Seeing that I am now a full six months into understanding the art of parenting, let me bestow my words of wisdom to all of you:
Baby Little has changed my concept of time. In just four and a half months Little has transformed from an itty-bitty bundle of newborn into a strong, plump, cherry cheeked full baby. Already her tiny rosebud mouth has grown into a bigger constant smile. The precious little joke face she made as an infant has given way to a newly found belly laugh. The epic stretches she did throughout her first weeks are no longer necessary to make her comfortable. As she’s moved on from certain newborn-isms, she’s discovered ways to move her body and show off with he-man style ab crunches and impressive locked-knee standing. She’s learned to “talk”, forgotten about it while she focused on sitting up, and come back to it recently with new and improved sounds. Each day Little learns something new, does something different and grabs each minute by the horn. She is the poster baby for living in the present.
Oh, the joys of feet! The mystery of words! The allure of solid food! Julia London, aka Little, is in a world of wonder. Little appreciates the, well, little things in life just as Hallmark movies and cross stitch pillows instruct. Little needs not Smartphone nor interweb when she has her own fingers to admire. In contrast to the snarky-funny pessimism so prevalent around us (and often perpetrated by us), Little lives pure happiness.
Coming from a completely unbiased perspective, our baby is the best baby. Roger or Rosie Mathews has made pregnancy easy(ish). Ok there’s still heartburn and restless leg and acne and backne and swollen hands and foot cramps, but otherwise it’s been smooth sailing. So smooth, in fact, that our move across the country became a camping one. We tested out camping in the San Juan islands over Memorial Day and it was San Juan-derful.
The best part about camping whilst preggers, other than the camping and the being preggers, is that you get so much street cred (woods cred?). People would stop to commend my ability to do outlandish things like, um, walk – while JD set up the entire camp and unrolled my princess foam mattress. Budweisers were raised and nods given in approval by fellow campers when they spotted me and my s’mores. Perhaps they were just relieved that the giant creature in the bushes was a big belly instead of Big Foot.
Not every night from Sequim to Grand Rapids was a tented one, but every night was lovely. Here’s where JD and I went on our semi-pragmatic baby moon.
It seems like just 10 months ago I was writing a goodbye letter to Vietnam, and now it’s time to say goodbye to a newfound friend: Washington. We moved here with the intention of having much more time together but Roger and the subsequent hormones demanded otherwise. While JD and I are hugely excited for our next adventure with our move to Michigan today, we also realize we’re leaving a lot behind. Here’s what I will miss about Washington.
Our trip to Canada was not all mountain wilderness. We were lucky enough to see two great Canadian cities as well, Vancouver and Victoria. After living amongst the pines for several months, they were the perfect injection of skyscrapers and pedestrians to satisfy our human interaction quota. Vancouver offered stunning scenery and pop-up-restaurant cool along with a disturbing number of junkies making us wonder where the line between British Columbia and Narcos Colombia was. Victoria was an absolute gem, plain and simple. This smaller island city fully delighted and left us scouring real estate listings.
Our impromptu spring break trip to Canada took us straight into the romance of the Great White North. Banff National Park was a peek inside a snow globe that left us truly impressed.
Even for a directionally challenged loon like me there was something off about driving east to reach the great Rocky Mountains; considered Out West when growing up in Michigan. We drove through never-ending plains of white, past train tracks and tunnels that should have been part of a children’s play set and mountain peaks that looked like Kindergarten renditions of triangle mountains (mad-jestic in JD’s words).
Strangely, I was reminded of Namibia here. They are alike in their opposite extremes. There was the same quiet and same sense of smallness that comes from being the only humans for miles. Although exhilarating, there was also the feeling that we shouldn’t be there, as if we were trespassing on Mother Earth’s hallowed ground. The land was both too sacred and too brutal for us to cruise though in our temperature-controlled car.
As we prepared for a weekend getaway to the mountain town of Leavenworth, I kept running into words like ‘quaint’, ‘charming’, ‘adorable’. But the one review that really made me excited described it as something like Alpine-weird. I was Alpine-interested.
Leavenworth was once just your regular run-on-of-the-mill timber town (pun fun!). But when the railroad relocated, the economy “fell” (sorry, folks, I had to). It “wood”n’t be until several decades later that they decided to turn over a new leaf. So, how do you save a struggling economy in a logging community? Rebrand it as a Bavarian town in Washington, naturally!
Our favorite mitten state will soon be home. Again. We’re moving to Michigan! The mild weather, the swaying palm trees are calling us. Oh, wait. It will be a big, dual peninsula adjustment in many ways, but I am delighted to be a Michigander once more.
Michigan has always been my home. And I’ve missed it. From the far ‘way reaches of Vietnam, I thought Washington would be close enough to make a longer-term place to put my hat. Then we moved here and realized it’s still flipping far. Then there was Roger and an inexplicably strong desire to be physically closer to at least one side of the family, since, unfortunately we can’t be close to both. Then there was our magical trip home at Christmas – full of Roger Reveals and sharing our family’s delight at our soon-to-be baby as they shared ours. For JD and me, it suddenly seemed obvious that, while Washington is beautiful and full of wonderful new friends, Michigan is our base here in the US – not a small statement considering Michigan weather averaged -10 on our trip.