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Well our bags are packed, we’re ready to go

27 Aug

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Movers arrived today, to box up our worldly belongings. The reality of the move gets pretty concrete when you’re faced with an empty wall of painting hooks and a wrapped up sofa.

There is still some anxiety on my part, but it is easing as it moves from unknown fear to a set of tasks, which have solutions. As my friend tells me, no one is dying in the makin if this movie.

And as my clothes are unceremoniously dumped into boxes, it feels more and more like stuff and less like me, or my life. Of course toddler may have a different opinion when he returns from daycare to find everything boxed up.

For most of our friends, we will talk to you on the other side, as they are taking our linking toys and moving them. We are due to fly out Saturday night, and settle sometime in the next week or so, but maybe more.

I’m not ready to say goodbye in my heart to Brooklyn, or New York, quite yet. But it is happening. Now.

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Sunday supper, the first

22 Oct

As part of my New Year’s resolutions this year (2012! Woot!), I wanted to try hosting ‘Sunday Suppers’, a quarterly event where I would make food, we would have a bunch of people over early-ish on Sunday evening, and we would sup and laugh and kinwork the hell out of the place. It would be a new iteration on our Wednesday Night Movie Nights, which we used to host back in the day.

Of course, I did not manage to do this, over 10 months this year. But this past Sunday, we did indeed host one. I thought I would invite a handful of our friends at a time, hoping that some if not all would come. This time I invited eight friends, with a bunch of their kids – if everyone came, we would have a dozen or more people in our (tiny) apartment. I have in mind to eventually invite everyone we know, but it might take a while.

Naturally, just about everyone bowed out, due to scheduling or unexpected events. We ended up with our old neighbors and their two little ones.

The food went off beautifully. Herbed bibb lettuce salad (Boston bibb lettuce, salted a bit, and tossed with a generous handful of herbs – tarragon, parsley, chives, a bit of thyme – and a shallot vinaigrette). Beef short rib stew (Brown the ribs on three sides in a big lidded pot, with some olive oil, in batches. Remove. Sautee some diced carrots, a couple roughly chopped onions, a tied-up bundle of thyme, chives, parsley, all until a bit brown. Remove. Pour in 1/2 bottle or more of red wine, and reduce by 2/3. Add back in meat, vegetables. Add in chopped tomatoes from a big can, with or without juice, a roghly diced head of garlic, a lot of salt, some pepper. Maybe toss in a big peel of orange. Fill up to the top of the meat with broth of some sort. Stir. Put on the lid, and cook in a 325 degree oven for 2-4 hours, until the meat is soft). Roasted broccoli (salt, pepper, olive oil, cooked on a tray at 375-400 degrees until browned and as soft as you like it).

We also had two kinds of ice cream that I made, salted caramel and chocolate. They were the best things eaten.

All of this is a prelude to what I wanted to talk about, which is about small children and adults eating dinner. Our ideal practice is that baby sits at the table and eats what we eat. Sometimes, if we eat beef stew with bread, he can eat just the bread and that’s fine. Plan B is to do this, but if he doesn’t eat, to give him yogurt or fruit at the end of dinner, which he normally will eat. Plan C is to make something separate for him that is easy (some pasta with just cheese, or tuna fish). In almost all of these plans, he has to sit at the table until we are done, or basically done eating.

In practice, we hover between plan A and plan B, and it is much more often me who is willing to move towards plans B and C. This is surprising for both of us, frankly. We kind of thought I would be the hardass. But alas, I’m a bit of the pushover. Or at least we take turns being the softie.

But our neighbors, they let the kids play in the middle of dinner, if they didn’t want the salad but were waiting for the meat course. I am not judging here, I swear, particularly because they have two kids, one of whom doesn’t eat that well, and if they want to do whatever they want, goddess bless ’em. However, this made it impossible for us to execute our ‘ass in the chair’ policy. And what a difference it made for Brooklyn Babe! Baby had a mini-meltdown, presumably from the stress of having people playing with his toys, and not really having the run of house, combined with the unwillingness of mama and papa to actually play with him during dinner.

All was forgiven when we all came together as a family to gorge ourselves on ice cream. But wow this eating thing is a minefield.

House is now back in order, the bathroom is clean, and there are some leftovers in the freezer. It’s too soon to contemplate another Sunday supper quite yet, but I’m going to call it a qualified success.

Highlights

6 Sep

Some of the highlights from our trip to Chicago, to visit family and drop in on another bar mitzvah:

– When we were going to my brother’s house, baby mama was looking around at the houses in the neighborhood.
Her: “It’s amazing what’s happening here. The houses are being built to look almost like castles. I mean, look at this one right here.”
Me (pulling into that driveway): “You mean, my brother’s house?”
Her: “Oh, shit. Don’t tell him I said that.”

– Baby loves Mr. Spotto. Mr. Spotto is the guinea pig at the friends’ house where we stayed. If we couldn’t find him, he was poking around the guinea pig’s cage, or else fiddling with the front or back door to try to sneak outside. “Guinea pig house? Purple!” At one point, he poked his whole head into the poor fellow’s cage, trying to get closer. Pet? Pet?

– Dinner at my (amazing) friends from grad school was both utterly delicious and super-hilarious. First, climbing at the playground as well as toddler-seeded toys all over the living room. Second, dinner was grilled pizza’s with kick-ass roasted peppers and pesto, grilled lake trout, and Israeli couscous salad. And homemade chocolate chip cookies for dessert! After dinner, baby started banging on the table. Instead of making him stop, their two kids started copying him. Wham-wham from baby; wham-wham from kids. Laughter. Then slowly, everyone joined in. Wham-wham from baby; wham-wham from everyone. He thought it was the best thing in the whole world, and would just completely crack up. This went on for 10 minutes, I think the power made baby drunk.

– Baby loved watching airplanes taking off and landing. He was, well, not perfect on the plane. It was the first time we did the ‘lap child’ travel (he had gotten a seat in previous trips), and he was idgy and tired, and didn’t sleep until we just about landed. But nothing too bad at all. 7.5/10 harshly scored, but more like 9/10 if we weigh scoring for age and circumstance.

– Friends we stayed with made amazing dinner, plus more homemade chocolate chip cookies, plus Homer’s ice cream, plus their kids (9 and 11) are just so enthusiastically pro-baby. With a huge basement, the guinea pig, the cars and toys, the mini guitar, it was just a brain-explosion of kid-centered suburban living. It’s not our lives, but it sure is a luxury to take in for a few days.

– The bar mitzvah party and ceremony were lovely, but lovely in a more family way. I love my brother’s kids to death, but with so much anger and animosity and alienation in parts of my family, it’s just not as joyous for me as it might otherwise be. The party was loud and crazy in the fashion of contemporary upper-middle-class bar mitzvah parties.

– No sleep till Brooklyn. Baby napped very little, stayed up way past his bedtime, missed baths, ate weirdly and seemingly sparsely. Watched 10 times more TV in 4 days than he’s seen in his whole life. And (though it’s hard to really really tell) he had a great time doing it all.

Notes from the referent baby

11 Jul

We had a chance to visit with Manhattan Baby, whom I think of as our referent baby, this weekend. I don’t mean this at all in the insane mom frenemy sense. On the contrary, MH and parents are awesome precisely because our kids are so close in age, and yet I feel none of the keeping up with the Joneses feelings that seems to infect middle class parents with regards to their babies. (Just a side note: we love love love our New York community of friends with and without kids. Visiting with friends in NYC/environs, and their kids, are almost uniformly energizing without being draining. It’s largely keeping us in NYC). But visiting with MH is a little different than visiting with other friends.

She was born 10 days before Brooklyn Baby, which is as close a baby friend as BB has. We have some dynamite photos of them together already. MB is a bit of the Butch Cassidy to BB’s Sundance Kid, which was poignant given that we ended up climbing on some of the big rocks in Central Park on Sunday. Manhattan Baby is more daring and mobile than BB, while BB is a bit more verbal. There was also a modicum of sharing that happened between the babies, though most of the ‘sharing’ was really an adult telling one or the other baby to quit trying to steal all the toys/books/attention. Piano was played.

We initially went to the Justin Roberts concert at Summerstage, but the Disney Jake and the Pirate warm-up act put a kibosh on the whole thing. Aside from being 90+ degree heat, it was Disney at its worst – cloying, inauthentic, commercial. Yuck. I felt a skosh bad for the woman who introduced this weird Disney act (whose show we don’t really watch or know about, but which is obviously loosely or closely based on Peter Pan, and seemed less pirate than, well, Irish). But she was as much a corporate tool as I have ever seen in public. ‘Hey kids! Do you know Jake’s bird’s name? Watch Disney Jr. to find out! Hey parents, set your iPhones to remind your kids to watch Jake on Disney Jr! Who loves Disney? We all do!! Everyone ready for two dudes and a fake guitar? Yaaayy! Arr!’

We ended up climbing rocks in the park, where MB made us all (but her papa, who was filled with aplomb) gulp with her amazing climbing abilities. BB was enthusiastic but as usual a bit more cautious about the whole endeavor. In the end, it was a spectacularly good time, and we brought a thoroughly exhausted and mildly heat-rashed baby back home.

I know it’s stupid to keep wanting to think about your baby as normal, and generally speaking I resist it quite strongly. But from time to time, it is still a bit nice to see baby stack up within spitting range of our referent baby. So thanks to friends and their little one for providing a little fun, a little crazy-check, and the idea that BB might (and does!) eat tuna fish!

Oh, by the way:

Like an old man eating soup

2 Jan

Honestly, I haven’t laughed so hard at a baby story as I did on New Year’s Eve. We went to the estimable S&E’s house, where our hosts made stupendously good turkey, veggies, people brought stuffing, brownies, something, hrmph….was there squash? I’m pretty sure I ate a lot of cheese. And oh shit, I almost forgot the homemade gravelax.

So, fine, yes. Our hosts made fantastic, stiff Manhattan’s, and I drank like 3-4 of them I think, and I was pretty much sloshed the rest of the way through dinner (where I drank wine, then aquavit. Aquavit! The fucking water of life!). But food was definitely served, and I ate and drank and made merry. We also brought the best chocolate chip cookies EVA, and made some ice cream sandwiches (another side note: these are, I kid you not, the best chocolate chip cookies. I know you’re thinking ‘sure, they might be good, but the best?‘ Dude. Yes.)

But back to the baby story. There were two other couples there, who intrepidly brought along their little ones. I mean, that shit is badass. Baby ain’t getting in the way of MY New Year’s Eve, man. So, yeah, three couples who have like 1-ish babies, and then our hosts, who are expecting. Two babies sleeping in the back. Booze. So lots of baby talk. Sick baby talk, all over the place.

And one of the guys, let’s call him Shmee-li, was talking about the relative amount of work he and his wife are doing, what with breastfeeding and all. Everyone’s division of labor is different here, naturally, and they’re all fucked up in their own way. I myself play diaper-and-delivery, getting baby up and delivering him to mama in the living room, where she nurses. Others nurse in bed, many times it’s exclusively women who get up, get the baby, nurse the baby, put the baby back, with the men none the wiser. All of these ‘work’, and none of them do. Baby 101, my man. In fact, the other guy’s wife, (let’s call him Shmadam), was joking about how she had gotten up, was about to change the baby, and Shmadam came bursting in and totally freaked her out. He apparently thought she had been on call and at work, and suddenly woke up to hear baby crying, came flying in, and nearly heart-attacked his wife.

Meanwhile, Shmee-li is talking about how he woke up thinking his father-in-law was in his bed next to him and it totally freaked him out. And then he realized that his 11-month-old baby, when he’s nursing, sounds like his father-in-law eating soup. And not just like a broth or something. “like, a chowder.”

So for the past two days I’ve been thinking about the 11-month-old who sounds like an old man eating soup. Like. Love.

Then someone made a connection sometime during dinner and was like “you’re Brooklyn Dad! How long have you been writing for them?”

Happy 2012 y’all. We have awesome games to play for 2k12, and we want you to join us!

Sunday Supper

27 Jun

Last night, we succeeded in hosting a Sunday Supper, the first of what I hope will be many over the coming years. An early supper on Sundays, to celebrate the week to come, family, food, and friends. The menu was absurdly complicated, considering the 6 month old. And the dinner took a surprisingly large amount of our time over the weekend, making it highly unlikely that we could do this every week (which was my original plan, actually). Plus, our apartment is just too small for lots of people, and though we have stuffed lots of people into our too-small apartment many times over the years, it just gets harder with baby. Boo hoo, right?

The menu:

  • Warmed olives with thyme and garlic
  • Brie, smoked gouda, and crackers
  • Honeydew and Cantaloupe, with mint and balsamic vinegar dressing, and prosciutto
  • Salad, with radishes, yellow pepper, Ossau Iraty cheese, toasted walnuts, and vinaigrette
  • Spinach Lasagna
  • Roasted broccoli and cauliflower
  • Vanilla ice cream, served in frozen oranges, with orange juice (creamsicle); and blueberries

We ended up with two sets of friends (including our neighbors; and our former closest friends in NYC, who will undoubtedly respond with something about Queens), two kids, two infants.

All told, it went surprisingly well, and even ended with whiskey and wine! BB actually got a bath and a semi-regular bedtime, neighbors used our baby monitor to hang out while their little ones slept downstairs, and the 2-year-old ball of energy was awesome, and totally sweet with our little one (though he did briefly consider appropriating Sophie the giraffe, before his mama intervened).

Baby mama and I have aspirations to re-emerge from our post-baby shell, and to cook and entertain at least somewhat like we used to do, back on the UWS. I think future dinners may be a bit less elaborate, though hopefully no less delicious. And we’re going to start cycling through, and widen, our social circles, shooting for inviting people roughly 6-8 people at a time. Plus, baby mama wants to start cooking, and cooking more healthy meals, which is awesome.

But whatever. With help from DH, the house looks pretty much back to normal, and deliciousness and conversation was had by all. We’re going to simply call this one a win and move on to the next.

Lost in Queens

24 May

Darling wife and I rented a Zipcar and went to Queens, to meet our former Closest Friend in New York (2 aves. away) for lunch. While the lunch was wildly successful, the aftermath was not. We spent 2+ hours trying to get home to Brooklyn from goddamn Forest Hills, in the absolutely pouring rain. I mean, taking the Jackie Robinson Parkway is supposed to be humane, but no one can get onto the fucking thing. It was supposed to go something like this:


Now imagine this route while I am sitting in the passenger seat shouting things like, “hey, you need to pull over, you are in the middle of a funeral procession”, and “I know the sign says you have to turn left, but go straight! Go straight! GO STRAIGHT!”. In the pouring rain. Eventually, baby mama pulled over, took over her map/phone, and led us this way:

Which put us on the BQE around 4pm, and home by 5:30. Not fun. At the end of the day, it was an incredibly expensive lunch, my navigator/passenger cred took yet another hit (it really cannot go much lower), and our chances of moving to Queens ratcheted down just a tick or two. Sure, I know, if we lived there, we wouldn’t have to figure out how to drive to or from there, but still.