Soloing

Laura went on a 10-hour hike this weekend, climbing to the top of Mt. Missouri. She and a friend left on Friday morning, found a campsite, scouted the trail, then did the hike on Saturday morning and afternoon. She got back here on Saturday evening. To me, this kind of thing does not sound like a good time, so I said, “Have fun, honey!” and embarked on my own adventure: taking care of Dante solo for two days.

This is the longest either one of us has soloed with Dante since he was born, and the first time either of us has spent a night away from home without him. Of course, Laura goes solo with him all day every weekday, so I don’t really have much room to feel like a hero here. I’ll try to do so anyway.

Dante’s napping is in transition right now, so sometimes when we put him down for a morning nap, he coos and squawks and babbles but never falls asleep. Friday was one of those days, and as a bonus, I learned that he’s figured out how to turn on the ceiling fan and light in his room. The switches are next to his crib, which has never really been a problem, but now that he’s standing and experimenting with the world, he’s found that secret. Interestingly, he never messes with the switches when we put him to bed at night, and when he does nap during the day, he always turns the light out, even if he’s previously turned it on.

So after a half-hour of non-napping, I took him on a ride to visit my and Laura’s former co-workers at the CU-Boulder Financial Aid Office. These people were so incredibly good to us when Dante was born — in fact, the crib mentioned above is a beautiful loaner from somebody there. It had been a while since I’d brought Dante to visit, so we were due.

After spreading the cuteness for a while, we randomly decided to eat lunch at the California Pizza Kitchen. This was another first; I’d never been to a restaurant with just Dante before. It was kind of a challenge, since he’s in a stage of eating where he really digs throwing food over the side of the highchair. I finally decided that the way to enjoy my meal was to do a big cleanup at the end rather than trying to keep up with Dante The Juggling Baby. Then I took him home for a nap, and we spent a quiet evening.

Saturday was another non-napping morning, so after the failed nap attempt, we headed off to the Butterfly Pavilion. I was reminded that although it sounds all idyllic and everything, that place is actually kind of creepy. Yes, they have a big tropical conservatory with tons of beautiful butterflies, but most of the other exhibits are all about, y’know, icky bugs. There’s one whole area called “Shrunk!” which features gigantic, animatronic ants and scorpions. Except they’re kind of low-budget animatronics, so they’re a uniform shade of brown, and make a wheezing, hissing sound every time they move, which makes them sound both steam-powered and really unsettling. Then there’s wall after wall of pinned bugs, some of them downright gigantic. I don’t begrudge anyone finding that stuff fascinating, but it gives me the jibblies. Dante was also unnerved by the giant, hissing arthropods, but otherwise seemed to have a good time. He particularly enjoyed the aquariums, especially the brightly colored fish, and most of all the way he could see the surface of the water at the top. He pointed at that enthusiastically and repeatedly as we fish-watched. His time with the butterflies was also a point-fest. He wanted to touch them, which they frown upon (the staff, not the butterflies themselves. Well, maybe they do, but their faces are so small, it’s hard to tell.) Anyway, I had to redirect him touching leaves and stuff instead.

Walking around in that humid conservatory made him start rubbing his eyes and yawning a lot, so I took him home, fed him lunch, and then put him down for a nap. The napping took, that time. Then my friend Trish came over to keep me company for a while, and before we knew it Laura had returned home. Thus endeth the solo adventure. Laura’s committed to trying to climb a Colorado Fourteener (mountain peak whose elevation is over 14,000 feet) every summer, so I think this may become a summer tradition for Dante and me. I hope we can spend them like we spent this one — going out and doing fun things that Laura might not be particularly inclined to do, while she’s out finding her own bliss.

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