Hmmmm. Head scratch. It wasn't there when I went to sleep. I started walking down the stairs and found further evidence of tiny hands at work.
Toy food lined up in perfect rows, with a few miscellaneous french fries trailing down the lower steps. What I wouldn't give to know what goes on in his little mind while he's lining those things up.
The newest nephew is doing wonderfully - eating and sleeping like a champ, and getting cuter every minute. He's truly a second-born, as he sleeps without stirring despite the mixer going in the kitchen, the vacuum whizzing by his bed, and an older brother shrieking and shaking his crib. By day 8 with the first, we could already tell he was not a snuggler, something that is true to this day. But this baby nestles in deep and loves to be cuddled. He also loves to be sung to, and he particularly enjoyed my rendition of 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall one evening when I'd exhausted my library of baby and churchy songs.
The older nephew is adjusting to the new spotlight-stealer. His parents have done a great job of giving him extra love and attention to get him through the transition, and he already has such a strong sense of self that I don't think it would occur to him to ever question his place in the family. He's a two year old, which I've learned means that he's bipolar, and I love his sweet and not-so-sweet times. There are lots of both. My favorite expression from the visit occurred while he was playing with Play-Doh at the table. I sat with him making shapes with cookie cutters and each time I'd pick up something to use, he'd complain, "That's mine!" and take it out of my hand. Charming. I continued, determined to force-teach how enjoyable sharing can be, and he continued, determined to hoard his toys lest I steal them from under his nose. I kept picking up pieces of dough and toys to shape it with, and he finally yelled, "THAT'S MY EVERYTHINGS!" I think I'll try that next time I'm out with friends and someone gets near my drink.
Last week was my third visit to my brother and SIL's in the past four weeks, and at some point the chaos of two kids in diapers stopped sounding like chaos and started sounding more like music. Shocking. I admit that during the first few visits my nephew's screams - each and every one - would make the hair on the back of my neck stand up, and leave me looking for the nearest closet in which to lock him. Near the end of last week, and I swear I don't know how this happened, I started to not really notice the noise. I don't know. Maybe it all just blends after a while.
On the drive back home I started to worry that my quiet life in Portland would suddenly seem a little empty without plastic french fries lined up on the stairs. I'm home now and getting settled into my routine, though it does lack diapers and miscellaneous screeching. I put up the tree yesterday and this afternoon I'm working on my Christmas packages for Japan. It's definitely quieter here, and I have about 99% less of a chance of getting food in my hair, but maybe I have the best of both worlds: peace and quiet here, two beautiful nephews 2 1/2 hours away. Perfect.