Tuesday, October 28, 2014

eleven months

dearest Sweetpea,

what a big girl you are! the very day after i announced via your 10-month post that you weren't pulling up to stand by yourself yet, you decided to prove me wrong. while you were playing in our family room (with Nana and Pappy here), you crawled over to the recliner and pulled yourself up like you'd been doing it for years. now you can balance without holding on to something for several seconds at a time -- longer if you're distracted by a toy. my favourite is whenever i have you stand on the changing table while i button your pants. you usually steady yourself against my shoulders for a few seconds. then you let go and stand there with a huge grin on your face, and finally you smile even wider and slooooowly let yourself tip forward until your forehead touches mine. 

you pull a lot of silly faces these days -- the Zoolander "Blue Steel" face, the gruff old man face (you pull your bottom lip up over your upper lip), the cheesy squinting-eyed grin, the concentrating face (you wrinkle your nose and look vaguely disgusted while examining a new toy or texture). and you love to spit -- big sloppy raspberries that make us laugh!

you had an absolutely fantastic time with Nana and Pappy over Columbus Day weekend, when your daddy and i took an overnight trip to Bethlehem, PA, to celebrate our fourth anniversary. on Saturday, you went out to dinner at Hoss's with your great-pap and great-gram (and had your first taste of ice cream -- which i think you would have liked if it wasn't so cold!). you clapped for the children's choir at mass on Sunday morning, had a playdate with your second cousin Aubrey, and explored all of the fun toys Nana brought down from the attic. you especially liked the Fisher Price xylophone. Nana and i were beside ourselves with joy at the stuffed rocking horse she found that neighs, swishes his tail, and makes a clip-clop sound when you press his ear, but you weren't too sure about him. you are so lucky to have such wonderful family close by, and i only wish we were able to see all our other family as often! 

your curiosity is growing by leaps and bounds, and when i pick you up from daycare, i often find you climbing up on the foam mats by the window to watch the older kids. a few weeks ago, you were "helping" me unload the dishwasher, and when i turned around for a few moments to put away the silverware, you quickly took the opportunity to climb in the dishwasher! and after you discovered how much fun it was to pull all my cookbooks off the low bookcase in the kitchen, i moved them and put your own toys and books there so you have your own special place to play. 

you now say "bye-bye" (and wave), "up-up" or "MAH-MAH!" if you want something, "hi", "bay-bay" for baby (your reflection in the mirror, your dolls, and other babies in the nursery), and of course your favourite words, "pup-pup" and "ti-ti" for Kaiser and the cats. if we correct you, you shake your head "no" very solemnly. and yesterday for the first time, you signed "please" when i asked you to say it, before i could model it for you. and i absolutely love when you hum to yourself while you're playing or before i get you out of your crib in the morning.

the blazing leaves and crisp air remind me of this time last year, when we were anxiously awaiting your arrival, wondering what kind of a baby you'd be. and every day, when i kiss your cheeks and lay you down to sleep with your arm curled around your seahorse, i think: you're the best kind of baby. ours. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

follow the star

yeppppp, i went there with the cheesiest title imaginable for this little post about our trip to Bethlehem, PA last weekend to celebrate our fourth anniversary. it was such a good time. i think we probably would have had a phenomenal experience anywhere we had a whole 24 hours to ourselves, but when you throw in Oktoberfest and a bunch of museums? homerun for the Wills! 

my vacation-planning style is equal parts Hardcore Booking Everything In Advance + Let's Leave a Little Free Time to See What Tickles Our Fancy. aka i spend ridiculous amounts of time on Trip Advisor poring over hotel reviews and coming up with a rough framework for activities before we leave, but if we stumble across something more awesome when we're actually there, well then it was Meant To Be. sadly, there weren't any rooms left at the historic Hotel Bethlehem when i started sleuthing last month, since our trip happened to fall over Columbus Day weekend. i'm determined to go back at some point and stay there, because the hotel is built on the site of the first house in the Moravian settlement, where Count Zinzendorf stayed on Christmas Eve in 1741 when he officially named the town Bethlehem. but we had an absolutely lovely experience at the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott just ten minutes up the road, whose free hot breakfast consisted of perfectly seasoned scrambled eggs, biscuits & sausage gravy, and waffles (unlike many other free "hot" breakfasts i have grumpily consumed). 

originally we had planned to drive out to Martinsburg on Friday night, drop Greta off with Nick's parents, and then drive the remaining 3 hours to Bethlehem. but as mice and men (and my friends and family) know well, actually getting out the door seems to take five times longer than i think it will. so by the time we got to Martinsburg, we figured we'd just spend the night there and start our actual Anniversary Celebration on Saturday. and i'm glad we did. leaving Greta was harder than i had imagined and i don't think i could have done it for two nights. it wasn't that i was worried about her -- i knew she'd have a great time, and i felt much better leaving her to sleep in a new pack'n'play in an unfamiliar room knowing that she had slept there with me on Friday night and done just fine. but i just missed tickling her little belly, kissing the delicious hollow at the nape of her neck, and melting at her secret little smiles. 

all that aside, it was So. Good. SO. GOOD. to be able to focus just on my handsome husband. to explore the Bethlehem Steelworks, and drink liters of Yuengling Oktoberfest and eat German turnovers and potato pancakes with sour cream and pretzel-wrapped cheesesteaks, and peruse the handmade wooden birdhouses and glass decorations and German-themed t-shirts and hold hands and people-watch like we do best. to participate in a craft beer sampling session, make friends with two guys who were equally disgusted with the yuppie hipsters, and be given paper Oktoberfest flags by one of the women who traveled here from Northern Germany to provide consulting services for the event. to go to mass together. to hold hands while exploring historic downtown Bethlehem, touring the Moravian Museum (Gemein Haus) and walking around the grounds of the Burnside Plantation, where organ-builder David Tannenberg lived in the 1760s. to relax in the gorgeous October sun outside the Bethlehem Brewworks for lunch with a mimosa (for me) and a Diet Coke (for him). to just talk, and be together, and reminisce over our other travels together and dream of what's to come in the next few years. 

and when we made it back to Martinsburg on Sunday evening, the look on Greta's face when we came through the door was about the cutest thing i've ever seen. she was happily sitting in her high chair with her new sippy cup from Nana with the light-up ice cube inside, eating a snack, but when she saw us, she gasped and smiled so brightly i thought she might actually burst into tears of joy. 

so the moral of the story is: go to Bethlehem (or, you know, down the street to your favourite hole-in-the-wall diner). for an evening, for an overnight trip, for a weekend. and all those experts who talk about the importance of spending time together as a couple -- they know their stuff.