For Cohen, like Keaton before him, walking came (or more accurately, is still coming) late.
His first purposeful unaided steps happened at my parents' place the day before Thanksgiving. Maybe three or four little tentative ones, which I luckily captured on video below, not something really aimed at mobility... more testing the nets. Even now, spending Christmas in Florida at the other parents' house (no, not a divorce thing, happy to say Sharaun and I are the product of two long-married couples), he's just finally getting to the point where he's doing more walking than crawling.
His steps are still fairly straight-legged and deliberate, he ends up on his rear a lot, and he's mostly walking between two things he can grab onto and cruise around - but with each passing day I see him take more steps and appear more coordinated. It's actually pretty fascinating to watch and I'm thankful that it's happening when I'm not at work all day and would miss the subtlety. I still clap and cheer for him in my high-pitched "good job little kid" voice, I hope he doesn't find it patronizing... his enthusiasm would seem to indicate he does not, unless he's far more sophisticated at cloaking his emotions for my sake than I give him credit towards.
I took him down to the park today, where Keaton and I went yesterday, and watched in awe as he behaved almost the polar opposite of Keaton at the same age. I set him down and he climbed the green-rubber coated stairs of the play structure, crawled right over to the slide where he situated himself and pushed off. The first time I guided him with a helping hand, but after he'd walked around to the stairs again and get himself poised for a second go, I let him do it solo. He loved it, slid on his belly right to the end, scooted himself off and onto his feet and toddled over to do it again.
Anyway, below are his first little steps that day in Oregon. I love that little boy.
Yesterday Keaton and I decided to walk down to the little "old town" area.
Not too far from the in-laws' place, the walk there is an enjoyable one flanked on the right by the Indian River and the left by a row of riverside houses which are always fun to ogle and envy. The weather was inviting, too, and is part of the reason I proposed the trip. We'd walk down to the little park (the same park where the Santa incident occurred three years ago), kick rocks on the playground a bit and then stroll through the gentrified shopfronts and maybe get some stocking-stuffers for mom.
On the way down Keaton was being Keaton. "The wind feels so refreshing in my hair, dad," she said as she tossed her (somewhat tangled) locks. "You know, I think I was meant to live in Florida. Do you think we could live in Florida sometime?" "Meant to live in Florida?," I asked, "What do you mean?" She explained that, since both mom and I were from Florida that it was like she was supposed to live here. The concept of destiny may be above her, but that's pretty much what she was describing. I told Sharaun's mom about the conversation and she was encouraged.
We picked flowers and dodged fire-ants (currently Keaton's #1 fear in the sunshine state) and even made a stop at the local magic store to nose around. And once again this morning Sharaun's left me with the kids to go shopping (her perpetual pre-Christmas Florida activity, not that it bothers me - being that it relieves me of having to do the same), so I'm thinking we might make a return-trip but this time with Cohen in tow.
Until later then.
Man the weather here is refreshing. Something about the air here at the in-laws' place: fresh coming off the water and just a little touch of Florida humidity but without the oppressive heat and density of the summer months. Christmas-time in Florida really is an excellent clime.
Our trip out was disastrous. We woke at 3am to catch a 6am flight out of California, and that flight was delayed by all manner of things for over an hour (with us sitting in our seats on-board). This resulted in a missed-connection at Denver and the airline auto-re-booking us on a 6pm flight later that day. Not wanting to spend eight hours in the airport with two kids, we tried standby on a couple earlier flights with no luck. Eight long hours later, as 6pm finally rolled around, turns out that outbound aircraft had issues. Another hour and a half and a new plane later we were finally on our way. We pulled into the driveway here at 2:30am Florida time, nearly twenty-one hours of travel time after our west-coast departure. Poor Cohen didn't sleep the entire time, stubborn little man that he is, and was wrecked for our entire first day here.
But now we are here, and all the Christmas presents I had shipped from Amazon were here before us, and the sweet tea is plentiful and family's already come 'round to play... it promises to be a good time. I'm trying to stay away from work as much as possible, but have so far checked email daily like a sucker.
I'm looking forward to some un-scheduled time. No having to be somewhere at this time or meet someone at that time.
Oh and maybe some writing if the inspiration strikes. Bye.
Happy New Year's Eve, friends and family (and enemies and the indifferent and still-not-sure).
Last night went and had a couple cigars with the brother-in-law. Some strip-mall smokes and spirits hole, but really nice. I told Doug, as we were sitting there, that in a past life I must have been a smoker or frequented places where smoke hung regular in the air - as I'm oddly at-home comfortable in those types of places today. Even though I leave with my clothes smelling like they were washed in some foul smoke-bath (I guess they were), my skin feels like paper and my sinuses tighten so much my head feels heavier for it - I enjoy the smoking experience.
Pipes, cigars, even the occasional cigarette... all have a draw. Like I say, maybe in some previous life this was comfortable to me. Or, maybe, Piaget was onto something and the stage of my youth which was marked by time spent with the smokestacks who were my maternal grandparents is imprinted alongside "safe, comfortable, and easy" in my mind.
Anyway we hung out and smoked and drank dark beer (Sam Smith's Oatmeal Stout, something I fist had as a bottle offered in trade for a campfired hot dog by a dirty hippie at a Grateful Dead festival). We talked about grown up things to justify our grey hair and sore feet: real estate investments, insurance, the march of technology, our jobs and families. In the end I found myself again wishing that were we closer to family. A hollow hope and really not much more for now, since I wouldn't leave our current situation anyway; I'm risk-averse and happy and comfortable. But for a lark it's fun to sit and think what I might do if we up and hauled buggy across the country. Maybe I could start a whole new career. Maybe not.
Disney is always an odyssey.
We left the house just before 7am still partially under cover of darkness and with a thin layer of frost on the vehicle. The monorail was out of order, so we ferried over to the park and were inside by 8:45am (much later than our intended 8am arrival). Didn't matter though, we killed it. It's a good thing both Sharaun and I enjoy "maximizing" Disney... and that Keaton has the chops to handle a full day of park. We didn't get home until midnight on the nose, leaving the park around 10:30pm. I know; sounds insane - guess it is kind of insane. But, we did all the things we wanted to do and didn't feel too rushed or frantic.
Being just a little too young for fourteen hours of fun, Cohen stayed back with Ami. Keaton, as expected, had a blast. She got an autograph book and set off to meet some characters. When all was said and done she had four princesses (including Rapunzel, her favorite part of the day), one prince, and Donald. Not bad, and gives her something to "collect" upon future visits. She also braved the Haunted Mansion without once cowering into our shoulders or covering her eyes (a first). In fact, she examined the attraction with the cold measuring eyes of a Halloween prop maker's daughter - noting several times that, "Dad, you could make that for our house at Halloween!" Way to puff me up.
Let me just say it: I love Disney; I'm like a kid myself when it comes to the place. And even though I think Disneyland edges out the Magic Kingdom - I'll take a trip to either any day. So what if my feet are sore and my day's diet was crappy park food and snacks? It was worth it to see Keaton's smile (and my own, and Sharaun's) when she got a hug from Cinderella.
Good day with family today. We drove an hour or so away to spend the morning exploring huge man-made indoor winter.
The effort and energy required to produce a thing of such frivolity is a wonder. It was all of 9° in that place; they gave each person a full-body parka like the kind the guys working the freezer cases at Costco wear. They kept it that way with a mazework of overhead ducting, each two feet round and heavily insulated, each blowing massive volumes of frigid air.
Turning a huge convention center auditorium into a walk-in freezer is something to marvel at. Humans must become awful bored to dream up such exotic ways to entertain themselves. Here in the tropical south we tromped around in real snow and poor Cohen came home with bright red chapped cheeks and chin. Nice way to make a little money for someone, I suppose.
The rest of the week is spoken for and yet we have much still we'd like to do. The usual running around and meeting with friends will come after Christmas and the wind-down of Sunday and then the wind-up-again of Disney on Monday. I'd also like to get a good amount of do-nothing time in while we're here: hanging with the family, watching the kids play with their presents, drinking beer with the father-in-law - those kinds of things. I can make it happen.
Writing from the early morning east coast time, something ungodly early in the west coast analog. It's right around the middle of our trip and the first time I've sat down to do any kind of writing - this feels right for a vacation.
Cohen was wonderful on the flight out, and we're hoping for a repeat performance on the return flight. Since being here he's rarely left the crook of some family member's arm. Keaton, too, gets spoiled at Ami's house. Between the pool and the beach and the constant attention it's no wonder she loves going to Florida. Earlier in the week Uncle Tyler took us for an alligator-watching tour on the St. John in his new boat and she liked that too - must have seen 30+ of the pre-historic looking beasts.
The rest of the week is looking tight; filled to the cracks with birthdays and dinners and visiting, not to mention the hope at some solid do-nothing time in between all that (a common lament of mine when we come). I already know we won't be able to do it all.
And with that, it's back to figuring out the activities of the day. Writing remains secondary, so the blog may fester for a few more days... but it's worth it.