Each Day Brings Greater Messes

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Wherein Much Is Written About Last Month. Also, There Was A Meltdown.

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  • 2008-01-06: Hey, it's been a while, but international travel throws quite the wrench into regular website updates, let me tell you. Any, Niklas hopes everyone had a good Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice or whatever it is you want to have a good one of in December. He also wishes everyone a Happy New Year. Personally, I wish you no particular ill, so there's that. Anyway, two plus weeks of flying, driving, drinking (not at the same time, I assure you) and eating my weight in chocolate and poultry has really taken its toll, so in lieu one massive update detailing all of our holiday travel excitement, I'll be writing up one stop per day... starting tomorrow, as this run on sentence indicates, I'm not back in game shape just yet. Also, just so you're prepared, if picture taking was my job, I would be fired, fired, fired due to my dereliction of duty. We did shoot a bit of video though, so I'll get that posted one of these days*.

    *one of these days = Calendar Year 2008

    In more general Niklas news, he's recently started to move away from his "I'll eat anything, anytime" phase to more of a "I'll eat most anything, anytime" type thing. In addition to his previously discussed method of throwing food on the floor, he's added a new move to his food refusal repetoire. When presented with something he doesn't want to eat (or drink-get out of here, tropical fruit juice!) he will flail his arms in front of his face crazy ninja style. Also, he yells at you.
    2008-01-07: As promised, here's part 1 of "What Niklas Did On His Christmas Vacation".

    What Niklas Did On His Christmas Vacation: Part 1 - Bermuda - New York
    So, the Niklas Smith Christmas Travel Extravaganza of 2007 (or, if you will, Niksmichristraxtravagansa '07... you won't? I can't blame you) kicked off on the 19th with a nice change as I was the one waking Niklas up. Take that, Laze-o! Who thinks you should sleep past 5:30 am on the Wednesday before Christmas? Well, too bad. We piled Niklas and six metric tons of luggage into the car and were off to the airport by 6:00, which was still over an hour before sunrise. When you're trying to navigate twisty, narrow island roads in the dark, it becomes pretty obvious why the speed limit here is so low, let me tell you. Niklas was pretty well behaved on this first, and by far shortest leg of the journey.

    When we got to the airport, I dropped Andrya, Niklas and our nine bags off at the departures terminal and went to put the car into long term parking. Being used to American airports, I expected a 15 minute drive followed by a twenty minute bus or tram ride back. Instead, I drove about a block and walked back in two minutes. Viva Bermuda! Afterwards, we waited in the check in line for about an hour. Niklas used the time to make his cute face at all of the ladies in the line. He was in remarkably good spirits, especially since he was still strapped into his car seat wheely thing (I'd include a picture, but as I indicated yesterday, I recently had a two week or so stretch where camera operation was a skill I did not seem to possess). When we finally got to the front of the line, we learned that we did not have seats together on the plane. Andrya and I were seated next to each other, but Niklas was assigned a seat a couple of rows away. I thought that it would be nice for Andrya and I to have some time to ourselves (and whoever else was in our row, I guess), but she said something about unfit parenting and insisted that one of us switch seats so as to sit next to the boy. After a quick trip through US Customs (which you conveniently go through in Bermuda saving you a trip to the mad house that is the Customs line at JFK), we made it to the gate for exciting plane waiting-on. Niklas used this opportunity to wander about and occasionally try to get into people's luggage. Luckily, my cat-like reflexes kept him in line (cats are slow, but still quicker than a 15 month old, right?). Due to the incredible amount of time we spent in the ticket line, it wasn't long before we boarded the plane. After some negotiations with a Bermudian gentlemen (Andrya: Do you mind if we trade you seats? BG: Not at all) we were able to sit together after all. The flight was uneventful other than Niklas's repeated efforts to kick the seat in front of him. Fortunately, his legs aren't long enough for him to get much behind his Bruce Lee stylings.

    One uspside to traveling with Niklas: it takes us so long to get off of the plane that after we change his diaper and go to the bathroom, our bags are the only ones left on the luggage carousel. Things take a bit of a down turn when we have to load all of our Niklas related luggage onto a couple of the airport luggage carts which were designed by someone with no concept of balance and then trek the 12 miles (my estimate) from the baggage claim to the rental cars. Also, we had to put on coats because New York is colder than Bermuda. If only I had researched this, I may have brought more for myself than just a hoodie. Niklas, though, was well bundled up with two hoodies and some mittens. We strapped his carseat into the car (obviously), strapped him into his carseat, Tetrised the luggage in and were off to my grandma's house. More on that tomorrow.

    Exciting things that Niklas did today
    This actually happened a couple of days ago, but it's pretty funny, especially because it didn't happen to me. Niklas's tenth tooth (and second molar) is making its way through his gums as we speak. Andrya wanted to see how it was coming, so she put a finger in his mouth to check the progress of el molar dos. At this point, I will point out that Niklas has shown little to no interest in eating the hot dogs that Gerber makes for toddlers, appetizingly called "meat sticks". However, he apparently thought that Andrya's finger would be something he would enjoy eating because he clamped on to it pretty hard and drew a bit of blood. He didn't show any ill effects today when I took him out in the sun, so I guess we're probably ok.
    2008-01-08: I'm sure you're asking yourself questions like "why hasn't Jay archived any of the December material yet?" and "won't dragging out the Christmas reporting like this lead to Jay forgetting crucially cute details of Niklasness?" My response to you is "shut it". And on we go.

    What Niklas Did On His Christmas Vacation: Part 2 - New York - Patton, PA
    So, Andrya drove us out of New York City without incident unless you count me waiting to the last minute to give her directions as an incident in which case there were many incidents, though said incidents led to no major problems. On accound of how it was lunch time, our plan was to stop in New Jersey and get some lunch. This was hindered by the complete lack of signage in New Jersey indicating which restaurants, if any, are located at each exit. Thanks, Jersey. Eventually, we were driven by hunger to take a random exit and wander about until we found a Wendy's. Niklas declared Frostys to be too cold, but other than that, he had a fine time stuffing his face and charming the waitstaff. He also acquired a helium balloon which he found to be great fun. After lunch, there was much, much more driving. Niklas's nap and eating schedules got thrown off, but he was quite the trooper over the long, long drive to my Grandma's house that was made even longer by my inability to locate a certain retail giant's Altoona location, a side trip necessitated after they refused to sell me a gift card online on account of my Bermudian residence.

    Anyway, we got to Grandma's (also Grandpap's) house well after Niklas's regular bedtime. Niklas hadn't met his great-grandparents before, so they were pretty excited to see him. He did not exactly share their enthusiasm. He looked like he might have been tolerant of my Grandma, but when my Grandpap said hello to him, he erupted like Vesuvius and buried everyone in the house with six feet of volcanic rage. After Andrya got him calmed down a bit, he had some dinner and was off to bed.

    The next day, he was in better spirits and he ran around the house trying to expose just how baby proofed it wasn't. He was particularly entertained by taking all of the candy out of a candy dish on the coffee table, stacking it up beside the dish and then putting it back into the dish. He also learned that if he brought me some candy, I would share it with him. Good times for me, let me tell you. Niklas also greatly enjoyed the fact that there were three dogs at great-grandma's house. The oldest one, Nellie, is real old and pretty much just wants to sleep in an easy chair all day. It's hard for a fifteen month old to appreciate that, which is how Nellie ended up getting her ears pulled, her eyes poked and just generally harassed. Sorry, Nellie. The indoor Siberian, Nick, was smart enough to hide under the kitchen table thus sparing her most, but not all, of Niklas's unbridled affections. Naptime did not go as smoothly as I may have hoped, probably due to his pack-n-play (portable crib thing that I don't have a picture of) being in a strange room. Efforts to get him to lie down were accompanied by screaming that while not Vesuvius level, would still send the villagers fleeing. In the afternoon, Niklas and I took a walk outside in the snow and checked out all the places I used to play when I was just a little bigger than him. He also met Apache, the outdoor Siberian who I would think would be terrifying to a little kid due to his huge wolfishness. Instead, Niklas called him a kitty and laughed. Who's intimidating now, Apache? By the end of the day, Niklas had warmed up to Grandma, my Uncle John and my Uncle Donald. I'll let this quote from Grandma speak for Niklas's relationship with my Grandpap; "Don't look at him, Dave, you'll make him cry!" On the plus side, Grandma and Grandpap gave him an Up, Up Elmo which is like the Tickle Me Elmo but with a diaper and he likes being picked up instead of tickled. Niklas approves of Up, Up Elmo.

    The next morning, Niklas discovered the stairs. He found climbing (crawling, really) up the stairs to be entertainment on par with candy stacking. I like it much, much less as it did not involve me eating candy and I had to follow him up the stairs to make sure he didn't either fall down the stairs (which he never came close to) or try to walk down them like a person who knows how to walk down stairs (which he did repeatedly despite being a person who knows absolutely nothing about walking down stairs). All in all, a fine time was had by all, even my Grandpap who didn's seem to mind being screamed at by Niklas or by my Grandma for looking at Niklas.

    Next Up: Scenic Columbus
    2008-01-09: When last we left Niklas, he was busy making my Grandma yell at my Grandpap. Truth be told, she probably would have been yelling at him about something else, anyway. What happens next? Let's find out.

    What Niklas Did On His Christmas Vacation: Part 3 - Lotso' Driving And Columbus, OH
    So, we managed to navigate our way out of Patton successfully, thus putting our exit one up on our deity-invoking-obscenity-retail-giant-searching-for entrance. Hilariously, we passed about forty of these over the next few days. Anyway, when you stick to the main roads (which we did), western Pennsylvania makes for a pleasant drive so the next couple of hours were pretty relaxing. (The next time you see her, you can ask Andrya why the local routes are much less scenic.) Niklas was well behaved and in good spirits when we stopped near the West Virginia border for fuel and diaper related reasons. He was still in good spirits even after I spilled some coffee on him. Note that I spilled it in a "mess up the clothes a bit" way and not in a "Boy Sues Father Over Excessively Hot Coffee" way. After a brief foray into West Virginia (wherein we managed to avoid predatory hill folk), we made our way into Ohio. When it was time for lunch and yet another diaper change, we stopped off at a Steak 'n Shake. Niklas got one of those paper hats that they wear, but he had absolutely no interest in putting it on his head. Apparently, he prefers this look. The Steak 'n Shake was conveniently located next to yet another Wal-Mart that's not in Altoona, so we were able to pick up a gift card for my grandparents. Niklas loves riding in carts and making his cute face at the ladies, so he enjoyed that part of the trip.

    A few hours later, we made it to Columbus where we were going to visit Niklas's godfather. The Godfather was still at work when we hit town, so we stopped off at the Container Store in the Columbus Mega Mall Of Extravagance (not its real name so Andrya could by some wrapping paper. While she was picking stuff out, I let Niklas walk around the store a bit seeing as how he had been cooped up in the car all day. At first, he was pretty insistent that he should be allowed to carry around a shopping basket. He would run toward the stack of them they had near the wrapping paper display, I would shoo him away, then he would run in a big circle ending up back at the shopping baskets. After he got bored of this, he ran down an isle where there was a display of trashcans that were set out in a fashion quite similar to this. Niklas, always one to see the potential for mischief, managed to set a pretty impressive chain reaction that sent several high quality waste receptacles tumbling to the ground. Thankfully, none of them were damaged and we were not thrown out of the store.

    Tomorrow: More Columbus Excitement!
    2008-01-10: Hey. I'm posting stuff despite the fact that Niklas didn't take a nap this afternoon. Forgive me if it comes off as tired and cranky.

    What Niklas Did On His Christmas Vacation: Part 4 - Still In Columbus, OH Even Though We Were Only There For About 18 Hours
    So, once Niklas was done busting up the Container Store, we headed off to see the Godfather. This took a bit longer than expected due to the hilarious tendency of central Ohio city planners to give a cross street different names on opposite sides of the street that you are on (that doesn't make a terrible amount of sense, so here's a sensifying illustration). The Godfather was still using his legitimate business connections to find a house of his own in greater Columbus, so he was staying with our mutual friend Jeff who, sadly, had already gone home for the holidays. Nonetheless, a good time was had by all. Josh (which is easier to type than the Godfather so that's what we'll call him from here on out... then again, typing this has negated any time saving that this nomenclature change has gained us... still, Josh it is, that being the Godfather's actual name) was definitely happy to see Niklas and Andrya and he wasn't irritated by my presence, so that's cool. Andrya fed Niklas some dinner (about half of which was tossed on the floor, a disturbing development that continues to this day) while Josh and I went to pick up some burritos. A Chipotle in Bermuda would make at least fifty bucks a week from me alone, let me tell you. Get on it, Bermuda. Anyway, after Niklas finished throwing his non-burrito around, he opened the fabulous presents that Josh had bought him. These presents were awesome for two reasons: 1) they were books, which Niklas loves and 2) books are easy to pack. After that, there was a bath that was accompanied by yelling the likes of which I had heard since Niklas saw my Grandpap for the first time. Strange bedrooms and bathtubs are unpopular with Niklas.

    The next day, Niklas was in better spirits, probably because he discovered that, like my grandparents, Jeff's house had stairs which he could climb. Once again, he crawled to the top, pulled himself up on the banister and then turned around and took a step off into nothing, somewhat reminiscent of this. I guess I play the roll of the cleverly painted bridge in that analogy. After a bit more hanging out with Josh, we were once again off, this time headed to Andrya's grandparents house which is near St. Louis. Western Ohio proved to be just as unmemorable as I remember... you know what I mean. Things livened up a bit once we got to Indiana. Traditionally, we go to Pizza Hut on Christmas Eve, but plans for that fell through this year. Seeing as how we have no access to America's finest chain pizza in Bermuda, we took advantage of a conveniently located (near a gas station and right off the highway) Hut somewhere near Richmond, Indiana. Niklas was much better behaved than he was the last time we were in a Pizza Hut. While that's not saying much, he was well behaved while I tried to eat my weight in pizza (I think I came pretty close). As Pizza Huts nationwide are apparently adverse to putting diaper changing stations in their restrooms, we changed Niklas's diaper in the car after lunch. Do to the massive amounts of luggage and whatnot we had crammed in every available space, this meant changing him on the passenger seat while Andrya and I stood outside the car. The awkwardness of the situation was compounded by the fact that Niklas had taken one of the biggest poops of his life. Keeping with the festive nature of the season, Niklas decided to forgo the everyday poop and instead put his special orange, green and purple poop on display. I carried several loads of multicolored wipes and then the principle load itself to the Pizza Hut dumpster while Andrya did a phenomenal job of keeping the squirming, laughing Niklas from spreading any Christmas cheer around the car.

    Tomorrow - Smithton: The Town That Would Be The Capital Of Illinois If Illinois Had More Germans In It
    Later - Pictures! Not of our Christmas of adventures, but still. Hopefully, I'll get to this on Saturday.
    2008-01-13: Well, it didn't take me long to fall behind on the Christmas recap. I'm getting right back on the horse tomorrow, though, you can trust me. In non-recap type news, Niklas has been up to quite a bit with trips to the beach, playground and zoo. I'll flesh those stories out in a few days (or come up with some better ones, if you're lucky). Until then, here are some new pictures.

    2008-01-14: Today, Niklas and I visited no fewer than four parks (Port Royal, Fort Scaur, Par la Ville and Whale Bay if you have your copy of my book "Parks and Grassy Areas of Bermuda" handy) as part of my efforts to tire him out so he would take an afternoon nap. A fine time was had by all. Niklas kept talking about how great it was all afternoon while he wasn't napping. Anyway, back to this:

    What Niklas Did On His Christmas Vacation: Part 5 - Smithton, Glen Carbon, Smithton, Glen Carbon, Smithton
    So, we made it to Andrya's grandparents house in Smithton round about dinner time on the 22nd. Niklas fussed about for a bit, had some dinner and went to bed. I had some beer to celebrate the fact that I wouldn't have to drive anywhere the next day. What I did have to do the next day, apparently, was get up with Niklas at some ungodly hour (5:00 or something) on account of how he had had enough of sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings. While we waited for the sun to come up, we sang some Christmas carols (including the oh so popular with Niklas Elmo's Twelve Days of Christmas), read some books and played with a Little People Garage from the 1960s. After that, Niklas had some breakfast which always puts him in a better mood. Eventually, I passed Niklas off to Andrya and went back to sleep. Later that day, we took Niklas to church and then out to lunch. His internal switch was set to "cute" instead of "fuss", so that all went well. He spent the rest of the day wandering about the house and listening to me say things like "put that down", "don't climb on that" and "please, please stop what you're doing right now". At one point, he was using both hands to throw an extensive collection of Santa Claus figurines off of a coffee table. This required me to use both of my hands to catch them leaving me with nothing but words with which to get him to stop trying to bust things up. Useless, useless words. Eventually, he ran out ammo and order was restored. On the plus side, he wasn't yelling at anybody.

    The next day was Christmas Eve. We headed up to Glen Carbon (which is near Edwardsville and about a thirty minute drive from Smithton) to have some lunch with Andrya's Aunt Margaret and Uncle Malcolm, Margaret's brother Tom and Andrya's parents and brother who were coming down from Bloomington. As I mentioned a few days ago, last Christmas Eve featured what was, without a doubt, Niklas's greatest meltdown of all time. This year was the embodiment of one of my favorite quotes from Friends - "Hey, opposite is opposite." Niklas was super well behaved at lunch, probably because he was stuffing his face the whole time. After that, we went to back to Malcolm and Margaret's where Niklas enjoyed opening gifts (for him and otherwise) and playing with one of the more annoying noise making toys we've encountered. However, as there was no yelling, a fine time was had by all. We said our goodbye's and headed back down to Smithton for Andrya's family's Christmas party.

    When we arrived back in Smithton, the house was full of people having fun eating and drinking. They also had a fine time telling me that Malcolm had called with the information that we had left Niklas's diaper bag back in Glen Carbon. I tried to explain to Niklas that he had to become potty trained immediately, but my efforts were unsuccessful. That's how I ended up spending an additional hour in the car touring scenic southern Illinois. On way back up to Glen Carbon, I took an alternate route and thus was able to see the world's largest ketchup bottle, so the whole thing was almost worthwhile.

    In my absence, Niklas had a nap and recharged his batteries so as to be ready to PARTY! Party, he did. First, he hung out with me in the kitchen after I lost a "grown up" table chair face off. After that, he opened a bunch of presents (including some awesome clothes, some toy storage bins and very, very noisy dumptruck... noisy) and thrashed about in some wrapping paper. Later, he spent about twenty minutes taking a bottle off of a side table in the living room, laughing and walking around the room with it and then putting it back. Finally, he went to sleep for the dreaming of sugar plums and whatnot.

    Tomorrow: St. Francisville, or, I Report On Christmas A Mere Three Weeks Late
    2008-01-15: For the third day in a row, Niklas woke up at about 5:30. Unlike the past couple of days where he merely babbled until I drug myself out of bed, today he was wailing like a chorus of a billion banshees at a banshee wail contest for banshees. Banshee. Anyway, this is probably due to his incessant teething, a bad case of diaper rash or the fact that he wanted to set the bar a bit higher after yesterday's declaration by me that Christmas Eve '06 was his worst meltdown ever. Later, we went to the park. And now, here's this:

    What Niklas Did On His Christmas Vacation: Part 6 - St. Francisville
    So our plan for Christmas morning was to get up, pack up the car and head to my Mom's house in St. Francisville. This is what we did, but due to the immense amount of surely very necessary stuff that we were traveling with, the packing took about three hours. This gave Niklas a bit more time to hang out with his grandparents and great-grandparents which was fine with everyone involved. Anyway, by the time we hit the road, Niklas was ready for his morning nap. Thus, for the first time on our trip, we were able to drive from one destination to the next without stopping. Sure, it was the shortest leg or the journey, but still. When we got to St. Francisville, Niklas was well rested and ready for some holiday merriment (as long as nobody tried to hold him, a constant theme on our expedition). After a diaper change (it wasn't that short of a drive) he was opening presents and pretty much looking cute. His Grandma and Grandpa Vennard loaded him up with some pretty cool presents including a Little People Airplane and Dune Buggy thingy. Niklas was much more interested in playing with the cat toys strewn about the house, but I'm sure he'll come around. After a good bout of cat imitation and wrapping paper wrestling, we had lunch. Unlike Thanksgiving, Niklas spurned turkey, potatoes and corn. Instead, he tried to eat the whole can of cranberry sauce by himself. Whatever makes him happy, I suppose. (Note that the "whatever makes him happy" policy only applies on Christmas. Today, I spent a couple hours trying to get him to drink from a sippy cup, which did not make him happy whatsoever.) The rest of the day was spent with Niklas chasing after his ancient enemy and occasionally taking a run at the Christmas tree. We pretty much laid low on Boxing day. That was a good time after the hectitude of the previous week. Niklas finished off the cranberry sauce, looked cute and put the cat toys down long enough to play with some of his loot. He even let his Grandma hold him ever so briefly. The next morning (the 27th if you're keeping track), we repeated the three hour car load and hit the road again. It was about this point where Niklas started to enjoy the "through the plug on the floor of the car and crying until someone gives it back" game. Andrya did not enjoy this game.

    Tomorrow: Bloomington - Home Of Professional Hockey... Such As It Is
    Right Now: Pictures
    2008-01-16: Something I forgot to mention yesterday, Niklas stood up off of the ground by himself for the first time on Christmas. Jeez, that's a lot of prepositions. Anyway, he got up on all fours like he was going to crawl, but then he got his feet under him, stuck his butt up in the air, gave the floor a good shove and he was standing. Success! Anyway, I'm postponing the Bloomington update until tomorrow because of the ever stronger alliance between my laziness and Niklas's tendency lately to wake up crazy early and then skip naps.
    2008-01-17: Today, Niklas escaped Andrya's clutches after she had given him a bath but before she could put his pajamas on. Also, he wasn't wearing a diaper. He then took the opportunity to participate in some naked lap running around the coffee table. Based on his crazy laughing, he rather enjoyed his evening streak.

    What Niklas Did On His Christmas Vacation: Part 7 - Bloomington
    So, we got to Bloomington early in the afternoon of the 27th. Niklas was happy to see his Grandma and Grandpa Meeker, but he was particularly excited to see their cat, Murphy. Unfortunately, there's a bit of historical animosity between Murphy and me (not my fault, I assure you), so as long as I was around he would try to stay out of sight. Every once in a while, you'd hear Niklas say "Kitty!" and then Murphy would flee to a better hiding place. After the cat frightening, there was another round of Christmas present opening where Niklas got some clothes and noisy, noisy books. He's a big fan of the noisy. The next day, Niklas's Grandma made a turkey and all the stuff that goes with a turkey, so the boy was once again able to gorge himself on cranberry sauce. After that, he Godzilled his grandparents nativity set and cried when I wouldn't take him to the hockey game with with me. Mostly, though, he spent his time in Bloomington just hanging out with his grandparents and looking good.

    Tomorrow, Or Maybe The Next Day Or Possibly The Day After That: Niklas's triumphant return to Chicago and his brief (not diaper bag related) return to Bloomington
    2008-01-18: If there's one thing Bermuda needs, it's an ice rink with a Chipotle in it. While I can take a stab at making my own burrito, things like the following will have to wait a couple of years, I guess.

    Today, Niklas hit me between the eyes with a remote control and dropped a flashlight on Andrya's foot. He's got the thug part of hockey down, anyway.
    2008-01-20: Niklas has pushed his vocabulary to double digits. He's added "bathroom" and "two" to his existing repertoire of "mommy", "daddy", "kitty", "doggie", "fish", "duck", "cheese" and "bath". I believe that this now makes him smarter than the average cat. Take that, kitties! And now, back to the story that made Niklas wish he could say "are we there yet?".

    What Niklas Did On His Christmas Vacation: Part 8 - Chicago
    We made it from Bloomington to Chicago without any weather issues or hitting excessive amounts of traffic. It was a December 29th miracle! We stayed at the Westin in Chicago, which was awesome because that meant some other guy would be dragging our massive collection of luggage from the Tucson up to our room. It was certainly nice to be back in Chicago after our four month absence. Niklas was finally used to being in a new place every three days or so, so he skipped his traditional opening fuss and went straight to seeing what kind of trouble he could get into. It turns out that there's lots of stuff in a hotel room that's within easy reach of a determined fifteen month old, so he had a wonderful time. His favorite thing to do was seeing how much condensation he could wipe off of the windows with his bib, but he also had a great time unpacking all of our luggage. After watching Andrya and me eat take out from our favorite Asian place and scarfing down some dinner of his own, Niklas was off to bed. Since we were in a regular room and not a suite, this required some creative positioning of Niklas's Pack-N-Play lest he just stare at us in lieu of sleeping.

    Niklas woke up pretty early the next morning, so I took him down to the hotel lobby so as to let Andrya get some sleep. Niklas pretty much had the run of the place, so he practiced going up and down the one stair that led to the hotel bar before trying to dismantle the hotel's Christmas tree. He also ran around much faster than I wanted to go at 6:00 in the morning. Still, I was able to keep him from stealing things out of random people's luggage. Our plan for the day was to do something about Niklas's increasingly shaggy hair. (Here's where I would link to a picture, had I taken any.) We took Niklas to Kid Snips, where he had been for two or three more or less successful haircuts before we moved. Things went about as well as I expected, which is to say he screamed like he was auditioning for lead singer of a band that features a lot of screamed vocals but his hair ended up looking really good. Also, he refused to let his stylist put an anti-hair cape on him, so he ended up looking a bit like this. After that, we took Niklas to see his Godmother Katie, her husband Mark and their new baby, Alice. Our friends Lynn and Sebastian stopped by, too. Niklas had a fine time running up and down the hallway in Mark and Katie's place, hopefully serving as a sobering reminder to them that Alice will one day soon be causing far more of a ruckus than she's cable of now. Alice was, by the way, very cute. I was afraid that taking a picture of her and Niklas together would produce a cute overload in the camera, so you'll just have to take my word on that. That evening, we went to dinner at Goose Island with Jared. Niklas stayed up way past his bedtime, but he was in amazingly good spirits. I abstained from spirits and stuck with beer. Niklas didn't want to eat the food we brought for him, so he filled up on carrots, french fries and whatever else he could steal from our plates.

    The next day was New Year's Eve. In the morning, Niklas and I hung out in the hotel room while Andrya hit Michigan Avenue for some shopping. Apparently, Reid Street in Hamilton just doesn't compare. After that, we loaded Niklas into the car and drove him back down to Bloomington to spend New Year's Eve with his grandparents while Andrya and I headed back up to Chicago to go out with some friends. Niklas had a fine time. He particularly enjoyed it when his Grandma Meeker sang him the alphabet song. Andrya went down to pick him up the next morning (I was occupied with watching the Penguins/Sabres game) giving her a chance to show off her snow driving skills which are of very little use to us in Bermuda. Niklas was a bit fussy in the car at first, but he was placated by Andrya's Thick As A Brick-esque rendition of Old MacDonald. Upon their return to Chicago, we watched the end of the hockey game and then headed over to Jared and Dana's to watch the Illini in their surprise Rose Bowl appearance. Niklas had a good time playing with Aaron, opening presents (awesome, awesome monkey adorned clothing) and posing like a goofball (thanks for the picture, Dana). The rest of us had horrible, horrible flashbacks to 1984. Also, there was chili.

    Tomorrow: Our Two Week Recap Of A Two Week Trip Comes To An End!
    2008-01-23: So, Niklas is giving up on his morning nap. This has led to me being very, very tired. Very tired. Other than that, we've been having a good time with park and beach going. I've got some pictures of that somewhere. Not here, but somewhere. Anyway, let's wrap this deal up.

    What Niklas Did On His Christmas Vacation: Part 9 - O'Hare, JFK, Bermuda, Sleep
    So on the second, some poor sucker from the Westin drug our three tons of luggage down from the room and we were just able to Tetris it into the Tucson. There wasn't much traffic heading out to O'Hare (a January 2nd miracle!), so we arrived at the aeropuerto with lots of time to spare. I spared some of it by waiting outside with our luggage in legitimately cold (as opposed to Bermuda cold which is actually quite warm) weather while Andrya and Niklas dropped the Tucson off at the Hertz. (Thanks for your hard work, Tucson!) Eventually, they got off of the warm, cozy rental car shuttle and we used the horribly designed (unless their instability is intentional) airport luggage carts to haul all of the stuff to the check in line. Niklas was rolling in his car seat caddy thingy, so he was cool with the waiting around. And wait we did! The line was real short when we got in it, but apparently everybody in front of us was trying to buy tickets with currencies of nations not recognized by the UN. Several hours (maybe forty five minutes, who can tell) later, we checked in with no problem, walked past the guy trying to use confederate coins to buy a ticket to Singapore and breezed through the security line. We got a chance to enjoy Chicago for a bit longer than we had planned due to a flight delay, but we still took off in plenty of time to catch our connecting flight in New York. Niklas had a fine time on the plane. He spent a good deal of the flight eating and drinking, that always makes him happy.

    Niklas enjoyed his time at JFK. There was a five year old who was flying to Bermuda playing with a suitcase full of toys at the gate and Niklas found this no end of fascinating. For those of you who are wondering, Spiderman and Pirates of the Caribbean are what's popular with five year old Bermudian boys. The flight from JFK to Bermuda was a bit more eventful. I had the pleasure of changing a poopy diaper in the spacious airplane lavatory. Whoever designed the changing table in there apparently thinks that anyone taller than 18 inches should be toilet trained. While I agree, that, is sadly not the case. It was pretty funny to see Niklas crammed onto the table. He had one arm shoved against the wall and the other had a death grip on the edge. We managed to get him cleaned up without spreading any of his special surprise around for other passengers to stumble into.

    We landed in Bermuda without any further poop issues. We cleared customs in shockingly easy fashion and went to pick up our luggage at the carousel. I'm happy to report that most of our bags made the plane, though it did take us a while to realize that two of them weren't going to show up. Niklas spent that time running about the baggage claim area. He was up way past his bedtime at this point, but he was in a pretty good mood, all things considered. Eventually, we filed a lost bag report (they showed up the next day), then I walked the twenty yards or so from the exit to the long term parking and got our car. As we struggled to get all of our bags into the Rav 4, we decided it wasn't such a bad deal to have two bags out of the picture. Niklas finally unleashed some fury on the long (not really) drive from the east end to the west end, but his rage was no match for Andrya's Old MacDonald singing. When we got home, Niklas opened the last of his Christmas presents and then he was off to bed to sleep off his two weeks of action and adventure.
    2008-01-27: First, let me address some omissions. In the Christmas wrap up, I neglected to mention that Niklas peed all over me when we were in Columbus. I had undressed him for his bath and was carrying him to the tub when he let fly with the urine. Because I am cool, I let him pee all over me instead of holding him over Jeff's carpet. You're welcome, Jeff. Also, when I listed all the words that Niklas can say a couple of days ago, I failed to include the word "ball". To remind me of this, Niklas has said "ball" about fifty times in the last two days. Yeah, I get it, I'll tell them. Niklas can say "ball".

    Niklas had a good weekend. On Friday, it was insanely windy here, so Niklas and I avoided the beach. This was fine with me, as when we went to the beach on Thursday, Niklas hit me in the face with some peas. Instead, we drove to the east end of the island and checked out some old ruins. We saw the place where they launched a ship that went to Jamestown in 1610, a 17th century fort and and 19th century latrine. After that, we went to the aquarium where Niklas had a fabulous time yelling "fish!" and running about. Yesterday, Andrya, Niklas and I went to the beach. Niklas saw some dogs, laughed and called them "kitties". That can't be good for their self esteem. He also made several attempts at running into the water, but Andrya was quick enough to keep him on dry land. Today, he went grocery shopping. Andrya went, too. Niklas can't be trusted to buy anything other than baby food, candy and booze.

    There are some new pictures up here. Beach action, food eating, it's all there.
    2008-01-30: Niklas has been having a pretty good time over the last few days. On Monday, we took the ferry into town to run some errands. This is always popular with Niklas because ferry rides mean "all you can eat" Cheerios. When we got to town, I let Niklas navigate our way off of the dock. This is how we ended up walking around in circles for fifteen minutes. Yesterday was super windy, so we drove around a bit and checked out some of the parks we hadn't been to before. Despite the inclement weather (such as it was), Niklas once again made several attempts at running into the water. As I live in fear of the Wrath Of Andrya, (oh, and also because I am responsible... mostly the responsible thing) I made sure that his attempts were unsuccessful. Today was a lot nicer so we went to the playground. Niklas had a fine time running about, playing in the sand, secretly filling the cuffs of his jeans with sand and getting a surprise shower of sand from said cuffs when I took his pants off to change his diaper.

    Niklas has added "teeth" to his list of words. He also may have said "no", but I'm really, really hoping I'm wrong about that one.