Welcome back from Italy.
We spent the better part of the last two days traveling back home from Puglia through Naples and Frankfurt. Way to stack up those passport stamps my little man!
You were quite the hit as we traveled across southern Italy. I think it was the hair that became bleached by Mediterranean sun. You attracted many older women to pinch your cheeks and say "bimbo!" and "bello!" A lot of people confused you and Eliza as "gemelli" (twins) when you sat in the double stroller. You're not quite as tall as her, but you're catching up enough to fool people that you're the same age. I assume our diet of carbs -- pizza and gelato in heavy rotation -- helped accelerate your growth spurt as it did mine at the waistband.
Maybe it was the amount of time we got to spend together but I noticed some other big changes during trip. You continue to try out new words and emulate anything your sister does. A good influence is how you like books, especially the "Llama Llama" series. You crawl the books over to make a "read to me now" request. You are already trying to play soccer, perching up on a step and kicking wildly at the ball when it's at your dangling feet. You are brave with your climbing and wanting to sit on chairs and couches like a big kid. Unfortunately, that Italian tile is not very forgiving, and you got some bumps where your balance didn't match your ambition.
You are so close to walking. You took a couple "trust fall" steps toward me this past week, but I can't count those as true first steps until you can make a connected, balanced stretch.
All of that activity didn't make for a restful vacation for your Mom and I as we always had to be on watch. Sometimes we'd slow you down or remove you from a potential fall and you would react with a flare of anger -- hit, flail backward, or pull hair. I shaved my growing, impressive beard down in part because I was tired of you tugging on it in retribution. Also, I was looking scraggly and I need to look nice for your Mom.
At times you had good reason to be grumpy. We took the long way getting to Italy due to flight delays. Our original itinerary of Seattle --> Frankfurt --> Naples expanded to Seattle --> Frankfurt --> Munich --> Bari --> Naples. That last leg from Bari to Naples was an unexpected three hour bus ride as thunderstorms kept us from landing in Naples. We were all exhausted and unhappy. We ran out of diapers and food. By the time we arrived in Naples, we surrendered to an airport hotel instead of continuing on to our apartment in Sorrento. It was a bumpy way to start the "vacation."
Of course, it was never meant to be a vacation. Traveling with kids as young as you and Eliza is more of an adventure in not knowing how you will adjust to your constantly new surroundings while not knowing exactly what's around the corner as your inexperienced guides. Add a splash of language barrier, and the combination makes for a cocktail of accomplishment, surprise and occasional frustration. We drank that up all trip.
You also drank some sea water and ate a lot of sand. It happens. Better from the Adriatic and Mediterranean seas than Puget Sound.