Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pennsylvania, Visit with David, and Noelle's Second Birthday

Over Labor Day weekend, something very rare happened in our family, something that usually happens only at Christmastime. We had ALL SEVEN of our kids at THE SAME PLACE at the SAME TIME! David was on leave, so he went to Dave and Becca's house for a visit and we went there to visit him, as well as Dave, Becca, and Noelle. He got there the Monday before Labor Day, despite a cancelled flight on Saturday due to Hurricane Irene, and Al, Janet, Erin, and I got there late Friday afternoon. Missy and Eric were to join us late Friday night, and Gail and Caroline arrived late Saturday night. Anyway, when we arrived on Friday afternoon, Al dropped us off, checked us into our hotel (the Hampton Inn right down the street from the house), and returned to the house. We went out to Ponderosa Steak House at David's request. Dave could not go to Ponderosa with us because he had another engagement. Here I need to explain that when I refer to our son, I say "David", and when I refer to our son-in-law (Becca's husband), I say "Dave." Ponderosa has a buffet which you can get either by itself or with an entree. The younger kids (Noelle, Janet, and Erin) got just the salad bar and the adults got the salad bar with an entree. David was very diligent to make sure Noelle ate her dinner. Then he got her some ice cream-- traditional for an Aldrich Ponderosa meal. We spent some time back at the house and then Al, Janet, and I went to the Hampton Inn to sleep. The next morning, after breakfast, we went back to the house and spent the day playing with Noelle, who dragged us into her room,showed us all her toys, and asked us to read books.She also played hide and seek with us, hiding in some unlikely places as well as her "sheep house", a play tent where she keeps all her stuffed sheep. Another thing she enjoys is climbing into her ball pit and tossing the balls out for us to throw back in. Sometimes she tries to get us to get in the ball pit with her, so we oblige by putting our heads in, though Janet and Caroline can fit all the way in because they're so tiny! David regaled us and Noelle with his harmonica playing as well. Auntie Mimi and "Uncle" Eric (who will soon have the quotes removed from his title) had arrived late Friday night, so they also entertained and were entertained by their little niece. Saturday evening I went to a family picnic with Dave, Becca, and Noelle, while the kids went mini-golfing and Al rested at the hotel. Noelle loves playgrounds, and it was all we could do to get her to come off the playscape to eat. When we had to take her from the playground to go home, she cried! I gave her a bath while Becca finished her birthday dress complete with princess hat. Noelle loves her bath, but does NOT like getting her hair washed.After Noelle went to bed, Dave, Becca, and I watched a movie till everyone else came back, Then Al picked up Janet, Erin, and I to return to the hotel. I decided to check on Gail and Caroline, who were en route. Since it was nearly 11 PM, I hoped they were almost in PA. Gail said that they were in New Jersey and had gotten lost. Al said he would call them and help them, so I went to the room. When he came back, he said they had been playing a trick on me! After breakfast at the hotel on Sunday, we went to church in Hagerstown, at Dave and Becca's church. Then we changed and went to their house for Noelle's birthday party. Becca decorated the house with stuffed cows and black and white balloons, and Gail decorated a cake in the shape of a cow. She also decorated cupcakes to look like a cow's pasture. When we lit the candles, Noelle kept pointing and saying "Look at my cow cake!" with her adorable giggle! She opened lots of gifts, even though Becca had said that gifts were not neccesary. Being the first grandchild for our family and the first girl grandchild for Dave's family means that there is a myriad of willing spoilers! Our gift to her was a remote control car designed for children under three. I told Becca about it, and she told Dave, who said, "I'll bet it's pink!" It was, but we did not get it because it was pink. Becca had said that Noelle likes cars and that one was the only one that was appropriate for kids under three. After the birthday party, all the siblings went to the Olive Garden for dinner while Al and I babysat a very overstimulated Noelle. I gave her her dinner and talked to her about going to bed. I said, "After dinner, we're going to put your pajamas on, brush your teeth, read you two books, put you in your bed, sing, pray, and snuggle you." She looked at me very sweetly and asked. "Will you play with me?" I said' "Yes, I'm going to play with you by reading you books." When we were done with the books, she again asked if I would play with her. I said that I was going to ply with her by singing to her and snuggling her. We did so, and then we prayed together. I snuggled her a little more, and then said good night. I was amazed that she stayed in bed even though she was not asleep when I left her bedroom. On Monday before we left for Connecticut, we all went to Lake Tiberias Wildlife Park, which Noelle loves. Missy and Eric did not go, as they had to leave early for Connecticut. David held Noelle for much of the safari ride, helping her feed the animals and telling her how much he loved her. We all held sort of took turns holding her, snd she told us the names of all the animals. At one point, after the safari ride. we were listening to a presentation in the Reptile House, and Noelle got restless. I took her for a walk to look at some lemurs behind the reptile house. They started shrieking, so we figured that they did not like having us in their territory. When the park attendant asked us if the lemurs had scared us, I said, "No, it was more like we scared the lemurs." Well, when we met the rest of our family at the petting zoo, Noelle proudly announced to them, "I scared the lemurs!" I was amazed that she knew the names of so many exotic animals. After the petting zoo, we had to return to Connecticut, which meant saying goodbye to David, who had to return to duty as a Marine. That was hard, but I'm very proud of him for serving our country, and I love him because he is my son. I love his tenderness toward little ones, his courtesy toward the elderly, and his grin that shows up when he's teasing or particularly happy. I love his desire to serve his country and protect people such as his current and future family. God be with you, David, We'll miss you and we'll be praying for you!

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