About two weeks ago, with the help of Rita who has worked for my parents for the past 27 years, Patrick and Danny and Kevin and I all headed back to Paraguay after a long nearly four month visit in the United States. Brian had returned to Paraguay about one month earlier after spending six weeks with us in Chicago. Thankfully Rita was willing to take a trip to South America and help the rest of us to travel back home. America’s newest and cutest diplomat was ready for the adventure!
We had a wonderful time in the U.S. staying at my parents’ house. For the first time in their lives, the boys got to see their grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles on a regular basis for an extended period of time. Everyone loved it. Many relatives regularly joined us for lunches and dinners. We enjoyed many delicious home-cooked meals with my not-quite-empty-nester parents and their roommate, my recent college-graduate sister Annie. The boys had a sleepover at Uncle Jay and Aunt Shelf’s house. They played with their cousins. They had the opportunity to experience some culture, art, science, and history by visiting museums and the theater. We only got in trouble at one of those places after Danny touched the frame on a Seurat painting at the Art Institute. A guard asked me for our name and address which I declined to provide and we moved on (quickly) to another part of the museum.
One of the highlights of our time in the U.S. was the boys’ attendance at a local preschool. It was great for them to attend school in English and experience an American school. Their English skills improved markedly and they stopped saying things like “juice of orange” and “truck enormous” instead of “orange juice” and “enormous truck”. The boys especially enjoyed the snow and even though it was a rather mild winter, we still had a couple of big snowstorms. They played with the snow, made snow angels and snowmen, and threw tons of snowballs. We were grateful to be with family to experience circle of life events, like the death and birth of loved ones. The boys enjoyed experiencing American sporting events like the Super Bowl, Bears games, and Blackhawks games.
But not everything was great. The boys may or may not have had a starring role in the following naughty events and behaviors:
- A lot of screaming, sometimes early in the morning or in the middle of the night
- Tossing the contents of a full paper shredder everywhere
- Saying bad words to Grandma and Grandpa in Spanish and Guarani (thankfully neither party really understood what was beingsaid)
- Mysteriously and almost instantly “finding” things that had been lost
- In an attempt to be helpful and bring in the newspapers from the driveway in the morning, sometimes picking up the newspaper by the wrong end of the bag, scattering the newspapers all over the driveway
- About 15 boxes of Kleenex just purchased from Costco were destroyed and shredded into a giant pile in the basement (the boys reasoned that it had not recently snowed so they wanted to create their own snow mountain)
- Pulling everything off the shelves from the linen closet. Almost weekly.
- Bringing piles of snow and ice into the house to play with later. And lying about it.
- Somehow breaking a toilet seat
- A crabby old man at Christmas Eve mass loudly told hugely pregnant me about Danny, “Get him out of here, will ya!” after Danny was a little chatty during mass. After mass, other parishioners apologized for the crabby guy’s less-than-Christian attitude.
While there may have been some toddler naughtiness it was more than overcome by infant wonderful-ness. There was a little bit of bad behavior from Kevin though too – like the times he peed on my mom, threw up in my eye, and threw up in my mom’s mouth – but even so, he was for sure the most popular houseguest.
On our last days in the U.S., Patrick and Danny had fun at school celebrating Dr. Seuss’s birthday and Wacky Wednesday and Baby Kevin got his two month vaccines. We amassed quite a lot of stuff during our time in the U.S. We sent 250 pounds back to Paraguay with movers in an air shipment and the rest went with us on the plane.
We traveled with 10 checked bags (possibly containing 50 pounds of corned beef and some Johnsonville brats), 2 adults, 2 toddlers, 1 infant, 9 carry ons (including one cooler filled with dry ice and frozen breastmilk), 1 stroller, 1 infant car seat and base, and 1 toddler booster seat.
My parents drove us to the airport in two cars. My mom and the kids and I were in my mom’s car while Rita and my dad and all the luggage were loaded into my dad’s pick-up truck.
Thankfully our gate was right next to the United Club. We checked in at the gate and then headed to the United Club and the boys enjoyed cookies while Rita and I enjoyed a glass of wine. Grateful for our upgrade to economy plus, we boarded the plane right on time and got settled into our seats for our 11 hour overnight flight to São Paolo, Brazil. Thankfully all three kids slept almost the whole way. Patrick built his nest on the floor with pillows and blankets and happily slept there for hours. Dan was not interested in sleeping on the floor but did sleep mostly soundly and happily for hours in the two seats next to me, though he was frequently restless and squirmed and called out for mommy in his sleep. He only rolled off the seats once.
Kevin really didn’t seem to care that he was on his first plane trip, an international flight no less, or that we moved him over to an empty row so the rest of us could spread out. Wrapped up like a little burrito he slept almost the whole way.
Rita and I each slept briefly but were grateful for the quiet children even when we weren’t sleeping. The kids were very excited to return to Paraguay, and especially looked forward to seeing Daddy and our nannies. They had fun playing with a luggage cart at the airport in Asunción.
That night, his first in Paraguay, Kevin slept in his own crib in his own room, sleeping like a champ for about 10 hours. We kept an eye on him with our nifty video monitor, previously used to spy on Patrick and Danny as babies.
The boys went straight back to school the next morning. Patrick jumped right into speaking Spanish again but Danny refused to do so for about two weeks. He clearly understood Spanish that was spoken to him, responding appropriately though in English rather than Spanish. Now the boys are back to speaking to each other in Spanish and calling each other “PAH-treek” and “DAH-nee” instead of the tradition American pronunciations of Patrick and Danny.