Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Day 4 after surgery ...

So things are coming along quite nicely and am fairly happy with progress so far :) We removed the bandage and the immoblizer in the evening and then i took a nice hot shower. The knee did not look too bad, but it is a bit swollen (which is expected). Mari then helped me put on the ace bandage and the immobilizer. Its kinda hard to require help for every little thing, but over a period of time, i'm starting to do more things on my own. I helped cook a simple dinner of brown rice, dahl and roasted potatoes with olive oil and rosemary.

Tried to sleep without a sleeping pill and it worked quite nicely till 1:00 am. Could not get back to sleep, tried reading god of small things, a book which i've never managed to finish reading. This did not help put me back to sleep either, so finally resorted to taking the pill and got 4 more hours of sleep.

Went with Lara and Mari and had an excellent latte at four barrels on 375 Valencia. Was quite nice and strong, though i prefer the latte at cafe belbo. The space inside is really good (better than belbo and ritual), so overall this might become a regular haunt for us (quick bike ride down 14th street, when i'm able to get on my bike). I also started doing some physical therapy exercises which I managed to find on the web: Recovery after ACL Reconstruction. The straight leg raising is quite strenous and get the heart beating.

After speaking to the Kaiser advice nurse, i went for a short walk. My goal was to have a coffee at Reverie and then get a few books from Cole library. As I started my walk, i realized it was a bit too ambitious of a goal and I was not too sure if i could even make it to reverie. I thought to having coffee at the ashbury market and returning home. It was quite empty and I did not want to hang out there, so i continued onto Reverie. The walk back uphill was much easier and faster. I suspect future walks will be a lot easier. I'm hoping to get more sleep tonite with all this physical exercise. I'll also remove the immobilizer and see how that goes.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Day 3 after surgery and other news ...

last nite and today have been a lot better. Not a lot of sleep last nite either, primarily since i dont sleep on my back, but i've started to twist and turn and sleep on my side which is a good thing. Borrowing a few sleeping pills from my friend, dave, to help solve the problem tonite. Luckily, i have not taken too many of the pain pills, and hence have avoided the stomach issues associated with it.

Took PJ for her first soccer game. Was good fun to see 4 year olds run after the ball and trying to figure things out. Maya prefers to play in the playground and ride her bike instead of soccer. The kids are having a lot of fun in school and integrating quite well with other kids. We've met quite a few of the parents already and will meet the rest over the next few weeks.

For folks who have kids, here's my favorite rhyme which the kids learnt recently:

Where are you going, pig pig pig
I'm going to the garden to dig, dig, dig
Going to my garden to dig, dig, dig?
SHAME ON YOU, pig, pig pig
Sorry man, I'm just a pig
ALL I KNOW is to dig, dig, dig

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Day 2 of surgery ...

day 1 went by quite nicely. Could not keep any food (rice porridge) or water in my stomach till late evening. Then had a few pieces of bread and that stayed in. There was not a lot of pain and i attributed it to the nerve block that i took before surgery.

Did not sleep real well last nite :( Woke up at 2:00 am and then pretty much stayed awake for the rest of the nite. Took a painkiller (oxydocin) and that might have put me to sleep for 30 mins or so. Stayed up and finished a quick non-fiction novel (was not very good either, was about the kids and MIT and Las Vegas, forget the title)

Today has been significantly more uncomfortable than yesterday. I dont think i'm in a lot of pain, but am not very comfortable. Walking around is painful for the first few minutes before it gets better. Have been doing a lot of sitting / sleeping and reading the backlog of new yorkers. Hopefully things will be better tomorrow. Am just taking half the dose of the painkiller and might skip it completely till bedtime

Being immobile is a very different feeling. Kinda strange to be dependent on other folks for most things. Sat outside in the sun for a few minutes and that felt quite good. maybe a short walk with crutches on some flat area might help my mood. Doing work stuff (and blogging) is also a good distraction

Friday, September 26, 2008

ACL surgery done and over with :)

Got my knee taken care of earlier today. Kaiser informed me last nite that my operation was scheduled for early morning. So I was there bright and early at 6:45 am and scheduled to be operated at 9:15 am. They have quite a few patients to get ready for when the OR opens, hence the early call. Things were quite efficient the Kaiser way, and I spent a fair amount of time streching and getting a few last minute exercises in (while waiting).

I kinda expected to wait for some time, so had a stash of New Yorker magazines to read while waiting. This proved to be a great decisions since i spent a fair amount of time waiting to be wheeled into the room. My ACL was operated on by Dr. Miller (from Kaiser San Francisco, French Campus). I also opted to take the nerve block to minimize pain after surgery. Seems to be working quite well, since I'm not in any pain right now, but am quite nauseous. Nothing seems to be staying in my stomach, so i'm hoping it improves real soon

Overall things went quite smoothly. I was knocked out for 3 hours and then woke up in the recovery room. Had a few more painkiller IV'ed in, before they let me go home. They ensure that your bladder is functioning before they let you go home. I'm quite psyched that I got this fixed finally, and ready for some good physical therapy and get the knee back up and running soon. Need it to play soccer with the kids :)

More updates later, off to sleep a bit

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Life in San Francisco ...

So a couple more weeks since my last update and a few more comments and random thoughts about life in San Francisco compared to life in Nelson

  • Getting into a regular routine has been quite good. We dont spend a lot of time on the road on the weekdays, the backroads to the kids school is surprisingly fast (approx 15 mins commute, similar to our tahuna -> richmond commute). Also found a great coffee shop with internet access on the way (in Glen Park, Cafe Bello). I think the coffee there is even better than Ritual. Does give a pretty good buzz :)
  • Our favorite restaurants still rock :) So if you are in San Francisco for an extended period of time make sure you eat at Shalimar for north indian food, Vik's Chaat Corner for indian chaat (snacks), Sketch ice cream (any flavor, any time), Lime Tree for malaysian / singaporean food and Spices for sichuan chinese food, La Corneta Taqueria for mexican food.
  • We've been pretty good with eating most meals at home including lunches. Mari's food club is working great. Last week we got chicken cacciatore from jill. Jill got mari's famous vegetable dahl (the greens book recipe). This week we've got home made pasta sauce from Lisa and Vegetable ghoulash from jill. We combined the vegetable goulash with some dosa mix from viks to have an excellent meal of uttapam and yoghurt for dinner tonite
  • Mari and her brothers (benj and benny) along with brian (nephew) and brenda (niece) did the half dome hike this weekend (its a 17 mile roundtrip with approx 4000 ft elevation). I took care of the kids and we had a great time in the valley. Did a few short hikes and a lot of bike rides. We also went for a junior ranger talk / hike at happy isles nature center. Yosemite does have a fair amount of stuff to offer for kids. The waterfalls were non-existent / down to a trickle, so did miss that part of yosemite. On Sunday we took the kids on a fairly long bike ride (2 hours or so). I suspect the kids biked 5-7 miles that day. At the end of the ride, PJ looks at us and whispers that her legs cannot move any more.very cute :). The drive to yosemite on friday evening was quite awful. Took us close to 5 hours to get there. Luckily we did not get stuck in too bad traffic, but it was bad none the less.
  • Getting my ACL surgery done this thursday. Hopefully i'll be back up and be able to do short walks etc in 3-4 weeks. Mentally i'm quite ready for this and will try to do fairly intensive physical therapy. In the meantime i'm trying to bike as much as possible and do my favorite bike rides (ocean beach/zoo/lake merced, GG Bridge and Sausalito). Biking in the city feels like playing a video game, although the consequences are a bit more severe. Significantly different than biking in Nelson
  • Found a good public swimming pool for the kids, Martin Luther King Pool in Bayview. Recreation time is typically after school hours (3:00 pm or 3:30 pm) and they reserve a fairly decent section of the pool for families. Last Tuesday we were the only family in there and it was great. Today it was a wee bit more crowded, but still ample space for everyone. The showers are nice and super hot also. Definitely a good surprise. Richmond Aquatic Center still has a significant edge though :)
  • The kids are doing good in school. Maya has warmed up to the teachers already, and the teachers have already noticed PJ's masti streak. The school is quite good and we are trying to get involved with as many things as we can. There are quite a few evening meetings and educational things for parents on an ongoing basis. Will definitely keep the kids and us busy this year. They have a cool program called WOW (walk on wednesdays). We drive close to school and then join the "walking school bus". There are bagels and milk at the end of the walk.
Pictures and some indepth blog posts on other facets coming soon ..

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Back in San Francisco ...

So its been a week since we got back to san francisco. A few random thoughts and musings ...

  • San Francisco is dense :) Compared to Nelson (or some other places in NZ), i suspect most of the world is quite dense and crowded. I miss the light traffic, short distances and easy parking of Nelson and NZ in general. I really miss the convenience of the library and the aquatic center and the fabulous playgrounds (though they are quite a few good playgrounds in SF)
  • Food wise, I think the two places are quite comparable. San Francisco does have a wider variety, but we pretty much had most things we liked in Nelson too. The two farmers markets are equivalent (in my opinion)
  • The kids started at San Francisco School late last week (Sept 11th). They've settled in quite nicely. The school has been wonderful and very accomodating and we did a pre-trip on Monday to get the kids a bit familiar with the other kids and teachers. We also had a play date with two families from the school last week at Walter Haas playground
  • The school is a bit closer than I expected :) It takes us between 15-20 minutes to get to school. I was expecting to spend 30 minutes or so driving them to school
  • Mari started her food exchange program this week with Jill and Lisa. The program was great this week, since we got to eat yummy rice and nut loaf (mari), cous cous with spicy lemon grass fish soup (jill) and lasagne with home made pesto and sausage (lisa). Here's to more good food in the weeks to come
  • Made a quick visit to Monterey Bay Aquarium on Wed before school started. We've been taking the kids there once or twice a year. Is quite amazing to see the various things that holds their interest at various stages of their life. The fish feeding and penguins were a big hit this time. If you are in the area and have little kids, do stop by at the Dennis the Menace playground. There is also a long bike trail which is great for families with kids :)

Monday, September 08, 2008

Review: Richmond Montessori School, Richmond, Nelson, NZ

Maya and PJ attended Richmond Montessori School in Nelson the 20 months we were in Nelson. That probably was our best find in the area. Its a great school with staff that really cares for the kids and gives them a good base for them to build their future on. Both Maya and PJ thrived in that school (along with their other classmates) and most of the times were quite excited to go to school. They were recently reviewed by the ERO (education review office) and came out with flying colors. You can read that fine review here.

Here are some of the highlights of our stay there (in no particular order)

  • The teachers (Tameko, Judith, Natasha, Sarah, Niluckshi and Sally) were all so nice, gentle and patient with the kids. I used to volunteer at the school twice a week and observed them and their interactions quite closely. Its quite amazing how they manage to get a large group of kids to work and focus both on an individual and as part of a group
  • The snacks and lunch :) The school provides lunch on tue-thu. Most of the produce used for the lunch would have been purchased by Niluckshi (the directress) at the Nelson Saturday market, i.e. local organic produce. The kids were introduced to a variety of different types of food from salmon and cream cheese sandwiches to pumpkin soup. At the end of our stay there, maya and PJ choice of sandwich was a mousetrap (a vegemite and cheese sandwich). We'll need to find a local source for vegemite to satisfy their mousetrap cravings
  • Bike thursdays and the two scoot bikes that the school offered. Kids out there get to bike and watch their friends bike every thursday. This positive reinforcement along with the help of the scoot bikes resulted in kids as young as 3 years old bike without training wheels.
  • Yoga class. Niluckshi would lead a yoga class once a week. Most kids loved doing it. They also had a simple breathing and mantra exercise which really helped the kids calm down. We used this mantra a lot with PJ when she would be upset / throw a tantrum. It worked wonders
  • Willing to experiment and try out new ideas. Mari made a few suggestions on things that the school could potentially do to make things better. The school incorporated those suggestions over the course of our stay there. Niluckshi and team really strive to make the school an enjoyable experience for the kids (and parents too)
  • Being proactive with regard to a child and their growth. We would talk with both Maya and PJ's teachers on a regular (sometimes weekly basis) and exchange ideas / get tips on how to make things better. Tameko would help us a lot with ideas on how to get PJ to eat better. Judith and Natasha would encourage us to organize more play dates to make maya more comfortable with other kids and adults
  • Forgot to mention the Profile books that they create for each child. This by itself is a work of art (and hard labor). Maintaining and updating it seems like a full time job for the teachers. They do have to work extra long hours to update the books for ALL the children
  • Maya and PJ also love the cooking classes that are run weekly. They seem to enjoy the music class too (which is run by fabulous grandparents of a former student, ron and gaylor)
We'd like to thank the staff at RMP for helping raise our kids and being such fine teachers. Your dedication and commitment to the kids and the school is amazing.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Back in San Francisco ...

We landed in San Francisco yesterday afternoon and are back at home :). The kids are quite pleased to see their old room and toys. Maya and PJ insisted on riding their bikes the minute they got home (after a shower etc)

We had an interesting experience getting to Auckland. Due to fog, the flight was diverted to Hamilton. From Hamilton we were bussed into Auckland. Normally would not be a big deal, but having to transfer 8 pieces of luggage (including a ski bag and a bike case) was quite the challenge. Luckily Maya and PJ are old enough to take care of themselves. They made themselves quite useful by rolling the third cart at Auckland and San Francisco airport.

We went for dinner to Phu's place and met a few friends. We had excellent Beef Stew with noodles / French bread for dinner (mari and tamar had a seafood soup) along with a good bottle of Rimu Grove Pinot Noir. For dessert we had some yummy bi-rite icecream. We had exhausted the kids out there and hoped they would sleep all the way home and into the morning. unfortunately they were still on NZ time and stayed awake a bit late, till 11:00 pm or so. Hopefully they'll get over the jetlag stuff pretty soon. Got a pretty busy weekend ahead with quite a few scheduled activities and events

Restaurant Review: Bouterey ..

We had two great meals at Boutereys the past few weeks. Boutereys was a finalist this year in the Cuisine magazine restaurant of the year awards (along with Hopgoods in Nelson). On both the visits we had a large enough group that we had a taste of everything on the menu :)

Our first visit was with JD and family. The restaurant (as most kiwi restaurants) were very accomodating and gracious to the kids. They had just re-opened after a three week summer break and had a new menu to start with. Since we were 4 adults and 4 kids, we ordered all 5 appetizers and all 5 main courses and did a lot of sharing. Some of the starter highlights include the tuna tartare, beetroot ravioli, the fried squid, the chicken pate with wafers and the pork belly. I just realized that I mentioned all the 5 starters as highlights. The kids were quite famished (we had a long full day with them in the great outdoors), so they were responsible for finishing off a large section of the starters. One slight disadvantage of dining with small kids sharing your plates is you dont get to taste things as a whole, since the kids typically pick and choose parts of the plate that they like. So the experience does get diminished a wee bit :(. The mains were quite excellent also. We liked th duck breast, the beef cheeks and the potato cannelloni. The only dish that was good but not great was the fish of the day (salmon). The chocolate mousse, creme brulee and the tarte tatin desserts complimented the fine meal. We also shared a very good bottle of the Felten Road Pinot Noir.

On our last week, we organized a farewell dinner at Boutereys with the staff at Richmond Montessori and a few friends. We had a total of 16 adults and 9 kids. We scheduled an early dinner so we could get out before the restaurant got very busy. Fortunately for us, this was a slow winter night and the restaurant was quite empty. I managed to sit with a group of folks who liked to share, and we did the same as our first visit, i.e. ordered all the starters, main courses and desserts. This time however, the restaurant paced the meal very well. The kids had a risotto for their main and a chocolate mousse with icecream for dessert. They got the kids meals out approx 10 minutes before the adult meals. This gave the adults time to ensure that their kids ate most of their meal. This allowed us to enjoy our meals with the various sauces and flavor combinations. Once again everything was quite excellent and I really enjoyed the vegetarian ratatotouille and cannelloni. We managed to stay there for 3 hours and it was quite cool to see 9 kids behave for most of that time. Our thanx to Tania and Matt for being such gracious and accomodating hosts

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Restaurant Review: Food Game ..

I should have written about Food Game a long long time ago, but i did not, and I feel real bad. A bit late is better than never. Food Game is basically a deli / take away / wild game food shop in Wakatu Square, Nelson (next to Lightning Direct and across from the Hunting shop). The yellow pages address is: 70 Achilles Ave, Nelson, 03-545 6505

Ben and his wife also started Fishmongers in Auckland, which is a great fish & chips shop in auckland and a must visit. It serves quite a few other yummy stuff besides F&C. We normally would have a meal there when we spend the day in Auckland before flying to SFO. So it was quite cool and nice for Ben to move to Nelson and start a great place.

The place has got the worlds best sandwiches! There is a different hot sandwich (or two) every day. Some of my favorites include the wild pork, the fish cake and the roasted doppler lamb. Ben will make a grilled fish sandwich for mari since she does not eat meat. Our friends the dierkings visited the shop a few weeks back and mentioned us. JD ordered quite a few things (none of them veggie), so Ben reminded him that Mari does not eat meat and packed a really good fish sandwich for her. Our neighbours Paul and Toni are also frequent visitors to Foodgame.

Here are a few items that we've had there that were wonderful.

  • Blue cod fish cakes
  • Smoked Fish Pie
  • Rabbit Pie
  • Balinese Goat Curry
  • Hot smoked salmon
  • Raw fish in coconut milk
  • Jamaican style Goat Curry
  • Wild pork vindaloo
  • Hummus and Babaganoush
  • Gnocchi with pear and gorgonzola
So far, we've only had one dish (filipino stule goat curry) that was not great. Unfortunately we had it after the balinese goat curry which was extremely good. Foodgame carries a lot of wild game (from marlborough) and also carries Doppler lamb. Definitely a must visit place in Nelson. I suspect this will be the place I will miss the most on our return to San Francisco.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

back to san francisco ..

So in 3 days from now, we'll be heading back home to san francisco. All of us seem to have different reactions to going home. Maya is thrilled to go home and live in a big city. PJ wants to get reunited with her dora-dora couch. Mari is happy to go home to be with family and friends. I'm kinda in between.

I'm a bit sad to be leaving nelson since i really enjoyed the slower lifestyle here (specifically the not having to deal with traffic and crowds part). The kids have grown up so much out here and have learnt all the outdoor things we wanted to get them into. Its kinda cool that by the time they are five years, they can bike, ski and swim. Their favorite memories of NZ include the backpacking trips to the two huts (thanx Kat!), Flora Hut and Awaroa Hut. We pretty much talk about the hut trip every week or so. I'll miss all our friends and the gatherings at various playgrounds after school, the combined explorations. I'll miss the market and the food, but that is a whole new blog post :)

We've taken the move back as a good reason to reduce the amount of clutter and stuff in our lives. So mari has been spearheading a major major cleanup of our stuff. We also had to give away most of the furniture that came with the house. Luckily our network of friends managed to help us out :)

I'll blog a bit on the various things as we go through the process