Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rai's (and Ko's) First Snowman!

Rai is afraid of snow. This is a little tough to accept for a Canadian. I grew up with snow on the ground 6 months of the year. Even though we were all wishing for Spring after 3 or 4 months of snow, we never actually had any fear associated with the snow. Rai is afraid. He screams and cries the first few times we're outside every time we visit the cabin during the winter.
This visit has been no exception. Rai wailed for the entire walk from the car to the cabin when we arrived here on Monday. A blind man would think we were walking over burning coals, not snow if he had heard Rai's screams of agony. Finding a way for Rai to overcome this irrational fear is one of our priorities at the cabin. Lisa the librarian gave us two suggestions: build a snowman and paint in the snow using colored water. Yesterday, we tried the first. We built a snowman or, should I say, I built a snowman while Rai watched from the doorway. The snowman was super exciting for him, but not exciting enough to get him to step into the snow. Well, even though we couldn't get Rai into the snow, we do consider this attempt a success. Rai was carried out to meet the snowman without resistance or screaming and he even almost... almost touched the snowman.
At this rate, I should have Rai snowboarding with me by the time he's 23 or 24 years old. Can't wait for that!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Too Much Love

We've got our two boys and a home overflowing with love and joy and Rai knows it (as the video below demonstrates). Things couldn't be any better unless we took another trip to the cabin, to the mountains and that's exactly what we're doing today. Spring Break couldn't come at a better time!

video

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ko's First Solid Food Experience

Kotaru is an awful sleeper. At 5.5 months he still wakes every 1-2 hours. He just can't seem to sleep for more than 2 hours at a time! With babies, this often means that they're hungry and Ko certainly is hungry. If it was possible, he'd drink that breast milk 24/7!
Our only option: introduce Kotaru to solid foods. Filling his stomach with some rice cereal should knock him out happily for more than 2 hours at a time, right? We'll give it a try.

video

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Benihana

Back in 1981, Japantown's Benihana restaurant opened for business. The Benihana franchise had been around since 1964 so San Francisco had to wait a few years for it's very own teppanyaki restaurant, but it was worth the wait.
Ashe tells us that even from a very young age, she remembers visits to the restaurant became a family tradition. At first, they visited just for special occasions but soon "special occasion" could mean simply: "it's a weekend!". That tradition was put on hold for a decade or two but, like so many others, now that we have our little ones, it has resurfaced.
Today, Grandpa treated us all to lunch at Benihana's. As Ashe had 25 years ago, Rai sat wide-eyed, staring incredulously at the chef working the grill at our table. Knives and metal spatulas were juggled, eggs were balanced and tossed, and caught with skill, onion volcanoes were built, and shrimp tails spiraled through the air, landing gracefully in the chef's tall, red hat. Rai couldn't get enough! The next few years may see us there often, just as Ashe's family had turned several visits a year to several visits per month many years ago.
If we make enough visits, we may be able to answer the one question Ashe had following our visit today: where did all the Japanese chefs go? Things have changed since the '80s and the lack of Japanese chefs in the restaurant today made the experience feel slightly inauthentic. Still, I could see why this chain has enjoyed such success for so many years and why we studied it as a business success case study back in business school.
Thanks, Grandpa for passing the torch or, rather, for re-lighting it!

video

Friday, March 25, 2011

'Nuff Said

Rai's mood and temperament change as fast as he changing a shirt. One day he could be wearing a shirt that says: "Momma's sweet little boy" and, he is. Another day, it could be this shirt.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What a Team!

In just 2 or 3 months, Rai and Ko have come a long way from the big brother who pushed around his helpless little brother. Their relationship has progressed from bully and bullied to big kid and sidekick. A team is born and the writing is on the wall: our future will be one of damage control, picking up the pieces after this team has had their way. I think we should start preparing now, building up our defenses, removing all valuables from the home. Lots of fun years are ahead!



Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Top! Top!

For weeks, I've come home to Rai shouting, "Top! Top!" This is always accompanied by a frantic arm motion as Rai stretches his arms as high as they can go (which isn't very high).
"What did you do today, Rai?"
"Top! Top!" Again, his arms reaching for the sky.
It took me a week or two to figure out what he was talking about. It turns out that on many of those days that Grandma and Grandpa steal Rai away from Mom, they've been going to the new de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. Sure, admission is pricey, but the elevator ride to the top of the tower is free! In the 9th floor observatory, one feels like they're on top of the world. Well, on top of San Francisco maybe. Umm, okay, not even that, but you certainly do feel like you're on top of the trees in the Park!
Now, with that keen memory of his, Rai never fails to remind us of the "top, top!" whenever we drive through the Park and, if the tower comes into view, then there's no way of getting out of an elevator ride to the top... of Rai's world!

video

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Rai is 23 Months Old Today!

As Rai turns 23 months old, we can't help looking forward to next month when he'll turn 2 years old. With that birthday on our minds, it was Rai who had to remind us: "I'm still under 2! I'm only 23 months old!"
With that, we set our focus back on the number 23 and, the first thing I always think of when I see or hear the number 23 is the greatest basketball player of all time. Back in my early teens, I spent hours upon hours watching Michael Jordan highlight reels, marveling at his moves, idolizing the man for the awesome player he was. Now, it's Rai that is my idol. I watch his moves closer than I ever did Jordan's. We laugh with Rai, we celebrate with him, we explore with him. This is so much better!
Our hopes for Rai do not lie in athletics, though. We take pride in our understanding of the world, its countries, and its people. This is something that we will pass on to our two boys. We hope Rai can appreciate the learning that comes with travel as we did. We'll begin Rai's global lessons locally. Below are some San Francisco facts all involving the number 23. At 23 months, we expect Rai to know all of them. This is only the beginning of his journey to understanding the world, that Austria and Australia are two very different places (see video below).
Facts:
- The Golden Gate Bridge has 23 miles of ladders
- 23% of San Francisco's population is aged 20-34
- Of 36 men that attempted escape from Alcatraz during it's 29 years as a prison, 23 were caught
- it is estimated that disposable diapers cost 23 cents per diaper in San Francisco
- the genuine Snapple Bottle Cap Fact #23 : San Francisco's cable cars are the only mobile National Monument
- the San Francisco Soup Company's Greek Lemon Chicken & Artichoke soup has 23 grams of protein!

video

Monday, March 21, 2011

Take a Closer Look

With slippers and pajamas like those, there is no question that Rai is headed for sports greatness! (yes, we know that we could be more subtle in subliminally indoctrinating Rai)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bat-Rai is Back

Rai has so many Batman shirts, outfits, and costumes that it's starting to get become difficult keeping track of them all. The latest, another gift from Grandma, a Batman shirt with cape attached. This may just be the best one yet and it's hard to say whether this is a gift for Rai or for Dad. Probably me.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

What a Memory!

Now that Rai's spoken vocabulary is expanding, we're getting a much clearer view of what exactly has been going on in his head. All of a sudden, when reading to Rai, we find him finishing sentences and filling in words. That means that for months, he's actually been memorizing stories and now that he can say more words, he's showing us exactly how much he's learned!

video

Friday, March 18, 2011

Tomorrow is a New Day

Once a week, on the day that class periods are nearly 2 hours long, I always show my students photos from one of the countries we've visited. The photo slideshow includes music from that nation and is always followed by my favorite stories from that country and, of course, math problems that are thematically linked to that country. The "country of the week" is something many of my students look forward to.
Just over a week ago, the country of the week was Japan. Following the slideshow, we discussed the Pacific Ring of Fire and the number of active volcanoes in Japan as well as the fact that the prospect of a volcanic eruption or major earthquake is something that all Japanese live with and have come to accept. The next day, the massive 9.0 earthquake near the city of Sendai hit and north-eastern Honshu was devastated by this quake and the tsunami and aftershocks that followed.
On the Saturday following the disaster, we took Rai and Ko to Saratoga, home of the beautiful Hakone Japanese Gardens. We thought it would be a special place to spend a few hours thinking about the difficult times ahead for the people of Japan.
For a week, I haven't stopped thinking about my friends in Japan and about the life-changing year I spent there back in 2001. During my year in Japan, a re-make of a famous song first recorded in 1963 was released. That song is "Ashita ga Aru Sa" and it's chorus may be relevant for those coping with the aftermath of the earthquake. The song accompanies the slideshow below and the translated chorus is:
"There's always tomorrow.
Tomorrow is a new day.
In my youth I have dreams.
Someday surely, someday surely.
You'll come to understand this.
There's always tomorrow.
There's always tomorrow.
Tomorrow is a new day."

video

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Well On His Way to 5 Foot 3

As Rai's 2nd birthday approaches, we seem to keep hearing the same bit of folk wisdom from more and more people we know; the height of a toddler on their 2nd birthday is half of their adult height. This scares us because Rai is quite short. If this bit of conventional wisdom holds true, Rai will barely break 5 feet when he's full grown!
We were reminded of Rai's diminutive size at his friend Ben's 2nd birthday party the other day. Ben stands a good 3 feet tall. One day, he will be a handsome 6 foot tall man. Just 1.5 months behind Ben, Rai looks pretty tiny beside giant Ben. Thinking back to when Rai and Ben first met way back when Rai was 1.5 months old, the difference in size was pretty evident back then, too.
There is a bright side to all this and that is that Rai still has 30-some days to his birthday. We're hoping for a super, last-minute growth spurt. Rai can still add a few inches, can't he?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Channeling Iz

Having started his formal musical training at just 4 months of age, Rai is somewhat of what one might call a prodigy now and is well on his way to virtuoso status. I'm not sure what the policy is over there at Music Together on Sacramento Street, but Rai seems to be advancing quite fast. It seems that every month or so Grandma and Grandpa are telling us that Rai has moved up to the next level.
Teacher El is Rai's mentor. The week she brought in the cello, Rai talked about it for days. This week, she came to class with a ukelele. Rai was immediately smitten with this exotic instrument. A toddler-sized guitar that is considered a real instrument! What could be better?
So, Grandma dug up her old ukelele and gave it to Rai. Today, we couldn't pry it out of his fingers. He let go only when eating. He even brought it when we went for a walk in the park. His careless strumming was better than anything I can do on my guitar and Ko enjoyed the serenade immensely. Listening to those idle chords, I swear I heard some Israel Kamakawiwo'ole in there somewhere. With that, enjoy Iz's most well known tune while watching a slideshow of little Ko!


video

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Jumparoo, Jumparoo, Jump, Jump-aroo!

Just when we thought the days of bumping our knees on doorway jumpers were over, Kotaru has requested that we give him some way to exercise and have fun. We have honored his request: the doorway jumper once again hangs majestically in our kitchen doorway and so begins another 6 months of getting ourselves tangled every time we go to the kitchen.
Ko started slow but has gotten the hang of it already. His feet may barely touch the floor but once he gets going, he's quite the jumper!

video

Monday, March 14, 2011

Picking Apples with Lalima

We have made it no secret that Rai and our friends' daughter across the street, Lalima, have been promised to each other and will wed shortly after Rai's 18th birthday. Unlike many arranged marriages where the bride and groom meet only once or a handful of times before the actual wedding day, we plan to have Rai and Lalima grow up playing together. If all goes according to plan, they will actually think that their engagement was their idea, not ours.
A big part of love is shared history, singular experiences that collect into the couple's story, experiences that can be reminisced about time and time again. We are in the process of building that shared history for Rai and Lalima. One event that seems to be a touchstone for Rai at this time is a time, months ago now, that him and Lalima picked apples off of the apple tree in our backyard together. At least a dozen or two dozen times a day, Rai reminds us about "picking apples... alalala (Lalima)...". Watch the video to see such a moment.

video

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Kotaru is 5 Months Old Today!

Today, our second little boy turned 5 months old! The sands of time continue to slip through our fingers and no matter how hard we grasp at those grains, it seems that there is nothing we can do to slow the growth of our boys.
At a birthday party yesterday, we met a 6 month old that is definitely at least 50% bigger in height and weight than Ko. We always knew that Ko is a slim little guy, but the size of that giant half-year old made us think about Rai at this age, too. At 5 or 6 months, Rai was also bigger and stronger than Ko. Kotaru seems a lot more like a little infant than Rai did at this same age. Why?
Formula. Formula is the answer. From birth, Rai was drinking formula and, by 3 months, it was all he was eating. He would chug bottle after bottle of that stuff. Ko, on the other hand, continues to drink only breast milk and it's hard to imagine that he drinks 8-12 ounces of it per feeding. So, guess what that giant 6-month old is eating. Yes, it's formula. I'm surprised they don't sell that stuff at GNC stores.