2 years in the life of Ruby, a musical journey presented by Spotify®

We started making playlists for Ruby before she was born.  When we arrived at the hospital on the day she was born, I had two playlists ready to go, depending on Julia's mood.  They were called Wake Up Ruby, and Calm Down Ruby.  We never played anything from the former.

Since she's been around, we've kept a running playlist of songs she likes, songs that were popular while she was a baby, and songs that mean something to us.  There's a lot of them now, 215 at my last count.  Not all of them are appropriate for kids to listen to, so we have to skip those if she's listening, and not all of them are songs she actually enjoys.  But they belong just the same.  If you're interested, the playlist is called The Pancake Mix on Spotify ®

The most important song in this mix, by far, is called Fare The Well (Dink's Song) by Marcus Mumford and Oscar Isaac.  It's from the Inside Llewyn Davis soundtrack.  This song has never failed to calm her down, and usually does so within seconds.  It still works to this day, and I sing it to her any time she has a bad dream, or if she's upset with me for dropping her off at school.  She calls it "Honey Song"

The next song that absolutely needs mentioning is Angel Band by The Stanley Brothers.  If you know me, you'll know that my mother was born in the south, moved up here in her twenties, and now she's gotten rid of her accent and has fully embraced the Midwest lifestyle.  But there's a little hick in my blood, and I can't help but love music like this.  Like the previous song, this one is very calming to Ruby, and I sing it to her often.  She calls this one "Angel Song"


Growing up with a name like Ruby, you're going to be called Ruby Tuesday at least 3 times a week, every week, for your entire life.  And for my daughter, it's not going to help that she was actually born on a Tuesday.  Se la vie.  What people don't know is that there's a ton of songs about girls named Ruby, and the Rolling Stones are just the tip of the iceberg.  They may have the most famous song, but there's plenty of other we like more.  Here's our favorite, Ruby by Foster the People.


Many of these songs trend toward calm, because we generally listen to this mix in the car.  Ruby wasn't always a fan of car trips, and sometimes she still kicks up a fuss if we take a trip longer than 20 minutes.  If you listen to the mix, you'll notice that some of these songs are perfect for falling asleep to.  The other theme of The Pancake Mix is female artists.  My personal taste in music leans toward female vocalists, but even if they didn't, I'd want to expose Ruby to as many as possible.  You'll see a lot of Hayley Williams, Ellie Goulding, Janis Joplin, Adele, Bjork, Natalie Maines, Leslie Feist, Emily Haines, Sia, Solange Knowles, Fiona Apple, Tegan and Sara, Amy Winehouse, etc. etc. etc.  I could go on forever but I won't.  Valerie June exists at a perfect intersection of being a woman, singing folk/country/roots/blues, all wrapped up in a modern music package.  We love her.


We also love to dance.  Ruby will sometimes feel the need to dance so strongly, that she'll stop what she's doing and just get to it.  Sometimes, mid meal.  If you look at my most recent Ruby gallery, she's doing a lot of dancing in heart shaped sunglasses, an essential part of any dance session.  She's also taking ballet, so she's not completely untrained, but her style is definitely her own.  This is one of our current favorite dancin' tunes:


Hard Times by Paramore

Until next time!  Enjoy the jams.



Here's the problem with pictures...

What do you do with them?  I've tried a lot of different platforms to store and share photos, but each one has its own set of headaches.  Let's take instagram for example:

I put a picture on instagram.  Instagram compresses and down converts the resolution, then squishes it into a square so it will fit neatly in line with all the other pictures in your feed.  You can like it, you can save it, you can look at it, and then what?  To save it to your phone you either take a screenshot and crop it, or use another app to save it to your photo library.  But then you've got a squished picture that's a much lower quality than the original.

If I put something on dropbox, I can share it with anybody I like.*  They have to navigate dropbox's terrible UI, then download to their photo library.  Or I can do the same, and post it to social media, or the iPhone's built in photo stream.**  My last option is to email or text it to someone, which will retain the quality but eats up space and eats into that person's data plan.***

*As long as they still have storage available on dropbox.  **Only works with other iPhones. ***Don't get Billy started on data usage.

What we have here is a way for everybody to look at the pictures I think are the best, that I've edited and uploaded in their original resolution.  There's unlimited storage, and unlimited pages, so I can group these photos by subject, date, and the camera with which they were taken.  People are free to save and download as much or as little as they like.  The pictures aren't going anywhere. (Unless I forget to renew my squarespace plan next April)

There's also a blog section, where you can read long rambling posts about nothing in particular (like this one!), and we're free to comment and caption however we like, and without the awkwardness of a "Like" function.  It's just like the photo albums my mother would tirelessly compile when I was young,  a tradition these kids will never understand.

I love taking pictures, and I love being able to share them.  The process is what holds me back, so hopefully this site will streamline that significantly.  

Finally, the site is available to anybody who might want to contribute pictures of their own.  Either email them to me, or ask for an invitation so you can put together a page of your own.  Squarespace makes everything incredibly intuitive, and simple, yet the final result looks polished and professional.  At 9 bucks a month I can't recommend it enough.



- Brendan

Ruby's 2nd birthday, a microcosm of toddlerhood.

Ruby's birthday was on a Friday, and celebrations were planned for the weekend before, directly after, and a week after that.  But we had a lot to deal with before anybody could have any fun.

The Sunday before her birthday, she came down with one of her famous fevers, with the runniest nose you've ever seen thrown in the mix.  Long days of lounging, watching movies, naps, and hydrating are something we're used to, but you never get accustomed to the worry.  She was waking up in the middle of the night, and we could both tell how distressed she was.  So we tried to cheer her up with birthday activities; trips to the toy store, new movies (Moana!) and stuff like that.

But kids around 2 don't recover the way we do.  After your symptoms subside, you probably take it easy for a couple of days, try to eat well and sleep better.  Not Ruby.  She wanted to get right back to being a kid, but she was still over-tired and not operating at 100%, so she was cranky.  Super cranky.

Friday, her actual birthday, she went to school to celebrate with friends, then we went out to dinner with Reedy at Crosby's.  She had fun, but the night ended with her very tired, very cranky, and we got her in bed.  We figured that was that.  Sometime between 6:30 and 7:00, before we got her out of her crib, Ruby had her first experience with vomiting.  We walk into her room to get her up, and she's just covered in it.  She asked me, "What happened?"  I couldn't really explain.

We had company coming, so we cleaned her up and got ready for Matias, Jesse, and Leo.  Everything was going well.  The pictures you see of her eating pancakes were from that morning.  But at some point before her nap, she threw up again.  And then again after her nap.  And then once more.  She finally stopped asking what happened, and just cried when she knew it was coming.  Heartbreaking, sure, but also very hard to comfort her.  We got her through the night, and the next day she was better, but not her best.

Everything improved by the following weekend, and her birthday party was a massive success.  Getting there wasn't easy, but nothing is when you're 2.  It's all part of the fun.