We very recently welcomed this little one into the world! He’s so very sweet. Life with two boys begins!
Over the past year, we’ve had some serious discussion about whether or not we should move to the suburbs.
I think what precipitated it was our good friends (and Bub’s godparents) moving out to Montgomery County. Better schools, a nice backyard, slightly more space, slightly less pollution – it all seemed so idyllic. The problem, we quickly realized, is the dramatically larger mortgage payment. To really get something that meets all of our specifications, it would probably cost $700K. That is A LOT of money. And being the elitist snobs we are, we’d rather stay put than compromise on anything about the house we would theoretically buy – it has to be larger than our house now, nice backyard, the right neighborhood (Bethesda/Kensington/Garrett Park), excellent schools, and not have the Beltway in its backyard. Live further out? NO. Mediocre schools? NO. Only three bedrooms? NO. Excellent view of the Beltway? NO. 1970s split level with shag carpeting? Well, Hub can fix anything – so yeah, that might be OK.
I’ve lived in DC the better part of the last decade, and sometime during that time I became accustomed to the city way of life. What we can’t buy at the hardware store, the grocery store, or Eastern Market, we get from Amazon. We’re on a first name basis with our UPS delivery guy. Within a one-mile radius, I can have food from ten different cultures, some of them delivered. When my son plays at the playground, he regularly interacts with children from a wide variety of socio-economic groups and cultures. Hub rides his bike to work. I can ride the bike to the grocery store (as Hub points out, I have only done that once, but as I pointed out, I have been pregnant for the past nine months and was sick with a heart condition before that). Do we have cars from Maryland that think our street is a raceway? Yeah. Do we have to pick up trash on our street constantly? Well, yeah. Does my neighbor think it’s cool to play Rhianna at full blast at 5am? She does. Does Benning Road attract crime? Sure. But that’s the city. As far as I can tell from the DCPD Twitter Feed, there’s crime in NW DC too.
The lure of the suburbs for me boils down to two things – a backyard and good schools. Our house will not likely be that much bigger (we’re really lucky in that department). The attraction of the city has a longer list, although nothing that adds up to the promise of good schools, I’m afraid: a shorter commute; more diversity of all kinds for my son; easy access to amazing museums, activities, and parks; and the “cool” factor of that we live in DC, the actual city, and not only make it work but thrive. We’re part of our community in large and small ways, and it feels great to have a supportive network. That outweighs a big backyard – but it doesn’t outweigh the importance of education for my sons (I know, the second one isn’t QUITE born but I’m sure he will go to school).
We’ll just have to see what happens on March 31st when the DC Public School lottery is announced. And then, if that doesn’t go well, we’ll go through it again next year. After that, we may start to consider more seriously what’s best for our entire family.
This is so delayed, I know.
A while back there was a mom, known I guess as “Fit Mom,” who posed in all her fitness with her three young sons, wearing workout clothes and smiling big, with the tagline “What’s Your Excuse?” at the top. Apparently someone reported her for “hate speech” on Facebook.
Now, calling that hate speech is pretty darn stupid. However, I really hate the whole “What’s Your Excuse?” tagline. You see it in a lot of places – older people working out, disabled people working out, etc. I think people mean it to be inspiring but it really comes off as just a little mean.
There are very valid “excuses” why people don’t run, or aren’t as fit as Fit Mom and her ilk. Sure, there’s a lot of people who probably need to get off their duff and go for a walk, and save our healthcare system some cash in the process. But there are people out in this world who are disabled, who have heart conditions, for whom getting out of bed & getting dressed is an accomplishment. Although I’ve been through cardiac rehab and am cleared to run (well, once I’m not nine months pregnant), my cardiologist would not support me running a marathon without extremely careful training & medical supervision – and I’m not sure that it would do anything more for me than being able to say “I did it.” A brisk walk for 30 minutes a few times a week would be best for my heart in the long run. We all have different levels of ability when it comes to our physical capabilities and intellectual capabilities.
There can also be a huge difference in the amount of support we have for our goals. I told Hub that in some ways, Fit Mom’s “What’s Your Excuse?” photo might be just like me holding my one-year old son in one hand and my doctoral degree in the other with the same caption. Did I work hard to get my doctorate? Sure. Did I also have the financial means, the natural ability, a supportive husband, and a supportive supervisor that helped me achieve it? Yeah, I did. So perhaps someone else’s “excuse” is that they didn’t have the same support network. And I think if you look at Fit Mom’s life, she’s probably got a whole lot of support too for her goals.
It shouldn’t be about “excuses” when we have goals we want to achieve. We need to realize that we’re all in this world together, and it’s through the support of our loved ones – and, one might even add, the grace of God – that we’re able to achieve our dreams.
I just renewed the domain name on this blog, so I figured it was high time I posted something.
We are expecting our second baby (which most of you know). Like, in a matter of days. It’s either four days or six days depending on whose math you like better, and it could even be three days if I go through with being induced on Saturday. Don’t know about that right now – I guess I should decide at some point in the very near future? I’d like to make some curtains for baby’s room first.
Given that it’s so easy to blog these days from any mobile device, it’s interesting that I don’t have as much desire to to do it lately. I have a lot of friends with blogs and they’re great at it – beautiful photos, the ambition to do what it takes and develop followers, and the like. Me, I just like to write things and that’s about it. I’ve become a little concerned about how much of my (and really, my children’s) life I want “out there” and so I think I’m coming to terms with that. However, I do like to write, and I do think I have some things to say. So here we are.
We’ll keep everyone updated about when baby #2 arrives. I don’t feel the need this time around to email the world – I figure we’ll just tell our parents and they can tell everyone who needs to know immediately, and then the rest of the world can find out via Facebook.
It’s been a tough few months – Sandy Hook broke my heart (and everyone else’s), and now whenever they talk about guns at all on the news, I have to turn it off completely (for or against, I just can’t take it. Children died. It’s not about politics and your rights. What about their rights to grow up?). The thirteen month old child in Georgia who was shot and killed made me so physically ill I had to leave the gym when the news story came on again. I can’t look at that child’s face, I just can’t. And now three people died while celebrating an achievement that is monumental in their lives. I know I’ll never run a marathon – I don’t have the desire, stamina, or quite frankly, the healthy heart – and I’m jealous of those who can. But i still am thrilled for friends and family who finish their marathon. It’s something to be proud of.
We all need to look for the helpers right now. And we all need to find a way to be helpers in our own lives. Being good is a conscious choice – we can all be better. Although we’re far from good Christians – Hub and I will often comment on our thoughts and actions, “We need to be more Christian about this.” And it helps. Thinking about the example that Christ set – it helps me.
Let’s be helpers today.
So, he’s not really riding it here. He’s attempting to walk while the tricycle is underneath him. But hey, it’s a step in the right direction. Also, unrelated, but can you believe that this is mid-March? Brr.
Living in “Capitol Hill” (I put that in quotes because we live “near” Capitol Hill), you get used to hearing certain phrases as a parent. Even though our child is not yet two, we have already entered the worry race that is “Where will he go to school?”
Bub’s godparents have two lovely children, and as it turns out one was not accepted at the school of their choice. As it turns out, it is also the school of our choice, and even though they – and we – meet all the qualifications, it seems as if it’s no longer a sure thing. In discussing school options, the mom commented to me that several people have said (rather snobbily), “It’s too bad you’re not in-bounds for Brent.”
Brent Elementary School, the creme de la creme of public elementary schools, has a reputation as being the end-all-be-all elementary school on the Hill. People use parents’ addresses, buy apartments in bounds and live there during the week, and game the system in all kinds of ways to get in-bounds for Brent. People will pay substantially more for a house in-bounds for Brent. All of this for an elementary school.
Nothing in life is certain, and it seems as if those are extreme measures to go to in order that your child go to the “right” school with the “right” people. I’m not sure if the pressure is there on political figures to send their child to public school – because if you can afford to live in-bounds for Brent, it certainly seems as if you can afford private school. The mania that surrounds elementary school also seems foolish, since the kids still have to go to middle school and high school. In the District, at least, the public options for those are much less appealing.
Clearly, our educational system is broken if the only people who can go to the “good” schools are the ones lucky enough to afford certain neighborhoods. As a parent, I want to balance the obvious importance of education with a more laid-back view that there is no one, end-all-be-all school. No matter where Bub goes, I will educate him myself in addition. And I don’t want him to think that money is the only way to success – although our society keeps trying to prove me wrong on that score.
Thanks to all of you who have kept up with our blog in my absence. Every time I had an idea for a post, I thought, it’s been too long since I’ve written so I won’t write. A lot of sense that makes. I decided today to just go for it, and to aim to write once a week as a more modest and hopefully achievable goal. As many of you know between starting a new job and dealing with a major health crisis, it hasn’t been an easy year for us. Thanks for all your support and we look forward to continuing to share with you.
See what I did there in the title? The famous song is called “Tu Vuo Fa L’Americano,” which translates, “You wanna be an American.” But I turned that on its freaking head and renamed it “Tu Vuo Fa L’Italiano!” Word play!
Because I do want to be Italian. I spent a semester in Venice my Junior year, and have taken a total of four trips to Italy for school and vacations. I freaking love it. So I would love to become an Italian citizen, and honor the aspect of my origins I find the most interesting. I’m also Dutch, German, Irish and English, but beyond clogs and golf, those countries strike me as pretty vanilla.
Part of the song referenced above goes, “sient’ a mme: nun ce sta niente ‘a fa’!” which translates, “Listen to me: there’s nothing you can do.” But I’m an American, and there is something I can do. So tu stai zitto! Translation: Shuttupa yo’ face.
I am 1/4 Italian via my Grandfather, Anthony. His father, Rocco, came to gli Stati Uniti from Sant’Arsenio, Italy in 1910 via Ellis Island, with his wife Anna, and I think two of their children.
My Grandfather was born three years later. According to an Italian law called Jure Sanguinis, which is actually Latin, not Italian, and is literally translated: “by the law of BLOOOOOD,” (a less literal translation — Citizenship by blood rights), I can get my citizenship via my great-grandfather as long as no one renounced their citizenship along the way. A post on Design Sponge about Italian citizenship alerted me to this awesome law, and now I’m going to take steps to get Italian/EU citizenship for me, my wife, and our son.
It is not a simple process. First, my Grandfather must have been born BEFORE my Great-Grandfather became a naturalized citizen. Luckily, though there are some veteran exceptions, since the repeal of the Alien and Sedition Act, a law from 1795 generally rules naturalization law in the United States. That law states that you have to be a resident of the United States for five years before becoming a naturalized citizen.
Using my math scientist skills, I took 1913 (the year Anthony was born) and minused 1910 (the year Rocco arrived and presumably began residing in gli stati uniti) and it equals 3. 3 is less than 5, so Rocco could not have naturalized by the time Anthony was born, so Rocco’s blood remained Italian, and was passed down to Anthony, which was passed down to my mom, which was passed down to me, which I can pass to my wife and son.
All I have to do is find a bunch of original documents proving all this, some of which I have to request from Sant’Arsenio, Italy, where my Great-Grandfather and Great-Grandmother were born, some of which I have to find at the National Archives, and some of which I have to find in Jersey City, where my great-grandparents settled and died; then I have to translate anything written in English that is related to my Italian blood relatives into Italian; and then fill out three additional forms, one of which I have to fill out twice.
Instructions can all be found at your local Italian consulate. Note that some consulates differ re what documentation they require. For me it’s the DC consulate, and they require:
1) FORM 1
2) YOUR MATERNAL GREAT GRANDMOTHER’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE (from Italy)
3) YOUR MATERNAL GREAT GRANDFATHER’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE (from Italy)
4) YOUR MATERNAL GREAT GRANDPARENTS’ MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE
5) YOUR PATERNAL OR MATERNAL GREAT GRANDFATHERS’ CERTIFICATE OF NATURALIZATION AND PETITION FOR NATURALIZATION
6) YOUR MATERNAL GRANDMOTHER’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE
7) YOU PATERNAL GRANDFATHER’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE
8) YOUR MATERNAL GRANDMOTHER’S MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE
9) YOUR MOTHER’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE
10) YOUR FATHER’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE
11) YOUR PARENT’S MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE
12) YOUR BIRTH CERTIFICATE
13) FORM 2 — YOUR DECLARATION THAT YOU NEVER RENOUNCED ITALIAN CITIZENSHIP BEFORE ANY ITALIAN AUTHORITY, listing all your places of residence and relative years. Your signature must be notarized. Copy of your passport and proof of residence (driver’s license and utility bills, etc.) are requested.
14) FORM 4 — DECLARATION THAT YOUR PATERNAL/MATERNAL GRANDPARENTS NEVER RENOUNCED ITALIAN CITIZENSHIP BEFORE ANY ITALIAN AUTHORITY, listing all places of residence and relative years. If living use FORM 3, if deceased use FORM 4
15) FORM 4 — DECLARATION THAT YOUR FATHER/MOTHER NEVER RENOUNCED ITALIAN CITIZENSHIP BEFORE ANY ITALIAN AUTHORITY, listing all places of residence and relative years.
16) ANY PERTINENT DEATH CERTIFICATE/S RELATED TO THE ITALIAN ASCENDANTS.
With no basis, I estimate this will take me 18 months, but I figure that if I put this out on the internet, some of you will ask me about how the process is proceeding, which will spur me on to get this done.