Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Welcome Home

Yes, dear and patient readers, I am (finally) back online, at your service. It has been much too long since my last post, especially in babyland, where even a few weeks can encompass a whole world of changes and development. Hopefully I can cover the missing months with some choice photos -- suffice to say that el Pablito is the same sweet boy -- he just moves a lot faster these days!

Our return to NYC was marked by all sorts of welcomes, including the treat of waking up to a magical white blanket of snow. Snow -- I hadn't seen any for over a year -- I wasn't sure it was even something I would miss. But up here in the northern reaches of Manhattan, a new snowfall feels so peaceful, so optimistic, so gently beautiful; it is the best winter has to offer, and I feel like we got a special homecoming display. (And nicely timed for a couple of days after our arrival; I certainly wouldn't have appreciated it quite so much if it had been my plane that was delayed for five hours.)

As it was, my arrival at JFK could not have been less stressful. Not that traveling with an infant is ever fun, exactly, but Pablo was on his best behavior (which is very good indeed) and spent the entire flight making friends with all our fellow passengers. And then we were met by the incomparable Corina, who escorted us in style back to Jersey City for a fine meal and a night of generous hospitality (they gave up their bed for us! thank you, Corina! thank you, Steele!) before shuttling us all the way back to Washington Heights. And so, finally, home -- my own apartment, just as I left it, only cleaner. Another big thanks due there, to Rachel and Steve, aka The Best Sublettors Ever. (And of course to Michael, my financial manager, who did not in fact run off to Cozumel with the last dime in my savings account. Empty threats.)

I've had both hard and wonderful experiences everywhere I've been during the last year, and I feel full of gratitude for the people who have helped me out along the way. For the community of the Santa Rosa apartments, where I met some women much like myself -- and some who couldn't be more different. Lalla, Nicole, Lisa, Karan, Teresa, Brooke, Helen, Blair... all of you are part of Pablo's story. And then there were my new buddies at the Casa del Antiguo Aserradero -- Ann and Gautam, whose beautiful apartment I inherited, Erin and John, Linda and Ganesh, Rose and Lily. There were my gringo friends all around Antigua: Jenni and Brian, Leif and Cilla, Sara and Karan, Tim and Elizabeth... and there were the chapines, who took care of Pablo and me both -- Gaby most especially, and AnaMaria and Cindy, Sandra and Gustavo, Amabilia... Thank you, ALL.

A small sampling of my Guate friends:

Saying goodbye to my Brit neighbors -- Linda, Ganesh, and the ever-serious Angie.

Brian and Jenni...

...and sweet baby Lena

Gabriela, our most wonderful ninera. Le extranamos mucho, Gaby!

Sandra and Gustavo, our trusty drivers, cultural interpreters, and friends.

Josi, AnaMaria, Gaby, Cindy, and Ignacio

And I'd like to set aside a special place of honor to a family we barely know, the family who cared for Pablo in the very beginning.
Pablo's official foster mother, Lucy, and her sweet son Fernando. Even though he only spent two weeks with them, Pablo clearly holds a lasting spot in their hearts.

Well, it's beginning to feel a bit like the Academy Awards here, isn't it? Appropriate, then, I suppose, to end with a big thank you to my family of origin. I came back from Guatemala to California for a few months, ostensibly to help my mother through her chemo treatments. But in the end she was the one doing most of the caretaking --babysitting, cooking, cleaning, laundry (even my pillowcases were ironed!) -- and I got to forget for a little while longer what being a single mom really entails. And Pablo, naturally, was the object of adoration, from all the extended family. It was wonderful to see them with him, and vice versa -- to know that he is loved as much as any child emerging from my own flesh would be. It was not easy to leave.

But I love being home. In true New York fashion, the snow was quickly gone, of course, but I don't mind. And no doubt I will very soon be just another crabby nurse in the ER, complaining about the understaffing and the overcrowding and the general chaos. But right now I still feel priviledged, a member -- finally -- of that club I've been trying to join for several years now. And beyond that -- a member with special status: the single mom, the adoptive mom, the white mama to the brown child -- the gringamama. I have no idea, really, what all of that will mean in the months and years to come. But returning home, I feel like I am able, finally, to set out on the journey.

And now for the (extensive!) gallery:

The Food Series

The Cheerio. How on earth did parents survive in the pre-Cheerio era?

Teething biscuit in one hand, phone in the other. Unfortunately, these pictures do not capture the absolute gooey crumbly disastrous aftermath of a biter-biscuit breakfast -- but you will note that I have him stripped down to the dipe. Thank you, Tia Sasha.

Foam: more toxic than an Earth's Best biscuit, no doubt -- but much less messy!

Master of the BIG water bottle.

Dinner usually looked something like this:

But occasionally things ended rather more soporifically...

The Tongue Series

The Swing Series
Oh, how he loved his jumperoo.

Off the Cobblestones
Once out of PGN, we did in fact make it out of Antigua for a few short trips.

Here we are relaxing in the sun on our somewhat ill-fated journey to the hippie dippie hangout of San Marcos on Lake Atitlan...

...and practicing our yoga

Pablo also got a bit of Christian education from Tia Nastia and her delectable gold cross:

We went to the kite festival for All-Saints Day in Sumpango (perhaps those kites will get a post of their own someday... they certainly deserve one) with Tia Kristin (and Tio Bill).

One of our last Antigua events -- the first haircut:
Adios, curls :-(

The California Series

First up -- my collection of artsy fartsy dining-room shots:

Next -- some more practical activity in the kitchen:

My little environmentalist (he's organizing the recycling here, in case you can't tell. And no, he has not been dipping into the Pale Ale).

Sometimes even Cheerios, even on a silver platter, are not enough...

...but the dishwasher never failed to satisfy.

Rock climbing in Berkeley:

Lame Yuletide Photography

THIS is the best I could do for Pablo's first Christmas??

Pablo with a tree growing out of his head...

...opening presents...

...playing with present.

Here's the Season's Greetings section (and a pictorial explanation for why no one got a cute Pablo-riffic Christmas card)...

faster than a speeding shutter -- off with the hat!

Somehow these green and red outfits just don't get the job done, especially with a Bay Area "winter" background.

At least he kept his hat on here.

And, finally, some...

Miscellaneous Cuteness

That's all, folks!

Next up: something of substance. Sometime in 2008.