31 December, 2015

The partiers gather ‘round the spread / Aylon fits you with a yarmulke

First we celebrated the Red and Green party, then your fabulous first birthday, and then came the Festival of Lights: Hanukkah!

On the 6th night, Aylon and Jane invited a bunch of us to their house to celebrate this beautiful holiday and watch Orson (and his grandmother Heidi) light the menorah. They also led the party in some wonderful songs and dance routines! It was a thrill to be part of this ancient tradition and see Orson take delight in his candle-lighting duties.

So much happening in your life. So much excitement and growth. You now feed yourself fairly well and sip cow’s milk and water with no help from us. So I suppose it is not so strange that you’d been growing less interested in nursing. Good thing. After two bouts of mastitis, my supply had been dropping.

Weaning took about a week. You weren’t completely happy with the arrangement, but it could have been worse. You complained bitterly for the first few nights at bedtime, then you were fine. For me, it was a mixed bag. I was sad to lose that sweet, exclusive bond with you. I was also deliriously happy to ditch the pump routine, and I looked forward to no longer needing to provide those late-night feedings.

Nursing session success!

We’ve seen you take a few tentative first steps this month, but you are mostly content to practice walking while holding on to a grownup’s hands. Getting stronger and braver by the day, it seems. You are also beginning to realize that the sign language we keep pestering you to learn is actually pretty useful! You figure out “milk” is quite easy to sign, so you use it a lot now!

After a quick few weeks packed with shopping, work parties and weekend fun, Christmas arrives! The first part of our plan was to celebrate Christmas Eve in our usual way, at Grandma and Grandpa D’s house with the regular crowd.

Grandma made her signature dinner (bouillabaisse) as your family and friends marched through the front door. The house was filled with laughter, music and delicious aromas.

You were obviously much more into the holiday this year than you were as a three-week-old in 2014. You open presents, try a little pasta and stay up WAAAAAY too late. Waiting up for Santa maybe?

Grandma adds mussels to the sauce / Nick and Barb adore jolly Archer / Dinner is served!
Ready for Santa! / Auntie Suzy and Joey feeling the cheer

The second part of our plan involved flying standby to Florida on Christmas morning. Despite the fact that you’d only gone to sleep a few hours earlier, we rose at 4:30 and headed for O’Hare. The security line was a disaster. We missed the 7:30 flight to Tampa.

Bored of gate rooms by 11am. 12/25/15

Then we waited for a series of other flights, but it wasn’t meant to be. Worn out, we headed back to Schaumburg to celebrate Christmas Day with the family. Not a bad alternative to Florida, to be sure. But man, were we TIRED.

Exhausted travelers.

We returned to the airport bright and early the next day, feeling less confident. Every flight was oversold. We waited for planes to Tampa, Orlando, Ft. Myers, Sarasota and even Jacksonville. No dice. You are actually amazingly well-behaved at the airport, which helped temper our disillusionment. Miraculously, Grandma finds us a pretty good deal on airfare to Sarasota for the next day, so we bundle you up back to Schaumburg for another night.

Shouting to be heard at the Village Tavern

Third time’s the charm! We arrive in St. Pete Beach, settle in at the condo, and head straight for the pool!

Almost walking!

The weather is amazing. Your cousins Ethan and Lucas are staying at Grandma Baba and Grandpa Dave’s new house in Gulfport. We are so happy to be there with them.

Aylon, Jane and Orson arrive the following day and join us at the condo. You love practicing those steps on the sugar white sands of the beach, and Orson enjoys digging holes and building sand castles.

You and the Saveras getting beachy / Orson made in the shade

Before we know it, the Saveras head home and Jill, Aaron and your cousin Madeleine arrive! Now Grandma and Grandpa’s new house in Gulfport is crawling with kiddos. We celebrate a late Christmas all together, opening gifts and having a big dinner at the yacht club just across the marina.

New Year’s Eve day is spent on the beach. It was that perfect, warm breezy beautiful day that all Midwesterners dream about in late December.

Beach babies!

Later that evening, the whole family gathers at the condo and we ring in the New Year!

New Year’s partiers

The action moves back to the house in Gulfport on New Year’s Day, where you practice taking multiple steps at a time, to much applause from the whole family!

After the New Year, we move from the condo to the house and you keep us on our toes with your intermittent sleep habits. Sometimes you sleep through the night, other nights you wake up wailing. We never quite know what to expect, but you probably feel the same way. We’ve been carting you around quite a lot the last couple weeks, you’re learning to walk, and you’re starting to demand grown-up food instead of baby food. Lots of change is happening. I’d probably find it hard to sleep too!

Anyway, we pack a lot of fun family time into the next few days. We swim in Grandma and Grandpa’s pool, visit Mazzaro’s Italian Market, and on the cool, rainy days, just stay inside and play.

After 10 wonderful days, it’s time to head back to Chicago. We are excited that we arrived in Florida with a crawler and left with a very tentative walker. What else will 2016 bring?

Saying bye-bye to Grandma Baba
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