The Awesometown Strawberry Farm

Two summers ago, when we first moved into our new house, I planted three strawberry plants. They didn’t grow much, so by the end of the summer, I moved one. The one I moved grew, taking over our herb garden. So last year, I clipped a bunch of the runners and moved them to our side yard, where they established themselves quickly.

This spring, our strawberry plants have been growing like crazy. How crazy? Well, here’s today’s haul:

That’s been an average haul over the past week (plus a few days). One thing we’ve learned is that we have to eat them pretty quickly- these don’t last as long as the store-bought ones. But that’s not a problem for The Civee, Hope and myself (especially Hope). The most surprising thing is that Hope can be patient with the strawberries- she won’t pick them unless The Civee or I says she can and (even though she constantly asks) she waits until they’ve been washed off before eating them.

This year, I also started a box garden and planted peppers, green beans, broccoli, spinach and beets. But those won’t be ready for harvest for another few months. I’m glad our strawberries are working out. It’s rewarding to eat something you’ve grown yourself.

The other day, I was reading all about how to grow strawberries. The experts recommended doing a bunch of things that I haven’t done, like thinning the plants out, mowing the plants in the fall and putting mulch over them in the winter. I’m inspired to try some of that out later this year. Who knows? All that extra work could make what we picked today look like nothing.

Hope’s First Civics Lesson

One of Hope’s favorite places to go is the Ohio Statehouse. We take her there on weekends when it’s empty and she loves to run around and be as loud as she can be. The Civee (who used to work there) and I enjoy our trips too, as we’re both history nerds and think that Hope is absorbing our love of the place by simply being there.

Today, we took Hope to the Statehouse, not to run around, but to be a part of the legislative process. Last fall, The Civee’s old boss, Senate Minority Leader Eric H. Kearney, introduced S.B. 135, which would designate September as Craniofacial Awareness Month.  As the Senator said in a news release:

“The inspiration for this legislation was Hope Chansky, a two-year old who suffers from a craniofacial disorder,” stated Senator Kearney. “She like many other children endure many hardships associated with this disorder and this legislation provides an opportunity to educate the public about prevention measures that can be taken.”

We were at the Statehouse today to watch the bill go for a vote before the Senate. The bill passed unanimously, with several senators signing on as co-sponsors. Even more exciting for Hope was her being acknowledged during Senator Kearney’s floor speech, during which she waved to the crowd and threw her milk cup up in the air. You can’t see Hope, but here is the senator’s floor speech (including the shout-out), courtesy of the Ohio Channel:

Even though the bill passed in the Senate, it still has to go to the House, where who knows what will happen to it. It is nice to get some recognition for all the families, care providers and educators that help children with craniofacial disorders. Hope’s next surgery isn’t for another five or so years. But she is going to a school where she gets speech therapy, which has been helping her a lot. She has come a long way and I’m glad we could play a part in acknowledging all those who have helped her.

The next time we go to the Statehouse, it probably won’t be as exciting as today was. But Hope will get to run around all she wants, which will make her happy.

Weezer’s Blue Album Turns Legal

Weezer’s first album Weezer (also known as The Blue Album) was released 18 years ago today.

I could go on and on with an in-depth track-by-track analysis, but all I really need to say is to me, this is the perfect album.

I didn’t hear any songs off of this album until September 1994, and didn’t get the album until that Christmas (my first CD), but I’ve been listening to it ever since. It’s the album that got me into music. Before that, I had bought, listened to and enjoyed music, but I can’t say I ever was really into a band before Weezer.

It should also probably be noted that another Weezer album, 2005’s Make Believe was also released on May 10th. While not as perfect as Blue (I can’t get behind We Are All On Drugs and Beverly Hills gets old), it’s still a very enjoyable album.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some listening to do.

Because Kids Like to Say Salsa

I found out that today for snacktime at Hope’s school they had salsa.

While I’m happy her food choices keep expanding, I’m happier for the excuse to bust out one of my favorite routines.

(Unfortunately, I can’t embed the video), so I’ll include the text:


GEORGE: Why don’t they have salsa on the table?

JERRY: What do you need salsa for?

GEORGE: Salsa is now the number one condiment in America.

JERRY: You know why? Because people like to say “salsa.” “Excuse me, do you have salsa?” “We need more salsa.” “Where is the salsa? No salsa?”

GEORGE: You know it must be impossible for a Spanish person to order seltzer and not get salsa. (Angry) “I wanted seltzer, not salsa.”

JERRY: “Don’t you know the difference between seltzer and salsa?? You have the seltezer after the salsa!”

Mariano Will Be Back

Like most other news, I didn’t take the events of Thursday night well. The Yankees had lost two in a row to the Orioles and Mariano Rivera was carted off the field before the game with an injury that will end his season and could have ended his career.

Fortunately, even though rumors of retirement have been swirling around Rivera this season, the Yankees closer says that’s not how he wants to end his career and he’ll be back next year.

I remember every step of Rivera’s career- from his first game to his becoming the setup man a year later and eventually the team’s closer. He’s had some failures and he hasn’t been the perfect pitcher, but he’s been close. It’s possible the Yankees could have done everything they have since 1996 without him, but it’s hard to imagine.

He’s going to retire one day- but I’m glad he’ll be around next year.

Beard the Fourth, December 2011 – April 2012

When it comes to shaving, I hate doing it and I hate not doing it.

Since Christmas, I had a beard (I stopped shaving the day before Christmas Eve), the fourth beard I’ve grown over the past few winters. While it’s not as impressive as the beard Harrison Ford sported in The Fugitive, my beard was quite formidable, a mix of blonde and red.

While it was quite useful over the past few months, I just got sick of it. So I’m clean shaven again. I feel comfortable with how I look either way, but now I’m actually wondering how Hope would react. She has quite a memory (the other day she mentioned drilling pumpkins at school for Halloween, something that hasn’t come up in at least six months), so she surely remembers me without a beard. At the same time, she says she likes it. And I have hinted that it may be going away to no response from her.

As for the other woman in my life, I’m not too worried about how The Civee will react. I’ve been sitting in the same room with her for at least 20 minutes (with her looking right at me four times so far (make that five)) without her saying anything. This is actually normal, as it always takes her some time (and some hinting) to realize the beard is gone.

So I’ll go back to shaving every few days, even considering how much I hate doing so. I just hope when she wakes up tomorrow my daughter knows who I am.

Hope at Two

Last night, The Civee and I realized something- we’ve kept our daughter alive for two years.

It’s amazing the progress she’s made over the past 12 months. She’s getting better at understanding what we say, her speech is coming along (something we were concerned about earlier on, with her being born with a cleft lip and palate) and she went from having no hair to having a halo of hair that would make Art Garfunkel jealous. Here she is over the past 12 months:

As with every other stage, Hope is a lot of fun right now. We enjoy having her to ourselves, especially considering in a few months she won’t be the only kid in the house.

I know soon she won’t be as big a Weezer fan as she is. And she won’t repeat everything I say with such enthusiasm (she learned Hello, Newman! last night). But she is an incredible little girl. And The Civee and I are proud to be her parents.

I Would’ve Gotten Away With It; If It Wasn’t For That Kid

For a few different reasons, The Civee and I rotate Hope’s toys in and out of use. Doing so makes the most of our space and allows her to concentrate on a few items, making the most of her time.

A few months ago, we put Hope’s wagon down in the basement. Like the other items we’ve taken out of the lineup, we don’t make an issue of it. The toy just disappears. Hope has a stroller now, so it’s not like she doesn’t have anything to push around. We all forgot about her orange and blue wagon until last night.

The Civee was at school, so Hope and I were hanging out. We were looking at some cards (her current favorite item) when she spotted one with a little red wagon on it. She started shouting “Wagon…Hope’s wagon. Push. Hope want wagon.” I tried deflecting the issue, moving on to the next card, but that only frustrated her. She started crying, demanding the wagon, but I was determined to keep it where it was. Until we had the following exchange:

Me: The wagon is…being fixed right now. It’s away.

Hope: Wagon…downstairs…basement!

Me (puzzled): Wait…what? Who told you that?


I couldn’t believe it. This little not-yet-two-year-old had just Scooby-Doo-ed me. I was actually impressed with her figuring it out, so I went and got her the wagon (which made her quite happy). Later, after The Civee came home, I discussed what happened and she told me she had no idea how Hope knew where the wagon was; she had forgotten it was down there.

I don’t know how Hope did it. The next time I’ll have to act less impressed.

Hope Cracks the Code

The Civee and I are in trouble.

Tonight, I was getting Hope changed as part of her bedtime routine. I was starting to prepare for the next step when I noticed something was missing, so I decided to ask The Civee.

Me: Did we bring up any M-I-L-

Hope: -K. Milk! Milk!

The Civee and I don’t do the spelling thing all the time, but I guess we won’t be getting away with it much longer. Maybe we’ll have to start using signs or a foreign language, but it will only be a matter of time before she figures that out too.

This isn’t the only worrisome thing to happen lately during Hope’s bedtime. The other night, as I was putting her in her crib I said “I love you,” to which she replied something that I swear was “I know.”

It was tough not to crack up, but I’d really like to know how and when she watched The Empire Strikes Back without me.

The Making of the Green Potatoes

So we actually did some St. Patrick’s Day related things today. The Civee, Hope and I all wore green. And we went to the Columbus St. Patrick’s Day parade. We went to COSI (one of Hope’s favorite places) a few hours before the parade and let Hope play. Then we snagged a spot on the lawn, waited about 20 minutes, and watched as the first half of the parade went by us.

Hope enjoyed the festivities, but was getting low on energy, so we left for lunch. Later on in the day, we decided to add a festive twist to dinner by making green mashed potatoes (one of The Civee’s family traditions). Each night as we make dinner we’ve been allowing Hope to do one or two small things to make her feel involved. We let her add the green to the potatoes. She immediately wanted to sample her work.

She had to wait a little while, but I think the wait was worth it.