Monday, May 31, 2010

Most National Parks you Have to Drive To

I'm guessing here, but I'll say it anyway: San Francisco is the only large city in the country that has a National Park within its city limits. All other National Parks, simply due to the fact that they protect wilderness areas are far removed from the environmental devastation that is a city.
The Presidio is a large National Park that grows out of the San Francisco end of the Golden Gate Bridge. We pass through the Presidio every day as we head to and from work and take a walk on one of its many trails at least once a week. It is one aspect of this city that keeps us here and that we could not live without.
While our friends from Holland were here, Grandma (once a guide, always a guide) guided us on a long loop hike through the Presidio that took in three of its best lookout points. Even though you've been here dozens of times, Rai, you love it every time and, for us, on our two hundred and something-ish visit, we were still impressed. Nature never fails to impress, inspire, and replenish.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Back in Pathetica

A long time ago, Rai, you made your first trip down to Pacifica. Back then I wrote about how some call Pacifica 'Pathetica', a name it does not deserve. Just minutes from the big city, Pacifica is a beautiful town of green hills, forests, and Pacific beaches. What's not to love?
Today, we were back in Pathetic -- whoops -- Pacifica. Your Mom's old friend Gretchen was having a housewarming party at her new home. As soon as we got the address, we knew that it would be a beautiful place. Up on the slopes of the south most hill in Pacifica, the home has incredible views over the valley and to the Ocean. The best, however, is that it is completely surrounded on all sides by a thick forest of eucalyptus.
Still, the highlight of the visit for you was spending some time with Elsa, Gretchen's beautiful daughter. You both enjoyed hanging out in the yard. At 20 months, Elsa is quite a bit older, though, and she knows it. To her, you were just a little baby. Just as you were getting comfortable in that great kid-sized lawn chair, she gave you the boot. As you sat embarrassed in the grass, she hardly gave you the time of day. She's not into younger men, I guess.

Visitors from Holland

Years ago, Rai, while traveling through Europe, we were welcomed with incredible hospitality in the home of two friends in The Netherlands. We were welcomed like family despite the fact that we were successfully playing the roles of dirty, homeless vagabonds. The week we spent there gave us a much needed opportunity to rest, eat, and sleep. Camping illegally in the Old World takes a lot out of a person.
This week, our Dutch friends were here in San Francisco, staying with your Grandparents. We shared a couple wonderful walks, a couple dinners at home, and a dinner out last night. Bart and Betsy wanted to show us a typical Dutch feast so we had dinner at India Clay Oven, a (for us) upscale restaurant with well-dressed waiters and roses on every table. The curries, dhals, naans and chutneys we had were as Dutch as it gets. Next time you see these two beautiful souls, Rai, may be on your first European road trip -- exciting!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Saturday Morning - A Break from the Routine

Saturday mornings are great. You can sleep in, get up slowly, and begin the day with a special breakfast. At least that's the typical layout of someone's Saturday morning. Not ours.
You (that means we) were up at 6a.m. on this fine Saturday morning, Rai. So, I took you out on the deck to see the beautiful morning sky with shades of powder blue and pink filling the sky and the moon resting over the Pacific horizon. We then threw some of your favorite (whispering else you might hear the word) food into the toaster oven. After a couple very impatient minutes (on your part, that is) the waffles were ready, warm and crispy. Served up with apple sauce, they are your usual special Saturday morning breakfast.
Actually, who am I kidding? You eat them every morning but that doesn't make them any less special. So, Saturday mornings in our place are not a break from the norm as they may be in some other households, but the morning routine we have going is no less wonderful.
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Friday, May 28, 2010

Morning Read

Some people begin their day with coffee and cigarettes, some with the morning paper.
Rai begins his day with at least 15 minutes at the bookshelf. You've got so many favorite books already that you always end up with at least 10 books in front of you, each open to a page of your choice, the reason for which, we'll never know. Now, instead of following the story in one book, you create your own story, going from book to book. How creative, Rai-ski!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Oh, the Suspense!

About one week from now, Rai, we will find out the gender of that baby growing in your Mommy's belly. That's right, Rai -- we will know whether you're going to have a little brother or a little sister! This incredibly important date has snuck up on us. We've been so busy with the closure of this school year that, somehow, the fact that this life-changing news is just around the corner was almost forgotten. Now, the suspense is almost too much. Can't wait for that appointment!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

More Walking

The latest on your walking is this: you're still a tiny bit wobbly, still regaining the strength in that leg that was broken. However, this week, we've seen you improve a lot. We are now not as worried when we see you stand up and walk away...
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Luscious Locks

Rai, you have some mighty fine hair.
It's golden, it's soft. It flutters in a gentle breeze, it flows behind you, floating, as you race around the house. Your bangs are coming in and the mullet is a real possibility.
Great hair requires delicate care and attention. Bath time is the time for that hair care. The challenge: letting that shampoo sit while you splash around in the tub...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Life is Better when I'm Holding Mom's Hand

The days of your fancy stroller are numbered, little Rai.
Not only do you have little patience left for being strapped into place (whether it be in the car seat or in the stroller) but you also prefer to explore the world on your own two feet.
During our Mori Point walk yesterday, you began in the stroller but soon thought, "Why sit here if I can stand up and hold Mom's hand?" I agree, Rai, life is so much better when holding Mom's hand.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mori Point

A combination of your nap schedule, Rai, our fatigue, and a general sense of busy-ness has led us to neglect the hiking part of our lives. So, on this beautiful Sunday, we decided to put everything else on hold (including a birthday party for one of your friends) and drove down to Mori Point, one of the more beautiful spots along the coast in Pacifica.
We all needed to stretch our legs and get out for a walk. The trails at Mori Point are easy but offer stunning scenery. We needed this and so did you, apparently -- you were ready for bed when we got back. You happily collapsed in bed at 5:30 with little complaint. If we don't hear from you until after 6:00 tomorrow morning, then we'll know you got some good exercise today.

EcoFest 2010

The Environmental Service Learning Initiative (ESLI) is a non-profit organization that builds environmental curriculum and helps teachers to implement it into lessons in any subject. This organization has been at Galileo Academy for the past two years and your Mom and I, Rai, have been a part of it.
At the end of each year, ESLI hosts an EcoFest to celebrate the great projects completed by ESLI students from all participation high schools in San Francisco. Yesterday was the 2nd annual EcoFest and hundreds turned out to join the green party at Dolores Park in the Mission.
The sad news is that this second EcoFest may also be the last as ESLI has lost its funding for the coming school year. This news was given to us by ESLI staff last week and we're still trying to understand the imbalance in this city that can lead to the closure of powerful and important programs like this one while other less critical and timely initiatives continue, unaffected.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Age of Heroes

When Batman Forever made 184 million dollars at the box office in 1995, Hollywood learned that movies about comic books are not just fun to make, but that they can also make some money. For a few years, studios experimented with superhero films. Then, in 2000, X-Men made 219 million. All of a sudden, it was clear that comic books weren't just for kids. For those still not convinced, Spider-man, with a staggering 404 million, left no doubt.
Comic book films became the hottest film genre of the new century. Each year, the revenue from these films continued to grow until, in 2008, superhero films reached an incredible peak: 14% market share of the entire movie industry. No one could have predicted this before the turn of the century nor the fact that through May, 2010, superhero films would have earned an astounding 13.5 billion dollars worldwide. These days, if a film earns over 100 million, it has done well. Superhero films average 234 million per film.
Rai, I am glad that you were born into this 'age of heroes'. If things continue to go this well for comic book adaptations on the big screen, then I'll be able to give you a double dose of heroics: comics at home and comic heroes at the movies.

A Trip to the Farm

Last weekend, we took a family trip to the farm. This may conjure up images of driving out of the city, the skyline fading away in the rear view mirror as the car gently coasts down a quiet, country road with nothing plains of vegetables and crops all around and the occasional farmhouse.
If that's the image you had in your mind, then it's time to redefine the meaning of the word 'farm'. In the recent past, you could not describe a farm without using the word 'rural'. In this new decade, that connection is beginning to blur. Whereas urban life once spilled out into the rural landscape, today, rural life is invading the urban landscape and, we welcome it!
Farms are coming to the city. Backyards, parks, and abandoned lands in the heart of big cities are quickly being converted into productive farmland. Not only is this a novel and efficient approach to green farming but, in today's world, it's becoming a necessity. One city that has especially shown assertive growth in this new field (pun intended) is Detroit.
San Francisco is no exception to this explosion in urban farming. The farm that we visited last weekend was a farm that has been created in a large swath of land in the heart of the city that was once supported an exit ramp off a now demolished freeway. So, our drive to the farm brought us closer to the city center, deeper into the urban landscape. A paradigm shift.

Friday, May 21, 2010

2031 First Round Draft Pick

Your love of balls is nothing new but your ability to handle bigger and bigger balls is always a surprise to us. The other day, you found the basketball and started to carry it around with you as you walked around the house. How you carried such a big ball while walking, I don't know.
Then, you decided to impress me even more by throwing and bouncing the basketball. Wow.
The 2031 NBA draft feels just a little closer now.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Little Explorer

With the cast off, Rai, you're back to your exploring ways. Standing up is easy so it's wishful thinking on our parts that you'll be satisfied to play with your toys for an extended period of time. The typical scenario is something like this: We put you in your play area. You open anything that can be opened, dump any pieces that can be dumped, scatter whatever can be scattered. In just minutes, you manage to build a mountain of items around yourself, often burying yourself inside. That gets frustrating, so you stand up and find the nearest exit from your area. We hear the familiar "thump! thump! thump!" of your approach and there you are smiling broadly, walking towards us, seeking some other group of items to scatter all over the place.
The kitchen cabinets are your new favorite. Lurking behind those swinging doors are a plethora of items that are easy to lift and make all kinds of noise when you throw them on the floor. What fun! Hanging out in the kitchen with you today, I observed, amused, as you climbed right into the cabinet, looking for more bottles and pots to throw onto the floor. Good times!

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Lonely

"What?! I have to sit here at the dinner table all by myself?"
"Mom?"
"Dad?"
"Where are you?"
"More importantly, where's the food? I'm starving over here!"

"Ah, that's better. This seat is way more comfortable and I get to be hand-fed."
"Life is good."