We're back from our Mexican excursion, safe, sandy, and (only me) sunburned. Bliss. Back in the day (say, less than 2 years ago), a good vacation for me and Adam involved daily hikes or water activities and covering as much ground as possible. But we've quickly realized that with a toddler, less is sometimes more, so we found ourselves a simple house right on the beach and parked ourselves there for a week, venturing away from our little village only to find an ATM mid-week to support the local, cash-only merchants.
It was amazing to watch Micah thrive on this week of being a "free-range" kid! Right before the trip, he had learned a new word, "happy," to tell us when things were A-OK by him, and he used it frequently on the trip. He also used a new command, "Ow-dide," barked with increasing intensity to tell us when he wanted us to take him outside (it was rather funny that he usually issued this command from the open-air living room/kitchen or balcony of our rental house!) Although it was somewhat tedious for us to chase after him as he toddled down the nearby beach access road to visit the stray cats and merchants, it was wonderful to see his self confidence and curiosity. And although somewhat embarassing for us, it was also quite funny to see him walk up to strangers in restaurants and on the beach and try to play with their beach toys or eat their dinners!
Another new word used frequently on this trip was "wow" -- used when seeing something spectacular, like the ocean for the first time, or a beautiful sunset. Folks, there is no better reason to become a parent than to hear the joy and wonder of a child saying "wow" in that way. It is so interesting as a vocabulary word, too, so different from the much more frequent pointing to things and naming them: birdie, woof, guck. This one says "I am having an experience and I want to make sure you understand it." A parallel development: learning to arrange the face into a fake expression. One of the books we brought along on this trip shows a woman with a surprised expression -- big eyes and mouth in a large O. By the end of the week, Micah was frequently making this expression, sometimes appropriately but mostly because it got a laugh from us.
We also observed a new fascination with motor vehicles, including "heh-co-co" (helicopters, or what you and I know as airplanes), and any non-car vehicle, all falling into a category he calls "guck", or truck. Adam made the mistake of letting Micah sit in the driver's seat of our rental car while we did the paperwork, and he suddenly wanted to climb into the front seat every chance he could, and onto the dune buggies common in the village we were staying in.
In the last few weeks, we've also seen him increase his ability to really play imaginatively -- he picked up sticks several times and called them "heh-co-co" because they looked somewhat airplane-like. He was firmly attached to his "sh-sh" (shovel) and rake that we bought to play with on the beach, and if he had assigned you to the rake, he would give it back to you every time you stopped raking the sand. And Adam and I got to participate in more rounds of "ring around the rosy" than either of us has in many a year. Micah was really interested in other kids on the beach -- watching the big boys play ball, and joining other kids who were digging away to "help" them with their sand castles. He was also eager to hug and love every dog that came his way, and we were luckily that this village has a lot of very friendly dogs!
All in all, he was an easy-going travel companion, with the exception of about half of each 3 hour plane trip and a few nights at dinner where we kept him out past his bedtime. He slept each night in a little tent (Adam described it as a kennel) without any difficulty after the first time, ate nearly everything he tried (except for some spicy salsa that we accidentally put on a drumstick), and bravely faced the teeny-tiny little ocean waves (though he really didn't get the concept of playing in the water.)
All in all, while it was certainly exhausting for us in a completely different way than our past vacations, we're so glad that we were able to spend such quality time relaxing with Micah and watching him grow... and heck, I was even able to finish half of a long novel, something I rarely accomplished on previous trips with Adam!