Thanksgiving in PA 2016

Thanksgiving in PA 2016

We traveled to Pennsylvania to spend Thanksgiving there. It’s my family’s year for Thanksgiving but given everything that’s happened, we really weren’t planning on going up. My dad called me a week or so before and told me that his wife and her kids would be away and that he’d be on his own, so that’s all I needed. We made an impromptu trip and got to spend a few days with my dad, alone, before his wife returned. It was really nice. I haven’t had time with my dad like that nor seen him act normal in years.

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I was originally worried about how our now-two-year-old would handle the almost seven hour trip, but she did fairly well! We left early from work, picked up Evangeline, and packed up the car. We made pretty good time and Evangeline took a nap. I think we rolled into my dad’s house at around seven or so.

We arrived the night before Thanksgiving, so when we woke up, it was turkey time. Evangeline, unfortunately, had a very disrupted car ride due to the trip so she woke up around 5am… my dad was up, too. We watched television and talked; Evangeline actually went back to bed and then dad started cooking. All-in-all, it was a pretty good Thanksgiving with only minimal drama. My dad’s wife’s daughter came over… and that was weird. Sigh.

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Evangeline really enjoyed spending time with my dad. It was nice to get a lot of alone time with him where he had the ability to just interact with Evangeline and not worry or be interrupted by anyone else. I’m definitely glad we went up!

We went out on Black Friday and had lunch. We did a little shopping… and dad even picked out boots for Evangeline, which was hilarious. She really loves those boots, too. When we finished, Evangeline had a nap and then it was off to see my other family members.

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We did Evangeline’s birthday and Christmas with everyone up there on Friday since we wouldn’t be back any time soon. Evangeline got a ton of stuff! We spent several hours with my grandparents and my mother, where they watched her open up her gifts. The atmosphere has definitely changed and when I sit in that room and remember how it used to be, it’s painful… but I also remember that it was kind of a lie. It’s better now, even if it’s different. We stopped by again so they could see her some more early Saturday before her nap.

I was pleasantly surprised that there was very little drama and my family seems to have taken a huge step back. It’s about time. I felt in control of the situation and things were definitely more on my terms this time.

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I got to see my cousin a bit after Evangeline’s nap on Saturday. She played with my cousin’s kids and we just kind of hung out. It was nice. Things aren’t the same as they used to be and they never will be; I left. Nothing can be the same now. But that’s okay, as I’m much happier than I ever would have been had I stayed. I no longer question my choice.

All-in-all it was a pretty good visit. It wasn’t great when my dad’s wife returned, but that’s fine. It took us forever to get the cigarette smoke out of our clothes/etc, though… which was just awful. Dad said he was going to try and visit, but we’ll see.

Two Years Old

Two Years Old

img_6102My sweet baby girl is officially two-years-old! We had a pretty low-key day on Saturday (our actual birthday)–we had to move her party to Sunday so father-in-law could attend. He was able to get out of work early enough to go out to dinner, which was nice! Evangeline and I shared a piece of tasty cake and we all had a nice evening. The in-laws bought me a cute pair of earrings and gave me a $50 giftcard to Ulta, which is pretty awesome. They don’t typically do presents, so I was pretty surprised!

For Evangeline’s birthday, we didn’t go all out. It was just a very small gathering with some Elsa-themed decorations. I had her cake made by a local bakery which I picked up the Friday we returned home… it was a cute little cake and quite delicious, too!

I’m not hugely great with parties and my birthday has always been a pretty dismal time, so I am trying my best to make every birthday for Evangeline special, even if it’s not a huge affair. Intimate, family gatherings can be nice, too!

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I was so happy when Evangeline woke up from her nap and saw all of the decorations in the kitchen! She stepped into the room and just stopped and stared. Her little voice said: “Oooh, woooow…” it was too precious. The in-laws had inflated the balloons and then come to the house shortly before she woke up. I couldn’t have timed it better. Even more surprising was the fact that they didn’t just bring the one gift that I had hand-picked and told them to get (they requested this, I am not a control-freak) but others they had picked out themselves!

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Evangeline actually blew out her candles! I had to re-light them and take photos again because my camera wasn’t being cooperative and even so, ended up with sub-par photos… sigh. All my own fault, of course. If I hadn’t been an idiot and drained our bank account, I’d have my camera and we wouldn’t be having financial issues right now but I digress…

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She opened presents with a little help from grandpa. He would rip a tiny part of the present and then Evangeline would feel confident finishing it off. Without that, she’d just hold it up helplessly and say, “help, help.” It’s so cute and helpful that she can vocalize these things now.

We didn’t go overly crazy with birthday presents. She got a big present, some books, and two little presents along with some character sweaters she’d love. The Elsa outfit she wore I had bought at the Disney store months before. I’d forgotten how freaking cute it is. I can’t wait for her to wear it again!

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She had a piece of cake that she didn’t finish, because she’s her father’s daughter and isn’t terribly into typical sweets. The cake was freaking delicious, though. The blue icing also wasn’t messy at all. It didn’t stain or show on your lips or teeth. I seriously love that bakery. They custom-mixed the color to match Elsa!

I’m so happy and thankful that her birthday went off without a hitch for another year. She had a great time playing with her grandma and grandpa; we even went out for pizza for dinner, which she absolutely loves! I just can’t get over the fact that she’s two now… I cleaned out her closet, packing up all my breastfeeding things, the bottles, and her baby items. That was rough. Even though I’m just packing them away right now, there’s a very really possibility I will never use these things again and even worse, that time with her is forever over. Ugh. Right through the heart.

Fall Visit to Tampa!

Fall Visit to Tampa!

img_5205We headed off to Tampa, FL for our second-ever visit to my family that lives down there. Last time, it was a pretty quick visit cut somewhat short by our horrendous travel issues. This time, we were going for an entire week! Luckily, everything went great with the plane and we arrived just before lunch. My aunt picked us up, took us to Cuban, and then we headed to the house where we spent the evening chilling out and just settling in.

Saturday we went shopping at the outlets. We went to a different one this time and it was a lot nicer, but the stores were smaller. I snagged a really nice purse for $50. I’m sad that my Fossil purse is pretty much dead, but it’s been through a lot and I’ve been using it sans a zipper since Key West. Birds or not, it’s time to call it quits on the purse. We picked up some stuff for Evangeline and since they had a LOFT outlet there, I grabbed some tops. I’m still looking for pants that fit…

Sunday, we spent the first part hanging out at the house and then the second part at this amazing beach in St. Pete! We went there last time, too… when Evangeline had the flu and was running a fever, but we had no idea she was actually sick. This time, she loved it! She ran around yelling “beach!” “sand!” and kept throwing sand all over the place. We finally got her in the water, too. It was awesome to watch her goofing around and just having a blast.

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Monday was our trip to the aquarium in downtown Tampa with my dad’s dad. We had a lot of fun. Evangeline immediately started calling out “fish!” and pointing at all of the cool fish. They had some super cute otters, there, too. We barely got to see the penguin they had out for some sort of talk they were doing. Someday, I will get to see penguins…

When we got back from the aquarium, we hung out at the house. It was really nice having plenty of time to see everyone and just sort of have moments where we weren’t constantly going.

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Tuesday was one of the most exciting days of all! It was Evangeline (and my) first time at Disney. We went to the Magic Kingdom and she had an absolute blast. She danced at almost all of the street parties, she met Ariel, she went on a couple of rides, bought some cool stuff, and even got to see parts of the Christmas program that included Elsa and a second one that had her changing Cinderella’s Castle to ice! That part was super impressive. Unfortunately, my aunt had no idea they had started the Christmas stuff, so we didn’t have tickets to Mickey’s Christmas Party which meant we had to leave at 7 since the park closes early for it. We had zero meltdowns all day despite being there from around 10-7!
img_5883Wednesday was another pretty calm day. We hung out during the morning and then we headed out to do some local shopping with Gigi, my dad’s dad’s wife. It was nice to see some local places and for Evangeline to get that time to spend with her. Evangeline loves shopping and if you mention it to her, she will run and get her shoes! It’s hilarious. Unfortunately, she wasn’t in the best of moods but there was a carousel in the mall which made everything better.

On Thursday we had one mission–see Elsa. We went super early and despite getting there only a little after 9am–when the park opens!–we still had to wait in line almost an hour and a half. Unfortunately, we should have just gone on the ride first because while the wait to see Elsa will eventually go down, the one for the ride never does once it goes up. Sigh! So Evangeline didn’t get to see that, but she did get to meet Elsa and Anna and she loved it! She just kept hugging Elsa. It was too sweet.

The rest of the day was spent sampling food from the Wine and Food Festival, which wasa lot more fun for the husband and me than it was for Evangeline. We only had one snag, where my aunt threw a fit because I don’t like French food and she apparently had this huge deal planned around French food. I kept asking the husband why he allowed it to happen, since it was ‘involved’ in the planning… to which he replied, “she said it was for dessert, not food!” sigh.img_5815

Either way, we had an amazing trip. It was a lot of fun. I’m so glad Evangeline is able to experience all of these new things and that she’s getting to know family that I never did. She’s grown so much in the past week; she’s describing things, speaking in sentences, and her language development has just shot forward so far. I know she’s approaching two, but it’s still just an amazing thing to witness.

We’re doing her birthday party on Sunday, so that her grandfather can be there. It won’t be the small ‘big deal’ last year’s was, but I still hope she enjoys it.

Halloween 2016

Halloween 2016

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Halloween already! This time of year is so crazy. It feels like everything moves at the speed of light. I’m sure it’s because we have a lot going on. Even so, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to how quickly it rushes by–it’s my favorite time of year, after all.

I’m considering this Evangeline’s first true Halloween. She kind of has an idea, if not a concrete opinion, on what’s going on. I asked her several times what she wanted to be and mostly got nothing, unless I offered her suggestions. She’s not even two yet, after all. We settled on Elsa.

She made an adorable little Elsa. I pulled her slightly curly, unruly hair back as best as I could and it’s amazing how much older it makes her look! Needless to say, her hair will be staying down for as long as humanly possible, haha.

We did a mini-photoshoot where she sort of cooperated and then we packed up and headed off to a local trunk-or-treat. I didn’t realize it was such a big deal in this area and even though we got there relatively early, it was packed. There was even a long line to get in! Luckily, this is something they’ve done for years so it was extremely well organized and executed. The line moved quickly.

img_4982I was so proud of Evangeline for being so patient while we waited! She was even great during the run-through, though a bit shy. Towards the end, she was pulling the husband along as she had figured out that the people were giving her candy. It was too cute!

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We came home and she immediately wanted to go through her candy. We had hoped she wouldn’t realize what it was, but boy did she ever. She refused to relinquish her Hello Kitty basket the entire time we were there and refused to let us carry it for her, even after it was loaded down with candy. She even kept a firm grip on itwhen she was in the car seat afterwards!

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I gave her a few pieces of candy that she picked out and then when she wasn’t paying attention, the husband and I took the rest away. Those who are barely-two don’t need candy, much less that much candy! It was so cute watching her sort through it curiously, though. She carefully curated her candy and then picked out the ones she either thought were interesting or looked yummy.

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On Halloween day, we spent the evening handing out candy to the kids doing trick-or-treat. The husband and I have loved doing this since our first Halloween at the apartment. We missed last year because we were in Key West. The husband dressed up in his costume from last year (which he is in love with; it’s Ezio from Assassin’s Creed) and we had hoped Evangeline would want to dress up, too, but she wasn’t feeling well and so we just watched for awhile. Eventually she felt good enough to stand near husband and check out all the costumes. It was an unusually late night for her, but she was fine and didn’t throw any tantrums despite it. The only fuss we got was when we got home after rushing around just before trick-or-treat and she refused to eat dinner.

She’s caught the cold that’s making the rounds through our house. It hit husband first, then me, and now her. It’s tapering off, thank goodness. Hopefully she’s in much better form when we travel on Friday!

Embracing Autumn

Embracing Autumn

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Despite the weather, we’ve been doing our best to get into the autumn spirit. I’ve been pretty adamant about experiencing all the fall-related stuff we possibly could this year, since Evangeline is relatively old enough to enjoy it now. The first thing on our agenda was the pumpkin festival. It’s kind of a big deal around here and people travel from all over the state to come. It pales in comparison to anything Ohio has to offer, but it’s nice to have close by.

The last time we went, I was pregnant. Husband has lived here forever and never went. It was our first time and we enjoyed it. It’s nice to get out and enjoy local things. Evangeline had a good time, she saw animals, tons of people, ate some weird stuff, and even got some books.

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Second was a local farm that does this huge thing every fall; it’s basically a pumpkin patch and a kind of fair of sorts. There’s games, a corn maze, stacks of hay oriented around for kids to play on, a little playground, and a big tub of corn for younger kids to play in like sand. There’s concessions and some animals/etc, too, which makes for a pretty interesting trip. We went with a coworker/friend of ours and their child. It was fun, if a bit hot, for being mid-October.

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Evangeline’s favorite part was the pumpkin patch, which was hilarious. She got so excited about them! She ran in and kept yelling, “pumpkins! pumpkins!” When husband picked her up, she proceeded to whisper it to him, which was cute. She picked out a pumpkin by hugging and kissing it! Then we found one for daddy. I didn’t bother getting a pumpkin, it didn’t even occur to me at the time. I probably should have–they were way cheaper than buying them at a store!

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By the end, she was done. She was super tired and hungry. She kept crying on the way back, “mummy, hungry! Mummy, eat!” Heartbreaking. She was fine once we got home and had dinner, though. She slept like a log that night, despite her teeth coming in. She was exhausted!

I loved watching her run around and experience all the cool stuff they had to offer. I have all sorts of anxiety issues and I really, really hate crowds, but none of it mattered. Watching her face fill with joy and curiosity made it all seem pointless in comparison. The place was super packed, too. We did not expect such a huge crowd! I’m just glad we didn’t have any tantrums or fits.

She was obsessed with the slides, too, which surprised me a little. She’s definitely a daredevil.

I had asked the in-laws several times to go with us to the Pumpkin Festival or the farm and was rebuffed, rather rudely, all times. I told Chris was done trying to get them to act like normal grandparents. They’re so strange sometimes. They love Evangeline and they’re not cold with her, they just have zero interest doing typical grandparent things… which is sad.