It's been a crazy two weeks here since Terry got back... but good, in most ways. We're trying to cram so much into the time that we have. A lot of that time, though, is spent doing fun things with the kids - doing the rounds at nearby parks, visiting the Children's Museum about twice a week, going to the Farmer's Market, watching ducks.
And my sister and her two girls came to visit for a WHOLE WEEK! It was such a marked change from the last time we saw each other a year and four months ago - this time the kids really played together and she and I were able to have real, prolonged, in-depth conversations. Not without interruption, of course, but we could focus enough on what each other was saying to have some really satisfying times together.
(My camera and I got caught in the rain and now the shutter won't open all the way...)
And it was awesome watching the kids interact. There's nothing quite like cousins who are close in age. No other playmates develop quite the same vibe, I think. The first night after the cousins went back to their hotel, Valerie just sat staring out the window sadly, and every morning she would ask (in Albanian) "Ku është Solana? Ku ështe Lotus? Ku është Aunt Anita?" Gabriel was always ready to bestow hugs and kisses (which inevitably culminated with somebody - or everybody - getting knocked down). So it was awesome (chaotic, but awesome). And thanks to Dot for accommodating the extra chaos around the house!
The same day they left, I also left for my first trip ever away from Gabriel!!!!!!!! I was in Winnipeg for two days visiting the MCC Canada offices, since they fund the MCC programs in Colombia. It was a good time to meet a lot of people and get re-oriented to different facets of the work. Many MCC structures and procedures have changed quite a bit since my previous volunteer term (1995-1999 in Bolivia), plus in the country representative (director) role Terry and I will be handling new responsibilities. So it was a good visit.
I also got to see a good friend from MCC Bolivia days, Jodi Read (Hi Jodi!) whose PhD research overlaps a good bit with mine - related to the US/Mexico border - so that was a lot of fun (it would have been a lot of fun even if our research interests didn't overlap at all) ;-) and she showed me around the Forks area of Winnipeg which is super, super cool and I highly recommend you check it out sometime if you get the chance.
I will have to say that I did not realize prior to this trip how much milk Gabriel was still getting from me. *****Breastfeeding content ahead****** but it quickly became clear to me after about 12 hours that I had severely underestimated that, and I spent most of the trip in a LOT of pain as a result. I didn't have a pump with me, or really much opportunity or space for hand-expressing, but I did what I could and mostly just had to grin and bear it. Whenever we do get around to weaning (and since this is my last baby I'm not in a huge hurry) it will hopefully be a much more gradual process because wow. I have never felt so much sympathy for cows that miss a milking. Nor so happy to see my little calf again. Moo.