Despite the fact that we live in a faraway land, we have recently been blessed by special visits from both Georgia and Texas. And these visits came in the best form possible... grandparents!
First came Poppi!
He's a captivating storyteller.
And he's not too bad at this feeding thing either!
Yes, it's decided! Bella loves her Poppi!
And next came Nana!
Nana excels at the playground.
And this former history teacher ran circles around the The National History Museum.
She can even throw balls, too!
But perhaps the best memory from Nana's trip was taking Bella on her first ever Merry-Go-Round! After the first three ups and downs, Bella made the executive decision that carousels rock and exclaimed "WEEEeeeeee!!!" for the remainder of the ride. Oh happy day.
Speaking of happy days, one major bonus of having Nana in town was that Mike and I got to enjoy our first vacation alone (since Bella arrived) to a nearby B&B for some much needed R&R. We stayed at theBrampton Innin Chestertown, MD (Highly recommend it to any of you local couples looking for a weekend getaway!). We also managed to discover the best crab bisque we've ever eaten at theLemon Leaf Cafe.
But mostly, our days started out like this...
And ended like this...
Hooray for the gift of AWESOME grandparents! We love y'all...especially the two that we missed seeing this time around!!!
I hope everyone had a blessed Easter. Our life has been so full and busy lately, so we really enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on the hope we have in our risen Savior. Yesterday, in addition to our regular Sunday Service, we had a group of interns over for Easter supper (one of our annual traditions since we got married), and we also had a good bit of fun with Bella. She is just getting to an age where she really enjoys holiday fun.
And so, Bella participated in her first official Easter egg hunt, city style! We have a small back porch with four planters. I mean, what more could you need?
And in case you really want to feel like you were there:
Then we turned to breakfast and a few gifts from loved ones...
... including a gift from Bella's great grandmother, Memaw. Oh, the magic of tissue paper!
Bella digs plastic grass.
And don't forget the family Easter pic! A-hem, Bella, can you please put the candy down for one second?
Okay, this one will have to do.
And before I leave you, I want to let you in on a new tradition that began this past weekend. On Friday night, we were introduced by some dear friends to the sport of Peep Jousting. My husband happens to be a huge fan of Peeps. Yes, I know. Gross. Close friends and family all know this fun fact about him and quickly grab $.99 boxes of Peeps when they come out at Easter just to witness the smile that appears on his face. Needless to say, we always have a surplus of Peeps. So what is one to do?
Peep Joust. That's right, you heard me...
Of all the meaningful and pious traditions out there, I think this one will be joining us next year.
(By the way, we had better success with our jousting matches on defrost... you know, just in case you have an itch to try.)
Spring Break has descended upon the world this week, and I just want to let it be known that almost every holiday that involves some kind of "break" gets a little lost on parents with young children. Nevertheless, I think my family actually captured the essence of Spring Break this week! Part of it had nothing to do with me- the weather here has been absolutely AMAZING this week, and on top of that, the Magnolia and Cherry Blossom trees have started to do their Spring thing... which also means the the oh-so-squeezable baby leg chub has made it's round two debut!
However, the other part of what made this week so awesome I think I will take credit for. This week, I decided we were dropping the morning nap cold turkey. Bella was starting to show all the tell-tale signs, and when I saw Daylight Savings Time approaching, I thought, "Why not throw another wrench in to this child's schedule? It's already going to be messed up anyways." I know that doesn't really sound intelligent, but paired with the weather we've had this week, I now think it was genius. ;)
This week, our mornings have been full of go-go-going, don't stop 'til you drop activity. I was really anxious about changing up our nice little morning and afternoon nap schedule we had going on there, but I must admit, I have actually loved not having the morning nap. Why, you ask? Well, for one...
We have spent hours at the park this week, making friends...
... and sharing chocolate pudding.
And we've even found some friends who busted out their kiddie pool for the first time this year. It was kind of an impromptu get together, but Bella still jumped in... fully clothed.
Bella loved the water, and she basically hated me when I made her get back in the stroller. I see how it is, Bella.
We also read a few classics on the back porch...
...although I'd be lying if I didn't say that Bella usually tired of this quickly and went straight for the dirt in those planters.
And oh, how we've enjoyed the view from our warm rooftop with family and friends.
And the result of all this activity? This girl has slept come the afternoon. She passes out in my arms each day and sleeps a solid three hours. It looks a little something like this...
But this is Spring Break people, and the fun does not just take place in the day time.
So last night, we went on an after dinner stroll to the Sweet Lobby. Best cupcakes and macarons out there. Period. (The loose leaf tea is actually amazing, too.)
And the view from Bella's stroller wasn't too shabby either.
But perhaps the strangest coolest thing we did this week, was take an after bedtime trip to witness the elephant parade. I know. I couldn't believe it either. Elephants parading through DC?
Oh yes, believe it. I actually took no good pictures from the evening, but thanks to Sarah the professional, I actually did get an amazing one! Yes, that's me with my iPhone up in the background... on the wrong side of the street. Photography rule #1: Good pictures begin by positioning yourself with the monuments/Capitol in the background.
Bella and her buddy Behr thought the elephants were awesomeinteresting... um, not really worth the trip.
But that's okay. We got a good laugh out of it. And by the time the last miniature pony scampered through, we felt like we had seen all of the circus that we really needed to see. I mean, elephants are cool and all, but the clowns that jumped and wheeled around behind them gave me the heebie jeebies. Me and clowns, we've had a rough go at it throughout the course of my life. We'll just leave it at that for now.
Anyways, happy nap dropping to us, and a happy Spring Break to all you out there!
Oh. Well then, how about playing with your friend who came all the way over here to see you?
Um, no thanks. I think I'll just climb up in this chair where I can't be bothered and read this good book.
Okay... well then, why don't we put on this tutu and practice our dance moves?
Um, no thanks. I'll just sit right here and read.
While some parents might worry about such behavior, I think these first signs of a potential bookworm is a dream come true. I love imagining this little girl curled up next a window completely lost in a classic girl's novel.
So, read on, little Bella. There are bigger and better books ahead! And while we're at it, why don't we show the world what else you've been reading lately?
Favorite Bella memory of the week? Feeding the birds down at the Capitol's reflecting pool. The weather was cool enough for a sweater but sunny enough for Bella's sun hat. Picture perfect!
This girl is in love with birds. So in love in fact, that every now and again she'll share her Joe's Os with them. It's pretty hilarious to watch the look on her face as she determines whether to throw them to the birds or shove them in her mouth. She's clearly a Mannina and doesn't really enjoy sharing her food. ;)
Most un-favorite memory of the week? The post nap, clingy, whiny, temper tantrum. It's here. In my house. Let's not spend time dwelling on it.
Yes, so moving on, Bella is picking up words right and left. Get ready, because this girl's attempts at her own name are pretty funny:
I think she's just about got it!
And yes, our rocker is officially a jungle gym these days.
I hope everyone had a fun Valentine's Day out there! I've enjoyed hearing about all the fun things people did out there: from traditional dates, to "nerd themed" dinner dates, to heart shaped pizza dates, to fancy family dinners with the kids. Valentine's Day takes on many shapes and forms for people out there.
For Bella, it looked a little something like this:
That's right. A play date with our man, Behr! They had a romantic, candle-less picnic date with plastic sandwiches and huge, red forks.
Mike and I actually celebrated on Monday night with a special trip to the Hill Country for real Texas BBQ (yes, we actually think that BBQ sauce dripping off our chins and elbows is romantic). And then we threw off the whole Texas vibe by heading to Adams Morgan for coffee. And just to let you in on a little secret, we actually celebrate our engagement anniversary the day before Valentine's Day. Every year, we kind of feel like we steal Valentine's Day's thunder. Take that, Cupid. :)
Celebrating early also freed us up to invite some college friends over for dessert and "I Love Lucy" episodes on Valentine's Night. No joke, more guys showed up than girls.
Must have been the chocolate cake. And yes, those are our wedding napkins. How many of you out there are still trying to get rid of those things?
One more quick sidenote: thank you for bearing with me I while I have way too much fun applying all sorts of funny filters to my pictures. Instead of flowers, Mike got me my first iPhone for Valentine's!! I'm currently in iPhone app wonderland and loving it!
Finally, to complete our Valentine's Day news, Nana sent us a little tutu so we could get our twirl on. I think all our practicing has paid off. Check it out!
So there's our report. Lots of love going on in this house the past few days. And as I've celebrated all my various relationships-- Mike, Bella, extended family, and various friends-- I keep coming back to how grateful I am for the love I've been given in Christ. He basically makes these holidays possible for fallen people like me.
Does everyone know what a Cozy Coupe is? They generally look a little something like this:
Except without the face. Must be a new thing since Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater made their debut.
Well, one faceless and very special Cozy Coupe found it's way to our local playground during late summer this past year. It arrived looking all shiny and lightly used, and Bella immediately fell in love with him. Cozy Coupe arrived right around the time she gained an interest in walking, and so she loved using him as a walker. She would spend her whole time at the playground pushing him in circles around the other kids and toys. And if another kid jumped in, she would just push harder and give that kid a ride. She couldn't get enough of him, and the playground experience was not complete unless she had an encounter with Cozy Coupe.
Cozy Coupe back in his prime.
But months have since passed, and many a child has loved him, driven him, kicked him, fought over him, crashed him into a tree, and knocked him over trying to dump their little sister out of him. Yes, I've witnessed all these things. He's aged quickly, Ol' Cozy. And I'm sure at this point in his life, his hair- if he still has any- is gray and wiry. His eyes are worn and googly from all the tumbles. He's not mentally stable. And for this reason, I've stopped encouraging my child to play with Ol' Cozy. In fact, I'm just waiting for the day when we show up at the playground and witness him being hauled off by the city.
I mean, just look at him:
His door fell off months ago. There's a crack in the seat from that big kid that tried to sit in him. The awning is held up by one shaky support. The gas cap is missing. And his front, left wheel... well...
... the tree stump got him. It got him bad.
So yes, I confess that in more recent days, I've done my best to help Bella avoid Ol' Cozy. Upon arrival at the playground, I've put her down to play as far away from him as possible. I've hid him behind trees to no avail. I've even encouraged other kids to give him a try so I can have a legitimate reason to tell Bella "no". I know. I've been mean and manipulative.
But Ol' Cozy isn't going away. Every time we visit the playground, kids continue to fight over who gets to sit in his broken seat. Kids still jump at the opportunity to pretend they're driving him, because you see, he doesn't move anymore. He just sits there. Sometimes he squeaks out a scoot or two for old time's sake, but really, he's had it. He's done.
And still, sweet Bella remains faithful to Ol' Cozy. I'll never understand why she looks past all the awesome toys on the playground and b-lines it to him... every single time. She loves him, mental instability and all. And truth be told, my child has helped me find a place in my heart for this beaten down friend. I'm sure it won't be the only time my child causes me to see life a little differently.
Ol' Cozy, you've been good to us. You and I may think you're on your last leg, but you're not. These kids will love you until you magically sprout an engine and speed off to bigger and better things.
Because that still happens to all the extra loved toys. Right?