Waking up and walking onto the beach… in your pajamas.
To my surprise, there is not a lot online in terms of backpacking in less developed countries with babies. Are we crazy? My favorite article that I found was by Jennifer Blyer in the New York Times, “Traveling in Southeast Asia With a Rock-Star Baby.” I read the article when it was first published and it was a real inspiration for me. But it was lacking practical tips. My biggest question: should we bring a stroller or just a baby carrier? A few travel forums I found suggested that the lack of sidewalks and bad roads in a lot of southeast Asia make a stroller useless. We recently invested in a Deuter baby carrier with a back system for hiking in Israel, so we thought of taking that. Or we can take our Ergo baby carrier which folds up pretty small, but it’s not as comfortable for Eden to sit in on the all-day treks we plan on doing. The idea of being stroller-less as at times when we have our backpacks on our backs is daunting. Maybe a super light-weight stroller that we can easily fold up and sling over our backs when we are in transi?. In the day-to-day here in Jerusalem, we use the UppaBaby G-Lite and we love it. It weighs nearly nothing, has an excellent sun canopy and folds very easily. And Eden sleeps in it all the time, even though it doesn’t recline. But would it hold up on a backpacking trip? Any tips from seasoned backpacking parents out there?
Last weekend, on the way to visit my parents, we drove off the road and 2 minutes later we were in the forest. Transported. From the racing hiwghway to the tranquility and calm of the forest. Winter is coming to a close here and the flowers are in full bloom. But the real blooming flower was little Eden. She is a wild outdoors kind of girl, that baby of mine. She went racing through grass as tall as she is, ran up hills and zoomed right back down, and when the moment struck her as just right, she plopped herself down in the middle of the flowers. She loves flowers, too, it seems, just like her mama. Although at this stage her affection is demonstrated by carefully and meticulously pulling all the petals off the flower. We’ll have to work on that one… As for me, I was just just purely happy. I had everything I love most- Binny and Eden by my side and nature at its most glorious. Another hiker we met showed us how to spot wild artichokes that we could eat. What is it about the forest that is so magical? The light, the sounds of the birds chirping, the bright colors, the delicacy of the grass and flowers and the awesome strength of the tall trees. How blessed we are to have such a place so close to home.
There are many values and traits that I hope to teach Eden through my actions. At this stage, Eden seems to be both a parrot and a sponge in equal parts. She loves repeating what we say- I think she is reviewing sentence structures and new words in head (yes, I think my child is a genius)- and she just seems to absorb everything so quickly, remembering tiny details from her books and from our daily routine that I barely notice. We work on things like sharing and patience and taking turns. I also try to emphasize the importance of caring for others, and looking out for their needs. I don’t think it’s been a conscious effort (there are probably a gazillion and one books I could/should read on the topic), but something that is just part of everyday life here in our little home. And it is awe-inspiring how little 2 year old Eden already seems like the most empathetic and caring person- I think she takes after her dad.
Last week we saw a man cutting down parts of a tree and I told Eden that it was a little bit sad, but it was okay because the tree would grow new branches. She repeated this line to me several times a day everyday for the following week until it became a household joke- “the man is cutting down the tree. It’s very sad.” “Yes, Eden it’s very sad, but it’s ok because the tree will grow back.” Yesterday when she saw her friend get hurt, she ran to get him his pacifier and gave him a big hug. Today she held her dolls tight and told them over and over (and over and over and over and over) again that “it’s okay.” She seems so attuned to my own feelings and comes to give me hugs when she sees that I am a bit sad. How amazing are these little people? How am I so blessed to have such an empathetic and bright little girl? At some point everyday I just find myself staring at her in wonder, trying to grasp the reality that she is actually mine. That she grew inside my body and that I gave birth to her a little over 2 years ago. And it is the most awesome thing in my universe.
And since I forgot to post them before, a few pictures of my superstar from her birthday party (Eden is still singing happy birthday to herself on a daily basis)
Really want that scratch on her nose to heal already!! Any tips on how to get toddlers not to pick scabs?? We’ve tried absolutely everything!
And this is the birthday cake that Eden I baked together for her party! My first-ever attempt at anything Martha Stewart.
Over the years, I have lived in several neighborhoods in Jerusalem. I love the thrill of getting to know the nooks and crannies of the areas around the place we have made our home. Binny and I have recently started talking about where we are going next. We have always thought about leaving Jerusalem one day and with my last semester of school starting in a few weeks, it felt like the right time to think about our next move. (Any ideas or suggestions for locations are very welcome.) As I walked with Eden to daycare this morning, I took the time to notice some of my favorite things about the corner of the world that we have called home for the past almost 5 years.
- Knowing which side of the stairs is easier to bump a stroller up (wisdom shared by a sweet old grandmother).
- The people who I regularly see everyday. I don’t know their names and in many cases, we have never exchanged even a single word. But we smile and nod at each other every day. There is one elderly woman who calls me “Eden’s mom.” She loves telling me about her grandchildren and always has a special smile for Eden.
- Being able to recognize new faces working at one of the local markets. And knowing where to get the freshest bread and the most beautiful flowers on Fridays.
- Forgetting my wallet at home, but still being allowed to take what I need from the grocery because they know I will come back to pay later.
- Learning the quickest routes to get to where I need to go if I am in a rush, as well as how to make the walk long and leisurely on gloriously sunny days. And knowing on which paths I need to keep an extra eye out for dog poop.
- Knowing which side of the street to walk on to get the best shade in the summer and the most sun in the winter.
- Knowing where the cats’ favorite hangouts are- Eden gets a kick out of seeing them jump into and out of garbage cans.
These days, I love how Eden takes note of all the things we pass on our daily walks. She points out to me where construction workers are building a new house, where there are big puddles from last night’s rain, where the pizza store is, where there are trees with pine cones, and she also knows to tell me when we are “almost there.” It doesn’t get much better than watching Eden learn our neighborhood and getting to experience my own surroundings through the eyes of a two-year-old (still cannot believe that my girl is 2).
Tomorrow is your second birthday! I have no idea where the time has gone. It is beyond crazy that an entire two years have passed since you came into our life. You are obviously over the moon about your upcoming birthday and have been singing happy birthday songs to yourself all week. Your teacher at daycare told me that you stood up on a chair in the middle of the playground and belted out at the top of your lungs “happy birthday to Eden! happy birthday to Eden…” (in Hebrew). And when we ask you how old you are going to be, you say “2 years old!” You can just tell how proud you are. And you also tell us, “And cake and balloons and a surprise!” Think someone is excited for their birthday?
Tonight we baked this cake for your birthday. And we bought strawberries to put on top because you love strawberries. I have never seen you so excited before. You had an ear-to-ear grin the entire time we were making the cake. Before you went to sleep we picked out a special birthday dress for you to wear to your party tomorrow. Your beautiful blue eyes were sparkling with excitement and your cutest toothy grin lit up your face. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so excited before. It is so fun to celebrate with you now that you understand what is going on and appreciate all of the festivities (remember last year’s birthday?).
Oh, baby girl. You are so stunning and smart and funny. My heart often feels like it’s exploding with all the love I feel because you are so extraordinarily unbelievable and I cannot believe that a little human being so awesome and gorgeous and smart and sassy came out of my body. Thank you for all the joy you add to my life and for making me a mother. We are so excited to celebrate two years with you!
I love you to the moon and back,
This is the day we took you home from the hospital
And this is you, today, very very very very very very very very excited to see your cakes baking in the oven!
I love you, Eden.
Having a baby changed me. I think the biggest physical manifestation of this change (well, aside from the huge stomach and the actual baby) was my decision to chop off my hair a few months after Eden was born.
I went from this:
(In this pic: Eden and the ocean did not experience love at first sight. She has since acquired her mama’s love of all things water)
At the time, it was kind of a relief. My hair was all post-partum and falling out all over the place anyways and it was annoying to clean up. And it was really heavy. I remember sitting in the salon chair post-chop and thinking that my whole neck felt lighter, like it didn’t have to work as hard. It was easier to manage and wash, which all seemed great at the time since my life had been taken over by nursing, laundry and figuring out how to get Eden to stop crying. With all of the new-ness and figuring things out from scratch that I was going through, my hair seemed like one less thing to worry about. I remember saying things like “Everyone should try this at one point in their lives.” And I got lots of compliments. How great it looked. How brave I am. But now that I feel like I kind of have the taking-care-of-baby thing figured out (on most days), I kind of miss my hair. I would be so curious to hear about changes other women made post-partum to their physical appearance. The upside of this whole thing: hair grows back!