I don’t have anything much to say today, so I’m going to post a picture of Gus, whom we call “Fidge.” Well, Tony calls him Mr. Frumble Gus after a character in Richard Scarry’s Busytown books. I’m Sally Cat and daddy is Lowly Worm. He was upset about being a worm for awhile, but he got over it. Tony is Huckle Cat. It’s fun being a family of miscellaneous animals.

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April 14, 2014

Meeting Notes from RFK Stakeholders Meeting 

Theresa DuBois, External Affairs Manager with Events DC, called the meeting to order.

Meeting attendees introduced themselves which included Kingman Park and Hill East neighborhood residents, ANC commissions, Council Member Yvette Alexander, and other interested parties.  

Erik Moses, Senior Vice President and Managing Director for Events DC, gave an update on both the children’s playground  located on the RFK green space, and the RFK Stadium Redevelopment Study.  

Children’s Playground

The children’s playground will undergo regular maintenance such as mowing of grass, mulching, and correction of egregious safety hazards.  DC Events’ stated goal is to bring the playground into compliance with published industry standards.  Only the bare minimum is planned.  No other upgrades will be considered due to the on-going RFK Stadium Development Study. 

RFK Stadium Redevelopment Study: 

It is currently on-going.  Further updates will be provided to the community when more information is obtained. 

Volkswagen Rallycross Presentation:

Kevin Healy, Managing Director with Andretti Sports Marketing, made his presentation regarding the Volkswagen Rallycross event scheduled for June 21-22, 2014.

Mr. Healy said that he has been working closely with Events DC to insure that neighborhood concerns are address.  He stated that this race will be nothing like the race back in 2002 and that noise levels will be much less due to, among other factors:

1.   The race location which will be on Lot 7 located behind DC General Hospital;

2.   Race car engines are fine tuned;

3.   Individual races are short in actual time spent on the racetrack.

Andretti Sports is reaching out the local middle and high schools to involve students in the motercross event, as this event is a good hands-on learning experience incorporating STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). 

Residents suggested that students at both Eastern High School and students living at DC General Shelter be invited to participate.  Mr. Healy said he would follow up on those suggestions.  

Despite reassurances to the contrary from Mr. Healy and DC Events, residents voiced concerns over noise levels and quality of life issues. 

Residents also voiced concerns over the environmental impact of the race on both the river and wildlife. 

Mr. Healy assured there will be no impact.  All sand used for construction of the race tract will be removed.  Any oil spills would be a hazard to the race cars and those would be immediately cleaned up.  Trash will be picked up, and the area will be left in the same, if not better, condition.

DC Events agreed to have a follow-up meeting after the event is held to hear community feedback before deciding on whether another contract will be signed for future racecar RFK events.   

 

The next scheduled meeting is July 14, 2014.

 

Don’t you love Ani DiFranco?

Oh, what? You weren’t in college in the late 90s/early 2000s too? Sorry. Anyway, in one of her songs, which I don’t remember the title and I’m not going to Google, the gist is “Shut up and be nice.” She says that “Maybe you don’t like your job, maybe you didn’t get enough sleep. Well, nobody likes their job, and nobody got enough sleep.”

This is especially true for new parents. Parents in general have a hard time being sympathetic when non-parents say things like, “I’m so busy!” because usually we are up at 6:15am cleaning up poopy and feeding small people who then demand three alternate breakfasts (this morning, it was peanut butter & jelly sandwich, pancakes with LOTS OF SYRUP AND BUTTER, and then mama’s oatmeal with BROWN SUGAR AND I CAN’T SEE THE BROWN SUGAR SO I NEED MORE MAMA.) Forget going to the gym early to fit in a workout. I’d have to get up at 4:30am to do that. Do gyms even open at that time? Is there a 4am hot yoga class somewhere in the DC area I can attend? I actually might consider it. BUT THERE’S NOT. Also, I was up every two hours feeding a baby last night (and have been for the past ELEVEN WEEKS OF MY LIFE) so don’t TELL ME YOU’RE BUSY.

Yes, you can see that we parents are not rational when it comes to telling us that you are busy or tired when you do not have children. Most people get this, but some do not. And they get kind of offended if you go off on them as I’ve done above.

And you know what? They should. Because SHUT UP. It’s not like anyone promised you that you would have children and then immediately afterwards have eight hours of uninterrupted sleep and never be disturbed. And everyone with a newborn can be forgiven a few weeks of grumpiness, but at a certain point, you have to suck it up and learn how to be nice while sleep deprived.

This post is not directed at any of you out there – rather, it’s directed at MYSELF. I realized I was complaining A LOT and being VERY grumpy, and using being “tired” as an excuse to lose my temper with my toddler, to grouch at my husband, or to shirk the work that I need to being doing for my job. In my Lenten attempt to perform a more thorough examination of conscience and go to confession, I realized that behind a lot of my actions was the excuse of “well, I’m tired.”

Not good enough!!! Whether or not you’re religious, it’s the special task of parents to learn how to be gracious and kind even while tired. Some forgetfulness and fog is to be expected, but grumpiness – try to catch yourself and think about the person on the receiving end. My toddler is just being a toddler by demanding 14 different breakfasts. It’s certainly not his fault the baby nurses every two hours. And all those students I teach, or childless friends I talk to – for them, their lives are busy in their own way. When I was single I didn’t know how hard it was to have children (or how great), and I’m sure I annoyed more than my fair share of people by complaining. They were gracious, and I can be too.

Now go out there and be nice. ;)

There’s a few posts out there about how hard or great it is to be a mom of three. And I’ve watched several moms of three to know that it’s certainly not easy.

So am I crazy for wanting to have a third child, when my second is only 10 weeks?

Let’s take the “yes, you’re nuts” argument first. I’m 35, which we all know is doomsday for having kids (or is it?). I have a demanding job – flexible in some ways, not flexible in others. Yes, I’m pretty much expected to “just” be there to teach class, but when your child has explosive diarrhea and you have an exam to give, see how flexible things are then. Hub also has a much more demanding job now than he did with Tony, and is really involved in the community. And I like to write and have ambitions to do research. There doesn’t seem to be an easy way to navigate that right now with two, much less three. Plus we don’t have any family around, we don’t make quite enough money to pay for the kind of help we need, and we’re stretched a little thin at the moment as it is trying to juggle everything.

Then there’s the, “No, you’re not completely crazy” argument. First, there’s, well, let’s say “biology.” I have a few women I’m friends with in my neighborhood that don’t have children and have asked for some honest advice on if they should (look, people with kids are almost always going to say yes, if only because we’ve completely deluded ourselves). I can’t imagine being the person I am today without Tony and Gus. In some far off land when I get more sleep and am less hormonal (ha ha, when will that be) I’m sure that I will be able to tell you exactly how my children made me smarter, less selfish, more wise, blah blah blah. But for right now, I know that I wouldn’t have as much love in my life without them. And I want to keep going if I can. Plus, my body tells me to. SO THERE.

I think the biggest influencer was a woman I met who runs a local business with her husband. She’s got two sons who have graduated from the university and we got to talking (I was pregnant with Gus at the time). She said her one regret was not having a third. Partly because she wanted to see if it would be a girl, and partly because she just loved kids. You’re always going to have regrets in life, but being 50 and not having had that third child when I know that I really could have made space isn’t one of them that I want to experience. I know I’ll be more tired and stretched thin, but… it seems that in the long run, it will be worth it.

Oh, and Catholicism and stuff.

But stay tuned.

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When I was pregnant with Gus, I had a lot of comments on what it was like the second time around. The comments were evenly divided between, “it’s the hardest thing ever” and “once you have one, it’s much easier with the second.”

I have found that oddly, both of these statements are true. It is harder with the second. I have found that I have to swear off reading any sort of baby advice, because it just annoys me (and usually comes from first-time moms who think they’ve discovered a new planet. I know, I was one of them). I receive emails from a woman who does “life coaching” online, and she just had a baby and sent out her words of wisdom. They included, don’t circumcise your son and get an Ayurvedic post-partum doula. Oh, and the extremely useful advice of “sleep when the baby sleeps.” Besides some of these things being private decisions that each parent has to make for him or herself, the “sleep when the baby sleeps” advice is pretty useless when you’ve got a toddler. With Tony, I’d go to bed at 6pm when he did and catch the six hour stretch that he started doing… well, whenever it was he started doing it. Now, if I went to bed when Gus goes to bed, I’d have a 3 year old banging on my door screaming, “MAMMA! Come and help me build Busytown!!! MAMMMAAAA!!!” (and yes, that’s Richard Scarry’s Busytown). I’d also be sleeping instead of picking up my toddler from daycare.

 

I find I have more confidence this time around, and that makes it easier to shrug off what is sometimes bad advice, or advice that only works if you’re super rich (an Ayurvedic doula? Sure, let me just drop my student loan payments for a couple months to cover that!), or advice that just doesn’t work for your family. My older son isn’t potty-trained yet. He’s just not, and he won’t be until he’s ready. As my friend Ann said, “It’s pretty much impossible to force another human being to go to the bathroom.” And Tony is nothing if not independent. So when people make suggestions about how I can get Gus to sleep, or how often I should be nursing, or what he should be wearing or doing or whatevering, I usually just react by saying, “Sorry, I can’t hear you over a screaming baby and yelling toddler.” Also, go away and shush.

Bottom line, you don’t know what it’s going to be like with one, two, or five because each child is an individual. They each require their own set of care, their own types of discipline, and their own understanding. Tony and Gus both needed food, sleep, and cuddles – beyond that, they’re different little boys and each has his own special requirements. It’s harder jugging two from a schedule perspective, but easier in that I’m confident that I’m a good enough mom for them, and fun in that there’s more life and love in our house.

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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. ;)

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