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Christmas (part one)

Started: 2009-12-29 22:29:05

Submitted: 2009-12-30 00:07:39

Visibility: World-readable

Kiesa, Calvin, and I flew to Portland on Southwest flight 2182. As we descended into Portland, we flew over the northern flank of snow-covered Mount Hood glistening in the morning sun, giving an amazing view out the left windows, where we happened to be sitting. I snapped several pictures out the window as we passed.

North-east ridge of Mount Hood from N737JW
North-east ridge of Mount Hood from N737JW

Calvin had only a short nap on the plane but managed to stay fairly happy throughout the rest of the flight. Kiesa let him sit and stand on her lap as long as the seatbelt sign was off.

North-west face of Mount Hood from N737JW
North-west face of Mount Hood from N737JW

Portland was covered in fog; I didn't see the ground until a few hundred feet before the runway. Inside the airport, I posted the two changelogs I wrote on the flight. Kiesa's mother met us as we emerged from security, handed us the carseat base, and accompanied us to baggage claim and then to car rental. I attached the carseat base to the middle of the rear seat and we headed to The Olive Garden in eastern Portland, where we met Tristan and Jessica for lunch before heading east on I-84 to Walla Walla.

We arrived in Walla Walla at 18:30, after an uneventful drive up the Columbia River. My mother and Bethany were thrilled to see Calvin, though he was far past his bedtime and didn't really know what to do about traveling so far. We put him to bed, skipping his evening bath in favor of time.

Thursday

Kiesa wanted to trade morning Calvin duty, so she elbowed me awake when Calvin got up at some ungodly hour Thursday morning, before 05:00 PST. I fed him and kept him occupied for several hours, as the sky turned gradually from black to a depressing gray, until he was ready to go down for his morning nap. Now that he's figured out how to take morning naps in his own crib (rather than being carted around the neighborhood in a stroller), this gave me the opportunity to catch up on my own sleep. I woke up in time for my family's leisurely breakfast, sometime late morning.

In preparation for visiting family for Christmas, I picked up a hand-crank coffee grinder (with a ceramic burr grinder) and a coffee press to satisfy my caffeine habit. I had beta-tested the coffee press but not the grinder before leaving home, but I did have several backup bags of chai if all went wrong. I brought my last batch of micro-roasted Flying Five Coffee (which provided subscription coffee roasting in Longmont before closing earlier this month; their whole beans were the best-smelling beans I've ever encountered) and managed to produce a reasonable quadruple-serving of coffee.

In the afternoon, Kiesa and I bundled Calvin up into the cold (roughly freezing, but humid) and walked the several blocks to Swinyar and Heather's house in nearby College Place. Their level one human Geekling (mere weeks away from leveling up, er, her first birthday) Veronica was willing to share her toys with Calvin, and Ceri (whom I knew from the Commune Era at Union, a decade ago; I last saw her in 2002, but I've been stalking her blog) was hanging out. We swapped baby stories and Swinyar and I compared netbooks. (My Dell Mini 10v won, with its larger keyboard and touchpad, but both of our netbooks have standby power consumption issues that may be Linux-related.) We headed back to my parents' house to try to get Calvin to take his afternoon nap (which is a hit-or-miss affair) and successfully handed him off to my parents, who were just heading out on a walk. This gave Kiesa and I the opportunity to visit the Colville Street Patisserie in downtown Walla Walla with the Swinjarnyars and Ceri. It wasn't too cold out for gelati; I also had spiced cider but Kiesa's tea might have been a better choice.

We tried to put Calvin on a more normal schedule, shifted one hour to best coast time. This included an evening bath, which tends to calm him down and might get him ready for bed. (It's become something of his routine, so we're not sure we want to change it now.) Sometime in November he started being able to pull himself up in his infant/toddler tub, and seemed far more interested in standing up in the water than sitting and splashing and playing with bath toys, so Kiesa started accompanying him in the bath so she could provide a bit more support and keep him from falling.

I volunteered for bath duty and ran a small bath in my parents' bathtub. Their bathtub was a large jetted tub that would fit two adults with room to spare. Calvin didn't seem to mind the extra space until he slipped on the smooth floor, dunked his head, started choking as I pulled his head above water, and managed to spit up into the tub before breathing normally again. He survived unscathed, but the bath water was a bit worse for wear. We abandoned the tub, searched for alternate bath locations, and found my mother's laundry sink. Kiesa cleaned it and it made a perfect bath for Calvin: high enough that I could spot him without leaning over, and close enough to the kitchen that the rest of my family could drop by to visit Calvin, which everyone enjoyed.

Calvin went to bed without much more trouble and we ate my family's traditional Christmas Eve dinner: cheese fondue. After eating, we called Willy in India to wish him a merry Christmas and to hear about his travels to Varanasi, Delhi, and Kathmandu during his school year break. We talked about my plan to visit him sometime in the spring and tried to figure out what the next part of the plan was.

Christmas Day

Kiesa got up with Calvin on Christmas Day, letting me sleep in to a more modest hour. As is traditional for my family, I opened my stocking when I awoke, then we ate a large breakfast (while Calvin took his morning nap) and finally settled into the ceremonial opening of presents starting around noon, after Calvin woke up. He seemed less enthralled by the unwrapping of gifts than might have been hoped; he wasn't particularly interested in the wrapping paper or brightly-colored boxes, but did appreciate the toys he got once they were unwrapped. He got fussy after an hour, in time for his afternoon nap; we continued without him. I ended up with a handful of Indian tourbooks and proceeded to borrow several more from Willy's shelf to make sure I had all of my bases covered.

(While shopping for Christmas, I had a short anti-materialism moment in which I wondered about the merits of buying stuff for Christmas. I have sufficient means that I can go out and buy most of the stuff I really want, and the stuff that I can't immediately buy out of spending money is far too expensive for anyone else to consider buying for me. There's clearly benefit to buying things someone doesn't know they want, or things they might not have the time to research as extensively as they'd like, but I found it difficult to justify buying more stuff simply for the sake of having something to put under the tree.)

After the gift-exchanging ritual was complete, and the floor was littered with discarded wrapping paper, most my family took naps, leaving me sitting cross-legged in the living room in front of the coffee table hacking on my RSS feed. The results are not quite ready for prime-time yet, but my goal is to include the full text of my world-readable articles in the RSS feed itself, which should provide a more seamless reading experience in one's RSS reader.

Calvin got up from his nap, played with some of his new toys, and managed to amuse himself (and be amused) while most of the adults prepared Christmas dinner until his bedtime routine. He went to bed in time for Christmas dinner. After eating, my mother tried to show pictures from India but ran into trouble with sorting photos by date rather than alphabetically (which I couldn't convince my photo-viewing software to do), so she switched to her smaller-screened computer to complete the showing.

Boxing Day

I got up with Calvin when he woke up shortly after 06:00 on Boxing Day, which happened to be the day he turned nine months old. I went back to bed during his morning nap and got up again in the middle of the morning, after my parents had gone to church but before Bethany, Josh, and Kiesa had departed. I made coffee, ate breakfast, and studied the available flights between India and Nepal before heading to the University Church in time to hear the postlude. I found Kiesa and Calvin in the balcony mother's room and successfully rendezvoused with the rest of my family before heading back home. Dinner was a leisurely reprise of Christmas dinner, though it was early enough that I brewed some of the tea my father brought back from India. I spent much of the evening trying to ignore the lame Christmas movie playing on the television while I studied India-to-Nepal flights and ultimately concluded the goal of flying from northeast India into Kathmandu was going to be far more difficult than I had first thought. (Guwahati to Kathmandu is apparently a city pair that the airlines of India don't optimize for.) I went to bed late on my last night in Walla Walla before heading west for Christmas, part two.

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