Jim Fenzel Art
art design illustration


illustrated blog about life in NYC apartment with 4 kids

Roo in the City:

an illustrated blog about life with four kids in a small apartment in the BIG city

Morning Routine

Author’s note: I was going to skip today (I’m especially busy with illustrations as the Holidays approach) but instead here’s a written look into our morning. -jim

Roo first woke up at 3 am, so compared to the previous night, Dad felt he’d already achieved a solid sleep and anything else would be gravy. Now, when Charlie was a baby, there was opportunity to let him cry it out on his own and self soothe. But as the apartment filled with little people, Mom and Dad sacrificed their own sleep to keep the ‘middle-of-the-night-crying-child-syndrome’ contained to just one. Miraculously last night, she settled right back down and was out until 5:41. And that’s when the day began in earnest.

Dad’s first morning mission is coffee. Well, first he changes Roo’s diaper. Then coffee. Right away. No time to brew it. No frills; he drinks it black. Here’s the procedure:

1.       5:46 am: pour a cup from yesterday’s French press batch into mug. Microwave mug for 1:11.

2.       5:47 am: wonder why this minute and eleven seconds is taking so long

3.       5:48 am: start drinking coffee.

4.       6:00 am to 7:55: heat and drink what’s left from yesterday. Turn on kettle to start fresh batch. Clean French press, grind beans, and make fresh coffee. There might be repeat or two here.

5.       9:00 am: (post school drop off), keep drinking coffee. See if there’s enough for two cups tomorrow morning. If not, heat kettle.

At 6:05 there’s a rattling that sounds like a large wind chime. It is Charlie knocking into his hanging collection of BJJ medals as his climbs down the ladder of his loft bed.

He collapses on the couch as Roo waves to him and babbles.

                Charlie: I want breakfast.

                Dad: What do you want?

                Charlie: What is there?

                Dad: The same things as yesterday.

                Charlie: Are there waffles?

                Dad: Were there waffles yesterday?

                Charlie: Can I just have breakfast?

                Dad [Long pause to drink coffee]: Banana, blueberries and pumpkin bread?

                Charlie [grunts affirmatively]: Can you get my water?

Ben is up next and starts playing with Legos at the table.

                Ben: Do I have school today?

                Dad: Yes

                Ben: Full day or half day?  (He had half-days for the first two days of pre-k and has asked this question everyday since)

                Dad: Full day.

                Ben: Good (sometimes he says ‘good’; sometimes there’s no response)


Ben will want one of 3 things for breakfast: Yogurt (Brown Cow maple), Cinnamon Toast Crunch, or Reese’s Cereal. His is not an ideal diet.

Dad is making lunches in the kitchen as Roo tries to get into the bathroom , or climb up onto the table to get Ben’s legos, or grab Charlie’s drink off the arm of the couch where he left it teetering.

On this Wednesday, Ben wants a lunch because he always wants a lunch packed. He won’t even try the school food. He wants yogurt, cheese stick, apple slices, a little Cinnamon Toast Crunch dry, and a pouch of apple sauce. But not that berry flavored apple sauce.

Charlie wants a lunch packed because he’s seen the lunch menu and wants a sandwich instead. Josie needs a lunch due to a field trip. “Ugh,” says dad and takes a moment to sip coffee and stare at nothing.

As Dad is in the middle of packing lunches, Josie wakes up and drags her blankets and stuffed dog to the couch where she and Charlie fight about who’s on whose half. There’s some kicking. Roo sits in her highchair on the edge of the kitchen and eats banana and (the insides of) blueberries. She tosses bits of blueberry to the floor. Dad tries to take away the rest of her blueberries; she screams. Mom gets back from the gym, and everything moves from normal pace to full speed ahead. Teeth brushed, getting dressed, going potty (Ben waits until bathroom is occupied and then desperately has to go): “where are my gloves?”, “can you do laundry today?”,  “can I wear this shirt again?”, “who stole my jacket?”…

At 8:24 they wait for the elevator and then walk a block and a half to get to school for an 8:30 start.

And Dad wonders how they’d make it if they lived any farther away. And took a bus. Or the subway. Or both. Now, between 5:41 and 8:24, it seems some blocks of time go missing. If you find them, let us know.


Jim Fenzel is a freelance artist and writer based out of an apartment on the UES of NYC. He has four kids and a great wife. Support him at Society6 (i.e. buy his merch- like the above Hoyas mug)


If you enjoy this blog, please share via social media. Thanks!