Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Trip to Washington

My brother and his wife are expecting their first baby!  This is only the second child to be born of that generation, 14+ years after Nathan.  My dad made a cradle for Nathan before he was born that I'm finally passing down to another grandchild of my dad's.  It's a unique construction--it has two end pieces, from which the bed part of the cradle hangs and swings (more like a glider rocker than a traditional rocking chair).  Those end pieces go up tall enough to have a canopy, too.  My mom sewed a fabric canopy and quilt for the cradle, too, making it a joint effort between both my (divorced) parents, which is really special (he created the supports for the canopy, and sent her measurements--the cradle itself is a standard-sized mattress).  But of course a cradle has a limited functional life for any one child, and Nathan quickly outgrew it, and it's been through a bunch of moves (8 by my count) over the years, so I had to do a quick inventory to see whether I even still had all the pieces.  Nathan and I pulled the pieces out of the garage and put them together to see if they were all there.

Unfortunately, it was missing a couple of pieces, but luckily they were very small (pins that hold the cradle onto the arms and the arms onto the end pieces), so I was hopeful my dad would be able to replace them fairly easily.  A couple of very important pieces had also broken off over the years and many moves--the cross-pieces that held the two ends pieces together had notches cut into them that had lost the little piece from the end that actually held the two end pieces from falling apart from each other.  Kind of important, so we definitely needed to repair them.  Luckily, two of the three broken-off pieces were still present, so only one would have to be fabricated.  I e-mailed my dad to give him the heads up about the damage, and we set off for his house Friday after I got off work.

We got there at almost 10:00 p.m., so chatted for a while, then went to bed.  In the morning, after breakfast, we got the cradle out of my car to assess the damage and necessary repairs.  I went to the hardware store (and got to drive my dad's convertible with the top down, which I think was a first for me!) for dowels to create more pins while my dad and Nathan got to work on repairing the broken notches, with nails this time for extra reinforcement.  When I got back, Dad got to work on the pins, even creating a few extra in case my brother loses them over the next few years.  He re-assembled the cradle, and I took a few photos of it:

Yep, my dad flew down in his then-airplane, a twin engine plane with decent space in the back (his current plane, a Piper Cherokee, I believe, would NOT hold the cradle, I'm pretty sure!) when Nathan was a few days old.  Nathan had his first plane ride not long after his first car ride (since he was born at home; in fact, his first car ride MIGHT have been to the airport--I'm not sure!), though he fell asleep before takeoff, so it wasn't very momentous for him.

Disassembled, it's an odd assortment of pieces.

But without any tools or fasteners other than pegs that easily slide into place, it becomes this:

The sheet was still drying, and the quilt is boxed up somewhere, so the mattress is bare in this photo.  I'm sure Eric and Ying will have their own bedding of choice to use, and maybe even a different canopy if they prefer.

Later that afternoon, we went over to Eric's house.  He was hoping to host a surprise shower for his wife, with many of her friends in the area who are originally from Thailand, some of whom work at their restaurant.  But a "few" friends turned into probably over 20 people in their house all told, mostly Thai.  Someone brought a cake, someone else brought a "diaper cake," and there were balloons, decorations, and gifts (more gifts than this--the photo was taken pretty early into people arriving).

But that's pretty much where the similarity to a traditional baby shower ended.  It was co-ed, though there did end up being more women than men.  There was a bunch of Thai food, of course (and delicious, though VERY spicy), including frog legs (don't see that on the menu at too many baby showers!), but there was also sushi, grilled beef, and grilled veggies.  It was quite a feast, and I'm pretty sure no one went hungry, even me, the vegetarian amidst a bunch of meat.

Another similarity to a regular shower was that we did a few game.  However, it was a guessing game where one person held a card up above their head without looking at it, and their teammates tried to act out or holler out clues to help them guess.  The host of the game had planned on the audience who spoke two separate languages, with very few truly bilingual people in attendance.  The cards were written in both Thai and English.  Well, I'm assuming the two terms were equivalent, but as I'm not one of the bilingual people, who knows.  :-)  However, instead of the words being baby- or parenting- or even birth-related, they were just random categories like animals (which the group before us picked), household objects, food, or fruit (which us pedantic folks noted is also food, but whatever).  When our (all the English-speaking people on one team, which just happened to mean me, my dad, my brother, and my son) turn came, we figured fruit and food might be Thai-specific, as the game-maker was Thai, and picked household objects.  We actually did really well at the game, and finished all the words in our time limit, though there was one clue that was a specific (Thai) brand of toothpaste, and when my dad guessed "toothbrush" they just gave it to us.  Heh.

Then they had a tie-breaker round (i.e., they made four categories and only three teams so there was a category left over after the main game), where all teams played simultaneously.  Since the other teams were giving the clues and guessing in Thai, we couldn't cheat by eavesdropping.  Not sure whether the bilingual folks benefited from our clues, but I'm guessing not.  :-)  One of the answers was mango, and my helpers gave me the clue "sticky rice," for which I quickly guessed mango.  Then a few cards later, we got mangosteen (which I LOVE, by the way), so I think it was my brother who said, "sticky rice . . . BLANK."  Heh.  There was one fruit we'd never heard of, but luckily all the rest we had, and we won that round too.  Our prize was a gift basket full of Thai treats, mostly meat-based.  So Nathan and I took home just one basket between the two of us, even though each person was allowed to take one.

Here's a picture of the setting up of the game area (Eric has a BEAUTIFUL backyard--he's done a lot of work on it, and I should've taken more pictures).

And some video of the aftermath--the team with the fewest points had to do the chicken dance as their punishment.

It was a great party, though of course without much co-mingling between the English and Thai speakers, though I did chat with a few of the more bilingual Thai folks.  :-)  But it was a beautiful yard, with some cute kids playing in it, and some wonderful food and entertaining company.  Toward the end of the evening, Nathan got into a water fight with some (purported) adults.  He had to ride home in the pickup instead of the leather-seated convertible.  Ha!

Sunday morning, we were very lazy, and in fact Nathan, my dad, and I each played on our separate computers, rather anti-socially, I suppose.  Must be the introvert in me (and Nathan, and possibly my dad), needing to spend some time vegging after all the socializing the night before.  Anyway, soon it was time to pack up and head out, as the plan was for Dad and Nathan do go flying, and for us to leave from there, which I think we did on the last visit, too.

Nathan didn't remember much of the pre-flight walkaround procedure, so my dad had to walk him through it step by step again--it'd been about six months since the last time.  But soon enough they were ready to get on their way, and I wandered out toward the runway to take photos and video.

A few still photos as they get ready and taxi to the end of the runway:

And some video of the runup, takeoff (performed mostly by Nathan--not sure how much hands-on help he needed, or if it was just verbal guidance), and landing (performed entirely by my dad--Nathan's not quite ready for that much more critical phase of flight yet.  :-)

From there, we drove home, stopping for a quick dinner in Gresham.  We left town on Friday at 4:00, and got home Sunday night at 10:00, but packed a lot, including just vegging, into the day and a half we were in Western WA, though we didn't get to see my brother much (he's an air traffic controller with a wacky schedule that doesn't include Sat/Sun off).

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