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the Spain in Maine

Munchkin had been talking about leaving school and going to nana’s house for weeks on end. Of course, he was much more excited about the three airplanes than S with her 8-month bump and old-lady compression socks, who was decidedly more apprehensive about the 25-hour trip. All in all, he was a very good traveler, sleeping overnight from take-off in Entebbe until touchdown in Amsterdam, and eventually napping on the flight to JFK as well.

Everything went smoothly on the cross-Atlantic portion of the trip; much less so once S touched down in the good ol’ U.S. of A. The gate-checked stroller was sent to baggage claim, leaving S carrying Munchkin in addition to her luggage. She speed-walked through the terminal because the connection timing was tight, only to learn after passing immigration and customs that the last leg of the trip was delayed – at first by two hours, and subsequently by two more. This would have been useful information, but there were no monitors to check connecting flights until after S was admitted to her homeland, which left her rushing to track down and recheck 3 suitcases and 2 car seats. The original itinerary would have dovetailed nicely with Munchkin’s usual bedtime. However, those extra hours of waiting did Munchkin in. It was only a mater of time before he had an epic meltdown given that it was midnight (Kigali time) before the plane was airborne.

After a few days of 3am wake-ups, S and Munchkin got onto the right time zone and adjusted to the cooler temperatures and longer daylight hours in the Northeast. Munchkin’s grasp of geography is just starting to take hold. On his new map puzzle he more or less consistently points to the African continent as home and will tell people that he lives in Kigali. For a while, he would say he was going to nana’s house in Maine but “Maine” quickly morphed into “Spain,” perhaps because he is enamored of the children’s story Ferdinand the Bull, which takes place in Madrid.

It goes without saying that it’s great to be back in the States with family though the best part may be that Munchkin’s daily mama-mama-mama whining chorus has switched almost immediately to nana-nana-nana. Relief doesn’t quite begin to describe it, though he still gives S a hard time at night. The Foreign Service life is good at creating a lot of limbo states of the you-don’t-have-to-go-home-but-you-can’t-stay-here variety, and S has fallen into one, transitioning from working full-time to a temporary stay-at-home-mom staycation. It’s a seismic shift in gears, but in many ways a welcome one and an opportunity to savor the last few weeks of having an only child.

It’s also been captivating to see all the novelties of life in Maine from the vantage of our East African-minded three-year-old. Ride-on lawn mowers and their grumbling engines equally fascinate and frighten Munchkin as do the mechanical garage doors. And like S, he is thrilled to have such luxuries as corn on the cob, all kinds of different cheeses, and summertime fruits (berries, peaches, nectarines, cantaloupe, honeydew, and the like). S thinks he’s eaten his weight in raspberries in the past week alone.

Coming from the most densely populated country on Africa’s mainland, S and Munchkin also have been enjoying the plethora of nature’s open spaces, as well as playgrounds and vacant, paved roads for cruising on his balance bike. Much to his nana’s delight, Munchkin’s obsession with household chores continues. He’s gotten to help bake, wash dishes, vacuum, clean with his own spray bottles, and even sit on nana’s lap while she sews on her sewing machine.

Nana’s house was just the first chapter in this trip back to “Spain” – S and Munchkin transitioned this weekend to our beach rental near the hospital where Munchkin was born and where his sister will join us when she decides to make her entrance into the world.

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