Friday, November 29, 2013

Every Thanksgiving Is Different

Yesterday marked the first Thanksgiving we've spent in Ohio since 2006, and the first under our own roof since 2008. It was lovely spending the holiday with family -- this year, with Paul's -- but even when we were away from home we made sure to do something special to mark the occasion. Often that meant vacation.

Often, but not always. Here's how we spent Thanksgiving in the New York years.

2012: Hospital. Edith was born shortly before noon the day before, and I barely left the bed. We watched part of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV in my hospital room. By far the most exciting Thanksgiving we've ever had!

2011: Boston. We left Brooklyn on Thanksgiving morning and walked around Cambridge before checking into our hotel and eating a Malaysian meal for our Thanksgiving supper.

2010: Argentina & Uruguay. We spent Thanksgiving week in Buenos Aires and got tickets this day to cross the Rio de la Plata to Colonia, Uruguay, a quaint town just a short boat ride away and a perfect day trip. It's the only Thanksgiving I've spent in two countries. No turkey on this Thanksgiving either: We had dinner at a Peruvian restaurant.

2009: Japan. The morning was spent in Tokyo, followed by a bullet train ride to Kyoto. In the city, we visited Fushimi Inari-taisya Shrine, climbed hundreds of steps up and through the famous orange gates and watched the sun set below some hills beyond Kyoto. That night we ate eel and rice in Gion.

2008: Brooklyn. We stayed in the entire holiday, but the night before we went to the Upper West Side to see the inflated balloons ready for the next day's parade. Cold and crowded. Not as much fun as the parade itself, but I'm glad we saw it.

2007: Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade! We had moved to New York just the month before, and I hesitated about whether to go to the parade. I'd wanted to see it in person since I was small, but the practical side of me said it would be too cold and crowded. We went anyway and were rewarded with temperatures in the 60s. It was a terrific experience, and one I'll never forget. After the parade I remember how happy I was that I lived in such a great city.

What will the next Thanksgivings bring? Who knows? But they have a lot to live up to.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Two Days in Savannah, Ga.

Don't ask me why I had my heart set on a visit to Savannah, Ga. I really can't explain it. I think it was just that the photos of this oh-so-Southern city captured my imagination. And truth be told, the Spanish moss lazily hanging high from the trees are just as spooky as those photos I'd seen made them seem.

I did very little planning for our entire trip, and even less for our two days in Savannah than the following three days in Charleston, S.C. But I did read "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," so that prepared me for the 20-some squares and the stately homes that surround them. (Great non-fiction, by the way, whether or not you're planning a trip to Georgia.)

Mercer House, featured in "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil"

With between few and no items on our to-do list, we basically did two things: walk and eat. We strolled through the squares and walked along the riverfront, stopping in whatever stores caught our (read: my) fancy. We meandered through Bonaventure Cemetery one morning. We ate barbecue each night.

One of the many squares

Bonaventure Cemetery

Spanish moss in the cemetery

If we weren't walking or eating, we were probably doing one of two other things: riding the free ferry along the Savannah River or pushing Edith on a swing in what seemed to be the historic area's largest park.

Sound boring? Maybe it was. Or maybe I'm confusing boring with relaxing. Either way, with the events of the last year, it was just what we needed.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Edith's First Birthday Party

Posing with her birthday presents on Sunday morning.

If Edith could talk, I wonder what she would say was her favorite part of her first birthday party this weekend.

Was it the fun new presents that she's barely begun to explore?

Was it all of the tissue and wrapping paper that she was practically swimming in?

Was it the cream cheese frosting from her birthday cupcake that she eagerly shoveled into her mouth?

Or was it the constant attention and praise that she garnered from her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins that gathered at our house Saturday?

Whatever she would say was her favorite, I think she would agree that there wasn't much that she disliked. Even her white tights and the pink frilly dress that I once wore as a toddler didn't seem to bother her. She was a happy-go-lucky baby on a happy-go-lucky day.

I couldn't have asked for a better first birthday party for my baby. Or I should say, my toddler. But she'll always be my baby, right?

That clown used to be on me and my sister's birthday cakes as kids!

Baby's first frosting.
We stuck a candle in a cupcake on Saturday,
but her first candle was stuck in a brownie
on her real birthday Thursday!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Six More Months of Edith

Edith turned one yesterday, so I suppose she's finally a toddler. And if her age doesn't prove it, her gradual transformation over the last six months does.

See the first six months of Edith here.

Seven Months Old

This was an exciting day because later, after Paul got home from work, we were going to Coney Island to walk along the boardwalk, eat and see the Cyclones -- her first baseball game. I believe it was also her first view of the ocean: the real ocean, and not just the harbor.

Eight Months Old

This was taken the day we moved from New York to Ohio. The only piece of furniture we had in our Brooklyn apartment was a navy blue butterfly chair, so there she sat. I was upset that we were leaving, and Paul was frustrated that it was taking so long to check off all of the last-minute items on our to-do list. But I wouldn't leave the apartment without getting this photo first.

Nine Months Old

August 21, the day this photo was taken, was our first full day in our new house in Clintonville. Just like the previous month, our furniture selection was limited: our stuff hadn't yet been delivered. So this picture was taken on the wicker furniture on the front porch that the previous owners had left behind.

Ten Months Old

September and still a little warm, even as the sun set. I think this was her first time sitting in our backyard, and it certainly was not the last time she treated leaves as playthings.

Eleven Months Old

This is the first photo in which she truly starts to look like a toddler to me. Pretty, and pretty bittersweet.

Twelve Months Old -- 1 Year!

All grown up! It wasn't too cold outside yesterday, so I hurried a few photos on our backyard swing. The neighbors were having their gutters cleaned at the same time, so it was hard to focus her attention on the camera and not their house. Happy birthday, Edith!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

On Edith Turning 1

Edith turns one tomorrow. And just as I've now gone through every season with her, I've also gone through every emotion.

Joy when she arrived, and every day since. Despair after each "mommy fail" that I could ever live up to my own expectations.

Pride when she learns a new skill, or looks up at me for approval. Humility when she falls asleep on my lap and no place else will do.

Energy when she grants me a smile or lets a bubbling laugh escape. Exhaustion morning, noon, night -- and the middle of the night.

I chose these photos of Edith -- only a few hours, days or weeks old -- for the blog as the Edith of today was standing next to me. I can still see those same newborn features, but there's no doubt she's very nearly a toddler.

While she won't take any steps on her own, she's a speedy crawler and can cruise pretty fast with the couch as a support. She's an adventurous eater: red cabbage, refried beans, avocado -- no problem -- but her favorites are bananas, yogurt, shredded cheese and sweet potatoes. And although she didn't get her first tooth until Oct. 28, she now has three. Maybe that's why peas have suddenly seemed so tasty.

No words yet, unless you count the ones she most definitely says with her eyes. She's been clapping for months and months, and just began waving a couple of weekends ago. But one of the things I love most is when she picks up a board book and turns the pages to "read" it. Even if it's upside down.

Last night I explained to her why a birthday is so exciting and what she can expect during her party on Saturday. When I showed her how to blow out a candle, I pretended her wispy hair was the flame. She loves that. She might not understand why her birthday is so important, but she does understand that we make her happy. And vice versa.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Low Country Vacation: Savannah, Ga., and Charleston, S.C.

Savannah, Georgia

Our vacation last week was unlike any other for one reason alone -- we had a third person tagging along.

Spending a week in Savannah, Ga., and Charleston, S.C., wasn't all that exciting, but it was extremely low-key. That was exactly what we were looking for since this would be our first overnight trip with Edith that didn't involve staying with a relative.

Of course, our move this summer put any vacation on hold. So while Paul and I had thrown around the idea of visiting the southern Atlantic coast, we didn't decide for sure until just about a month ago. That didn't leave much time to plan, and anyone who knows me knows that I'm a planner. Our "plan" to take things as they came was made simpler since neither Savannah nor Charleston have any large attractions -- no Space Needle, no Empire State Building. But they are excellent cities in which to walk and eat: two things easy to do with an almost-one-year-old.

The trip involved some long car rides: Almost 9 hours to Charlotte, N.C., where we spent the first night; 4 hours to Savannah the next day; several hours in the car as we drove around Hilton Head Island and then on to Charleston; and finally 11 hours from Charleston back to Columbus. Luckily Edith is a great car rider -- we assume it's because of all of those 10-hour drives between New York and Columbus during the first 8 months of her life!

I'll be publishing a few blog posts about the cities and the food (So much barbecue! So many grits!) off and on over the next few weeks. Enjoy.

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Few Fall Photos

Fall has officially arrived in Clintonville, and with it -- my very own fall break. No blog posts at all next week, but Pay a Visit will return on Monday, Nov. 18. And later that week: Edith's 1st birthday!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Visiting Schmidt's German Buffet in Columbus

Two things Ohio does much better than New York are buffets and mid-priced German food. And they both come together at Schmidt's.

Schmidt's is a well-known German restaurant located -- where else? -- in the German Village neighborhood near downtown Columbus. It's known for two things itself: cream puffs and an excellent buffet.

Paul and our little Fräulein

We partook in the latter a few weeks ago, for lunch on a Saturday. Sure, there are sausages aplenty on the buffet, but I'm mainly in it for the spaetzle, hot German potato salad and red cabbage.

A trip to the buffet, sideways.

Surprisingly, Edith is turning into a little Fräulein as well. We had our camera all poised for her reaction to sauerkraut and red cabbage, but it might as well have been the blandest potato for all she cared. A girl after my heart!


Although Schmidt's cream puffs get raves, I'm not a fan. But I love, love, love the pie. The buffet is filling, so a giant slice of chocolate cream pie is an excellent end to the day.

Cream pies, blurry but delicious.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Congrats, Paul: NYC Marathon Runner!

Congratulations to Paul, who finished the New York City Marathon in 4:13:44. I spoke with him after he crossed the finish line yesterday -- he was feeling good and was pleased with his time. He returns to Columbus today.

About 48,000 runners participated in the marathon, including 22,000 who were scheduled to run last year, according to the television broadcast of the race on Sunday. The fastest man, from Kenya, finished in 2:08:24.

It's been a long-time goal of Paul's to run this marathon, and I'm glad he was able to. But I'm sorry I wasn't there to see it.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween: Columbus vs. New York

I am indifferent to Halloween. My love of candy balances out my active dislike of dressing up in costumes, putting me in a decidedly middle ground.

That doesn't mean I'll deprive Edith ... when the time comes. Luckily, she won't remember her first Halloween. I had no decorations, no pumpkins, no nothing except for a Halloween outfit (not a costume) that she got as a gift when she was born. But we did hand out chocolate to the trick-or-treaters.

At our apartment in New York, we got no costumed kids. The building was locked, and it seems that most kids in our old neighborhood go trick-or-treating at the businesses along a couple of the main avenues.

Here in Clintonville, we got about 30 visitors last night. I think we would have gotten more, but the weather was quite rainy. In fact, the hours to go door-to-door were altered: instead of 6 to 8 p.m., it was announced yesterday that trick-or-treating would be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. because of the impending bad weather. Luckily, all we got was rain and nothing worse.

I was prepared with some 120 miniature candy bars, so I have some leftovers. But there are worse things in life than leftover chocolate.


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