Well, I disappeared from the internet for a week or so, but I'm sure you didn't notice, because I update this blog so infrequently as it is. It was nice to have a respite from my technological ball-and-chain, even if it does mean that I missed at least one Facebook birth announcement while I was gone. (Congratulations Maryalice!)
We drove to Ottawa for Christmas this year, and I can now say that driving 900 miles round trip with a four-month-old is much, much better than driving the same trip with a two-month-old. In fact, she slept a good portion of the trip, and she seems to be overcoming her fear of the dark, so we might break out the old parental "drive through the night" trick next time around and see how that goes. It was still a long trip (about 9 1/2 hours each way), but it went so much more smoothly than last time, since we are starting to figure out what works for us and what doesn't.
Every time I go to Ottawa, it feels a little less like home, and a little more like Home. It's no longer the place that I live, or the place that I recently lived. It has become The Place I Grew Up. Which is special in its own way, and I'm only a little bit sad to embrace this change. It has that aura of memories now, that aura that used to only belong to the town where my grandparents lived. The scent of occasional familiarity. I've gradually grown away from my Ottawa friends, and although it is nice to catch up when we see each other, I'm beginning to realize that the distance between us will only grow, and I should be grateful for the part they played in my life when we lived nearby, and not try to force that level of intimacy to continue. Somewhere along the line, those friendships will get redefined, and they will become that family that my parents would drop in on every other year or so when we were driving through Pennsylvania. Close, special, but not daily, friends.
It's weird to uproot yourself and plant yourself somewhere else. I had done the uprooting thing before - I've moved all over since I first left Ottawa for college in 1997. But with all of my traveling around, Ottawa was always where my roots were. Then we settled into the Philly suburbs. I joined my local church, and canceled my membership at my Ottawa church. We had a baby. And when Jeremy lost his job, there was a fleeting moment of, "Hey, we aren't tied down, we can move anywhere, we can go back to Ottawa or off to France!" But that moment passed quickly. Because we weren't here for the job. We never were. We're here because we chose to make this place our home.
So, while we were in Ottawa, I made the decision not to try to get together with friends. I didn't want to come home from my trip more tired than I had been when I left. And there are definitely some people that I am very sad that I didn't get to see, but I had a wonderful and surprisingly restful time with my family. And all the grandkids. It was lovely.
While we were in Ottawa, Valerie had her first dose of weather so cold that her nose turned red and I had to bury her deep in my coat to stay warm. She went swimming for the first time, at a salt pool, and she thoroughly enjoyed it. She sortof opened presents, and she chewed on a lot of tissue paper. She posed for a lot of pictures. It was a great trip.
Our New Year's Eve was low-key and restful, too. We had a few friends over, played some games, talked a lot, and Valerie decided to surprise us all by sleeping through the entire party, on her own, in her crib, so that we could be adults for an evening. It was a nice treat. When she woke up, I turned to Jeremy and said, "I can't believe she's been asleep SINCE LAST YEAR!" It's my little New Year's tradition. Other people make resolutions, I allow myself the luxury of making that one, dumb joke five times. Tradition is fun.
My family has a tradition of posing the kids, wearing their Santa hats, in a little row, in order of age. Each year, we could look at last year's picture, and see how much we'd grown. When we got older, my mom kept this up, even though we stopped growing and our hats stopped fitting. Then we started getting married, and I made everyone and their spouses new hats, and the line got a lot longer. Then we started making babies. And this year's line got too long for the living room, and we moved it to the stairs.
Wow, I have a lot more to say than I thought I did when I sat down to write this. I was going to say something short and sweet like, "We're back from Canada, go see our pictures on Flickr." But, then again, I haven't posted SINCE LAST YEAR, so maybe I'm just making up for lost time. (That was number four - I'm saving number five for work tomorrow.)