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We’re back!

We’ve been back from vacation for over a week, and it’s been go-go-go ever since. We took a red-eye flight home on Tuesday night and left LA at 9:40pm. We landed in Philly at 5:30am (2:30am California time). Wednesday was a complete waste-of-a-day as we slept and recovered from the red-eye flight and time change. I took the day off work, but I still thought I might get a little done. Nope. I was a mess. I was so tired I felt as if I had been drugged. I was thankful Tim was around to help me with Adelaide because I could barely function.

On Thursday I went to work and then to knitting. I tried to catch up on stuff for my class Friday and Saturday nights (after a week away I was many an essay behind). We went to New York City on Sunday to see friends who were up visiting from Austin. It was a great day trip and so energizing to re-connect with old friends and their new(ish) son. Felix is just a little over two years old, and it was fun to have him and Adelaide together for the first time. As Tim and I walked back to our van (free street parking in Chelsea on Sundays!), we thought about how exactly one week earlier we were walking down Hollywood Boulevard and here we were walking down Avenue of the Americas in New York City. What cultured travelers we are!

Monday night I worked on my class, Tuesday night I taught my class (only one week left until the end of the semester), and then Wednesday night I went to hear Anne Lamott speak about her new book Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son as part of the Free Library’s author series. I’ve admired Anne Lamott since I first read Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life back in 2000 or 2001. I’ve reconnected to her after I picked up Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year when I was pregnant with Adelaide. More recently, I discovered Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, and I have enjoyed following her on Facebook (especially during the election). I have very few examples of Christians who are also liberal activists, so I enjoy her view on things. I was definitely one of the youngest people at the reading, but it was great to hear her speak. It was almost like stand-up comedy, but also inspirational. It was a treat to have a literary evening out by myself. It feeds the soul in a way that’s hard to explain.

Now, I’m in the process of uploading the hundreds of photos from our trip. Tim gave me a hard time for taking so many photos. I’ve weeded through most of them but still have a ways to go before I’m ready to share the highlights here. Stay tuned.

Back in the grind of the day-to-day, I did take the time to make a new screensaver on my work computer monitors. Now when I look over I see this face and am reminded of the beach breeze and salt air. Happy Monday.

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We’re going on vacation tomorrow. It will be a six-hour flight from Philly to LA with Adelaide on our laps. We have armed ourselves with many snacks, books, stickers, coloring books, new toys, and yes, even apps and videos on my new Kindle Fire. Adelaide loves to look at books and have us read to her. I’m hoping the book worm inside her kicks in and not the I-want-to-get-down-and-walk-around fussy monster. Wish us luck. We’ll need it.

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I just can’t stop smiling at this photo.

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I’m blaming it on Downton Abbey. The weekend of the Season 3 premiere, Downton Abbey was all the buzz. My Facebook feed was filled with friends updating their status in anticipation. Friends mentioned it in person, too. “Do you watch Downton Abbey? Oh, you really should. You’d love it.” I had to admit that while I had yet to see an episode, I had heard good things. It was on my list.

Season 1 is available on Netflix Instant, and on more than one occasion I asked Tim if he wanted to start it.

“We can’t start another series,” he said flatly.

True, we had started The Wire, Breaking Bad and Mad Men and weren’t anywhere near making it all the way through their multitude of seasons.

“But this one is different,” I pleaded. “Only two seasons have passed. We can catch up and watch the new episodes.”

It wasn’t working. Then, Tim gave me permission to go ahead and start watching it without him. I was kind of bummed that it didn’t want to see it with me, but I was willing to forge out on my own. I figured I’d probably enjoy it more than him anyway – it was a soap opera period piece after all. But, unlike the spring, summer and fall months when Tim works on Saturdays and I have the house to myself (with Adelaide) for most of the day, he’s home all weekend in the winter. When was I supposed to watch it without him?

One Sunday in early January I sent Tim upstairs (he had work to do anyway), and I started Downton Abbey by myself, with a cup of coffee and my knitting. And yes, I was hooked. I spent the next couple of weekends watching an episode here and there, and now I have just one episode left in the first season.

So, after being out of town for two weeks for the holidays (read about our 16-hour drive from Philadelphia to Tallahassee with a 16-month-old and a dog here), I spent my weekend blogging time catching up on the first season of Downton Abbey, instead of updating the blog. Guilty as charged.

If I had been blogging, I might have written about how Adelaide loved the Christmas tree at her grandparents’ house. How she learned to say “Santa” and loved to point out all the animal ornaments on the tree.

I might have written about visiting with good friends, going to the playground to play with their kids, and then having Mommy and Daddy nights out to the movies (what a luxury!) and out to dinner with friends.

I might have written about going to see a light display with Adelaide in her PJs, or the Christmas Eve service, or my sister flying to Illinois on a red-eye from LA and arriving on Dec 22 only to drive to Florida with my parents on Christmas Eve. They arrived at my in-law’s house shortly before dinner on Christmas evening.

I might have written about opening presents Christmas morning and how Adelaide was still too young to really understand the concept and that it was okay to rip up the paper. How she got tired very quickly and we saved a few presents for her to open later in the week. I might have said that we opened presents from my parents at their hotel room the next day, and that Elmo likes to Rock ‘n’ Roll.

I might have written about touring the Goodwin Plantation with my parents (the site where Adelaide’s aunt and uncle were married when she was still in Mommy’s tummy). Or, about touring the Tallahassee Museum with the entire clan.

I might have written about how special it was to see both sides of our families for the holiday, including Adelaide’s 90-year-old great-grandmother and how hard it was to say goodbye knowing that it will be several months until we see them all again. I might have written a lot had I not been watching Downton Abbey.

Here are a bunch of photos from our Florida trip…

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We enjoyed a nearly two-week vacation to Florida for the holidays.

Since Tim and I have been married, we’ve been taking turns and spending every other Christmas with each other’s families. Last year we went to Illinois to visit my side of the family. This year it was the Florida family’s turn. Adelaide was only four months old last Christmas, so knowing she would be a lot more fun to watch this year, and knowing that she is the first grandchild on both sides, Tim’s parents graciously invited my parents and my sister to come to Tallahassee and spend Christmas with us this year.

My parents were already considering driving to Philly to see us after we got back from our Florida trip, so they decided to take Tim’s parents up on their generous offer. Florida, even north Florida, is warmer than Philly this time of year.

We decided to drive to Florida so we could bring our dog and save the cost of boarding him for two weeks. We traded the cost of airfare for the cost of gas and a night’s hotel stay there and back. We stayed at a dog-friendly Ramada at the “half-way point” in Florence, South Carolina.  I was nervous about driving 1,000 miles with a 16-month-old and a dog. I bought several small new toys for Adelaide and planned to slowly introduce them in the car — a magnetic doodle board, an Elmo sticker book, other stickers and notebooks, new books from the library. These were helpful, but food was perhaps the best distraction.  Instead of sitting in the passenger seat, Tim and I took turns sitting next to Adelaide in the back. Since she’s still rear-facing, it worked out well that we could see each other and play together. Hugo spread out on the bench seat in the far back.

When it was Tim’s turn to drive, I was constantly trying to keep Adelaide entertained. I fed her peas and then raisins. We looked at her sticker book. We played with the See-n-Say. We ate blueberries and crackers. She didn’t sleep as much as I would have liked, but she could have done much worse. The last hour or so of driving each day was a bit rough, but the smart phone and YouTube videos of Elmo helped keep her calm in those crunch moments. I was tired of being in the car too, so I understood where she was coming from.

I think Adelaide did better when Tim was next to her. It seemed that once we switched places and it was my turn to drive, Adelaide would always fall asleep. It seemed unfair. I wanted her to nap on my watch so I could nap too. I began to think that I was trying too hard to keep her stimulated and entertained. I knew she was tired. Maybe if I would just ignore her a bit and lean back and shut my eyes, she would sleep.  It didn’t really work for me. When I was sitting next to her, Adelaide wanted my attention. She wanted to nurse, or for me to hold her. It wasn’t an awful drive — I mean, it could have been worse — but I wouldn’t want to do it again any time soon.

Unfortunately, we did have to make the drive back home 12 days later. On day 2 of our return drive we hit a lot of traffic, so the trip took a lot longer than we expected. On the positive front, Adelaide slept from Washington D.C. to home (about 4 hours). I was driving (of course), and although I thought I might pee myself, we decided to press through with no stops because we really just wanted her to sleep and for us to get home as fast as possible.

Here’s a photo montage of our return trip:

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Adelaide ate to stay busy and keep happy in the car.

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Gram wrapped little presents for her to open in the car. This was a spoon and fork set. Bonus points for the Elmo wrapping paper. It kept her attention for an extra 3 minutes.

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We have a real artist on our hands. …Okay, so maybe Mommy helped on this one.

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Hugo resting in the sun.

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Peas! More eating. And then, more eating.

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