I’ve been spending more effort than is probably reasonable on our first-year balcony garden. I keep reading stories about novice gardeners facing crushing failure in the early run of things – root rot, fungus and other killers destroying entire bounties before they ever get going. For some reason, despite all the warnings, I’ve jumped head-long into the endeavor anyway. I’ve found myself gardening on the balcony late into the night and as early as 5AM, right before we hit the road to Vermont.
When we found our new apartment the first thing I fell in love with was this balcony. It’s pretty big by DC standards at five-by-fourteen feet, and I knew from the beginning that I wanted to have it almost comically over-flowing with plants. I’m well on my way to fulfilling that vision, having already planted mint, two kinds of basil, parsley, cilantro, peppers, two kinds of tomatoes, clematis, hydrangea, three types of lettuce, lavender, thyme and chives, with a packet of rosemary seeds waiting for our next round of peat pellets. Sure it’s a little ambitious – so was carrying (and then using) nearly six cubic feet of potting soil up to our apartment – but what’s a hobby if it’s not completely overwhelming at times? Continue reading →
We’re fresh back from our weekend in Vermont, a truly whirlwind tour if there ever was one. Four days total, over a thousand car miles, nearly as many adult beverages and even more pregnant lady* belly laughs later and we can say it was an absolutely wonderful excursion.
*Not Natalie. Our hosts Rosie and Jason are expecting their second in June.
We enjoyed a serious Camp Davis vibe the whole time, cooking things from scratch (like gluten-free biscuits at 6AM?), enjoying good booze and staying in our friend’s almost 130 year old farm house that has a “Whiskey Room” equipped with wing-back chairs and an old-timey record player (totally stealing this idea, by the way).
Ruthie has officially crawled. Forward. For weeks she’d been scooting around on her butt, sneaking her way from one side of the room to the other. Then came the rocking on all-fours, then the reverse worm/backward crawl. And now it’s all forward progress, from DC to St. Olaf (or so I have to assume – we have to make up for Natalie breaking the generations of Um-Ya-Ya so she could stay close to her one-day baby’s daddy, but I digress).
The day it finally happened, Loren and I had spent a good chunk of the afternoon enticing her to crawl forward with a wind-up walking egg toy we got for Easter. Ruthie would prop herself up on all-fours, rock around, lifting hands and knees, at points executing the downward dog position, then unintentionally pushing herself backward, farther away from the toy (talk about your body playing tricks on you).
I eventually lifted her up and gave her a break. Her eating schedule has been out of sorts lately, a combination of the constant struggle with developmental milestones and teething. It turns out she was really hungry, so I gave her a quick bottle on the couch next to Loren. A few minutes later and I let her back on to the floor, where she promptly barfed.
Competent Father (TM) that I am, I moved her a few feet away from the hot barf glob while I went to fetch a paper towel from the kitchen. As I returned I watched Ruthie shift to her hands and knees and expertly crawl over to the mess so that she could poke it with her finger.
If I was ever curious, I can now say I know what it’s like to feel simultaneously the emotions of pride and disgust.
And just like that, we’ve entered the next chapter in babyhood.
Note: We’re driving to see old friends up in Vermont tomorrow, because apparently we didn’t learn our long-distance-driving lesson last time. We’re leaving the kids in their PJs and getting out of the house obnoxiously early tomorrow morning in some sort of delusional belief that they’ll just fall right back asleep in the car and wake up four hours later near NYC as if the day is only just beginning for them like usual. Because Loren will totally let that happen. This is the kid, after all, who immediately stands up the moment he is awake, and who will be ready to start the day the moment he hears the elevator bell ring – “I push the Number One with a star next to it” he’ll say through his pacifier.
We’re idiots, we know. But we’ve come to the realization that if we can see someone twice a year, just every six months, we can consider that close and frequent contact to the point where it doesn’t even feel like we’ve missed a beat. Vermont, Minnesota, they might as well be down the block.
I hope to explain this feeling more in-depth later, but of all the ways becoming a parent has changed me, my concept of Time is perhaps the most drastic. Suddenly the days fly by like hours, I can spend a week seemingly looking for my jacket, and out of nowhere a month has gone by and it’s gone from Summer to Winter again. I almost don’t want to go to bed for fear of what day it will be when I wake up. And there doesn’t seem to be a damn thing I can do about it.
Actually, come to think of it, the only time that doesn’t seem to move faster is the time we spend in the car with screaming children. That time moves in slow motion. So we’re driving to Vermont for a long weekend to slow things down a bit I guess.
Today was one of those days – the kind where Natalie walked through the door and knew right away that it was officially “her turn.” My shirt still has food on it from when I lifted Ruthie from her chair mid-tantrum without a chance to clean her up. That was dinner, and lunch, pre- and post-nap, and our trip to the library in the morning.
“Why don’t you get outside for a few minutes, take a walk.” A nice gesture, the preemptive nature of which I could find humorous later, but I declined, opting instead for the solitude of our bedroom where I laid down on the bed with a pillow over my face and promptly fell asleep (despite downing nearly a pot of coffee throughout the day, the last cup of which I drank at 5PM).
An indecipherable amount of time later, Natalie calls for me to come lend a hand during the final stages of bath time I never know whether to be grateful or resentful of the cheery wonderland I emerge to find following these abrupt changes of the guard. Sure, I’m happy everyone is happy, that moods have changed and bellies were filled, that bath time appears successful and my wife didn’t have to endure the beating I took all afternoon. Continue reading →
[It's somewhat fitting that this would be my first post in over a week. I've been busy, and when that happens I start worrying too much about getting things just right instead of just done. My old boss used to always tell me not to make "the perfect the enemy of the good." I'm guilt of that more often than I would have ever imagined. So...let's just jump back into things like we didn't miss a beat. We're alive and well, the seasons and children continue to change. And this post is about Pinterest.]
Don’t get me wrong, I love Pinterest as much as the next guy,* but I gotta say, for all the great ideas and inspiration its offered, it has also taken keeping up with the Joneses to a whole new level. No longer do you feel that appearances-competition from only your immediate neighbors, but you start to feel it from towns, states and countries away. Now I’m keeping up with the Joneses, Johannsens and everybody else.
*Note: I probably love Pinterest a lot more than the next guy if we’re being specific (and honest) here. More likely, I love Pinterest as much as your wife or girlfriend. Of my most visited websites, according to my Google Chrome homepage, Pinterest actually comes in right ahead of SBNation and Sports Illustrated, in that order (which might explain that Fantasy Football championship drought I’m experiencing right now). Pinterest, sports and sports. I suppose if I didn’t split my time between two sports websites one might come out on top, but who knows. Either way, I don’t really know what this says about me. I’m un-label-able I guess.
The pressure has gotten to the point where we don’t feel like we can just store crap without it being “pin-worthy.” We’re leaving stuff un-contained while we search for that perfect wicker basket or old-timey milk crate, when the truth is we just need something to house random cleaners and chemicals under the bathroom sink. So without further ado, here’s my totally Pinnable storage solution:
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a box of shit I’m never going to look at or display for others. It lives under my bathroom sink next to a half-full (or empty, depending on your perspective on life and Pinterest) plastic bag of toilet paper rolls.
Not everything has to be Pinnable. In this case, perfect isn’t really any better than good.
That’s how Loren signs Row Your Boat. ”Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, like a butta dream…” And it is perfectly fitting that he’d choose this last week to pick up that particular song.
This week has been utterly surreal. Things are moving forward, but unfortunately I’m going to have to leave you to with a cliff-hanger for now. I have been informed that I can’t blog (etc) about the process as it unfolds anymore. So my lips are sealed until I get the green light or the hook.
Loren transitioning to a big boy toddler bed; Ruthie only waking up once a night for several nights in a row; We’re on the receiving end of the single biggest check I expect to see in my entire life; And I’ve been contacted by a production company in LA about starring in a new reality TV series about modern stay-at-home dads.
Needless to say, my head is buzzing with excitement today. Any one of these is a singular event worthy of my total focus. Combined, I am almost completely overwhelmed to the point of being at a loss for words (which is saying something if you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time).
I’ll get to the others later this week, but for now I’ll just try to tackle the biggest, most absurd and least likely to actually happen of these developments (so I have to assume, or the world is just crazy and I don’t get it anymore): The reality show. I was contacted last week by the casting folks for an upcoming show that intends to follow around “modern” stay-at-home dads. They found me via my SlowMamaposts. We spoke for a half-hour about what I’m like and “why America might fall in love with Jimmy” (I kid you not, that was part of the interview, and my head now requires lubrication to fit through most standard door frames). Things seemed to go pretty well, and despite having never actually considered such a possibility for even a second, I am now convinced that this is probably my life’s calling. It’s funny how quickly I can get my hopes into something without previously knowing that it existed.
The chances of this actually happening are so small that I’m ok laying the jinx on it – because seriously, I am or hope to be many things, but reality TV sensation/pin-up DILF was never really one of them. If it doesn’t happen, I’ll just say I was honored to be considered, cry myself to sleep and go back to speaking to Natalie on equal terms, no longer referring to myself in the third person or refusing to do household chores.
Of course, if it does happen….lvnekjvw;vbwjvbq. It’s so ridiculous to even consider what it would mean or how things would be. You can bet your bottom that I’d live-blog the whole thing (which probably wouldn’t make for the best television now that I think about it).
The big question, of course, is whether America is ready to invite my perpetually un-showered, borderline hermit, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants parenting into their households. You’ll know as soon as I do.
In the meantime, I’m kicking into hyper-drive dreamer mode. The extended family Davis Clan spin-off is already working its way around my brain. I just need to figure out whether we’ll be liable for giving the language censorship guy carpal tunnel syndrome after they film the big all-siblings-on-deck family dinners. George Carlin would blush. And my dad would bang on the table, attempting (unsuccessfully) to bring us to order, while only rattling the silverware instead.
Being on a budget often requires more creativity than sacrifice. That’s the optimist’s point of view, anyway. I love polenta, for example, but for it being little more than ground corn those little polenta logs are surprisingly expensive. Maybe it’s because polenta sounds fancy, maybe it’s because polenta is European in origin.
The truth is, I’ve never really figured out the difference between polenta and grits (despite eating plenty of both). As best as I can tell, they part ways at name* and price.
*The name difference, of course, is nothing to sneeze at. Polenta Cakes sound mouth-watering. Grit Cakes sound like something you get in the wheel well of your car after driving behind the salt truck. That’s why I’m calling these “Polenta Cakes Made with Grits.” It’s not perfect, but I think it’s better than the alternative. Continue reading →
When we were first married, I think it was Natalie’s dad who said to us that there would come a time when we would have start our own set of family traditions.
In hindsight, it should have been obvious. We couldn’t go to bed at Natalie’s house after exchanging gifts Christmas Eve (their tradition) and wake up at my parent’s house for the Christmas morning festivities (ours), though for a while we certainly tried to have it both ways. Add kids to the mix, limited space, early bedtimes, nap schedules, and a sudden fixation with finally “getting some damn sleep” and suddenly it really is true that you can never go home again, as the saying goes.
Easter has been no different. In years past, Easter morning was a time to wake up and turn the house upside-down in search of our hidden baskets. Mom and Dad were great Easter Bunnies (that’s who hides the baskets, right? I don’t fully understand the story for this holiday), though Mom’s decision to hide a basket in the dryer, while effective, was thwarted after someone unwittingly turned the thing on…Poor chocolate bunnies, never had a chance to have their heads bitten off…
Our current “tradition” is perhaps most notable for its complete lack of consistency. I don’t think we’ve done the same thing twice since Loren was born. One year we had my entire family out to Camp Davis for the weekend. Looking at it, you probably wouldn’t immediately realize you could sleep 20-plus people in that place, but we made it work, even if we had to set up a cot or two in the kitchen. The following year, fresh off the move into Kirk and Betsy’s apartment, we approached the holiday with significantly less ambition.
This year we hosted Natalie’s Dad and step-mom for lunch and egg dying. It was just the right amount of low-key, yummy food and science for a Sunday at this point in our lives that it was perfect. And to be honest, not having to leave the house was fantastic. Because going to visit everyone else is great, but 30 minutes of car napping is no replacement for the two or three hour daily hibernation we’re accustomed to.