dear oliver, i’m home

20140318-182433.jpgDear Oliver,

Our ship returned safely to port and we have returned safely home. It was a very long day. Why does the return trip always seem to take longer? I am just so glad to be home and sleeping in my own bed tonight!

We left the ship at 7:30 this morning. We left Puerto Rico at 10:30 a.m. In New York City, our plane was delayed by nearly an hour, which wouldn’t have been so bad if we weren’t already boarded. That made for some grumps. Mama said it was a toss-up for crankers between me and Da-da. Honestly!

It was 7:00 p.m. before we had the car loaded with luggage and were on our way to the ferry. It was pushing 11:00 p.m. before we got home. Like I said, a very long day!

The very last hour of our journey was the absolute worst. I did not think I could stand another minute of travel, especially in that car seat! Mama and GiGi were stressed out because I was throwing such a royal conniption. You’ve never seen such an angry tantrum, Oliver! But Da-da said, “Henry can’t win this one.” And they knew he was right. So we powered through, as Mama says. If GiGi hadn’t insisted we stop because Mama needed to eat, I might have slept until we reached the driveway. That GiGi! But Mama is worth it.

All in all, it was a wonderful journey. Mama and Da-Da were so proud of my adventuring spirit. GiGi and Pops, too. Mama said, “We couldn’t have asked for more from Henry.” Da-da and GiGi and Pops agreed. GiGi said we were “Team Henry” this week.

I hope that the next time I travel for sun and sea that you and Sadie will be with me. I also hope you feel better soon. (I hear it’s miserable painful business, growing teeth?) Your own beach break is not far away! Sending hugs and kisses to all, especially Sadie.

Love,
Henry

dear oliver, i’m smashed on mashed

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Dear Oliver,

St. Croix was our final port of call. There is a nice beach within walking distance of the pier. Also lots of taxis lined up and people selling tours. But Mama and Da-Da were in quite a hurry to get to the beach! The closest one looked good to them. We disembarked together but they scampered off the pier without us.

No beach for me today. GiGi and Pops declared it a take-it-easy, stay-out-of-the-sun day. They almost didn’t get off the ship. Honestly! We strolled on the promenade in historic Frederisksted that fronts a good portion of the shoreline. The beach stretches almost as far as you can see. On the very end point, it is a dazzling white sand.

I was out like a light for my morning nap in my stroller within a few minutes. Pops pushed me in the shade while GiGi wandered around the shops. We weren’t out very long because it was so hot! GiGi and Pops said they were glad for a good reason to have a quiet day.

We spent most of the day playing and strolling and eating on board the ship. It is a big ship and good for people-watching. Then I took a long nap after lunch. This is where it gets exciting…

Pops went off to buy refreshing drinks. And GiGi set the room service tray outside the door … and locked herself out of the stateroom! So there I was, alone on one side, and she on the other. She enlisted a young man nearby to call for help. He got room service, twice, instead. But GiGi was in such a state they promised to send help anyway! GiGi sent him off to see if he could find help, just in case. (Too bad about his pool plans, right?)

Then Pops returned and unlocked the door. Then GiGi had to go find the young man to let him know all was well. Then the crew member who had been dispatched to rescue us showed up to see what all the ruckus was about. But by that time, no need. I missed all of this, of course, safe and sound in my playpen closet — oops, bedroom. I was so tuckered out I slept through all the commotion. I am not sure this counts as an adventure but it’s all I got.

GiGi said it was an hour before her heart rate returned to normal. It reminded her of the time when she accidentally locked the car with my Mama inside. What a fracas. She’d taken your Da-da and Uncle Pete into church and when she came back for my Mama… Ut-oh. Fortunately, my Mama was in her carseat and also safe until help arrived. Once again, it was Pops who saved the day with an extra set of keys!

By supper time, Mama and Da-Da had come back from the beach … but they needed naps. Turns out there is such a thing as too much fun in the sun! I wasn’t interested in the pouch-of-the-day Mama left for me. So Pops went to the dining room for a bowl of mashed potatoes. The hostess (Pops calls her “Tiny”) was only too happy to help “Mister Hendry.” I was Hungry Hendry as soon as I saw those potatoes. Yum-yum!

I think this is my fourth helping of mashed this week. I’m smashed on mashed! I can’t get enough! Does it get any better? You have teeth and eat lots of things I haven’t yet tried, so please tell me!

Tiny is just one of my new friends. So many ladies stopped to chat with me that Pops said I am a chick magnet. I don’t know about that — they looked like old hens to me. Sometimes the old men would make funny faces to make me smile. So I did! (Just a few weeks ago, you know they would have gotten the Cry Face instead.) Later when we’d see them out and about, they’d say, “There’s that baby!” The cabin stewards along the hall always made a point to talk to me. “Everyone knows Henry!” they said. But none of those new friends compare with you, Oliver.

I am happy to say we will be home tomorrow. It has been loads of fun to travel but I am ready to get back. GiGi and I agree that there comes a time to return to routine. It’s time.

Love,
Henry

P.S.
I almost forgot to tell you about another first: standing! It’s true, Oliver. Sitting on the blanket, playing with my toys and GiGi and Pops, I popped myself up on all fours and then, voilà! I stood up all by myself. Just for a second or two. Then ker-plop! I did this trick three times today but GiGi and Pops didn’t make much fuss. They didn’t know it was a new trick? Honestly! Get with the program, people! When Mama and Da-Da heard about it they got pretty excited. That’s more like it.

dear oliver, i peek-a-boo

Dear Oliver,

Today we docked in Phillipsburg, Sint Maarten, the Dutch side of the island. We were off the ship early and took the water taxi into town.

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I guess the Dutch are slow starters because the only activity was cabbies looking for business and some guys renting lounge chairs and umbrellas. The beach looked good to me but GiGi and Pops had other plans. So we cabbed to Marigot, St. Martin — on the French side.

It was a beautiful drive. The island is so pretty, with green hills and valleys, soft white sand beaches, and bright turquoise seas. Many buildings are painted pastel seashore colors. Others are painted in bold, brassy, primary hues. Everywhere you look there is color! Our driver, Rufus, proudly pointed out trees and flowers with healing properties growing in front yards. In St. Martin, he said, pharmacies are for tourists!

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In Marigot we had a delicious breakfast at the French café. So many pretty pastries! Mama and GiGi shopped the open air market while Da-da pushed my stroller in the shade. There were vanilla and so many new spices, fruits and vegetables I did not recognize, fabric-lined baskets, local art work and crafts, and, of course, clothing. (I promised not to spoil the surprise but I did help pick out your gift!)

Our driver waited for our return trip. Back in Phillipsburg, GiGi and Pops took us to meet their friend Sam at a jewelry store on Front St. You know how Pops loves to bargain! He was shopping for pearls with great-grandma’s Christmas money. He wanted a gift that could be handed down forever.

St Martin is always his favorite stop! GiGi loves it, too. Such a treat to get two countries in one port of call. GiGi loves the French vanilla, food, art and culture, Caribbean-style. She loves the variety in Dutch shops selling jewelry, fine linens, cheese, hats, and clothing. This was just one of those grin-and-bear-it shopping days. But I’d prefer not to admit that I shop. Honestly!

So I will share another first this week: peek-a-boo, for the first time, all by myself, with the bath towel. Mama and Da-Da are sure I am bound for greatness with this new feat. GiGi and Pops encourage them on.

Finally the shopping was finished and Mama and Da-Da took me to the beach. There is a wide strip of silky white sand stretching forever in an arc around the Dutch capital city. We rented lounge chairs and an umbrella and took a nice swim. Later we met up with GiGi and Pops for lunch at Taloulah Mangoes. The warm Caribbean sun sure made me sleepy so I had my nap there, too.

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It was a good day but I am glad to be back on board the ship. GiGi made me mad by slathering on so much sunscreen this morning! I fussed and growled at her but it did no good. I feel sooooo much better after a bath. GiGi and Pops said they will keep me tomorrow while Mama and Da-Da go off for an adventure in St. Croix. So we will be looking for an adventure to call our own!

See you soon, Oliver. Hello to everyone and especially Sadie.

Love,
Henry

dear oliver, i miss you

Dear Oliver,

Today was a very early start. Just because I said so! Sometimes I let GiGi and Pops take me for awhile so Mama can sleep in a bit longer. But not today. Because sometimes there is just no substitute for my Mama. When this happens, she says I have a case of the mamas. I guess she is right.

When we pulled into port, it was foggy and gray. An airport sits on the seashore. It is fun to watch planes take off or land. They fly in quite close to the ship in St. Lucia. So exciting!

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We all went to breakfast together and then out exploring. The fog burned off quickly for a bright and warm day. It was a quick taxi ride to the market. It was a big market, all kinds of colorful. Fruit and vegetables, baskets and clothing, spices and wooden carvings, arts and crafts with narrow walkways between stalls under a big roof. So much to see and maybe touch! Turns out local markets are a GiGi and Pops kind of thing; Mama and Da-Da didn’t like it much. So we left.

We found another friendly taxi driver who agreed to give us a brief island tour. We saw lots of tropical flowering trees and plants, schools and children in uniforms, beautiful bays and sea coast from above, old architecture, and a prison used during the French and British conflicts. Our driver said St. Lucia changed “hands” 14 times before gaining independence; that is a lot fighting over a tiny island.

We always drove on the left. No carseats! And a lot of hairpin turns as we climbed higher. (Great-Grandma would not like it much, I think.) Once again, it was a tiny van taxi but this time we had it all to ourselves. Da-Da told me all that I missed because I was sleepy and snuggled safe with GiGi for a nap. After all, I did have a very early start today.

They even made a pitt stop for Pitons, the local brew (not the volcanic peaks — too far away for me today) while I snoozed. Da-da said it was very good but it will be a very long time before I know anything more about that!

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That afternoon, Da-Da watched me while Mama and GiGi went to the spa. Da-da and I gave Mama a spa gift for Christmas. We know she needs a break. Any baby is a lot of work — even on vacation — but today I really gave her a run for it. Later she played with me in my froggy pool on the balcony. I am not allowed to go in the public pools until I get rid of these doggone diapers. Honestly! So Mama and Da-Da brought an inflatable pool for me. I think the froggy is hysterical.

The cabin steward leaves things for me to play with. I wonder if you have to go to towel animal school to learn this trick? Maybe when we get to pre-school it will become more clear. After my bath, GiGi fixed my hair with a cute curl down the middle. Da-da did not like it and smoothed it out. “Well, then,” GiGi huffed. “It’s no wonder people think his daddy gave him a Mohawk!”

That evening, we all went to dinner together in the fancy dining room. I ate mushy stuff off the main menu like a big shot. The waiters are very accommodating, bringing me cold fruit soups and applesauce and such. I’ve developed a real taste for mashed potatoes!

There are a few other babies on board, Oliver, but none look to be half as fun as you. So we go our way and they go theirs. Just wish you were here. Everyone sends their love to you and Sadie. Miss you!

Love,
Henry

dear oliver, i love the sea

Dear Oliver,

Today we were in Barbados for my first Caribbean Sea excursion! Barbados is so funny it made me giggle. They speak English, but differently. They drive on the left side of the road. And they use tiny vans to taxi 14 or 15 adults — plus me — crammed in like sardines. No car seats here, either. I could get used to this. We had quite a ride!

Nobody brought a camera so I will try my best to describe the day…

We went to a place called the Boat Yard on Carlisle Bay. Everyone had been here before — except me, of course. Pops said it is his top favorite beach in the Caribbean. I can see why!

It has lots of fun water sport toys (for big boys and girls), a restaurant and nice facilities. The sand on the beach and in the sea is the silkiest softest whitest sand you will ever find. The sea flows in gentle waves in bands of blue-blues and blue-greens. The sea floor is soft and stays shallow for a long ways out. The water is so clear you can count your piggy toes and watch wee fish dart in and out. It is quite something.

We got there early enough to claim lounge chairs in the shade of big palms. A nice breeze and a few clouds helped keep me cool. I took a quick swim with Da-Da but mostly had fun playing with my toys. I wore my full body swim suit to stay safe from the sun. Mama is not crazy about it but I like it a lot. It is so comfy!

It was a lazy day. I napped for a long time under the coconut palms in Mama’s arms. I had lunch. Another swim. Then I peed all over GiGi! Everyone thought that was quite a hoot, including me! It was a big pee but GiGi didn’t seem to mind. We both washed off in the sea. Then I played with Pops and GiGi while Mama and Da-Da went for an adventure walk.

When we got back to the ship we all took naps. When I woke up from my nap, I did another new trick. Mama was surprised when she came in to get me and found me sitting up in bed, waiting for her. “What’s next?,” she said. I’m not sure, yet. (It might be waving bye-bye. Everyone seems keen on that.)

When GiGi and Pops came back from dinner, they stayed with me so Mama and Da-Da could go out. There is a little doorway connecting our rooms. GiGi tiptoes in every few minutes to be sure I am okay. It is dark in our room and especially in my “room” (otherwise known as the closet). She shines her iPad on me and listens carefully. Sometimes she touches me just to make me squirm a bit. She is such a nervous Nellie!

GiGi guards the hallway like a Doberman. She sent the cabin steward and his chatty friends away. “Shhhhh! Sleeping baby!” For some reason, everyone in this family really wants me to stay asleep when I am asleep. The stupid steward came back a few minutes later with a vacuum cleaner in the hallway. Honestly! GiGi sent him away again with just one look!

Tomorrow, St. Lucia. Mama says we have no plan yet. But something is sure to sort out in the morning!

Love,
Henry

dear oliver, i sail

20140317-072305.jpg Dear Oliver,

On Sunday, we took GiGi and Pops out to breakfast. Mama and Da-Da discovered a place in Condado called The Original Funky Café, or something like that. The owner had green and red and black drawings all over his arms! We had a fantabulous breakfast. Then we took it easy until it was time to go to the ship.

The day was bright and sunshiny. Just perfect! GiGi stayed with me while I napped; Mama and Da-Da had another swim in the sea. Then it was time to pack up and move on. Another taxi ride. Another security check. A bit of paperwork. A new ID, this one a SeaPass.

In mere minutes we were on board Adventure of the Seas! Mama cried when the first RCI lady welcomed me so warmly. Mama said she didn’t know why she cried but I do: anyone who loves on me wins her heart, too. The children’s program lady loaned me a bag of nice toys to help keep me occupied. The room steward brought a spare sheet so I don’t have to play on the carpet. Plus, GiGi and Pops are just next door…

This started me off on another string of firsts, including my first sailing! And first sleep in a closet! Yes, you heard me correctly: closet.

To be fair, it is a very big closet. You know how I need a dark, quiet space to sleep, Oliver? Da-Da thought this was the perfect solution. My pack-and play did fit nicely, with lots of room to spare. So I am okay with it, too. GiGi had some “concerns” but, well, you know GiGi.

20140317-071750.jpg She and Pops will watch me in the evenings this week while Mama and Da-Da go to dinner. GiGi always props open the closet door with Da-Da’s flip-flops and sneakers, even though it’s well ventilated, top and bottom. (Yes, classic GiGi.)

However, i am a light sleeper and some people were not very considerate! So GiGi also made a sign with lipstick:

Ssssssshhhh
please s’il vous plait
baby bébé infant l’enfant
sleeping
Grazi merci thank you

What she lacks in foreign language skills she makes up for in enthusiasm, I guess. She signed it with a smiley face and stuck it to her door with band-aids. Da-Da was so embarrassed he took it down when he saw it! “Not for nothin’,” GiGi said, “It did seem to help.” Huh.

On our first full cruising day, GiGi and Pops took me out for an early morning adventure while Mama and Da-Da got some sleep. Pops really liked showing me the ship. We stopped for coffee and pastries (them) and applesauce (me). We watched the sunrise from the Viking Crown. We played “Headliner Henry” on the small stage and found photo ops on the Promenade. We did some laps, mostly inside — you know how I hate the wind! It was so early in the morning we nearly had the place to ourselves.

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Oh, yes. GiGi also gave me some food that didn’t sit well that afternoon. I broke out in hives. She freaked out, a bit. (You know GiGi.) But Da-Da is calm under pressure and Mama, too. They gave me some Benadryl and all was well.

Then we went to the ice show. Lights! Music! Ice dancing! What’s not to love? It was a great place to practice clapping, too.

All for now, cousin Oliver. I miss you and Sadie!

Love,
Henry

dear oliver, i clap! i surf!

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Dear Oliver,

Today was another big day, mostly because I learned to clap! Mama and Da-Da were so proud; GiGi and Pops, too.

It all started because Mama said there were a few things on the to-do list this week. So, of course, every time I turned around, someone was clapping with me or at me. Now, you know I would rather clap someone else’s hands than my own. But finally, I gave it up. Okay! I will clap myself. (Actually, I still prefer the closed-fist clap but … I can see where this is going.) GiGi made up a new patty-cake song to encourage me along. It always makes me smile.

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This morning I went out exploring in my stroller with GiGi and Pops. I took them to Walgreens for essentials, like sunscreen and beach balls. Pops likes pushing my stroller ahead, GiGi trails behind; the warm sun makes me even more sleepy. After my nap, I swam with Pops in his whirlpool while we waited for Mama and Da-Da to return from breakfast and their adventure walk. Beach balls are fun!

This afternoon, they had the resort doc stop by to check my ears. They have been red and have not felt right since the San Juan flight. All the rubbing does no good! And I haven’t had much appetite. Mama and GiGi said, “Better safe than sorry.” And Pops said, “Whatever it takes to help the ladies relax.” Da-Da said, “Whatever Henry needs.” The doc didn’t see much to worry about but he did agree with the meds so far and also put drops in. And soon, just as he said, I did feel better! So we were all happy in the end. Especially me.

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Later, we went back to the sea. La Concha casts a long shadow over the beach by late afternoon. The sand is so warm here, even on an overcast day. Mama laid a towel down so I could play with my toys while DaDa body surfed. Then he took me out in the water. He held me high to watch the waves roll toward shore and then dropped my toes, feet, legs into the salty crashing surf. I love the seashore!

We had a quiet and early night. Tomorrow will be another big day. Mama and Da-Da send their love. GiGi and Pops, too!

Love,
Henry