Vale Turns One

Vale turned one recently. We already celebrated her birthday with family a couple of weeks earlier, so we did not have another party. However, she did have a little celebration at daycare, and exhibited some pretty greedy behavior, reaching for a second donut while the first was still unfinished, in her mouth (let’s be honest – there’s no way she can even finish the first donut, much less the second!)  On the actual day of her birthday, she received a visit and some neat presents from her buddy Luka from San Francisco. They played together a little, though Vale was abnormally shy about it.

Later in the day, we took her to the park (her favorite!), where she enjoyed climbing slides, throwing sand, and other playground gadgets. In the early evening, we gave her presents mailed from Grandma, Grandpa, and Uncle Aaron. She liked chewing on the panda bear’s nose, and was immediately interested in the Chinese version of Hungry Hungry Catepillar. We gave her a percussion instrument set, including a xylophone, maracas, jingle bells, claves, a small drum, and a guiro. She took to it quickly and could be a future bando in the making.

At night, Dad baked her a chocolate chip cookie (from scratch!), and we sang happy birthday to her in Mandarin and English. She refused to try even a bite of the cookie, unfortunately. She appeared confused by this birthday spectacle.

Vale loves animal crackers and bananas and is increasingly developing a personality. Her likes and dislikes are always in flux, and she has even exhibited some rather intense fears. Grandma gave her a pretty cool Curious George-in-the Box for her birthday, but she is not yet a fan. She was initially terrorized by George popping out of the box, and attempted to flee the scene, but also proved curiously drawn to it. Her fears have somewhat diminished after interacting with the toy multiple times, but it seems George still continues to put her somewhat ill-at-ease.

Another toy that has really ruffled her feathers, is a talking teddy bear given by a kind family member. The bear recites a prayer, Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the lord my soul to keep, guide me through the starry night, and wake me with the morning light (or something along those lines). We actually received this item before she was born, and it creeped me the fuck out, so I put it away in a drawer. Recently, I pulled some toys out of the drawer, including this bear, and pressed its belly to make it talk. Vale immediately dropped to the ground on all floors and started bawling. Due to the extremely dramatic display, I questioned whether her reaction was some kind of a coincidence, and related to another external stimulus. However, when I again brought the bear near her a few minutes later, her lips curled downward like she was going to cry.

In contrast, when I cruised her down the aisle of Halloween decorations at the 99 cent store, and waved dead bodies, bloody skeletons, and murderous clowns in her face, while saying, “oOOooOOooO,” she was much less concerned. The combination of these circumstances could be an indication she is a heathen, or worse, some unholy daemon.

She still loves In Hell I’ll Be In Good Company by The Dead South, and likes to bob her head and bounce her butt to the song, while watching the music video.

She continues to enjoy bath time, and even jumped in with all her clothes on before I could stop her on one occasion. She likes riding around in her Cozy Coup, and has another fun car in the works, a present from her uncle, auntie, and cousins.

Little V Is One Month Old

October just arrived and I took some one month photos of Little V. She was a little fussy about it, but complied after a change and two feedings. I had fun with some cat ears a dear friend sent along for Little V, as well as a skull I bought from a bone church in the Czech Republic. Here comes the Halloween season!

As I write this, we are having another typical day. I read poetry from the Tang Dynasty to her, did some tummy time, and we are listening to music again. Dear God…Did you make disease and the diamond blue? Did you make mankind after we made you? And the Devil too! Followed by something a little lighter, Bebel Gilberto’s version of Girl From Ipanema. 

Ah, por que estou tão sózinho?
Ah, por que tudo é tão triste?
Ah, a beleza que existe
A beleza que não é só minha
Que também passa sozinha

This week, Little V’s neck strength improved significantly, and we were able to take her out to exercise on steep hills in the neighborhood in her jogger without her head constantly flopping forward. It feels like this happened overnight; half a week ago, I aborted the workout because I constantly had to adjust her head while walking up the hill.

We took her to a few social outings, including to the park to meet some friends (she slept through the whole thing), and to grandma and grandpa’s house to hang out with her aunt, uncle, and cousins. She has continued to do tummy time at home with grandpa, and was a bit of a showoff with her bottle skills when friends came to visit over the weekend. Apparently, she likes needs an audience to prove her competence.

Little V also went to the beach for the first time on a clear, bright, Monday, with mom, dad, and grandpa. She experienced southern California beach life on a week day morning – not a soul about (not even a surfer) except for us and a couple of dudes who were likely non compos mentis, yelling at seagulls and ranting nonsense to each other.

Illegal Drinking

The United States has some of the harshest drinking laws in the world, though it claims to be a bastion of “freedom.” When I was in Barcelona, we regularly would pay 5 Euros for a bottle of wine and drink it at a little snack shack in the sand. In the thick humidity of Taipei, it was always nice to cool off at a well-air-conditioned 7-11, buy a Sapporo, and drink it on the street, or drink a Taiwan beer while hanging out in night markets.

In Thailand and Bali, one of the greatest joys was to sip on a cold lager while ocean-gazing. In Prague, we bought some beers at a sidewalk cafe, asked to take them to go, and inquired as to whether it was legal to drink in the streets. The guy laughed at us and said, “Of course. This isn’t the United States!”

Where I live in the U.S., you can’t legally drink in parks or beaches, because the U.S. is a fucking police state. Of course, not being able to drink beer where you want in public is one of the least problematic aspects of police states, but still.

Fuck it. You should still do it. Hide homemade white sangria in your beach bag and drink it on the sand on Memorial Day Weekend, as the cops patrol up and down every hour eyeing people for law-breaking behavior. Bring a flask with you to parks just in case you get bored. Find an area of low visibility in a nearby park and bring wine in your picnic basket. Pack beers into your Camelpak while hiking and reward yourself at the summit. Sneak Stone Cali-Belgique into a playground at midnight with your friends and drink it on the picnic benches. Be sure to bring glasses too, because it is undignified to drink such good beer straight out of the bottle.

Cheers for beers, because life is more fun this way.

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