Monday, January 30, 2012

Maharaja and Sanjay Patel

Jane did such a great job at the museum we decided to take her to another one a few days later. We are members to the De Young/Legion of Honor museums and the museums of San Francisco did an exchange one Saturday where your membership gained you free entry to other local museums. We decided to go to the Asian Art Museum and we only had to pay $5 each for entry into the special exhibit, Maharaja, which was well worth it.

I was under the mistaken assumption that there was only 1 maharaja for all of India but instead there are 600 different "great kings". It was incredible to see the amount of wealth that these kings had with elaborate jewels of sapphires, rubies, emeralds, and diamonds, and how they would decorate their elephants in ceremonial dress. For me, it was fascinating to see how their dress and customs changed with the invasion of the British. Slowly, these maharaja's shifted from wearing tradition dress to more Western style, even substituting the elephant for a silver carriage! One necklace that was designed by Cartier contained nearly 3,000 diamonds including a 234 carat yellow diamond. Unfortunately, the necklace was sold off into bits and pieces over the years so we were only able to see a replica with quartz but it was still a show stopper. And Jane was even better this time, sleeping through most of this exhibit- as long as the stroller kept moving :-)

We ended up getting an unexpected delight when we saw another one of their special exhibits about a modern day artist named Sanjay Patel. Patel currently works as an animator for Pixar and has decided to illustrate the Hindu gods and retell some of their legends. His work is so great that they asked him to do a large scale mural for the Maharaja exhibit. This is only one piece of that work
They also had a special exhibit directed solely to his art and I love his explanation of why he does his artwork: "People see my work and think it's unique. This is total bull. My work is a total knock off and the fact that people don't see it shocks me. That's the whole point of my show: To show people the connection between the most ancient artifacts and my modern interpretation"- Sanjay Patel. I also love that he feels that his work is "continuing a tradition of art making and worship that stretches back thousands of years".

After watching a video where he explains about himself and how he does is artwork (he sketches first and then uses the computer), I learned that he trained at an art school started by Walt Disney and I realized that he has incorporated that style and that is why I love his work so much. Here are several images from his exhibit
I love that this one shows his artistic process of sketching
William also enjoyed his artwork so much that we bought both of his books- "The Little Book of Hindu Deities" and "Ramayana: Divine Loophole"- and I can't wait to start reading them. This was such a pleasant surprise to have stumbled upon this great artist. And even Jane seemed to be showing some "reverence" for this great art.
An interesting side note- no one came up to us to look at Jane while we were at the museum, which was the opposite experience of the CJM. Not sure why- maybe because it was that Jane behaved even better :-)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Jane's First Museum Exhibit: Houdini- Art and Magic

It is no surprise that I absolutely love museums. And William won HUGE points on our first date by taking me to my favorite museum in Boston- the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (in my mind, it was definitely a sign :-) So even though Jane is barely 2 months old, we are starting her early so that she will enjoy them as well.

On Martin Luther King Jr. day, William had work off so we went up to San Francisco to visit the Contemporary Jewish Museum's exhibit on Houdini. The CJM keeps very accurate records of all of their attendees and so even Miss Jane got her own sticker to wear (and the guards even checked to make sure she had one :-) It was crowded at the exhibit, since it was the last day for it and Jane received a lot of attention from the other patrons. Lots of individuals came up to us and mentioned how cute she was and talked about how they all grow up so fast.

Jane only had one very small crying episode that was quickly silenced by a bottle and she fell back asleep so she did a good job of letting mom and dad enjoy the exhibit of "Houdini: Art and Magic".

William and I didn't know that Houdini was Jewish and that is because he changed his name from Erich Weiz to Harry Houdini after he read a book written by famous French magician, Robert-Houdin. He definitely had performing in his blood as evidenced by his creating his own backyard circus when he was 9 and charging admission for his trapeze work. He met his wife while he was performing and used her for his most famous trick, the Metamorphosis. What was most interesting about the exhibit was seeing the actual objects used such as a replica of the cabinet for the Metamorphosis, the milk can that he stuffed himself into, the handcuffs, as well as photos and videos of him performing these tricks. I didn't realize just how many times he performed his getting out of a straight jacket while hanging upside down trick- it was probably about 5 or 6 times in different cities, once in San Francisco. I also learned that he shared some of his secrets to his illusions in popular magazines, like Ladies' Home Journal. What was most impressive is that many of his tricks dealt with his being able to manipulate his body to make the process easier for him.

The exhibit also included art inspired by Houdini but this was the weakest and least interesting part of the exhibit as how can you top the wonder captured by this great performer, and marketer.

In addition to this being Jane's first museum, it was also her first visit to San Francisco and is the first of many trips (the next one was only a few days later on Saturday).

Monday, January 23, 2012

Attempting to get a "Good" Photo with a Baby

I place the "good" in quotations as I have learned over the past two months that you can't expect the perfect shot but you should just hope for one that is "good" or "okay" which standard varies according to the particular instance and setting.

I provide two series below illustrating this. The first is showing a hat that my dear friend, Auntie Lauren, made especially for Jane. I wanted Auntie Lauren to have a special photo of Jane wearing the hat- seems like a simple request but it took way more effort and compromise than I was expecting.

Jane was not at all cooperative at first, as evidenced by the following 3 photos where she just kept screaming and crying.

I was trying to get a good photo of her without her binkie but after several minutes of screaming at the top of her little lungs, I decided it ultimately wasn't worth it and put the binkie in.
She calmed down but still, not perfect as both of her eyes are closed.

I tried several more shots of her with the binkie and while she was calm, she just didn't want to have both eyes fully open so I settled for the "good" one of the bunch where one eye is open and the other is at least partially open.

And even when she is in a slightly better mood, it is still tough to get a "good" shot. My co-worker Ashley knitted this blanket especially for Jane and while she was not crying, it still took awhile to get a "good" shot.

She first had both of her eyes closed
Then she didn't want to look at me (the only thing on that side of her is a brown wall which appears to be much more engaging :-)
The following was the "good" enough shot where she is somewhat looking forward, though she is reaching for some unknown object.
I recognize just how lucky I am that we have a digital camera where I can actually see exactly how the photo turns out immediately, rather than hoping for an ok photo and finding out they were all terrible months later when they were developed. I truly appreciate all of the hard work and effort done by my parents so that I have many good shots.

I still have NO idea on how to make this process any easier though so you will be encountering many more "good" photos of Jane :-)

Christmas 2011

So, we definitely had a low key Christmas this year, as we didn't even have a Christmas tree in our apartment. We did have several nativities around and some decorations, but we will need to remedy the situation for next year to create a better ambiance of holiday magic.

But we did make sure that she was festively dressed with the cute bow made by my friend April
And both dad and mom made sure to wear festive colors for our photos with Jane
What a perfect day for Jane to make her debut at church for the special Christmas program and she seemed to enjoy it as we didn't even need to take her out of the chapel.

We then later spent time with both of our extended families via video chat online which was great because we missed spending the actual holiday with them, but that will be remedied next year for sure. We opened Jane's presents in front of the families so that they could take part in our pleasure and gratitude as she was not yet able to give a smile. She was super spoiled by all of her grandparents and aunties, but here are a few of the gifts.

This keepsake ornament gotten especially for Jane from the Stults family's favorite place- Disneyland- by Auntie Cynthia
And then the Little People Nativity from Auntie Sarah which we proudly displayed and can't wait for Jane to play with it next year
We send everyone greetings from our little elf that everyone had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
(Side note- given this photo, Nana and Grampy Stults now refer to her in conversation and emails as "Christmas Elf" so that is one of her new nicknames).

And we got the best Christmas gift in our stocking- little Jane. She barely fit inside even though she was only 1 month old!
Her bib is from Nana Stults and she still wears it as it still sums up her current sleeping situation- "No silent night with ME around!"

Merry Baby's First Christmas!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Christmas Eve 2011

This was our first Christmas season that we spent as just our new family of 3- and Jane's first Christmas Eve.

Everyone has been so generous to us, giving us such adorable items like the headband and bow and the my first Christmas onesie. I love this picture because it looks like she is smiling, though it hasn't happened yet.
Nana Stults also gave her this my first Christmas bib. Jane was not thrilled with the photo shoot- she is barely tolerating it as her expression shows
We went to dinner at P.F. Chang's and had a little elf tag along with us (Side story: being at the restaurant, people would walk by and peek at Jane and then have a surprised look on their face when they saw the Santa hat (thanks Auntie Bekky!!)
We then went to Christmas in the Park in San Jose- this was my first year going to the event. They have little holiday scenes interspersed between hundreds of trees decorated by local schools, clubs, and businesses. My sister's dance team that she teaches did a tree but we sadly weren't able to find it. I did like this Yakult tree with a star made of out of- you guessed it- Yakult bottles.
The giant Christmas tree in the center of the event
Some of the characters in the scenes kind of scared/creeped me out and so I only have photos of the cute ones

Not too much longer until Santa's arrival

This helped to make Christmas Eve special since we were missing our sweet extended families.

Global Winter Wonderland

For our date night out with Ben and Beverly we went to dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant and then to Global Winter Wonderland. I had been looking forward to this event for awhile and so I was thrilled when they agreed to go with us.

This is the first year that it has been here in the Bay area (maybe the last???) and I really enjoyed it because I am big on Christmas lights and world traveling so this was a brilliant combination. It was interesting because it was originally from China so they had all of the descriptions in English and Chinese, as well as many landmarks from China.

Dragon Boat

Love the intricate details on this piece

My personal favorite, and one that I have been to, was the Temple of Heaven.

This truly was a GLOBAL Winter Wonderland as how many places can you be where you can have the Statue of Liberty, Golden Gate Bridge, St. Basil's Cathedral, and the Eiffel Tower all in one shot. The only other place that even comes close to this is the Strip in Las Vegas.

Close up of the Eiffel Tower with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background

Also spectacular was the Taj Mahal (still on my list of places to visit)

and Chichen Itza

and the iconic windmills of the Netherlands, reminding me of my visit to Kinderdijk

They also had a forest, where the tops of the trees are made out of plastic bottles, and

and a beautiful vase.

Adding to the whole ambiance were several lighted archways we could walk under

Many thanks to the grandparents for watching the babies for us!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Visit with the Freeman's

Grandma and Grandpa Kunz timed their visit to coincide with the visit of their long time friends, the Freeman's who were also coming to visit their granddaughter. This friendship has lasted for decades as well as the friendship between William and their son Ben. William and Ben have been friends nearly their entire lives- they are both computer scientists who ended up living in the Bay area, got married within a year of each other, and ended up having children born in the same month. William and Ben live parallel lives so when we found out that they were expecting a girl, it was only natural that we would be having one as well. And we are THRILLED that the friendship will continue for a THIRD generation with Jane and Natalie.

This was the first meeting of the girls. Natalie was born a few weeks before Jane and had long outpaced her in the hair department. (Jane still has the same amount that you see in the photos, which is basically nothing :-)

Auntie Beverly holding Jane

I love that both girls are sleeping in this photo- they are already starting to do things together :-)

We are so looking forward to watching these two grow up together!

Visit from Grandma and Grandpa Kunz

Jane was so lucky to have more adoring visitors with Grandma and Grandpa Kunz who visited us before Christmas. I thought that I had more photos with them but it turns out that they are all on Grandma's camera :-)

Grandma with her first granddaughter and she is so great with her- Jane definitely missed having Grandma hold her all the time.

Jane with Grandpa

This shot is one of my favorites- look at how gingerly he is cradling her

We had a fabulous time with them- we celebrated Grandma's birthday at BJ's with some deep dish pizza and red velvet pizookie, went shopping at the Great Mall and WalMart for Christmas gifts, Grandpa helping us get tools at Home Depot for taking care of our yard and then starting us on the process of cleaning up the space, and taking them to Google.

This was not only their first visit to the campus but it was Jane's as well. I particularly love the name tag her daddy gave her.

We also took them to the store and the giant Android dessert icons, which are just so fun. Here are a few of the latest ones

I love that they got Android in the Holiday spirit with a wreath that lit up at night :-)

They were also super kind and watched Jane while we both went to sacrament meeting, seeing Sherlock Holmes 2, and while we went with our friends Ben and Beverly to the Global Winter Wonderland. And we were thrilled that Jane was good for them (at least that's what they told us! :-)

Jane definitely misses her grandparents but is happy that she gets to see and talk to them every week on Skype. We are looking forward to their visit again in February!