Sunday, June 30, 2013

Packing, pills, grapes and ice cream

It has been a hot week in Colorado.  We don't have air conditioning in the spacious two-story house where we have been living, and the upstairs bedrooms have been avoided as much as possible during the day, although they cool down to somewhat comfortable at night.  (And yet for some reason, the almost-three-year-old still wants to have heaps of blankets on him every night...)

In the midst of this heat wave, we have been packing.  A big part of me thinks, "Really?  I'm packing again?  Already?"  I (Susan) am the packer of the family.   It's not that Brian doesn't want to help, or that he doesn't help.  It's that I'm pretty controlling of the whole process.  I have my system and spreadsheets and timeline of how things should go, and if someone gets in the way, I can get a little cranky.

I have moments when I feel like I am on top of the whole situation, (after all, I am beginning to think that I pack and unpack for a living!).  I feel liberated when I look at the huge pile of possessions that I will be taking to a donation center tomorrow.  I feel proud when I pack an improbable amount of things into a small box, leaving no unused pockets of space (our shipment to PNG is priced by volume, not weight).  I love my beautiful spreadsheets that list what is in all of these boxes in all of these different places, so that I can find what I need a few months (or years) from now when I next see those boxes.

And of course there are moments when it's not so good.  When my boys get clingy and anxious because they see all their familiar things disappearing.  When I find that Greg has slipped a few items of his own into one of the boxes that I've been packing, or has taken some things out and hidden them who-knows-where.  When he discovers the toy that he hasn't played with in four months is in the donation box and has a meltdown.  When I realize how little time I have left with my family here in Colorado and I feel guilty that my kids haven't spent enough time with their grandparents or cousins while we were here.

Friday we were up in Ft. Collins to drop off some boxes for storage and to see my grandparents and parents.  We also had an appointment at the Health Department to get some travel immunizations.  Typhoid vaccine all around.  Greg had to get a shot (for which he was amply compensated by at least 7 stickers), but Brian and I got to take the pills.  If you've never taken oral typhoid vaccine, it's four pills that you take every other day.  We took our first pills, then stuck the rest in my mom's fridge.  Of course, when we drove home a few hours later, we realized that we had left them in mom's fridge.  Aaargh!  (We live about 50 minutes drive from my parents, but we knew that one or the other of us would have to make the trek before Sunday, when our next pill was due).  Mom and dad offered to bring them and brought them up last night and then stayed for dinner.

We celebrated with grapes and ice cream.  With only a little more than a month to go before we leave the States, I am trying to get as much of things like grapes and cantaloupe as possible - foods that we can't get in Papua New Guinea (or which are exorbitantly priced and pretty yucky-looking by the time they get there).  I don't get at all nostalgic about fast food restaurants.  I haven't set foot in a McDonald's or Burger King the whole year we've been home.  But I am going to miss my grapes, and peaches, and cherries, and blueberries, and red bell peppers that are sweet and crispy.  Sigh.  And then there is ice cream.  PNG ice cream is a poor substitute.  However, I am trying to exert some control over my intake of good ice cream this summer.  I am, after all, very close to being back to my pre-baby weight, so I don't want to go crazy... but ice cream in the U.S. is so good!  Seriously people!  You should be grateful to have a whole half an aisle of supermarket freezer space stocked with umpteen delicious flavors that aren't neon-colored, and which actually melt if you leave them out on the counter!  You really should go and have yourself a bowl of ice cream right now.  Really.  I am giving you permission - go!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Caleb: 9 months

Yep - he's crawling!  The kid is unstoppable now.  Already trying to stand too.  Greg is having a hard time with the fact that he can't easily keep his toys out of Caleb's reach any more!

My sweet boy.

Love those chubby baby legs!

 Why is it that a photo shoot with a baby usually ends like this?

Camping at Cold Springs

We wanted to take a family camping trip this summer while we were still in Colorado, so this past week we spent three nights at Cold Springs campground in Arapaho National Forest (near Blackhawk).  We wanted something that wasn't too far from Denver, and that was small-child friendly.  This campground worked out pretty well!

Greg partakes of a camping tradition - Jiffy Pop!

This photo doesn't do the view justice.  You could look out the window of our tent and see a gorgeous view of the Continental Divide.

Caleb has been doing this tongue thing a lot lately.  He loved being outside, and carefully examined everything he could get his hands on, gravely pronouncing his current favorite "word": "Digga digga digga!"  (And then he would stick whatever it was in his mouth, of course.  I'm not sure how many rocks he ended up eating...)

Oh!  I am so glad we remembered to bring the pack-n-play!  With a crawling baby who likes to pull himself up on everything, it would have been a nightmare trying to keep him out of the fire.  This way he could be near us, but contained if we had to put him down.  I'd like to say it kept him clean too, but Greg kept pouring dirt and rocks in there because he didn't want Caleb to feel left out.

 There were lots of hiking trails within a short driving distance, but hiking with an almost-three-year-old can be a frustrating experience.  So we basically stuck around the campground.  We did do a very short hike up to this viewpoint, and also explored an old jeep road that left from the campground.

 All tuckered out.

 Greg loved the washing-up tub.  He spent lots of time washing his hands.  (That didn't stop him from getting ridiculously dirty though).

See the dirt-lined mouth?  I suspect that someone has been eating the goldfish that fell on the ground.

We got a lot of mileage from the Smoky The Bear coloring book that the camp host gave us.

 Part of Greg's daily routine was wandering around the campground (going through all the empty sites along the way), and drinking from each of the water spigots.  He would say, "Let's go take a number one drink."  (As you can see, they were all numbered.  Number one was the one closest to the playground... hmm... maybe that's why it was his favorite!)

Yes - a playground.  One of the reasons we chose this campground was because it had a simple play structure.  We spent lots of time there.

 Brian gets in touch with his second grade self.

The playground gave us a little parting gift though.  On our last morning, just before packing up, Greg somehow decided that it would be a good idea to run down the slide.  He hit pretty hard, and skinned up his forehead.  So we broke camp to the sounds of loud crying from a little boy who felt very sorry for himself.  Ah - the joys of camping with small children!