Sunday, June 26, 2011

Imagination

This weekend, Andrew, Lucia, and I continued our potential-new-home explorations by going to a few towns in New Jersey. We went to Montclair, Maplewood, South Orange, and Summit and really liked what we saw—beautiful houses, nice little downtowns. The yards seemed on the small side, but we were only looking from the street as we drove by. It wasn’t hard to imagine us living in one of these places. Of course, it’s equally hard to imagine leaving Brooklyn, though who knows how we’ll feel in a year or so.

On the way home, I gave Lucia a bottle of milk, hoping she’d fall asleep in the car. She didn’t, and she didn’t really drink the milk, but I heard her babbling like crazy to herself, saying “Hello, hello, hello” over and over again. When I snuck a look back at her reflection in the baby mirror, I saw that she was holding the bottle up to her ear like a phone, saying “Hello,” and then giving the bottle/phone to her corduroy cat to “talk”—which is exactly what we do at home with her actual toy phone. Forgive me while I indulge in praising my baby (it’s my blog!), but I was impressed with her imagination. She was absorbed in her game; to her, the bottle really was a phone, she was really greeting someone, and her cat was really talking to that person once she passed the phone over.

We made a purchase at a toy store in Montclair that I didn’t expect to make for a while: a small Elmo stuffed animal. I bring this up because Elmo’s entry into our lives has taken me and Andrew by surprise. I haven’t introduced any “characters” at all to Lucia yet—we don’t watch any TV, and we have no books with cartoon characters in them. Her clothes, accessories, and toys are free of TV characters. But we have one little friend whose house we’ve been to many times, and he has one (one!) Elmo doll. It’s not a toy that the babies play with while we’re there—it was maybe out once, a while ago—but when we were there last week, Lucia saw it on a shelf, pointed, and said, “Elmo.” How did she know? And why was she so excited?

That got the ball rolling. She just began wearing size-three diapers, which come adorned with Sesame Street characters—including Elmo. When I was changing her one day not long after that—it might have even been the same day—she saw the diaper and rejoiced at seeing Elmo. She snuggled the diaper, kissed the diaper, cried “Elmo! Elmo!” in the cutest voice I’ve ever heard.

Curious to see what her reaction would be to the actual Elmo, I sat her in my lap and pulled up an Elmo video from the Sesame Street website—he was sitting at a piano, singing a song. Lucia went bananas. “ELMO! ELMO!” she screamed. She blew kisses at the screen. Then she stood on my lap, leaned forward, and kissed the screen. She clapped along with the song. When it was over, she begged for more “ELMO!” like a drug addict.

So we bought her a small Elmo. She snuggles and kisses it. She asks for it. And she always says his name in a thrilled, happy voice. It’s fine. It’s cute. The little videos I’ve watched are fine, too, actually funny. (It’s hard to have anything against Sesame Street.) But I, for one, am shocked at how suddenly this happened—and a little taken aback at how little I had to do with it.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Ready for Her Close-Up

Lucia looked especially cute today in a little skirt, sitting in her chair eating apple pieces from a bowl, but as soon as I got out the camera, she hurried over to see "Baby! Baby!" (herself on the camera screen). She's been showing an increased ability to understand "first this, then this" lately, so I told her first she had to sit down and smile, and then she could see babies. She accepted this, returned to her chair, sat down, and proceeded to give me a huge, fake grin, sometimes tossing her head over her shoulder glamourously. It was hard to even take these pictures because I was laughing so hard.








Finally, Lucia as herself:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

PEAS!

Lucia has begun a love affair with peas. It began last week, when Barbra and Baby Alex came over for lunch. We had Chinese food, and Lucia wanted a taste of my fried rice—and became giddy when she spotted a pea. Barbra and I subsequently picked all the peas out of our rice, and Lucia devoured them. Each time she picked up a pea was a triumphant celebration: “PEA!” she’d announce before eating it.

The next day for dinner, I cooked up some frozen peas, which she ate as a side dish with her scrambled egg. She was simply thrilled. “PEA!” she cried before each bite. “PEA!” As you can imagine, dinner went on for quite a while.

This weekend, I made some shell macaroni with butter, cheese, and, of course, peas. This was mind-blowing. Peas were inside the shells! She ate the entire bowl I’d cooked, though I’d intended it for two meals. Of course I made another batch the next day. Today she had it for lunch, a vast quantity, and when she woke up from her nap, she wanted more for a snack. Peas and steamed baby carrots were the food-stars of the day.

Too bad her new favorite foods have, oh, zero calories. Somehow, though, she does seem to be rounding out a bit.

A Busy Few Days

Last Friday, Lucia and I went to the Prospect Park Zoo with a friend and her son. Lucia was thrilled to visit the “barnyard” area, where fifty cents bought us a handful of food for feeding to goats and sheep. Lucia fearlessly poked her fingers through the fence, not flinching even when the animals put her whole tiny hand in their mouths. For days afterward, when I asked her what the sheep did when she fed them, she said “Num num num” while nibbling on her fingers.

Saturday, Andrew, Lucia, and I drove through some towns in Westchester, doing some very, very preliminary reconnaissance for our house search next year. We believe it will be easier to do such trips before we have a newborn. However, this trip—though only an hour’s drive—proved far from easy, as Lucia got carsick on the way home and threw up all over herself and her carseat. We were on the highway with nowhere to pull over; eventually Andrew found and exit, and we parked illegally while we stripped Lucia in the trunk and cleaned her and the seat off as best we could. Horrible, horrible.

Sunday, Father’s Day, we took a ferry to Governor’s Island with Barbra, Chris, and Baby Alex. Lucia loves anything having to do with water, and when some waves from passing boats caused water to lap onto the sidewalk where we were standing, she announced “Sit!” and promptly sat down in the puddles.

Yesterday, Lucia and I went to Coney Island with a friend and her little girl. Lucia ran into the water over and over again and also enjoyed filling her bucket with sand. She sure is a beachy little one.

And today we went to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, where Lucia found the only source of available water—a small stream—and promptly hopped into it. The stream is meant to provide water for kids to fill buckets with, which they can then pour into a series of troughs. Lucia had a bucket for a while. She filled it with water and poured it all over herself. We cannot leave the house these days without somehow becoming soaked.

My back is killing me today, and now, reviewing the busyness of the past few days, I sort of understand why.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Parenting: July Issue

Weren’t we just here? This issue arrived unusually close to the last, thrilling Lucia (“Baby!”) and adding an unexpected blog post to my weekend.

First, a shocker: I actually used something from this issue. Though I usually roll my eyes at the recipes in this magazine—they’re either ridiculous (make your kid’s dinner into a 3D fantasy moonscape!) or full of off-the-shelf ingredients we generally don’t use. This time, however, there was a selection of recipes using blueberries, and I—on the spur of the moment—used the recipe for blueberry compote as part of Andrew’s Father’s Day breakfast. It was pretty good, too. I could point out that compote is little more than fruit, water, lemon juice and sugar simmered to high heaven, and that one barely needs a recipe for it at all, but I’ll let my little compliment stand.

On to more pressing matters: chicken lollipops, p. 56. The imagery of a chicken lollipop is clearly disgusting, but more pertinent is the tip on how to “get the kids in on the action” of cooking and eating them:

“Show him how to skewer the chicken and let him play knight.”

COMMENTARY: I don’t have too much first-hand experience with bamboos skewers or lollipop sticks (the recommended accessories), but I know that my own small toddler, if invited to wield something, would send that chicken breast flying across the room. Ick. Waving food around: inevitable, but not something I’m going to encourage.

We turn now to “The ultimate SUMMER fun guide!” on p. 61 (not to be confused with the WINTER fun guide), full of ostensibly great summer activities for stir-crazy kids. Sprinklers, treasure hunts, etc. etc. etc. But what is with this magazine and its obsession with sending readers to local airports to watch planes take off? I’ve COMMENTED on this in a previous issue, yet here we are again:

“Imaginary Vacations. Take your tots to the closest airport where you don’t have to go through security to watch jet planes take off…”

COMMENTARY: I don’t even need to type out the rest. Just the idea of voluntarily going to an airport with a “tot” is enough to make me feel sick.

In this same article, in a section with the desperate heading “Help! The kids are destroying the house,” we’re given some craft ideas. Though it seems that these are spontaneous crafts you might whip out when your kids are wreaking havoc in the living room, you’d best have your epiphany at Michael’s, or perhaps Home Depot. The three crafts require the following: skewers, Styrofoam balls, plywood, wood glue, duck canvas (what is this??), twine, and outdoor glue. Good luck with that.

In this same article—a real doozy—we have this selection of three activities slated for “Middle of Summer…and our brains are mush.” Whoever thought these would be fun does, indeed, seem to have mush for brains. Some choice tidbits:

“Teach your tots what it means when the clouds are fluffy, wispy, or low.”
“Draw the British flag and find the country on the map.”
“Factories across the country open their doors to curious visitors…”

COMMENTARY: Cloud-gazing is lovely but best done, I think, lazily and unguided. Learning about other countries is nice but seems so…school-ish. And factory tours? This isn’t the first time Parenting has suggested this as a great activity. Am I alone here in thinking this is less than interesting? Perhaps it’s because I’ve never been on a factory tour; perhaps I don’t know what I’m missing. Perhaps a factory tour would provide impressions as lasting as the tour I took in fourth grade of a local funeral parlor, where we saw where the blood was drained out of the corpse and I nearly fainted.

Finally—and I’m spending all my time on one article, I know, but I can’t stop—there’s a new contender in the most inane and useless activity suggestion in Parenting’s history:

“Rock ‘n’ Roll Ice Cream. Put salt and ice in a gallon-size plastic bag. Put half & half, sugar, and vanilla in a sandwich-size one. Place the sealed small bag in the larger one. Seal that, then start dancing to ‘churn’ the mixture into ice cream!”

COMMENTARY: Whoa. What? Salt? Half & half? Sugar? Vanilla? How much of each, exactly? The bit ends with a link for “more specifics.” I’ll pass. I can’t imagine this working in any way, shape, or form, and it seems like a huge mess just waiting to happen. Really, Parenting? You couldn’t think of anything else to do when “It’s Pouring Out…and they’re going crazy!”?

Two more and I’m done, I promise. Here’s one more super-useful piece of advice and guidance, in an article about “The Myth of the Terrible Twos”:

“They need about 13 hours of sleep…so try to make it happen.”

COMMENTARY: Thanks for that so, so, so useful suggestion. I will try to make it happen—what a great idea! The reason Lucia’s naps are so lousy is because I hadn’t been trying!

Whew—and we come now to the last bit of this lengthy rant, a short entry I’ll just call “Stupid Headline.” I won’t even provide any COMMENTARY.

“Got a new sundress? Try a self-tanner.”

We’ll leave it at that. See you next month.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Letter to Lucia: 20 Months







Dear Little One,

Four months to go until you turn two! That’s insane. Pretty soon I’ll be referring to your age in years, not months, leaving this last vestige of babyhood behind. Well, not last. You’re still a baby, and you proudly point to yourself and say “Baby!” when I ask you who you are. If I’m in any doubt all I have to do is look at your small bare babyfeet when you’re sleeping to remind myself that you are, still, a tiny little one.

You love the water—sprinklers, wading pools, the ocean, water in a watering can, washing your hands in the sink. Today—a cool day—we went to the playground, and the sprinklers were off, and you kept pointing confusedly, saying “Wawa? Wawa?” Over the past couple of weeks, you have otherwise lost a good deal of interest in the playground, preferring to draw with chalk or find and collect small stones rather than climb on the equipment (though you still love to swing). In this way, you are very much my child. I remember long summer days when gangs of neighbor kids would cry for me and Aunt Molly to play tag or other active running games, when all we wanted to do was grind pieces of chalk into fine powder, add water, and paint tree bark with the colored paste, using sticks as brushes.

You prefer quiet, calm, shady activities, and the fewer other children around, the better. You are happiest when we escape the city to a house with a yard—you lose yourself in quiet fun, pouring water from one vessel to another, filling a watering can and watering every plant in the yard, finding seeded dandelions to wave and blow. We’ll have a yard of our own, one of these days. By this time next year, perhaps, though these things are difficult to plan.

You are talking up a storm, adding new words every day, clearly taking pleasure in having a way to describe what you’re seeing, feeling, hearing. You now say “Stick!” when your hands are sticky, and gleefully point out birds and ants and flowers, cars and trucks, other babies. You love the word “cone”—pinecone—though only one of our books has a picture of one and so you often must resort to saying it out of context. You like saying “hat,” though you refuse to wear one. And you pick up on funny, specific things. In Florida this weekend, Granny warned you not to lift a heavy-ish cat figurine lest you drop it on your toe. For the rest of the weekend, any time you encountered a large or heavy object, you leaned down, touched your foot, and said, “Toe.”

You are generally good-natured (except for occasional hitting, or when things become overwhelming and loud). You like to stand on the stoop and blow kisses at Daddy when he leaves for work. You like the Little People toys we bought you a couple of weeks ago, especially the bus. When we are at home, you are never without your blankie (which you call Bibi), and you are usually never far from your pink corduroy cat. You still love books; “book” is often the very first thing you say in the morning once your diaper has been changed and you’re on your way to the living room, though “outside” is also sometimes the first.

You are still not a phenomenal eater, but you’re getting better, as long as I stick to typical baby/kid foods like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (you can inhale a whole one), cheese cubes, or spiral macaroni with butter and cheese. You are not the most adventurous eater, which is disappointing to me, but you are only a baby still, so there is hope. You do love your fruit. And sometimes you love steamed baby carrots, though this love is fickle.

Four months till two. Five months till there are two of you. So much growing up and changing to do in the meantime.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Florida Weekend



First, let me get this out of the way: flying with a toddler is hell. Pure hell. It is stressful and awful in every way imaginable. When the toddler companion is coupled with an inability to take Dramamine because of pregnancy—and, because of said pregnancy, an increase in the intensity and length of motion sickness—flying becomes…a nightmare. For everyone involved. Especially me, as I teeter on the verge of vomiting pretty much from takeoff through landing; and for Andrew, who must bear the brunt of an overstimulated Lucia as I try my hardest to not get sick. Fortunately, we don’t have to do it too often. Unfortunately, we can’t swear off flying entirely since Andrew’s family is in Florida. For Katherine’s October wedding—already dicey for me flight-wise, as it’s six weeks before my due date—I’m tempted to drive regardless of what the doctor tells me. And now on to more pleasant topics.

The good thing about the horrendous flying portion of the trip is that it got us to Florida for a decidedly non-horrendous weekend. We had a wonderful time—we prepared and cooked for Katherine’s shower on Saturday while Lucia enjoyed the company of her grandparents. She spent much of each day in the little pool they got for her, swimming and filling buckets and watering cans, sometimes in her bathing suit but usually in her clothes. The shower went splendidly, with delicious food and a prettily set up room. Sunday, Andrew and I took her to the beach, which she loved. She was fearless—running into the surf, scream-laughing as waves knocked into her, not even crying when she occasionally got a faceful of water. She filled her little bucket again and again, ran around on the sand, played with shells. Few things are cuter than a baby on a beach. Then we met up with everyone for lunch at a restaurant nearby.

As always, being in a house for a few days fueled our yearning for a house of our own. It is just amazing to be able to open the door and be out in a yard, a quiet, private place where Lucia can run and splash in the pool and point to ants and study leaves. Sunday night she even ran around the yard naked, giggling and squealing, as Andrew’s dad sprayed her with the hose—she loved it. You just can’t do that in an apartment.

With pregnancy as my (valid) excuse for not joining in the bar outings at night, and with Andrew’s mom valiantly rising with Lucia early each morning, I came away from the weekend quite well-rested. That’s the beauty, the true beauty, of grandparent visits: someone else to answer the dawn cry from the crib of “MOM-EEEEEE! MOM-EEEEE!”

Sadly, the weekend (though a long one) came to an end, though we were happy to find cool, pleasant temperatures here in NYC—much better than the sweltering inferno we’d left behind when we flew out on Friday. Now we just have to recover from the flight.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Testing

Testing! Testing! This is a toddler speaking. And I have decided to go on a testing spree that is driving everyone a little batty.

Lucia is a sweet baby. She makes the snuggle motion when she sees dogs and cats (or squirrels or birds or even ants) outside. She feeds food and milk to pictures of animals in books. She has blankie and other favored friends take bites of her food while she says “num num num.” She gives kisses to me and Andrew. She kisses her two favorite cat toys. She (usually) doesn’t steal other babies’ toys.

But we are coming up on twenty months now, and she has started to test. She’ll do something we don’t want her to do—like start pushing her toy stroller toward the street—and we’ll tell her not to do it. Then, watching us the whole time, she’ll slowly, slowly, turn toward the street again. Once again we’ll tell her not to do it. And so on. It’s the same with coloring on the table (“Lucia, stay on the paper”—and a long, testing gaze will follow as she slowly, slowly pulls her marker tip from paper onto table). And, most infuriating, with hitting. Thank goodness she hasn’t started hitting other children; but she is eager to take swipes at my and Andrew’s faces.

I give her three strikes before taking the troublesome object away, or walking away from her as she yells for me to come back. But it doesn’t really seem to be doing any good. Does she understand I stopped reading her a book because she swiped at me? Does she get that we stopped coloring because she drew on the table and then, in a fit of defiance, drew on the carpet in a sudden, wild motion? I’m doubtful.

After a relentless bout of swiping last night, Andrew put her in her crib for a time out, during which she sobbed and screamed and then, when he lifted her out, clung to me and kissed me. And then when she calmed down…she tried again to hit. Sigh. Using the crib for a time-out space was a desperate measure; I don’t want it to become a place of punishment. We need to figure out our strategies for civilizing our little wild one.

And so we spend our days mostly giggling and smiling and playing, until I inevitably tell her not to do something, and then a round of testing begins. “No,” for now, may as well mean “Do it again.”

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Stoop Sal-ing

Just had to report some of the amazing deals we got this weekend at local stoop sales, the browsing of which is at the top of my weekend priorities whenever we’re in town.

Little People farm set (with all animals except the sheep)
Little People bus (with lots of people)
Little People plane (with lots of people)
amazing leotard-with-poofy-tutu ensemble for Lucia’s future dress-up box
five Matchbox cars
small firetruck
Brookstone white noise machine

Total expenditure: $19. Plus a few free books and two nice melamine plates left by the curb. There’s no place like Brooklyn for great trash.

The only problem with all this (besides our swiftly filling-up apartment) is that I’m pretty sure I bought the farm set out from under the hands of a little boy who was still playing with it. When I asked the price, the mother told me and then admitted that selling the Little People was a big deal for her, since both of her kids had loved them. As she spoke, her little boy was on the ground, still playing with the farm. She had to distract him while she put it in a bag for me. I was a little taken aback—clearly this was a casualty of an overzealous spring cleaning. Getting rid of toys is anathema to an Orlando, let alone getting rid of toys that are still clearly beloved. I felt bad, but the farm has a good new home now, one that it will never, ever have to leave.

Andrew and another Park Slope father shared a bonding moment today at a stoop sale. I and the man’s wife were both digging through bins of toys, piling up our purchases, and the man and Andrew were shaking their heads as they watched, with our stroller-bound offspring, from a distance. The man told Andrew he wished he could enforce a one-toy-in/one-toy-out policy, an idea Andrew approved of. Of course, I laughed dismissively.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Parenting: June Issue

There’s one person in this house who greets the arrival of Parenting with unabashed glee: Lucia. “Baby!” she cries out, and we then spend some time turning the pages of the magazine, pointing out pictures of babies. “Cry,” she says seriously whenever she sees an infant, even if the infant is not crying. If she sees a picture of a toy similar to one of hers, she excitedly points it out. We name things on the pages and all around it’s a good fifteen-minute activity.

Unfortunately, as usual, that was all this month’s issue was good for. If possible, this issue was even less informative than usual—providing not only no useful information but also very little absurd information. In fact, it gave…very little information at all. Seems the editing staff (except for the overzealous copyeditor, as we’ll see) has taken their summer break a bit early. It’s hot today, so enough chitchat. Let’s get right to it.

The first “article” or “column” or whatever after all the front matter is always something called “RIGHT NoW.” This installment was about World Oceans Day, which falls on June 8. Nothing wrong with featuring that. But I found the opening lines of this article just laughably strange:

“You’d better applaud the Atlantic and give props to the Pacific: They and other oceans cover 72 percent of the earth and provide most of our oxygen, so let’s not tick them off. One way to get on their good side is to observe World Oceans Day.”

COMMENTARY: Who knew oceans were so vindictive? If this was a smarter magazine I’d speculate that the writer was casually referencing Greek or Roman mythology and the capricious nature of the gods, but I’m pretty sure she wasn’t. In any case, let’s definitely not “tick off” the oceans. Who knows what revenge they’ll seek?

Next, I just want to give a nod to the overzealous copyeditor, hard at work on page 30 while her colleagues are at the beach. This bit was about the danger of young children dying because they were left or trapped in hot cars:

“Hot-car deaths can also occur if a child climbs into a parked car and can’t get out, so keep car doors locked even in your driveway (after you first make sure the car is empty).”

COMMENTARY: Keep up the good work, O.C. Those parentheticals are what keep me reading.

This next bit has to be one of my favorite instances of insipidness yet—and that’s a bold statement. It’s in an article about surviving your child’s first overnight trip to Grandma’s house:

“Emphasize the fun stuff your child can look forward to. Maybe Grandma plans to take her to a special ice cream shop or the zoo. Find something to excite her, but make sure it’s okay with the host, of course.”

COMMENTARY: “Lucia, guess what: this weekend, Grandma and Papa are taking you to Rome! And buying you a horse!” I just love the idea that you’d get your kid all riled up about something so grandiose that the grandparents would balk. What on earth could that realistically be, among normal people? I’m genuinely curious about what this writer had in mind. I smell a funny real-life incident behind that warning.

Next up, we have an example of Parenting trying even harder than usual to be useless. As you know, there is little actual content in this magazine to begin with. But this month, with the entire staff clearly at the beach, the editors were so hard-up for text that they stopped having things written altogether. To whom or what did they turn? Facebook. Of course. They seem so proud of their idea, too, in this article called “Tame Your Toddler”:

“So here, with the help of a host of Facebook moms with in-the-trenches experience, we share our best tips for toddler taming.”

COMMENTARY: Anyone who’s been pregnant knows that random people on random message boards are rarely helpful. That fact does not change just because those random people have had their two cents printed in a magazine. Because of this we get suggestions like getting your toddler to sit at the table to eat dinner by “turn[ing] on a bubble machine.” What a stellar idea for inside the house, as long as you have a live-in maid.

Finally, best headline ever: “App Your Fam Out of Debt.”

COMMENTARY: First there’s the creative use of “app” as a verb, which is perhaps even more grating than the actual noun itself. Second, there’s the erroneous foundation of this article: that an app can help you do anything with your debt but waste time you should otherwise be using to make a budget and pay it off. As a saver myself, I cringe at the $1.99 and $.99 these apps cost. Save that money! Pay off the debt! “App” something else!

Until next time.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Long Weekend in NH






We spent the holiday weekend in New Hampshire, excited to be heading up to Holdenfield for the first time this year. (We are trying to come up with an annoyingly pretentious name for the house that we can use when we tell people we’re going. “We’ll be spending the weekend at Lamb House.”) The drive up was easy, and Lucia didn’t even wake up when we transferred her to her crib; but she was up bright and early—just before six—the next day, and not much later the next couple of mornings, unable to put herself back to sleep in a new place.

But that was okay. There’s nothing to do there but relax, which is what I did from the moment I set foot in the house. I read a whole book. I occasionally napped. I sat on a bench in front of the house and looked out at the fields. I read an out of date local paper. Lucia, too, had fun, especially splashing around in the pool we brought up for her. She swam twice in a bathing suit, twice in her clothes when a trip out to visit the wa-wa turned into stepping into the wa-wa and then, of course, into sitting and playing. No matter. That’s the kind of place it is: where I can just sit on the grass and smile while Lucia swims in her clothes.

Andrew, coming off a ridiculously busy week of work, took a little longer to unwind. The house hadn’t been cleaned before we arrived, and though cleaning acres of dead bugs from the floors and countertops isn’t my cup of tea, he seemed to take some perverse satisfaction in it. He even dragged out an ancient hose-style vacuum, unearthed some sort of attachment, and sucked up the inches—literally—of dead bugs from the insides of all the windowsills.

But we both found time to do New Hampshire things: went out for ice cream and pizza, had lunch at the Harpoon brewery, grilled steaks, swam in the pond (Andrew), ate every dinner by candlelight, saw a deer in the yard. Things move at a different pace there, and the relaxation and calm of it just sink into your bones. It’s always hard to leave, though not so hard now that we know we’ll be going back in just a few weeks.

We did not complete the weekend in perfect health, unfortunately. Lucia still has a cold and a hacking cough. (I took her to the doctor yesterday; she’s fine.) And I, too, have developed a violent cough. And Lucia has decided food just isn’t for her, save for graham crackers and raisins. The doctor said it’s understandable, given her stuffiness and the pulpy gums she has from teething; but it’s still frustrating.