Here’s a favorite of Essie’s right now: “up-up-up” or sometimes just “pah-pah-pah” is all you hear. She does this while sitting on the ground, possibly looking up at you, with her arms above her head. Hasn’t failed her yet: someone is going to pick her up. She has us well-trained.
As Helen Small writes in ”The Long Life,” her study of
the literature and philosophy of old age, “declining to
describe our lives as unified stories … is the only way
we can hope to live out our time other than as tragedy.”
Lively describes the frustrations of autobiographical
memory in old age. “The novelist in me—the reader,
too—wants shape and structure, development, a theme,
insights,” she writes. “Instead of which, there is this
assortment of slides, some of them welcome, others not at
all, defying chronology, refusing structure.”
My habit when writing here is both a narrative of self-improvement and inexorably toward “profound” conclusions. There are countless posts where I imply that I’ve finally “figured out” why I can’t relax or why I have not been enjoying myself or how I need to just stop and smell the roses. Such neat writing is in error. It would be better to vividly illustrate my failings and vividly illustrate my experiences, leaving aside conclusions, unifying themes, profound insights. After all, narrative arc is difficult enough, much less drawing one without the benefit of time having passed. It would be like writing the story of your sailing based on the turn you took out of port.
Ceramic tile is probably not the first project for a homeowner do-it-yourselfer to attempt. I’ve spent the last two weeks investigating the feasibility of such a project. I had to figure out:
How to remove our old, beat up vinyl flooring (oscillating multi-tool)
How to calculate subfloor deflection based on truss span and composition, and subfloor thickness
The best (cut off and replace the closet flange) and second best (use stacked wax rings, the bottom one of normal thickness and the top of greater thickness, with a horn) way to reconnect the toilet once the floor is raised in height
Underlayments: Schluter Ditra is a decoupling underlayment and a great alternative to the weight of cement board
How to attach Ditra to the floor (with a modified thinset, preferably spread with the 11/64 (~4.5mm) square notch Ditra trowel — using their alternate recommendation results in poor coverage and using a larger trowel gives you ridges in the underlayment
How to attach tile to Ditra (with an unmodified thinset)
The thinsets to use (VersaBond for modified, TEC Uncoupling Membrane Mortar for unmodified)
How to plan your tile setting so you don’t get slivers at the wall
Trowel size for larger tiles (1/2”)
What trowel sizes even mean
How to snap a grid to set your tile
How to cut tile
How to measure tile cuts (hint, you don’t use a tape measure)
Rectified versus unrectified tile
The challenges of large format, unrectified tile and the recommended grout lines for the latter (3/16”)
How to avoid lippage (Tuscan Leveling System or LASH system)
Whether to cut all your tiles at once or cut them as you set
And all that was just to try to figure out what it would cost to do the tile ourselves. The 56 item spreadsheet I’ve assembled calls for material from Home Depot, Lowes, Hejny Rental, Amazon, Minnesota Tile and Stone, and Contractors Direct. I’m close to actually having a number for the cost. So now I have a ton of respect for tile and stone wranglers. This requires an immense amount of attention to detail. I still don’t know if we’re going to do it.
A startling, yet simple realization this morning: someday, somewhere, someone is going to be mean, or condescending, or hateful to our Ess. I don’t know, can’t know, can’t guard against when; and the circumstances around such a thing are impossible to anticipate, infinite in variety. And what’s more, apprehension and concern from me are neither beneficial nor constructive. So that will be tucked away. My job, then, is to love Ess into being, to (someday sooner than I want to admit) rest my hands on her shoulders and look her in the eye and tell her I’ll see her at home again, before she travels places I can not follow and takes risks from which I can not protect her.
I am only beginning to realize the intensity of a parent’s love.
There is so much I have experienced but haven’t written down since I last posted here. Let’s get to it.
Ess had four shots (one in each limb) and we confirmed at her regularly scheduled doctor visit that she is a healthy young lady.
She took her first step on September 12, but still prefers crawling. She loves the letter “B” and when we change her she finds the two big “B”s on the wall of her room (they spell BABY) and says “buh.” She finds our belly buttons. She honks my nose and I say “hoooonk” like a fog horn. Then she honks her own. She knows “moon” and says “mooOOon” with the ‘n’ on the end dropped to near silence. She’s getting so much better at sitting in her high chair at meals and eating with us. She saw the beginning of the very rare super moon total solar eclipse! The next one will be when she is 19 years old. 19! I can’t even imagine. Ess still loves planes: she never misses the chance to search for and point at one when she hears it in the sky. As such, when she and Mykala came to visit me over lunch at Eagan today, she marveled at the veritable stream of airplanes lifting off from MSP into the air over our blanket in the park. She dances. She hugs the cat and rests her head on him, delighted to catch him before he trots off.
Oh, and biking. Ess loves being on the bike in the carrier on Mykala’s handlebars. She just LOVES it. I keep thinking I’ve written about this here before, but somehow I’ve managed to just miss getting that down. I actually teared up a bit I was so happy after our first family bike outing. You, being you, aren’t interested in the foot stirrups. Instead, you throw your feet onto your mom’s handlebars and point and babble and smile. The other day, we were biking to Emily and Nick’s house, the sun was setting behind us, the day was perfect, and suddenly you threw your big helmeted head skyward and got a huge smile on your face — THERE was your mama! She’s been pedaling you forward the entire time! I’ll leave the symbolism as an exercise for the reader. I love you, and I love summer biking… and the two together are so much more than the sum of their parts. Such special time.
So, slowly, slowly, we are learning to be parents. The amount of non-negotiable, spoken-for time in our days has risen to I bet something like 96% — there simply isn’t that down time we became accustomed to as young adults with few worries. This is a season of our lives, and restricted freedom requires some getting used to. We’re still learning. It helps that Ess exhibits such a zest, such a strong spirit, such a will. We marvel at her leaps and bounds and her changes and growth. We marvel at what it is like to see our traits combined into one little person.
And will is something worth returning to: Ess is learning “no” right now. It is a profound thing to realize that sometimes we can not have what we want, when we want it. As parents, we neither enjoy nor seek out the opportunity to demonstrate this lesson, but we must, usually in the name of safety. The words I find myself using to explain to Ess why I am carrying her away from something (as practice for when she fully understands what we are saying) must be thought through, and even though they use small simple words, the ideas are profound: (1) not now, (2) first, this (3) wait. By learning what (1) and (2) and (3) mean, how to deal with them, how to grow beyond them but knowing when to surrender to them is part of becoming human. So we try to communicate that to Ess, even though she’s only 14 months young. And sometimes, we just need to save her from bumping her head.
We celebrated my mom’s/Nannie’s 60th birthday with a trip to the American Swedish Institute. It was a beautiful house, elevator accessible, which helped with Ess in the stroller; but still she’s not much of a guided tour baby. So, we toured on our own, checking out the home and grounds. Also, Ess does not enjoy shoes or socks, as she is demonstrating in a dormer window at the mansion of the Swedish Institute:
I am lucky, simply very very lucky. There is so much sweetness.
Out for a walk today during one of my all-time favorite times of year and day (summer, at sunset) with Essie in the Björn, when an approaching biker slowed as he approached: “My son is old enough to carry me now, but how I wish he was that age again.” Then, just as quickly as he’d approached, the biker glided off again.
8/27/2015 12:41:59pm Mykala Micek:
she just lulled herself off to sleep peacefully
she was so sweet: every time a plane would fly overhead, she would stretch her hand out towards the sky
it was the cutest thing
i hoped 20 planes would fly over us
Today, when I got home from work, you gave me a huge hug as I carried you upstairs to get your diaper changed. Then, when I came to pick you up from Nannie and Grandpa’s after my workout, you called me “Dada”.
I am so, so lucky you are in my life. I cherish these times.