Monday, February 11, 2013

Festival of Trees & Victorian Christmas

So yeah...I'm playing catch-up here at Pineapple Ponderings over the next few days. Allow me to take you back about two months to the weekend of December 8th when Chris and I went to the Festival of Trees at the Central PA Institute of Science and Technology and Victorian Christmas in Bellefonte.

This year was the first that we've attended the Festival of Trees. It had previously been held at the Ag Arena on Penn State's campus, but we were usually hunting that weekend. This year we were free and the event had been moved to CPI and was being held in conjunction with Victorian Christmas in Bellefonte. Aside from knowing that the trees at the festival were sponsored and decorated by area businesses and organizations, I didn't know what to expect. I know the Festival of Trees in Baltimore is a really big deal (and it's priced accordingly at $13/person). For $2/person, I wasn't expecting too much from the Centre County Festival of Trees, but I was willing to part with $4 to check it out.

Centre County Library's tree

Angel made from a book.

Brookline (Senior Center)'s tree...

...complete with ties as the tree skirt.

A handbell choir provided musical entertainment.

Centre County PAWS' tree

I thought this was a cute idea for a Christmas tree skirt.

Matternville School's tree

Cute idea for a kids' Christmas craft!

State College Orthodontics' tree

Mid-Penn Legal Services' tree

Health South Nittany Valley Rehabilitation Hospital's tree

Nittany Piano Teachers Network's tree

The Village at Penn State's tree

Mortenson Construction's tree

The Bellefonte Playschool's tree

Loved this elephant ornament made from ribbon...

...had to flip it over to see how it was made. Might try a few of my own!

Very small train display.
All in all, the Festival of Trees was OK. The admission fees went to the Centre County United Way, so it was $4 well spent. There were several very nicely decorated trees (Piano Teachers Network, PAWS) and I got a few ideas to share with Casie for kid crafts at her job.

Following the Festival of Trees, we rode into Bellefonte to check out the Victorian Christmas celebration. Again, we've never really been around for this event in the nine years we've been here. We were always hunting the same weekend Victorian Christmas was held. We found a great parking spot on the street and set out for a walkabout in Bellefonte.

The Reynolds Museum hosted a Victorian High Tea Party.

I WILL make it to that tea party one of these years! Who's with me?

The homes in downtown Bellefonte were nicely decorated.

The Bellefonte Museum hosted a children's tea party.

The Bellefonte Art Museum hosted a model train display.

The ducks of Talleyrand Park.

We used a couple of quarters to feed the ducks...

...and the fish!

Bellefonte is home to five of PA's governors.


Horse drawn carriage rides around town were offered. 

Santa's Cottage was located in front of the courthouse.

We concluded our day in Bellefonte with a late lunch at Cafe on the Park which, if you're local and haven't been there yet, you should check it out. It's a neat little homey place with tasty food and great service. Having now seen most, but not all, of Victorian Bellefonte, I definitely want to go back again this year and experience more of the events...especially the high tea at the Reynolds Mansion.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A little pumpkin arrived!

So much has happened in the last two months that it's going to take a few posts to get caught up. Let's start with the latest and GREATEST news of all...

...that "little pumpkin" that was on the way? SHE ARRIVED!!! Two months to the day from the baby shower that I threw for my sister-in-law, Casie, my little niece Mallorie Jo arrived at 1:31 AM weighing 9 lbs., 13 oz. and measuring 22" long. Casie started with contractions the morning of the 23rd and by mid-afternoon was admitted to the hospital. It seemed like the wheels were in motion and that there might be a baby around 7 PM that evening. Mallorie had other ideas. After two bouts of pushing and no baby, the decision was made to do a C-section. 

I spent the evening/late night watching TV and waiting...and waiting...and waiting. Being three hours away from the action was tough. I think the next time, if the opportunity presents itself, I'm going to high-tail it to Baltimore to be with my family. I'd considered, several times that Wednesday, hopping in the car and trying to get there on time. But I'd just been away from work for a week for a training conference and really needed to stay put and get caught up. 

The call came at 1:45 AM from my brother. He said, "Your niece is here." All along, I'd been saying that I was pulling for a boy. That night (early morning, really), I wanted a nephew until I knew I had a niece. It was such a peaceful moment of clarity. I had a niece. And we were going to have so much fun together! I cried tears of joy for Bill and Casie, for my parents as first-time grandparents, and for Chris and me as first-time uncle and aunt. It's no longer the six of us in my family...there's a tiny little seventh member now and she's going to be so loved!!!

I retired shortly after I'd talked to my brother and my mom. It was well after 2 AM went I went to bed. Bill had been escorted out of the room when they had to put Casie under for the C-section, so he hadn't yet seen Casie or Mallorie (he'd heard her cry). When I woke up at 5:45 the next morning, I had a picture of my niece waiting for me. 

Introducing Mallorie Jo!

When I first saw this picture, I thought, "My little jelly bean." And a nickname was born.

Prior to Mallorie's arrival, we'd made plans to visit Baltimore the first weekend of February. I had meetings at the OMNI Bedford Springs Thursday, January 31st and Friday, February 1st. I rode down to Bedford Springs with my co-worker, Rick, and then Chris and Oscar came to pick me up when I was done on Friday. 

Originally, I'd figured on Casie going closer to, if not prior to, her due date (January 17th). My thinking with the visit the first week of February was that by then, they'd be home and settled, most other folks would have visited, and Chris and I would get some quality time with our new niece or nephew. It actually worked out with Mallorie arriving a week late. Had she arrived earlier, I don't think I would have been able to wait that long to meet her. As it was, the week between when she was born and when I got to hold her for the first time was entirely too long!

Chris, Oscar, and I arrived in Baltimore late in the afternoon on Friday, February 1st at my parents' house. We unloaded the car, got Oscar settled in at Mom's, and got ready to head over to Bill & Casie's. The anticipation was killing me!!!

I practically ran from the car to Bill's front door. I tried not to look at the baby as I walked into the house because I wanted to get the food that I'd brought to Bill and Casie into the freezer first. Then...THEN it was time to meet and hold Mallorie for the first time! And yes, I cried. Twice.

Chris and I logged some quality time with Mallorie (and Bill and Casie) Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday. When we weren't visiting with them, we had a great time visiting with my parents - having dinner at Pizza John's, scouring Crazy Ray's junk yard (Dad, Bill, and Chris), shopping at BJ's, and just chatting.

Chillin' on Aunt Beth's shoulder.

Uncle Chris, Mallorie, and Aunt Beth

Hanging out with Uncle Chris

Snuggling with Uncle Chris.

Bill modeling the "baby bath apron" Chris and I made for him and Casie.

Ready to receive a slippery, clean baby!

Aunt/niece snuggles.

My view of my snuggle bean.

I am SO HAPPY to be an aunt!

Snoozy snuggle bean!
Sadly, our first visit with Mallorie had to end. We returned to my parents' house to pick-up Oscar and our stuff and hit the road for home at 4 PM. Oscar rode in the back seat on the way home...or should I say, Oscar slept in the backseat on the way home.

Heading out Belair Road.

On the Beltway.

And snoozing on I-83.
We encountered some snow on the way home along US 322 near Millersville. We were concerned about the condition of the road as we continued west, particularly along 322 at Seven Mountains. Luckily, it was just a nasty squall we'd encountered near Millersville and the road was practically dry over Seven Mountains. We arrived home to 4" of fresh snow.

Our visit was great!!! We can't wait to go back down to visit again and see how much Mallorie has grown! I soon is too soon?!?!?!?!?