The highlight of this month was an eleven day visit from my parents. As always, they got along splendidly with their two grandchildren. Just as expected, Ian's English improved considerably. A skeptic would still consider a lot of what he says to be little more than parroting back the last few syllables he's heard, but he does an increasingly better job of pronouncing those syllables. At dinner with my parents, he concocted sentence constructions as long as "More tomato please, Grandpa!" The boy can't get enough tomatoes.
The most fun way to use dominoes, with Grandma.
Reading Grandpa's email.
During the brief handoff of grandparents, all four of them were together, which required a portrait: Juan, Betsy, Ian, Nora, Marce, and Paul.
Reading Angus and the Ducks, a childhood favorite of mine. Ian's not that much into plot, per se, when it comes to reading book; he's much more likely to drown out the lector with animal sounds matching the animals drawn in the book.
Eating Italian food with Grandpa.
Grandpa and Ian, fresh back from the barber, showing off their new haircuts.
Even the laundry going around and around is interesting when you're two!
No one noticed aside from my wife, but I did a selective desaturation trick on this photo. All the dark surfaces are really red.
Every year in May, Nora has gone away with her preschool class to camp for three days and two nights to Paradiso Albergue, an adventure camp for kids about 45 minutes west. Every year she has a great time, but the actual transitions between regular life and camp life have been tough.
The first year, I learned the lesson that I should not do what all the other parents do and follow the kids as they leave school in the morning and parade 100 meters to the bus stop and all load up on the bus to leave for camp. When I did that the first year, it was just too much for Nora to be inside the bus looking out at me, at what she was leaving behind, and she cried. The second year, I dropped her off at school and walked away, which was much less painful for all of us.
This year, Ian and I walked her to school, and both of them, while sharing the burden of the roller suitcase, were rather sullen. Ian, of course, has no sense of what "tomorrow" means, but he sensed, with all the packing, that something was changing and he also sense Nora's unease.
"Pretty unsure about this..." -joint thought bubble
Once she was actually at camp, she had a great time. She told even more stories about her time at camp than in previous years. But, thanks to modern technology, we, the parents, received regular photo and video updates from throughout the 2.5 days. Contrast that to only a few years ago when you were lucky if your kid wrote you a letter at all during camp.
Her return was also disastrous. Her mother went to pick her up from the bus and watched as child after child bounded out of the bus and into their parents' arms with smiles and love. When Nora came out of the bus, she took one look at her mother and said, "Where's my sandwich?" No hello, no hug, nothing but haughty privilege with which a Duchess might treat a nameless servant. Needless to say this was quite hurtful, and probably the low point of the month.
So this cute thing happened in the kitchen...
One of Ian's favorite pastimes is to have "read" a book to him – i.e. point to each farm animal and say the name so that he can make the sound. He is really good at animal sounds. However there's one that he refuses to say. Whenever there's a sheep, I say, "Sheep", and he repeats "Seep", and I say "Baa!", and he says, "No. Moo!!" I correct him and he insists almost to the point where I begin to question my own knowledge of ovine and bovine vocalizations. It's gone from funny to frustrating and back to funny again.
One day, during a car ride, Nora decided to teach Ian how to count. She has this trick where she can say, "Ian, la la la!", to which he responds, "La la la!", and from that point on, his parroting engine is engaged, and he will repeat whatever words are next said to him. Whenever I am trying to get him to pronounce a complicated word, like "sixth", and he refuses, Nora will step in and say something to the effect of, "Stand back old man, I've got this," do her "La la la!" trick, and immediately get him to say the word. So Nora began to say, "One, two, three", and Ian would repeat back, "One, two, ONE!!", shouting the last word. They did this about twenty times, so it got so ingrained that now you can just ask him to count to three, and he'll say, "One, two, ONE!!" It's interesting that he understands how many numbers he needs to say, so he groks the concept of three, but then just goes back to the previous number for the final word. Toddler brains...
We've been up a few times now to see our friend Agustín's donkeys. But this month one of his donkeys gave birth, so we went up to see the little five day old donkey foal. It was a jenny, so a burrita rather than a burrito. The mother wouldn't let us anywhere near her, though, for good evolutionary reasons. But the kids had fun feeding and riding (Ian, at least) the other donkeys.
Gimme the bread, kid!
He looked a bit concerned that he might slide down the neck.
Nora wouldn't stop saying, "Okay, get me back down, now!" the whole time she was on the beast.
Later that day, in a completely separate place, we happened upon five more donkeys and a foal. Ah, springtime!
As a young boy in Spain, the time finally arrived for Ian to fight his first bull.
It was very cool to find the Santoña bullring open to the public. I'd personally never been down in the sand.
I'll leave you with some adorable photos and videos of the kids.
Sharing a milkshake.
Roaming county roads.
Ian's got a mean left foot!
What a great big sister!
Saturday morning shopping with Daddy.
The state of the offspring is strong! ...and clean!