Among the many differences that we’ve noticed since the move, some stand out more than others. A sampling follows.
- Sleeping Arrangements: My parents don’t have a pack-n-play, so at first we put a mattress on a bedroom floor to serve as Elena’s bed. We thought it was worth a try. Taking into account the expected adjustment struggles, her sleep was mostly okay, however issues arose when she woke up. A friend of ours once said “crib equals cage,” and we now understand that. If Elena can’t fall asleep in a crib, she’ll be quiet and keep to herself. Without the crib’s bars, we would frequently find her with her blanket, Linus-style, at the top of the stairs waiting for someone to put her back down. Jenny’s mother let us bring back her pack-n-play, and since then things have been easier.
Jewel has also taken some time to find places to sleep. As usual, she has several, but her favorite area is an old bassinet–one that I slept in when I was just born–filled with old stuffed animals. Sometimes she burrows in all the way to the bottom, but mostly she lays on top. It gives her a good view of the door and out the window. Since finding this spot, she seems much happier.
- Weather and Outside Play: We had hoped the mid-Atlantic weather would be cooler than what we left behind, but the first week here it was still definitely summer. This probably caused some further difficulties with Elena’s sleep–it was still warm outside in the evening, and my parents’ idea of climate control is to let the (outside) climate be the control.
Last week was more temperate. During the first week, when we were outside we wanted to find ways to cool down, so Gran Ann had us pull out the blow-up pool, which Elena loved. More recently, it’s been pleasant to spend lots of time outside. We can go out and walk or play without immediately wilting. One evening we went out and tried to teach Elena how to kick a soccer ball. Yesterday Gran Ann and I took a walk with her and Luna to find some cows, horses, and geese. She also likes collecting acorns wherever we go.
- Pets:We’ve all had to get used to Luna, the big white dog that belongs to Luke and is taken care of by him and my parents–twice I inadvertently left the front door open for a few seconds, which was long enough for her to make an escape. She sees Elena as a sibling to play with and sometimes scares Elena with her playful yelps. She got too close to Jewel once, but luckily Luke was close and managed to pry Jewel off Luna’s face before either of them sustained injuries*. Also, after our visit to Grandma Nancy’s, Elena seems to have realized that other kitties are sometimes more friendly than Jewel.
- Toys: There are lots of fun new toys, and lots of room to play with them. Elena’s older cousins are all boys, and the youngest of my siblings is a boy, so the kinds of toys here tend to be more boy-oriented. We don’t mind; Elena likes playing with action figures and cars just fine. There’s a healthy number of My Little Ponies and other girl toys, along with gender neutral toys like Little People. She’s starting to engage in pretend play, which is incredibly fun to watch. We probably should start encouraging Elena to help with cleanup, because with all the toys and all the space it’s easy for her to leave them strewn about the house.
Elena brought back a right-sized stroller and baby doll from Grandma Nancy’s house. She loves holding and hugging the baby doll, and sometimes tries to share her food and drink with the baby. But her favorite thing is to go for “walks” with the baby, pushing her stroller around the house at maximum speed. Another favorite of hers is the piano–while technically not a toy, Elena treats it as a plaything.
*Another possible explanation of Jewel’s time with the stuffed animals: Luna camoflage.