Trick or Treat

Hey there, sweet cheeks, wanna share your lollipop?

Bunny hop

A veritable menagerie...

Need I mention that the lollipop is MZ's first piece of candy ever? She woke up the next morning and announced that she wanted candy for breakfast. Honey, we all do. She caught on to the trick or treating very quickly, and if a stop wasn't too mobbed, she'd march up with her bag outstretched, announce Trick or Treat and wait expectantly for her booty. I realized that in these days where every new event seems pregnant with social meaning, Halloween is a lesson in exactly nothing. The expectation that people will dress crazy and give her gifts is absolutely useless until next year. However, watching her fascination, mingling with the crowd and our friends' tots, we had more fun than we've had on Halloween since we were children ourselves. San Francisco is a Halloween town. It's our Mardi Gras and Times Square New Year rolled into one. People get dressed up for the whole week in San Francisco. But neither R. nor I have ever been much into it. We go the the parties, we even bother ourselves to dress up in whatever we can come up with 48 hours prior to leaving the house. But Halloween with MZ? We can't wait till next year.

Oh, and the costume? Handmade by my mom, many decades ago when I was a wee toddler, before velcro and polarfleece. Yep, I wore that costume when I was small, as did my two sisters. It's super, super cute now, huh?Posted by Picasa

Home again

First boat ride...

... first street food...

... and a 14-day long playdate in Mexico.

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Twenty-one Months: That's not so bad...

Dear Miriam,

I started this letter while we were in Mexico (you've accomplished the North American Passport Trifecta!), and am now struggling to complete it. It's always so difficult when looking back even a few weeks to keep straight what was then versus now.

The theme for this month is the simultaneous flowering and defeat of fear. You are suddenly afraid of actual things, like the ocean or big snuffling dogs, but not so much that you won't investigate further given enough time and space. You spent the first few days in Mexico watching the ocean from the safety of your Daddy's arms. Each day you were willing to go closer, enjoying the experience of having the waves wash up on our legs before you were willing to subject your own. With each step towards ocean immersion, your Daddy would say, That's not so bad, see? and when you finally went in on your own, we could hear you murmuring That's not so bad fervently to yourself. This quickly changed to Go see ocean, Daddy every waking moment, you were positively addicted.

You are also focused on making sentences. You seem driven to put more and more words together, to put two thoughts or actions together. You repeat our instructions and observations, as if internalizing them for future use, and in the mornings, when you're super-talkative, we wait as you struggle to find the words you want: pillow, hop, spider. Go downstairs, make bottle, Daddy still astounds us with its shear length and multiple instructions.

Your new habit of singing songs to yourself seems to be part of this effort. You remember lines of lyrics and repeat them in tune, as though practicing for conversation. You sing Monkeys jumping on the bed with a curious predilection for the number four, and Rockabye baby, which surprises us since the rhyme fills us with horror and we're not sure where you picked it up. You've mostly mastered the ABCs, occasionally leaving out O-P and always ending with the endearing Y-M-Z. You count to 10, although not always in order, and you are a commanding presence at all times, instructing us to sit down, stand up, put shoes on, take pants off.

Mexico served as a two-week playdate, and that seemed to suit you fine. You asked for Pugawug and H. each morning, and regularly hollered out the names of every person in our party, usually as we centipeded up the beach or down the dusty streets. You remained fairly adult-centered, and sometimes seemed perplexed that our comrades had children of their own to occupy them. However, you remained ready to climb into any empty lap, and dinners frequently found you making the rounds.
Doing things with you for the second time - like visiting the pumpkin patch - remains an amazing opportunity for reflection. Last year, you were happy to sit in the wagon and watch, this year, you were an active participant, charging around the patch and selecting pumpkins. While you remain shy with your peers, you are assertive and direct with us, and we feel lucky for it. You get frustrated with your physical and verbal limitations, but overall you're pretty even-keel, and seem focused on getting out of any temper ruts.

I'll keep this brief, after-the-fact as it is, and simply say that it's been another great month, MZ. Thank you.

All my love,


Viva Mexico!

First off there will be no photos, not only because we didn't bring our laptops, but because we left our camera in the taxi within 30 minutes of arriving in PV. Rookie mistake, we're kicking ourselves.

We're finding that all our travel strategies need to be relearned with a full-on toddler. The whole you watch the bags while I check the car/room/table thing is a lot harder when the third member of our party seems strangely drawn to cobblestone streets and stairways. But it's all coming back quickly and we're loving the feel and smells of another hot, humid climate. PV is lush and in full flower, and MZ is so taken with everything around her. We walk out the door and she hollers ocean! During breakfast on the beach this morning, she exclaimed There's a boat right there! Hi boat, hi boat!

Experiencing this place through her eyes turns it into an entirely new country for us. The heat is strange to her, the tile floors a constant hazard, but the proximity to water is her paradise, too. The place we're staying has two puppies in residence, which we thought she'd love, but she's much more interestd in picking the finest tropical flowers that have dropped to the ground and presenting them to her Daddy. The pool outside our patio is the promised land, the small holes in the clay wall a perfect racetrack for her toy cars, the stones laid in the patio a textural fiesta. A jacuzzi? Magic bubbles! Heaven again.

When we said where we were going, a friend replied that they wanted to go to Mongolia, but wondered who would watch their baby for three weeks. Perhaps because we saw so many places before we met her, our new List is quite different. There are so many places in the world to visit anew with MZ, or to visit differently so that she can enjoy, too. Do we regret the dive trips and crowded taco stands (clearly too much for her young tummy)? Sure, but we can't wait to see the sculpture-lined Malecon through her eyes later this evening.

So much more to tell already, but there's someone waiting for the computer and no doubt she'll be awake from her nap any minute, so ciao, amigos, I'm off to the pool... did I mention there's a waterfall? and cold beer? Heaven.



Vote No on Prop. 85 and other thoughts

A couple of opportunities to do some good in the world with very little effort have presented themselves recently. Sadly, this suits me right now, sabbaticalled activist that I've become. Perhaps these will appeal to you as well?

Vote no on Prop. 85: Parental Notification
A fellow neighborhood parent had the fabulous idea of holding a virtual bakesale to help defeat Prop. 85. Many of you Californians will remember this parental notification proposition from last year. It's back, and while some of the anti-abortion language has changed, it remains at best a naive attempt to force communication in scenarios some people can't even begin to imagine, and at worst, it's part of a strategy to eliminate a woman's right to choose. I agree with the No on 85 folks: When laws make teenagers choose between talking with parents or having illegal and unsafe abortions, some will turn to self-induced or illegal back-alley abortions, or even consider suicide. The real answer to teen pregnancy is prevention and strong, caring families – not new laws that endanger vulnerable young women. From Jenn's bakesale site:

Proposition 85 would amend the California Constitution to require parental notification for minors seeking an abortion. As a parent, I don't want the state legislating communication between my child and me. As an attorney and mother, I don't have the time to walk young women through the judicial system to obtain an abortion (but I will if I have to).

I hope you will consider making a contribution (bumperstickers count -- let your voice be heard!) and voting No on 85 on November 7th.

Send your used stuffed animals and toys to children in Iraq
This one has been in the blogosphere for a few weeks now, but the power of this simple gesture has not left me. Anyone who's thrown a child's birthday party recently knows how easy it is to round up a collection of wonderful toys that your child will learn more from by giving away than by keeping.

Be a Partner in Preservation
This one is super-easy and super-local. Vote for your favorite Bay Area landmark, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the World Monuments Fund and American Express will work for its protection through the
Partners in Preservation initiative. The hardest thing about this one is choosing between all these great landmarks: the Roxie Theater, the Tilden Park Carousel, the Pigeon Point Lighthouse or the Spreckels Temple of Music, to name a few.


Yarzheit III

Avi and Ximena, this is our third year without you. We understand better now the mechanics of the Yarzheit, and I am comforted by this opportunity to formally bring you to mind, to hold you close in our hearts and remember what it was like to hold you close in our arms. With time, the pain is not so cutting, does not require the sharp intake of breath that was so much a part of the months following your birth. It’s a dull pain now, a chronic injury that we’ve learned to live with, for the most part.

But the pain is there, the sadness that comes with wondering who you’d be at three. I watched 2.5 year-old twin boys the other day, fascinated by the way they antagonized each other yet never left each other’s sides.

It’s been a busy few months, I haven’t posted as much as I’d like. Our struggles to build our family continue, and I tire of trying to put those thoughts into words and broadcast them over the internet. These days with your sister are so happy, aware as we are of the difference between Zero and One, yet charged with uncertainty and worry.

But in the midst of all of this we come back to your shared birthday. No matter how busy our lives, how distracting our concerns, we light these two candles and devote uninterrupted time to honoring you. Avi and Ximena, your mommy misses you.
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MZ discovers pumpkins, and her pockets...

Here's Farmer MZ doing her rounds at the pumpkin patch... Posted by Picasa


Found out

As has been mentioned in these pages, we have several Puppies. We bought them so that Puppy could be laundered in a crisis-free environment, and to stave off a complete breakdown in the event of loss. Puppy is available on eBay, and five seemed like a good number.

There have been a few Double Puppy sightings in the past months. Once MZ was playing with Puppy as I walked downstairs with an armful of laundry poorly concealing Puppy. That's Puppy! she exclaimed. No, sweetie, that's not Puppy, that's a sweater I lied pathetically as I darted down the stairs. Another time she spotted one in the dryer, and I said pretty much the same thing as I practically knocked her down to close the door.

But the other day, somehow there was Puppy on the dining room floor when she came downstairs with Puppy in her hand to make a bottle with her Dad (no, she hasn't suddenly converted, that's what she calls a sippy of warm milk, ironically enough). There was really nothing to be done but tell the truth, although that didn't stop us from hedging through a few terribly executed lies on our way.

Turns out MZ doesn't give a fig if there's one Puppy or 101. She cuddles whatever Puppy she has, and when that Puppy is bofouled in her estimation, she drops him like a bad habit and moves on to the next. When it's time to exchange Puppies, I irrationally encourage her to kiss the dirty Puppy goodbye while R. stages an auction for Top Puppy honors.

The whole thing is an exercise in cognitive dissonance.