I'm Back (and Kind of All Over the Place)
After a long layover in a smoky, under-construction terminal at Frankfurt airport and a 90-minute flight delay, I finally made it back to Philadelphia on Friday evening. I arrived home to a startled Beaner, who gasped, "Mommy!" when he saw me, but then froze on the spot. I scooped him up and snuggled him, so he'd realize it was really me.
He was trembling, either with disbelief or excitement (or possibly shock). "Look!" he said to Aura, "I said I wanted to snuggle Mommy, and here she is. I said I wanted to talk to Mommy, and here she is," as if he'd conjured me out of thin air with the power of his wishes alone.
I think I've finally posted all the photos of Hamburg that I want to post; a few I've saved just for Al and the Beaner because they're the only two people who would appreciate them. You can view the set as a slideshow here (click on the "i" icon that appears when you mouse over the current photo to see titles and descriptions as the slideshow plays):
This is not Chicago.
(The above would be an in-joke with the Beaner were he able to read it; for some reason, he keeps telling everyone that I was in Chicago last week, that I bought the sandals in the photo below at a shoe store in Chicago, and that I brought him gummi bears from Chicago. I wonder if this has anything to do with the fact that he only has a U.S. map in his bedroom; it occurred to me while chatting with one of my colleagues in Hamburg that I was off the map. Imagining me in Chicago may have been the Beaner's way of pulling me back from the edge of the world.)
On Saturday we took the Beaner to see Ratatouille, but during the usual Pixar pre-feature short he announced it was "too scary," and then he repeated that mantra for the next 20 minutes, even from the safety of my lap. When it became clear that the movie was entirely over his head (though it was great fun for Al and me) and that the shouting chefs and flying kitchen knives were likely to be an enduring feature of the next 90 minutes or so, we finally agreed that it probably was too scary for him and made our exit. Al and I are now scheming over when we can get out to see the rest of the movie for ourselves.
It's been interesting to observe how well Al and the Beaner survived—nay, thrived—in my absence. I'd even go so far as to say that the Beaner only *really* needs one parent, and that parent is Al, though I am of course useful in certain areas. I am the preferred bedtime snuggler and teeth-brusher, for one thing. I also have a knack for figuring out what the major transitions are, and when to make them. (For example, I had a sense that we'd left him in night-time Pull-Ups too long, mainly because we didn't want to be forced to do laundry if there was an accident. This suspicion was confirmed for me when, after weeks of waking up in the morning with a dry Pull-Up, the Beaner suddenly had a spate of accidents that left his Pull-Up, pajamas, and sheets completely soaked. It might sound counter-intuitive, but that's how I knew for absolutely sure that we had to move to underpants once and for all. He hasn't had a night-time accident since.) I'm also the one who pays the bills every month (and by that I mean that I arrange for payments to be made, either through online banking or by check; I do not mean to imply that I am the sole—or even the primary—breadwinner).
Still, there is no doubt that the Beaner was *happy* to see me, and we've been having a great time playing since I got back. His imagination and pretending skills are getting quite sophisticated now, which makes spending long periods of time with him more fun. They're also useful for distracting him from something I don't want him to do or have; for example, rather than giving him the actual batteries he wants for the remote, I can say, "here, have a pretend battery!" and off we go into the Land of Make Believe. Wonderful.
We've had an amazingly cool, sunny, and dry couple of days here in Philadelphia, where it's usually unbearably hot and humid this time of year. I opened my office window today to enjoy the fresh breeze, and after a couple hours it became apparent where the pile of leaves we discovered in the corner of our back deck yesterday came from: A pair of sparrows is building a nest in the bend of a downspout just above and to the right of my window, and they've been using the leaves to line the nest. They work very hard to pack them in, but inevitably, many fall out... and land on our deck.
The two sparrows have stopped to rest on my window ledge several times today, sometimes with a sprig of leaves clutched in their beaks (on the way up), sometimes just to fluff and shake (on the way down). Unfortunately by the time I've turned on the camera and reached for the shutter button, they've fluttered away, so I haven't gotten a photo of them. They haven't seemed to mind the sound of my voice, however, and have cocked their heads to listen when I've said hello and asked how their work was progressing. I hope to have another chance to capture their efforts with the camera tomorrow.