June 1, 2011

Makin' the Rounds

Mid-May I held my boy up to the security scanner and walked through, without a beep.  First time in my life I didn't have to take off my earrings.  He gave everybody this wild look with his big blue eyes and bobbed his head around as I lugged him through the airports.  I'll omit the parts where I was hopelessly failing at retrieving my boarding pass + ID while juggling all that was in my hands, and (more than one time) had to offer to a nearby stranger Can you hold my baby?  Who knew that strangers are more than happy to hold cute babies!

The wind took us to Detroit, and then on to Knoxville where my sister lives.  My ears popped and my boy, thankfully, slept.  I looked out my tiny airplane portal as the emerald green hills rose up to meet me.  Tiny blue pools dotted the aerial view of neighborhoods and surely there were people swimming in them - because we weren't in Wisconsin any more.  I'd come home to introduce Bear to lots of cousins and more family and kindred friends, but secretly I was most excited to introduce him to the Sun.

Of course things didn't go as planned on this visit, which seems to be the fast hard rule when doing life with a baby.  His ears didn't pop, or he picked up some crud on the plane, or whatever (the diagnosis part kills me!) and left him with a hacking cough that sounded fierce.  He didn't appreciate nursing with a blanket over his head, didn't understand why we kept switching beds, couldn't agree with the supreme pizza I ate, and ended up trading his bubbly disposition in for a much more fragile one.  On top of that, there were emotions for me that I didn't see coming.  It hit me full-on the first night home at Mom's that Dad would never know my boy, and Bear would never know Dad.  I cried.  And honestly, I was grateful for the tears.  Sometimes I think I haven't done enough processing of Dad's death, and that moment of intense grief was a bit of a surprise for me. 

The next day I had a wedding to be at, and Bear woke up screaming in pizza pain, which has never happened before.  I had to give him gas drops (first time).  It rattled me and I jumped into a hot shower with him which he always loves but this time hated, and I prayed over him and shushed him and finally he laid across my belly and nursed and let the toots rollllll.  He turned a corner and got back to his normal self in time for us to get to the wedding and hang out with some of my favorite people.  That's another baby rule: everything can change really fast.  So as soon as Bear leveled out and looked around, he found a whole lot of love coming for him in every direction.  When we got to the reception, I didn't see my baby the whole time.  I found him on the dance floor, doing the Electric Slide with Cherie Akers.  Awesome.  It's so lame that I don't have a picture here of Merritt - the bride.  She's been a friend to me my whole life.  Other life-long friends..

Me and my childhood bests with their littles: Andrea and Caleb, Martha and Josie, and Toni with Cooper, Molly and Brody.  What a treat to be in the same place at the same time!

Bear met and loved Frank and Karen.

He met the huge nail-driving, chicken-feeding, coffee-brewing, belly-tickling hands of his Papaw Ron for the first time.  And he met all sorts of cousins, who will be his life-long friends - he just doesn't know it yet.


 Cousin Ryland, who knew just what to say to get some baby gurgles. 

Cousin Amryn, who knew just how hard to squeeze him to get a cry.  And Aunt Mingie, who has a killer track record at getting him to sleep.
It was the first time my sister and I were together with our babies.  It was so much fun! (Despite Bear's please-find-me-a-quiet-spot-to-lay-down gesture).

He first saw Sis at the airport and immediately burst out in big grins, like he knew her.  I think our voices are similar - or he was just really picking up on the cool-aunt vibe.  Cousin Clara managed to get her curious 9-month-old hellos on him a few times, which was great to see.  So crazy how different she was on this visit, compared to Christmas!  Being around Clara made me really excited for the coming months, when I get to watch Bear learn all sorts of new things (like looking around with utter dismay when I try to feed him something with a spoon).

The grandmothers!  Here's Bear with his Grammie, loving on his favorite blanket.  She made a big spread of food for us and we crashed out in the softest bed known to man.

And his first time at Mim's house in Hidden Valley.  Notice we aren't on the front porch, enjoying Mom's flowers and the view of the countryside underneath the Sun.  That's because the weather reverted to Wisconsin-style 40's and Mom actually built a fire in the fireplace for the days I was at her house.  Nonetheless, it was great food and conversation and baby-snuggling.  While I was at Mom's, I dug around in the attic and pulled out a bunch of old baby toys and books.  It made me feel so strange, like I had folded time over on itself, and I was as close to my Fisher Price school bus and those old familiar Golden Book illustrations as I am to changing the diapers of my own baby.  I can't wait to read him Richard Scarry, Amelia Bedelia, and The Berenstain Bears.

Bear kept that deer-in-the-headlights look allllll the way back to the plane ride home.

I told him "Look!  It's the gridded Midwest!  We're home."

That's when he fell asleep...

...and baaaarely opened his peepers when we got to the baggage claim.

When we got back to the apartment, Trail gave him a good sniff over, remembering and deciphering all her old east coast mysteries.  We gave that boy a bath, a rough-bearded kiss from his Papa, unlimited milk from the same spot on the couch, and I tried him out in a baby gift that was waiting for us.  Don't know if it was the fact that it was handmade and amazing, or the fact that he was among all his familiar sights and sounds.  Whatever it was, it finally knocked a good smile out of him.



  1. I love that pic of Mom and Dad! Every baby known to mankind loves my dad; I wish I had that effect (whatever it may be) on kiddos. It was awesome to see you, Bets.

  2. I wish Bear was here so I could rub his fuzzy blanket on his face. :( Also, when I see that pic of my dining room/kitchen, it's like...heeellllooo YELLOW! May need to change that.

  3. Rach - did I tell you that I was really impressed with the flower in Mer's hair? How?? I thought she looked amazing.

  4. Thanks! Polyester, scissors, glue gun, fray check and carpal-fingers, haha. I agree, Mer looked totally stunning.


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