Friday, March 4, 2016

Bertie's 2nd Christmas!

We made it out of Burundi for three weeks of scheduled leave on December 12, only 24 hours delayed in spite of about 15 hours of violent fighting in Bujumbura on December 11. After considerable drama and several ridiculous interactions with RwandAir ground crew (including "we issued you boarding passes on unpurchased tickets in good faith, you can't change your itinerary now!" and "I won't deliver the carseat you gate-checked on Ethiopian Airlines (out of Bujumbura) because it's too heavy and you can't use it on the KLM flight"), we arrived in Portland with no bags but otherwise intact (and with the carseat that the KLM flight attendants were happy to see).

Bertie "I'm Not Tired" Runyon Zaur got off a 30-hour flight, said something approximating "Grandma," and hopped into a fab blue cruiser that Grandma and Grandpa got him for Christmas.

The next morning we walked up the hill to an amazing series of puddles that were perfect for stomping and splashing in!

And we looked over the bridge at Spring Creek and admired the enormous amount of d'eau (water in Bertie's French).

Because Oregon is so amazing, it turns out there is water on both sides of the bridge. Who would have guessed!


Bertie, Ian, and I spent a short week in Seaside to decompress and get over jet lag. The weather was predictably unpredictable, but when it was nice we spent time on the Promenade. Luckily there were no crowds as the baby drunkenly pushed the stroller!

Seaside is easy to get to from Portland, so it's one of the touristy beach destinations. The carrousel in the mall was open, but the two times we rode it, Bertie was the only client. While the horse was moving, he said very quietly but very clearly and repeatedly, "vroom vroom!" This was a much more successful carrousel experience than the one in Montmartre!

There is a small aquarium on the Promenade, and Bertie and Ian enjoyed the touching tanks. Right after we took these pictures, a black lab came out of the office, causing us to lose all interest in cold water.

Rainbow on the ocean!

We met a mall Santa Claus at the outlet mall! Bertie was not convinced, but we got some reasonable pictures anyway.


Bertie met his first real Christmas tree and helped decorate it! Grandpa assisted with some of the higher ornaments.

Mama helped with ornament theory: put the loop here. Here. Here. Try it here. Here. Here.... The only near mishap occurred when Bertie pulled a tiny rocking chair ornament out of the box and showed it to me. I said, "oh look, a chair," and turned away for a second. When I looked back, Bertie had positioned the ornament under himself and was about to sit on it!

There were stairs to climb and Grandmas to meet!

Grandma came on a short walk with us, and she and Bertie both found sticks! Oregon is amazing.

Back in the car. Bertie collected things from around the house and drove them around in the car. He liked having his own car.

Nana (Great-Grandma) gave him an easel, and the first best thing about it was assembly with a screwdriver!

Did I mention the screwdriver?

Eventually we convinced him to use it as an easel rather than a screwdriver performance zone.

The best thing about Christmas Eve was the wrapping and the packaging!

Who knew life held such marvels!

Christmas morning penguin footie pyjamas and a Mrs Potato Head!

The tool kit was perplexing at first, but pretty soon he figured out that it's for banging on.

Great-Aunt Sonia in the sliding chair.

Uncle Willis with Grandma by the car.

Four generations of Bensons! We do other things besides photograph well....


The day after Christmas, we flew to Chicago for an all-Zaur holiday!

Chris was a good sport about his pumpkin hat.

Pat, Ian, Lisa, and Chris.

The Zaur household. Everybody's tall here except Mama.

With Grandpa on the bus to see Tree Lights at the Morton Arboretum.

Poor little Bean was cold, but he enjoyed himself and informed us many times that there were lights.

It was cold and a little snowy, but we trekked the circuit with Bertie in the stroller.

Lights racing across the lake. These lights changed color in a pattern.

This display also had lights in the ground that lit up and ran in patterns. It was very cool and very hard to photograph!

A field of glowing baubles!

Same picture, seconds later.

Some of the trees were almost spooky!

In early January, I came to Washington for a week of training (the course that used to be called "Crash and Bang" but is now (boring!) called the Foreign Affairs Counter Threat course (FACT)). We learned to identify various guns by sound, we did a good amount of crisis first aid, and we smashed up cars.

Ian and Bertie stayed in Aurora, and I returned to Burundi alone to collect the animals, close up shop, pack us out, and get an onward assignment. I finally flew away on February 14, arriving in DC just before the "wintry mix" turned nasty. We are so relieved to be all together again.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't read your post for awhile. More, More. :-) Completely enjoy them.