So Get Out Your Strollers and Jump Around
Square One


I spent all weekend planting things. OUTSIDE things. OUTSIDE, where there are bugs. Worms. Dirt. Nature.

After working diligently for two whole minutes I commented to Jason that this wasn't so bad. This wasn't so bad at all!

We've spent the last 10 months or so going back and forth about whether we really want to stay out here in the suburbs -- we kind of hate it, honestly -- and we were *thiiiiiis close* to making an offer on a condo in our old neighborhood (hell, practically in our old building) right after Ezra was born (hell, he was still pruny and gory) but then waffled for five minutes because HELLO, pruny gory baby and our house wasn't ready to sell (despite our best psychotic nesting efforts) and then the condo went under contract and All The Stuff With Noah happened and finally we both admitted that yes, we really really really do want to move back to the city but it's just not the right time yet, maybe next year, in the meantime, let's get outside and plant some goddamn tulips.

So there I was, planting things -- some bulbs for next year, some shrubs and groundcover and a million and four purple and yellow pansies -- and after I planted the third bulb and STILL hadn't gotten bored and/or irritated enough to wander away from the project, I degreed that yardwork really wasn't so bad.

That's when Jason noticed that I was planting two-year-old dead and dried-out husky shells of bulbs instead of actual living bulbs that know...grow. He suggested I move on to the pansies.

I spent hours planting pansies. Yellow, purple, yellow, purple. We dragged Ezra's Jumperoo out onto the lawn with us, using him as bait to Finally Get Our Neighbors To Talk To Us, while I planted and planted and every exposed inch of my skin broke out in various kinds of rashes (when I was in elementary school and was quizzed on my extremely long list of allergies I usually gave up halfway through and simply said I was allergic to "OUTSIDE").

(Photo not actually representative of this story, but inserted anyway because HELLO TALKY.)

When I was done, I had several garden beds of somewhat pathetic little lines of droopy pansies -- nothing like those landscaping shows that I watch whenever I'm in a "let's make the best of the suburbs!" mood. (Whenever I'm in a "screw this, let's move back to the city!" mood I watch shows about real estate, and whenever I'm in a "we probably couldn't move even if we wanted to because goddamn this economy!" mood I watch the Food Network for 76 hours straight and order a lot of pizzas.)

We still decided it was a Good Start, since the previous owners hadn't exactly exerted a ton of landscaping effort either -- when we visited an area nursery soon after we moved in we found a clearance table all the way in the back that featured every single plant and shrub currently residing in our yard. Next weekend we mulch, or something, I don't know, and then after that we start on some serious vegetable container gardens in the backyard. Or something. I don't know! Last year we grew herbs and tomatoes and this year Jason bought a book and is growing salad and peppers and is promising me all sorts of amazing things and I think he may very well have lost his goddamned mind.

Meanwhile, every indoor plant we brought here from our old condo has died of root rot. I feel very responsible. My misguided belief that we really needed More Closet Space led to plant genocide, including my favorite jade plant, which was the first one to die, and at the time I was all, "oh well, who cares, I have extra bathrooms!" but I've never stopped thinking about that plant, because I loved that plant, and I miss that plant, and how lovely it always looked on the windowsill at our old condo. And while I'm no gardening expert or a pyschologist, I get that it's probably not REALLY about that plant.

Meanwhile, I have a splinter in my foot and my back hurts and I couldn't sleep last night because I was stressing about how we need to cover our new plants with some sheets tonight so they won't freeze and do I have enough clean sheets? But I suppose that's preferable to stressing about April 16th, the freshly-set date for Noah's evaluation with the school district -- speech, motor, hearing, vision, social skills, sensory issues, the whole shebang -- an evaluation that will likely decide for us whether we belong here or elsewhere, whether the district will help him or if we remain on our own, whether it's worth staying where we're unhappy or time to move on, Montessori vs. special needs vs. something in between, public vs. private, suburbs vs. city, whether or not we'll still be here next spring when the periennials return.



Love the photo ;)


I go back and forth about our current small town. It is almost certainly the best place for us to be for our son right now--the school district is amazing with the therapies they provide and their willingness to work with us. So we're pretty much committed to hanging out here until he gets most of the way through grade school. But the chances of my finding the sort of job I want when I finish my dissertation are fairly slim, so we probably can't stay here forever. Plus I'd like to have a few more shopping options within 30 miles and not be one of the token lesbian couples.


While my husband and I do not yet have any kids, I totally understand the frustration/wanderlust that you are feeling about suburbs/city. We are debating the idea of picking up and moving out to California, even though neither of us have a job out there. My husband had a job interview in the Bay Area, and we both just fell in love with it. Needless to say, we were both devestated when he did not get the job. (We suspect it is mainly because we do not already live out there.)

Wer are settled where we are (semi-rural northwest Arkansas), and have jobs and money and things necessary for life. However, I'm afraid that if we do not try it now, when we are young and are not tied down, we will never do it...even though we both feel oddly connected to the place we visited for only a few days. Am I insane?

Anyway, good luck with your decisions and Noah's evaluation. I'll be thinking about y'all in April!


I have exactly 2 plants. I have had both for over 14 years. One is alive because John remembers to water it. The other because of a miracle. But I feel guilty if it were to die. You have much more outdoor stamina than I do. I'm baking 13 layers of tiered cake for the fun of it, though.

I'm sorry you hate the suburbs. But I hope the decision to stay or go will be easily made for you after the evals are over.


I remember feeling overwhelmed when trying to figure out what to do about our speech- and social-delayed son when he was three and then four. It's hard. Every kid is different, but if it's any comfort, my guy has come a LONG way since then. He is 11, has a great vocabulary, a best friend, is in the gifted program at school, blah blah blah. He has his quirks--don't we all?--but he's happy and he rocks.

Try to remember that there is no "right" or "wrong" answer in terms of how to help Noah. He will change, the situation will change, school staff (wherever you go) will change, and you will react as needed. Just do the best you can as you go along, getting advice from others who've been there, and knowing that you can always try something new. Write things down that you notice, read and talk to him a lot, and be his advocate, but mostly, just love him. And don't beat yourself up. You're a great mom, and it'll be okay.


I really want to blow raspberries on his belly and chomp on his yummy arms. But I won't because that would really mess up my monitor.
Limbo is hard. I hope you find your path soon.


mooooooooooove! Move I say! Suburbs are boring and smothering and claustrophic and unfun and I always wished I had grown up in a more urban enivronment


I think I need a drink after reading this post. Amy, go have yourself a nice drink!! And good luck with...everything. I hope things go well on the 16th for Noah.


ooh fingers crossed for noah's eval. i hope you get exactly what you want out of it, and no less.

p.s. do you have a good fence around your yard? the second i try growing tomatoes, the deer come running. it never works. i suppose maybe a deck of some sort would help?


I have been reading you for a while now and felt the urge to pipe in today. I live in DC and know of these suburbs you reside in/near/around. Man, the surburbs murder my soul so much!! And people always say they move out there "for the kids, for the schools" as though smart successful people never make do in cities? I mean, billions of people in New York make do in that giant city and are great at it! I don't understand this.

Easy for me to say all this, I don't have kids. I guess I just don't understand the " I have kids now" means "I want to live a cookie cutter boring ass life in a little house that looks like everyone else's where there are no fun cultural events and we have to drive to THE CITY to get those things anyway and chain restaurants and strip malls are SO much better than city life". How does procreating equal those things?


I'm really only saying these things b/c you said you guys weren't happy. I tend not to make a habit of popping into blogs and talking AT someone about what they should do.

So ... with all of that being said, the 16th is UBER important and yeah, Noah's needs are imperative to all this crap. So hopefully *crossed fingers* everything goes ok and then you can find those classy services in the city and come back and be a kickass urban mom?

See ... I've got it all figured out for you!


I live in the burbs, too, but on the other side of The River (you have to cross the Big Bridge, and oh my, we may as well be a continent apart). The only assvice (to copy your word) I have to offer is that if you consider moving back into the city, first look not only at the houses, the lovely houses, but also the schools -- which, of course, you would, but the attention to special needs in the city might be few and far between given all else that Michelle Rhee has been trying to fix. At least in the burbs, for now (before the state budget kills it all), you probably have access to better schools and/or programs.
Your children are adorable. In case you needed my affirmation. :)


I've actually been cursing plant life lately, because my husband is impossible to buy for, but for Christmas last year I got him a lime tree. I was really excited to see it grow limes (especially since we live in Minnesota, so it can be an indoor plant much of the year). Well, fast forward 15 months, and it's just about dead. And no, it hasn't ever produced fruit. Apparently I replanted it too tightly and the roots died--or something. This is why I don't garden. So good for you for trying; it's more than I'm up to!

And by the way, my little girl, who was a year this month, is in love with Ezra. She was sitting on my lap while I read, and she kept leaning over to touch the baby on the screen. I would say "baby!" and she kept clapping her hands and grinning. We had to do it about 20 times before I was able to distract her with supper. He's going to be a heartbreaker; she's already got a little baby crush on him!


Things will work out exactly the way they should. I believe that for you. This crazy thing we call life has a a way of working things out for us, despite our best efforts to interfere :)

Best of luck with the evaluation and the decision between the city and the suburbs. We are facing the exact same struggle right now - with a bambino on the way. As for the city, it's hard for me to think that I would park 6 blocks from my apartment and go up three flights of stairs all of the time with a newborn, but I suppose people manage both ways. As for the suburbs, it's hard to imagine being happy feeling my soul sucked out because mah God the suburbs...

Best to you.

Mommy Joy

Been there did that last week. I spent the whole week working in my flower beds and OMG! It's amazing how sore a person can get from planting flowers! It's not just my back. I got it in my legs from reaching. I'm an athletic tennis player and I still found myself so sore I could barely walk in the mornings. But I got it done. I suffered a small sinus infection due to all the allergies that came along with it but it's done! And it's spring and it's beautiful! I'm sure your beds are beautiful too!


I hate my house too. But I adore your house. Weird.


Umm... The "Winter Snowfall Warning" where I live was lifted yesterday afternoon. After the BLIZZARD passed over. I would LOVE to have droopy flowers.

AND... you have the cutest kid ever.


I know how you feel! We worked in our garden this weekend in ROckville in the beautiful sunlight. I love, love our cool little house here and have learned to love it here, but I'll always be a city girl and miss our place in Dupont. The farmer's market, with the people and the neighbors and the sense of having a "there there." But for now? Not too bad. GOOD LUCK! It's not an easy choice being this close to DC but on a different planet pricewise. I'd love to go back to the city but the extra space is niiiice too!

Elizabeth Kiker

I recently moved (when my husband and I married and had our sweet baby) from Foggy Bottom to Arlington. We stayed pretty close to the city (biking distance to both our work), but I still miss the ... closeness of it all. Go back! Live the city life we all dream of. And plants: Tell me if you figure it out. We mow, and that's about it.

Catherine S

Yeah, well versed in the city vs. burb debate. Husband is from NYC, I am from Alabama, so I feel you. We found a nice balance in a great little town that we love that is technically a suburb but has great things like a downtown, fun places that are both adult and kid friendly, and there is diversity in economic status, race, and sexual orientation. In fact our town is pretty much known as a lesbian community. AND great Georgia. Who knew?

Maybe you guys can find something along those lines in the DC/Baltimore area? Not being familiar with the area, I can't offer any suggestions...but it just seems like there HAS to be something along those lines.

die Frau

I actually just posted about suburb v. city living a couple of weeks ago on my blog. So many pros and cons, and yes, we did it for our future kids (not even pregnant, I know). Our city's public schools just don't hack it (except for one or two), and we couldn't afford the kind of house we wanted in one of the decent city neighborhoods with our budget. Plus we did worry: What if we have a child with special needs? and a lot of other concerns, etc.

We miss the cultural diversity, the coffee shops, the SIDEWALKS. We refuse to wait two hours to go to friggin' OLIVE GARDEN (I like the OG, but not two hours' wait worth). But we'll make a life here and it's what we need to do.

I guess in my convoluted way, I'm saying you do what you have to for those you love. You're doing what you need to do for your family. Don't doubt yourself on that. Good luck with the eval!

Mary Stewart

Longtime reader, first time commenting. I just wanted to tell you that we just went through "the whole shebang" with our four year old son and he did qualify for services (fine motor, social and behavioral and cognitive) through our school district. We had been at a nightmare preschool, that I knew was the wrong place for him from the first day, but thought the social part was worth it. I had panic attacks and dreaded picking him up because all they ever told us was what he did wrong. He wasn't super excited to go and I kept him out sick probably more than I should have. The minute we found out he qualified through the district, I never sent him back.
He had about a three week break and we started the new school the first week of March. What a difference! He LOVES it! He loves his teachers. We could totally see that spark in him that I KNEW was missing. I hope Noah and you can find that spark,too. Preschool should be FUN!
Your babies are adorable!
I will be thinking of you and good luck!


I planted once and then the deer and bunnies ate my plants.


Can't solve your city/suburb debate, but I can HIGHLY recommend the business of gardening. Get some good gloves (so as to avoid the rash) and just plant.

Jen L.

I am so happy you're planting a garden...I'll have someone to virtually "go through it" with me! I've got herbs, strawberries and peppers. We're doing flowers next weekend, probably pansies, tulips and some other thing the husband likes that I can't remember the name of. I lost my first round of herbs to my neighbor's damned dog who thought it was fun to dig them up. I showed him...the new herbs are watered each night with a blend of water and cayenne pepper.


Don't get all distracted by your life and forget to Water!! Although if your house plants died of root rot, maybe you have the opposite issue :)


Sending all good luck and happy wishes towards Noah and the evaluation!
Also, totally understanding the gardening suckage. I avoided ANYTHING to do with outsideness all my life, until I was struck with the sudden irrepressible urge to grow my own vegetables and sustain myself! Aaand I had beautiful plants and sometimes even remembered to water them and then THE FUCKING DEER JUMPED MY FENCE AND ATE MY ZUCCHINI. And everything else, but my big beautiful zucchini was the main victim and I now have an irrational hatred of deer. So . . .yeah. Good luck!


If you're interested in learning more about container gardening for specifically vegetables and herbs, the book "McGee and Stuckey's Bountiful Container" is amazing. They ONLY focus on edible food in containers, and they cover pretty much ALL herbs and vegetables. I highly recommend it. :)


Agh! The suburbs vs city debate... We left our beautiful condo and moved to a House when #2 was on the way (around the time of your move, I felt validated, in a stalker-y kind of way). We're still in the city, albeit in a much quieter, more suburbany part (although St Paul Minnesota is no DC) but wowser we miss condo living. And now that the snow has finally melted and I survey the garden we have ignored since moving I really want to move back to our condo with a couple of pots on the deck. Although not to the neighbor who let her three dogs pee inside...
Anyways, what I'm saying is I feel your closet-space pain. I was the one who wanted more bedrooms, and now I am regularly browsing real estate again, grrr. And huge well wishes for the 16th


Your description of your allergies makes me think of how I used to tell my parents I was allergic to yard work. I'd show them my hives, and they'd tell me I was a bad liar. Fifteen years later, my allergy test comes back positive for all grasses, trees and pollen. You can imagine the fun I had with that one.

Jennifer txmomof3

This is so weird and I'm totally serious when I say I have a splinter in my foot, too. I woke up at 1:30 in the morning with my foot throbbing from where I was rubbing the "out" end of the splinter against the sheets and irritating the hell out of it. I went in the bathroom, turned on the light, found tweezers and promptly broke it off. So it's still there. Just so you know you're not alone.


I would just like to say that you're awesome. I read your blog on my iPhone, in public... and embarrass myself waaaay too often because I laugh out loud, alone. Thanks for that. :)

Jana (formery known as Jezer)

Oh, man, I completely understand about the jade plant, and how it's not at ALL about the jade plant, but how you mourn the damned plant.

Sprite's Keeper

We moved about two hours west of our hometown where both our families are due to housing pricces, got a house, had a baby, the market tanked, and now we could easily afford a house back where all the babysitters are, and can't sell our house. Every time we visit, we spend the entire drive back wishing we were closer. I hope it all goes well on the 16th!


You know, you probably don't need to hear it. But I'll say it anyway. I live close to you and belong to a playgroup of people who live in SS and NE DC. The people in DC are not getting the same quality special needs help for their kids as we are in Montgomery County (my 3-year old is in speech therapy here). Think whatever you want about the suburbs soul suckage but it's worlds better than DC's TERRIBLE schools and sub-par help for Noah.


1)We live in a suburb. I go back and forth about whether I like it or miss the energy and diversity of the city. Luckily we are 10 minutes away from downtown by seabus, so diversity is nice and close.

2) My daughter is 15 months old and SOMEONE in my family noticed how pigeon toed she is, and how picky she is about getting clothing put on and HOW PICKY an eater and HOW CRAPPY a sleeper and that she doesn't have a single word yet and we should get her checked RIGHT AWAY because she could have a sensory disorder.

So THANK GOD for your blog. I know about SPDs and am not too scared (yet) and have your blog and piles of your commenters' blogs to refer to in the event that my perfect amazing child turns out to be a bit different in a label-able way. Thank YOU for sharing what you have about Noah.


I have this stupid plant that I HAD to have as soon as we moved into our new house- and it hates me and is totally dying. We went to Pittsburgh for 4 days and I put it outside thinking that the outdoors and the nice weather would cheer it up. What was it doing when we pulled back in the driveway? Sitting in the sun, looking miserable dry and pathetic. I hate that damned plant.


Just remember the grass isn't greener on the other side-it's greener where you water it more.

(Thought that would fit in with the yard-work theme.)

Don't let where you live decide whether you are happy. Just be happy!

Best of luck on 4/16. I know how you feel.


I totally agree with Robin. I live in DC, just over the line from Mont.Cty and the difference after elementary school is incomparable. And if you need any sort of minimal assistance at all for Noah, you are going to have to do it yourself. Private school is expensive, very very expensive. We live in the area with the "best" elementary school and the neighbor kid with dyslexia has to go to the Lab School because the services are not adequate for her, even though her brother goes to public school. I realize this is all anecdotal, but before you move you need to look at the big, long-term picture. If we do not get our 5 year old into private school to the tune of $30K a year (and then her two younger brothers too) in 5 years, we are moving because there is no middle school option in the public system in DC. There just isn't, even if you have a run of the mill perfectly average kid. Look at close in Bethesda or SS if you want less of a suburban soul-suckage, but please really think hard about moving back downtown. Rhee has miles to go before she sleeps and I have little confidence she'll get there anytime soon.

die Frau

One more point: Apparently if you put Irish Spring soap around your garden, the deer will stay away. They don't like the smell. I think you just cut up slivers of it and put it around the garden (what happens when it rains? I'll find out). Or (gross but true) dried blood. You can buy it at any plant store for this reason, and it makes your plants stronger. The vegetarian deer don't like the smell of that, either. It worked for me last year...after they ATE ALL OF MY TOMATOES. I cried. Then I went out and bought dried blood. Take that, deer bastards!


If it's any consolation, pansies are extremely frost resistant. They will die when the temp hits above 80 degrees, though. Then plant zinnias. They thrive during hot humid summers and make your garden look like a million bucks.


I live in the suburbs but have an aversion to gardening. That's why I have an Aerogarden. It's like planting for lazy people.

Sarah @

Very cute picture! =)

Good luck making the big moving decision. It seems like there is never a right answer to those sorts of questions, but I'm sure whatever you decide will work out well for your family.


It is truly a wonder we mothers ever remember to breathe, isn't it?

You are an amazing mother!!


Girl, you've got a lot going on. And me? The queen of understatements.

We're in the middle of evaluations too. Hang in there!


Right there with you - I have the same conversation with myself every other month. Gah.

Parsing Nonsense

Ezra's such a cutie! Yardwork is a killer, and the number one best reason for moving back to the city. Wes and I work for hours in our yard every weekend and it's never finished. No matter the season, there we are toiling against a never-ceasing onslaught of weeds and overgrown terrors. I'd still like to see a picture of your handiwork, though, because pansies = pretty.


Hate, hate suburbs. Any suburb. No amount of space/garden/near cul de sacs are going to convince me to leave a city. And I have two young kids. I'd rather squeeze myself and the kids into a smaller space, use the multitude of playgrounds around as backyard than move to the suburbs. I walk out of my townhouse, there is a grocery store, 5 coffee shops, a bookstore, a movie theater, 2 drug stores, a children's library, a community center with a pool, shops, restaurants within 3 blocks of my house. Suburbs can suck it.


Which suburbs are you in? The Bethesda suburbs? So am I, me and my one year old. Do you hate it because you don't have enough suburban mom friends? Want to have a playdate? (Email me.)


The city vs. suburb discussion is a comfort, although it does nothing to relieve the knot rising in my stomach whenever I think seriously about it. My husband and I want kids eventually and I love the idea of raising a family in the city but oh, the schools. DC's school system is not going to be significantly better in 4+ years. I'm sure there are people who can afford a decent townhome in a good DC neighborhood and private school, but we? Are mere mortals. I don't know how people pull this off, financially.


I want to move too!

Musings from Me

House plants...ahhh I love the sound of them. Here's the thing though I am a plant killer. 10 years after our wedding I still had several lone green plants from aorund that time. One by one I killed them, including a lovely tree-like thing in a pot. Really it's a wonder the children and husband are still going strong...what with my maternal instincts and all.


Hope you figure out what you need. We live in a suburb in Texas. The public schools were OK for our preschool son who needs speech therapy and physical therapy, but horrible for our older daughter who is a "normal" maybe a little advanced student. We decided to go private (Catholic school) and our daughter is thriving. Our son is holding steady and we are paying for speech and physical therapy. We are scraping by and I have to go back to work next year (as a teacher in the public schools (irony)- they pay more around here). Hopefully it is all worth it in the end. You will figure out what is best for Noah and it will all work out.


OMG, I am totally bitten by the move back to the city bug too! I am so over the suburbs. Arg.

Too early here to plant, sadly. Soon, though, and Tori is finally old enough to "help."


I'm a small town, in the woods, possum in the garage (dinner later?), deer eat the tulip bulbs kind of girl who has a dead fern from last summer molting in the studio. I keep thinking that if I just water it, it will come back, right? You grow some cute kids, however.


I am nto much for gardening either, but I do love the look of it when I am done! I wish i could start, but it snowed again this morning, so ya not happening.

Good luck on the 16th, big day! I will be sending positive thoughts your way then!

Sue Ann

You have such blessings.

But you never seem to be happy with what you have.


I, too, am allergic to the OUTSIDE. Actually, I have PMLE (basically, rashes from the sun), but when I try to explain that this is an screwed up immune reaction to sunlight blah blah blah, I end up just saying I am allergic to the sun. I am not sure which elicits the stranger looks from people. Of course, then they see me outside in short sleeves and look at me as if I MUST have been lying. Hahahaha - only me and my imported non-FDA approved SPF know the truth!


I live in a city and it makes me feel slightly better about the fact that I cannot grow anything. AT ALL.


Your writing style cracks me up Amy. I love it!

Use the dirty sheets to cover the plants, not the clean ones. They're going to have to be washed after the freeze is done anyway.

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