Saturday, July 28, 2007


I'm in Boston - well, Cambridge, to be exact - this weekend to do some work at the old office and to go to a friend's wedding. Sunday night I'm visiting my mom. It's my first trip away from Anna in seven months and my first away from Tessa ever, and I'm not exactly sure how I'm typing this, since someone has clearly chopped off my arms.

My flight here last night was insanely delayed, but I am pleased to report that I did not have to resort to pumping in the airport or airplane bathrooms. I was prepared to do it, but I wasn't going to be happy about it. The TSA did let me bring my ice-packed cooler through security (with its empty bottles); they were a hard sell on this being a medical allowance. Still, they were very nice about it all and did eventually let me take it all through to the gate.

I'm in a comfortable hotel. I've done the work I came to do. There's a thunderstorm out there, and I should probably just take a nap, since I didn't get the sleep I expected last night...but it's been ages since I've been here, and I think I might go saunter around a drizzly Harvard Square for a while - shop, find some dinner, and read my book. I don't like being away from Mr. Asco and the girls - it feels weird and unnatural - but I also think it would be a waste to spend what is essentially a tiny little vacation moping about missing the babes. I am stealing peeks at them often, though, on the iPhone, and Mr. Asco called this morning so that Anna could tell me she played the guitar and the banjo at a pirate concert in the park.


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Dear Tessa: Month 5

Dear Tessa,

Last Monday, you turned five months old. You rang in this momentous day with a raging case of coxsackievirus, which sent us to the pediatricians' early morning clinic with me convinced you had an ear infection. Why else would you be waking up screaming in the middle of the night, something very much out of character for you? But no - one look at your poor red throat with its tell-tale sores, and we knew we were dealing with an especially icky thing.

So you and I stayed home for the better part of a couple of days. I gave you Tylenol and tried to nap when you napped, since Anna was the only one of us getting any quality sleep at night. And while I hated that you felt so poorly, part of me - don't take this the wrong way - relished the idea of snuggling in with you and taking complete and total care of you while you recuperated. Even though I did a lot of work from our home over those two days, I still felt like you and I were insulated from everything else out there. Just you and me taking care of you until we were ready to get back out there.

And when we are out there, you are one social baby. You smile at anything that moves, and you grab for just about anything that catches your eye. Lucky for us you're stuck in your infant seat during most of our outings and can't go toppling piles of pretty things in stores. But you love people. All anyone has to do is give you a sideways glance, and you're showering them with Tessa love. Which, in your case, is a giant 2-tooth grin that would melt the polar ice caps faster than global warming. And when you laugh, there's just nowhere else I'd rather be than with you, doing whatever it takes to keep that wonderful noise coming.

You're getting so strong! Tummy time used to be a battle - you gamely putting up with it for a minute or two and then wailing away until we stopped the torture. But now you roll all over the place, often winding up on your tummy where you push up to look into the mirror on your playmat or to grin at us with a definite air of accomplishment. It's rare to find you asleep on your back anymore, even though that's how we put you down - like your sister, you just want to be on your tummy with your little bum up in the air.

You're starting to sleep better at night, that stretch of illness aside. I suspect this is in no small part down to your increased physical activity. A few weeks ago, you went a miraculous 8 1/2 hours straight. At the time, I wanted to hold a parade in your honor, but then you started getting pretty consistent with the longer stretches of sleep. They're not always as long as that 8 1/2 hour marvel, but they're pretty solid. You know nighttime, and I have to believe the rest will follow. You have your bad nights (you'll know these by the mornings when Daddy says, "hey there, little sleep terrorist!"), but I think we're doing okay overall. If I could only go to sleep when you do, I could actually benefit from your sleeping longer, but 7:30pm just isn't going to happen for me, I'm afraid.

A couple of weeks ago, we propped you up in your high chair at the kitchen table and spooned some mad concoction into your mouth. Okay, it was just rice cereal. From the look on your face, though, you'd think we'd just slipped you a nice toxic waste cocktail. But just for the first bite...once we're through that one, you've been diving for the spoon like a baby bird. I have to say, it's pretty fun to have all four of us sitting down to dinner together, even if that does involve your sister declaring herself "all done" five minutes in and you arching your back to be freed from your little rice cereal prison five minutes after that. I imagine this is a preview of things to come.

I'm still at that place, Tessa, where every time I watch you while you're nursing, or sleeping, or playing, I realize that this is the last time I will see a child of mine at this age. It brings me up short every single time. You have completed our family, and I cannot imagine any greater joy than the one I know with your daddy, you, and Anna. And yet, I find myself grabbing out at these fleeting moments, determined to hold them in a perfect tableau in my mind. I can't be allowed to forget them, for, sleep deprivation aside, I have never been happier in my life. Thank you.


Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The 4th

We took the plunge tonight and brought the girls to a party near DC. Said party was held at a friend's condo. Said condo has an amazing view of the National Mall, and, hence the DC fireworks. We knew it would be a later and more involved night than either wee one is used to, but we thought we'd give it a try.

It was basically a resounding success until the drive home, during which there was traffic (shocker) and a screaming baby (shocker). And yet, I'm really glad we went.

I like the Fourth of July just fine. It's never been one of those gotta-do-all-the-traditional-stuff holidays for me in the way that Thanksgiving or Christmas are, but it's just fine with its cookouts and fireworks and marches.

This year, though, things felt a little different. I sat there on my friend's terrace, with Anna curled up in my lap ("I'm sleepy, Mama" - but unable to resist turning around to watch some of the fireworks, which she later pronounced "a little scary" but "much better" for having been seen from the vantage point of my lap). Mr. Asco stood nearby, with Tessa sound asleep in his arms.

We watched the fireworks light up the sky with the Washington Monument and the Capitol providing a picture-perfect backdrop. And I thought, for all the things I think this country is doing wrong right now, and for all the ways I think we've probably made this world a scarier place to be, there it goes: my heart skipping a beat when I saw that scene. I held my daughter close while we all broke into a gorgeous (and harmonized!) rendition of the national anthem, and I thought, well, no. I don't suppose I would want to live anywhere else.

Happy 4th, everyone.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Okay, I'll bite

You won't find a lot of political stuff in this blog. Most of the people reading it know where I stand on things political, and I'm more than content to leave politics out of my day-to-day ramblings.


I have a problem with something that happened yesterday, and I don't think I'll be able to put it down and get on with my day until I put it down somewhere outside of my head.

The President commuted a jail sentence because

a) he could;
b) he deemed it too harsh; and
c) he felt it would traumatize the convict's family too much.

I don't argue with a) - there's a long history of late-term pardons that raise eyebrows all over the place. But then I run into a bit of a wall. The sentence was derived using the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which the President (and his Justice Department) has long held are a Good Thing meriting strict adherence. Under those terms, I just don't see how this sentence is excessive. Perhaps we will now see sentences commuted for defendants who are not as well connected on the grounds that their FSG-derived sentences are also too harsh? Wishful thinking? Yes, I thought so.

On the third point, perhaps Mr. Libby should have considered the impact and consequences of his actions on his family before he lied to the FBI, obstructed justice, and perjured himself.

I think I feel a bit better now. We will now return to your regularly-scheduled lite-fare, baby-and-toddler-centered blog.


Every morning, on the drive to work, I listen to NPR. This is a renewed delight for me. Now that Anna is chauffeured to school by Mr. Asco, and Tessa is too young to express any demands for her commuting entertainment (at least not demands I can understand yet), I am back to my old habit of Morning Edition and its trappings.

Usually just about the time I'm approaching the bridge into the city where I work, The Writer's Almanac starts. I really enjoy this segment, and I found this morning's poem to be absolutely wonderful and very memorable. Out of respect for the copyright permissions, I'm not reprinting it here. But here you go - scroll down to get to the poem for July 3rd.