In a few days Luna will turn 1 year old, which means it’s time for her first swim lessons. I wouldn’t have come up with that idea on my own, but while surfing a few days ago we met a really cool lady named Joany Arpy who specializes in teaching infants to swim. She generously offered to give Luna a few lessons and we jumped at the opportunity.
The lessons are short (only 5 min long) and very intense. The babies are essentially just thrown into the water (with Joany’s knowledgable hands on them of course) and encouraged to explore their natural float reflex. She guides the head and body so that just the face is above water and eventually they relax and control their breath in order to float. It’s a nerve-wracking, incredible, and very proud moment to watch as a parent. Luna got into the pool happily, but as soon as the lesson began she went into panic mode, calling for “MAMA! MAMA!” This, Joany says, is totally normal. On the first lesson she floated on her back for a few seconds and we called that success. On the second lesson, they worked on simulating falling into the pool and turning towards the wall to safety, and even a little underwater swimming.
Unfortunately, Joany had to head back to Florida so we only got 2 lessons, but we’re thinking about heading to Florida for a week or so to continue the program. It was that good.
She recommends getting babies into the water between 6 months and 2 years old. If you have a little one, I definitely recommend finding an instructor from InfantSwim.com near you!
Several times per day the monkeys announce their presence by shaking trees, dropping twigs and discarded cacao husks on the roof, and squeaking at each other. We hear the rustling, thuds, and squeaks, then run outside to the portion of 360 degree wrapping porch that seems closest to the action. Luna points and laughs as small red furry creatures follow each other in jumping from branch to branch and scurrying up tree limbs. Squirrel monkeys!
A whole family of them live in the trees around the house and migrate back and forth daily in search of food. They peel open leaves for what we can only imagine are caterpillars curled inside, or maybe beetle larvae. They grab cacao pods and eat the white fruit and seeds. Mostly we see them running and leaping.
When the monkeys pass, Daddy plays Luna’s favorite game: He growls, pretends to be a monster, and she runs laughing.
He wraps her up in a hammock. “Gotcha!”
She gives a cheeky hand signal to mama watching behind the camera. It goes like this: place back of hand to mouth, wave fingers back and forth, and make “bwah bwah bwah” sound. I think it means “put that camera down and come play!” The monkeys are cute, but it’s hard to compete with an 11 month old with a new-found love of the jungle!
It all started with a plan to celebrate the wedding of my sister in Spain. Then we figured we might as well spend a month in Europe and tacked on an extra week in Switzerland with Kim’s dad and 10 days in Ireland. It was so fun!
When planning our trip to Ireland, Kim gave me a list of things we’d do including “climbing Crough Patrick”. I didn’t have any idea what that meant but trusted that whatever it was, it would be awesome. When we arrived to Westport and I saw the mountain he was talking about, I thought “no way!”
At almost 3000ft, Crough Patrick is Ireland’s Holiest Mountain. It begins at sea level which means climbers are climbing every one of those feet. It features a chapel at the top in honor of St. Patrick and is a popular pilgrimage for Catholics and tourists. On what would turn out to be the warmest day of the year so far, we caught a bus to the base. Luna has only been happy in her backpack for about 30 minutes at a time lately – she’s just too excited about learning to walk to be content being carried for long. I figured we had about a 50:50 chance of making the two hour hike to the top. It would all depend on some luck and timing.
Fortunately, Luna cooperated and fell asleep at the perfect time, allowing us to climb without any fussiness or squirming. The climbing was tricky at times, very steep with loose rocks. Most climbers that we passed were amazed that Kim was carrying a baby on his back.
We made it to the top in just an hour and 40 minutes. Luna woke up a few minutes before we reached the summit. Perfect timing!
We aren’t religious, but I was giddy at the top. The view was spectacular, but I was thrilled with a sense of accomplishment. I didn’t think we’d make it, but we did. Several hikers congratulated us on achieving the feat with a baby on board. I was just happy that having a baby has not made us totally compromise our desire for adventure.