We’ve been in America for about 3 weeks now, long enough to amass a lot of Will photos and more than a few memories. Consider this post a temporary return to baby blog days of yore.
Upon arrival in Newark and clearance of customs Will and I were ushered into the “families and wheel-chair bound and you-look-like-you’ve-never-flown-before-have-you?” line. Two TSA agents screamed angrily at one another as to whether I with my baby or a lady with a wheelchair should be next in line. I tried to tell them that we had plenty of time, it wasn’t even 5 o’clock in the morning. Ahead of me, a preschool-aged little girl fell on the floor in a screaming mess of tears as her stuffed animal passed through the x-ray machine while her panicky and anxious parents tried unsuccessfully to shove the car seat onto the conveyer belt before turning to shout at one another and then shout at the little girl.
My first thought: “Well, welcome to America.” My second thought: “If this is the beginning of the day around here, thank God I’m not flying through at the end of it.”
But if our entry into the States seemed unpromising, the rest of the trip has been all-out redemptive. Blue skies, fresh air. Family. Bountiful fruits and vegetables and of course, inevitably, Target.
After three years of consistently visiting 6 stores or markets in order to buy 3 items, my brain just cannot wrap its head around the concept anymore that it might be possible to make just one trip to one store to find everything I need. Which is why it’s taken us approximately 8 trips–so many so that Will now regards the big red bullseye as a blessed beacon of familiarity–to buy all of the shampoo, toddler vitamins, sandals, resume paper for my sister, watering cans, pint-sized caterpillar trucks, decorative paper plates and tubs of water-packed fresh mozzarella that we originally set out to purchase. Yesterday Chris picked up a cup of coffee at the in-house Starbucks, prompting a nearby observer to approach us earnestly with a round plastic contraption: a beverage holder sized perfectly for attaching a grande coffee to a Target shopping cart.
God Bless America.
In Green Bay with my parents for the first two weeks, Will played a lot of “golf” and ate a lot of ice cream. I think I’ve alluded to the fact that Will is, despite deceptively chubby cheeks, quite a lightweight among his peers. The sort of lightweight that makes doctors actually recommend deep fried chicken nuggets and shakes made out of peanut butter–if we could ever get him to consume either.
It’s not that he’s a picky eater. If the mood strikes him he’ll eat nearly anything put in front of him. The trick is getting the mood to strike him–it’s a little like attaching a key to a kite string and waiting for lighting…on a clear sunny day in Delhi in the middle of May.
Ice cream though, it’s our frozen lighting. A sure fire way to get necessary fat and calories into a little body that mostly can’t be bothered to slow down longer than it takes to inhale a small bowl of fruit.
Thus, ice cream cones dipped in chocolate.
Last week Will and I boarded two more tiny puddle jumper jets to fly out East to reunite with Chris and his family in Charlottesville.
If the themes for Green Bay were “golf” and ice cream, then the themes for Charlottesville would have to be “hiking” and…well, more ice cream.
Will fell so hard for the dulce de leche gelato on the Downtown Mall that, at least twice, he actually ran back into the store to smack his sticky hands on the glass in front of his favorite flavor and ask “peazzz??” for a second scoop.
We bought a fancy backpack baby carrier contraption in Charlottesville in hopes of squeezing in a few day hikes through the Shenandoah’s. It worked, sort of.
Until we realized that baby backpacks come with the same issues as strollers and baby carriers for us. The only time Will consents to ride in them at all is when he is about to fall deeply asleep.
We did a few nice walks while Will took ill-timed naps. On our final day in Charlottesville we drove a half hour out of town to check out a promising swimming hold and waterfall hike that Chris found on our favorite website.
It takes a very long time to make forward progress with a toddler whose idea of “leave no trace” is to fastidiously clear the trail of every rock and pebble and seed pod he sees.
Eventually Daddy was entrusted with the important job of holding onto all of Will’s seed pods.
As luck would have it though, within half a mile of the parking area we came across the most beautiful swimming hole we’ve ever seen. Cool stream water flowed 5 feet deep in place and so clear we could see all the way to the tiny fish darting across the soft sand and pebble bottom. We stripped Will down to a t-shirt and let him wade in the shadows until the shores started to fill up with families well-equipped with swimsuits and picnics and extra diapers. Having left all our diapering supplies in the car, we decided to risk “elimination communication” for half a mile and high-tailed it back to the trail head, Will riding on my hip instead of in the fancy new carrier on his Daddy’s back.
Oh well, maybe the next kid will love it.
Not pictured but no less important on this trip:
Watching Will trot around my mother’s garden picking off snap peas and raw strawberries and popping them into his mouth. A few times he got his hands on the cucumbers and he carried them around like popsicles–gnawing off a few bites from around the top before tossing the whole thing–95% uneaten–into a bush. Once he’d picked every single strawberry and snap pea and cucumber he could get his hands on, he would turn his attention to the peonies and the hostas–at which point it seemed like a good time to carry him inside and upstairs for a bath.
All of Will’s new words. There are too many to count now but our favorite has to be “xia yu,” the Mandarin word for “rain.” While riding in the car in Charlottesville, Nai Nai taught Will how to say “xia yu” and afterwards, whenever we drove past that particular spot on the road, Will began shouting “xia yu” then “Nai Nai” whether it was raining outside or not. It’s interesting to see how much he’s retained an ear for Mandarin, though its been over a year since I or anyone else has spoken it to him regularly. After just a few days with Nai Nai, he began responding to simple questions in Mandarin with the correct English answer and started to use “xie xie” for “thank you” rather than the sign language he’d been using before.
He likes to tell me that my hands are “dirty” after I change his diaper and he’s also begun referring to himself as “you.” Which makes total sense of course but never fails to make us smile either.
A few more photos of Will and then I’m done with the baby blog dump for at least a few weeks I think.