the streets to foot, bike, in-line skate, skateboard and other person-powered vehicles. The event has been a success for three years now.
This past Sunday, the 'Sunday Streets' route was along the Bay with roads closed all the way from Mariposa in the Mission Bay area near the ballpark to Fisherman's Wharf. The entire route follows a long chunk of the city's waterfront, mostly along the Embarcadero.
It took you a little while to get used to your new ride, but once you did, you loved it. You sat back and watched the world fly by. You played in the buggy, you ate in it, and you even played by eating your socks in it. Then, when you got tired and called for nap time, we just lay you on your back in the comfy trailer bench, and you took your afternoon nap. Good thing we bought the buggy for two! You were so comfortable and deep in sleep that when a group of bikers led by a stereo-equipped bike came riding by, music blaring, you were unphased. We like this buggy already!
And so, with eight of these events schedule every year, we can already see that this will be a tradition for your Grandparents and us. With the buggy designed to hold up to 100 pounds, this tradition could last for years!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday Morning

Rai, you are a morning person. A 5:23 a.m. kind of person to be exact. Your body is like a machine and that is the time that the machine awakes. Never more than a minute off of this time, we can hear your first few grunts and sounds of struggle as you try (unsuccessfully) to crawl out of the enclosure more commonly known as a crib.
Whereas we used to find you lying on your back, smiling wider than that Joker we now find you in a push-up position looking around at the bars that are keeping you trapped in your bed. You're overjoyed when you hear footsteps, tilt your head up and flash your savior a bright, morning smile. "Get me out of here!" And, we do.
We always begin with sunrise from the deck, then some breakfast, and finally some time in your playzone. That's just how this Sunday morning began. Some say coffee and cigarettes are the trick to a perfect morning. I say: a 5:23 wake-up call from your babbling boy, sunrise and spoon-feeding.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Romantic Dinners and Long Walks on the Beach...

If we play our cards right, Rai, by the time you make your long-anticipated entrance into the world of dating, you'll have a Match.com profile that will impress all the ladies. We've already started you on the big two items that every woman has been looking for since the dawn of the modern dating age: appreciation of romantic dinners and long walks on the beach.
Many evenings, we take a family walk down the hill to Ocean Beach and walk in the sand for a while. Walking through the sand couldn't be easier for you since you're being carried the entire time. If we're lucky, we can catch the sunset with you but you're usually ready for bed much before that. Our daily family dinner is also quite the romantic affair. Better than candles and soft music, it usually involves you inspecting your food by stuffing your hands in your mouth and smearing the contents all over your face, shirt, and high-chair.
So, as we said, you can confidently add, "I enjoy romantic dinners (and food fights) and long walks on the beach (as long as I'm being carried)" to your profile and know that any lady you meet will be as impressed as we are with your ability to be carried down the beach like a little prince and your love of playing with your food and even spitting it at your dinner companions.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Rai's Eye View

Now that you're walking, Rai, the world looks different, right? You're looking at everything from a slightly different perspective. First of all, things get closer and further when you're not in Mom's or Dad's arms. Strange. Second, objects that were once tall now look a bit shorter. Other objects are downright tiny as you now look down on them.
video

video

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Latest on Rai's Walking

You've come a long way, Rai, with your walking this past week and a half.
It's hard to believe that that first day of two-digit steps in the Park was just 10 days ago.
Now, if you're put on your feet, you're able to walk around almost without limit.
Sometimes, when you feel yourself tipping one way, you'll look for the nearest chair, table, wall or bookshelf and catch yourself before you fall. Not that falling is that bad because you can usually fall into seated position but, you know, that once you're off your feet, you can't get back up again. That's the bright side of this phase for us, your parents. If seated, you can't get up and start walking on your own... yet.

video

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wait a Minute... Who's in My Crib?

Rai, you got an early education in the Goldilocks story when, a few days ago at Grandma and Grandpa's house, you went to your crib only to find that someone was sleeping in it. Like the Goldilocks story, you were surprised and shocked to find your bed occupied by an unexpected visitor. Unlike the the Goldilocks story, you, the human, were finding an animal in your bed, not the opposite.
The good news is that the animal in your bed was not a bear (although we've already covered the fact that you're fearless and quite unaffected by bears). Nor was the animal a mangy dog. No, it was a cat. More specifically, it was Love, the cat.
Love is Grandma and Grandpa's cat. In the beginning, your relationship was a bit tenuous. Love was a bit jealous of the attention you stole from her. Moreover, you often invaded space that she had claimed as her own. Months ago, her typical reaction to your presence was to turn her back to you and to raise her tail. This manoeuver was so habitual that it was obviously pre-meditated and deliberate.
Nowadays, Love loves you. She acts as protector and playmate even when 'playing' means you pulling at her fur and tail. So, although it was a surprise to you, it was little surprise to Grandpa when the two of you discovered Love the cat in your crib. She wanted to be near you. She wanted to protect you while you slept. You quickly overcame that shock and decided that there was plenty of room for two in that big crib of yours.