Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Way too much for one blog post

Ohmygoodness.  Life is so full of life these days.  And it has been way too hot to spend any time in front of a laptop.  And I am really, really tired.  I know I've said that at other points in this pregnancy, but now I really mean it.  I am so tired it feels like my brain is melting. (I have no idea where Walter gets his flair for drama.  And whining.)

Writing with a melting brain is not easy.  But I'm going to try! (Note: this post was written over the course of two weeks or so.  Short spurts of writing seem to be do-able in spite of the melting brain.)

Our first radio silence fell when we went on vacation.  We spent June 18-25 in Sea Isle City, New Jersey, with the Albrights. It was glorious. Some highlights:
  • We were worried about flying post-weaning and trying to convince Walt that he's still a lap baby (ha!) The flight out went quite well and Walt slept through most of it.  The flight home was a bit of a nightmare, including about a one hour delay on the runway with no air conditioning in blistering heat.  But even that flight had some pretty bright moments, including Walter's excited exclamations of "Airplane! Airplane!" and Walt playing with the 14 month old in the row behind us (peek-a-boo, and many many kisses.)
  • From the moment we arrived, we relaxed.  All of us.  One giant "ahhhhhhhhh."
  • Walter had his first ride on Pop Pop's boat, and it was a great success.
    Go Go Go!
    After some initial nervousness, Walter got into the spirit by loudly encouraging Pop Pop to "Go Go Go!" When the wake rules allowed, Pop Pop would then make the boat go fast. Walter continues to try to get us to repeat this experience on land, usually in the car when we can't go any faster than we're already going.  
  • After some excellent gogogo-ing, we settled in on the boat to enjoy some delicious pulled pork sandwiches ala Grandma.  Walter was the picture of contentment.  Then, he took a bite of sandwhich and fell asleep mid-chew.  Completely awake one moment, completely asleep the next.  We got the bite of sandwich out of his mouth and Walt slept soundly all the way back to the dock. You know your toddler is having a good time when he spontaneously falls asleep. 
  • We went out for dinner at a nice restaurant and I ordered a calamari appetizer.  Walter is usually initially intrigued by new foods,, then when they're close enough to his mouth to smell he has second thoughts.  This new food aversion applies to all new foods, including things like apple pie (you should have seen us trying to get him to eat that pie.  Proud moments in parenting.) On this particular night, Walt must have been really hungry from all the salty air and sun, or the stars were aligned with the tides or something, because he didn't hesitate at all and took a nice big bite of the calamari ring I offered him.
    What toddler doesn't enjoy a nice fried squid?
     He ended up eating most of the calamari himself, including the tentacle-y pieces.  I cried a little bit with pride. 
  • Speaking of crying, I found myself doing just that behind my sunglasses, sitting on the beach, and it had nothing to do with the sunblock in my eyes.  I was watching Walter play frisbee with his dad, his Uncle Matthew and his Aunt Kate. Walter tried a couple of times to throw the frisbee--no success.  So, Aunt Kate would very gently throw it to Walter (not sure how she did it, but the frisbee landed softly right at his feet every time); Walter would pick up the frisbee and run it over to Uncle Matt (have you ever seen a toddler run? It is the greatest thing in the world); Matt would throw it Sean who'd throw it to Kate and then repeat. He had so much fun. Between this game on the beach and a game he and his cousin Ada invented together (she'd make a funny scary face at him, he'd make a funny "I'm scared" face and then laugh) I was awash with good memories of times with my extended family on both sides.  There is nothing quite so wonderful as being given time and attention by cousins and aunts and uncles.
    It is such a gift.  Seeing Walter with all his older cousins (9 of them!) made me especially miss my cousin Jason.  I love watching the videos my dad took of Lisa and Jason playing with me and including me so lovingly when I was about Walter's age. If you're familiar with Edison-Swift family videos, you know I'm talking about The Saga of the Three Bass.
  • Having said all that, you'd think I would be a good parent and take a picture or video or somehow document this beautiful game of frisbee.  
    Cousin Rowan was especially good with Walter.
    I did not.  But Walter-Reading-This-Someday, you should know: you are so loved.  You have all these amazing people who truly care for you and who found ways to make you feel included and special when you were little and couldn't throw a frisbee to save your life.
  • In addition to frisbee, Walter enjoyed digging in the sand with his cousins, sitting in the sand at the edge of the ocean and letting the water rush over his legs with each wave, looking for shells and tasting a few of them, and, most of all, going into the water with Daddy.  He was always a little shy of the water in the beginning, especially the first time.  He planted his feet and wouldn't move for a long time, until we suggested taking a few steps forward and couting the steps out loud.  Walter loves to count these days.  Usually the steps came in groups of 3, 6, or 11 which are his favorite numbers to count to.  Walter also enjoyed it when Sean picked him up and carried him out into the waves, playing a game called "Walter jump!" Sean would hold Walt up and then dip his feet into the wave as it passed.  This game was not particularly easy on Daddy's back, which meant we were pretty good about taking breaks to come back to the beach to visit Mama, get some water, maybe eat some pizza or peanut butter sandwich.  The weather was perfect and Walter didn't want to leave, but he was a trooper and walked home with us each afternoon for a quick shower and a long, lovely nap. 
    Joy on the beach
  • A funny thing happened on the beach.  We were playing in the sand, having a good time, when Walter suddenly got up and, with great purpose, toddler-strode over to a 10 year old boy who was digging a hole and shouted "NO!"  The boy looked at him quizzically, then at us.  We were a little puzzled, too.  We talked to Walter about the beach belonging to everyone, and that kind of talk usually slows him down and makes him think a little bit, but he insisted: No.  This boy could not dig in the sand.  He even found ways to return a few more times to let the boy know he still meant what he'd said earlier. Sharing isn't easy for toddlers (in fact, most of the experts I've read recently say it's impossible for them,) so we weren't surprised by that, just by this particular display of anti-digging fervor. It was one of those moments when you realize that your kid is a person, a person with definite opinions and the means to express them. 
  • One of Walter's strongly held opinions turns out to be that theme park rides should never, ever end. We discovered this at Wonderland Pier, where Walter rode some rides with us (flying elephants, train, carousel) and, for the first time, road some rides all by himself (little boats and fire trucks that go around in a circle.)  We couldn't believe he was ready to ride by himself and were very proud of him and excited to watch him discover this new joy.  He gave some of his characteristic Walter exclamations of happiness, but for most of the rides he appeared introspective ... not scared, not excited, just very content and pleased.  When the ride ended, he was distraught and even did a little kicking mini-tantrum when removed from the vehicle.  When we visited the Cape May Zoo later in the week, Walter was pretty meh about the animals (except the llamas, because of Llama Llama Nighty Night) and really set on riding a rather expensive train around the park grounds.  We rode the train twice, which wasn't nearly enough, but was better than no train. Again, he was very quiet during the rides, maybe trying to soak in the whole train experience as much as possible, maybe steeling himself for the inevitable disappointment of the ride ending ... hard to say.  
  • We ate very well on vacation.  Very well indeed.  I won't go into the details of our gluttony, but will say that the highlight were the two flounder that Pop Pop caught and the 16 crabs that Sean caught and turned into crab cakes.  That, and watching my nieces and nephews (with a little help from Walter) devour a full four pounds of bacon on Sunday morning. Those kids really really like bacon. 
  • Sean and I had a wonderful date night, just the two of us, with dinner at a very nice restaurant followed by ice cream at our favorite ice cream place and mini golf at our favorite mini golf chain (Pirate Island, of course.)
    Before Walt was born, all of our pictures looked exactly like this.
     Sean and I have always particularly enjoyed mini golf at the shore, so getting to do that again was pretty special and romantic in a very Edison-Albrighty kind of way. Also, I won, which was nice.  And there was a big, full orange super moon over the ocean. And maybe some kissing by the light of said moon.  =).
  • One of the benefits of vacationing with extended family, or at least with our wonderful extended families, is that there are lots of great times together as well as opportunities to be alone.  Walter was very well watched and cared for and so I got to spend some time with just me and Sally, paying attention to her and her movements in ways I don't always get to when I'm working or hanging out with Walter on weekends. Getting some good Sally time in every day was wonderful, I and wondered at her increasing strength, size and gymnastic ability.
    Mama and Sally on the beach (more family in background.)
     After seeming much smaller and much less active than Walter for a long time, Sally has caught up in a big way and does all sorts of great rolls, shimmies and bumps. She especially likes to press down on my left hip, in a way that's both disconcerting and delightful to me. 
It was a glorious week. I wish I'd done a better job of documenting it, but I'm hoping all the un-photographed, un-blogged moments will stay with us, at least as general impressions of happiness and fragments of memories that will come back next time we visit. One thought that stuck with me during and after the trip is that spending so much more time with Walter than we do during a normal work week is a very good and very important thing to do.  I think our regular work week routine is good, too.  Walter and Sally will grow up with two well-educated, hard-working parents who care about what they do.  My job, in particular, is very meaningful and fulfilling and I think that's a good model for them to grow up with.  But I'm also very grateful for vacation time, because we get to know each other in a different way when the routine is gone and we get to be with each other for long stretches of non eating, non sleeping hours. 

For example, I realized that I've always made a big deal of Walter's bigness on this blog. Not just his physical size, but his larger-than-life personality, the bigness of his presence. But I don't write much about his quietness, his understated and introspective nature, his sweetness, his patience, his sustained, focused interest in working on a puzzle or gazing thoughtfully out the window. All of that is pretty remarkable, too. And I got to see more of it, and appreciate more of it, during our time together on vacation. 

When we got home from vacation Sean started two weeks of paternity leave (don't ask. Long story. Or do ask, and we'll tell you offline.)  We moved Walter from his crib into his big boy single bed.  The first night went really well.  Too well.  Eerily well. Since then we've had wildly varying levels of sleeping success, including some especially rough nights where Mama or Dada had to climb into bed with Walter in order for any of us to get any sleep at all.  

Adding to the sleep complications has been Walter's reluctance to miss a single second of time spent with the wonderful guests we've hosted the past two weekends.  Precious, beautiful time spent with Ben (Uncle Cuppa,) Arden and Greta and Josh (Uncle Gosh,) Vanessa and Beckett is more than worth a little sleep disruption, and I can't say I blame Walter for wanting to stay awake and make the time together last longer. I did that, too.  We have had so much fun, and again I can't help but overflow a bit with gratitude for the remarkable people in Walter's life. We are so, so blessed. 

With all this excitement, though, one of the greatest blessings came yesterday when Walter took a 3 hour afternoon nap, went to bed nicely at 7:30 pm and had to be woken up to go to day care at 7:45 am.  He went down easy tonight, too, and shows every sign of sleeping long and well.  When I say "tonight," of course, I mean the night I wrote these sentences.  Adding photos and editing and publishing this post will happen on another night.  My melting brain needs sleep! 

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