Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mai Travels the World

I have a friend named Mai. She is a beautiful person in every way.

I have been lucky enough to know her since 6th grade.  Back then we talked all of the time and were part of the same walking-home-group-of-friends as we would all leave school together and then "drop off" each other after school. I love Mai. After middle school, we would contact each other and visit about once per year.  One time, we went a couple of years and none of the contact information I had was working so I paid one of those find people sites to get back in contact.  We haven't lost contact since and Tami likes her and her awesome husband Cedric, too so we are all friends.

Well, Mai and Cedric sold their house in San Francisco a while ago and are traveling by car with their two dogs Manly and Biela for about a year, heading south.  They are in Colombia right now. Yes, the country of Colombia. Mai has an excellent blog that I read regularly and I was thinking recently, "why have I not told the world yet?" She takes gorgeous photos, includes recipes (this woman is a ridiculously fantastic cook- no joke, seriously- fantastic!), and is traveling the America's.  You may like to read her blog.

Here it is: White Shell Chronicles at

Mai does not know I am writing this but I know she checks in here once in a while and will obviously notice a post with her name on it so here is a message to my friend: Hello! We miss you.  I love following your adventure. Please say hi to Cedric and the furry friends. Thank you for writing your blog so that I can see another part of the world.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cross Country Web Page

I am on it.  It's not done, but it is up.  I have finished most of what I had hoped to do with the pictures and data that I recorded on my cross country trip back in 2009.  I have made a web page for the trip, mapped the approximate rout, created a photo album from the many many pictures taken, made a movie from the sky each day, and I started to make some of the calculations.  The calculations are what I still have plenty to work on and hope to complete soon. Other than that, I will perhaps make a few adjustments to the page itself, to the captions and order of the photo album (which I am trying to place into chronological order), and to various bits as I think of them.  But over all, two and a half years after the fact, I have created the page.  Take a look at the page by clicking here.

You can see just the photos here, too:

Monday, February 27, 2012

9 Great Days

Today ended 9 excellent days off. Really, I don't know how I managed so well to make each one special. But they were 9 straight days in a row of special. In brief:

Saturday: we discovered Sunnyvale Bay Lands Park and walked around together and loved it.  Then we went to soccer practice.

Sunday: always special as breakfast Sunday to enjoy with family and friends. That Sunday even included some rarely seen friends. 

Monday: Tami worked and I had both kids to myself and we played like professional players. Also, I took the Norton out for a short ride at the end of the day. When Tami took Ana with her to make copies for work, Enzo and I played night soccer in the back yard.

Tuesday: Tami worked and I had both kids to myself all morning. We went to the park and we played and Ana slept on my chest. At 1 I dropped off Ana to breast feed and remain with Tami at work. Don and I then took Enzo to Happy Hollow to play and see the animals.

Wednesday: Tami worked and again I had both kids to play with, and we had a great time at the park, and Ana fell asleep for her nap on my chest. At 1 I dropped off Ana and then Enzo and I went out to pizza together in Campbell and walked around town and played some more.

Thursday: Tami did not work and we spent the day as a family, went out to breakfast, and we played and we ate together. Then, we all had a blast at Pee-Wee Mariachi class together.

Friday: I took the Ducati out for a proper nice ride to Alice's Restaurant and out to Pescadero Beach. That is a nice bike. And then back to my family for dinner and play.

Saturday: we enjoyed breakfast together.... in Santa Cruz! We ate at Aldo's, played in the sand, and listened to "The Help" audiobook on the drive while the kids slept. Then we went to Enzo's soccer class and returned home for a night of family and resting.

Sunday: easy to be good; breakfast Sunday. Cousin Vincent and Tata (what Enzo calls his grandma Phyllis after we referred to her as Abuelita) came over to eat and play with us and we watched "Money Ball" which was quite good. Enzo even put on his A's shirt for the occasion.

9 straight days of special. Impressive by any standard I would say.

Now, there have been challenges. Enzo has a fat lip from falling off a chair after miss judging his position and cutting his bottom lip between his teeth and the floor on Sunday. And, Ana still loves her brother, but I have definitely been stressed by the fact that Enzo spent the last couple of days hitting, biting, and pushing her. To some degree this has been going on a little longer but increasing these last couple of days. I don't know why. He doesn't look angry when he does it. Tami assures me this is normal and not the first signs of a psycho killer. He looks like he is playing some times and other times that he simply wants Ana not to play with a certain toy. It's not horrible, exactly. Ana is not bruised or injured but she has cried a few times and I have been stressed about this a bit. Like I said, Tami said it's normal and he has not been brutal, but I am still concerned that I will parent correctly under these circumstances and that he will learn to be careful and thoughtful when venting his own stress or energy. Tami has noticed that these episodes happen when he is hungry or has to go to the bathroom.  Today, while I was at work, he started to push Ana and Tami fed him.  Then, he played with Ana and everything was the usual happy siblings between them again.

In other news, Enzo counts more often, in English and in Spanish. His vocabulary appears to increase beyond any rate I would have expected lately. Ana stands up like it is nothing. One day she started taking real steps, not little shuffles. That same day she took real steps many times and now that is normal for her. Never more than maybe 10, but like it's no big deal all of a sudden. And she still has the softest neck and belly to kiss.

And, I love them both very much. I am lucky to have had 9 days in a row to love them and my wife by spending so much time together. Other than a brief ride on the Norton and a long ride on the Ducati, I had not been apart from Enzo that whole time. Other than that, and from about 1 to 5 pm on Tuesday and Wednesday, I had not been apart from Ana. And though Tami did work during the week, we managed to be together and to cuddle and love each other and enjoy our family and each other.

It has been an excellent vacation. And now that I am back at work, it is again made very clear how great it is that my job allows me so much family time and how lucky we are.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ana Walking

Starts and Stops in 2009

In 2009 I rode cross country on a motorcycle. It was a great trip. A trip I had wanted to make for years. That trip was one of the two reasons I started this blog, the other being so that my family could keep up with Enzo. These days the blog has a slightly different value to me including; so family can keep up with Enzo and Ana, as my own therapy, to be open about my life in case it is of value to another, to solidify my own memories for my own reflection, and to record significant events for my children to read some day.

On the trip I took lots of pictures and notes.  In fact, I wrote down my location, mileage, time, gallons of gas purchased, dollars spent, etc. every time I stopped the bike. I had plans to use the data and pictures to put several digital "things" together about the trip. But right after the trip I started having panic attacks and learning to deal with them, and then we had our beautiful Enzo, and then we had our beautiful Ana, and so none of those plans were acted on. Lately, I have not had the opportunity to ride much and in missing motorcycling, I have started going through all of the notes and photos and putting together some of those plans. Here is the first product. I took a photo of the sky each day approximately when the ride started and when it ended.  Then, I made this video with the photos.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Shea and Enzo

(Shea and Enzo at Sunday breakfast.)

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Today was soccer day and I'm pretty sure I was the only parent who got in a serious hard laughing session. You know those ones where you don't quite fall down but you can't stand straight up anymore laughing sessions? One of those.

Enzo likes to observe. So, when the others start playing right away, Enzo is still watching them. It looks like Enzo is one of the youngest in the group that is open to, I think, 2 to 4 year olds. So, it's hard to tell what soccer practice qualities are about exposure to such events, age, and individual personality. After a while Enzo gets into it and we are playing. For this half hour soccer group it is basically a series of games with parent and child. Eventually we got to a game where each parent is given three discs and we were supposed to keep our legs open so the kids could kick the ball under them and each time we were supposed to throw out a disc so the kids would collect all three. All the parents and kids are in an area and then we start and then my kid goes running out into a field kicking the ball by himself. I start laughing and saying "no, through my legs!" as I pantomime the action. Enzo stops and stares at me from a distance, "gets it," runs up to the ball in front of him, spreads his legs, and uses his hands to push the ball back under his own legs. I start laughing. He did basically exactly what he saw me pantomime. "No; through MY legs." And I can't help laugh more. Which makes him laugh so he does it again. And then I'm laughing harder and trying to pantomime and yelling "MY LEGS" to the only kid who isn't in the circle area with his parent and in my bent over laughter I see Enzo stop and stare at me again because now he "gets it." He runs up to his ball, spreads open his legs like a cowboy and then walks wide-open-legged over the ball. Haaaaaaa! I'm working hard not to fall over at this point and I'm just yelling "My legs!!!! My legs!!! Kick it to my legs!!!" and so the laughing kid starts cracking up and cowboy walks over the ball again! Ahhhhh, it was awesome. Moments like these were punctuated by The Kid jumping on the ball and rolling on it to alternately laugh or to keep me from kicking it which I did once in a while to steer us back to the group which didn't really work especially as I just kept laughing.

Also today I found my new favorite local park. Sunnyvale Baylands Park. Awesome. We walked around forever. Great walking paths, views, nice play grounds, beautiful marsh lands, and lots of remote control airplanes. I took a lot of pictures and I will definitely add more to the 2012 album soon.

Friday, February 17, 2012


(At pee-wee mariachi class- all the pics are blurry.)

Yesterday had a special treat for me.  Tami had to work and so Enzo was going to miss his pee-wee mariachi class.  I had to work late so not only was Enzo going to miss class but we didn't know where Enzo was going to since Tami was going to need to focus and watching one child was going to be enough.  Then, thanks to the offer of a coworker, I didn't have to work so I got to pick up Enzo.  But, I feel self conscious with music and I was thinking I would just take The Kid to dinner and we would go home and play.  Luckily I got over it and took him to class because I didn't want him to miss out just because I thought I might be uncomfortable there.  It was sooooo fun!  The class is at the Mexican Heritage Plaza in San Jose.  I had driven by the building but never gone in.  The building is attractive.  From inside the plaza, it is gorgeous.  There is art and a beautiful huge court yard complete with little pee-wee mariachi class kids running around before and after class.  The class itself is basically an hour of dancing and singing along to a series of children's songs in Spanish and using hand and body movements, learning words and lyrics, and playing with drums, ribbons, and many other items.  The best part of the experience was just watching The Kid.  He was having a good time and dancing and totally into it.  The room was packed with parents and kids around in a big circle.  All of the kids were moving around and parents were smiling and having a good time.  People were very friendly.  I need to figure out how to adjust my schedule and go to the remaining classes with Tami and the kids.  I can't believe, once again, that I nearly missed out on a super cool experience because I was uncomfortable with the idea of the public event.  I am so glad I went to this.  The good news is I will do a lot for my children and that seems to help me do more for myself.

There are a couple of other things I need to record here.

One is that I have another favorite thing added to my list of favorite things. My new favorite thing is when Enzo has not showered all day but has not gotten dirty either, and then to just take in the smell of his hair.  It is melting. It is soft and real and beautiful.  It is intoxicating for a moment.  It is wonderful.

Another fact to record here is that my daughter has known for a while now how to get off of a couch or bed by turning herself so that her feet go down first.  I know, most of us can do this and don't fall off surfaces head first.  But I am still amazed that this little baby knows how to do this.  It's awesome.  Some times she is supposed to be asleep and then she will come crawling around the corner happy and fine.  Tami then stresses me out by teasing that either she knows how to get off the bed or she is extremely tough because she never cries when she comes crawling out.  Then, as my stress builds, Tami assures me that Ana already knows how to turn and get down.  In the last 24 hours, I have finally seen, with my own eyes, my Ana get down from both a couch and from the bed feet first.  So, I'm feeling a little more relaxed now.  This morning I just happened to be walking by the bedroom where I expected Ana to be sleeping when I caught her getting down feet first, notice me, smile, and come crawling towards the hall.  Awesome. Last night she got off of the couch and I saw her do that, feet first.  She got off of the couch.  Her diaper didn't, it got stuck to the side of the couch. Ana managed to wriggle out and keep on going.  Naked baby butt is pretty darn cute.

And another cool recent experience was listening to my son sing the ABCs last night.  I was super tired so I cheated and, when reading the second book, a new book that Enzo is not very familiar with, I skipped a lot of pages. Then, turned out the lights and skipped over any other talking or singing and just closed my eyes.  Then, Enzo started to sing on his own. A-B-C-Deefy-G-ehoh---O-O-O-O-O-P(that part said very fast like "LMNOP")-Oheh-O-S!----C-eh-ohdeh--A-B-C-(repeat). Fantastic!  He is getting some of the rhythm. There were some other letters thrown in that I forgot above; "O" was definitely the favorite. He sang it threw a couple of times and got the major sections and last letters right.  He enjoyed himself, too.  He wasn't the only one.  Again, Tami and I had to stifle the laughter and hide the adoring smiles so as not to excite him as he was going to sleep.  I wish I had a recording.  I very much enjoy going to bed so happy.

And soon, I begin vacation. Soon as in today.  More time with the kids, more time with Tami, more time to enjoy friends and family, and I hope, some time to ride motorcycles.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Hearts

Guess who has her second tooth popping out?  My Ana Uku love.  She now has both bottom middle teeth.

We had a great Valentine's Day.  Tami, Nicole, and Shea made a delicious dinner for all of us.  It's great to be with people we care about.  A delicious dinner including Stuffed mushrooms, breaded veggie sticks, and two vegetable soups was pretty great too.  I very much enjoy Valentine's Day.  Tami and I have been making dinner for each other, and with each other when days off align, on this day since we have been married.  It's a good way to share and appreciate time.  This year we were also able to share with three special children and a dear friend.

In other news, Tami called me at work to let me know that Enzo peed, standing up, outside on a tree.  Awesome.

Also worthy of note, my Ana Uku is an adorable frog.  Lately she has been sitting with her legs under her often like in the picture below.  It's really cute.  I don't remember Enzo doing this. 

And sometimes when Ana is crawling around she will sit back on her legs like this but leave her hands on the floor and be the cutest little frog.  And then, when I pick her up and kiss her, she turns into the most beautiful Ana Uku. And last night, she placed one of her arms on mine, and snuggled into my chest as I kissed her head over and over with little kisses. I love her.

This is the only little frog picture I have right now.  I keep wanting to grab the camera when she does it and get a great picture of her but then I always end up just enjoying the experience and missing the chance to photograph it.  Maybe eventually.  In the mean time, I enjoy the little kisses.  My Ana Uku just keeps getting more and more adorable and I keep on loving her more and more.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

"Ana like pizza."

Guest post by Tami

I walk in to the kitchen from moving laundry around.  Randy had sleepily given Enzo a slice of pizza for breakfast and Enzo had now decided to share it with his sister.  I look over at them and he says, "Ana like pizza."  This is of course after he had already attempted sharing his mug of water with her that resulted in a puddle of water on the floor and Ana in wet pajamas.  It is pretty sweet how loving he can be to his sister.  Of course, it isn't always like this.  There are moments when he pushes her down for no apparent reason or out of his way.  The other day he put his mouth on her in an almost bite like fashion, but luckily he decided not to bite down on her.  She was left with only a slobbery back.  The sibling relationship continues...

Enzo has been borderline sick for the last week or so.  The other day, Enzo and I were getting ready to make breakfast when he started looking a bit funny.  So I took him to the bathroom and he threw up.  I had an important meeting at my school that I didn't want to miss so I called my mom, Tata, to come down and hang out with him for a bit.  By the time I got home, Enzo was already in bed napping.  My mom filled me in on their fun.  When Enzo finally did wake up, I didn't mention anything to him.  But later, when Randy got home, Enzo started telling him about his day.  It was the first time that I was able to understand him retelling his day, and he was doing it all on his own.  Pretty cool. 

Then the next day, we were just hanging out at home just the three of us.  It was after breakfast time and Enzo and I were at the coffee table/art table making Valentine's cards (construction paper cut into four smaller rectangles, decorated with markers and/or crayons, with hearts that I had cut out from the week's ads glued on by a glue stick- super easy craft idea).  Ana wasn't wearing a diaper as I had recently offered her a potty-tunity but she declined.  All of a sudden I heard a noise and turned around and I saw Ana, who only moments ago had been crawling around on the floor, now sitting on the potty.  I walk over to see what she was up to, and yup, she pee'd.  At not even 9 months and a week, my baby girl went over to and sat herself on the potty to pee.  Wow.  I was in total shock. 

So loving siblings they share... colds.  We've spent most of the weekend all four of us being mellow, playing, and sleeping.  I hope my mocosos are feeling better soon.

Monday, February 6, 2012

9 Months In, 9 Months Out

Happy 9 Month Birthday Ana.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

More Headlines!

("Super Bowl Sunday!")

1/26- After reading, when the lights are out and we go to bed with Enzo, Tami and I say "Goodnight Mama" etc. for each of us and then "I love you Mama" etc. for each of us and then we go through all the family and also friends that Enzo has at school.  Usually he says "goodnight Mama" etc. for each person no matter what we say to start the sentence.  But that night, for the first time ever, Enzo said "I love you Papi."  Yay!!!! Sure, he said "I love you Monte" for the first time first, but I was right after the dog.  Sweet.

1/31- Before we even got to prompting when we were in bed, Enzo busts out with "I love you Papi, I love you Ana, I love you Mama."  It was among the best nights I have ever had.  I could not possibly feel more contented going to sleep.  AWESOME.

(Ana and Cousin Vincent.)

2/3- Ana has a tooth!  It's the front, middle, bottom, just right of center.  It's just barely broken through the gum.  Our baby girl has a tooth.  Then, that same day, something big happens.  So big, Tami forgot to tell the grandparents about the tooth.  While Tami, Enzo, and Ana were at Grandma, Grandpa, and Aunti K's house (I was at work late to supervise an event), they all got to watch Ana take her first steps, two little steps in a row!!  Awesome.  I rushed over as soon as I could leave.

(Look what brother taught me.)

2/4- Super Bowl Sunday.  First, it's a Sunday, which means breakfast with all friends and family who show up.  We've now been doing this for well over two months and some friends and/or family have shown up to each Sunday.  It's been great.  The kids love it.  Tami and I love it, too.  Some of the best parts?  The kids play with family and friends every week.  The week I was sick, I could rest knowing my kids were getting plenty of love and affection.  Tami and I get to enjoy adult conversation in our home.  Every week, early Sunday morning, Tami and I actually clean our house.  We get to provide delicious organic food for friends and family for the same cost we used to spend going to breakfast just the four of us each Sunday.  It's always a fun surprise to see who will show up.

This Sunday, today after breakfast, we transitioned to Super Bowl bar-b-que mode.  And...... we saw Ana take a step without holding on to anything!  Super cool.  She is so cute.  She sticks her tongue out constantly.  She smiles so much just like her brother.  We have happy kids.  We are lucky.  And, Ana gets genuinely excited to see me and I adore that.  When I come home she smiles and crawls towards me.  Her smile is gorgeous.  She stands a lot now, too.  That means she can get really close, stand up, smile her gorgeous smile, and then fall right into me with open arms.  Lovely.

(Ana can lift her heavy water bottle now... and wears blue berry stained arms like a princess.)

Somewhere in those last couple of days other neat events happened.  Many were as simple as me getting to watch and love the kids.  Some developmental markers occurred too.  Like, when Cousin Vincent said six and then Enzo grabbed something and said seven.  I've never heard him say seven before and it came after six when he wasn't listening to sequential counting; that was cool. We read "Go, Dog Go" often.  The first pages have "Big Dog" and "Little Dog."  Enzo has never repeated that, or said it along with me.  But recently, at the end of the book, looking at the picture on the inside of the back cover, Enzo points to a smaller dog and says "Little dog" and then to a bigger dog and says "Big dog."  It was neat to me because I didn't even know he got the concept on the pages where he hears it but then he went and applied the concept to a totally different page with no words on it and he did it correctly.  Enzo is also good at finding "A for Ana," "E for Enzo," "P for Papi," and "O" in any text which he calls "ABCs" when he sees any string of letters.  We're working on M for Mama now.  His favorite song that we have to sing every night? "Sing ABCs.... musica Papi."  He goes to school two days each week and to two extra curricular classes each week now.  Once per week during the day when I am at work Enzo goes with Tami to Mommy and me Pee-Wee Mariachi classes.  That's where they sing and dance and play with drums and streamers.  Then, on weekends, he goes to Papi and me Soccer class which is where he runs around to colorful flags and kicks "Goal!"s.  He has become a busy kid, I have become a super happy father of two, and Tami has become, by definition, a soccer Moma.  She refuses to get a mini van though.