Thursday, May 30, 2013

Baby-Sized Outdoor Fun

The Week of Water Baby continues here today!

Last week we finally dragged Ellie's baby pool outside and filled it with water (until this point, she has been practicing climbing in and out of it in the family room). We threw in a couple of water toys (and made a mental note to pick up a little beach ball) and let her have at it. You'll be shocked to hear that she loved it. She played with the toys and did a lot of delighted splashing.

Bathing beauty


Cutie pie in the pool

Eventually, however, she realized that she was outside. And you know what lives outside? Her Cozy Coupe. And that girl loves nothing more in the world than pushing and/or riding that Cozy Coupe around the yard.

She's on a Coupe hunt

Reunited at last!

She has figured out how to open the door and climb in and out, so that is a big part of Coupe Time these days.

As a side note, in case any of you have wondered about Achilles since his dramatically decreased blog presence in the Era of Ellie, he's still around - mostly trying to stay out of Ellie's way while still being near the family.


After Cozy Coupe time, we hopped back in the pool for a bit before wrapping things up. And then, we literally wrapped things up for some nice Mama and Baby snuggles.

She is the sweetest.

Overall, the maiden voyage of the baby pool was definitely a success. I think Ellie and I will have lots of fun splashing around on hot afternoons this summer!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Grandma L.

Grandma L. at our wedding, August 2007

I'm sad to share with you that Eric's Grandmother Linane (on his father's side) passed away this week.

I only had the honor of meeting her on a few occasions, the first being our wedding in 2007 and the most recent being just before we left New York. On that last occasion she and Ellie were able to meet each other, something that I think is very special. I'm so glad Ellie was able to meet her great-grandmother and I'm so glad that Grandma L. was able to meet one of her great-grandchildren before she passed. I only wish we had more time there for them to have more opportunities to get to know each other better.

Although I personally didn't know her very well, from my interactions with her she was a very nice and kind woman. When we got to celebrate Christmas with Eric's Uncle Alan and his family, Grandma L. was there and you could just see how loved she was by her family and what an important part of the festivities she was. When we saw her in November, I loved watching her watch Ellie and hearing her reminisce about her own children. I was amazed that she could still remember at exactly what age (in months) each of her sons hit certain milestones. I'm even fuzzy on such details, and I'm still in the thick of it!

Unfortunately, given that we are in the middle of our Midwestern Road Trip, we are unable to be in New Jersey for Grandma L.'s funeral. Our hearts are there with the W. family, however, as they remember such a lovely woman.

Grandma L. with Eric and Ellie, November 2012

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Adventure Island

You have been seeing a lot of pictures of my baby loving some time in the water as of late: at the beach, at our hotel pool in Orlando, at the splash park, in her baby pool. Well, that trend continues today. Knowing how much Ellie is loving the water lately, we decided to take her to Adventure Island (another free park thanks to our Busch Gardens passes!) for a day of water park fun on the Friday before Mother's Day. To make a bit of a Mother's Day celebration out of it, my mom and Gary and my sister all joined us. We had a blast!

We headed out there after Ellie woke up from her nap. The rest of the gang was already there, and Heather had secured a great spot under a large umbrella in a more secluded "beach" spot. We hung out there for a bit, getting sunblock-ed up and snacking. Then, we hit the park.

Ellie also threw some sand.

Let's go have some fun!

My mom was kind enough to hold Ellie while Eric, Heather and I went on a couple of water slides. The park really wasn't too crowded so we were able to just walk right up with no wait. Heather and Eric started things off with a twirly enclosed slide, which, judging by their faces afterwards, was not a crowd pleaser.

Heather is hating Eric for talking her into this right now. Eric might also be hating Eric for talking him into this, frankly.

We toned things down and went on a few of the more mellow slides, some of my old favorites.

Off to go sliding!

After the grown-ups had their fun, we made our way to the toddler water park so Ellie could have a go at it. And oh man, did she love it. Once again, she charged right into the water, through the fountains and all over the place. She had a great time grabbing at the water, trying to drink it, and even getting splashed in the face. She had the time of her life.

At the kiddie area with my mom, Heather and my Ellie!

Exploring the fountains

Hanging out with Auntie Heather

Oops! Water in the face!

Trying to stay hydrated

With Grammy and Auntie Heather

Loves it!

When she had her fill of the fountains she could crawl through, Eric and I took turns taking her through other fountains around the kids' area.

"Enough of this kid stuff, Dad. I'm heading for deep water."

Cuddling in close to Daddy

Get ready, here we go!

She loved it!

She even had fun when she took a break from being in the water to float in a baby-sized raft (with a bottom).

With her foot up, as is her way

If you want to see Ellie in action (which, I assume, means you are related to us), here is a little video of her playing in the fountains at Adventure Island. Nothing earth-shattering happens, but she's cute. Highlights include: a splash by Daddy at 0:22, waving "hi" to make friends with another little girl at 0:29, and a decent splash in the face at 1:11.

VIDEO: Ellie at Adventure Island

When Ellie had finished with her play time, we went back to our beach area for a bit to have another snack (or a beer, as they case may be) and some relaxation before calling it a day. We were only there a few hours but it was so much fun! I can't wait to go back again this summer. It was a great way to celebrate Mother's Day a little early!

The ladies of my family!

Also, a word of warning: if "baby in water" pictures are not your cup of tea, you may want to just check back in here when the weather turns cool again, because I totally plan to spend my entire summer just like this!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Water Baby

I may miss New York, but Ellie sure does love the life of a Florida girl. And frankly, I think it suits her.

Ellie in her baby pool this past week

I hope you all are having a wonderful weekend. More water baby pictures to come this week!

Friday, May 24, 2013


I had a pretty severe moment of homesickness for New York this past week. I mean, they come and go, this isn't abnormal. But it can be strange, the things that trigger them.

In this case, it was a picture of lilacs. Not really any lilacs in particular in any special place, just a vase filled with lilacs. Lilacs used to always make me think of my original home in Parma, Ohio, where we had several lilac bushes in the backyard. My friend Megan (a fellow lilac-lover) and I would sit back in the lilacs and dream of someday-weddings dripping with purple. Lilacs very quickly became my most favorite flower.

In New York, lilac season is brief but beautiful. There is a Lilac Walk in Central Park that is just divine when it's all in bloom, but even if you never make it into the park, you can't miss lilac season because they take over all the flower stands outside the bodegas on the street corners. You smell them as you pass by, a welcome floral fragrance on an otherwise typically smelly street. Their happy, perfect little purple blooms just signal the coming of summer and for me, always put a smile on my face. When I would see the first lilac bunches on those flower stands I would get so happy, and Eric would bring some home for me regularly as long as they were available. Our apartment smelled heavenly.

We don't have lilacs in Florida. We have gardenias, which are also intoxicatingly fragrant and my second-favorite flower, but no lilacs. And I miss them. I forgot how much I missed them until I saw that photo, and then I just couldn't get the image of them in street-side flower stands out of my mind: those happy little purple flowers, a little taste of my childhood, right there in the middle of the noisy, crowded, smelly city that I adored. I love that image.

I realize I haven't updated you much on how things are going with our transition lately. I promise to get a post in that regard up in the coming weeks, after we return from our trip. We're about to really kick-start the Teach For America chapter of our adventure and it's all very exciting; it's what we've been waiting and working for. I will definitely share more soon.

In the meantime, however, we leave today to kick off our midwestern road trip. I will put New York out of my mind as I explore new (to me) parts of the country with my most favorite people. There will be time for homesickness later.

I do have a few posts scheduled to go up during our absence - just a few more things I've been meaning to share with you but haven't quite gotten to yet. (So it won't even feel like we're gone, aren't you excited?!) And when we get back I'll have lots to share about our trip and the next phase of our journey.

So, onward. New adventures in travel and in life.

But I do miss those lilacs.

Lilacs in our New York City apartment, 2009

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

It's Her Party and Oh, Will She Cry

Grammy, look away. This won't be fun for you.

Everyone else, allow me to tell you a little story.

Ever since I had Ellie's newborn photos taken, I've been looking forward to having a one-year photo session for her, too. At the time, I didn't realize that we would be back in St. Pete around Ellie's birthday, but I still was hopeful that we would be able to figure out a way to have a session with Jason Angelini, our wedding photographer who also did a NYC session for us and captured Ellie's baptism. When we did end up in Florida at the right time, I was psyched!

We scheduled Ellie's photo shoot for the week of her birthday. Unfortunately, at that time she was in the midst of a nasty cold plus teething plus general grumpiness. Hoping for nothing less than all the smiling one-year-olds I see on the Angelini blog from these types of sessions, I decided to reschedule Ellie's shoot for a couple weeks later, when she would be happier. In the meantime, I agonized over the right time of day for the session (so as to not interfere with naps), the right amount of outfit changes (to minimize her stress), the cutest backdrops, etc. This was going to be perfect.

When we arrived at the shoot the day of, everything was off to a good start. Ellie was in a good mood, having just seen a doggie nearby (that can brighten anybody's day, right?). We got some great family pictures right off the bat.

*** All photos by Jason Angelini Photography ***

Then, we did a quick change and took another photo I really wanted to capture: Ellie sitting in front of a clothesline holding all her most notable dresses from her first year, namely her Easter dress (also the very first piece of clothing we bought for her when we found out we were having a girl), her award-winning Hoboken Baby Parade dress (Best Dressed Child!), her baptism party dress, her Snow White Halloween costume, her Christmas dress and her Alice in Wonderland birthday dress. Ellie wasn't super smiley for these pictures, and she really wanted to crawl away, but they still turned out great.

Then, I got greedy and went for a spontaneous outfit change before the next set of pictures, to be taken with a bunch of balloons. She started out okay, having fun with Daddy...

And being generally adorable...

But then, it took a turn.

A drastic, tearful turn.

She was unhappy...

And that was just all there was to it.

So, we decided to head inside for the next round. She cheered up on the way back to the studio so we decided to give it a go with another backdrop. We did manage to get a decent shot...

But the rest, well...see for yourself.

Yeah, those are totally getting blown up on canvas and hung over the mantle.

We took a brief break from baby torture so I could nurse her to settle her down. Then we went into the Smash the Cake portion, in the hopes that getting to play with something edible would distract her enough from her Worst Day Ever that we could get some fun birthday shots. Well, she was intrigued at first.

But then, when she actually got her hands into it, she was on to us. And she was not amused.

She most certainly would NOT eat the foul stuff.

I tried to pick her up, carry her around, take her outside, show her some doggies...all the usual things that calm her down when she's really upset. But, nothing worked.

We did manage to get one quick sweet look, and some precious fingers-and-toes shots...

But that was it. She just wasn't having it. Hey, we should all be so lucky to live in a world where birthday cake is the worst thing to ever happen to us, am I right?

Regardless of Ellie's mood, big thanks to Jason and Lucia for these pictures. Jason can even take lovely pictures of a screaming baby! And it was so nice to have them be a continued part of our growing family.

As for Ellie and the Birthday Cake of Doom...we'll just hope she'll warm up to it a bit before next year.