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My kids wake me up most mornings before 7. For the next half-hour, I’m stationed by the kitchen sink, taking care of the following tasks:

  1. Get 20-month-old a cup of warm milk
  2. Feed cat
  3. Fix 4-year-old breakfast he will eat 1/4 of
  4. Make coffee

After these tasks are completed and my wife comes downstairs, I’m free to eat breakfast and get ready for work.

We live in Warwick Village, a ’50s development near Del Ray. I grew up near here and never knew about this neighborhood. It’s just fine. All the houses are the same. People paint them, which seems weird to me—why would you take brick, a no-maintenance exterior, and make it something you need to keep up? I guess the monotone gets too much for some folks.

This is a picture of my backyard. We rent this place. When we moved in the backyard looked like it had been used for target practice. We planted grass and put in the gardens. The one in the back is the most recent as well as the most environmentally correct. All the plants except for the hostas, which were here when we moved in, are Virginia native. We found a great nursery in Del Ray where the owner told us how to amend our clay soil—-first you till in superfine mulch, then some organic compost. No peat moss—-he has issues with how that’s harvested. Some of the plants in the back here are Itea virginica, mallow, solomon’s seal. But what we’re really growing is smugness, I guess, which is perfect for my neighborhood.