Monday, April 24, 2006

Signs of Spring

Spring comes to New England much later than my Texas-bred self is accustomed to. We had our first unequivocally warm days this past week; this seems impossibly late when my entire life has been spent somewhere where shorts and tank tops could be first donned sometime in March. The warm days were thoroughly enjoyable, but I find that I did not mind the long end to winter. I’ve never been much of a fan of hot weather so delaying the onset of the warmth makes me hopeful that there won’t be too much real summer for me to handle in our house with its definite lack of air conditioning.

The balmy days were lovely, however. They finally motivated me to do something in the gardening department. We did absolutely nothing last year. We moved into our house at the beginning of June and were kept pretty busy with the interior renovations throughout the summer. Everything outdoors was neglected, so much so that we cultivated a few giant weeds in our flower beds. Then autumn came, and we even failed to rake our leaves. Winter brought a bit of relief from the guilt of a disheveled lawn (anyone’s lawn looks nice blanketed with snow), but the warm weather brought back the guilt with renewed force. Fortunately, it also brought some motivation to address the problem. One day last week, I transformed the front flower beds. I put Grace on a towel next to me shaded under an umbrella and proceeded to weed, remove leaves, and then plant some new things. The last was definitely the most fun part. Just being outside in the warm spring air with a little cooing baby next to me was pretty wonderful, though.

The signs of spring back in Texas are a little further along, of course. The area where I grew up (and where my parents still reside) is home to the breed of tiny, lime green lizards pictured above. When Rob and I lived in Texas, we would see them sunning themselves in the front courtyard of our condo. My dad recently spotted the first lizard of the season at their house, snapped a picture, and sent it to me. I am thoroughly enjoying living in New England, experiencing a new part of the country with all its differences (cultural, climate, geographic, and otherwise). Seeing my dad’s tiny lizard reminds me of the familiar delights of a place that is still, in some ways, home. Stay warm, little lizard; it’s rainy, gray, and chilly here where I am today.

Friday, April 14, 2006


Grace had her 2 month birthday yesterday; it is amazing to realize that she has been part of our lives for a whole 8 weeks, an entire 1/6 of a year. We are enjoying her tremendously and much of life with her is starting to seem easier. Hitting the 6 week point really made a difference. I started to do things like go to Target or the grocery store without it feeling like a monumentous undertaking. Don't get me wrong; leaving the house is still quite a challenge, but now it feels less like a Herculean feat. Our current challenge is my gradual return to work; we’ll see how that turns out...

One prerequisite for me leaving Grace is her ability to take a bottle, and she has been most cooperative in this endeavor. She doesn’t put up any fuss at all (using the first kind of bottles we tried) and it doesn’t seem to have negatively impacted her breastfeeding habits so far. This comes as a bit of a surprise because she is not interested in pacifiers at all. We did not introduce a pacifier until she was about 3 or 4 weeks old, as advised by all the breastfeeding people. At first, she would suck on the thing for a while, with some convincing from us. With every passing week, however, she grows more determined in her refusal of the pacifier and more able to emphatically spit it out, as she gains head and neck control. We would not have minded her taking to a pacifier as a tool to help her soothe herself, so one of those trips to Target involved buying one of practically every style of pacifier available to the baby consumer. Grace was not to be convinced with variety, though, and apparently there will be no pacification for us. She concurrently enjoys and is frustrated by sucking on her fists; perhaps soon she will manage to separate a thumb or finger and suck away on that. Possibly a harder habit to break, but an easier comfort object to find in the middle of the night.

Grace’s 2-month birthday also brought her first experience with immunizations, and thus some serious need for pacification. It actually didn’t seem too awful to me; Grace has screamed with equal vehemence during particularly unwelcome diaper changes or baths. I was expecting her response to be worse, somehow, and to feel tremendously awful myself about the whole thing, as many others do. Oh no-- I shall compare myself to other mothers and find myself lacking in sensitivity! Anyway, in the immediate term, she calmed down when I nursed her for a bit after the mean doctor finished with the painful poking. She was fussy for the rest of the day and well into the night; it was obvious that she didn’t feel well or like her normal baby self. The next day found her back to her charming and demanding self, at least until the next round of immunizations at 4 months. She gets immunizations at every doctor visit until she is 18 months; can you believe that? It’s like the doctors don’t want babies to like them or something; thankfully she is still pretty fond of this pediatrician.