The Greatest Adventure

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I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from the blog. Mostly because my lens on the world has temporarily narrowed focus. I spend my days and nights with Dylan and I’m absolutely loving it. But I didn’t start this blog to bore people with the minutiae of caring for an infant. I started it to help myself feel less restless now that I travel less, to find adventure in the commonplace and to see new things in the places I return to day in and day out.

Having a baby qualifies, in many ways, as the ultimate adventure. And finding the wonder in repetition, when your child wants the same book read seven times a night, or when you’re changing yet another dirty diaper, can be a challenge, or so I’m told. Perfect for this blog’s mission. But right now I’m filled with constant wonder and emotion. Every yawn, every smile, every hour spent watching his sleeping face feels like a miracle. Just singing him a lullaby, one of the ones my parents sang to me, gets me choked up. And I think it’s newsworthy to report each inch grown or pound gained. (He’s nearly 14 pounds now. See?)

So I have no perspective. Or rather, I have only this one very narrow perspective. So I’m holding back until I reach more equilibrium.

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To that end, though, I do have a couple of bird sightings to report. When it’s warmer than about 20 degrees outside (today doesn’t qualify) I can take Dylan out into the woods. And sometimes I am able to tear myself away from the baby and head into the woods alone with Oliver. The reservoir we walk around is frozen over but there’s still some activity. A hundred or so ducks have been hanging around in the swamp. Their annoyed honking when Ollie gets too close and forces them into the air is worth heading outside for. And the other day I spotted the resident kingfisher perched on the limb of a dead tree. I didn’t realize kingfishers hung around for the winter.

We have a tree next to our house that sprouts bright red berries that last through the winter. I think it’s a hawthorn tree. When we moved in, our neighbors, who actually built the house, told us that once a year a flock of cedar waxwings descends on the tree and strips it bare. It’s so much fun to catch the invasion and this year it happened last week. The waxwings were joined by a gang of robins and together the two groups had all the berries devoured in 36 hours.

And, finally, there have been more snowy owl sightings this year, all up and down the eastern seaboard. One owl has been hanging out at the Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area in Addison, about twenty or thirty minutes from our house. It seems like everyone I know has gotten a glimpse of this specimen, except me. Adrian and I shoved Oliver and Dylan in the car last week to go have a look but the owl wasn’t in residence. But on Friday I was passing through the area and detoured over to Dead Creek and there it was! There were five or six other cars stopped, and some photographers with very long lenses. I didn’t even have my good camera with me so I just watched it for a while. Magnificent.

This is the tree it was in, right by the road, and conveniently next to the snow goose viewing area, so the cars have a place to park. This bird must like the limelight. Though I wonder if all the attention scares away its prey. I suppose it could always move if it wanted.

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So there you have it, the extent of my adventures in nature. Now I have to go. It’s been an hour since I peeked in on Dylan, and gazed at him sleeping in his bassinet. Practically an eternity.

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What Do Babies Dream About?

Frequently, in his sleep, Dylan will smile broadly and start chuckling. He has yet to really laugh while awake, but he must be finding humor in his dreams.

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Deep Freeze

It’s way too cold to take the baby out for a walk this morning (-10) and Adrian had an early physical therapy appointment so Oliver isn’t getting a morning walk. Instead, he’s passing the time reading the New Yorker in the sunlight.

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Mouse Movements Made Manifest

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Yesterday, Adrian pointed out to me that all of the mouse activity in our yard was visible under the snow. The little critters have been busy, and their thoroughfares are exposed by the slight hillocks of snow they’ve pushed up as they maneuver underneath it.

I love that, in this case, the snow reveals, rather than conceals, what goes on beneath it.

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Something for Everyone

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Dylan hit the one month mark today and we all got presents.

I figured out our sling so D. got to be carried all afternoon. This boy likes to be rocked.

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Adrian had physical therapy today and then joined a gym to get a pool membership and finally got to do something that made his legs feel good.

His early morning appointment meant I was in charge of the morning dog walk. Ollie found a huge deer carcass to drag around. Pure joy.

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And I got not just one, but two walks in the snowy woods. Pretty good day.

Plus, I got a smile from this little man. That takes the cake.

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Same Same But Different

Same same but different. That was a familiar saying along the backpacker circuit in Southeast Asia when I was traveling a decade ago and it came back to me this afternoon.

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Four weeks ago I was out in the woods with Oliver, feeling very pregnant and knowing that I’d be induced the next morning.

Today I was out in the woods with Oliver again. But this time I was carrying my baby on the outside. We took our first full family walk: Oliver slipping and sliding on the ice, Adrian hobbling on his crutches, and our little baby sleeping soundly against my chest.

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Dylan Michael Hicks was born at 7:21pm on December 20th. His birth, a C-section after two days of induction and the doctor-on-call’s assessment that the baby wasn’t tolerating the contractions very well, was far from the natural, non-medicalized experience I was hoping for. But the result was a healthy beautiful baby, so I’m not dwelling on disappointment.

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We, of course, think he’s remarkable. He scored a 9.9 on the Apgar Test, was already nursing on the operating table as they stitched me up, and had gained a half a pound over his birthweight when he was ten days old. And, best of all, he started smiled at two and a half weeks.

A prodigy, clearly.

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Oliver doesn’t seem too bothered about the baby. He sniffs Dylan’s face now and then, and thinks the car seat was installed as his personal headrest, but is, for the most part, studiously ignoring the new addition.

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We’re all doing well, adjusting to life as a family of four and enthusiastically watching Dylan’s personality emerge. What an adventure.

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Milestones

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Adrian and I got married on a cold and icy day five years ago. I ducked out of work a little early and we headed down to Charlotte Town Hall just before closing. Other than a few curious people who happened to be renewing dog licenses or paying town fees, it was just us and our Justice of the Peace and a town select board member who happened to be in the building and got roped in as a witness (and then admonished by the JP for not taking off his John Deere hat).

Like our wedding, our anniversaries have been quiet affairs, marked by a frigid walk in the woods with Ollie.

This year it was even more low-key than anticipated, since we thought we’d be getting to know our newest family member. But the baby has yet to make an appearance. Won’t be too long now, as I’m facing an induction in the morning. But for tonight we’ll try to relax and just enjoy our last child-free moments as a couple, thinking about five great years of marriage and the more than ten years since we first met on that beach in Thailand.

And here’s to all the adventures we have in store.

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