Monday, July 30, 2007

Holden Beach, Year Two for William

We're at the beach! It's late July, so we have made the annual pilgrimage to Holden Beach, North Carolina, where we pile in a couple of beach houses with longtime family friends and enjoy the ocean and camraderie.

William's second trip to Holden Beach has been a little more interactive than his first trip. Last summer, William was barely more than three months old. David and I ran back and forth between the beach and the house, running ragged on baby duty, changing diapers and feeding William and responding to his cries when he got really grumpy. We had a good time when we could get away and get down to the beach, though, but obviously William was too little to do anything or to be out in the sun. William's beach time was limited to a couple of early evening walks in the Baby Bjorn and one tentative dip of his tootsies in the Atlantic Ocean at sunset.

This year, however, William is a big kid. He gets to go to the beach every day and play. And so he is learning about the Joy of Playing in the Sand.
And with shells. Here are some photos from Sunday:

In fact, we have learned an important lesson. (God, am I always saying that or what?) You don't need to buy expensive beach toys (not that we did, cheapo parents that we are). You just give your kid a bucket and some shells and say, "Go crazy, kiddo!" Which is pretty much what we did. Naturally, William had to taste the sand. And the shells. And maybe even the bucket. But then he realized that it's even MORE fun to fling wet sand around. Wheee! Look how far the sand can fly!

He looks very serious in these photos. He wasn't especially serious the whole time, but I took most of these when we first ventured out onto the beach, when he was still relatively clean.

He was tentative at first on the sand, but eventually he settled in and dug in and had a wonderful time. Luckily, he doesn't take after his father at the same age in one regard: William isn't afraid of the sand.

And here are some photos from today. By today, William was an old pro at this beach thing. He was ready to plow right into the sand and water today. No warming up necessary.

William and his daddy and his uncle Mark and I worked on building a big lake with a wall around it, so William could have his own personal little salt water pool to play in.

It is kinda fun to get dirty in the sand, isn't it?

I haven't had the chance to get any pictures of them together on the beach yet, but I do have a very cute picture of William and his new friend Graham with their big friend Benton. Graham is Alethea and Glenn's son, who's about four months younger than William--and just as big. I'll work on getting some beach shots later this week...but in the meantime...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Musical grandparents

Boy, was William confused this morning!

One grandmother (Mama Dee) put him to bed last night, and his other grandmother (Mama Judi) came in to wake him up this morning. Mom said he looked at her like he wasn't quite sure what was going on! He was already asleep last night when my parents arrived via the Natchez Trace. So he had no way of knowing that his Mama Judi was sleeping right next door to him all night long.

Here's William hanging out in our new kitchen with my mom:

And he quickly initiated her into another (new) rite: helping him climb down the stairs like a big boy. Which is quite terrifying actually, but he refuses to go down the stairs any other way:

And William was also happy to show off his new swingset. John came over again and helped him go down the (really impressively tall) slide, too. Here's just a random shot of William playing in the yard after dinner:

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

My birthday, etc.

It's my birthday today. 33. Whee! I like the symmetry of the number 33, but I'm sort not convinced that's how old I am. It just doesn't seem like a real age, and certainly not a real age that I could be. I mean, heck. I remember when my mom was 33. It wasn't that long ago, either.

But hey, if turning 33 gets me taken out to dinner, to a real adult restaurant, where I don't have to bring along crayons, sippy cups, mandarin orange bowls, bibs or plastic spoons, I guess I'm fine with it. In fact, I know I'm fine with it. David's taking me out to dinner tonight in honor of my birthday; we're going to a place called the Germantown Cafe, and Diane and Aaron are coming over to babysit.

Wow, I couldn't tell you the last time that David and I ate dinner together in a restaurant without William. Not that we take him out to dinner anywhere nice (or inappropriate for a child), but you know what I mean. I won't know what to do with myself without having a small wiggly person to wrangle. It will be freaky. Excellent freaky, of course. I'll have half the table all to myself! I don't have to move all the cutlery and glassware, and oh, well, everything out of the way of a curious and curiously long-armed and determined small boy. I won't have to shush a young boy who loves to hear his own voice echo off the big high ceiling. I can order a glass of wine and not have to constantly rescue it from sticky hands. Because it's one thing if your toddler knocks over your glass of ice water. It's another thing when people's eyes widen as you walk by, carrying a toddler who smells like a liquor store.

* * * * *

Yesterday, John came over to visit. He and I put together the new water table for William. William's friends Jake and Jadyn have one, and William fell in love with theirs a couple of months ago, so when we moved here, I told David that we'd have to get one for him. He loves to splash in the bathtub, and he doesn't even have to sit down on his bottom to get to splash with the water table. Needless to say, it was a Big Hit.

It was a win-win for everyone. William got to get wet and splash around. I didn't have to clean anything up. The nearby tree got a much-needed drink of water afterward. An excellent toy. I'll put it on my "to recommend" list.

Monday, July 23, 2007

More compare and contrast

Y'all know how much I love to do the compare-and-contrast thing.

Here's William on July 22, 2007: that is to say, yesterday:

And here's a shot of him on July 22 last year:

Eeeee, so different!

Sometimes I look at William, and I remember, intellectually, that he was once a tiny little baby. But I can't really conjure up in my head a clear picture of that little guy. His current image is what is lodged firmly in my brain now. But when I look back at the old photos, it's like, "Oh yes! I remember that so well!" Insert gratuitous cliche here about how they grow up so fast, etc. etc. But you know, it's only a cliche because it's true...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

15 months and counting

William turned 15 months old today.

The milestone update: He is walking, feeding himself with a spoon AND with a fork (sometimes), drinking out of an open cup under supervision, and seems to understand more and more words every day. He also now says "Go!" and "Wow!" in addition to the words he was already saying. He likes to carry around the little cork coasters that are supposed to live on the coffee table. And he loves to swing on his swingset and even go down the slide (with some help). And oh boy, does he love to tackle an unsuspecting Mommy or Daddy and roll all over them, giggling and shouting the whole time. (We love that, too.)

But he is starting to assert even more opinions; for example, he may say that he wants a "ba" but when you hand him a banana, he may push it away with disdain and a cry of outrage. Or he may clutch at it like he's dying of emphysema and it's an oxygen tank. He may reach out for the sippy of milk that is sitting on the table, but when you place it on the high chair tray, he immediately topples it off onto the floor, where it leaks all over the place. Then he's mad about that. Do you know how many times each day I've started to say, "William, what do you want? I don't know what you want!! Do you even know what you want?" If only he had more words: verbs, adjectives, something!

All together now: Every day is an adventure.

We took him to his new church today for the first time, and that went well. The rest of us attended the 11 a.m. service, while William played with trains and cars and ate Ritz crackers in the nursery. He didn't even look up when David and I walked out the door and left him.

He did, however, enjoy seeing his grandparents there, and I think they might have been a little pleased to see him, too...

With Daddy after church:

Aww, my two boys are so sweet together in their blue outfits. William was wearing a darling little smocked button-over-the-shoulder outfit with teddy bears on it; I bought it in Natchez. And would you believe that it's a size 2T? It is so ridiculous to constantly be amazed at the rate at which he's growing, but I've always been a master of the ridiculous...

Friday, July 20, 2007

The waiting

I have two very pregnant friends who are currently under instructions to rest. Resting is one of those all-purpose types of advice that people like to give pregnant women and which pregnant women like to ignore (who, me? But I rested for a whole day before I gave birth to William! Don't I get credit for that?)

But it becomes a little more urgent when a doctor or midwife doles out the advice to rest. So right now, Natalie and Miller are resting. At least, they are supposed to be resting. I know them both, so that's why I wrote "supposd to be."

And they are waiting. Resting and waiting do not especially go well together, I found out when I was plodding through that last month of pregnancy. That's particularly true if you're a relatively high strung, Type A personality sort, as I was. I chafed at the advice to rest. I had stuff to do! I had laundry to do, carseats to get installed, things to organize. Who had time to rest? I didn't even allow myself much free time to rest because I resisted it so much. I worked at the newspaper down in Palm Springs right up until about two or three days before my water broke, much to the chagrin of my husband and family, who were utterly convinced I'd go into labor somewhere on a dusty desert road at night while driving home. But I was stubborn, convinced that I wouldn't go into labor until long after my due date. I was betting that I'd be at least a week overdue. I loaded up my puffy body in the Mazda each morning and tooled on down the hill to my job. I had plenty of time to rest, I told himself.

The day after I stopped working, I managed to prop myself up in bed with the laptop computer and a can of cherry limeade. That was my Official Day of Rest. I read, I surfed the 'Net, I watched some TV. Then the next day, I was busy busy busy, doing all sorts of things; running errands, getting the car seat installed, having dinner at the local terrible Chinese restaurant with some women from my officer spouses' group. But it was okay, I figured. I still had plenty of time.

But I had forgotten something important. I had forgotten the warning issued by my friend Phuong, who has one lovely child and is now expecting another. "Don't buy into the myth that the first child is always late," she intoned during one of our phone conversations.

Sure enough. My water broke the next morning, eight days before my due date. "What?" I said, a little outraged. "What about my time to rest? I was supposed to get time to rest! I'm supposed to be resting, not having a baby?" Ha ha. Not 24 hours later, I was holding William in my arms. I didn't get any rest after that for oh, what, six months?

That was perhaps the first big lesson I learned about being a parent. Perhaps you want things to be a certain way. Perhaps you plan and organize and expect things to be a certain way. And to some degree, you do have some control: the color of the nursery, whether you choose to use cloth or disposable diapers, if you are going to let your baby have a pacifier. But at some point, it doesn't matter how much you want things to go a certain way. You cannot, no matter how much you want to, control it all. There are certain things that will happen that are out of your control, infuriating as that may be.

However, that hard-won knowledge proved to be very useful to me as the little red baby unfurled his curled-up arms and legs, and like one of those speeded-up filmstrips of a daylily bursting into bloom, grew into William. He became a person, is a Person. He has opinions and preferences, and no matter how much I may want to change them, I cannot. Every day, he asserts more control over himself, over his environment, over his interactions with me and his father. Every day, he becomes even more of a person, more himself.

I once read newborn babies don't understand that they are separate entities from their mothers; they instinctively believe themselves to be extensions of their mothers. And for many months, I felt that way about William, as he surely felt that way about his relationship to me. He was not separate, he was not other. He was an extension of me, part of myself. On some deep level, he will always be that, but he is growing more independent. He sees himself now, I believe, as himself, not as part of me anymore. He is his own self.

And with that assertion of self comes challenges. I may want William to lie down meekly on his changing table so that I can wipe his bottom and put a clean diaper on him. He feels otherwise. And he makes it clear, very loudly and with great effort, that he would prefer to, say, wiggle around, bare-bottomed, until he can stand up and then slap his hands with great force against the Spider-Man sticker on the wall. And it doesn't matter how much I work to wrestle him back down to the table, he will expend just as much energy working against me because we don't want the same thing. Sometimes, I win. Sometimes, he wins. Mostly, I win, since I am bigger and I'll be darned if my toddler's going to run around without a diaper on. But sometimes he wins, and I don't bother putting the shorts or overalls back on over his diaper because frankly, I'm tired, and he really really really wants to talk to Spider-Man.

I am stubborn. My husband is stubborn. Our child is stubborn. We truly are three peas in a pod, aren't we? But we all have learned so much from each other. And we still are.

So, back to the whole resting and waiting thing. I could advise my friends to rest, but they both know how hilarious that would be coming from me. I have been trying to encourage them in their attempts at resting and cheerleading their success. But I have to admit that I'm doing a lousy job at waiting myself. I can't wait for good news!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The playhouse out back

Diane (William's Mama Dee) took a break from helping us unpack all our kitchen gear to introduce William to his new backyard playhouse this afternoon. William was charmed by the little door, just the perfect size for him, which he proceeded to opencloseopencloseopencloseopenclose.

This all lasted until David looked out the back door and saw what they were doing. He waved his arms and bellowed some warning about staying out of the playhouse until we can clean it out because William might catch the plague or something. I'm not sure how you can catch the plague from a little wooden playhouse built about five years ago, but hey, maybe they're teaching all sorts of esoteric stuff in medical school now, right? (But we do need to get out there and clean out the little house so William can play in it without getting filthy, if not contaminated by a deathly disease.)

William was a good sport about it. In fact, he was willing to pose for a few pictures on the back steps of the big house, too. I think this picture really conveys the essence of William these days. The porch rails are perfect for a rousing hilarious game of peekaboo!

In fact, here's another back steps photo from the other night:


It's raining.

It's raining.

It's raining.


It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring....went to bed and bumped his head and couldn't get up in the morning! Yeah!

I can't quite believe it, myself. I mean, I lived in the desert for four years, and before that in San Diego, where it didn't exactly pour on a regular basis. Then I move to Nashville, and it's in the midst of one of the longest droughts in recent history. But I can see the rain washing merrily down the gutters (gutters!), and the trees seem to be stretching toward the sky to soak in more of the precious rain. I am half-considering going outside and dancing around in the rain for awhile. Hmmm. Perhaps I should wait until I've met all my neighbors first before I act too much like a complete lunatic.

And darn. William's napping. He's missing the rain!

Monday, July 16, 2007

William's new room

One of the best things about our new house here in Nashville is that William finally has his own room. He had to share a room in Twentynine Palms with our guest room furniture, which left him almost no room to play. That didn't bother me too much when he was a little baby because his play space was pretty much limited to the borders of his activity mat anyway.

(Plus, I tried to console myself that babies don't know the difference between a perfect, decorated nursery and a makeshift one. Perfect nurseries are mostly for mommies anyway, let's admit it. With that belief, I felt okay with not having the perfect nursery at first. That is, until I saw other babies' nurseries. Then I felt sad that William's stuff was just crowded into a room with a bunch of other stuff, while other babies had these lovely little coordinated retreats with curtains that matched their crib linens and their names spelled out in letters on the wall. After seeing one such little room, I went home and looked at William's nursery, and sighed over the way the guest room bed and dresser were wedged in next to the crib and changing table. William didn't seem to mind, and I knew it was silly of me to mind--especially since I've already admitted I'm not the wall-mural-painting type--but part of me still wished I could've had the perfect nursery for him from the outset. However, having a double bed in William's room turned out to be very useful for those early morning wakeups when he'd want to nurse at 6 a.m. But still. I think the lack of a perfect nursery was just one of those guilty-over-not-being-the-perfect-mom hangups that for better or for worse, some of us...okay, I... will always have.)

As William got older and more mobile, his half-room was less than ideal. The hodgepodge, non-coordinated factor mattered less than the reality that he didn't have anywhere to play in there. Plus, it meant that all his toys lived in the (increasingly messy and crowded) family room.

Here, he lots of floor space, lots of room in which to play or just make a big mess, or both. So without further ado, here is William's new room!

Now he has room to practice walking in his own room:

The new room may not be designer-perfect, but it's a whole lot more coordinated than the last room. It is still a work in process, too. I have a Pottery Barn Kids rug that matches the crib linens, but I need to clean it first. It's dusty from the old house and from the move. My next task after that is to figure out what to put on the walls. The previous owners left us a choo-choo train clock, so that will go up. And I found these wall hangings that Loretta sent to us last year, and one is a monkey print, so those will go up, too.

It just feels good to have a nice little room for my son. He seems to love it so far, too; he loves to drop to the floor and rest his cheek against the carpet. I guess it's such a novelty that he's just enjoying it as much as he can. We're trying to make the new room as completely toddler-proof as possible so he can hang out in there when we're trying to get stuff done. That way, we won't have to set up the dreaded play yard.

And here's a good look at all his teeth, for those of you who haven't had the chance to see them in person:

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Upstairs, downstairs

We have seventeen stairs in our house. Seventeen stairs separate the first floor from our second floor. Since we had no stairs at all in our old house, I worried for weeks about William and these stairs.

Well, earlier today, William learned to climb them. Apparently, once he figured them out, he figured them out. Tonight, before bedtime, he climbed the entire seventeen stairs at once, with one very very slight hesitation on the landing. That's seventeen stairs. Seventeen stairs at once. It's a loooong way up, but William "No Fear" Wyckoff wasn't deterred!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Getting used to it

It still seems very surreal that we're living in Nashville now. Of course, we still haven't even been here a week, but I still catch myself saying things like "Well, at home, the mailman came around one o'clock." And then I realize, wait, Twentynine Palms is not our home anymore. This is!

I suppose it will seem more real when we finally get all our stuff unpacked. The movers just delivered our furniture and sixty gazillion boxes yesterday, and needless to say, our house is an ocean of boxes right now. We have our bed up, and William's room is more or less in place, so that does help reduce the feeling of camping out a bit. I hope we'll feel even more at home once I can unearth all our dishes and silverware so we can stop using the plastic stuff.

I think the fact that we don't yet have an established routine is also making me feel a little bit disoriented. In Twentynine Palms, we did more or less the same thing on most weekdays: go to the Y for play class in the morning, come home, have lunch, William takes a nap, wake up and go to the store or the library or physical therapy, etc. or later, go to the pool for swimming lessons, come home, have lunch, William takes a nap, wake up and play, have dinner, etc. We'll have to figure out some kind of routine once David starts his new job--until I find a new job eventually, too. In the meantime, we'll just do some exploring and experimenting!

I did want to give a shout out to my friend, Jennifer. It may not have been hard to leave Twentynine Palms, but it was hard to leave her behind! We could burn up some serious time talking on the phone or in person while our kids played together. Jennifer always has had good advice for me since she has two children, and I was forever bugging her with questions; you know, like ideas for finger foods, cool toys, which medicine is better to give for what, what size to buy in swim diapers, etc. And we'd talk about all sorts of other stuff, too, and it was hilarious the way one of us would call the other to ask a quick question, and an hour later, we'd still be chatting! Jadyn and William have more or less been hanging out together since they were born, and I know I'll miss seeing her, her big brother Jake, and her mom all the time. But I fully expect to hear from her often (hint, hint, Jenn, if you're reading this!) Here's a photo that we took together on our last day in the Stumps:

In case anyone was wondering, or even if you're not, William's walking is continuing to improve by leaps and bounds. And he really seems to like the carpet here since it provides a much softer landing space when he inevitably topples over or drops to his knees. He still throws his arms wide in that hilarious toddler stagger, but he's really getting much better at putting it all together. Every day, he seems to be able to walk further. He also likes his new swing in the backyard. He always enjoyed swinging at Jake and Jadyn's house and at Luckie Park, and now he has a swing of his very own, and he's darn happy about it. I just can't seem to push him high enough, though; he wants to go higher, faster, higher, faster!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Looks like we made it

We made it. We made it!

But you it makes total sense to me, knowing that Willie Nelson was high all the time when he sang "I just can't wait to get on the road again." Because I just couldn't wait to get off the road again. And now that I'm off, I plan to stay off for a good long time.

But the important thing is...we made it to Nashville. Woo! But getting here, well, that was an adventure worthy of a storyteller. I may not be able to do it justice, but I'll try to at least give you the gist.

We may not have jolted across the plains in a covered wagon or eaten buffalo meat, but we did have 1) one emergency doctor's visit in Albuquerque (David); 2) two lost (but subsequently found) watches (no word on whether they were blind but now see) (Diane); 3) one case of aggravated tendonitis in the wrist from too much carrying and driving (me); and 4) one case of croup (William). And I think I can fairly say that I've had more than my fill of Holiday Inn Express cinnamon rolls for the time being.

We started out last Wednesday from the Holiday Inn Express in 29 Palms. We had breakfast with Dr. Perkins, aka Dr. Mimi, and then dropped off our keys and sped out of town. I got my first (and thankfully) last look at the "town" of Amboy, or at least its remains baking in the 118 degree shimmers of heat. Then we decided to stop for lunch in Needles. Well, we stopped at KFC, and you know, you'd think that we'd be all clear, since it wasn't the 29 Palms KFC, but no. The good news is no, they were not out of chicken, but that was about the only thing that went right there. God, what were we thinking? It was still the desert! I had to resort, finally, to using my Omniscient Mom Voice in order to procure some napkins from the clueless counter girl. I don't break that Voice out very often, so when I do, all I can say is look out. I got my napkins. We ate lunch. But after that, I declared a moratorium on KFCs for the time being. Until they can regain my trust.

But hey, we did get a couple of cute pictures outside this wagon next to the KFC.

Finally, we made it to Tasayan, Arizona. We dropped our stuff at a motel and headed to see the Grand Canyon. And "Grand" is really not a strong enough word to describe it. It is majestic. It is incredible. The colors, the striations in the rock, they barely look real. With the sun slanting from the west, the ridges are sharp in the light, cutting dramatic shadows. I felt silly even taking photos, knowing that I've seen a million photos of the canyon and never felt anything from seeing them. But we tried.

We barely got a taste of the canyon, since we only spent a few hours there, gaping at it. But we had to head out Thursday morning. We had a lot of road left in front of us. We ate lunch in Flagstaff...somehow Diane and David managed to pull up in front of KFC and convince me to go in, and all I can say is that they must have cast a spell on me or something, but luckily, it was an uneventful experience. Around that time, she discovered that her two lost watches were actually hiding in the bottom of her purse, and we all joked about that for awhile. At least one good thing came out of us going to KFC.

We turned east and pressed on toward Albuquerque. I listened to XM radio and talked to Mom for a little while on my cell phone, while Diane made up lyrics to new songs and taught William an extended version of Pattycake in the backseat of David's car in front of me. We ate pancakes in an IHOP in Albuquerque and planned the next day's drive and nighttime destination, Oklahoma City. Allowing some time to sleep in the next morning, we'd have about eight hours on the road and still be able to get there by dinnertime, David speculated. We all could use a good night's sleep.

Unfortunately--yeah, you all knew that was coming--William didn't want to settle down that night. We didn't have a separate room or nook for his Pack'n'Play, so he did his little bob-and-weave stand-up routine until we gave up and turned off the lights. Which might have been okay if we all could have stayed in bed the next morning, but instead, David woke up at dawn with an annoying itch on his face. He got up to examine what turned out to be a rash on his face, and William didn't miss a thing. He was standing up in the Pack'n'Play at 6:30, fussing and unwilling to go back to sleep. Worse, David's rash seemed to be spreading, and his face was swelling around his lips and chin, and he flapped around the hotel room in distress. I flipped open the phone book and found the number for a local Air Force base. David called to see if a doctor in the clinic on base would take him for an emergency urgent care visit, making sure to emphasize that he was a doctor and just needed a prescription and it wouldn't take long. Around 11:30 a.m., prescription in hand, he met up with Diane, William and me--we drove to historic Old Town and bought jewelry--and we headed out on the road. Again. David was grumpy and worried about his face, and we were all tired, but we had to keep on truckin'. Insert your favorite road song lyric here.

And God love Jack Kerouac and all the other great writers who have waxed and rhapsodized about the open road, but I hate it. I hate the long endless mocking expanse of highway. I hate the monotony of the medians, even when they're pretty. I even start to hate fast food after I've had it for more than three straight days. Stuckeys and Love's Truck Stops lose their campy allure after the first 100 you've seen. And the West doesn't even have many of those hilarious "Go to church or the devil will git you" signs to entertain you along the way. What a bust. I listened to whatever baseball games I could find on the radio and watched my gas gauge and tried, really tried, to find some romance in the Road. But how much romance can there be when you're mostly consumed with thinking 1) I hope we can find a gas station that's both not scary and has a clean restroom, 2) where can we stop for lunch where we can find appropriate food to feed a toddler, 3) I hope they have a changing table there because I am not changing the poopy diaper of a wriggly toddler on the narrow backseat of my car, 4) am I ever going to get good cell phone coverage ever again, and 5) gosh, I hope he takes a mega-long nap and gives Diane a rest from reading "Babybug" and the panda book for the ninetieth time.

Diane was a trooper, she really was. She read countless books to William and played endless games with him. She handed him scores of Goldfish crackers, picked up his binky when he inevitably dropped it, and oversaw the administration of water and milk sippy cups on a regular basis. I had tried to pack a lot of books for William to read on the trip, but you know, reading a 12-page book only lasts so long, and even if you have a dozen board books, that doesn't soak up that much time. William, to be fair, behaved really well in the car. Better than most adults, I'd say. But who wants to be strapped into a carseat all day every day for the better part of a week?

We were all grouchy when we finally got to OK City. And it was late, due to our late start. We listlessly put away some more McDonald's while we sat on our hotel beds, and then started dreading the next day. Diane held William wWihen I tried to feed him dinner on the hotel room floor, then we gave him a quick bath (and he cried because I had to keep running more water into the tub because water kept seeping down the drain, and he was frightened by the gush of water from the faucet). Once again, William stayed awake while we did, but no one was in the mood for a late night, despite the fact that we had once again switched time zones.

The next day was better. William definitely thought so: Mama Dee gave him butterscotch pudding and Froot Loops for breakfast, woohoo! We knew we were headed to Memphis and Grandaddy Dudley's house, and I figured that we'd seen the worst of the trip. The trees crowded up against the highway were a relief after the lonesome wide open spaces of the west. Grandaddy was thrilled to see us, and we were happy to see him, too. William, especially.

By that time, William had developed a cough. And my sensitive ears picked up on the timbre of the cough as soon as I heard it: the croup. It worsened Saturday night, and I got up in the night, time and again, to comfort him. At one point, David and I realized he was burning up, and we gave him a dose of Motrin, but we managed to spill half of it on his second-to-last clean pair of pajamas. Blearily, I changed his pajamas and said a silent prayer of thanks that the trip was nearly over. I tossed and turned on the sleeper sofa in Grandaddy's den, and then suddenly, it was morning. Sunday morning, the last leg of the trip in front of us. We bid Grandaddy Dudley farewell and I promised to come back to visit soon.

And just a few hours later, we were pulling up in front of our new house! Our big wonderful empty house.

While Diane guarded an exhausted William, asleep in his PnP in his braned new bedroom, David and I drove to a nearby (!) Target and gleefully filled up a shopping cart. We bought toilet paper and dishwashing liquid and hand soap and a broom and oh, all sorts of goodies. We even ran into people we know at the Target. And today, after a visit with William's new doctor, we went to Sonic and got cherry limeades and then went to Toys R Us and bought a swing for William's new swingset. And we finished up our first complete day in Nashville by making a wide-eyed, giddy tour of the new Publix grocery store that is mere minutes from our front door. David and I probably looked like idiots, cheering aloud as we read the expiration dates from the bottoms of the jars of mayo and peanut butter. "May 2009! Yeah!" David cried, plunking down a jar of Hellman's in the cart. Take that, silly 29 Palms commissary, with your mayonnaise that expires after about five weeks.

Right now, I'm hunkered down in the empty bonus room on the second floor of our new house. William is asleep. My brother left a little while ago, having come over for the tour of the new house and to share a pizza. David's wandering around the room in front of me, thinking about buying another new TV--his current favorite daydream. I guess I'll sign off for now. I'm so glad that we are here, we are alive and healthy (er, mostly), and the trip is OVER. Buenos noches. I'm off to sleep in my happy new room.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Walking! We have walking!

We interrupt this regularly scheduled roadtrip to bring you major news.

William is walking. That's right. WALKING!

Let's say it some more, shall we? Walking! Walkingwalkingwalking!

He's been tentatively taking a step for about a week now. He would take a step, think better of it, then slowly crumple to the floor and crawl away. Then, on Sunday afternoon, William took a few halting steps in the pool. And then last night, here in our hotel room in 29 Palms, he took several steps, and Diane, David and I cheered madly (and yes, with some delighted surprise). He lapped up the attention and kept on trying. And today, he's managed to log several series of at least six or seven steps in a row!

Of course, he staggers a bit like a drunk, but he gets this wonderful huge smile on his face, like he knows he's accomplishing something special. Which of course he is! He's so funny.

Walking at last! I feel like he invented walking or something, I'm so proud. My friend Jennifer speculated that maybe he hadn't tried more to walk earlier because we had that scary tile floor all over our house--and he's smart enough to know that it hurts when you fall down on a floor like that. Makes sense to me. I guess it just took some confidence-building, a little leap of faith, and some carpet to get him moving on two legs.


Okay. That's the big news. Isn't it funny that William saved this up for the last few hours that we are living here in the Stumps? We head out tomorrow morning...

Monday, July 02, 2007

At long last...

Well, this is almost it, kids. We're about 60 hours from leaving Twentynine Palms for good. We've been frantically throwing stuff out, sorting and organizing, packing and fretting all day. Tomorrow the movers arrive to start the real packing.

I keep hearing the "Beverly Hillbillies" theme song running through my head. I keep trying to figure out a cute way to adapt it to our situation, but I'm having some trouble. I was never much of a lyricist anyway. The most important part is "loaded up the truck and moved the family" anyway.

Desperate to get away from the chaos that is moving, I took William and his grandmother, Mama Dee, to the pool on base this afternoon.

William got to say goodbye to his friend Madison. He's known Madison longer than just about anyone else. They've both grown so much over the past year that it's almost hard to believe. We'll miss Madison.

And before we have to dismantle his crib and pack away all his stuff, William is getting one last night's sleep in his room tonight. Here he is with his daddy, hamming it up while they read "Goodnight Moon."

The thought that we are leaving this house has made me a little nostalgic. It's not that I really love this house, but we brought William home from the hospital to this house. This is his very first home. So far, it's been his only home. This is what he knows. This is the house where we became parents. Leaving means that we're moving on, and William is growing up. So, while that's good, definitely good, it's also made me a little reflective. William will likely never see his first house. Yet, this is the house where we first got to know him and love him.

Four years. It's been four years to the day that we arrived here. Back then, it was just David and me. I think I cried. It was hot, blazingly, searingly hot, and I remember being in a breathless shock from the unfamiliar heat. We cowered inside in the air-conditioning and ordered pizza from Papa John's the first night in this house. We ate it while sitting on the bare floor, since our furniture was still in transit. And I tried not to think about how long we'd have to live here. And now we're done. We arrived around Independence Day in 2003, and now we're celebrating our new independence by getting the heck out of Dodge on Independence Day in 2007.

And, oh, are we ready to be in Nashville at long last! The trees, the grass, the family close by, the Targets close by! This will likely be my last blog posting for a few days, as we begin the Great Journey East. I envision myself a latter-day Laura Ingalls, only my covered wagon is a Mazda Protege with satellite radio. Instead of nibbling on stale sourdough biscuits, William and I'll likely be downing some Cheez-Its and Ritz crackers. And hopefully, God willing, we'll cover more than about 15 miles a day. We're shooting for a final arrival in the country music capital on Sunday. We're going to veer off and check out the Grand Canyon first, but then we'll probably drive straight on.

Hope everyone has a great Fourth of July. I'll try to check email and comments here when we stop for the nights along the way, so drop me a line and say "hi."