Wednesday, June 30, 2010

No Fear of Water

A baby's mind has an insatiable appetite for experience and exploration. So, when we came across a puddle in Sutro Park, there is no way you'd just walk around that thing, right Rai?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

One of Many Words to Describe Our Boy

There are so many adjectives we can think of to describe you, Rai, but one that seems to rise above all of them is: happy. You are a happy, little guy.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Summer Thing

The annual Alice (a radio station) Summer Thing (a free concert in Golden Gate Park) was pretty good, wasn't it, Rai? We stayed for a couple hours, checking out Kris Allen and Lifehouse. It's hard to beat an open air concert when the sun is shining, the grass is green, sky is blue, and the music's good. We'll be back next year.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Crissy Field Picnic

Great friends, good food, and great views. A picnic at Crissy Field, with the sun setting and a light, misty fog hanging over the Bay, was a perfect way to end a summer weekend.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Out on the Embarcadero

Every time we visit the beautiful, bayside promenade that is San Francisco's Embarcadero, I think: I can't believe that an elevated highway once stood here.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Talking Yourself to Sleep

Long gone are the days, Rai, when you'd fall asleep in our arms, on a chair, on the couch. Even almost forgotten are the days when we could just lay you in your crib and you'd immediately drift off to sleep. Unless you're particularly worn out, bedtime is now more of a game for you. You won't go to sleep until you've had us rush back into your room a few times, checking on the racket that you're making by shaking the rails, shouting, and laughing.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

In Case it was Forgotten...

A Mysterious New Habit

Let's begin by saying that what you are about to read is all in good fun. We like to poke fun at you, Rai. Your quirks and emerging personality are endlessly entertaining for us and, often quite amusing. One day, we can all have a good laugh at all this together!
Owner's of young, male dogs universally dread this scenario: a complete stranger approaches their puppy on the street and says: "Oh, how cute!" Even before they can reach out to pet the dog, the animal is already on their leg, thrusting wildly.
It turns out that that fear is not only for dog owners. It also applies to the owners (I mean, parents) of baby boys. Rai's new habit (or is that talent?) is his ability to grab hold of a large object and then to repeatedly thrust his pelvis into that object. Often, a sort of panting accompanies this behavior. Rai's favorite recipients are the bear at the cabin and the blankets in his crib which he makes into a neat mound before commencing the thrusting. [Watch the video below for one of these episodes]
So, when Rai befriended a dog on the street the other day, we didn't know whether we should be afraid for Rai or for the dog. In this case, it could very well have been the dog that would be the recipient of some unwanted attention...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

It's Hard to Say Goodbye

It has been a month of goodbyes for us.
First, our friends and two fellow teachers, embarked on their cross-country journey (including wedding in Vegas), a warm-up for two years they will spend teaching in Jordan. Then, we said goodbye to Jacek, our friend from Poland who flies in to San Francisco, virtually unannounced, two or three times per year. Finally, it was time for Bart and Betsy to head back to The Netherlands.
You'll say a lot of goodbyes in your life, Rai, and you'll learn that it never gets easier. The good news is that a 'hello' always follows a 'goodbye'.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Insa(ne)tiable Appetite

We've mentioned before, your insatiable appetite, Rai. For such a little body, you sure pack it in! In anticipation of the food item that you desire this instant, you often cry, tears flowing, as if your tender, empty belly is giving you all kinds of pain (note the tears in your eyes in the photo).
Actually, it matters little if you just ate, the moment you see Mom or Dad with some food in their hands, you MUST have a taste of it. It doesn't take someone versed in baby sign language to understand what it is you're trying to communicate. Your hand juts out, pointing, reaching, and grasping for the food and you immediately let out an audio stream of "num, num, num, num..." until the food is put into your mouth. In public, we're often a bit worried that someone may call in Child Protective Services because to anyone who doesn't know that your entire body cavity is one hollow space to be filled completely with food, you look a lot like a starving child.
Let's finish with a video of you crying for your breakfast waffle. Let's talk about something called patience, little Rai...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Every Day is Fathers' Day

For me, every day is Fathers' Day. Even after 14 months of your 5:30 a.m. wake up calls, Rai, I still gladly rise out of bed each and every morning, excited to see you and that excited smile and giggle you give when your door swings open. I accept with joy every blessing and responsibility that comes with fatherhood. I treasure each moment with you.
The cynic in me thought, "If every day feels like Fathers' Day, then the actual date on which Fathers' Day is celebrated is just another 'holiday' created by the oligopoly of greeting card companies." Surely Hallmark and some neck tie giant got together in the '50s and devised this plan to boost corporate profits.
So, I looked it up and it turns out that I was quite wrong. The story of the origins of Fathers' Day is a much more sentimental and heart-warming tale. It turns out that, in 1909, a lady who was raised by her widowed father, while listening to a Mothers' Day sermon, decided that fathers deserved a day which they are honored, as well. The next year, the first Fathers' Day celebration was held in her town: Spokane, Washington. Forty-six years later, Congress recognized Fathers' Day. Twenty years later, Nixon established the third Sunday of June as the day on which Fathers' Day would be celebrated. All this because one lady wanted the love and commitment of her own father to be acknowledged.
I get all the affirmation that I need from you and your Mom every day, Rai, but if this one day each year gives me the chance to think about you and the incredible impact that you've had on my life as much as I did yesterday, then I can't wait for the next Fathers' Day! Even more, if I can get a slideshow like the one your Mom put together every year, then I'll have all I need in this life. Thanks for the wonderful Fathers' Day!

P.S. -- Rai, I know you thought you had to get all dolled up for the special day, but I really think that the lipstick may have been a little much...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Very Large Shoes Have Been Filled

Rai, your Grandpa's shoes are very large shoes to fill. They are shoes I never imagined could be completely filled by anyone. Growing up, your Grandfather was not only an extraordinary father to me but he was also my best friend and my hero. He still is. I confide in him daily. I respect him more than anyone else and have always aspired to be as compassionate, gentle and loving as he is. To this day, I have never met someone as selfless as your Grandfather.

When I met your Father I found he and your Grandfather shared many similarities. I didn't realize just how similar they were until the day you were born, the day your Dad became your Father. Over these past fourteen months your Dad has taken your Grandfather's shoes and filled them completely as I have watched him become an incredible father. To watch the two of you together has been by far the most beautiful sight I have been witness to.

Your Dad shows you that he loves you a hundred different ways every day. He does everything he can to make you happy, to excite you, and to teach you how to enjoy every moment of life. In your short life, you have already seen and experienced more than many have in a lifetime through all those morning walks, hikes in the mountains, endless exploring in the city, and trips around California.

Your Dad has also taken on most of the responsibility in caring for you since the day you were born and on the day he found out that your younger sibling is a passenger in my belly, he gladly took on 90% of the work without even a mention of it.

I can't imagine our life without your Dad.

Thanks Macius for being such an incredible dad, my best friend and the hero both Rai and I love having in our lives. We love you with all our hearts.

Make sure you have your sound on for the show!


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Goodbye to the Mountain Life

"Rai, this is your last chance to see the valley. You won't be seeing these mountains again tomorrow." No change. "Come on, Rai, you've gotta appreciate this while you've got it..."
Still no change. Rai, you kept on crying.
Before we go any further. You're not a cryer. Still, during our final walk in Hotsprings Valley, you couldn't stop crying. We had forgotten to bring some food for you and we quickly found out that an empty stomach is much more important to a 1 year old than a final walk through a mountain meadow before heading home.
Well, this is it. Two perfect weeks have come to an end and it's time to head home. We'll finish this latest virtual trip to the cabin with photos from Monitor Pass, the last and maybe most beautiful of the five mountain passes that can be driven along the highways that go off in all directions from Markleeville.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thornburg Canyon

As you grow up with your Dad, Rai, you'll learn that I'm a lover of maps. I can't get enough of them. And, the more detailed and accurate they are, the better. While traveling, I was never satisfied with the travel guide maps (who is?) but never invested in more detailed local maps for fear that I wouldn't be able to understand the foreign names anyway. It's always been a dream of mine to disappear somewhere in the Himalaya or the Andes with nothing but a great topographical map and all local trails and communities marked.
So, a small dream of mine was realized recently when we bought a detailed, topo map of the Mokelumne Wilderness. This is the huge expanse of forests, mountains and lakes that are caught between the three main highways in this area. On this map are shown all roads and trails and I have made it my mission to travel each and every one. It'll take a while.
Today, we tried out Sawmill Creek Road, a road that takes off from the Pleasant Valley community and quickly turns into a bumpy and rocky road with several creek crossings (our Nissan made it!). A few miles down the road, we reached a creek that looked unpassable so we parked the car, got our gear on and headed out. Our goal was Thornburg Canyon, a canyon above the beautiful Pleasant Valley with Raymond Peak as our guide on our right side for most of the way. The incredible beauty made up for the fear that was put in us by the severe mountain lion warning posted at the trailhead.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wild West Adventure

There's a reason that Nevada is called the 'Silver State'. Silver, gold, and other kinds of mining are what this state was built on. Today, we got a taste of this heritage as we took a drive through some of Nevada's first towns.
Our first stop was in Genoa, an unknown little town that is actually Nevada's first settlement. More importantly, today's Genoa seems to be a favorite speedtrap spot for the Nevada Highway Patrol. While there, we saw four patrol cars stop about nine drivers.
Next, we explored old town Carson City, Nevada's State Capital. The old town is a blessing in a city that is otherwise an ugly example of modern city development -- suburbs and strip malls.
The old town is not all it has going for it, however. The green pastures of the Carson Valley and dramatic and lofty Sierra Nevada peaks that rise abruptly and sharply from the plains are a sight to behold.
Finally, we made it to Virginia City, one of the west's most famous historic mining towns. Wow! The setting, the buildings, and the fact that this town has virtually seen no growth since the end of the gold and silver rush in these hills, makes it a perfect place in which to get transported back in time to the days of the Wild West. Unfortunately, most of the historic store fronts along the boardwalk are not tacky tourist shops. This city could do well to take some advice from other historic towns which preserve a portion of the historic quarter as an untouched, open air museum. Still, it was a fantastic visit. Giddy up.