"I lost my blue shoes and still couldn't get moving"

Subject was found on someone's handbag.

I haven't written in too long...

I'll just share a story here from New Year's and get back to updating you guys on my life later.

http://www.randomisgod.com/pictures/000CalifAdven.jpg
http://www.randomisgod.com/pictures/000NewMexicoParty.jpg

So it's the last day in Albuquerque and I need to do laundry.
I woke up early, but it wasn't early enough.  Nat-chan was waiting for me.  
'Do you remember what you promised?'  5-year-olds are big on keeping
promises.  She has tissues laid out all over the floor and blue and purple
gel paints at the ready.  'Manicure!'

I let her paint my nails, and then my toenails while I write addresses on
belated Christmas cards.  I'm able to get hers done quickly, and then she's
not allowed to touch anything until they dry.  But 5-year-olds like to
touch things.  I let her at the coloring books while I get on with the
laundry.  I put all my things in the wash, but I'm not sure which of
Yossi's is dirty or not.  I look around for Yossi and get distracted
translating something for Oto-san, explaining to Mommy-in-law for the
hundredth time that she doesn't need to clean the sheets, bringing out some
things to the garage that I'll be leaving behind until I go to the USA
again....  But I can't seem to run in to Yossi.  Where is he?

Natchan wants to play.  She's set up the entire living room table in to a
store.  She's been running around the house asking for things to put in the
store by using the word 'Please' and pointing to what she wants.  Now she's
setting out cards in to piles for people to use as money.  She's memorized
the phrase 'how much is it?'  in English.  She wants me to participate.

'Sorry, I'm looking for Yossi,' I say.  He's probably outside.  He needed
something at the convenient store, but there isn't one in suburbia.  You'd
have to walk for a couple miles on uninteresting roads through
cookie-cutter houses and walled off communities.

Natchan is all about a romp outside. She's going to help me find him.  She
has to get her shoes and I have to help her put them on.  Doing the laundry
has never been so time consuming.

We run outside but Yossi isn't there.  Did he really go off looking for a
convenient store?  I can't imagine he'd gone far given how cold it is and
how much he doesn't like long walks to get places.  Natchan isn't too keen
on walking either.  She raises her arms and gives me puppy-dog eyes.  'Up
please!'

The rule is, I'll do anything you say if you ask me in English.  I lift her
up in my arms.  She's heavy but I'm getting used to it by now.  We cross
the street, but there's no sign of Yossi.  I actually don't care at this
point and would like to just do the laundry without his input, but Natchan
isn't in the mood to give up.  She says we should go to higher ground where
we can see from all around.  There's an undeveloped area through a hole in
a wall and we head out there.  The path is made of rocks and sand.  It's
winter and nothing's alive out here.  The path goes up toward the outskirts
of town, or down a steep hill toward an area where a new wall-ed off
suburban paradise will be erected.

We don't see Yossi, but I find a cactus.  Natchan doesn't want to go near
it, so I let her down and go poke at it myself.  It sticks me.  I ask
Natchan to take the thorn out.  She looks pale just thinking about it.  I
tell her her aunt is 'baka' for doing something stupid like touching a
cactus.  Natchan giggles at me and I realize I've used bad language in
front of a kid.  At least no one was around to hear it.

I ask Natchan if we can go back home yet, or if we should go down the
steep, sandy hill.  Natchan gives me a look.  We haven't found Yossi yet!  
We'd better go down the hill.  Up please!  Oh dear...  It's all sand and
rocks, and I'm pretty sure one of us is going to fall down on some cactus
or something I attempt to carry her.  I ask her if she wouldn't mind
walking because there sure are some pretty stones on the ground.  Secretly
I'm hoping walking on this uneven terrain will be too difficult for her and
she'll want to go back where my laundry is waiting.

Natchan looks down at the stones at her feet.

'Let's look for fossils' she says.

So we slowly, carefully pick our way down the hill, stopping to check if
this or that rock is a fossil.  Natchan tries to keep some stones in her
hands, but they're freezing cold and she ends up tossing them away.  
Instead she now wants me to dig rocks out of the sand for her.  She points
to a boulder and asks if we can take it home for my Dad, because he likes
rocks.

I'm so touched!  Somehow, through various conversations, she's picked up on the fact that my dad likes rocks (he's a geologist).  That's the amazing power of little kids, they just absorb information.

Unfortunately I have to decline her request.  I can't carry a boulder back home....

It's getting cold in the shadow of the hill and I really want to get heading home, but Natchan is making my world more and more interesting as I start to see things her way.  And then she stops and pulls a big red stone from the ground.  'It's a salmon!' she says.  'Let's bring this fossil home to your dad.'

Sure!

I carry the frigid rock in my hands and Natchan and I half-slide half-walk to the bottom.  We look around and to our surprise, Yossi is meandering around the bottom of the hill.  Yossi!  He seems me and Natchan carrying rocks, not dressed for the weather, and gives us a curious look.  'We've been looking for you!'  I shout.  'Do you need any of your clothes washed?'  Yossi calls back a negative.  Mission accomplished.

Back at home, Natchan presents the "salmon fossil" to my dad.  I know my mom doesn't want him keeping any more rocks around the house, but I figure he can return it to nature any time he wants.  But my dad is also delighted by Natchan's interest and sets it in a special place outside and writes her name on it.  It's Natchan's fossil now.

All the money, disagreements, and screaming babies was worth it to have these little moments of connection on this trip.  It's not the sightseeing and shopping, it's the helping in the kitchen and the remembering to drive on the other side of the road.  I'm sure Natchan will remember the USA forever because she was able to make a connection here.

Jennifer

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