Search This Blog

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Celebrity sighting #3

We'd migrated to the North Shore for the last few days of our trip. The water tends to be rough on the windward side, especially in the winter, so we opted to head to a beach we read about on the internet called Turtle Bay. It turned out to be a little beach nestled in a golf resort development--not our typical scene, but the water was low and perfect for the baby, and snorkeling possible just a few feet out from the beach.

Likely a bit more exclusive than the cheap vacation packages in Waikiki, but the atmosphere still felt like a canned version of Hawaii for visitors. But our experience was enhanced by Chris's celebrity spotting because by then we'd come up with the format for the ridiculous Zenas photos.

Behind Zenas in the water, and beyond Zenas on the beach, the gray-haired man is none other than actor Tim Robbins, whom we saw up close and personal:

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Lost Item #2

Collapsible bouncy seat
Handed down to us by a dear friend. Handy for traveling, especially outdoors, when he could not sit up yet.
Last seen: Alamo Car Rental lobby, Honolulu, HI
*We left it behind accidentally while changing cars before our second leg in North Shore - didn't realize it until a few days later

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Celebrity sighting #2

One of the many indulgent vices I've taken to during my leave is the watching of television. Of shameless, not-so-deep television that I had lived without for the last fifteen years or more. At first it was all that my poor sleep-deprived brain could handle in those lonely sessions of constant feedings that required some diversion. Reading was impossible and audiobooks were too difficult--so TV won, and I became once again an addict.
This would not have been possible without Netflix streaming. An endless supply of non-commercial television at my fingertips. Zenas took about thirty minutes to feed, which was just about as long as Chris could keep his eyes open. 30 Rock was great--quality writing, but there were only a couple dozen shows. I burned through the entire five seasons of the next must at feedings, Weeds, which also served as the soothing background to my blurry days at home. Eventually I turned to the new territory of formulaic reality TV on the food/travel channels. With morbid fascination, I watched an entire season and a half of Man v. Food before I burned out. Chris and I both noticed that as the show kept going, the host/challenger of food eating contests looked bigger and bigger...

Which brings us to the story of our second day in Hawaii. We were staying in Waikiki, and for convenience headed to the crowded beach to introduce Zenas to the water. It is likely one of the most stupidly crowded tourist spots in the world. We set up our little beach camp, and did what one does on the beach: enjoy the sun, eat a little, read a little, and people watch. Waikiki is not a beach scene like Baywatch. It is filled with families who have traveled from cold climates to be in the sun. There is not a toned body in sight.

One of the stranger things about being in a couple is that you often discover you are noticing the same thing, or having the same thought, at the same time. Chris and I were remarking on the sadness of it all when we noticed a man exiting the water in our direct line of sight--and out of nowhere I said, "he looks unhealthy just like that Man v. Food guy, except maybe a little better because he's much taller."

To which Chris said, "he's not taller. That's actually him. It's definitely him."

So we hotly argued if it was him or not for most of the day, trying not to stare, and though I had to admit the resemblance is amazing, I got hung on logic: why would a television star (okay, this is a loose term here) be alone, sunbathing for hours, at the Waikiki Beach? Chris did eventual convince me that a film crew would be in in Honolulu, staying at a hotel nearby, and that a NY guy would definitely head to the beach in his downtime. Chalk a rare victory up for Chris. :)

Here is the proof photo - though Zenas is cut off, he's definitely in the picture with Adam Richman (holding the beach mat).

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Z continues to grow larger. We love him for his sturdiness, are reassured by his hale girth, but are forgetful sometimes to treat him as one of the newly existent. At three months, he's eighteen pounds, now almost double his birth weight--the unanimous reaction by strangers and friends alike is that he is "big." We constantly need to remind ourselves that he is still fragile and needs to be treated gently; even more so as his senses continue to sharpen to pick up more cues. He's acting less like a slug and more like a cat these days, startling at sudden sounds and tuning in to people's energies.

Having a child is having a personal laboratory for observing developmental stages. During pregnancy, I had the time and headspace to read ahead of what was happening in utero. Now that he's out and here, it's all I can do to try to track the changes and then to look them up post-haste to learn what the heck is going on.

For example: we left California for Thanksgiving without a single toy packed. We were trying to be minimal, reasoning we could buy anything we really needed. And because when we left, he seemed to have no interest in objects which were quickly let go even if we managed to trick him into gripping one by teasing an open hand into a fist--like a venus flytrap (and as I write this, I came up with: Zenas Toytrap). But halfway into the 10 day trip, we blinked and he was a different baby. All of a sudden he could seemed to look at the pages as we read to him at night, and clutched whatever object (a hand, spoon) that we put in front of him. And serendipitously the next day he received a toy that let him put to use his new found skills. Watching him reach, clutch and turn his toy we wonder how long he had been bored and unable to complain...

And once he starts something, the scary and marvelous thing is that it's forever. I'll never forget his first smile at 4 weeks, but every morning first thing he melts me with another one. I found him in his crib the other days rotated about 180 degrees--I guess he pushed himself around like a spinny top--and immediately reconsidered our decision that a tucked in blanket seems safe enough.* My current obsession is to reproduce the belly laugh he just started to make as often and to as many people as possible. Chris encourages "tummy time" to watch him build up his arm strength and muses that he'll be crawling and talking soon.

We don't mean to rush him. We also hear over and over that babies are more trouble as they get older and especially after they become mobile. It's just hard to resist the curiosity of witnessing the changes in our child, an extension of our flesh and blood who is demonstrating what we do not remember of ourselves. I thought I knew a thing or two about babies--I'm generally good at guessing ages and feel comfortable around them; but it is different to be raising one 24/7, and to try to decipher the signs or multiple simultaneous symptoms as they occur. As an example: at the height of his cold Zenas also began to teethe--but it was hard to know it for what it was because the bad mood could be attributed to being sick, and the same for the the worst diaper explosions yet; the gnawing might have been telltale had it not been just as he started to use his "third hand" -- we thought it was too early. But indeed a week later he is healthy but still drooling and chomping on fingers, toys and shoulders. It could be months before a tooth actually surfaces but it's certain to happen sooner than later and just like that there will not be a time when he's toothless again as long as he learns to floss...

It's part science/biology/voodoo/miracle/magic, how we come to be. Having "made," gestated, birthed him and now watching his progress, I shake my head that evolution has only brought us so far. We are still animal creatures no matter how well we can understand, explain and deal with growth.

*Every parent's nightmare is SIDS though the precautions seem too austere.

Friday, December 10, 2010


I am trying to hold up Japanese traditional celebrations for my son.
I'm flying a bit solo and blind, having only a vague recollection of the milestones to be observed, and a very diluted knowledge of holidays and festivals. I realize I have to do a bit of homework in advance here, lest some important days slip by unnoticed. The correct observance of the hundredth day, I just found out, is about food. It's the third ritual in infancy (the others: 7th night naming and first trip to the temple for a blessing.) Food to mark a long life of happy eating is prepared and presented to the baby--who likely has just begun teething, so it's really just a performance of mock feeding. Images here for what might be a traditional feast.

I only knew that the 100th day was one of significance. My mother during her stay had criticized us for taking Z out during her visit, explaining that in olden times babies were kept indoors for 100 days for safekeeping. I interpreted it to be a birthday of sorts after the most vulnerable time had passed: with triple digit days under his/her belt, the child was more of a person? The current trend in our demographic today is to refer to the first few months as "the fourth trimester" -- an out-of-womb larval state before they truly come into their own.

While back East, I thought I wanted to throw a party for Zenas. But my original ambition did not manifest with our next travel adventure looms too closely ahead, and our time between grandparents feels more like a pitstop in our house to recover from our colds, see a few friends, and brace ourselves against the next set of holidays. Instead I took the easy way out--we had been invited over for dinner that night by Bill and Camille, so I brought along a cake and asked them to join the commemoration. I had read about a small bakery in a Japantown grocery store that made yummy cakes. A business that looks as old as 40+ years is being run by an elderly bilingual japanese woman who 1) whispered "no, she's nisei (second-generation)" in response to my inquiry if the pastry chef could write a japanese message on the cake, and 2) tsked at me for not being able to remember one letter from the japanese phonetic alphabet when we agreed hiragana would be possible.

In the end, the cake was a little bruised in transport, but Zenas was surrounded by love and congratulated by a toast.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Celebrity sighting #1

This is the first of new series --

In his short life, Zenas has been in the presence of a few celebrities. While Chris and I are not the autograph-seeking type, we do think that our child might be interested to have a list.
Caveat: this excludes all Pixar folks, though some are considered celebrities, they don't count because it was not so random a sighting. They also don't make as good an opportunity for the most ridiculous of photos, where Zenas is in close-up and the celebrity faaaar away in the background.

Here is Zenas, with Salman Rushdie, at a reading of Luka and the Fire of Life (special thanks to Megan Kurashige for hooking us up with tickets).

First Quarter

Happy 3-month birthday Zenas! You are a quarter of the way in your first year of life.

Having just returned from our first trip back East, we are safe but all sick.
Zenas has his third virus in a row; this time, his little cough is so wet and his breathing so labored that we had to take him to see the doctor, who diagnosed it as croup. At one point his voice was so hoarse that we thought we were going to die from cute and heartbreak overload. Even at his worst, our little boy manages to reward us with smiles between his crying and coughing.

There is no remedy for a virus, just an attempt to ease the symptoms until it passes. For his breathing we were recommended to tent his crib with a sheet, and to point the humidifier into the cavity to give him moist air. "Now don't worry if he feels wet to the touch," said the Doctor. We followed his instructions but still questioned his methods when we touched the baby's cheek and found it covered with a fine, cold mist while he slept.

It's been three nonstop weeks of having him sick. Until now it hadn't been much of an issue, a runny nose at worst, but after this heartbreaking round I want a clean bill of health for the baby. As for myself, I am finally sick for the first time in over a year - the virus that caused the croup was too strong not to pass to me--and I remember what a drag it is to be at all under the weather. Just crushing to think that Z has been sick without understanding why, in what way and for how long he would be -- and not even the means to tell us how he's feeling. Having a sick kid is harder than I thought for this reason.