Esme (EZ-may) Colette joined us at 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 29th, after a beautiful, peaceful labor and delivery. We are all entirely smitten with her.
Some glimpses of her first 3+ months (geez – this post said “her first month” when I started drafting it):
The boys have a certain fascination with infectious diseases. (I guess these apples don’t fall far from their tree.) Last night we were discussing the finer points of herd immunity when Emmett said something about Ebola, which prompted me to tell the boys about the apparently promising Ebola vaccine that is in development.
Oscar’s very swift reaction: “Aw! But I wanted to invent that!”
I’ll admit to being more than a little bit proud.
As their sister’s birth draws nearer, the boys have been showering her with handmade gifts, impassioned pleas (“Sisterbaby, KICK ME!”), and kisses.
unsurprisingly, there is a considerable contrast in sibling demeanor. emmett appears to be on trajectory to be everybody’s favorite beer-crushing college buddy who comes back home to live in our basement. and, undoubtedly, we will love him for that.
Oscar (quizzing Emmett from his K-1 flashcards): “Emmett, what’s the opposite of YES?”
We have now been parents for six — count ’em: six — years. I suppose (and hope) we still have many more years and much to learn as parents of dependent children (thank you, sisterbaby), but man, it sure does feel like we are already hardened veterans. I say that mostly to pat myself on the back for the survival skills we’ve developed, not to complain that I feel old and tired (though I do!). I would be lying if I said the journey has never been arduous, but I am so grateful for the joy that these little hellions have brought us. And while it saddens me that Oscar is not really a little boy any longer (sniff), I’m pretty proud of the big kid he’s becoming — what with the reading and bike-riding and lego-building skills and all. He’s even nice to his brother sometimes!
To celebrate the six-year mark of his existence, we fêted Oscar ninja-style at a local gymnastics studio. It was an all-around success.
Happy birthday, big boy.
Yes, we did this on purpose, and YES, it’s a girl! She is due to join our family in late April / early May.
The boys have been very busy preparing for her arrival:
Big day in the R-P household: the boys are starting a new school (Oscar in kindergarten!) and I have the house to myself again.
We have recently achieved diaper-free-household status, y’all.
This wild child recently turned three. Here he is at one of his four birthday parties.
My sister and I decided that we would re-create our own lakeside childhood for our kids this summer. So we packed our respective families up, drove them north, and lay claim to a lovely little lake house on Little Duck Pond in Windham, Maine. It was mostly idyllic, like this:
But then there were moments of such intense conflict among the young cousins that I found myself googling things like “lack of empathy in child” and “signs of psychopath 5-year-old.”
Then, on our drive home, Oscar wrote a book. It was his first attempt at writing things phonetically, without grown-up assistance. It’s titled “Ol Ibaowt love [sic],” and it gives me great hope that he is not a psychopath after all.
Several years ago, when Oscar was 11 months old and waking up every 45 minutes (good lord), my father-in-law said something along the lines of “just when you think you can’t take any more, things tend to improve.” He also said something along the lines of “parenting isn’t for sissies.” I take solace in these pearls of wisdom often, most recently this morning when the boys locked us all out of the master bedroom, where (wouldn’t you know) the only key to bedroom doors resides.
two posts in two days obviously means that i have a manuscript that i’m supposed to be writing and i am procrastinating. here’s a pic from our recent trip to maine over july 4th. we rented a camp on a lake. a “camp” is what the mainers like to call their vacation houses. as in:
“hey bob, whatchoo up to this weekend?”
“oh you know, upta camp with the missus. catch some fish.”
“uhyuh. i bet she will!”
emmett co-opted a book from his cousin about a young girl who imagines herself to be famously strong and inspiring women in history. kim spent the week wrapping this birthday present. just kidding. but that is her handiwork.
updated: to her credit, in spite of that last joke, she was still kind enough to point out that i had originally spelled handiwork incorrectly.
we are paddling by america’s waterways like william least heat moon from east coast to west. erm, ahem. flying. but, i will be thinking of river life like the water rat as i scrounge for the snacks (“nooooo, the other ones!”) on the flight. fortunately, whatever thirst we develop gnoshing salty treats will be slaked as we skirt the mountains of ignorance to touch down on the rolling seas of knowledge.
there, we will cast off the shackles of suburban blandness, don our waterwings, and drift the tides with the jellyfish. apparently, emmett will be bringing his strawberry gun to shoot them.
I found a turkey baster under a living room chair the other day. Not terribly remarkable — the kids have an astonishing ability to destroy things and throw shit all over the place, and they preferentially select the least appropriate place to put any given object.
I climbed over that red chair at least a dozen times today. It didn’t even really occur to me to move it…which I suppose means that I have lost.
On the left, you will see Oscar’s view of the world: the sky is really only one layer, Eli is exceedingly tall, and Emmett’s hair is yellow. On the right, we have Emmett’s view: our family has two mommies (those would be the first two figures on the left), and they are both roughly the same height as Eli (figure #3) and Oscar (figure #4). That little figure at our feet is Emmett (see his wild hair?). Your guess is as good as mine about the “DIME” at the bottom, which he somehow randomly assembled all by himself. Our fridge has never been better dressed.
It’s dark. It’s bedtime. We’re in the final phase: songs. I open with “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay.”
K: “Sittin’ in the mornin’ sun, I’ll be sittin’ when the evenin’ comes. Watchin’ the ships roll in…”
O (interrupting): “Mom, mom, mom, how can ships *roll*? They don’t have wheels!”
K (explaining): “Oh, honey, the word ‘roll’ can be used in several ways,” etc., etc.
K (restarting song): “Sittin’ in the mornin’ sun, I’ll be sittin’ when the evenin’ comes. Watchin’ the ships roll in…”
O (interrupting again): “Duck boats are the ONLY boats with wheels.”
* a short discussion about amphibious vehicles later *:
K (still laughing): “Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.”
O (earnestly): “But mom, life isn’t a dream – it’s REAL.”
* PAUSES *
O: “Or maybe life is all just a *really long* dream!”
The child is always thinking, processing. It is truly something to behold. Other recent examples (to all of which my response was “Ummm….???”):
“Mom, why does spilled gasoline have rainbows in it?”
“Mom, how do antibodies and white blood cells work together?”
“Mom, how do construction workers decide what to do each day? Do all of the workers have the same idea, or do they vote?”
“Mom, how many pages are in this notebook? Infinity? A googleplex? How does it stay together with JUST ONE staple?”
Also, while I’m in child-awesomeness-documentation mode, let me add to the official Rosen-Powers record that today Oscar wrote a book entitled “I love Mom.” (True story!) Also, Emmett made up songs called “Banana Joe,” “Santa Joe,” and “Cheese” (the last of which he sang passionately, with his head back and eyes closed). Then he gave himself ink tattoos on both hands, ate a paper towel, and threw up.
We’ve been doing the whole “responsible/dual-career/grown-up” thing for a spell. It has advantages and disadvantages. Top advantages: stimulating work and decent paychecks. Key disadvantage: work/life imbalance.
Fortunately, in the midst of the grind, we have these two little boys with an impressive ability to keep things light:
In spite of their endless demands and high mess quotient, it’s damn near impossible to overstate the joy that these untidy little creatures bring.
What is love?
By Oscar R-to-the-P
Love is like when you hug.
Love means a really happy feeling.
It means you like someone a gazillion times.
Love is a strong word.
Just like hate but they’re opposite.
You’re turning five years old. First you think you want to have a pirate party. Then, after looking through the birthday party catalogs, you decide that a fire truck party would be more fun. Or maybe a jungle party. No. Not a jungle party. A purple dragon party.
Then your parents offer to take you on an adventure (I use that term loosely) instead of throwing you a party. What activities would you like to include in this birthday adventure?
1. You want to stay in a hotel. This is a must.
2. You want to eat ribs and hush puppies for dinner. This is also a must.
3. You want to watch cartoons at the hotel. Not really negotiable.
4. You insist on lunch at Panera! No, make that Moe’s.
5. You want to play basketball, hit the climbing wall, swim at a cool aquatic center, and go to an overcrowded, overstimulating museum for kids.
We had a good time.
one of the trove of gifts bestowed upon oscar this holiday season was a first digital camera. here is his documentation of our holidays (clearly the camera is not optimized for low light conditions):
the dynamic duo took our neighborhood by storm last night for some candy collection. oscar was in the guise of electricity man (his own creation), and he took his work very seriously. emmett was ever-happy to be there, as a friendly neighborhood garden gnome.
i’ve got the inimitable, and now late, Lou Reed (dapper gentleman on the far right) singing those words in my ears right now con subtitulo espanol, and i am redirecting that sentiment at my eldest whackadoodle. there are all matter of bafflements to dredge up here, but today he delivered a perfectly average example of the sometimes bizarre, sometimes dark, and generally hilarious crap that issues forth on the regular. we were having a very enjoyable brunch with friends. their 18 month old son was off to take his nap upstairs and saying his farewells. he had apparently unwittingly earned oscar’s ire either by giving emmett a little nibble, or patting oscar too hard, or who knows really. anyway, when it was oscar’s turn to say his goodbyes this is what we heard:
“Bye, Reuben! I hope you have nightmares!”
this from the kid who would work “poop” or “penis” or “damnit” (ugh, yes, he learned that one from me) into every sentence if only he could. anyway, i think i know what to get him for hannukah. this throwback rossoneri jersey:
hi ho! we are still awash in boxes, and open to wagers about how long it will take us to finally empty the last one. i might hazard a guess that it will happen within the next 18 months, just in time for us to ponder home ownership (i just threw up in my mouth). i’ll just put up my $20 over here.
kim and i find ourselves awfully distracted these days by moving logistics, and the kids are getting short shrift. this is not at all to their liking. to get our attention, they have to come up with new and more outlandish ways to throw things and each other around. which only makes us throw up our hands and wonder loudly just how the hell we’re going to get all this stuff done with these maniacs running around underfoot. cycle, rinse, repeat.
this weekend, while we were occupied with something or other, emmett cooked up a real doozy. he managed to put a handful of pipe cleaners in the microwave, shut the door, and, wouldn’t you know, turn that bitch on.
a short fire later, everything’s fine. i think we may have to start keeping an eye on these two again.
it seems that any measurement process worth more than its component parts has to be able to preferentially detect signal (that being the thing you are concerned about) from noise (that being the thing you couldn’t care a whit about, but which also happens to be collected through your process). and there is something alluring, maybe even quest-like, about the search for signal. something that even inspires art. the image above, for example, which happens to be a strip chart recording from a radio telescope of the first discovered pulsar, got re-appropriated into one of the most iconic album covers of the past few decades. but, if your signal is lost in the noise? you, my friend, are hosed.
we rely completely on a 3lb processor of neural tissue perched atop our flailing bodies to filter out all matter of unwanted noise that bombards us on a daily basis. on the plus side, this puppy is open source and totally programmable. on the minus side? most of us are kind of lousy programmers, and our code is a snarled mess not to mention poorly documented. the fact of the matter is that until you can even differentiate what it is you want to treat as signal, you’re going to have a lousy noise filter and can easily find yourself adrift. here be dragons.
i guess it takes a certain degree of consciousness and awareness to be able to recognize when you find yourself in the noise, but it can be an awfully hard vantage point to reflect on the journey’s beauty. and fully aware, but adrift with the dragons nonetheless, have we been, lo, these past few months.
on a typical day, we rarely have bandwidth reserved for processing any more than what is required to get kids where they need to be, prevent them from maiming themselves or each other, and maybe get a little work done. if exercise happens, it feels like a small miracle. if kids are asleep, lunches are packed, and anything we can stand to clean up is swept aside quickly enough to allow us to mumble a few intelligible words to one another before crashing into bed, it feels like discovering 20 bucks in your pants.
the field of view can sometimes feel suffocatingly small. and yet, somewhere along the way we became acutely attuned to the fact that the future laying before us here in Santa Fe couldn’t include all of the things that we felt we needed and that the situation was becoming untenable. we love this place, and i love my job. but, for a variety of reasons we knew that it was time to go. kim has been performing her duties as a post-doc 1700 miles from her colleagues, holed up in the back of our house. the public school system in new mexico was just ranked dead last in the country, and you gotta know they faced some stiff competition. kim and i are both products of public school education and the prospect of having to send our kids to private school or roll the dice on admission to charters was enough to make the stomach turn.
so, ok. awareness. but going from that point to actually defining what it is we want or truly need from a place we live/jobs we have has been arduous. i’ll omit most of the hand-wringing for brevity. in the end, kim was offered a truly amazing position that seemed too good to refuse and we have been trying to put pieces into place around it. rationally, we know the move makes sense. it maximizes the likelihood that both of us will have gainful employment, puts our kids in good schools, puts us a hell of a lot closer to family, etc. emotionally, we remain ambivalent.
we want to put roots down somewhere. we want this to be the last time we move for a good long time. we want to have a community of friends at least something like we had in college and high school and that we haven’t had in what feels like a really long time. all of those things seem to point us back toward, gulp, chapel hill, nc.
this all feels a bit scary. or a lot scary depending on the day. for whatever its shortcomings, we love santa fe and fear that life in a place that is incredibly convenient but a good bit less spectacular may feel a bit hollow. kim is understandably scared out of her gourd at hopping on the tenure track after having been incognito for a few years. i am intermittently petrified about moving somewhere without a full-time job waiting for me at the other end. processing all of these pieces of information, trying to make some sense out of them, trying to know what is best for all of us as a collective feels daunting. it is confusing. but we’re taking a leap of faith that something better awaits us. and if it doesn’t, we formulate a new plan.
i just read a profile the other day in the nytimes of the author george saunders. i hadn’t known him by name, but it turns out he wrote one of the scariest, most hilarious stories that i have read. anyway, the piece ends with a quote from him that i have been holding onto tightly. “Don’t be afraid to be confused. Try to remain permanently confused. Anything is possible. Stay open, forever, so open it hurts, and then open up some more, until the day you die, world without end, amen.”
in spite of the torrid sunshine that has our reservoirs at a paltry 3% of their 1990s levels, a bit of a gloom has set in over the rosen/powers these past couple of months. though brought on by the increasing certainty of our permanent departure from santa fe, escaping the mental fug and stress of sorting out what happens next in our lives required us to decamp from the city temporarily for the pacific northwest. kim was due to spend a week in seattle for a workshop, and there were a list of irresistible novelties we could take in by all joining her: things that are green, things that are wet, friends we love. the prospect of the trip made me giddy.
kim may not have gotten the quietest, most productive week at her workshop with us in tow, but it was a real treat for all of us. we spent a couple of days on orcas island at the invitation of the adamses, whose kiddos became thick as thieves with oscar and emmett.
then the boys and i spent a week running around seattle and its environs, taking ferries, hitting museums, and seeing friends.
Typically, the boys can play unsupervised for, oh, maybe 2.5 minutes before someone starts crying. So imagine our delight when we heard nothing but giggles from down the hall for 10 solid minutes tonight. I should know by now that when it seems too good to be true, it probably is, but the allure of actually accomplishing something while the boys played proved too much to resist, and I allowed their merry-making to continue. When I finally checked on them, I found them in the bathroom. Eating toothpaste.
After correcting their behavior in a slightly less measured tone than my pre-children vision of a good mother would have used, I went back to cleaning up the kitchen, assuming that surely the boys would stick only to safe, sanitary activities for the rest of their lives.
We can all see where this is going.
The next time I checked on them — mere minutes after the toothpaste incident — I found them dropping toys into the toilet.
the world can seem a big, scary place. after wrestling with that reality for a few decades, i wouldn’t say i’m closer to coming to peace with it, but i’m at least willing to acknowledge that i have to live alongside it. but now let’s say that you are four. let’s say that you are beginning to flex your powers of logic, but that the concept of reason is still flitting about overhead like the aurora australis.
then, perhaps, you imagine yourself as powerful, or even all-powerful. are you strong? yes. do you want guns that can shoot? YES. you use them on bad guys, for sure, and maybe even on your brother.
it’s a complicated thing that oscar now wrestles with, and it’s not always easy to watch. when he’s behaving like a petulant teenager, it can be downright difficult. i’m not sure that he’s not skulking off to his room and slamming the door just so he can crank up some iggy and the stooges:
I’m a street walking cheetah
With a heart full of napalm
I’m a runaway son of the nuclear A-bomb
I am a world’s forgotten boy
The one who searches and destroys.
which, of course, is a brilliant anthem. but, it can give me pause and make me wonder where this little guy wanders off to sometimes:
or, the guy who can be an awfully sweet big brother to the kid who turned his whole life upside down almost two years ago:
Mostly, we’ve been very busy uttering things like this:
“Just a minute, Emmett. Dad is still cleaning the hummus off your shoe.”
So this is what households with little boys are like.
I KEEP six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.
I let them rest from nine till five,
For I am busy then,
As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea,
For they are hungry men.
But different folk have different views;
I know a person small—
She keeps ten million serving-men,
Who get no rest at all!
She sends’em abroad on her own affairs,
From the second she opens her eyes—
One million Hows, two million Wheres,
And seven million Whys!
“Oscar, do you want a snack? Would you like challah or pita?”
“Dad, . . . , I want challah on pita.”
“Dad. Dad. DAD! I have a groundhog in my shorts.
it is quite possible that chocolate will be rationed for the next several months unless we can surreptitiously feed it to the compost.
it gives us great pleasure to know that there are people we love out there, most of whom we see all too rarely, who care enough to sporadically frequent this page to check in on all things rosen-powers. this blog serves just as much, if not more, as our own repository of thoughts that we return to in order to remember just what it was like back when we were ________. in part, looking back reminds me of how much more frequently i applied myself to documenting things here, and how hard it can be now to set aside that time. i guess life with two wyld stallyns is just like that.
here it is, march. ground thaws, stems bud. spring winds stir. as seasons change, a time lapse:
conditioned stimulus elicits conditioned response.
for emmett, the response is breathtaking (you may have to listen closely for the stimulus, which is the microwave’s ding):
kim rejects the classical pavlovian construct. she has a conditioned response to a lack of stimulus, which is to try to add something else to the assortment of things she’s trying to juggle. so, now that the kids are willing to entertain themselves for a few minutes at a time without going at one another’s throats? seems like it’s time to have another one! which, of course, is insane. but, while i remain wholly unconvinced, she does seem to have convinced oscar. he is all ready to have another sibling to boss, and even has a name picked out. so, world, prepare yourselves for the remote possibility of welcoming the soon-to-be legendary JAPANDA rosen-powers. i have pinkie-sweared him that if there is another kid, it will absofreakinlutely be named japanda. no question.
don’t even think about taking it, any of you other fools.
of course, this stroke of genius is the product of someone who is a fool in his own right:
Oscar turned 4 years old yesterday. We celebrated this very special occasion with ceremonies, presents, donut holes, scones, somersaults, and chocolate cake.
Those in attendance at Oscar’s preschool “birthday circle” were invited to describe things they love about him. Common themes were his inquisitiveness, his listening skills, and his expertise in activities such as “robots,” “Batman,” and “bad guys.” Prior to this sweet little lovefest, Oscar was invited to walk four times around a candle, and then to blow out the candle while making a wish. (His wish? A baby sister.)
Eli will need some convincing for that particular birthday wish to come true, but hopefully last night’s tumbling class was at least some consolation for our birthday boy.
it’s been a fever dream of a week doing all sorts boys-only stuff. (and staying away from the news, words for which i am not yet prepared to commit to page).
bellies have been scratched, oh yes. see-saws have been totally owned. havoc has been wreaked. presently, we wreak.
and now we welcome home the matriarch.
next up, the full complement of rosen-powerses takes our punk rock on the road. look out, maine.
A facebook friend posted the following quote today:
“Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ”
– Elizabeth Stone
I gasped when I read it. Actually, to be honest, my reaction was so visceral and so raw that I almost gagged. I may be especially sensitive to such sentiments at the moment, what with the indescribably heinous events in Connecticut and the current transatlantic distance between me and my own kids, but damn, Elizabeth Stone, I don’t think I’ve read a single more apt description of a single thing ever in my life.
I have to admit, before I became a mother, I really didn’t understand (at all) colleagues who would lament being away from their young kids for a few days. I get it now. It is brutal.
Three more days until I get my adorable little munchkins back.
My work as an infectious disease epidemiologist has taken me to some pretty cool places. This week, I am visiting some majorly brainy colleagues at Imperial College London, wringing them dry of their mathematical modeling knowledge so that I might have some hope of finishing a ghastly project I have been fighting for awhile now.
I hate (hate!) being away from my kids for half a day, much less *nine* days (the total duration of my current trip). As I was leaving Santa Fe on Sunday, a fellow passenger on the airport shuttle asked me where I was going and for how long, and I immediately broke into tears. Yesterday, in my absence, Emmett fell into a cactus (oh, Santa Fe!) and Oscar’s brand-new boots went missing at school. How can I be missing these crises? What kind of mother am I?
On the plus side, today I am going to the Imperial College holiday party, which is sure to be a wild event. (Seriously.) And yesterday, the building where I work was evacuated and the LFD came because some of those silly Brits were partaking in a little Christmas cheer with some of their traditionally British crackers in one of the Imperial College conference rooms. Apparently, they set off the fire alarm with the tiny bit of gunpowder that gives those crackers their ‘POP’ (oh, London!).
And, well, here is the plaque on the Imperial College building adjoining the one where I work:
How cool is that? Being surrounded by so much infectious disease-y, English awesomeness almost (almost) makes up for the intense suffering I inflict upon myself when I leave my kids for work travel. (But I will still be glad when it is over.)
Life has been running us a bit ragged these days. So ragged, in fact, that a stranger just five minutes ago referred to me as Oscar’s grandmom. Time for a new skincare regimen, it would seem. Or maybe just a little sleep sometime.
We’re looking forward to a 10-day respite in New England over Christmas. Maybe while we’re there we’ll manage to post some photos of our TOTALLY AWESOME Thanksgiving road trip to Utah. In the meantime, we’ll just be here, aging.
i’m all for pagan rituals as, it would seem, are a lot of others. kim chaperoned oscar’s school party and then we hit the neighborhood streets. after years spent living in neighborhoods that didn’t receive a lot of halloween foot traffic, we are now smack dab in a mecca for kids from all over town. we carved pumpkins and roasted the seeds, but i see that there is a gulf between our enthusiasm and that of some of our neighbors. lawns were decorated with giant inflatable things. houses were haunted. it was pretty fun.
Because I could not stop for Death (712)
Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
We slowly drove – He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility –
We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring –
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –
We passed the Setting Sun –
Or rather – He passed us –
The Dews drew quivering and chill –
For only Gossamer, my Gown –
My Tippet – only Tulle –
We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground –
The Roof was scarcely visible –
The Cornice – in the Ground –
Since then – ’tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity –
this is a place of omphaloskepsis, not weird spammy links. apologies to those few of you who encountered a couple of odd posts above the usual quality of this domain. rest assured that these offensive things have been removed. their rotting spammy corpses have been affixed on poles to send a message.
now we can resume the sporadically updated travails of four real, cohabiting humans.
A few months ago, Oscar asked me if Emmett was in my belly at the same time he was. The way he imagined it, they were both just always in there, waiting for their own special time to emerge. When I explained that no, Emmett wasn’t yet in there when he was occupying that space, Oscar conceived (see what I did there?) of a place called “Madea” (MADE-ee-ah), where all babies wait until they go to their moms’ bellies.
Since then, Oscar has referred to Madea several times in passing, and I think it’s just the cutest thing that 1) he came up with this place, and 2) he has this unwavering, unquestioning certainty that it exists. Last night, as we chatted in his rocking chair before bed, he asked me if I knew I wanted a kid back when he was still in Madea, and was I happy when I found out that he was in my belly. I told him that yes, I had always known I wanted a little boy, and that I was so happy when I found out I was going to have him. And then there it was: “Mom, how do babies get in their mothers’ bellies?”
D’oh. I had always assumed that I would have no problem answering this question when he finally put it to me, but lo and behold, the best I could do on the spot was, “Wow, that is a really great question and I promise we will talk about it very soon. It’s a really long story, so let’s save it for this weekend, ok?”
I study STDs and the behaviors that transmit them, for chrissakes. I talk about this stuff every day at work, so what’s the big deal? Fortunately, Oscar was happy to let it go for the time being, but I owe the kid an explanation the next time he asks. And with that explanation will come a whole new set of material for his “inappropriate for school” vocabulary. Move over, kitty poop (his lunchtime chant at school a few weeks back): you’re about to be replaced with some even more cringe-worthy stuff.
Fall is upon us and the smell of pinon smoke mixed with roasting chiles is back in the air. It is that absolutely majestic time of year when the aspens turn golden and a chill in the morning still gives way to warmth by midday. These are busy days. Swim classes, impending work travel, work hard, play hard. Family coming, halloween, fear of nightmares. Packing school lunches, corralling boys, cleaning the house(?).
Letting things go. Like butterflies.
A facebook friend just posted an excerpt from Anne-Marie Slaughter’s recent Atlantic piece entitled “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All.” Somehow I missed this passage when I read the article originally, but I had an immediate reaction when reading it on facebook earlier this week:
“Louise Richardson, now the vice chancellor of the University of St. Andrews, in Scotland, combined an assistant professorship in government at Harvard with mothering three young children. She organized her time so ruthlessly that she always keyed in 1:11 or 2:22 or 3:33 on the microwave rather than 1:00, 2:00, or 3:00, because hitting the same number three times took less time.”
Me (to myself): Ohmigod, that is brilliant!
Me (to myself, about 5 minutes later): It is seriously fucked up that I just got so excited about shaving fractions of a second off the time I spend microwaving.
Note to self: if you ever find yourself resorting to such tactics out of a feeling of necessity, it is time to slow down.
Anyone who knows me well knows that I am exceedingly thorough and thoroughly indecisive. This combination of traits can turn even minor decisions into epic events. I both celebrate and curse the availability of online reviews for the guidance they have provided me and the hours upon hours they have taken from me.
I started looking at preschools for Oscar about 18 months ago. I’ve lost count of how many I have visited since then, many of them several times. About 6 weeks ago, I verbally committed to one of these schools, only to find myself inexplicably unable to fill out the paperwork to make things official. One long conversation with my mom later, I ended up enrolling Oscar at a different school, one that Oscar, Eli, and I are all very excited about. He started Dragonfly School today without so much as a glance in our direction when we said goodbye. I am mourning his absence a little this morning (it sure is quiet here without him), but this milestone is a good thing for all of us. [What do you think he’s doing right now?]
There’s a new kid in town (figuratively speaking). My sister Sarah birthed Lucas Gabriel Baumann earlier today, unintentionally (and unfortunately for her) following a Powers-sister tradition that we didn’t know we had: 9-pound babies in round 2. Wanting to welcome Lucas into the world in the same way that we welcomed his big sister, Olivia, I made up a welcome sign and trotted Oscar out for a photo. This little exercise gave me the opportunity to reflect back on how much things have changed in the last 2.5 years, with Oscar’s visible maturation as just one yardstick. This time around, Oscar was actually able to express some of his own thoughts about the situation. “Congratulations to your baby,” he told Sarah on the phone this morning. Congratulations, indeed, Baumann family.
actually, kim really was just cited in the journal of *pain*. journal of the american *pain* society. its contributors and editorial board engage in important research regarding palliative care. and all i can do is read the title in a sinister voice and walk around saying “you will submit to the journal of pain” while shaking my fist. because, apparently 35 is not that far off from 3.5.
thanks to david m. ballard for the deliciously weird and painful cartoon.
i am regularly baffled by the inner-workings of the 3.5 year-old mind. behavioral norms that i take for granted, like repressing the desire to sit on one’s sibling, are just not wired in there yet. i get the vague notion that it is understood that one *shouldn’t*, necessarily, sit on one’s brother. but, then when the time comes to engage in the philosophical debate as to why one couldn’t? well, that’s when reason takes her ball and goes home.
so, the age of reason 3.5 is not. but 35 is so far removed from 3.5 that it is also hard for me to truly understand the fear and menace presented by things that i take for granted, such as the toilet. it became the porcelain embodiment of the great unknown to oscar, who seemed more eager to shut down vital human processes than gaze into its gaping maw. the fear was a resistant strain, immune to all cajoling, bribing, and most especially hand-wringing.
and, although i type this with the remote apprehension that i might somehow jinx myself, then one day oscar just told the fear to piss off. having been coached by a buddy, he now looks for every opportunity to “water a tree.” though, as we’ve tried to explain, with great power comes great responsibility. the tiny sapling just outside the perimeter of a popular neighborhood park in full view of everyone *may* not be what we had in mind.
now, the only thing preventing him from dashing off to the john is the fear that emmett will take his toys while he’s away. and that fear is VERY real.
Last week, I was at the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC. While there, I delivered a pretty crappy talk, listened to a few celebrities’ thoughts on HIV, caught up with lots of colleagues, and imposed on the in-laws a few times. This year marks my fourth time participating in this particular conference, and let me tell you, it tends to be quite an experience. In past years, I have shared lecture halls with Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Richard Gere, and the Princess of Norway. This year, I heard both Elton John and Hillary Clinton speak. There are always condom displays, angry protests, and dance parties in the convention hallways, plus a little science to keep it real. As part of the “guidelines for speakers” distributed this year, I received written instructions about how to summon outside assistance in the event of angry mobs. (The signal: raise a water bottle above one’s head.) Here are some shots of the more circus-like aspects of this year’s event:
On the day of my return, our nanny left for a 10-day vacation, so I was a (temporary) full-time SAHM this past week. What an experience! I absolutely loved (loved!) having so much time to relish the boys, but let me tell you, it was exhausting. When do stay-at-home moms eat?
Here is what this past week looked like:
I am pretty sure I don’t have the fortitude to quit my job and stay home with the kids full-time permanently, but I do think half-time at work, half-time with the boys would be just about right. Hmmmm…
a snapshot from “music on the hill” at st.john’s college here in town, where a close study of classics gives way once a week in the summer to an outdoor jazz concert. which, of course, is largely beside the point of attending what with all of the running around to be done.
Then it was dusk in Illinois, the small boy
After an afternoon of carting dung
Hung on the rail fence, a sapped thing
Weary to crying. Dark was growing tall
And he began to hear the pond frogs all
Calling on his ear with what seemed their joy.
Soon their sound was pleasant for a boy
Listening in the smoky dusk and the nightfall
Of Illinois, and from the fields two small
Boys came bearing cornstalk violins
And they rubbed the cornstalk bows with resins
And the three sat there scraping of their joy.
It was now fine music the frogs and the boys
Did in the towering Illinois twilight make
And into dark in spite of a shoulder’s ache
A boy’s hunched body loved out of a stalk
The first song of his happiness, and the song woke
His heart to the darkness and into the sadness of joy.
–Galway Kinnell (and sung/whistled by Andrew Bird)
our lovely (unair-conditioned) house is an easy-bake solar oven at this time of year, leaving us to lie motionless under any variety of forcefully propelled air we can manage to generate. which meant that it was time to take this show on the road. witness:
and in the midst of the excitement, we managed to find a few moments of peaceful reflection.
and in those moments of calm,
Didn’t you like the way the ants help
the peony globes open by eating the glue off?
Weren’t you cheered to see the ironworkers
sitting on an I-beam dangling from a cable,
in a row, like starlings, eating lunch, maybe
baloney on white with fluorescent mustard?
Wasn’t it a revelation to waggle
from the estuary all the way up the river,
the kill, the pirle, the run, the rent, the beck,
the sike barely trickling, to the shock of a spring?
Didn’t you almost shiver, hearing book lice
clicking their sexual dissonance inside an old
Webster’s New International, perhaps having just
eaten out of it izle, xyster, and thalassacon?
What did you imagine lies in wait anyway
at the end of a world whose sub-substance
is glaim, gleet, birdlime, slime, mucus, muck?
Forget about becoming emaciated. Think of the wren
and how little flesh is needed to make a song.
Didn’t it seem somehow familiar when the nymph
split open and the mayfly struggled free
and flew and perched and then its own back
broke open and the imago, the true adult,
somersaulted out and took flight, seeking
the swarm, mouth-parts vestigial,
alimentary canal come to a stop,
a day or hour left to find the desired one?
Or when Casanova took up the platter
of linguine in squid’s ink and slid the stuff
out the window, telling his startled companion,
“The perfected lover does not eat.”
As a child, didn’t you find it calming to imagine
pinworms as some kind of tiny batons
giving cadence to the squeezes and releases
around the downward march of debris?
Didn’t you glimpse in the monarchs
what seemed your own inner blazonry
flapping and gliding, in desire, in the middle air?
Weren’t you reassured to think these flimsy
hinged beings, and then their offspring,
and then their offspring’s offspring, could
navigate, working in shifts, all the way to Mexico,
to the exact plot, perhaps the very tree,
by tracing the flair of the bodies of ancestors
who fell in this same migration a year ago?
Doesn’t it outdo the pleasures of the brilliant concert
to wake in the night and find ourselves
holding hands in our sleep?
WE HAVE SUSTAINED ROSEN-POWERS-THE-YOUNGER’S LIFE FOR ONE YEAR!
AND ALSO MIRACULOUSLY PREVENTED OSCAR FROM SNATCHING IT AWAY!
I AM SERIOUSLY JAZZED ABOUT THIS AS YOU CAN TELL BY MY MANIA! or maybe i’m just coming off a frosting sugar high.
honestly, this was not a short year. it feels impossibly long ago that we were becoming parents all over again. i have not savored milestones as much along the way, i must guiltily admit. and i have also been guilty of thinking things like: “if i can just somehow survive the first year . . .” but, we made it! and this little boy is a total joy now. with a spectacular set of chompers. that he will use on you if you don’t give up the birthday cake.
happy birthday, kiddo. we’ve got a lot of good times ahead.
explude verb \ik-‘splüd\
1. to explode
For whatever reason, the word “explode” seems to keep coming up in conversation around these parts, and for whatever reason, Oscar keeps pronouncing it as “explude.” Kind of has a nice ring to it, no?
Yesterday, in honor of Father’s Day, we took a little day trip up to Valles Caldera National Preserve, situated within a collapsed crater from a supervolcano that last erupted ~55,000 years ago. It also happens to be adjacent to the site of last year’s Las Conchas Fire, so it is quite an interesting piece of land. And one that is quite conducive to discussion of explewwwsions. For example,
“Mom, when the fire came through, did it explude those trees?”
We had a blast (ha!):
on the occasion of mother’s day brunch:
“No, Mom, I need this knife so I can *cut* you.”
“I would like BOOGER PANCAKES.” (upon being asked his order by the server)
around the house:
“But, swiping is what I do.” (upon being asked not to swipe his brother to the floor)
“When will Friday arrive?”
“Mom. could you and Dad and Emmett and I go on a date sometime?”
“My friends name is . . . Party Mix” (upon being asked the identity of the imaginary entity kindly bestowing LiceSavers)
I am only left with the notion that the 3 year old is a strange and beautiful bird.
The Letters at School
One day the letters went to school,
And tried to learn each other:
They got so mixed ‘t was really hard
To pick out one from t’ other.
A went in first, and Z went last;
The rest all were between them, —
K, L and M, and N, O, P, —
I wish you could have seen them!
B, C, D, E, and J, K, L,
Soon jostled well their betters;
Q, R, S, T — I grieve to say —
Were very naughty letters.
Of course, ere long, they came to words —
What else could be expected?
Till E made D, J, C and T
Now, through it all, the Consonants
Were rudest and uncouthest,
While all the pretty Vowel girls
Were certainly the smoothest.
And simple U kept far from Q,
With face demure and moral,
“Because,” she said, “we are, we two,
So apt to start a quarrel!”
But spiteful P said, “Pooh for U!”
(Which made her feel quite bitter),
And calling O, L, E to help,
He really tried to hit her.
Cried A, “Now E and C, come here!
If both will aid a minute,
Good P will join in making peace,
Or else the mischief’s in it.”
And smiling E, the ready sprite,
Said, “Yes, and count me double.”
This done, sweet peace shone o’er the scene,
And gone was all the trouble!
Meanwhile, when U and P made up,
The Cons’nants looked about them,
And kissed the Vowels, for, you see
They could n’t do without them.
-Mary Mapes Dodge
Yesterday morning, while Eli was “playing kitchen” in the playroom with Emmett & Oscar, I overheard him saying “No food on heads, please. No food on heads!” Yes, it is a glamorous life we lead.
And now, a few photos from my recent “Mornings in the Playroom” series. I find myself taking photos of the kids almost every morning in the several-hour span between wake-up and work time. Eli rolls his eyes when I show him the new photos each day (just what we need: more identical photos of Emmett at the train table!), but I can’t help myself. I think Oscar shares Eli’s view, as he makes it essentially impossible for me to photograph his face these days. Anyway, at least the morning light is nice and Emmett still likes me:
The kids (both of ’em) have been waking repeatedly throughout the night recently, making Eli and I feel like every night is an all-night game of whack-a-mole (minus the whacking). By day, we feel like this:
In between face plants, we’ve been taking little road trips, sending our arms and legs to the IRS, and touring preschools for Oscar. Will we or will we not drink the Montessori kool-aid? Stay tuned.
In the meantime, here we are, frolicking in and around lovely Abiquiu, NM last weekend:
When Oscar is napping, I allow Emmett free rein in the playroom. He invariably chooses to wreak havoc on Oscar’s train table. At the tender age of eight months, he has already figured out exactly what will annoy his big brother most.
It saddens and embarrasses me a little to admit this, but here it is: my weekend mantra of late has been, “Is it Monday yet?”
You will usually catch me saying it sometime on Saturday afternoon, right around the time when I’m transferring the 12th load of laundry from the washer to the dryer, I’m still in my pajamas, Oscar has just spilled milk all over his chest because he was trying to drink upside down (again), and Emmett is crying because I am more than 6 inches away from him. Seriously, how are we supposed to do everyone’s laundry, clean up the toys strewn from one end of the house to the other, and do the grocery shopping when the nanny isn’t around to entertain the kids? And if it takes us all weekend to accomplish the stupid, mundane tasks, how can we do what we really want to do — spend quality time with our children?
I know, I know. It’s pretty rich when a woman with a nanny complains about not having enough time to accomplish anything. Cry you a river, right?
Anyway…this past weekend, sick of whining about how much fun we’re not having on the weekends, we made it our mission to have some fun, dammit. We do, after all, live in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where there has to be something wrong with you if you’re not having a good time. So we went snow-shoeing. And it was glorious. For a full 30 minutes! Of course, we had to sprint (uphill) out of the woods at that point because both kids were DONE with the fun little adventure by then, but it felt like an accomplishment nevertheless.
Looks legitimately euphoric, right?
On our ride home, Oscar called out, “Mom! I have something for you! It’s a booger!” This is the same kid who, a few hours earlier, told me that I was “dainty” and then greeted his grandparents on Skype with an enthusiastic “Hey, tits!” (And here I just was, complaining that we never have any fun.)
Apparently Oscar is ready for us to do something about the boxes that we still haven’t unpacked since moving into our new place last August.
His latest remark (I kid you not) was, “This house is not a home.”
children are the crucible through which all of the selfish joys once devoted by the parent to base pursuits like “hobbies” and “recreation” are sublimated into a pure joy focused outwardly toward the child.
there was some discussion of foods appropriate for a tender belly. i told oscar about the BRAT diet, which seemed awfully limiting to him. he wanted an orange, and i explained that citrus is pretty acidic and probably best to be avoided.
“what else is acidic?”
“um . . . grapefruit.”
“sandwiches are acidic.”
“no, i don’t think so.”
“but, muffins are acidic.”
“nope. just like sandwiches, not acidic.”
“the english ones are.”
you just haven’t lived until you’ve been on the receiving end of a projectile vomit shower.
we have kept a human child alive for 3 whole years! we are AWESOME.
i recognize that, when putting this in its proper context, it’s all relative. oscar’s lifespan probably corresponds to only a measly couple of vertical inches in geologic uplift experienced by the himalayas. but, he has already outlived 36 generations of fruit flies! so put that in your pipe, drosophila!
we celebrated this massive achievement by doing something a little uncharacteristic by our standards. we actually invited other people into our home.
we had an honest-to-god party. with a theme. and, we also had a lot of fun. my mom and sister came out for the occasion, which made it extra fantastic.
so, well done, oscar. keep up the good work, young man. and happy birthday.
1. “my candy cane is government flavor.” (clearly going for peppermint here)
2. “why can presidents swim?” (not a clue)
3. “that was a dangerous hug.” (see #2)
We’ve been drowning in the usual stuff lately. But that doesn’t mean we can’t strike a pose every now and then.
It seems that poor Oscar is experiencing some rather volatile emotions toward his brother. At times, he exhibits seemingly genuine feelings of affection toward the not-so-little guy: hugs, kisses, the whole nine yards. But lately he’s been putting on his crazy face much more frequently — jaws and fists clenched, just barely restraining himself from crushing his brother (Eli lovingly refers to this behavior as “berserker mode”). Tonight Oscar told me that we would be eating Emmett for dinner.
A couple of days ago, I heard him absent-mindedly saying something that sounded a lot like “I hate loving you.” The ensuing dialogue went a little something like this:
Me: “What was that, Oscar?”
Oscar: “Oh, it’s from a song.”
Me: “What song is that?”
Oscar: “Hating the baby.”
Me: “Oh! I don’t think I know that song.”
Oscar: “It goes like this. Haaay-ting the baaay-beee. Haaay-ting the baaay-beee.”
Poor kid. It breaks my heart to see the boy struggle. I think I had this idea that the initial adjustment would be difficult for him, but after some number of weeks, brotherly relations would be all roses and sunshine. Recently, though, I realized that it’s probably going to look a lot more like:
i think it’s official. the rosen/powerses breed crappy sleepers. we have two data points of supporting evidence, and even oscar can fit a line to that.
catatonically shuffling a furrow into our bedroom floor at some point in the hairy region between last night and this morning while engaged in a test of wills between my back and a baby, i saw a sign.
and i was completely unprepared for what that sign said.
it said, in toto: PROTUBERANCE.
i have absolutely no idea where this came from. or what it means, for that matter. but, PROTUBERANCE danced across my mind for a *really* long time.
it flashed neon. it scrolled across my eyes like on a screen saver. it zoomed in and out.
and, then, it was gone.
and so, i provide for you a protuberant poem:
Be Glad Your Nose is on Your Face by Jack Prelutsky Be glad your nose is on your face, not pasted on some other place, for if it were where it is not, you might dislike your nose a lot. Imagine if your precious nose were sandwiched in between your toes, that clearly would not be a treat, for you'd be forced to smell your feet. Your nose would be a source of dread were it attached atop your head, it soon would drive you to despair, forever tickled by your hair. Within your ear, your nose would be an absolute catastrophe, for when you were obliged to sneeze, your brain would rattle from the breeze. Your nose, instead, through thick and thin, remains between your eyes and chin, not pasted on some other place-- be glad your nose is on your face!
The official state question of New Mexico is “Red or green?” Meaning, “do you want red or green chile with that?” If you’d like both red AND green chile on your burrito/enchilada/huevos, then the answer is “Christmas.”
In case you missed them on facebook, here are the Rosen-Powers brothers serving up Halloween, Christmas-style.
I am fortunate enough to: 1) work from home, and 2) have a nanny to care for my children while I work. Because I am able to spend a little (or a lot of) time with my kids at regular intervals throughout the workday, this arrangement is really great for Kimby the Mom. Not so great, perhaps, for Kimby the Epidemiologist, but I’m pretty ok with that for now (although Kimby the Epidemiologist can get a little grumpy near work deadlines).
We’re drowning in laundry over here. We’ve had no choice but to enlist the help of les petits.
there are a raft of anxiety dreams that float occasionally through my sleeping unconscious. the one where i am at the radio station in a panic, either trying to figure out what i’m going to play or trying to make equipment work while dead air continues to be broadcasted. or, the one where all of my teeth crumble out of my mouth. but, i think the one that is most disturbing to experience is the one where i have somehow lost my peripheral vision and i can’t seem to figure out what is going on around me.
sometimes this creeps benignly into my waking life. i’ll be driving somewhere routine and find that my mind has gone down some wormhole, i have apparently auto-piloted through several turns, and then snap out of it in time watch as i blitz by my destination. sometimes it’s more insidious. the last couple of months of entries here attest to the fact that we have cocooned ourselves up in this newborn/move chrysalis where we are all but deaf to the world around us. like we have been programmed to feed/diaper/box/unbox/occasionally raise an eyebrow at one another/power off. but just like in the car, something comes along to snap me awake.
in this case, a friend told me that her cousin had just been informed that she was going to lose her adolescent son to cancer. a simple trip to a physical therapist had ended in cause for concern, which cascaded to a terminal diagnosis. my hair stands on end just writing it. it’s hard to conceive of how i would handle this. actually, no. it’s not. i would dissolve into a quivering blob and no longer be able to function. some people have the capacity to meet adversity. many of the people on this planet are forced through circumstances not of their choosing to become inured to the human condition simply by facing death on a daily basis.
i am not one of such people. i have had the enormous good fortune to be born in a first world country, to a loving and scarily uncrazy family, with health care, etc. i have a beautiful, insanely intelligent wife and two healthy and insane children. i have a job that i love. really, it would be greedy for me to ask for anymore. well, i may have to ask for divine potty-training, but i really will quit after that. pinky swear. this streak of luck has left me completely unprepared for crisis.
but, i have regained a little perspective. so, the next time i struggle to answer one more of oscar’s “whys” (which are incessant, as they should be for an inquisitive little bugger), i’m going to remember just how incredibly lucky i am. although i am still searching for an answer to “why is that a book?” if you’ve got any hot leads, do let me know. until then, “it just is” will have to suffice.
Have baby – check.
Move house – check.
Establish the fact that baby will not take a bottle – check.
Panic about the implications of baby’s decision – check.
Take baby across the country 2 times in 2 days in order to fulfill work obligation while not leaving baby behind to starve – check.
The worst is behind us now, and the elder son seems to have developed a fondness for his brother (and his mother) in the midst of it all.
Let’s all take a really long nap.
well, mostly. the worst is over. i think. or, at least hope.
but, thanks to the enormous goodwill of my colleagues who turned out in droves to pitch in we managed to ship everything from one little slice of heaven to another. and a super special thank you to my mom who made a return trip out to santa fe to lend a hand. over her birthday (which we somehow got totally wrong). and her anniversary (which we completely flubbed).
so yeah, we aren’t really back up to total speed. but, by god we did it. and let this be a lesson to you kids: don’t by any stretch of your imagination think that you want to do what we just did.
Well, we managed to get ourselves, our attire, 2 rugrats, 2 strollers, and 2 car seats across the country and back for a brief stint in Vacationland last week. I would be lying if I said the travels were painless (we were totally those people who everyone prays they won’t have to sit next to on a plane), but we had a lovely visit, replete with my baby sister’s wedding, a couple of days on the beach, and a trip to my dad’s horse farm:
Before and after our “vacation” (a notion that I have learned to mean something completely different once you have kids), we have packed something on the order of 200 boxes. Our packing progress is due in no small part to a very timely visit by Eli’s parents & sister, who cooked dinner and entertained Oscar while I bounced our fussy baby on a yoga ball for hours on end and Eli shoved things into boxes.
All this while apparently doing some work for our employers and keeping the kids (but not necessarily ourselves) fed, bathed, dressed, and well-rested. Good times!
The big move to our new house will occur this coming weekend, when we will have no fewer than a dozen of Eli’s coworkers (including the company Prez and VP!) helping us load and unload our moving trucks. Then we will just have to clear my quick work trip to DC in early September, and thereafter everything will most definitely be cake.
Our friend Kiyah blogged about an abecedary devoted to Rock n’ Roll. To which I thought: YES! This is my wheelhouse. This is totally geared to suckers like me. And then I took a look at their selections. Now, I like a lot of the stuff on this list. But, as a list that I feel should encompass capital R Rock? It is woeful. It is with almost no exceptions comprised of white guys that explores little of the music’s roots. I needed to do better. So, I humbly submit to you one permutation (this was seriously hard and each letter had multiple folks I wanted) of MY list that I think captures more of the genres (the origin myth, early rock, soul, surf, rockabilly, punk, no wave, cajun, psych, etc.) and the cultural influences (irish, african, latino, etc.) and the eras that are in the amalgam.
This is what I’ve been working on when I should be packing. Annotations for each track may come sometime soon. Click the artist’s name for more info and the song name to hear it.
Emmett turned one month old today. To celebrate, I trotted him down to the pediatrician’s office for a check-up. Giant Baby now weighs 13 pounds and measures 23 inches, landing himself squarely in the 99th percentile for both height and weight. Not as sizeable as the 16-pound baby born recently in Texas, but bigger than Oscar was at 2.5 months…which means that Oscar might want to rethink his whole “I want to hurt the baby” mentality (his words, not mine) sooner rather than later.
You might get the impression from recent posts that we are in way over our heads here. You would be right. It has been a fairly steady torrent of spit-up, soiled sheets, infant screams, and toddler insults, often all at the same time. Yesterday, while we were driving to visit prospective rental home number 15, Oscar told me he was going to throw me out the window, and I found myself sort of wishing that he would.
But lest you conclude from all of our kvetching that we haven’t enjoyed a single moment of the past fortnight, I give you the following photographic evidence of familial bliss:
we may be treading water a little bit right now, but we are still eeking by. so, you say, why not see if you can simultaneously orchestrate some other life change?
well we like the way you think, so we’re gonna pack up all our stuff and move to a new house! awesome! thank you crushing childcare costs! wahoo!
ultimately, this will be a good thing. we’re moving out of a place that always felt a little too fancy to us and (most likely) into a place that makes a lot more sense and is more convenient and comfortable. but, the labor of getting there from here should be a bit of a trick while fending off the bites and kicks and “i hate yous” of one anklebiter while trying to keep the other from shrieking like die walküre.
newborns do smell nice, but i think we both enjoyed this phase with oscar quite a bit more. no offense, emmett, it’s just that we know empirically that you are going to become a lot more fun and all we have to do now is survive.
i tell ya, i really think we’d have this whole caring for an infant thing licked if we didn’t have to keep taking care of primo.
poor oscar has felt the tectonic shift in the house and seems to still be suffering from the aftershocks. he is genuinely curious about what “his baby” is doing. but, he also is peppering his possession defense (“i don’t want to share my daddy”) with some potent offense (throwing objects and even hitting on occasion). i swear i saw him stalking emmett today.
so, emmett week 1 has been a bit of a blur. we’re still getting used to having switched from a double team to a straight-up man-to-man and now we’re being called upon to really step up our game on the defensive end lest there be blood.
totally normal, understandable behavior from a 2 year old who’s just had the rug pulled out from under him. but, i wish there was a little bit more of a lag period for us to get our feet under us again. i guess i need to resign myself to a fact that my dad has been telling me for some time: control is an illusion.
simultaneously liberating and terrifying.
no, don’t run. i may be a monster of a baby, but i come in peace.
your world is marginally amusing to me when i can keep my eyes open.
i’m kind of up all the time now, which i gather makes it challenging for parents still trying to get back to that “high-functioning” zombie state they long forgot about to come up with witty things to say here. but, let’s be honest, the state they’re in is delusion if they think anybody looks beyond the pics to read the text of this blog.
so, shush now. just gaze upon the beauty that is me. i’m not really sure what my inspiration was for this shot. milk seems a solid guess.
there is a new entity with whom to share our rosen-powers. and he is nothing short of a beast. faced with the herculean task of birthing a 9lb baby, kimby did not cower (though she might have preferred to negotiate).
and, courtesy of margaret mead, emmett, lesson the first:
“always remember that you are absolutely unique. just like everyone else.”
it is exceedingly difficult for me to resist the urge to return a salutation in kind. even when the response makes no sense in context.
a woman wished me a happy father’s day yesterday, and then before i knew what i was doing i wished her the same. kim laughed and laughed, i turned red and i mumbled “not that you are a father . . . ” before running away in embarrassment.
kind of like how i repeatedly answer an airline rep’s urgings for me to have a good flight with an enthusiastic “you, too.” and then i kick myself.
we’ve been killing time around here waiting for the omnipresent 8.00lb gorilla in the womb to show its face. seriously, protohuman, let’s get this done.
so, how to occupy the time? well, we’ve been:
1. watching our backyard burn. after a couple of weeks spent inhaling the biomass burning plume from arizona’s larges wildfire OF ALL TIME, we now have our very own little backwoods blaze. these are not forces majeure, unfortunately. credit human stupidity for living in arid regions under drought conditions and still neglecting safe practices during this windy la nina.
2. spotting celebs. new mexico, much to our current governor’s epic chagrin, loves it some hollywood. the state gives massive tax credits to studios shooting films out here. and while execs enjoy greenlighting some execrable material, they apparently love to cut tax corners so they film out here all the time. this weekend i spotted ed harris ambling in front of our car at a stoplight. he joins sam shepard (whom i checked out behind in whole foods) and gary shteyngart (whom i rubbed shoulders with at the farmers market) in the cadre of folks that i’ve seen around town. i usually don’t feel compelled to approach or say anything, but i couldn’t fight off the urge with sam shepard. i happened to be reading a collection of his short stories at the time, and somehow it just felt like kismet. he is the quintessential badass playwright/actor/holy modal rounders drummer. not to mention that we were standing in the checkout line together, so it seemed so easy. when he gave oscar a smile it seemed like the ideal opening, so i mentioned that i was enjoying one of his books. he sort of nodded the comment off, grabbed his kombucha or whatever and headed for the hills. i’m not exactly sure what i expected, but it definitely felt like we both would have enjoyed the experience much more if i hadn’t said a thing.
but, the celebs do present a pretty fascinating illustration of the varying ways we remember things. kim never notices these folks, but i can see them for a second and recognize the face with near certainty. couldn’t tell you where my wallet is, mind you, but the facial recognition is something that just comes naturally (note: kim reminds me that the list also includes alan alda). i just got done reading a pretty entertaining book about our power of memory and how different people possess different strengths, but that fundamentally we can train ourselves to remember an absolutely astonishing amount of information in personal “memory palaces”. it’s by jonathan safran foer’s little bro, and certainly worth checking out at the library.
and speaking of little bros, everybody seems anecdotally convinced that protohuman rosen-powers has a Y chromosome. everybody, that is, except for oscar. he has made it clear that he is anticipating a little baby sister. named china.
Does your belly hang low?
Does it wobble to and fro?
Can you tie it in a knot?
Can you tie it in a bow?
Can you throw it over your shoulder like a Continental soldier?
Does your belly hang low?
Though the official due date is still 2 weeks away, this kid is now a week late by Oscar’s calendar, and we might be getting a little punchy. The first one caught us off-guard and the second one is making us wait. Could it be that children know exactly how to drive their parents crazy even before they enter the world? This one likes to rub it in by punching me in the legs while I eat dinner with my belly in my lap. Don’t get me wrong — I admire a fetus with a sense of humor — but we’re desperately in need of some new material here.
the new mexico sun can be punishing in the summer, and we often escape to the cool shade of the mountains. our standard shady hike involves a descent that tends to consume all of oscar’s interest in self-ambulation and i end up carrying him back out of the woods. while he was riding on my shoulders last weekend, this exchange occurred:
O: what’s that, dayy-ad?
Me: i don’t know, buddy. your fingers are in my eyes.
The belly is about to burst (seriously, it has corners when the baby pokes out a heel or a knee) and the due date is another 29 days away. The concept of reaching 40 weeks’ gestation is completely foreign to child-bearing women in my family, so (thankfully) I suspect we won’t have to wait that long. The chatty old lady sitting next to us at dinner last weekend seemed to agree: when I told her I was due July 1st, she scoffed and said “I don’t think so!”
We’ve respectfully asked this child to wait another week so we can finish preparations and tie up some loose ends. We were caught with our pants down when Oscar decided to arrive at 37 weeks, and we’d really like to avoid the panicked “oh-my-god-quick-pack-the-hospital-bags” feeling this time. If he/she gives us a week, we’re good. Less than a week and we’re toast again.
This weekend, we are going on our first adults-only getaway since Oscar was born almost two and a half years ago. We have much to celebrate: Eli’s 30-somethingth birthday (today), our 6th wedding anniversary (Monday), the end of a project I’ve been working on for four years, and our carefree (but soon-ending) existence as parents of only one child. On the agenda: lodging at La Posada (thank you, Priceline!), dinners at La Boca and The Compound (thank you, Rosens & Grandma Colette!), movies at the theater (!!), sleeping past 7, and a soak at Ten Thousand Waves. Holy hot damn, you have never seen a heavily pregnant woman with more spring in her step. Oh, and you should see the maternity bathing suit I’ll be sporting in the hotel pool. Imagine a very fat spider with only four (extremely pale) limbs. Hot.
Here’s hoping we can do it again in another 2.5 years.
Eli was on the chase team for another weather balloon launch last week. The balloon’s cargo landed somewhere in The Middle of Nowhere, NM, and Eli had to hop a fence onto private ranch property to track it down. Being a semi-paranoid / overprotective wife with perhaps a slightly exaggerated impression of New Mexico’s lawlessness, my first question was, “Did anyone try to shoot you?”
Instead of chasing Eli from their property on horseback (guns blazing), the ranch owners wanted nothing more than to offer beer and have their photos taken with a real, live scientist:
You might have caught the news in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the BBC, etc.: A large and rigorous research study (led by my boss) has demonstrated that starting antiretroviral therapy early in HIV infection, rather than waiting until an infected person becomes ill, can dramatically reduce the risk of onward HIV transmission. While several lines of evidence have pointed previously to the prevention benefits of antiretroviral therapy, this study provides the most definitive evidence to date, and (perhaps more importantly) actually quantifies the preventive effect in a more valid and reliable way. It’s big news for the field of HIV prevention and big news for UNC. My boss has told me that I will be conducting some analyses of the study data (immediately!), so it is also big news for me (and such excellent timing, too, what with my due date being just around the corner).
Anyway, the most interesting thing (for me) has been the online response to the news coverage of this study. While a small minority of comments have recognized its scientific importance, the overwhelming majority have been of a few negative/misinformed flavors, including the following:
1. This is old news.
2. Nobody should be spending time or money on HIV, because the Bible teaches us how to avoid it: stop being gay and/or promiscuous. Instead, we should be focusing on stroke and heart disease, since these diseases aren’t caused by avoidable behaviors.
3. HIV doesn’t cause AIDS. AIDS is caused by HIV drugs pushed on people by evil scientists and pharmaceutical companies.
4. These drugs don’t actually cure HIV, so who cares?
Comment #1 is sort of right, in that there have been a number of (far less definitive) studies suggesting the preventive effects of ART. Comment #4 fails to recognize that in the absence of a cure, prevention is our only weapon (and besides, preventing a disease in the first place is better than having to treat/cure it later). I will never understand AIDS denialism (comment #3). Seriously, where do they get this stuff? And while it is certainly the case that many people (heterosexual and otherwise) have become infected due to their own reckless behavior, the whole “blame the victim” argument (comment #2) fails to recognize that many more people with HIV (infants born with the infection, monogamous people whose supposedly-also-monogamous partners acquired the infection through infidelity, women whose HIV-positive spouses refused to use protection, etc.) became HIV-infected through no fault of their own (again, heterosexual and otherwise). Oh, and by the way, a large proportion of heart disease and stroke cases are caused by avoidable behaviors.
Really, people. It’s ok with me if you want to hate the drug companies a little, but please don’t categorically blame HIV on “the gays,” and please stop hating scientists so much.
We are now 7 weeks away from my due date, and just 4 weeks away from the point at which I delivered Oscar. While we are very excited to be growing our family, we haven’t devoted nearly enough time to preparing for the transition, and things are starting to get a little scary around here.
THINGS I AM NOT LOOKING FORWARD TO:
- The pain of childbirth
- Sharing a home with not one, but two, creatures who possess the power to keep me up all night
- Adjusting to being a mother of two without any real maternity leave
- Having less one-on-one time with Oscar
- Experiencing the total chaos and unpredictability of the first year (+++)
- Sibling rivalry
- Flying with two kids
THINGS I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO:
- Having a new little person to love, nurture, and enjoy
- Giving Oscar the gift of a sibling
- Having my waist back (very handy for keeping pants up and carrying a toddler)
- Going for long runs again (eventually)
- Indulging in beer, wine, and sushi (eventually)
- Putting my maternity wardrobe away
- Being able to bend over freely
- Eating as much as I want and still losing weight
Well, hey, that’s not so bad. 8 positives and 7 negatives. Of course, I’m sure there are things I’m not even thinking about yet, but I only want to hear about them if they’re good things.
reject all notions of what you have been indoctrinated to believe about what comprises a sandwich.
take a bite out of this contrivance.
examine the bread layer. then cast it off. liberating isn’t it?
taste, if you must, the turkey. does the texture please? no. it is silly, and it is smelly. there is no better place for it than the floor.
if there be tomatoes, do not force these upon your palate. focus instead upon their texture. squeezing a slice makes me think of one thing: mushy.
having stripped this edifice away, we are left with the cheese. always, but always, keep the cheese.
it was a busy day in the kitchen. in the morning, i had cooked up a brunch for some folks we are hoping to call friends. by the time all the dishes were done, it was time to make dinner, or so it seemed. and then, with the kitchen once again clean, it was time to collapse into bed.
just as i had crawled into bed, kim asked me if i smelled gas. i couldn’t smell a thing, and generally consider kim to be a little paranoid about such things particularly at that time of day. it is only a slight exaggeration to say that once the sun goes down, a stiff breeze through the trees can make her a little jumpy.
even a lazy-ass like me knows that gas leaks are not to be trifled with, so in spite of my general skepticism i hopped up to take a look. lo and behold, one of the burners hadn’t been turned off and gas must have been leaking for a couple of hours. the flame wasn’t on, so i’m still scratching my head about how it occurred. our trusty(?) CO monitor didn’t pick up anything, but thanks to kim’s estrogen-enhanced spidey sense of smell we all lived to see the morning.
another tick mark under reasons not to fuck with a pregnant lady.
Here is a picture conveying the fun that Eli had at work yesterday:
As you probably can’t quite see it, let me tell you that the science-induced joy on his face is just too adorable. And how cool is it that Zorro is one of his co-workers?
Here is a picture resulting from my time at work yesterday:
I was pretty proud of it until I saw how much cooler Eli’s day was.
for work today, i helped chase down a balloonsonde. we released a balloon in santa fe, tracked it by gps as it ascended to 100k ft (almost 20mi!), popped, and then fell helplessly at gravity’s mercy. the balloon traveled a good 150 miles horizontally, to boot. we had a good time tromping around to locate it.
it was completely awesome.
Oscar can only count as far as 11, but he tells us that his favorite number is 45. It must have a certain je ne sais quoi. Or something.
we’ve kind of got a good thing going on these days. alright, in spite of kim’s miserable job situation, we’ve got a pretty good thing going on these days at least.
1. the boy sleeps
2. he is completely absorbing, hilarious, and engaging.
3. we can bring him places and do things. like hiking. this works best when he is constrained between two steep canyon walls and really has only one direction of egress. otherwise it’s a bit of a free-for-all. trails, it seems, are a lovely suggestion but a bit mundane.
4. see number 1.
and although i am genuinely excited about the fact that we are about to become a quartet, i am also just a little bit terrified. this nice little routine is about to get turned on its head. and, although as a teenager i never would have believed this about myself , i am a creature of habit. we are about 12 weeks away from sticking our heads in the sands for a good long while. soon, when you ask me whether i think qaddafi should be spelled qaddafi or gaddafi (you crazy brits) all i’ll be able to muster is “aguh”. more likely, you will catch one glimpse at the bags under the bags under my eyes, shake your head, pat my shoulder, and not ask a thing.
because you’ll know better.
Soon after we moved to Santa Fe, I joined “The Santa Fe Mommy Meetup Group” (gag, I know) in hopes of making a friend or two. Although my vision of interacting with humans other than my husband, son, and nanny turned out to be a wild fantasy, I have found the SFMMG’s online discussion board to be invaluable when it comes to things like choosing a pediatrician, getting the lowdown on kids’ consignment shops, etc. I monitor that discussion board like it’s my job.
Over the last few days, one member of the group has gone on an anti-vaccination posting rampage. Her posts have included link after link to junk-science articles decrying “toxic” vaccines, accompanied by such commentary as:
“this article is for those of you looking at the truth about vaccines,” and
“in this day and age, there is no excuse for being unaware,” and
“I’m not anti-vaccine, I’m pro-healthy-child.”
Over the last several years, I have gone through the literature on both sides of this argument. After finding the anti-vaccine literature to be so riddled with logical fallacies that it’s offensive, I have taken a firm pro-vaccine stance. Not a vociferous one, mind you. I don’t go around lecturing people about the dangers of not vaccinating their children, and I only express my opinion if asked. Mostly, I try not to judge other parents for making decisions that differ from my own, because being a parent is hard and we’re all just doing the best we can. A lot of these decisions are intensely personal and the last thing anyone needs is self-righteous disapproval from others. I therefore bristle at suggestions that I am “unaware,” not looking at “the truth,” or not “pro-healthy-child.”
I composed a very measured response to this woman’s rants, but I ultimately chose not to post it, for fear of sounding like a giant douchebag to a bunch of women I may (?) one day meet. But here on our safe little blog, where I am obviously unconcerned about sounding like a giant douchebag, I will tell her what I think in considerably less polite terms:
Sometimes I am envious of people who possess the time, money, and creativity to design rooms like this one:
Then my sensible New England upbringing returns me to reality, and I take comfort in thoughts like, “Ok, but what will that woman do when her two-year-old pukes on *every* surface of her $1500 glider?”
Yes, she might get it professionally cleaned or buy a new one. OR she might first douse it with enzymatic pet-stain cleaner, then cover it with a homemade baking soda paste, then soak it with a vinegar-based concoction, then hose the whole thing off, and then leave the cushions out to dry on her porch swing, only to find that the swing’s wood stain has left indelible brown stripes all over the fabric. Who knew that you could actually make vomit-covered cushions look progressively worse the more you clean them?
Anyway, I take solace in the fact that when something like this happens to the woman who created the world’s most perfect nursery, she will likely be more distraught than, say, a woman who purchased her glider secondhand on craigslist.
We’re still here. My 10-day business/pleasure trip to NY/Boston/Maine is behind us, as are Oscar’s back-to-back GI/respiratory illnesses. Life seems to be returning to a temporary state of balance.
Next up: finding room for 3 additional months of fetal growth and learning to deal with the terrible twos. Oscar’s newest phrase, said with much glee, is “Mummy Dummy.” Sigh. And we were just starting to think that we had this parenting thing figured out. Shame on us.
…you hear yourself saying things like, “we do NOT kick our milk across the table” and “do you want to get poop all over everything?”
art runs in my family. at least among the women in my family. i embody no great talent, but oscar may yet possess some aptitude. his most significant work is an installation piece tentatively entitled “like seeds to the wind, 2011”. it’s a mixed media work, never quite the same, in which he first casually scatters art supplies about the house and then moves on to books, cds, items from the pantry and finally anything else he can get his hands on before i bind him to a chair.
i guess it may also be performance art.
i can’t say that i particularly care for his work, but artists are born to be misunderstood. it is the great ones that pay their critics no heed and suffer for their work. stay hungry, oscar.
Call (from bath): We’re ready for your help with the rinse!
Response (from hall): I’m ready for a TUMS!
and . . . scene.
we had dinner last night with a work colleague and spouse who have no interest in procreation. on the one hand, who will take care of them when they grow old and frail? on the other hand, objectively, who ever thinks that this is what the social calendar winnows to and then, when knee deep in the shit, doesn’t every so often guiltily allow the memory to conjure up images of a former life?
that said, i can just hear myself in a year’s time thinking wistfully back to how easy it all was when there was only one of them. the protohuman is highly active in utero. even more so than oscar. be afraid. be very afraid.
Much like his mother, Oscar is still defining his personal style. The choice between “Wild West” and “Material Girl” is understandably difficult:
After yesterday’s dramatic faceplant on our concrete floor, the mustache may be a better choice than the bling. An exaggerated handlebar looks especially tough above a mouth filled with snaggleteeth.
the calendar has now turned twice for young master oscar. we scratched our heads to think it has already been two years since kim’s water broke after eating some pre-dinner mint chip ice cream. and to scroll down this blog to see where this little human was a year ago, let alone two, is staggering. now he can differentiate a skid steer from an articulated dump truck. i mean, what?
it was a really nice little celebration out here with my mom and anna. oscar let it be known that he wanted a “kitty cat cake” but seemed willing to accept a cupcake in its stead. adaptable as ever.
We’re off to Maine tomorrow, with no illusions about the very special brand of travel hell that awaits us. It’s a good thing one of us hit Ten Thousand Waves for multiple spa treatments today.
Goodbye, snow. Hello, vacation!
What’s a girl to do but take the day off from work? (Never mind the whole no-commute thing.)
a lyricist in the making, oscar has added several verses to the time-honored classic “the wheels on the bus”. a selection:
– the diapers on the bus say “pooie” (which is oscar’s version of peeyew)
– the oscars on the bus say “onomatopoeia” (i am not making this up)
– the cheese on the bus says “nom nom nom”
– a broad class of things that say “vroom vroom”
- the dump trucks on the bus
- the cars on the bus
- the excavators on the bus
- the pick-ups on the bus
- the big rigs on the bus
a true artiste and enfant terrible, he also demands creativity from those around him. kim has been forced to act quickly when requests are made for such unknown bedtime hits as “the frog one, (no. other one)” and “the choo choo one” and “the monkey one”. i’m sure i’m leaving some out.
You can give 10,000 guns to 10,000 Gamecocks and still harbor hope for a peaceful resolution, but once the mademoiselles have forsworn the vision of new shoes, Caesar has crossed the Rubicon.
there has been no talk of secession yet, but it has clearly become important for a certain member of this union to exert his sovereign rights to be a willful, naughty little shit on occasion. this, of course, is said from a place of love, but it is not always amusing to have one’s boundaries probed. just remember, oscar: there is power in a union.
it’s a quiet thanksgiving day here in NM. we are without family this year, which makes this feel a bit more like a day off than a proper thanksgiving celebration. but, we are hot on the heels of a wonderful visit from dear friends who are for all intents and purposes family. as we age and some friendships evolve, it is enormously comforting to know that there are some people with whom it will always be a joy to spend time. that is definitely worth a moment of thanks.
and also, we miss you, family. come see us some time. we have new couches for you to sit on. and as soon as we boot our nanny out, you’ll have a bedroom of your own. there’s snow on the ground and a fireplace inside to keep you warm.
Working exclusively from home has some advantages: 1) I don’t have to commute every morning, 2) I don’t need nice clothes, and 3) My employers don’t know what I’m doing at any given time. Working from home also has some disadvantages: 1) I don’t leave the house every morning, 2) I don’t have any nice clothes, and 3) I can spend an entire workday developing, say, a seemingly critical spreadsheet about the dimensions and prices of all of the couches we might want to buy. It’s perhaps this last one that poses the greatest threat to my sanity.
I’ve found a few remedies for the work-from-home blues:
1) Relocating 30 whole feet from my bedroom desk to the kitchen table as soon as child and nanny have departed for the park
2) Composing blog posts about mundane details of my life
3) Hourly snacks (healthy, of course, but cookies and ice cream are allowed as needed during times of extreme boredom, frustration, or isolation)
4) Periodic breaks to color or “play choo-choo”
5) Daily jogs/walks around the neighborhood:
To try next: 1) working in a coffee shop or library, 2) attending more scientific meetings.
it’s a day to make cornbread and chili, and stay beslippered.
How It Happens
The sky said I am watching
to see what you
can make out of nothing
I was looking up and I said
I thought you
were supposed to be doing that
the sky said Many
are clinging to that
I am giving you a chance
I was looking up and I said
I am the only chance I have
then the sky did not answer
and here we are
with our names for the days
the vast days that do not listen to us
— W.S. MERWIN, poet laureate of the United States
thank you nyt, for providing the segue to MST. if only oscar could appreciate the concept of an extra hour’s snooze.
Fact: Chapel Hill, NC and Pittsfield, ME are farther from Santa Fe, NM than they are from each other. It would seem, then, that it might be more efficient to visit both points — and all points of interest in between — in a single trip, rather than making a series of West-East journeys.
Or would it? The calculus becomes a bit more complicated when you factor in a toddler and his associated paraphernalia, a tight vacation budget, and a strong desire to leave the car in New Mexico. And let us not forget precisely how little fun it is to drive I-95 between DC and Boston.
Can we do it? And if so, how much damage to our sanity will it cause, and how many modes of transport will it require?
Stay tuned — we may just be coming YOUR way soon!
p.s. Yes, I really did spend 30 minutes creating that map when I should have been working on a paper. That’s how bored I am with my work.
Most of our thoughts have been consumed by boring and stress-inducing things lately, like what to do with our real salaries now that we have them, how to handle a slightly elevated radon level in our house, and how long our nanny from North Carolina will continue to work for us here in New Mexico. Apparently, difficult situations do not magically dissolve upon the completion of graduate school. Go figure.
But hey, these issues are privileged-person problems, and it’s not all gloom and doom in these parts. In the last few weeks, we’ve enjoyed a visit by “Dammie” and “Danddad” and a trip to “Unca Arnold’s” house for tractor rides and wedding festivities.
North Carolina requires its former residents to return their former license plates. The act of putting our newly invalid YSR-8516 plate in a manila envelope today brought me a slight twinge of regret, primarily because we can no longer include it in the “license plate hall of fame” adorning our garage wall, but also because North Carolina was (mostly) good to us. Funny how a little distance and time can make one forget the suckiest aspects of a place (e.g., dissertation hell, a cramped townhouse, absolutely effing unbearable heat & humidity) in favor of reminiscing about the good things (e.g., the birth of a child, two PhDs, UNC basketball games, warm beaches, Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen).
Fall in New Mexico looks like:
we woke up the other morning at about 4am to bundle ourselves into the car, drive down to albuquerque, and take in the balloon fiesta. this event has long been one of our favorites events in these parts. as hard as it is to drag yourself out of bed that early, the reward looks a little something like this:
we were excited to see oscar’s reaction, but were a little apprehensive about how he would deal with the early wake up. the plan was to pack everything up, shut off all the lights, and then quickly shuffle oscar into the car (hopefully still sleeping). he stirred a little as i pulled him out of the crib, but then put his head down on my shoulder. i gently lowered him into his seat and fumbled in the darkness to strap him in. roused from his sleep, he perked right up and rather than whimper at the early hour he announced his desires: CHEESE!
But here we are. When Eli was first considering accepting his offer from Southwest Sciences, we wondered what it would be like to live in Santa Fe again, now that we’re old, jaded, and parental. Could we still make it up a trail in snow shoes? Would Oscar hate hiking? Would living in Santa Fe be any fun if we couldn’t try a new restaurant on a whim at 10:00 pm? We still don’t know the answers to these questions, and there are still others: Why are we trying to raise a child so far away from his grandparents? Will anybody like us here? Will I manage to be a productive researcher when I’m so far away from my colleagues?
So, things are still a bit uncertain here, but we have several things going for us: a gorgeous home (you should’ve seen our old place), gainful employment (!!!!), incredible views, an annual pass to all of the National Parks, and a kid who at least seems to like exploring the rocks in our driveway. We still don’t exactly know what our lives are going to look like here, given that our situation is so different from what it was during our last Santa Fe adventure. It’s strange, though: sometimes when I’m driving around the familiar streets, it sort of feels like we never left (in a very deja-vu-time-warpish sort of way). Moments like those give me hope that we’re going to have just as much fun this time.
when it comes to bed real estate, oscar is not to be trifled with. what began as an equitable bed power-sharing arrangement devolved into this usurpation of resources. like any despot worth his salt, oscar wears the medals to prove it:
Artful Table – $200 (Santa Fe)
Date: 2010-09-02, 12:34PM MDT
Reply to: email@example.com
15 Years ago I made the “Marriage of the Swan and The Brush.” It has a real handmade paint brush
that looks like Swan’s hair and the second photo is in the drawer. It also has 1 leg that is remind one of human(like).
- Location: Santa Fe
- it’s NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
Kind of what everyone looks for in a table, right? 1 leg that is remind one of human(like)?
Still, that table just might look nice next to this killer mural that adorns our living room wall (for now):
As of last Saturday, Santa Fe is home. We now sit on bags and boxes of accumulated crap that we actually paid someone to haul across the country for us.
At least our sea of bags and boxes sits below rainbows, faux-dobe homes, and aromatic pinon trees.
We expect the sun to be sort of a chronic “problem” in Santa Fe, so, fortunately, we found a solution:
Also, we found a new house AND a new car there. Check out the new wheels:
All this, and only one fender-bender, one piece of lost luggage, and two flat tires in the last week. On balance, things are looking good. Fingers crossed that the vibe will be this positive when we see this truck again next week:
Life after graduate school seems to bear no resemblance to life during graduate school (thank GOD). Here’s how we passed our last few weeks in the UK:
We tamed lions:
We indulged in cold milk and warm beer:
We sailed the river Thames:
We gained 500 pounds (each):
We made feeble attempts to work them all off:
We chased cows…
…and large rocks:
And we drank lots of coffee to make up for all of the sleep we weren’t getting:
we ambled by her majesty’s london digs on our way home from some exploring the other day. she elicited a big “ho-hum.”
but, feathers? that’s a different story:
oscar’s existence has been fairly sheltered, by design. after the debacle of an in-home day care, he’s been chillin’ at home with us and the nanny. shaking/throwing/chewing the same toys and dragging them to the same parks.
the full ramifications of this course of action have become starkly apparent now that we’ve temporarily turned that world on its head with a UK holiday. first off, we are cohabiting with a three year-old with big boy toys that we had no idea how ready oscar was to play with. take note:
this trove of goodies has oscar so fixated that he’s got this steady dribble of drool going which he saves for moments of serious concentration. it really is something to behold. like when you are reading a completely absorbing book and the world around you melts away, you forget to eat, etc. we have to tug this kid away to cram some food in his maw. once the food is presented to him, he has been ravenous. but, once tanked up, he’s immediately back for more.
and then there is the world outside. even from the window he can see the buses and people streaming in every direction, whereas at home there is only a sedate parking lot to peer upon. it has been fascinating to watch him drink it all in as we’ve ventured out.
while kim was stuck doing work this morning, we took the tube, walked across the river, and marveled at the turbine hall of the tate modern. oscar seemed to appreciate richard serra’s severity in steel. of course, he particularly enjoyed the celebratory glass of milk in the upstairs cafe:
that was just the morning, mind you. in the afternoon, we picked up kim and accompanied our friends to a local rec center replete with a ball pit. for a kid with a borderline ball fetish, we were expecting ecstasy. what we got was this:
it seems that the high density of other kids and stimulus was all just a little bit much for the little guy. guess we may have to meter the fun a tad. who knew how boring an existence he’s lead?
This is the room where I will be speaking on Friday. Do you see all of those chairs? And the screens for projecting the speaker’s image?
Is it too late to back out?