We’re back from another wonderful summer trip to Minnesota, where the food and drink flows as easily and persistently as the Ottertail River. I’ll have plenty to recount later, but I’ll need to go through the 1,000-plus photos to help jog my memory of some of the highlights before I do (not surprisingly, it’s all a bit foggy right now).by
When I wasn’t looking, these two became friends.
They play now, just about every day. Usually it’s some form of crawl chase or race. They share a lot of laughter, each watching and egging on the other. They clap and scream and get rambunctious together. One time it’s Loren instigating the fun, the next – much to my surprise – it’s eleven month old Ruthie.
For a long time I was beginning to fear that Loren was just never going to cool down enough to allow himself to enjoy Ruthie’s company. He was adorable with her when she was still an infant, but as she became mobile and interested in toys his sweet kisses and coo’s turned into “No, Roose, that’s my toy!”
But at some point during these many rainy days of May and June, stuck inside our little apartment and with a father that had run out of entertaining ideas, Loren turned to Ruthie and seemed to say “hey, you actually bring something to the table…”
Growing up I heard my mom say (at least once a week) “whatever else happens, you kids are going to love each other, dammit.”* She still says this, probably just as often as she did when we were young. Like everything else with parenting, it’s a concept I understood well enough in theory before watching two kids of my own.
*Don’t let her casual grace and good manners fool you, this woman cusses like a sailor. Maybe that’s why she married one. PS – Love you, ma.
Whatever my parents did to help make that hope become a reality, it worked. My siblings and I (all five of us) are really close. And as the saying goes (or should) “ain’t no party like a Davis kid party…” Get us all together and it’s nothing short of wonderful chaos. The childhood giggles that are permanently embedded into the walls of my parents’ house seem to infect each of us as we step through the door when returning home. By the time we reach the dinner table (after taking a brief inventory of the refrigerator and junk drawer, if only out of habit), the room is as much filled with laughter as the recycling bin will be with beer bottles the next morning.
This is the vision that flashes through my head whenever I hear my own kids laughing together and loving one another. I’ll be around the corner in the kitchen, doing dishes or preparing dinner, and in the living room I’ll hear my childhood.
They have no idea the weight behind their game of chase or the expectations they’re helping me create.
Whatever else happens, these kids are going to love each other, dammit.by
Doing our best to instill a sense of wonder amid all these “summer storms” as Loren now calls them.
That is all. Enjoy your weekend.by
It’s hard to smell right, around you baby,
I’ll check you’re diaper, it’s poopy maybe.
Yes, all those other times, you tried to change me,
Just check my diaper, it’s poopy maybe.
Before you went and checked my dipe’, I was gettin’ so mad, was gettin’ so mad, was gettin’ so so mad,
I’m gonna grab another wipe this mess is so bad, this mess is so bad, this mess is so so bad…
And for the one human being on the planet who doesn’t already know the tune, the most ultimate Roots crew will let you know how to make this work.
I’ve heard plenty about “terrible two’s” and “shoot me in the face three’s” but no one ever explained that there would be a time, maybe in the middle of those two ages, where my toddler would experience the emotional turmoil that most people associate with puberty. Or menopause. Or both combined.
I haven’t posted in two weeks largely because of this experience. He seems better now – in fact it’s been a pretty good week – but the two weeks before that Loren was horrifying. Up and down and laughing and crying and then in a puddle on the floor, and all because I don’t know why but, in his words, “I’m sad about something…”
He was a wreck. And I was no better. Toward the end I was handing over the reigns to Natalie not simply because I was tired or had had enough, but because I was beginning to make matters worse – refusing to pick my battles, incapable of just letting him work it out on his own, and maybe even getting a little ugly about it at times, deliberately pushing his buttons because I had completely lost my mind.
Toddler Puberty/Menopause – whatever it is, it is very real. And I am so happy to have had a week-long break from it (I’ll just tell myself it’s a break, that way I don’t cry if it returns in a week or two).
Our apartment building opened it’s pool last weekend, and we’ve gone almost every single day since, often twice a day. I’m enjoying my new role as stay-at-home-trophy-dad-pool-boy-toy, and realizing that every “problem” I’ve experienced this past week is of the decidedly “first-world” variety. You mean I left my sandals at our weekend place and have to wear close-toed shoes on my 30 second walk to the pool? Oh, the agony! A chapped lip from too much sun? What a world, what a world!
What a wonderful world.
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?by
[Update: We did this same trip again in October 2013, and the below recommendations stand strong. We left on a Friday morning and drove back to DC Monday morning, and it went surprisingly well.]
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).by
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.by
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.by
[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.by