Merry Christmas, Happy New Year. I’ve been lax in my blogging, mostly because I was just enjoying the freedom of being away from a computer, with other people around to hold the baby. With two weeks of no freelancing and a bit of a lightened baby load, I did things I rarely get to do—I read books; I shopped and tried on a million things; I got a manicure. It was nice, very nice, and it strikes me that people who live near their parents have a radically different parenting experience than the one Andrew and I have. Just completely different. An experience where one can perhaps get a manicure more often than, oh, once every fourteen months.
Anyway. First stop on our trip was Connellsville, where we whisked Lucia through the door and pretty much had no baby for a week. She ate hearty meals prepared and served by Grandma. She rocked in a hand-upholstered mini-rocking chair procured from the attic by Grandpa. She learned to say “Papa” (for Grandpa). She consented to be held by me only when Grandma was not in the room. Andrew and I bought piles of clothes at Gabe’s (Andrew set a new record, I think—four trips in six days; I made three trips) and had wings and $2 Yuenglings at Lynn’s. We had a Christmas Eve celebration with lots of Orlandos and rounded off Christmas Day with visits from many Prestias. We saw copious other friends as well. Through it all, Lucia gave up crawling altogether and indulged an intense fascination with the stairs.
The highlight of Christmas was, as always, our Made Gifts, which, this year, ascended to new levels. Dad made us personalized engraved slate cheeseboards with a piece of soapstone for writing the names of the cheeses on the slate. Mom gathered and scanned hundreds of our favorite baby and childhood photos and created Snapfish photo books for Molly and me. Molly made spectacular Christmas tree ornaments from Styrofoam balls and thousands of straight pins, sequins, and seed beeds. And Ian designed a collectible set of Team Orlando baseball cards, with stats, nicknames, write-ups, and fun facts for every member (even Franny and Zooey).
As for me, this year I made decoupage nesting dolls, personalized for each person. Here’s a sampling.
After Christmas, Andrew and Lucia embarked on an adventure—their first flight together alone, and their first night without me. Maddeningly to me, they had a good flight—Lucia slept. Slept! Apparently Andrew worked some sort of magic. I drove with Rachael to Dayton, where we spent a fun night with Michelle and Jim and their kids before going to Cincinnati for Barbra’s baby shower. Then I was off to the airport for a flight to Jacksonville—before which I had a Chick Fil A dinner at the airport, which I ate while reading a book. I missed Lucia, of course, but this was quite nice. And it didn’t even matter that my flight was delayed. I just kept reading. Bliss.
Then our week in Jacksonville began. The weather was beautiful, so Lucia spent a good deal of time outside, playing on the deck, walking around the driveway and sidewalk by the house, playing at the nearby playground. She was fascinated by the large number of cats populating the Littell compound and made a high-pitched screech whenever she saw one—her version of “meow,” I think. Her walking got better and better while we were there, and she walked all over the place—falling at times, of course, but mostly very steady on her feet. Besides spending time with Granny and GrandBob and Nana, Lucia got to spend a couple of days with Aunt Katherine and Future Uncle Patrick. Andrew and I spent New Year’s Eve with Katherine and Patrick, having dinner out and then going to two Jacksonville bars (for the record, it was enjoyable, as far as New Year’s Eves go). And on New Year’s Day we spent the day at New Smyrna Beach, where Lucia put her babyfeet in the Atlantic for the first time.
And now—we’re home, after a delayed but more or less painless flight. (Lucia slept!) We had a wonderful two weeks but we are happy to be back. As soon as we walked in the door, Lucia made a beeline for her lion push toy and then pulled all her books off the shelf before stumbling over to me, books in each hand, to read some much-missed favorites.