I hadn’t been to Minnesota to visit my family in over 14 months. Before that, it had been 13 months since I flew to Minnesota for my sister’s high school graduation. First my imperious research advisor kept me in Cambridge, then my preemie kept me in quarantine at home. Thankfully, my parents have been very understanding, and they have visited us in Massachusetts 4 times since Peter was born.
It felt a bit strange taking Peter to visit Minnesota for the first time. My mind still wanted to remember my parents’ house as it was when I was in high school, and childhood memories kept popping into my mind as I sat in the place where I used to study, walked down the streets I used to traverse, and brushed my teeth at the sink I used to use every evening. My parents have made a lot of home improvements since I left for college, but of course, the biggest change was not the house, but the new member of the family I brought with me.
Peter has become quite the little explorer, crawling all over the house, opening and shutting doors, climbing stairs, studying new objects, digging in the dirt outside, etc. If for no other reason, he had a blast in Minnesota just because Grandma and Grandpa’s house was a new place for him to explore. His cruising skills improved during the week we were in Minnesota as he worked his way from sofa to ottoman to armchair to side table to fireplace hearth, checking out all the furniture.
Peter’s great-grandmother flew from California to meet Peter for the first time. Despite the stranger anxiety Peter seems to have developed in the past month, he impressed his great-grandmother as a charming, well-behaved little boy. He clung to me a lot during the first days we were in Minnesota, but he eventually recognized Grandma as a good substitute for Mom and everyone else as an acceptable short-term baby sitter.
On Thursday, Grandma only worked half a day, and we all went to the Minneapolis Institute of Art in the afternoon. Unfortunately, there was some discrepancy between what Peter liked to see at the art museum and what everyone else liked to see. Peter preferred the loud, obtrusive colors and shapes of the modern art galleries, whereas the older folk liked to walk through the zen East Asian galleries and see the silver tea service made by Paul Revere. The only thing in the East Asian galleries that could hold Peter’s attention was the decorative fountain; he made several of the museum guards nervous as he splashed in the water for about 10 minutes. After an unsuccessful attempt to interest Peter in the wood exhibition, I took Peter to play with the toys in the Family Center while everyone else did a “fighter sweep” of the European and American galleries.
We visited the Mall of America on Friday. Peter really enjoyed people watching, window shopping, and snoozing in the back pack. Taking after his uncle, Peter’s favorite store was Barnes and Noble, where he was able to play with toys on display and munch on a soft chocolate chip cookie from the cafe. I picked up some simple t-shirts from the H&M at the mall; they should look good under my white coat when I start school in September. Better than my old holey t-shirts, anyhow.
We went to a cookout Friday evening. The party was hosted by friends of our cousins. It was all I could do to keep Peter from crawling into the campfire; that boy may be afraid of strangers, but he still doesn’t understand that a dancing flame can be dangerous. Luckily, two other boys (ages 2 and 3) were at the party, and they helped keep Peter somewhat distracted from the campfire. Peter enjoyed crawling through the yard, eating the potluck food, and drinking lemonade. He was a sticky and tired but happy baby when we took him home.
Saturday featured a lunch cruise on the scenic St. Croix River. It was a rainy morning, but the clouds cleared as the paddle boat departed. The buffet lunch was tasty, and Peter stuffed his face with pasta, chicken, roast beef, potato salad, and melon. He made quite a mess. After we had him cleaned up, he was content to crawl around on the upper deck and watch the scenery pass by. After the cruise, we visited our favorite stores in downtown Stillwater: 3 antique malls and a candy shop. Too bad Peter was snoozing while we were in the candy shop; he didn’t get to try any of the free samples of fudge.
After church and lunch Sunday afternoon, Peter was able to catch up on his sleep with a long afternoon nap. Grandma made a berry tart for his birthday. He enjoyed the treat until he rubbed some berries into his eye… oops!
Grandpa went to work Sunday afternoon, and Grandma had to work all day Monday, so Monday was a slow-paced day – another good day for napping. I mailed Peter’s first birthday announcements, and Great Grandma treated us to milk shakes at Perkin’s. Peter had a more nutritious lunch than his aunt and uncle; he helped Great Grandma finish her chicken salad. Afterwards, Great Grandma bought him a new outfit at Fleet Farm.
On Tuesday we only had time to pack and visit Grandma at her workplace before catching our flight back to Boston. Peter must have been exhausted from the previous week’s excitement: he slept through the entire 2 1/2-hour flight, only waking when I stood up to get off the plane. Peter was excited to see Dad again, and once we got home, he had a renewed interest in all the toys he hadn’t seen in a week.
Here’s what Peters birthday announcements look like:
And here are a couple more favorite photos from Peter’s birthday photo shoot: