The phrase "expanding horizons" has been at the forefront of my brain this week. Everyday, Micah is expanding his horizons - he is learning and exploring and growing and developing at an amazing rate.
On Monday, Micah, DH and I flew down to Orlando for my annual conference - one full year after we took Micah on his first plane trip. This year was quite a different journey. We were lucky enough to take Micah's car seat on the plane and put him in his own seat. He looked like such a big boy sitting in his car seat! We gave him some milk, cheese, crackers and applesauce, and Micah sat in his seat happily munching, clapping, laughing and chatting. During takeoff and our ascent, we ran into some fairly significant turbulence. At one point, the plane was thrown around quite a bit, and all I can say is how thankful I was that Micah was safely strapped into his car seat - I am certain he would have hit the roof of the plane during some of those bumps and drops had he not been securely seated.
For the entire trip, Micah was alert, awake, and quite active. Perhaps too active. In fact, he had a lot to say on the plane ride. He was practicing his high-pitched screech for all the passengers (one of his new tricks that drives my father insane - and probably all of those traveling on the plane with us). He felt the need to say "hi" and "bye" to the other passengers as well. After we happily ate and played a bit...Micah got antsy. After checking on the time, I realized that we were only 30 minutes into a 2 hour flight. Uh-oh!! DH took Micah for a quick walk up and down the aisle. When he returned, Micah was more interested in climbing on his car seat and smiling at the man sitting behind him than sitting in the car seat. We strapped him in over his objections, and then the fun began.
Micah was a bit cranky about being tied down and he was not afraid to express his displeasure. For the next 40 minutes or so, I was able to keep him quiet as long as I was quietly singing to him. If I stopped singing for even a moment, the loud complaints started again. I then spent some time tickling and playing with Micah...which kept him happy, but laughing quite loudly and probably disturbing the passengers almost as much as his unhappy noises. We intermittently gave him his bottle of milk and plied him with food. While we were on the plane, Micah spotted DH's cup of selzer water, and made it clear he wanted to drink from that cup. So, we let him try. While he did dribble a fair amount down his shirt, he was actually pretty adept at using the cup. Even funnier - he LOVED the selzer water! I thought he would hate the carbonation, but he could not drink enough of it. I think he easily drank 1/2-3/4 of a can all by himself. It was so funny to watch. Although the selzer water kept him occupied for the remaining part of the trip, he was clearly exhausted and ready for his nap. We finally made it to Orlando about 20 minutes late.
We moved quickly off the plane and over to the car rental place. Naturally, things did not go exactly as planned. The bank of elevators was broken and would not let us off on the first floor to get to the car rental. DH took the escalator up to check in, then I had to go back and sign the paperwork when he returned, and then we had to traipse all over the airport trying to find an alternate path via elevator back to the first floor so that we could get over to the garage and pick up our vehicle. After that ordeal, both DH and I were tired and frustrated and Micah was exhausted and desperate for his afternoon nap.
Our next challenge - installing the car seat. After doing a lot of calculation and consideration, we decided to buy a new but inexpensive car seat last week, specifically for traveling. We selected the Graco ComfortSport because it was inexpensive (normally $100, marked down to $80 because they were trying to deplete their stock of this color, and on a special sale for 20% off - so all told, the car seat cost us $65). This car seat is fairly easy to install, relatively lightweight, and comes with the EPS side-impact protection foam. We felt that it was a perfect seat that balanced safety against cost. We had researched renting a car seat, and we learned that the car seats cost about $15-$25 per day (so a 6 day rental would have cost us $90-$150). Additionally, many of the car seats offered by rental companies are not the best quality. With that information, we figured that this trip alone would cover the expense of the car seat.
Anyway, the day we bought the car seat, they showed us how to install it. I had asked DH to practice installing the seat before we left, just in case it presented any problems. I bet you see where I am heading with this. Yes, you guessed it - DH did NOT practice installing the car seat, and did not know how to properly install it when we arrived in Orlando. He would not read the directions, and he would not listen to me as I explained to him what needed to be done. I was SOOO frustrated with him! We initially tried installing via the seatbelt method (as we had been shown) but DH did not understand how to make it tighter so the seat would not move, and I just did not have the strength to do it myself. After that, we switched to the "latch" method of installation. After watching DH struggle with the installation, I pointed out the obvious flaw in his installation method. Once he gave in and listened to me, we were able to hook the seat in fairly quickly and tighten it up...just over 1 hour after we first started the process. Poor, Micah - he was tired and cranky and just wanted to nap!!
We got in the car and headed to the hotel. Micah fell asleep immediately and napped during the ride home, while we checked in, and while DH unloaded the car. This year, we decided to stay in one of the "villas" as opposed to the regular rooms. The villas are quite nice - they come with 2 full bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, a living room/dining room area, a kitchen and a screened in balcony. Having the kitchen is so much easier for feeding Micah meals, and the layout really does give him a fair amount of room to walk and play.
Our first night, we decided to head out to dinner. We intended to go to Olive Garden - quick, inexpensive, and we know Micah loves the food. Instead, we decided to stop at Golden Corral. I think Micah fell in love with that restaurant. I find it amusing, as Golden Corral is not exactly known for its high-quality atmosphere. Regardless, Micah loved the music playing - he danced and clapped along. The diversity of food options also worked for him - whatever he did not like, he threw on the floor, but there were 300 other options to try!
We did make a few new discoveries at the Golden Corral. First, Micah learned that he likes olives (much to my surprise - I guess he takes after mommy and not daddy) and hard boiled egg whites. We gave him beans and fruit (he was particularly fond of the canned pears and peaches, and he even ate craisins, papaya and melon (and he NEVER likes melon!)). He ate a few strawberries, grapes and pineapple as well. Unfortunately, he would not eat the macaroni and cheese or the meat and chicken, but he did eat a bit of potato. I did not have much luck getting him to eat broccoli.
For a few weeks now, Micah has been obsessed with ice cubes. He will crawl over to the freezer whenever it is open (we have a french-door refrigerator with a bottom drawer freezer) and he reaches in and grabs ice cubes from the icemaker. He loves to sit and play with them, suck on them, and generally make a big mess whenever he can. When he sees ice cubes in DH's glass, he often will fuss and cry until DH gives him one. At the Golden Corral, Micah's experience drinking from a cup on the plane and his ice cube obsession converged into a new experience! He saw mommy drinking water through a straw from a glass with ice, and he wanted it, too. I presented him with the straw and told him to suck, and much to my amazement, he was able to drink the water! He went to town drinking water from the straw. Naturally, Micah spotted ice cubes in the glass, so he also had to dip his hands into the glass while he was drinking and fish out the ice cubes for playing. I swear, his hands were so red and cold that I think he might have gotten frostbite! He played with that cup of water, drinking, splashing, and enjoying the straw, for over half an hour. We did have one minor crisis - Micah dropped the straw and became hysterical. Luckily, the waitress quickly brought us a new straw and order was restored. I felt terrible about the huge mess we left on the floor for the staff - I hope the nice big tip we left makes up for that!
We stopped at the grocery store on the way back to the villa to pick up some food for breakfast and lunch. Micah went to bed fairly easily, and slept well. On Tuesday, I woke up bright and early to attend my first all-day meeting. DH played "manny" all day and the two of them had a great time. At lunch time, DH and Micah came to visit me. Micah showed off for all of my colleagues, walking all over the place, flirting with the ladies, and generally looking adorable. We fed him lunch and then I went back to my meeting. We had dinner plans to meet up with some of my work colleagues for dinner at 6:30. Once again, Micah was charming and quite well behaved (albeit loud). We opted to eat dinner in the "fancy" restaurant (I do not think they are used to children there). Service was incredibly slow - we were seated at 7 but saw no food until after 8:00 pm. We loaded Micah up on bread, but he really did not get much of anything nutritional for dinner. By the time the food arrived, he was disinterested in the options and sick of sitting in the high chair - he felt it was time to walk. DH was only able to eat half of his meal before he had to excuse himself and take Micah back for bedtime.
Today was the all-day pre-conference I was co-teaching. It was an 8 hour day, and I was the lead for 4 hours. My day got off to a rough start - I had set the alarm for 6:00 am, but the first thing I heard this morning was Micah wailing...at 7:45 am! My pre-conference began at 8:00, so it was a crazy mad and disorganized dash out the door and off to my meeting. I was quite out of breath when I got there. Running while pregnant (and without breakfast or medications in me) was a BAD idea. Once I caught my breath, the pre-conference went quite well. I returned to the villa around 5:00 pm, only to find that Micah fell asleep for his afternoon nap at 4:15. DH and Micah spent time at the pool today and apparently had a wonderful time. Micah slept until after 7:00. We eventually woke him up, and the 3 of us ate dinner together at the dining room table - a real family dinner! Because he napped so late, it was almost 9:30 before he fell asleep tonight. He is currently sleeping soundly in the pack and play in the second bedroom. Micah also discovered his stroller tonight. This is our new MacLaren Volo (the lightweight umbrella stroller). We are loving it - GREAT for travel. Micah thinks it is a toy - he loves to climb in and out of it and push it all around. He has been trying to climb on chairs and couches and coffee tables everywhere, too. We have quite a climber on our hands!
Tomorrow I have two more presentations and a series of meetings. It will likely be another crazy day. We are trying to figure out our plans for tomorrow night, and if I can keep my schedule clear on Friday, we are hoping to do something fun with Micah during the day. I have a friend coming up for a visit on Friday afternoon, then on Saturday I have one more presentation before our flight out at 2:45. Let's hope Micah falls asleep on the plane ride back!
It is hard to believe that another year has passed. I love to watch him now, exactly one year later, and see how much he has changed since our last journey down here. What a year this has been, with so many opportunities to expand his horizons! Over the past few weeks, we have been learning so much about Micah as he explores new things. He LOVES Clementines - he gobbles those little oranges up as fast as he can shove them in his mouth. He makes me laugh - if he sees us peeling one, he comes running right over to grab a section. No need to offer it up - he will snap it right out of our hands! If allowed, I think he would eat 2 or 3 Clementines on his own at any one sitting.
We've finally had some success getting Micah to switch to a sippy cup. He still prefers his bottle for comfort first thing in the morning and at bedtime (and if he is extremely tired or not feeling well), but I suspect we will be able to break him of that over the next few weeks. I still love how he snores when he sleeps, and how he can be actively playing with toys and he just needs to run over to me for a moment to give me a hug, snuggle his head down and suck his thumb for a moment before he returns to playing. I love watching him interact with his toys as he learns to use them more everyday. He loves to take all the different toys and stuff them inside other toys. We have a gumball machine, and we are constantly finding weebles, a polar bear and blocks stuffed in the top in addition to the gumballs that belong in there. The same goes for his choo-choo train that is meant to "spit" colored "ping-pong" balls - he prefers to stuff the caboose with blocks, legos and puzzle pieces. He makes me laugh as he waddles all over the house carrying his toys...or a dish towel...or puzzle pieces. I love his obsession with the phone and how he always pulls his socks off. I also love how Elmo is the center of his world - Sesame Street puts him in a stupor, but the moment he sees Elmo (and in particular, the Elmo's World segment on Sesame Street), he begins clapping and smiling.
I guess I am feeling a bit nostalgic about Micah growing up. At the same time, I am so excited to continue watching him grow and learn. There will be so many more opportunities for him to continue to expand his horizons, and I hope I will continue to experience all of them.
On another note, my grandmother is still hanging in there. She is no longer really eating much of anything, and she is rarely awake and communicating anymore. Everyone is amazed that she has managed to hold on this long - unfortunately, I wish I knew if that was a good thing or a bad thing. I am glad that she has held on this long for me. I just hope she can be at peace and comfortable.
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