September 2006 Archives

a week already!

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Since I've been too busy to post, check out Dav's flickr photostream to see what we've been up to. Basically been running around catching up with family and friends. Tesla has been great; snoozing when she can as we walk around Tokyo, smiling at everyone we try to show her off to, and very easy to handle except for a few understandable crying sessions. It's wonderful to see my old neighborhood, and see friends. I'll get around to sharing more at some point. Meanwhile, I'm savoring every minute.

Heading to Tokyo

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Yay! It's been a while and I am so looking forward to this. Tesla's first plane ride!

Our first baby group activity

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Today I took Tesla to the Potrero Hill library where they have a sing, dance, story telling session for babies a few times a month. It was our very first gathering of such, and I found myself observing the other mothers, caretakers, and 1 father. I guess I don't really see myself as a "mother" yet and I felt out of place. Tesla didn't seem too impressed by all the gay & bouncy activities; she almost fell asleep by the end. I duly sang along, clapped her hands, and raised her high at the right moments during songs.

Tesla was by far the youngest. Seeing the toddlers get a kick out of all this, it was clear that such gatherings are special and good for the kids. It warmed my heart to think that Dav and I will take Tesla to such activities for her pleasure. At the same time I felt bad for children who don't have such opportunities. I'm looking forward to making Tesla a happy kid.

* note the wrist guard I'm wearing now. Tesla is heavy enough that my wrists can't take much of her...

the Yaginuma Moving Castle

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The first picture is of Dav driving and Tesla snoozing on the way to BM. Next to it shows how much space her swingy thingy took up (whole dining table area). We really dug having an RV. I'd have felt guilty without Tesla as a reason, but now that we've experienced it, man, it's NICE!! I just love having a functioning kitchen...and of course not having to use porta potties, especially at 4am, is luxurious.

* plus, with the RV I was able to recharge my phonecam. Usually I can't take many pictures, but this year I could. I have some videos I'll post too.

a few scenes from our early mornings

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There was Camp Katrina that showed the work Burners Without Borders did for Katrina victims this past year. Over $1million worth of work. I admire what they've done, and am also happy how this shows that BM isn't just one big silly party. Sure it can be silly because it's healthy to have fun. But this group shows a more significant and serious side of BM. The skills people learn here about living in the desert, building community, and creating your own values are real. We all hope to bring a bit of BM back to the "default world," and these folks totally did that. I'm glad they showed to others what BM can mean since people who've never been oftentimes simplistically think BM is a self-indulgent meaningless event.

That structure in the 2nd row left picture is made of cardboard!

The 3rd right picture is the line for fresh french toast served right on the Esplanade at about 7am (not location, but actual time (BM roads are named by time)). With fruit, real maple syrup, and whipping cream. We had just left Center Camp and were heading to see if Pancake House was open...when a guy yelled over, "do you want french toast?" Perfect!! A very Burning Man moment indeed.

The last picture is the view from atop of our RV.

Center Camp babies

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Like I mentioned below, the best time to get out with a baby was early morning before the sun heated up. And many little ones show up at Center Camp. We met a beautiful half-Japanese baby named Kiyomi. We chatted with her parents and shared tips and tricks. It really is great to see other parents thinking the way we do...although the babies we met were all well over 6 months...

Burning Man and our 2 month old

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Darn, a whole week has already gone by since we've been back. Only a few days ago did I finally finish washing all our dusty stuff, putting away the few costumes we brought (which we didn't wear anyway since we didn't go out much), cleaning out and cleaning up the RV, and washing out the dirt under Tesla's fingernails.

I wanted to jot down our experience for memory, but also to share with other parents who may be interested in bringing their baby to the playa...so the following is long. Overall, we are very happy we went to the playa. It was a lot of effort for sure. Dav has spent months acquiring our RV and making sure all parts are in working order. I had to organize our clothes and food in small increments as I took care of Tesla. You really gotta wanna go! For us though, the playa is home so as long as Tesla was safe, it was worth it.

I initially kept a diary while on the playa to reproduce here, but I can't seem to find it. I stopped mid-way anyway once I got the swing of things as I definitely chilled even after one day in terms of worrying over Tesla. I started the diary because the playa felt so different with Tesla, and I wanted to process that. The first few days were windy so I literally got out of the RV maybe 3 times just to walk around like 2 minutes. I had understood I might spend the whole week inside the RV for Tes when coming, so I wasn't frustrated; I was just very aware of how different things were. So I wrote about it...about how I found myself rocking Tesla to sleep while my husband was outside in the elements setting up our extra shade structure. The best contribution I could do was create yummy meals (which were actually fun to do since I had a fridge, stove, and counters!). During this time, I felt like we were in some time warp, on some frontier eking out a living with traditional gender roles. Part of me mourned that we would not be able to let go and run around the playa carefree. Part of me loved this new chapter of experiencing BM from a parent's perspective. I've partied 5 years, so it's time for something new. And I'm excited to show this world to Tesla.

I kept another diary of Tesla's every activity - pee, poop, feeding, napping. Just in case she got sick, I wanted to have detailed history of her behavior. At the beginning, I fed Tesla almost every hour...even when she was sleeping, I'd wake her up and give her at least a little in order to avoid dehydration. Due to that, she whipped through 15+ diapers the first 24 hours (thereafter it got back to normal). We brought 150+ diapers, and used under 100 for 6 days.

In terms of a typical day, other than the 2 days when we were completely holed up in the RV all day, we got out around 5am when Tesla woke up. We all bundled up, and I brought a sunhat for Tesla for when the sun started peeking out. It was very beautiful and calm during that time, and I enjoyed seeing the city at such an hour when we felt fresh and awake. We stopped by Center Camp for coffee, discovering that other parents and their babies end up there too in the early hours. By 9am or so, we'd head back. I never had the need for sunscreen.

We camped near the Deep End (great day party place), and made it out there twice during the day using a gigantic golf umbrella covered with reflective material. We hung out on the periphery and didn't stay long, but I highly recommend such a walking shade tool. It was fun to see folks dancing about celebrating.

We had a shade over the entire RV that kept it cool longer than normal, but by 2pm, we'd crank the AC on to keep Tesla comfortable until around 6pm. Unfortunately, it got windy at night so we didn't venture out in order to avoid dust. Thursday night was gorgeous though, so we attempted a night outing, but by then there was so much traffic that it was dusty anyway. I think enjoying the playa early in the week before it gets too crowded is key.

I honestly think Tesla was fine. She loved the constant attention from us and friends, and I think she developed a lot during that week. Of course we were careful with her, but I'm impressed at how strong babies are. I had read too that breast milk adapts to environments, and I think my milk changed for her needs (her poop was more runny than usual but not in the diarrhea way). She was one happy baby the whole week.

So if there is a conclusion to be had, it's that it was totally fine to bring Tesla to the playa. We did buy an RV, completely changed our goals about BM, and we left Sat morning before the burn to avoid traffic jams, but that's what makes BM so great; whatever your intentions or place in life you are, BM offers a lot. We are looking forward to more Campalician babies to join.

I do want to shout out a thank you to our Campalician friends who welcomed us. Even though we didn't join in their party nights, getting to hang out with close friends made all the difference. We considered checking out Kidsville for next year, but honestly, Dav and I would probably feel isolated. It's so much better to integrate Tesla into our close circle.

Pictures: 1st left is of me bored inside while Tes napped. We brought her swanky swinging contraption with us (behind me). Even though it took up half the sitting area in the RV, it was sure nice to have.

1st right shows a new T-shirt a friend gave Tesla. Being on the playa isn't just for going out. We have quite a few friends whom we see only at Burning Man as they live far away. They came to visit us, and brought gifts especially for Tesla tucked in their camel packs.

2nd left is Kenji, a Japanese first-timer from Yokohama. Dav listed my name & location under a geographical list, and I rec'd a visitor! This year, in spite of having the RV, I only brought necessities for us. I didn't have any gifts other than cheese and crackers. Next year, now that I know we can handle the playa as a family, I'm going to take advantage of having a fridge/freezer, and want to make yummy snackies to give away, like sushi rolls or baked cookies.

The last two pictures show our mini attempts to dress up...even though we just stuck around camp. I did Dav's hair up twice, and wore a little something that made me feel playful. Luckily, our friends Sion and Elaine brought their pro-level sound system, so we got to enjoy great music right at home.

Some playa pics

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Taken around sunrise, the calm non-dusty time we ventured out.

Heading back from Burning Man

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We left Black Rock City this a.m. to avoid the rush after the burn tonight. On the highway now so let me share some cute pics of Tes at Burning Man. We had fun and are glad we made it this year. I will post more details once we are home but overall Tesla was a great baby burner. We are quite proud of her! She almost started sucking her thumb this week, and coos a lot in the most adorable way. She also gave lots of smiles to people.