Friday, April 30, 2010

Bringing Tie-Dye Back in Style

It is safe to say that the tie-dye technique of textile coloring has been around for many centuries. Recorded history tells of tie-dye in China 1500 years ago and for several centuries thereafter in Japan. Sixteenth century Japan saw the production of incredible silk kimonos using the tie-dye technique. Since, the technique has spread throughout much of South East and Pacific Asia. Despite this long history, when most people think 'tie-dye', they think of the 1960s hippie movement.
And so, tie-dye has become impossibly tangled in the culture of San Francisco and Berkeley, ground zero of the hippie era. Fifty years later, tie-dye can still be found throughout both cities and not just hanging off the shoulders of aging hippies with long, white beards and Grateful Dead belt buckles. Every generation since has had a sub-culture, a group that has adopted tie-dye as their dress.
To help this fashion torch, the father of one of my students made a tie-dye onesie for your Rai. You received this gift soon after your birth last year but it was always much too big for you. Finally, you've grown big enough to wear it and, although you no longer wear onesies, we can make an exception in this case. I love this outfit so much, you've been wearing it for three days!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ride #2 (of 657)

A little while ago now, we took you for your first ride in your new bike carriage. For a handful of reasons, you haven't ridden in the carriage since. Today was the day that the hiatus would come to an end. Today was the day that you'd once more roll down the streets of San Francisco inside that little palanquin on wheels.
With four soft blankets inside to keep you cozy and warm, five books to flip through, a selection of your favorite toys, and some snacks to munch on inside, this was a nothing short of a princely chariot. As I got on my bike, I looked back giving you a knowing glance. Your comfort and satisfaction is paramount. Few travel so luxuriously, Rai.
Not 2 meters from our front gate, I heard your first cries of complaint. I had done my all to create the perfect space and still, a dissatisfied customer. "Ah! Ah! Wahh!" You're never shy to let us know when you're unhappy. "What is it? I don't understand?" What could be missing? Champagne? A steaming towel with which to wipe your little baby face?! Oh, wait, I got it! I forgot the caviar, right?!
I checked on you, put up a shield to block the sun, and continued our trip downhill to Golden Gate Park, trying to ignore your cries. All the while, I kept telling myself, "please let this be a 'what's happening -- this is new!' kind of cry. And, that's exactly what it was. Once you got used to this new situation, your cries of complaint turned to the 'ahhs and oohs' of supreme comfort. You finally noticed the effort that had been put into making your carriage the perfect place for a one year old. The rest of our ride was heaven... for both of us. With this success behind us, I'm already counting the number of voyages we'll make -- let's see, 4 more years, riding about every second day... Great -- that's more than 650 more rides to come!

Baby in the Weeds: One Year Later

About one year ago, Rai, your Mom and I took you down to Golden Gate Park for your very first time. You were only a week old. Spring had arrived and the Park was in bloom -- the perfect backdrop for our first 'newborn in nature' set of photos. We took dozens of photos of you with the flowers and trees. Even a patch of that lowly weed, the dandelion, looked marvelous with you lying in it.
To celebrate the first anniversary of your first visit to Golden Gate Park, we took you down to that very same patch of dandelions. Sure enough, just like last year, they were in full bloom. Laying you down this time was not an option (unless we wanted photos of you crying in the grass). So, sitting up, we tried to recreate the images from one year ago.
The dandelions, grass and trees may look the same but, I have to say, Rai, you've changed. You've grown just a little and your face has matured a bit too. We can collect a lesson from this experience Rai: everything changes, everything but the dandelion. Let's try again next year!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

It's Time to Retire the Nipple

Although you've been drinking from a bottle for 9 months, you've still developed an addiction to 'the nipple' as all babies do. The only difference is that your nipple is plastic and rubber, not flesh.
At one year of age, it's time to consider breaking your connection to the nipple. Actually, many parents have their babies using valve ('sippy') cups from 6 months onward! Rai, it may be tough, as breaking any addiction is, but it's time your bottle has a valve instead of a nipple and it's also time we take that pacifier away from you. You may put up a fight, though, trying to reclaim what you believe is rightfully yours...
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Climate Crisis

The quick deflation and withering of your Earth Day balloon, Rai, made me think about the fact that the very same thing is happening to our planet Earth. It's easy to be environmentally conscious on Earth Day but, now that Earth Day has come and gone, the true test of one's eco-friendliness is in how they live their day to day life. Like many others, we have a deep and genuine concern for the natural world around us. However, also like many others, we continue to live in a way that does little to alleviate the environmental crisis.
The wanton destruction of planet Earth and its life-sustaining eco-systems used to stress me out. I spent hours, days, months contemplating the crisis, my role in it, and considering what could be done to slow, stop, or reverse the path to destruction that mankind is on.
Then, one day, while watching a short film at the planetarium at the new Academy of Sciences, I found that the perpetual state of environmental worry that I was living in was beginning to subside. In the film, we began on planet Earth, then above it. As we flew out into the galaxy Earth grew smaller, smaller, and smaller until it finally disappeared completely. Earth is just an inconsequential speck in the endlessness that is the universe. There are literally billions of other planets and an unfathomable amount of space between them.
All of a sudden, our quest to save the Earth seemed as ego-centric as the quest to destroy it. The belief that humanity is at the center of the universe seems to fuel both the desire to mutilate the Earth and the seemingly opposing desire to save the Earth.
I guess you could say that my perspective expanded greatly while watching that short film. I used to think that my hometown was the center of the world. Then, I traveled and found myself possessing a more holistic, world-view. Now, I'm more of a universalist. The universe will hardly notice if one of its billions of planets is lost. There are so many worlds out there and many of them may actually have life. Is this to say that I've turned hedonist, consumer, and anti-green? Not even close, but at least now I can sleep at night.

Isn't Spring Wonderful?

Rai, you were born in early Spring. We still remember all the flowers that were in bloom when we took you for your first visits to Golden Gate Park. Now, as another Spring begins, the flowers have begun to show their colors again. Driving home through the Presidio every day, I couldn't help but notice the splash of purple and green to my right as I drove by Baker Beach. The succulents were flowering fully and the flowers were more concentrated than I'd ever before seen in a succulent patch.
On Sunday, we had to go back for a closer look...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Rai: A Retrospective

The first birthday has given us the opportunity to reflect on a year with you, little Rai, the best year of our lives. And so, we've put together "Rai: A Retrospective" a collection of photos that follow you from your very first day of life right through your 1st birthday. As you're known for your many hats, this retrospective focuses on 'the many hats of Rai' so let's call it a 'hat-rospective'. Get seated comfortably, sit back, and enjoy the show...

Life in a Cast: Day 8 - Bringing up the Calcium Intake

Everyone knows the popular slogan: Milk. It does a body good. More specifically, milk does bones good. Strong bones are built on calcium. A broken bone needs even more nourishment to heal quickly and effectively. Taking this message to heart, Rai, while healing that broken leg of yours (even though your cast looks so great with everyone's birthday messages on it), you've upped your calcium intake to incredible levels.
At one year of age, it is recommended that babies are graduated from breast milk or formula to cow's milk or another type of milk. We went for goat's milk and, to our surprise, your beloved formula was something you had no issues at all parting with. The moment you got your first taste of goat's milk, you said: "Formula? What's that?"
In fact, you loved goat's milk so much that you doubled your daily milk intake. Bottle after bottle after bottle, you guzzled that smooth, white fluid as if it was ambrosia. But, that wasn't enough. We couldn't refill the bottle quick enough. So, we decided to experiment a little bit.
We filled your bottle with almond milk. "Goat's milk? What's goat's milk?" you said after downing 6 ounces of almond milk in under 30 seconds. Next was hemp milk. "Almond milk? Who cares about almond milk. Give me more hemp milk!" And so it went as we tried milk after milk, finishing with hazelnut milk which yielded similar results.
Now, you're a milk drinking machine. We could put any milk into that bottle of yours and be assured that it will disappear quickly, leaving not a trace but a few drops and bubble on the botto of the bottle. Whatever it takes to heal your fractured tibia, Rai, we're with you. We're just happy to keep listening to that content "glug, glug... glug, glug" of yours.

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Once a Year

Once a year, we have an abnormally hot day. Actually, let me rephrase that: once a year, the west side of the city has an abnormally hot day. The east side of the city is often hot, but the western, Ocean end of the city is usually much cooler, with an often cold Ocean breeze blowing in. Sometimes, a cold, damp fog can make this side of the city more than 20 degrees cooler than the Bay side of the city. The micro climates here are a remarkable thing.
Today was one of those days where the Ocean side of San Francisco was hot. On days like this, the city's two big beaches get crowded. We didn't see Ocean Beach today, but we did take a walk down to Baker Beach. What we saw was an incredible sight: people sunbathing, side by side the entire length of the beach. Others ran in and out of the water, playing in the surf. This is an amazing sight for a beach that is typically empty save for a few people taking walks on the beach or taking their dogs out for a run. Where we would normally have the beach to ourselves, wearing our fleeces or sweatshirts, today we had to weave around thousands of short and bikini-wearing bodies in the sand.
Rai, you too could not believe your eyes. You stared wide-eyed the entire time, especially when we made it to the east end of the beach where all the nude sunbathing takes place. You curiously looked on even as you wondered where these peoples' clothing had gone to. Did it blow away in the wind? Had they lost their shorts in the water? The good news is that there wasn't a naked volleyball game going on as there had been another time we had visited on a hot day like today. We're pretty open-minded, Rai, but don't let us ever find you naked at this end of beach, okay?


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Earth Day Birthday Party: Success!

Just up the hill from us, at the foot of the castle-like foundation to what used to be Adolph Sutro's home, preparations for a wedding were being made. As we watched the guests arrive, I seriously considered inviting them down for a sandwich at our picnic. It was 3:30, only a handful of our guests had arrived so far and the picnic table sat almost overflowing with food. I wasn't looking forward to carrying all that uneaten food back to our car (the set-up had taken the good part of an hour).
In my panic, I had forgotten that most of our guests were families with babies. It's nearly impossible to arrive anywhere on time when you're bringing a baby. There are just too many variables; naps, feedings, fussiness, surprise outfit changes, and so much more. By 4:00, the babies had arrived. You were in heaven, Rai. Sitting in the grass, surrounded by baby-sized balls (that alone is heaven in your world), you had at least six babies to choose from when you felt the need to pull some hair, grab a limb, or gouge out an eye. Most of these babies understood this kind of behavior all too well, so there weren't too many adverse reactions to your slapping and biting. Some even reciprocated in kind (great pushing, little Claire!).
Over the course of 2 hours, lots of family and friends came by to wish you a happy birthday. Some stayed, some made only brief visits, but all gave you their love. At one point, all eyes were on 5 athletes. In honor of your broken leg, a one-legged race was held. Rai, with the hope of a speedy recovery for your leg pushing me on, no one could beat me. I dedicate my gold medal to you, little Rai.
When all was said and done, the party was a success. You had many of your little buddies around, we had some of our big buddies around, the sun shone brightly, the view down to Ocean Beach left an impression on all attending, much of the food disappeared (thanks, Uncle Neil!), and, most important of all, your watermelon 'cake' had a Batman candle on top.
You received lots of hugs and kisses, people left their mark on your little cast, and we had a first birthday celebration that we won't forget. What more could we ask for on your first birthday? Thanks, everyone and especially for Grandma and Grandpa for helping put the party together! Enjoy the slideshow below...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dark Knight Watches over the Birthday Cards

Over the past week, Rai, you've been receiving some birthday cards by mail. In the age of e-cards, it's nice to get some by snail mail. Of course, we've read every card to you and you've had your few moments of playing with it. Open. Close. Open. Close.
Today, a card arrived from your Auntie Melody in Portland. You held the card suspiciously, a little tentative about opening it. "This one has some weight to it...," you thought. "And... what's that bump in the middle of the card?" For those of us experienced with cards, we recognized these tell-tale signs immediately. You proceeded with caution.
Slowly, you swung the card open. What? Where's that music coming from?! "Winnie the Po-oooh. Winnie the Po-oooh." The music went on. You looked at me, perplexed. You pulled the card closer, putting it to your ear. Yes, that music was coming from inside of the card. Incredible! How did they fit a c.d. inside the card, you thought?
You had to get to the bottom of it. In the wink of an eye, you had torn the card in half, Then, in half again, exposing its electronic innards. Wires, a battery, a speaker -- they were all there. A few more tugs and the speaker dangled. Still, a now muffled and almost indistinguishable "Winnie the Pooh..." could be heard.
If that wasn't already enough, you decided that you'd take the message on the card literally: Hope your birthday is yummy to your tummy. You finished your curious rampage of greeting card destruction by eating the card. To protect the remainder of your cards from the same fate, we've posted a guardian to watch over them.

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Are there Others with Your Birthday?

Rai, you may think that your Earth Day Birthday is very unique. You may think that there is no other baby or person out there who was born on Earth Day. I don't mean to burst your bubble, little guy, but that is just not true. Read on to find out just how likely it is that you are not alone!
We visited your little friend Wes for his 1st birthday party last weekend. There were about 25 people at that party. What do you think the probability was that there was one other person at the party who has the same birthday as you? Hmmm... ? With 365 unique days in a year, the likelihood that someone would share your birthday must be really small, right? Actually, it's probably virtually impossible, right? What do you say? A 2% chance? A 5% chance at most?
Wrong. In a group of 25, the probability that two people will share a birthday is 55%! Can you believe it?! That's a better chance then flipping a coin and getting heads! And, it turns out, there was someone at that party who shares your birthday and the special thing is that that someone was the birthday boy, little Wes!
Your big first birthday party will be later today. We're expecting 45 guests. So, let's ask the question again: what's the probability that one of the guests today will try to come in and crash your party, claiming it as their own birthday party? Now, we have a larger group of people, so the chance of another having your birthday is bigger but, you won't believe how much bigger!
It turns out that the probability of two sharing a birthday in a group of 45 is a massive 93%!! Holy improbabilities, Batman! I mean, it's almost 100% certain that there will be someone else there who shares your claim to fame! I know what you're thinking, Rai. Wes is coming so that probability should be 100% but no, he can't make it. So, let's make a game of it: who can find the other Earth Day baby first?
(want to see the math? Go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birthday_problem)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Birthday with Grandma and Grandpa

Even though it's Mom staying home with you this week, Grandma and Grandpa couldn't stay away, especially on your birthday. They came by last night carrying the biggest bag you've ever seen, Rai. And, inside that bag, two wonderful presents for you.
The first is a fancy, genuine pleather bowling set. Knowing that next to chewing on things, your favorite activity is throwing things (especially balls), they picked out the perfect gift. After a couple practice throws, you got the hang of it and were soon whipping out fastballs, knocking those pins over. The best part is that these soft, pleathery pins aren't noisy like their cheapy, plastic counterparts.
The second gift is a home for all your favorite chew toy animals. Grandma has a collection of small, furry farm animals that make incredible authentic sounds when squeezed and they are some of your favorite items to chew on (it sounds like I'm describing a pet dog and not our baby). Well, now your chew toys have a home: a beautiful, wooden barn; a place for them to escape to, to seek solace, once you're done manhandling and biting them. Rest soundly, fuzzy lamb. Baaahhh. You too, velvety horse. Nehhh. And, thanks for the wonderful gifts, Grandma and Grandpa!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day Birthday (Again!)

Rai, Earth Day has come again and, this time, you are 1 year old! If you had asked us last year if it was possible that we could love you any more than we did on that day of your birth, we would have said: "Impossible!" Well, it turns out that anything is possible! You are the love of our lives, little boy. We love you so much.
Where has the time gone? It's obligatory to ask that question but it's also so true! You've quickly moved out of infant-hood and into toddler-hood although your toddling around is on hold until that leg of yours heals.
And....what a birthday it's been! You had a wonderful party with your crew of babies and nannies, Mom and Grandma at Rochambeau Playground in the afternoon, lots of time with Mom and Dad in the late afternoon and a visit from Grandma and Grandpa with food and gifts in the evening!
That's just the warm-up, too. The real partying will take place this Saturday in Sutro Park when all your favorite friends, aunties and uncles get together for a picnic and games in the grass! Count the days until that one, Rai! We definitely are.
(more birthday stories and photos to come; look for them all week!)

A Tie for Every Occasion: Rai's 1st Birthday Version

Shhh... it's 7 a.m. and Rai is still sleeping.
How he's sleeping is a bit of a mystery though, as just 1 hour ago, I was pressing his hands and feet into ink pads and then making hand and foot imprints on a tie of mine. I had this all planned out. I knew that he'd be up sometime after 6 a.m. for a morning bottle of milk so, while he ate, I snuck those ink pads into his crib. My goal was to create a tie in honor of Rai's 1st birthday. I'm the 'tie-guy' with a tie for every occasion at school so how could I not have a tie for Rai's 1st birthday?
Instantly, this tie has become my favorite. I love this tie.
Now, keep your voices low so that little Rai can sleep in a bit ... it is his birthday, after all.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Life in a Cast: Day 2 - Bench Potato

Telling your Grandma about our afternoon at the playground, Rai, I mentioned that you had quite the appetite and ate one of the biggest lunches that I've seen you eat in quite some time. She verified this by telling me that she loves taking you to the playground at lunch for the very same reason; there is guarantee that you'll eat a big meal.
That's interesting because you often spend a lot of your time at the playground doing nothing more than sitting and observing other kids at play. You love to watch bigger kids do their thing. Does this mean that watching others exercise, use up their energy, actually makes you hungrier? Odd. It's like you're burning calories by association, just through simple act of observing the burning of calories taking place. Maybe this is the same reason that those who love to watch their Sunday afternoon or Monday night sports eat so many snacks while they do so. Can't help but get hungry seeing all those football players running around, right?
And this is exactly what your Grandma worried about. What if this snacking while watching other kids play develops into more typical couch potato behavior in the future. Well, it's a good thing that we don't have a t.v., then. You're normally quite active too, it's just these next few weeks with your cast that may keep you sidelined at the playground, watching others run around. For this short time and this short time only, you can be a bench potato.

What Does a Fractured Tibia Look Like?

My Dad worked with x-ray technology for a couple dozen years. As a child, when I saw him in his workshop downstairs, working with electronic gadgets, soldering guns, and oscilloscopes, I imagined his world to be an esoteric one, a world of concepts and ideas that the mere mortal, let alone child, could never hope to fathom.
With so much advancement in the world of x-ray and scanning technology, it seemed to me that an x-ray machine was an incredible thing whose images could tell us such detailed and amazing things about the human body. Now, I see things a bit differently.
Having had plenty of experience looking over x-ray images of my teeth with my dentist, and now at the images of your fractured leg, Rai, I see that the information given by an x-ray image is rather rudimentary. There is little detail at all. Dentists and doctors relying on x-ray images do nothing more than look for shadowy areas in the image. Shadows and discolorations are as much detail as the images can give. Your fracture is nothing more than a dark line on your bone. That's all the information we have. We see nothing more about the nature of the fracture. Such high technology gives such simple information. To avoid looking completely ignorant, though, I'll admit that I know that x-ray technology is quite old now and the latest in color, 3D imaging has made incredible gains!

Get Well Soon in the Internet Age

In tough times, Rai, it's good to know that you're surrounded by those who love and support you. When I let the Facebook world know that you had broken your leg, there was an immediate response from many dear people, sending you their best wishes. The era of 'get well soon' cards may be gone, but there are still ways to show others that you're thinking of them. Included below are some notes of support from friends near and far.