The Essential Baby J

Wednesday, March 24, 2100

The 9 CD comp set, spanning four generations of our family's eclectic tastes, that I made for The Essential Baby J right before he hit the planet running. And I mean fast!

(Click "stop" on the player to pause the slide show and view it manually.)

Monday, March 28, 2011

dear baby j,

dmarch first, 2011

we hardly ever call you that anymore since you're a big boy now. but every now and then, we still do.

it's march, 2011. you are headed out with your parents in the morning, back to idaho for a visit. your parents have some work to do. you'll be riding shotgun in the backseat behind your mom. you will, undoubtedly, kick her seat a time or two and for that you'll be reprimanded. but face it. it is annoying.

shadow will be in the backseat too. he travels well. his demands are very few for a pretty big lab mix black dog. shadow's chill. lots of times you call him your brother.

you've lived here in portland now a year. when you moved here you were four and a half years old. now you are five, going on six real soon. you've nearly gotten through kindergarten which, by the way, you handled like a champ – you made friends easily and learned the routine. it wasn't without its traumas, though (you moved to your second portland house in november and got really sick in december) but you rallied and pulled through.

today is thursday, the day i've come to your house to hang out with you while your parents go to their theater appreciation class. so we've had these evening together for ten weeks except one night when you were sick. it's been a lot of fun, you and me getting to know each other.

there was this one christmas j, when you were two and a half, and you and your parents came to pick me up at the airport so i could spend the holiday with you all at your new white house. right when we got in the door j, you insisted i get in your playhouse with you, which was a little closet underneath the stairs where you kept some of your toys. 

so i crawled in there with you. i had taken my boots off at the door and within seconds you noticed how stinky my feet were from being in those boots all day long traveling. you said: nani! you have stinky feet! you have really, really stinky feet!

i said: yes j, i know sweetheart. let me go get some clean socks out of my suitcase and change my socks so my feet don't stink. but you said, no nani! no, no, you stay here! and you blocked the little doorway and stuck your head out and yelled: mom! get nani some clean socks right now.

it was probably then that the start of your "attitude" when nani is around started. and to tell you the truth, it went on until just a little bit ago. took some time for me and you to figure out the boundaries of our relationship. but we've got it down now i think.

so we had these weeks of thursdays. on the first one we took a walk around your neighborhood to see what was happening. it was a little past christmas but many people still had their lights and decorations up. that first night was clear and pretty cold so we bundled up. on the way back we looked up and noticed that there was a halo around the moon. do you remember, I asked, how there was a halo around the moon last christmas when i was at your house in boise for the second year? and i had just read you your stories and you were going to go to sleep and i went outside and noticed a halo around the moon. so i rushed back in and up to your room to bring you down to see it before you fell asleep. do you remember that j?

yes nani.

back at your house that night we went walking around your neighborhood and saw the moon with a halo for the second time, when we got to your door you blocked in, sorta like you blocked the door to your little playroom two years before. i asked you why you were blocking the door. and this is what you said. you said: nani? i'm so glad i don't have to keep waiting and waiting anymore, for you to find me.

it made me cry j. but i didn't let you see.

and it reminded me of the christmas before these, when you were only two and a half, and your parents and josh picked me up at the airport to spend christmas together in l.a. and i hadn't seen you since you were born, since the summer you were born, so it'd been a very long time. and i remember how you looked out through the window of your carseat in the back. and how i was at the same time looking in trying to get a look at you. and i remember how our eyes met and locked like that for a minute.

you've always been so very special to me j. we're pretty dang good friends, this little boy and his grandmother.

march 27, 2001

dear j,

last night you got to sleep over again while your mom went with your dad to do some dj-ing at a party. you got here sorta late (you'd been here the night before for a few hours to play) so we only had time to make some dinner and watch part of a batman movie before you were falling asleep. so, in other words, no time to play like we usually do. 

this has been a fun place for us to hang out together this past year - it's here where you showed me how to chomp and we chomped a bunch of turnip and beet greens out of the late summer garden. the special chomping tool - an old pair of pliers we found - does an excellent job of shredding foliage. 

we hung out in my room in the basement with a sliding door to the big backyard. you liked playing on the play structure and you also liked hanging out in the fort you claimed in the bamboo grove. we searched for treasure and found some now and then. there were lots of places to explore and since nobody else was usually around you got to do pretty much whatever you wanted (including peeing outside. shh. don't tell your parents ;)

but sometimes you couldn't go outside because Olive The Dog was staying over and she bites. so we always had to check and make sure olive wasn't around.

good times.

april 9, 2011

dear jefry,

well you started t-ball! finally! and it was so much fun watching you with the other boys and your coach. already you've learned the "grounding stance" and how to catch the ball and get to the base to get somebody out (!) you've learned some nifty warmup exercises too. i think you're going to have a fun season.

today is saturday and i'm going to pick you up before long and we're going to go downtown to the library. we haven't done this in a year! when you first moved here we went nearly every saturday - to the library, to get rice and beans for lunch, to the toy store, and then down to see the silver man. but then spring came last year and we started doing other things. but today we're going back.

besides being fun for us this will give your parents a little bit of time to get caught up on some studying and other projects. your daddy's keeping up on his math homework and your mom's doing a hundred things at once like always. 

plus, we're in the process of moving my stuff into your attic because i'm going to be staying with you for a little while until your dad and i finish building a little house for me to stay in. quite the adventure we're all on here...

yesterday it was sunny finally - it's been raining for all but two days of the past sixty or so - and we got to play outside without getting soaked. usually the routine is this: we will play basketball, soccer, baseball, and any other kind of ball, and then you will want to go next door to the swings and the trampoline and play there. it's so great that you live at sherrett square. it couldn't be more perfect. someday you can ask your daddy how your nani knew for two years that you would someday live at sherrett square. it's a pretty funny story.

but yes, you live there in a sweet, small house where it's a miracle that everything fits but it does. even shadow the dog fits and even though he's managed to shred the grass in the yard so that there is always mud everywhere no matter how we try and keep our shoes clean, he's adapted to life in the city in a remarkable way. now if we could just get a few days in a row of some warm sunshine, all that grass seed your daddy's sowed could sprout! 

april 12, 2001

dear j,
last saturday you and i went downtown to the library. finally! we hadn't been in so many months. we did everything the same as we did when you first moved here, we parked on the roof in the same garage, we went to the children's room and got books, we rode the library elevator up and down and then we walked over to the toy store but it wasn't there! it was gone... so instead we walked on to pioneer square (and stopped for a cookie at elephant deli) and listened to the really bad band for awhile and then we walked over to the big pioneer place where all the groovy stores are and rode the escalators for awhile. this time you were big enough to get on them all by yourself and get off too.

after that we looked for the silver man but he wasn't there because he's down at the saturday market instead this year. we had seen him the weekend before when we were there. so then we decided to get some rice and beans at the place with the upstairs. so we hurried as fast as we could because even though the weather had promised to be warm, the wind had come up and we were shivering!

it was fun at the restaurant and we sat at our regular table and looked over your books which included "my hippie grandmother" (which cracks you up) and "he came with the couch," which is a very sweet story and you read parts of it to me! and then we read a story about a young elephant and her grandmother and the fun they have during sleepovers. "oh we love each other so" the story says. and we know how this is true. hunh j.

april 16, 2001

dear j,
i obviously noticed this before (didn't i?) but the place where we go to get our rice and beans when we go downtown on saturdays to the library, is across the street from what used to be petert's music house on the corner of 10th and morrison. so many saturday mornings i spent there in the basement, learning to play guitar. my teacher was marv lundblade. i was lucky to have him.

it was dark going down the stairs and hardly much light in the basement either. there was a big room with a couple of chairs and some random equipment; the light came from some naked bulbs hanging from wire. there were a few studios down there, all with the doors closed, and only occasionally did i ever see any other teachers or students in them. i would perch on one of the chairs and wait for marv to come out with the student before me. my lesson was at 10:00 so he had one, at least, before me. quite an accomplishment for a jazz musician who smoked like a chimney and drank like a fish.

after my lesson i would walk up the street to the library and meet my parents and my brother and look for books and check them out. then, we would go to the farmer's market on yamhill (which isn't there anymore, but you and i have walked by where it was). we would get bread and cheese and meat for sandwiches and cream puffs for desert. if the weather was good we would go up to washington park; if it was raining, we would go home and eat.

we parked in the same garage j, the one we park in now, except my dad would never have parked on the roof. usually he parked on the third floor which had the skybridge over to the building across the street which used to be the galleria.

a few years later, after i had your uncle josh, i worked next door to the restaurant where we get our beans and rice - at celebrity attractions. that's a whole other story j. maybe you'll want to hear it some day.

yesterday, though, we went downtown again and spent a short time at the library getting books but you were restless so we left and went walking instead. we walked over to the park blocks and i stared across the street at the paramount and at the loading ramp door and at the slope of the sidewalk and i wondered if i'd ever looked across to the park blocks while taking a break during the load-in and saw myself with you, all these years and years later. maybe i did, i don't know. but even if i had i wouldn't have believed it. not at age twenty, twenty one. those days my present was too packed with the present to have ever been able to see the future.


april 18, 2001

dear j,
yesterday was so fun. it was sorta sunny, finally, but still cold! but you and i played outside for seven hours! we played soccer ball and i pushed you in the swing and you played on the trampoline and went on a bike ride. and then you dug in your hole for awhile and then had some food. and when your neighbors anwar and sammy got up you all played together for awhile. 

i was thinking about when you first moved here and you lived with your parents in the brown apartments across from the golf course where nani had walked dogs for a couple of years and spent much of that walking time talking to your daddy on the phone when you all still lived in idaho. 

and i would try and try to persuade your daddy to move here. it was a long shot at first but an idea that became more and more plausible as time went on.

when you first got here j you were still so young! only four and a half. and the first day we went to the park alone just you and me, you stumbled down one of the hills and it scared you. we played on the slide and the teeter totters and the merry go round. it seemed as though you were always about to fall. your legs weren't nearly as strong as they are now, and you had always been watched so closely you hadn't tested yourself quite enough yet. (your skull surgery had left everyone pretty spooked).

so i was nervous at first, figuring you out. god knows i didn't want you getting hurt on my watch! 

all the things for you to learn: i remember teaching you how to introduce yourself to other children, taught you to say, "hi, i'm j". i taught you how to ask if you could get on the merry go round too so the kids would slow it down and let you on.

one afternoon when your parents were gone we decided to take your bike to the park and ride it down the long and fairly steep driveway by the school building. the bmxers had carved a trail from the bottom of the driveway up a little hill and around a tree. it wasn't an easy turn for the eleven year olds that were there and i had no anticipation that you would even try it! but before i could blink there you were, shooting up that hill and around the tree. you didn't fall that time and, in fact, only fell a couple of times out of the dozens you tried it.

i was noticing the difference in your strength and agility these past weekends when we've been downtown again. used to be i had to watch every step you took to make sure you weren't going to trip or slip or slide your way into getting hurt. you insist on walking on every curb, every  bench, ledge, or edge that you can fit your foot upon - or ones you can't quite.

these days your one request comes after you've tried or gauged the challenge. then you'll ask: a little hand here nani? 

gauging is an important word here. you've learned that - how to gauge a situation and make an assessment. awesome critical thinking skills you have young man. simply awesome.

and so it goes, this story of the times we spend together. i started writing this at the place i'm still calling "home" this morning and am continuing it now at another house where i stay from time to time and take care of the black dogs. soon i will leave in order to be at your school to pick you up on time.

maybe you'll remember this house, maybe not. already your memory is slipping; so many of the things you used to talk about and recall are forgotten. but this house is where you hung out with me several times, most notably last july when, for your birthday, i got you a swimming pool shaped like a whale. when the hose was hooked up he spit water through his nose. 

good times baby j. good times. 

today i picked you up at school! fun for us... i peeked in your classroom and there you were, all lined up, and when you saw me you said: HI NANI!!! 

then we went to sellwood park and talked about the first time we went to sellwood park and how it was the fourth park i'd taken you to. the first was normandale (right across the street from where i brought your daddy home a few hours after he was born) and the second was the rose city golf course park and the third was grant park which you spied as we were driving south on 33rd avenue and hollered from the backseat: nani, stop! so we did and you played on all the playground stuff and then you played in the henry and beezus wading pool and got completely soaking wet.

(a few weeks later we went and saw the "ramona" movie and you loved it and you got up a few times when the music was good and danced in the aisle. another movie we saw was "marmaduke" and you really liked the song: that's what i like about you. we sang it the whole way home).

then you reminded me about how before we went to sellwood park for the first time we were driving through the neighborhood and you said: nani, stop! that's my school!

it was the sellwood community center so i parked and we got out and walked to the center and went inside and it was lovely and they had really cool equipment and classrooms and a gym with cars you could pedal around. so we went home and told your parents all about it and they went back and checked it out and signed you up. you had a really good summer there j. 

today at the park it was nice for awhile and then it started to rain. since it was almost time for your parents to be home - and since we both knew how much they missed you all day and how much they would want to see you right away - we decided it was a good time as any to hit the road. while we were walking to the car i complained about the rain and this is what you said: but the rain doesn't hurt you does it nani?

nope j. the rain doesn't hurt you but sometimes it gets down right irritating.

april 25, 2011
hey j!
today you were so funny practicing your baseball using the garbage can for a t-ball stand. well, we didn't have a real t-ball stand and you needed to practice, so... and in just a few hits you were better already!

it's so cold and wet this year. i've never seen anything like this weather. but we've managed to forge ahead regardless. you finally learned to jump onto the rope swing from the second branch up on the tree. you figured it out over the weekend and today when i saw you i asked you if you'd shown your daddy and you said, yes. i asked you what your daddy said and you said, he said to never ever ever do that again.

that is so funny.

this weekend you were on the trampoline and you said:

you know what nani?
i really like myself.

you're a treasure my friend.



Hey kiddo,
Yesterday was your second t-ball game. You are having a lot of fun and you love being on a team and having a coach. You played second base and outfield and got three hits. Your team is called The Golden Eagles!

I took you to your game because your mom and dad and uncle jake went back to Idaho to get the last of all the stuff. This morning your mama told me that she will NEVER go back to Idaho. I think they are ready to move on to new things.

Your uncle jake has been here for about two weeks, finally out of the army for good. He's going to spend a couple of years in the reserves which will give him tuition money and a little bit for his living expenses. He's going to study to be a nurse! He's doing so great and you've been so happy to have him around.

Last night you made a fort on your parents' floor for you and shadow to sleep in. Then you read him some stories and fell asleep about 8:15. The last time I looked at the clock before I fell asleep was 8:30! so you and I got a lot of rest last night.

In a little bit I am going to drive to the airport and pick your mom up because she flew back from Boise instead of driving in the u-haul with the boys. She wanted to get back earlier so that she can go to the Mother's Day Tea Party at your school. You are going to be sooooo glad to see her.

ok sugar, later gator ;)

may 10, 2011
dear j,
today you had another game! you are really liking baseball. you had lots of people from your daddy's family coming to see your game so your dad and i stayed home and built the deck on the trailer. can you believe it? we're actually going to get this little house done! you were very helpful when you returned: you strung all the wire for the tail lights :)

it's been amazing living here at your house these past days; it's such a tiny house for so many people. you counted everybody up and including shadow there's six! your uncle jake got settled into the basement and even though there's hardly any room to get to the washer and dryer because of his bed and all those guitars, it's a wonderful feeling knowing everyone is safe and happy being together. 

but i don't know how your mama does it. well, actually i do know since i did it myself, but still... all the work women do that is never, ever done. i do as much as i can but there's always dishes and laundry and food to prepare, and that doesn't even count the floors (which are always so dusty because of all the mud that's tracked in - it's been a very rainy year) or the bathrooms or any of the rest of it. but she's a trouper your mom; she just keeps on going no matter what.

they both work very hard, your parents. they have all the stuff at home and then their schoolwork and your mom works lots of hours doing accounting and your papa has all the movies he's making... it's a circus around here! (that's a pun you'll understand later).

talk to you soon baboon,

may 14, 2001
dear j,
things sure have been busy around here. your papa and i are working on the little house quite a bit and you've been busy nailing boards and digging holes and climbing the tree (even though your parents don't really like you to :( but i try and remind them that the window for tree climbing isn't all that large - one day soon you'll be as inclined to climb trees as you will to observe a 7:30 bedtime. you'll grow up just as quickly as any other young boy.

today we were playing next door at the swings and the trampoline that's all a part of share-it square, and you, of course, were climbing on the tree. you took your batman action figure with you and decided to leave it on a branch while you and your mom went out to lunch. you were sorta worried that batman might fly away while you were gone. i agreed that was a possibility.

well, wouldn't you know! not only did batman fly away but he left you a note in a plastic bag rubber banded to a branch with instructions on where to find him! here's what the note said:
  "Dear J, I flew away to someplace where I won't get wet if it rains. Here's a hint: You'll find me hiding, on your front stair, I'm inside, the left of a pair. ('nother hint: someone's big fee!!!)

well, you found batman hiding in one of your dad's boots! the left one! can you believe that????

yesterday we were taking a drive and talking like we always do and you reminded me that we haven't been to the "old library" in a long, long time. it took me awhile to figure out which library you meant - and it's the hollywood library, the first one i ever took you to. so i guess we'll head across town soon for a visit.

love you lots,

may 18, 2011

dear j,
well, yesterday the t-ball was no more and you hit pitches instead. you had a swell time. baseball has been a great experience for you. it's clear that you love playing sports - you love anything outside and much prefer that over being inside. and now that the rain has maybe stopped it's going to be a lot easier to get out more. you're working on digging a massive hole in the backyard. it's really looking good!

tonight i'm watching you while your parents are out and as you're falling asleep you're singing. you're quite the musician too but it's sorta taken a backseat to playing ball right now. but i can tell you love hearing your uncle jake's music coming up from the basement; one of these days you'll find the time for both.

it's hard to believe that your kindergarten year is nearly done. my goodness. next you'll be in first grade and the years will start to fly by.

i've been living with you here for nearly two weeks. it's been quite the blessing to see you so often. i'm leaving sunday for a couple of weeks to house/dog sit but then i'll be here most of june even though i hope i'll be spending my nights in my little house. depends on how much money i have to buy materials...

in two days your mama's going to have a birthday and after the family party you and me get to hang out again! these times have been important to both of us. we're pretty good pals.

the other day i was driving down 33rd and i remember the day last year, just after you'd moved here, when you and i were driving down that street together, and you caught a glimpse of grant park and you said, oh nani! there's the best park there ever was. so we stopped and you played on everything and you loved the henry and ramona and ribsy fountain and you got soaking wet and i thought, oh shit. i hope i don't get in trouble for letting you get all wet. but it was a warm and sunny day and everything worked out just fine. later we went and saw the beezus movie and you loved it. before that we saw madagascar and you danced in the aisle and laughed and laughed and laughed.

such a year my friend. my thanks.


may 26, 2011

dear jefry,
yesterday you went to the dentist for the first time. you have a little tiny cavity in one of your bottom teeth and your mama took you in for a check. they took a look and i guess you're going back later for a filling! but it ended up that you missed all day at school since the appointment was right in the middle of the day. then, your parents had to go to an orientation at portland state (where they're transferring!) so you and i hung out. you made yourself a sandwich consisting of two pieces of lunch meat, mustard, peanut butter, and jam! it's your favorite sandwich of all. you put an amazing amount of mustard on - i don't see how you can stand it... but you are quite the eater - you've always been eager to try any new food and there are so few that you don't like. good thing you've got your mom's metabolism!

then we warmed up for your baseball game; i threw you some pitches and you hit most of them. you have now graduated from t-ball to real pitching and you've gotten some excellent hits - one of them went way over short stop! 

after you got tired of warming up we played soccer for quite awhile and then we went over to the swings next door where you love to hang out. i think it relaxes you. then we took a look in the backyard and realized the rain bucket was full and the hose wasn't draining it so we got uncle jake to dump the water out so that the basement doesn't flood. then, your best friend santiago hollered from his backyard and you went and sat on the porch railing and talked to him for awhile. at one point you spit on the ground ;) you are such a typical boy.

then your parents got home and found out that your game was canceled so everybody hung out in the kitchen and talked for awhile. tonight it's me and you again while your dad goes to DJ and your mom's going along with him. lots of fun for sure.


 dear j,
you got a new hat! and you wore it to school today and your teacher says it suits you perfectly. it's the same shape as this one, like the blues brothers wore, but yours is a navy blue plaid. darling on you.

and you also got a new aluminum bat and balls! and boy can you hit better with a real bat. it's scary to pitch to you now!

this has been the rainiest spring i can remember and everyone is tired of it. school is out in three weeks and hopefully we'll start getting some sunshine. you will start summer school on the 20th at the same place you went to last year. i know i've mentioned this before but that's the school you saw when we were driving around your neighborhood for the first time and you shouted, "stop nani, that's my school!" and so i parked and we went and took a look around and sure enough your mom and dad liked it too and signed you up.

this year you're going to take some swimming lessons and maybe some tennis and maybe some martial arts. you are really enjoying all the sports - there isn't one you won't try and so far there isn't one you don't love to play. you still like playing soccer ball on the sidewalk in front of your house the best and after awhile you want to go next door to the trampoline and swings and so i follow along to keep my eye on you. 

yesterday we went down to the dog park and you rode your bike and i tagged along behind. what a surprise when we got there! the river was flooded clear up to the park and the picnic tables were under water! there wasn't a whole lot we could do because there was water everywhere but we crossed one bridge and circled a pond a few times and then we headed back home. on the way you saw several beautiful flowers and took them home for your mom.

i'll never forget the day you and i were sitting in the car waiting for your parents at their school and i glanced in the rear view mirror and saw you in a deep trance. i asked you what you were thinking about and in a dreamy voice you said: i'm thinking about my beautiful mother.



dear j,
i don't know if i mentioned it already, but you have learned to spit! and you are quite good at it because you practice a lot. each time you are at bat you spit, often several times. it's sort of driving your mom nuts!

tonight uncle jake is reading you your bedtime stories and then i'll tuck you in. your parents are at school - your mom has class and your dad is running a light board for a dance recital. he's bummed though because the lighting director cued everything in so all he has to do is hit a switch and the whole thing runs itself. so, he's not very excited about being there.

last night you went along with him to the dress rehearsal and your love of dancing was rekindled. i remember the time we went to see marmaduke and you danced in the aisle!

can't believe that there's only two more weeks of school and you'll be out for the summer and then onto first grade. jeez. how did that happen?


june 16, 2011

dear j,
well, you are now officially a first grader. on tuesday you graduated from kindergarten! you were sorta worried on monday because everyone kept telling you it was the last day of school and I don't think you knew what that meant. but after you stood on stage with all your friends I think you realized that it didn't mean you weren't ever going to see them again. whoo. 

for your graduation present I got you a big strawberry plant with red, ripe strawberries already on it and you and I got in planted in the garden area in the front yard while your parents went out. I also got you some flash cards for reading words and some stickers to keep track of how much you're reading; when you get six stickers you get to choose a treat like an ice cream cone or something. 

and then today you had your last t-ball game and you got a nice hit AND you got somebody out at 2nd base. it hardly looks like the same team it was a couple of months ago when you guys all just sorta ran around in circles. now nearly everyone gets a hit that's pitched even though there's still a lot of t-ball too. we'll see what you think about baseball again next year.

so here comes summer and next week you go back to the community center for a few weeks of summer school and later in july you're going to take some swimming lessons. fun times ahead.


heya j,
well it's late and i'm sooo tired and you finally crashed after a busy day and busy week. you are loving it back at summer school so that's all good. your parents are busy with their first week of summer term too and your dad's theater production is this weekend so tonight they are at rehearsal and they'll be there again tomorrow night. then, the show is friday and saturday night with a saturday matinee also which has been re-written to accommodate children and guess what?!? you are in it! you have a small part and you have practiced and you will do a great job!

so sunday everyone will be wickedly tired and it's your dad's birthday to boot and then on tuesday they are going to see miss britney spears in concert. so it's me and you kid!

your good friends from across the street, anwar and sami, are leaving at dawn on vacation and you have been bestowed the honor of "babysitting" the beta fish "scuba-diver" while they're gone. you have fed him (her?) the required number of pellets (or whatever they are) twice now, carefully counting them out.

i was gone for a few days but i heard that you did some incredible reading and earned several stickers. you'll be ready for first grade - you just wait and see.

xo nani