Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas Miracle

Last night, I witnessed a true Christmas miracle: Jack behaved himself at the grocery store. Below is a picture of the last time that happened, taken in May of 2006. It was a surprise then, too.

Usually, Jack stays home while I go shopping, and we are much better friends because of it. But tonight, there was just no getting around it -- we needed food, and Steve was working late. Armed with bribes and distractions (raisins and Roary), I took the plunge, planning to handle the inevitable whining with a zen-like calm.

Jack immediately selected a car cart and happily started driving and munching on raisins. His interest in the car ended at exactly the same time as he ran out of raisins and he asked to get out. Fine, since by that time we were almost done shopping. He didn't want to sit in the cart, preferring intead to "help" Mommy push the cart.

I was pretty sure it was a bad idea, but hey -- zen-like calm, so I gave it a shot. Surprisingly, that worked out okay. He became very interested in a box of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, probably because he thought it contained the blueberry muffins printed on it. He then made several attempts to heave large cartons of ricotta cheese into the cart, stopping only when he bumped his head on the cart. I picked him up and gave him kisses, but he stopped crying when Roary took over and roared at the cart, called it a jerk, and kicked it for hurting Jack. I then figured out that he wasn't hinting that I make lasagna, but rather thought the cartons were of yogurt. I let him pick whatever kind he wanted, and naturally he chose the stuff with Boots (and Dora) on it.

Jack astonished me by continuing to behave while I paid for the groceries. For all of this, he was rewarded not only with praise and kisses, but also with dinner from McDonald's. Hey, he earned it!

As I pulled into Donald's, Jack started pointing at the building and enthusiastically saying, "Eat! We eat!" Then he declared, "Fries!" I asked him if he also wanted apples (because, yeah, the apple dippers TOTALLY make a happy meal a healthy choice). "Apple!" he responded enthusiastically. He then chose milk instead of juice, and as we pulled in to the drive through, started a chant of, "Fries! Apple! Milk! Eat!" He gave me a yep in response to my suggestion of chicken. Then he added, "Cake."


I told him that he was a silly monkey, that they didn't have cake. I turned around, and he was grinning at me -- he knew he was being funny. We went home and the two of us had a celebration: chicken, fries, apples, and milk for him, wine for me.

Monday, December 18, 2006


Yesterday, we took Jack to see Sesame Street Live. I had a conversation not long ago with some other moms about taking your kids to things like this, Wiggles concerts, princesses on ice, and what have you. The debate was whether or not it's worth it. Is it worth the money, the effort, and all for an experience that your kid is not likely to remember?

To me, obviously, it is.

Maybe when Jack is 30, he won't specifically remember going to Sesame Street Live. He won't remember the music, the moment when Bert came out dressed like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, the french fries we ate at intermission, or any of the details. But I do think that he'll come away with certain feelings about his childhood. That mommy and daddy did fun things with him and wanted him to have experiences he'd enjoy. That the three of us did special things together. I think that's important.

The other side of it is that the experience wasn't just about Jack being excited to see Elmo up on stage just a few feet away from him (I got us really good seats). I cannot tell you how happy Steve and I were watching Jack's face when Bert and Ernie came out on stage for the first time. The joy we saw when he stood up and cheered during the finale, the way he yelled, "Hi, Ockers!" every time Oscar's trash can was wheeled out, the way he frantically waved bye bye to each character in turn... all of that made for a really wonderful experience for all three of us.

Friday, December 15, 2006


Sometimes, you'll hear a song that just speaks to you. You want to listen to it over and over again, learn the lyrics, blast it in the car, sing it in the shower. For me, right now, that song is "All These Things That I've Done" by The Killers. For Jack, it's "Old McDonald."

Jack loves "Old McDonald" beyond all reason. When he plays with his barn or tractor, he'll happily arrange the animals, singing, "I-I-O!" to himself. Steve's parents got him some CDs of kid music. He isn't interested in listening to "John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt." He just wants me to skip to "I-I-O."

Even more, Jack wants Steve and me to sing him the song pretty much all the time. In the bathtub, after dinner, and especially in the car. He'll say, "I-I-O?" and request specific verses: "Ernie?"

That's right, Ernie. There are a lot more characters living on our farm than just cows, pigs, and horses. Considering how often we have to sing the song, Steve and I have decided to get creative. Jack's favorite is Ernie, who he always insists be followed by Bert, then duck, for Rubber Duckie. Roary likes to sing along with the tigers on the farm. Steve added Santa Claus, and because we're very mature, we always giggle a bit with, "Everywhere a ho, ho!" I also like singing, "And Yoda he had on this farm! E-I-E-I-O!"

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Word Up

Jack is in a huge learning spree, rapidly increasing his vocabulary. Just this weekend, he learned three new words (that I can think of; there may be more). Jack can now say pretzel, cupcake, and every little (and big) boy's favorite word, pipper.

Besides that he can now tell us about his pipper while he grabs it during diaper changes, I am really glad that he can talk more. I think Jack's difficulty communicating with us has been a real source of frustration for him. Jack believes that "Mah!" clearly means, "Excuse me, pretty Mommy, but may I please have some yogurt," and must think I'm a complete idiot for not getting it for him. The other night, he said, "Ro? Tiger?" to me, to make crystal clear that he wanted me to get Roary for him.

I also heard Jack having a semblance of a conversation with Roary on Saturday. We got to the car after swimming, and Roary (with a little help from me)asked Jack what he did.

Jack: Agua.
Roary: You went in the agua?
Jack: Yep. Duck.
Roary: You played with the ducks?
Jack: Yep. Spider!
Roary: You saw the picture of the spider?
Jack: Yep.
Roary: Was it fun?
Jack: (Vigorously nods yes)
Me: Roary, did you miss Jack?
Roary: (Vigorously nods yes)

And now, here is a picture of Jack with Stitch, my dad's kitten that he took such a shine to over Thanksgiving.

Friday, December 08, 2006


Last night was a good night for me and the Cubbers. It has been one week since his surgery, which also means one week since his last bath. It's a good thing he's just a little kid and that it's not a hot sweaty summer, or he'd be pretty ripe by now. Jack has been asking for a bath for a long time, and probably thought I was nuts when I told him no.

After dinner, I asked, "Do you want to go upstairs and take a bath?" Jack said no, then said, "Bath?" Like, "Wait a minute, I retract my reflexive no. You finally have a good idea, woman. Let's go!"

He scrambled up the stairs, then planted himself, fully clothed, in the empty bathtub. It was hilarious. I didn't even bother trying to take him out of the tub to undress him, figuring he'd think I was going back on my word and that he'd be pissed. I stripped him down, then turned on the water. Jack said, "Agua! Yay!" He then happily splashed, used his tub crayons, played with his Sesame Street toys, and got clean until he was a wrinkly little raisin and the water was cold.

In other adorable news, I attempted to get Jack to say Pappy, since Steve's dad and stepmom are visiting today. Jack misunderstood and got very excited talking about his Poppa. I said, "Jack, do you love Poppa?" Jack said, "Yep. And Stitch." I swear, that little kitten made quite the impression. Jack then said, "Poppa, Stitch, ball." Yes, Jack. Good point. Poppa and Stitch do like to play ball.

I think we might need to get this kid a kitty.

Tough Mommying

On Wednesday, I took Jack to see his surgeon, Dr. Jafaar, whose name sounds evil. First, it took us an hour to get the approximately 20 miles to the doctor's office. Then we had to wait for an hour, much of which I spent trying to convince Jack that it was not time to go bye bye. When Evil Dr. Jafaar was able to see us, things got harder. He had to clean Jack's incision with alcohol, and some of it got in Jack's eye. Jack started screaming and crying, just in time for us to have to remove the stitches. A nurse and I held him down on a table, Evil Dr. Jafaar unwrapped a very sharp object and told me to look away. Happy to oblige! While Jack screamed and struggled, I sang "Old McDonald" to him and told him it was okay.

But, God, it did not feel okay at all. My little guy was screaming and fighting. He was scared, and I don't blame him. I would be too, if someone was working a scalpel by my eye. I wanted to just grab him, run out of there, and maybe remove the stitches myself using nail scissors while he was asleep.

Finally, it was over. Evil Dr. Jafaar told Jack he did a good job, then patted me on the shoulder and said, "You did a good job, too, Mommy." I think he was genuinely impressed, because believe me, I was totally putting on a brave front.

After another hour of driving to get home, I decided I'd done enough tough mommying work for the day and engaged in some excellent lazy mommying: I put Elmo Saves Christmas on and cuddled with Jack until Steve got home.

The good news is, Jack healed great, and we can put this whole episode behind us. I am really proud of how well my little guy did with what had to have been a very stressful and scary situation.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Perfect World

It appears that, for a few days anyway, we at Stately Wasser Manor are living in a perfect world. Here's how our days are going:

I wake up in the morning, chug some coffee, and go to work. I arrive at the unYodaly hour of 7:00. There I remain until noon, when I head home.

Meanwhile, the boys are having Guy Time, hanging out, and having fun. Steve puts Jack down for his nap, so he and I have time to have a leisurely lunch together and to talk without anyone requesting that we sing "Old MacDonald."

While Jack naps, I do both work-work and work around the house-work. When he wakes up, I'm refreshed, energized, and ready to have fun. He and I then have Mommy-Son time until Steve gets home from work at 6:30-ish.

It is a fabulous balance between work and home, allowing me to get done just about everything that needs to be done. Alas, this Brigadoon will soon vanish. We are only on this abbreviated schedule for another day. When Jack gets his stitches out tomorrow, he's back to daycare, and Steve and I are back to normal life. And really, I can only get away with doing my work-work in five hours instead of eight for only so long before it'll pile up and bury me in an avalance.

But in the meantime, I'm going to enjoy it. Also, here are some more pictures of a Perfect World: me and Jack snuggling on the sofa over Thanksgiving and my dad feeding Jack a doughnut.


Good news! Jack's surgery is over, and he did great. Yeah, he looks a little rough in this picture, but I mainly chose it because I'm sure he'll think it's badass. The surgery was on Thursday, and Jack somehow did not notice that we didn't let him have breakfast, not to mention his daily glass of milk, which he seems to crave like I crave coffee. We met with the surgical team, and all went well. Then the anesthesiologist gave us a sedative so that Jack wouldn't freak out when they put the mask on him. He promised it would knock him out in about 10 minutes.

Thirty minutes later, Jack was a little dopey, but still totally awake. The kid has the tolerance of a wolverine, I swear. I kept asking him if he wanted to lie down. He'd quickly say no, then go back to turning the little TV on and off. Finally, it was time for him to go. It was hard handing him off to the doctor, but at least I was able to hold him until the last minute, rather than just putting him on a gurney.

The surgery took about an hour. We were in the recovery room when Jack woke up. I'd read that many kids are scared and upset when they wake up from anesthesia, and Jack was no exception. He completely freaked out, crying and yelling. He yanked off his eye patch and threw it on the floor in disgust, then yanked off the band-aid that was under it, as well as Roary's matching one. We then had to fight him to keep him from ripping out his IV. It was no fun at all seeing him so upset, but at least I was prepared for it, so it wasn't as hard for me as it could have been.

We headed home, and Jack fell asleep in the car. A six hour snooze later, and Jack was awake, cheerful, and completely his normal self. The incision doesn't seem to hurt or bother him at all. So much for our concerns that he'd mess with it and pull out a stitch.

The only little wrinkle is that poor Jack really wants to take a bath, and we can't let him. The stitches have to stay dry, and that kid loves to splash. Last night, we were upstairs, and he pointed to the bathroom door and said, "Bath?" I told him no. Jack probably figured I didn't understand, so he tried another tactic: "Agua?" Again, I said no. Jack must have thought I was nuts. What kind of Mommy won't give their kid a bath? Finally, he grabbed his bottle of shampoo and handed it to me. Poor little man. I compromised by taking him downstairs to watch Elmo.

And now, for a Thanksgiving update!

Road Trip: I do not recommend taking a 16+ hour car trip with a crazy-ass toddler. Jack was as good as could be expected, but all three of us were worn out by the time it was all over.

Almost Heaven? One of the more challenging aspects of the trip came on Tuesday morning, when Jack got carsick and projectile vomited all over himself and his car seat. Luckily, we were near a drug store, so Steve got the little man in clean clothes and went to browse while I bought paper towels and Febreze to clean it all up, as we couldn't exactly wash the cover right then and there. I used my Super Mommy Powers to do the cleaning -- it was incredibly gross, but at the time, I was fine.

Ockers: At the drugstore, I bought Jack a "Hey, I'm Sorry You Puked" present in form of a small stuffed Oscar the Grouch. Jack took an immediate shine to it, and kept asking for "Ockers."

The Amazing Race: My brother and Ariel also drove to Illinois for Thanksgiving (from Baltimore). During Driving Day 1, Andy and Steve talked on the phone and we ascertained that we were several hours ahead of them. When we went to bed that night in scenic Santa Claus, Indiana, I was confident we'd arrive in Murphysboro several hours ahead. Andy, on the other hand, drove and drove, then woke up at the crack of dawn in order to get there an hour before we did. Steve and Ariel were all, "I didn't realize this was a race." Dumbasses. Of course it was!

Riley: I got to meet my new three-month old nephew, Riley. He is a cutie, and probably the most laid-back baby I have ever seen. I think I heard him cry once. Jack was fairly interested in him, and would point to him and say, "Baby!" or "Riley!" He also would bring Riley his binky, which was nice. Especially since he totally could have stolen them.

Stitch: My dad has a new kitten named Stitch that Jack was totally in love with. It took him about two seconds to learn how to say "Stitch" which is a bit disturbing considering that he still refuses to say "Grandma." He'd follow the cat around the house, play ball with him, and generally adored him. Several times, I had to tell him, "No, Jack. The kitty doesn't want a sticker."

Battle of the Green Bean Casseroles: Seeing as how we are from the midwest, a staple of our Thanksgiving table is green bean casserole. It consists of canned green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and french fried onions. It is awesome. Andy decided to make a snobby, pretenious version of it that he found in Cook's Illustrated magazine, while Jenny made the traditional version. The battle was on! Jenny spent about ten minutes making hers (open cans, stir, bake), while Andy spent roughly an hour on his, chopping the fresh green beans, mincing shallots, making the mushroom soup from scratch, and so on. Everyone agreed that Jenny's version was superior.

Film Critic: We always go to a movie with the kids the day after Thanksgiving, and this year, we decided to see if Jack would go, too. We went to see Happy Feet. Jack absolutely loved the previews, and was especially psyched about the one for Charlotte's Web ("Spider!" "EIEIO!") The movie started, and after about two seconds of it, Jack decided that he'd had enough. He grabbed my hand and removed me from the theater, making it clear that any other response from me would result in a tantrum. We returned to the theater with about two minutes left, and it was pretty clear that the movie was teh suck. My cousin Rob announced that Jack has a future as a film critic.

Ho, ho, ho! Luckily, the movie theater was in a mall, so we had good places to kill time. We took Jack to see Santa, after Jack pointed at him and excitedly yelled, "Ho, ho, ho!" To the surprise of no one, Jack was not at all afraid of Santa.

Out of mixers: We ended up staying up late on Friday night drinking with my cousins, which is always fun. Unfortunately we ran out of wine. Then beer. Then fruit juices for mixers. We wound up squeezing fresh oranges to make rum drinks, which was freaking awesome. Sure, it was a lot of work, but far be it for us to stop drinking.

Danny isn't here, Mrs. Torrance: On the drive home, Jack adopted a new Creepy Voice™, which sounds a lot like the one Danny used in The Shining. Best of all, the phrase Jack says in Creepy Voice™? "Bye, bye, Daddy!" It is awesome. And creepy.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Roary Rules

Jack and I had a very nice Mommy-Son Saturday this week. We had swimming class, and before that, we went to Burger King together for breakfast. In Jack's kids' meal was a little stuffed tiger. Major score! I named him Stripey, and Jack spent a lot of time excitedly pointing at Stripey and Roary and saying, "Tiger!" Stripey and Roary also roared at each other for a while, but it seemed to be in a friendly way. Even though Jack insisted on taking both tigers with us to Target, Roary seemed secure. After all, he is and always will be the #1 tiger in Jack's heart.

After swimming, Stripey stayed in the car, again showing Roary's superior status. Then on Sunday, when we got home from the mall, I handed Stripey to Jack, saying we should bring him inside.

Jack yelled, "NO MORE!" and threw Stripey across the car. He then pulled Roary over and gave him a big kiss. Triumphant, Jack yelled to Stripey, "BUH-BYE!"

Clearly, Jack is a one tiger man.

Friday, November 17, 2006

What Happened?

I can't believe it's been over a month since my last entry. I'd call myself a slacker, but the fact of the matter is, the only part of my life that I've slacked off in has been the blog. Here's a quick update:

• Steve and I went for a romantic weekend away in Charlottesville. Romantic, in particular, because of course, it was just the two of us. We stayed at a bed and breakfast in, as Steve put it, "God's pantry," a million miles away from just about everything. Before we had Jack, we would have packed in all kinds of activities -- sightseeing, restaurants, bars, maybe a concert or play. But this time, we were thrilled to be able to just laze around and read, take naps, and take our sweet time getting ready in the morning. We returned totally recharged -- and totally ready to see our Cub again.
• Jack's surgery has been rescheduled. It was supposed to happen on November 9, but the surgeon advised we change the date because he had a cold. It was really frustrating, because although I haven't exactly been looking forward to it, I was ready. I had everything lined up at work for me to be away for a while, and I was as mentally prepared as possible for it to happen. And Jack's a toddler in day care. It's November. When is he not going to have a cold? Anyway, the new date is November 30, and Steve and I are going to do everything short of putting him in a plastic bubble to try to keep him healthy so we don't have to reschedule again.
• Jack continues to be a funny, enthusiastic, and energetic little kid. Why walk when you can run, and why stand when you can hop? I've been worried about how he'll do as the weather gets colder and we can play outside less, because he tends to get cabin fever. To that end, I've enrolled us in some Toddler and Me swimming lessons every Saturday morning. And by "swimming," I mean, "standing in the swimming pool and singing songs." Jack absolutely loves it. At our first lesson, he beamed the entire time. At the beginning of the class, the instructor handed each kid a rubber duck and had us wait at the side of the pool while she gave instructions. The other kids sat placidly and held their ducks, while my kid repeatedly threw his in the water and laughed when I retrieved it. I don't think this means I've got the naughty kid in the class. Actually, I think it's weird that none of the other kids threw their ducks in the pool. Anyway, we are making Mommy-Son Saturday mornings routine, and it's great fun.
• I've been insanely busy at work. It's been a good kind of busy, but busy nonetheless. My company has a big party every year called Hingeing Day, each year with a different theme. This year, it was The Lost Temple of Hinge, kind of a Mayan-Aztec-Incan civilization-meets Indiana Jones. I love it when my job requires me to do things like find a giant rubber anaconda on the internet or build a large step pyramid in the office.
• I've got huge changes on the horizon, changes I'm too superstitious to talk about it quite yet. No, I am not pregnant.

And finally, here is a picture of me and the boys as superheroes. Jack refused to let Roary wear his Supertiger cape, but he was more than happy to wear his own Flash mask. He loved trick or treating, and also loved giving all of his candy to the other kids who came to our house.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Bad Words

Steve and I took Jack to Cox Farms yesterday for their Fall Festival. Yes, I'l post pictures later. One of the many fun things we did was going on a hayride. All through the hayride route, there were big wooden cutouts of pumpkins, ghosts, witches, and also characters from movies and such, like Shrek.

All of a sudden, Jack got a huge smile on his face, leaned forward, pointed to one, and said loudly, "Barney!"

I don't know where the hell he learned that kind of language, but it sure as fuck wasn't in my house.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


First and most importantly, Jack had his pre-surgery CT scan yesterday. It went amazingly well. The radiologist said that they probably would not have to use a contrast dye, which meant no IV. If Jack could stay still for the scan, they wouldn't need to sedate him. The kid is not quite two years old and very energetic, so I really didn't that would be possible. But amazingly, he pulled it off, contentedly petting Roary while Steve and I sang to him. That meant the whole thing took a lot less time than we thought it would, so we celebrated with breakfast in the cafeteria, then took him to school so he could have some normalcy.

Second, Sesame Place was an absolute blast! The look on Jack's face when he leaned in to give Elmo a big hug was an incredibly happy moment for me. And, of course, I have pictures.

Getting ready for a ride

Watching the parade with Daddy

Elmo airplane!

Meeting Big Bird and Elmo




Cute and furry Grover!

And, in case Sesame Place was just not enough fun for him, we went to Boyd's Bear Country on the way home. Here Jack has surrounded himself (and Roary) with stuffed pigs.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Where the air is sweet

Tomorrow, dreams come true for Mr. Jackson W. Snugglecub: we are taking him to Sesame Place. It's an amusement park, mainly geared towards the toddler set, with a Sesame Street theme. It is pretty much the kind of place that exists only in Jack's imagination... or so he thinks!

I can't wait to take Jack to Twiddlebug Land, to splash in Little Bird's Bird Bath, to see the giant statue of Big Bird, and most of all, to meet Elmo in person!

I printed a map of the park and a brochure for Jack, and the two of us have been looking at them in the evenings. Jack seems to like what he sees, laughing like the Count, pointing out "Elmo! Ernie! Cookie!" Steve's parents are coming along, so I do believe there's a better than average chance that the little man will walk away from this with a new sweatshirt or two.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

It's Time

Over the past 21 months, I think I've really grown in my confidence as a mom. In those early days, I wanted to consult a variety of sources to determine the very best way to do everything from feed Jack to put on his diaper to hold him. But this year, my New Year's resolution was not a thing to do or a habit to break so much as it was an attitude to embrace: I am in charge, and I know what I'm doing.

This mantra has really helped me a lot. My instincts are, for the most part, good, and I should follow them. Anyone who wants to question them can just stuff it, because I'm not interested in hearing it. If, for example, Steve's parents decide to show up at Stately Wasser Manor smack dab in the middle of nap time and are eager to see our darling boy, then they will just have to by-God wait, because sleep is important. When Jack was dehydrated from his stomach flu several months back, I made the decision that even though it would be hard, we should give him IV fluids.

Well, last night, I took charge again. I told Steve, "Honey, it's time," in a way that I did not when I was in labor, seeing as how my turning purple and writhing in pain made that fairly clear. It was time to take the plunge, and to introduce Jack to the wonderful world of...

peanut butter. Yes, peanut butter, the thing we'd avoided giving him all this time for fear of nut allergies. Believe me, I do not want the kid to have nut allergies, and I waited a long time to introduce the food. But I gave it to him last night without the express written consent of his pediatrician because I decided he could have it and because I am in charge and I know what I'm doing.

Let me tell you, Jack's little face lit up at the very first bite of peanut butter. He probably wonders why I've been holding out on him all this time. I smeared some on a very sturdy cracker, and Jack proceeded to just lick the stuff off and have me refill it. He laughed, he smiled, he politely asked, "Mores?" I applauded the fact that I've found something else he'll eat.

Just wait until he graduates to PB&J. He's going to be thrilled.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Beware the Clowns

Steve and I took a pre-surgery tour yesterday afternoon of Children's Medical Center, where Jack's surgery will be. We opted not to bring him with us, because for one he's too little to really benefit from seeing the place in advance, and also because we could concentrate better without him there.

I'm really glad we went, for lots of reasons. It helps us both to be able to picture where everything is. It also takes some of the stress away now that we know how to get there, where to park, where to check in, and all of that. We got good information about how they handle the anesthesia -- we will give Jack a raspberry flavored sedative liquid before they even put the mask on him, so he should be plenty calm and relaxed. They even put a bubblegum scented liquid in the mask so the medicine doesn't smell so bad, something I remember from when I had my tonsils out. Everything is bright and cheerful, and there are lots of good toys for Jack to play with while we wait. We can also take a pager with us so we can go to the cafeteria during his surgery, a nice option. Amazingly, the hospital employs several concierges, who can arrange anything from emergency toiletries to hotel accomodations. Steve and I agreed that it would be well worth the money for us to get a hotel room near the hospital and spend the night there. If Jack's surgery is, say, at 8:00 AM, we'd have to be there at 6:00 to check in, which would mean leaving the house at around 4:00 to make sure we got there on time. Screw that -- I'd much rather pay for a hotel room than try to navigate traffic and a cranky kid who we can't give any breakfast to on a day that we're already stressed. Steve joked that we should ask the concierge a lot of questions about whether or not the hotel has a bar, when last call is, and how often the room's mini bar is restocked.

Of course, at the same time, the tour was upsetting. The other families on the tour all had their kids with them, and the kids were all much older than Jack. Probably the next youngest one was around 3. Jack just seems so little, too little to understand all of the reassuring things that the tour guide said, for example, about your "special hospital gown." I know he'll be in good hands, but I can't help but being scared.

Oh, we also learned that the hospital's mascot, Dr. Bear, is often around to say hello to the children. That's cool. Less cool is knowing that they also have a brigade of clowns there to "cheer up" the patients. Creep us all the hell out, is more like it.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Mission: Impossible

I awoke this morning to the sound of Jack crying, and in my groggy state, I thought it was around 5:00 and he'd just woken up early. I went into his room, gave him his binky, and he went back to sleep for a grand total of five minutes. He woke up again in hysterics, so I staggered back into his room and gave him some drugs because he is a teething fool. As soon as I left the room, he started crying again.


I tried to ignore it for a while, but at this point, I was wide awake and in no mood to listen to him scream. Weirder, Jack was both crying and yelling out random nouns: Daddy! Elmo! Apple! I went into his room and cuddled with him on the rocking chair. It was really nice. I asked him if he was ready to go back in his crib, and he said yes. But then as soon as I put him down, he started crying again.

That's when I got serious. I dangled above his crib, both feet off the ground, Mission: Impossible style and held him and rubbed his back. I gradually went from that to patting him through the bars. Then I just sat on the floor next to his crib. Every few minutes, Jack would roll over to make sure I was still there. After he was good and calm, I left his room, put in ear plugs, and waited out the five minutes it took for him to settle down.

So, ugh.

The good news is that we have a fancy new coffee maker at work. It makes an excellent single serving of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate, and it also makes lattes and cappucinos. I love it very, very much and have secretly nicknamed it "Baby." Baby will help me today, oh yes it will.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


So, yesterday was a hard day. Jack has a small bump next to his eye that we've been investigating. I took him for an x-ray, which came out normal. Steve took Jack to the eye doctor yesterday, and we found out that the bump by his eye is a benign cyst.

Benign is good, of course, but Jack is going to have to have surgery to have it removed. We will take him to Children's Hospital in a few weeks for a CT scan, then about four weeks after that, he'll have outpatient surgery. The doctor will remove the cyst, make some stitches under the skin, and some on the skin.

Jack will have to wear an eye patch for a couple of days, then we'll have to keep him from messing with his stitches until they're removed a week later. I really don't know how I'm supposed to keep a 1-1/2 year old kid from doing that, and the doctor wasn't much help. He just said, "Well, he'll just have to." Great, how about some information I can use? The good thing is that other than that little moment, Steve really liked the doctor and was comfortable with him. And as Steve said, Jack isn't the first kid to have this happen, so we'll just keep asking for advice from doctors and nurses and eventually we'll get something helpful.

The surgery is not major or serious, and if it were me getting it, I wouldn't be worried at all. But I hate to have Jack go through that. I don't want him to feel scared or in pain. I don't want him to have to be brave when he's such a little kid. But I also know that this is something that has to be done, and that I need to be strong for him. Most of the time I am feeling okay about it, but every once in a while, fear creeps up on me.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Book Time

I've been kind of slacking lately on posting my book reviews, so I have a little bit of catch up to do. I just finished Freddy and Fredericka by Mark Helprin. Freddy is the Prince of Wales and heir to the English throne, and Fredericka is his wife. When the story begins, Freddy is not near ready to be king. His ridiculous antics make him fodder for the tabloids, and no one respects him. Fredericka is beloved by the press, but she is beautiful and simple minded. When Freddy and Fredericka's respectability reaches a crisis point, the Queen calls in a mysterious advisor named Mr. Neil. Mr. Neil (whose name is an anagram for Merlin) gives Freddy and Fredericka a quest: They must conquer the United States.

The premise of the book is great, and parts of it are absolutely hysterical. There are also soaring descriptions of the United States, of the changes that the prince and princess undergo, and of their love story. Unfortunately, at over 500 pages, the book could have used some editing. Towards the end, I was rolling my eyes at yet another comic misunderstanding. Still, overall, this was good fun.

Although I love writer Nick Hornby, I was reluctant to pick up his book A Long Way Down. Four people meet at the top of a tall building on New Year's Eve, all with the intent to commit suicide. Didn't sound appealing to me. But I read it, and damned if he didn't make it funny and engaging. I read this a few months ago at the beach, and it was the perfect vacation read. The characters were interesting, the action moved quickly, and the story absolutely made me laugh. I'll pick this one up again.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Grab Bag

Time for me to post some random stuff, with no unifying theme!

No exaggeration, I have read Goodnight Moon at least eight times in the past 24 hours. Jack keeps bringing it to me to read, and one of the excellent things about being a toddler is that if you hand somebody a book, they will snuggle with you and read it to you. And when they finish reading it, if you smile at them and say, "Mores?" they'll read it again. Anyway, Jack managed to impress me with his obvious brilliance recently. When I got to the line, "And a quiet old lady who was whispering," Jack filled in the next line: "Hush."

Clearly, the boy is gifted, no?

Steve and I have been on high alert recently because there have been four cases of Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease in Jack's class at school. Besides its name sounding vaguely medieval, like bubonic plague or someething, the actual symptoms sound really nasty. Painful sores in the mouth that make it difficult for some children to eat? Thanks, we'll pass. Thus we've been practicing OCD levels of hand washing with him, as well as giving him a bath every night instead of every other night. So yesterday, the kid's nap schedule was all screwed up. Refused to sleep at his usual time of 12:00, preferring to get in more time with Mommy and Daddy. I took him on a nature walk (fun, and at a pace of about two inches a minute, clearly tons of exercise), and on the way home at 5:00, he passed out in his car seat. I put him in his crib for a short nap and hoped that Steve and I might manage a dinner alone. He woke up about 45 minutes later freaking out. I found him in his crib, sobbing and staring at the wall like a mental patient. He would not stop sobbing, no matter what we did to comfort or distract him. We totally feared the worst, so I took his temperature -- normal. Good. Steve took advantage of his screaming to peer into his mouth with a flashlight for the dreaded Painful Sores. None to be seen, but we did see about eight billion new teeth painfully breaking through his gums. Some Tylenol, Ambesol, and a fudgecicle later, and the boy was good as new. Everybody cross your fingers that Jack will avoid the plague.

And as our final piece of Grab Bag Goodness, Steve and I have established a new tradition at Stately Wasser Manor. Every Friday night, the three of us will gather at Starbucks for Family Happy Hour. Jack will have some vanilla milk and a treat, and we'll have coffees. Then after the Cub goes to bed, Steve and I will get takeout and watch a movie. I really like the idea of incorporating some ritual and tradition into our everyday lives. It's something I now look forward to every week, and Steve and I have been carefully selecting the best Netflix movie and reserving it for Fridays. As Jack gets older, he'll join us for dinner, then for the movie. We'll keep things kid friendly, of course, but I know there are a wealth of options besides Elmo's World The Great Outdoors that the three of us can watch.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Necklace

Last night, I accidentally dropped one of my necklaces down the drain of the bathroom sink. And not just any necklace. The blue zircon, the one that Steve gave me as a "thanks for giving birth to our child, you gorgeous goddess" present when I was pregnant. By the time he got home from his run, I was in approximately the same mental state as when I was eight and accidentally dropped my stuffed dinosaur/BFF Rexa out the window of our moving car (my dad saved her). Steve had me get a bucket and then go to our hillbilly neighbors to borrow a pipe wrench while I tried not to sob.

Five minutes later, plink! Out came my necklace!

Let's review some of the things Steve did last night, shall we?

• Washed the dishes
• Snuggled on the coach with Jack and Roary and read them stories about tigers
• Went running
• Rescued my necklace from the drain.

I'd say that my husband is sexsayier than a firefighter. Played by George Clooney.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Jack loves to share, but only when it's his idea. There are times when he'll joyfully offer me on of his cookies, or even his binky. He will also give swigs of his milk or bites of cracker to Roary, which is just about the cutest thing ever. When he does this, I praise him like crazy and tell him how nice that is and how it makes Roary happy that Jack shared his milk. Roary will nod enthusiastically and hug Jack.

But when Jack's not in the mood to share?

Oh, hell no.

Last night, the Cub and I were hanging out in front of Stately Wasser Manor, and Jack was playing with some sidewalk chalk. The way he plays with chalk is to take it in and out of the bin, not actually draw with it. But whatever -- it's fun for him. Then Ryan, our three-year-old neighbor came by and wanted to play chalk with Jack. He took the bin, and Jack completely flipped out. He screamed and cried so loudly that Steve came outside because he thought that Jack had fallen down and hurt himself. It was ridiculous.

Maura, Ryan's mom, convinced Ryan to keep some of the chalk and just give Jack the bin back. The second he did that, Jack stopped crying and cheerred right on up. In fact, he then started handing Ryan pieces of chalk. Maura and I told him how nice it was for him to share.

Eventually, it'll sink in.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Serious Mommying Work

I was giving Jack a bath the other night, and he was happily roaming around the tub. Then, he toddled over to the faucet and pulled up the lever to turn the shower on. Water rained down on him, and it scared the life out of him. Poor Jack stood under the cascades of agua, confused and crying.

I turned off the shower, but he was still freaked out. Between sobs, he demanded, "Out" and pointed to the safe haven outside of the tub. No dice, buddy, not when I haven't had a chance to wash the applesauce out of your hair.

I tried to explain to Jack that it was okay, and there was no agua falling on his head, but he'd have none of it. Finally, I suggested that he take a break. I wrapped him in a big fluffy towel and held him. We talked about the agua, and I showed him how the shower turns on and promised him I wouldn't do that while he was in the tub. He seemed to understand, but still didn't want to get in the water. Then I lined up each and every one of his billions of bath toys and let him push them into the tub. That cheered him up. Then he was willing to stand and look into the water. I asked him if he was ready to get back in the agua, and he finally said, "Okay, okay."

I think I actually circumvented a possible fear, because he was well and truly wigged out by the water. If I had pushed forward and washed his hair, we might have had problems. I really felt like a good mommy, which is a nice feeling every once in a while!

Friday, September 08, 2006

In the moment

This morning, Jack woke up a bit early, and believe it or not, Steve and I were pretty organized, so I decided that he and I had time to walk to school instead of driving. Anyone who's ever met a toddler knows that if you want to go somewhere in a hurry, you do not walk with a toddler. But we had plenty of time, so there was no need to drag him along or rush.

Walking to school with my little guy was an absolutely wonderful way to start the day. For one thing, it truly makes my heart happy to walk along with his little hand in mine. It's also a great way to feel completely in the moment. To take the time to admire a particularly nice stick on the ground. To excitedly point to airplanes (and yell "AIRPLANE!"). To look at the flowers. To, just for the heck of it, stop walking and jump like a frog. Jack takes so much pleasure in the world around him. It's nice to be able to see the world through his eyes.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

It Followed Him to School One Day...

So, as cranky as Jack was all last weekend, I think that things are turning around for him. Yesterday, I took him to the doctor in the morning. Naturally, Roary came with us. In a slightly scary situation, the little tiger makes him feel much better. When we got to school, I suggested several times that Roary stay in the car, or that Jack give Roary to Mommy, and Jack declined, cluthing Roary to his chest, saying, "Mine, Jack."

Since Roary has become Jack's special security animal, I've been reluctant to have him bring Roary where there are other kids, especially to school. Roary is not just any toy. He is special and important, and Jack should not have to share him. But it doesn't really seem fair for him to bring a toy around other kids that he isn't going to share. For that reason, usually I'll take Roary away from Jack before school, tears be damned.

But yesterday, I didn't. It had been a rough day for the little man, and I thought he deserved to have Roary for a while longer. It was just for one day, and hopefully it would work out okay.

It turns out that it worked out better than okay.

Steve picked Jack up from school, and Ms. Maria asked Steve to please let Jack bring his tiger every day. Roary, she said, put Jack in a much better mood, and he napped better than usual when he had Roary. The tiger managed to score himself a scholarship, I guess.

This morning, Jack and Roary happily played while I ate breakfast. Jack must have been psyched that at no point did I try to convince him to give Roary to Daddy. I said, "Roary, are you going to school today?" Jack made Roary nod yes. When the three of us arrived at school, Ms. Stephanie, the director, said, "Hi, Jack! Hi, Tiger!" We introduced Roary, and she said that all day long, Jack showed Roary to her and said, "tiger." Apparently, Jack knows the word tiger and has been holding out on me, since I didn't know he knew that word. Stephanie said that he can even say tiger through his binky -- impressive.

Jack, Roary, and I went to his classroom. I explained to Ms. Esthella that Maria had recommended that we bring Roary. She agreed that it was a good idea. I told her that Jack does not share Roary, and that if it became a problem, to please let us know and we'd keep Roary at home. Esthella doesn't think it'll be an issue at all. Other kids sometimes bring security objects with them, and the teachers just explain to the other kids, "No, that's Jack's tiger." The other toddlers get that and respect it. When I left, Jack was introducing Roary to the plastic animals that he likes to play with.

The Loooong Weekend

Last weekend was Labor Day weekend, and let me tell you, I labored. Jack was a whiny little punk, probably due to the thousands of molars he was cutting, and needed near-constant entertainment and attention. To make matters even harder, it was rainy, so we couldn't go outside to play as much as we would have liked. Every little thing would set him off, and it was absolutely exhausting.

On Monday, he woke up a full hour and a half earlier than expected from his nap. That was frustrating, as Steve and I didn't get nearly the break we needed. But I was determined to carry on and make the most of it. Steve and I changed clothes, I packed up a mini cooler of drinks and snacks, got out the baby backpack, and was ready to take Jack on a nature walk at a nearby trail. The second we set foot outside the house, it started to rain. Son of a bitch! I had to adjust quickly and pick a much less thrilling option of going to the mall so Jack could hang out at the play area there, visit Build-A-Bear workshop, and other less educational things. Jack proceeded to whine his way through the mall and pitched a fit because we would not let him spend the entire afternoon jumpking up and down in one of the display cribs at Pottery Barn Kids.

By the drive home, we were worn out. Steve begged for an hour off so he wouldn't snap. I was fine with that, but admitted that I was really, really ready to go back to work the next day so I could get a break. Jack handled this stressful situation by wiggling one arm free from his car seat strap and crying about it.


When will these molars be gone? And how will we survive the cabin fever of winter?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Mr. Green Genes

Before we met Jack, there were so many things Steve and I wondered about him. It's interesting to look at your partner and, for the first time, seriously consider their DNA. Would he have his dad's blue eyes? Would he have brown hair like me? Or, more seriously, would he be plagued with Steve's high cholesterol?

It's too early to say about the cholesterol, of course, but we do know that Jack got his dad's blond hair and blue eyes. He seems to have my nose, and the shape of his eyes is like mine. But when we were out playing in the recent hot weather, I noticed that the back of Jack's head was getting a little bit moist. That's right: it would seem that Jack is sweating like a male member of the Green family.

Sorry about that, kid.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Pac-Man Fever

Jack has taken to begging for food lately. He'll spot something he wants -- say, Steve's glass of water. He'll then point to it, and in quickly increasing levels of franticness, say, "Agua! Agua! AGUA!" as if he is in a dessert and has just come upon a beautiful oasis, with ice-cold water poured by Elmo himself. Then, to really show he means business, he'll open his mouth as wide as he can, like a Pez dispenser or Pac-Man and will say, "Aaaaah!"

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Feeling Good

I promise not to post too obsessively about this. Really.

I've been doing Weight Watchers for 6 weeks now and have lost more than 10 pounds. More importantly, I feel really healthy. I'm eating tons of fresh fruits and vegetables and am finally drinking enough water. I've also found that, thanks to some really great recipes, I am eating better food and am enjoying it more than before I decided to lose weight. How amazing is it that I can eat things like bacon cheeseburgers and onion rings and still lose weight? Now granted, they were turkey burgers with turkey bacon and a moderate amount of cheese, and the onion rings were baked, but they tasted damned good.

Now that I'm paying closer attention to what I'm eating, I'm horrified at the calorie and fat content of some of the food I was eating before. Those cinnamon scones from Starbucks? Holy Yoda! One scone was well over 2/3 of the calories I eat now in an entire day. It's not like I thought they were healthy before, but I just had no idea how bad they were. With portion sizes so out of control, it's really no wonder that so many Americans are obese.

Knowing how good I feel and how well I'm treating my body, even after I finish losing weight, I can't imagine going back to the diet I had before. Things have changed in a big way, and I'm proud of it.

Even better, I've rediscovered my old friend running. I have several 30 minute running playlists on my iPod now, so the time goes fast and my pace is much better than it was before. Going for a half hour run is a guilt-free way to spend some time by myself every night, something that I think I really needed.

I'm about three pounds away from my goal weight, so I'm inspired to find my next big goal. Next year, I am going to run the Quad Cities Marathon. Running a marathon has long been one of my life goals, and what better place to do it than in my hometown, the place where I learned to love running in the first place? Plus, as my brother pointed out, there is probably no better food in the universe than a post-marathon shake from Whitey's. I'll start training in April.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Booster Gold

Jack has been interested lately in sitting on the kitchen chairs, rather than in his high chair. He might not be totally ready for it yet, but I bought him a booster seat. A couple of days ago, he was testing it out, sitting at the table eating some watermelon with me. The little melon hound polished it off, pointed to the container on the kitchen counter and asked for more.

In the short time it took me to put more watermelon on the plate, Jack climbed down off the chair, picked up the booster seat, carried it across the kitchen, turned it upside down, stood on it, and was trying to open the door to the pantry.

Yes, as a matter of fact, I do keep the cookies in the pantry.

What a sneaky little monkey! My dad predicted that something like this would happen. He said that Jack knew how to work door knobs and was just too short to do it yet. I replied that one day he'd be just enough taller to make it happen, but Dad said Jack would figure something else out in the meantime. And that he did. Not only did he realize that the booster would make him taller, but that he'd be taller still if he flipped it upside down. It was a brilliant plan, and the only thing he had to do was get rid of Mommy. And how to do that? Why by asking Mommy for more delicious fruit, sure to get her out of the way so he could get to the cookies. No doubt Mommy, big sucker, would fall for that!

This kid is way too smart for me.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Embracing It

I have been a mom now for almost 20 months, and I have to admit, it's happened:

I love gigantic handbags.

Five days a week, I'm at work all day. I don't need to lug around my diaper back, packed as if I'm going on safari. I could carry around a bag big enough for my keys, wallet, and lipstick. But I've discovered that I really like a gigantic tote bag that carries that, plus a bottle of water, my calendar, and anything else I might possibly need. That's without even getting into carrying stuff for the boys -- a snack, binkies, and toy for Jack, Steve's hat, the camera, and so on. I feel comfortable and put together carrying my big blue bag. I am coveting more and more simple -- and big -- tote bags.

I am carrying a Mom bag, and I am not ashamed!

But the second I start talking about cutting off all of my hair because "it's just easier," somebody stop me, okay?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Everybody's Talkin' At Me

I realized that I forgot some of Jack's words from the last list. Others include:

I don't know (often said with his palms facing skywards, shoulders shrugged)

And this weekend, he added three new words to his vocabulary! Jack can now say:


It is really amazing to see how much he is learning and developing. Think how long it took him to get that first word, and now he's got three new ones in just two days. Very cool.

I can also really see his gross motor skills developing. Was it just this spring that we had to watch Jack on the playground when he went from the mulch to the pavement? He'd inevitably fall down making the transition. Now he runs all over the place, completely carefree. I took him to a different neighborhood park on Sunday (to stave off a change into Tantro The Destroyer). All by himself, he went up the stairs on to the big jungle gym, across the bridge, and down the big tube slide. He was absolutely delighted with himself.

There is a song on one of Jack's Sesame Beginnings DVDs that I find myself singing to him often.

You did something new today
Hooray, hooray, hooray!
You went down the slide today
Hooray, hooray, hooray!
You did something very new
And Mommy's very proud of you
Hooray, hooray, hooray!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Something to talk about

Jack is learning more and more words lately, so it seemed like a fun time to jot down all of the words he knows right now. I'll try to remember them all.

More (Jack's first word)
Uh-oh (frequently used, a very practical word for Jack)
Mama (often interchangeable with Dada)
Jack (pronounced "DACK!")
Bye-bye (sometimes "buh-bye")
Yes (pronounced very carefully)
Cookie (pronounced "Go-key" and refers to either the treat or the monster)
Oh, no! (accompanied with Home Alone-style hands on face)
Bobo (Jack's pet name for Roary)
Eye (often accompanied by a chubby finger poking at one's eye)
Kermit (I swear, I've heard it three times)
That ("dat")
What ("wha dat?")
Where ("Wha Bobo?")
Car ("gar")

Do animal noises count? We also have:
Moo! (which apparently pigs also say)
Rar! (word of choice for tigers, lions, and dinosaurs)
Quack! (Ack! Ack!)
'Ow! (what kitties say)
Arf, arf!

Welcome, Riley!

I have a new nephew! Riley Davis Broadhurst was born last night and weighs in at a petite nine pounds, six ounces. It's kind of funny that you can hear a weight like that and say, "That's it?" So much for all of the techs who told Jenny and Chris that they could predict his weight within a few ounces.

Anyway, I can't wait to see pictures of the little guy. Welcome to the family, Riley!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

And the Oscar goes to...

Jack had a show at school yesterday. The theme was "Academy Awards," and each class had a performance. Jack and his fellow Group Two classmates swirled scarves around and danced to the song "Hot Potato." Steve and I joined the other parent papparazzi to get the best possible photos of our boy, and let me tell you, Jack danced with everything he had. At one point, he even did a spin and shook his heiney for the crowd. It was excellent.

After the last performance, one of the teachers invited everyone back to the school for an "after party." Steve and I agreed it would be a mistake to let Jack see us and then leave, so we headed home. Besides, it was a lot more fun to imagine Jack at his first Oscar afterparty, holding a martini in a sippy cup and saying, "No, Lindsay Lohan, I will not date you! You're old and you smell like cigarette smoke and hamburger grease. Leave me alone so I can go to the Vanity Fair party in peace."

In other news, Jenny is having a Giant Mutant Baby. The doctors estimate that Riley is between 11 and 13 pounds. Holy Yoda! This means that her plan of having a drug-free birth is out the window. She's scheduled for a c-section tonight. Jenny and I talked the night before last, and I gave her every single detail I could think of. I think it made her feel a lot better, believe it or not, to know that when you try to walk for the first time afterwards, it feels like you're going to rip in half. And that your regular underwear is not going to hurt the incision. I have also recommended that given Riley's size that she bypass breastmilk or formula and just give him steaks to gum on.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Premiere Night

It was a big night last night at Stately Wasser Manor, and anticipation was at a fever pitch. It was time for the season premiere of family favorite show Sesame Street, and it honestly got the same level of excitement as we'll have for the starts of other favorites like Survivor, The Amazing Race, and The Office.

Not only do we have all new content ahead (no more boring "skin" content on Elmo's World), but we also met a brand new friend, Abby Cadabby.

I'm happy to see that our newest Sesame friend is a girl. Girls are few and far between on Sesame Street these days, and Zoe, Rosita, and Natasha need a friend. Besides, I don't want my boy to grow up thinking that all of the cool characters are boys.

Jack was completely transfixed by Abby. He sat quietly on the sofa next to me, grinning around his binky. Then he turned and gave me a huge Binky Smile, as if to say, "Thank you so much for letting me watch this!" I look forward to watching more of the episode tonight.

In other news, I talked to my sister Jenny last night. See how cute and happily pregnant she looks here?

Yeah, those days are over. Her baby's due date is today, and the girl has had just about enough of being pregnant. I had a feeling she might be feeling that way, which is why I actually called my stepmom instead of her, in case Jenny did not want to have the, "Yes, I'm still pregnant" conversation, which gets really tedious. I think she was willing to talk to me because she knew I'd understand that she is generally annoyed and pissed off right now. So come on, baby Riley! Get out here and check out the world. We can't wait to meet you, and you need to be nice to your mommy. She's the lady who's going to feed you.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Sweet Dreams

The other night, Steve and I went to check on Jack. He was making a bit of noise, so I hid for fear he was awake. Steve is braver than I am, and peered into his crib. "Awake?" I whispered. Steve shook his head and said, "Dreaming."

I took a closer look. Jack, in his sleep, was petting Roary's head and making tiny roaring noises.

It was just about the cutest thing ever.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Jackson Colic

The other night, I was watching an episode of Surviving Motherhood, also known as Lady, You're Crazy and saw a story that took me back to the Bad Old Days of Jack's early babyhood. The woman's son was suffering from colic. Seeing the desperation on that woman's face really brought me back. Jack had colic from when he was six weeks old to around three months. If you haven't experienced life with a colicky baby, you just can't imagine how hard it is.

Jack would scream and wail inconsolably every single day for hours at a time. I was very, very new at the whole motherhood gig, and it really shook my confidence. What kind of mom was I if I couldn't do anything to stop my baby from crying? I was also embarassed to be living in The Screaming Baby House, convinced that everyone in the neighborhood could hear it and hated us. And I'd look at other women who had babies without colic. I'd watch their kids happily playing with their feet while I strapped Jack into the JackSack (aka Baby Bjourn) and trying frantically to calm him down, and I would secretly hate them because I was just so jealous. I was also sleep deprived and exhausted.

Any time I'm faced with a problem, I try to learn as much about it in hopes of finding a good solution. So I took to the internet. Here's what I learned: 20% of babies suffer from colic. Doctors think that it's probably discomfort due to an immature digestive system. Or maybe overstimulation. Or maybe something else entirely. They just don't know. I could not believe it. 20% of all families with new babies are suffering this kind of hell, the kind of thing that, to be honest, makes Shaken Baby Syndrome seem a bit understandable, and there's no huge Colic Foundation dedicated to finding the cause and fixing it? We just have to suck it up?

I heard good things about The Happiest Baby on the Block. Dr. Harvey Karp supposedly had a magical program that would, like a switch, quiet a crying infant. Madonna had used that program, and as luck would have it, I'd gotten his DVD as a shower gift. I popped in the DVD, and Steve and I watched in amazement as time after time, Dr. Karp stopped fussy infants from crying, transforming them from wailing banshees into sweet little angels. So we tried his 5 S's to see which would help Jack.

Swaddling: Worked great... as long as Jack was asleep. For wakeful times, not so much.
Side/Stomach Position: Terrific. Now if my arms are tired from holding him upright, I can take a break and hold him differently while he screams. Next!
Shhh Sounds: The shushing gives me something to do while Jack cries.
Swinging: Now not only is Jack crying because of the colic, but also because he's not being held.
Sucking: The only sucking that could have helped was me sucking down a bottle of wine.

I decided quickly that Dr. Harvey Karp could kiss my stretchmarked ass. My five s's were starting to include sweating, swearing, swigging booze, stifling screams, and wanting to strangle Dr. Karp.

It was soon getting to the point where when Jack started to cry, I'd just join him. Then, my wonderful husband had a simpler, breakthrough revelation. We needed two things.

The first was a change in attitude. We needed to accept the fact that there was not a single thing we could do to stop Jack from crying. The only thing wrong with him was colic, and we'd just have to wait it out. Instead of trying to stop his crying, what we needed to do was let him know that we were there for him while he worked through it.

The second thing was... ear plugs. I know, it sounds crazy, but believe me, with ear plugs in, we could still hear the crying just fine. It just wasn't as piercing and painful when it was muffled by a bit of foam in our ears.

Those changes made all the difference. I was able to calmly hold Jack while he cried, not wondering if there was something different I needed to be doing. What he really needed was for his mommy or daddy to hold him close so he'd know that even though he was having a hard time, we loved him and were there for him.

The weeks passed, and one day, the darkness seemed to be lifting. It was a while before either one of us dared to say it: the colic seemed to be gone. Sure enough, Jackson Colic was no more, and Jack started to develop a reputation as an incredibly happy baby.

Looking back, I think the tough days of colic really brought all three of us closer together. Jack learned he could rely on us in hard times. I admired Steve's strength and brilliant thinking. And Steve appreciated how much more patient I became as a result of this trial. Now, any problems we go through just don't seem as hard, because we know we can get through some trying trying things. And now, I think I really do have the Happiest Baby on the Block.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Mommy Is Not Funny

So, the night before last, the boys and I were sitting at the dinner table, and Steve and Jack started goofing around together. First Steve would make faces or silly poses -- hands on face, Home Alone style, for instance -- and Jack would immitate him. The peals of Jack's laughter echoed in the halls of Stately Wasser Manor. Then, the two of them decided to mix it up. Jack made noises and moved his hands and Steve immitated him. Even funnier. When Roary started immitating Jack, I swear, Jack was panting to catch his breath, he was laughing so hard.

Last night, we're again at the dinner table. Jack made a silly face and hand gesture, and I copied him. Jack returned this with... a blank stare. Then I started making some of the same gestures and faces as Steve had, and Jack looked completely preplexed. You could see the thought bubble over his head: What on earth is Mommy doing? If I had asked him to balance the checkbook, I think he'd have been equally confused.

What the hell is that all about?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Group Hug

Jack, in his quest to be the Sweetest Little Guy Ever, has taken to initiating Family Hugs. I'll be holding him, and he'll pull Steve over so that all three of us can exchange hugs and kisses. If one of us starts to pull away, he'll pull us back in for more cozy squeeziness.

The overwhelming cuteness of this has allowed me to forgive him for the fact that he woke up three times last night. That and he has a cold.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Calling All Mommy Readers!

Jack, ever the gentleman, likes to signify that he is done with his meal by throwing all of the leftover food on the floor. Sometimes this includes flicking globs of yogurt at his mother while she's on the floor picking up banana slices. Lovely.

When he starts throwing food, we tell him NO. Dinnertime is over, and we take him out of his highchair. So far this has had absolutely no positive effect whatsoever. Maybe it's early and things will work better if I give it time? No more dinner doesn't seem like much of a punishment when you consider that the reason he's chucking chicken nuggets is that he doesn't want to eat anymore.

Does anybody have any advice, or perhaps coupons for paper towels? Now is the time to de-lurk!

Lady Willpower

I haven't talked about this yet, but what the heck: I'm trying to lose some weight. In the past two weeks, I've lost about five pounds, and I think ten more will put me in good shape. I want to take better care of myself, and first and foremost is to lose some weight, eat healthier foods, and exercise more.

I am incredibly proud of my efforts so far. Right now, as we speak, there is a cinnamon crunch bagel from Panera sitting on my desk. My boss brought it in to thank me for a project I worked on. And I'm not eating the bagel. The scales have fallen from my eyes, and I now realize that all of those articles I've read about portion size are now joke, because that bagel, without cream cheese, contains 410 calories. Last weekend when Steve's parents visited, I also did not eat the pineapple cake or the gigantic wedge of cheese that my mother-in-law brought into my house.

I feel good, and I can already see a difference in how I look and how my clothes fit. The frustrating thing is that I have snuck onto the scale a couple of times in the past few days (my weigh-in day is Sunday) and so far I haven't lost any weight this week. What the hell?

Still, I am resolute, and if that scale doesn't budge by Sunday morning, I am going to crank up the exercise even more, working in a run every day if I have to.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

Last night at the dinner table, Steve and Jack practiced burping for each other.

This would not have happened if we had had a girl.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Domestic Chief

Imagine this conversation, which happens with alarming frequency...

Random Friend: Hi, Betsy! What's new with you and the guys?
Me: Well, Jack is doing great. He's learning all kinds of new words, has started climbing on everything, and is getting five new teeth. Steve is writing a novel and is really enthusiastic about it. He's been writing every single day and is really happy. And I'm, um...

And then it kind of trails off. What's new with me? Kind of nothing. I'm writing and editing for Reality News Online, but that's not new. I've been doing that for years, not to mention that it's summer and I'm only writing about one show. I read a lot. I just got back into running. But all of that is boring. I didn't decide to read all of the great Russian novels, and I'm not training for a marathon, so there's not much to say there, is there? My days are full, and I'm not bored, but I do feel a bit of a tickle that maybe I should have something else.

So for now, for lack of a better Russian Novel/Marathon plan, I'm appointing myself the Domestic Chief of Stately Wasser Manor. I will spearhead projects like the landscaping of the front yard, repainting and decorating Jack's playroom, learning new recipes, making new pillows for the sun room, and so forth. Hopefully that's not lame, because those are things that I geniunely enjoy doing, and I do think it'll be a cool addition to things at home.

In other news, I have purchased a third Roary. Believe it or not, two Very Important Stuffed Tigers was not enough. On Sunday, Jack got a nosebleed, soiling Roary #1 in the process. R1 went into the washing machine, and R2 stepped in. Then Jack had his not sleeping incident, and a groggy Steve tried to give Jack Tylenol, missed, and accidentally dosed the tiger (not sure what the correct dosage is for a stuffed tiger, but he seems okay). Thus R2 went into the washing machine, bringing R1 immediately back into play. Then while R2 was in the wash, Jack threw R1 into the bathtub. I put R1 in the dryer, but at a very low setting because I don't want to shrink him or anything weird. He didn't dry completely, so Jack slept with a slightly damp Roary last night. No Roary at all would have meant a serious crisis, so for a mere eight bucks on eBay, Roary #3 is on his way to our house.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Cranky Pants

Who's a big crankypants today? That's right: Me.

Last night, Steve announced that he was going to bed early so he could wake up an hour early today to write. Lovely. I stayed up for another hour or so, then settled in to blissful slumber. The next thing I knew, I was awakened from a deep sleep by Jack punching me in the neck, saying, "Mama!" Somehow in my sleep fog, I pieced together that Jack was in our bed because he'd woken up crying, probably due to the fact that he is currently cutting five or six teeth. I do not say "five or six" as an arbitrary number to show a large number of teeth. I mean the dude is literally getting five or six (it's hard to count) teeth all at the same time. Steve heard him crying and decided Jack would sleep better cuddled up between us.

Why Steve thought that would work is beyond me. Jack turned 19 months old yesterday, and in the entire 19 months of his life, not once has he successfully slept between Mommy and Daddy, contentedly feeling safe from whatever woke him up. Never. Not one time. Instead, he spends that time kicking, squirming, trying to launch himself headfirst onto the floor, and generally making sure that no one sleeps. Adding to my annoyance was the fact that Steve had already had an hour longer to sleep than I had and that he would be getting up earlier, leaving me alone to deal with Jack's attempts to get down from the bed, then up again, then play with fun sleepy mommy. I demanded, not pleasantly, that Steve put Jack back in his crib where he belongs.

As you might expect, that pissed off Jack in a big way. It was fun neck punching time! We were going to play! Now I'm ditched here in my boring crib all alone? He expressed this displeasure, of course, by screaming at the top of his lungs. After about 15 minutes of this, I decided to get up and calm him down. Still muzzy-headed, I walked into the door frame so hard that I have a bruise on my chest. I gathered up all of the binkies Jack had thrown out of his crib in angry protest, cuddled him up with Roary, told him calmly that it was still bedtime, and got out of the room just four seconds after he started to wail again.

Jack woke up three more times last night, each time needing to be bribed with Roary, Tylenol, more binkies, and backrubs and assurances that "it's still nighttime, sweetie."

When I left for work this morning, Steve, the guy who had an hour more sleep than I did, the guy who escalated the first awakening into the screaming fever pitch it became because of his absolute fantasy that Jack would sleep cuddled up between us, was still asleep, as was Jack.


Saturday, July 22, 2006

Sweet Freedom

Steve and I hired a babysitter last night for the very first time.

Oh, don't worry; we have, in fact, left the house without Jack in the past almost 19 months. But we've always managed to have family come visit. But last night, we paid an actual human to come hang out at our house and watch the Cub.

The great thing is that I was not at all worried about leaving my boy with a sitter because she was none other than Ms. Vicky, one of Jack's favorite teachers from school. Once Jack figured out that Ms. Vicky was in his house, playing with him, and seeing all of his toys, he was so happy he started to spin. So happy, in fact, that he stayed up an hour past his bedtime in spite of the fact that he had refused to take a nap that day.

Meanwhile, we had some solid adult fun at a dinner party with post-meal games. All for the bargain price of fifty bucks. I don't see doing this every week, but we will be doing it again sooner than 18 months from now.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Where is Jack? No, seriously; where is Jack?

I am happy to report that, for the moment anyway, Tantro the Destroyer is gone and my sweet little man is back. I don't doubt that this is directly related to the fact that we've been playing outside for the past couple of nights.

Jack's latest hobby is hiding from us. He thinks it is the funniest thing in the world. We'll be hanging out together, and he'll all of a sudden take off for another room. He'll be totally quiet... eerily so. Then I'll find him in the next room, hiding, grinning, and looking incredibly proud of himself.

He's not the most creative at this game. His hiding places so far are limited to:
• The floor next to my side of the bed
• The space between the wall and the toilet in Steve's bathroom
• "Baby Jail," the space between his crib and the wall

I went to pick him up at school yesterday. He took one look at me and ran, laughing, away, then dove under a high chair. Hiding.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Can't Stand the Heat

It is approximately a million kagillion degrees out, and this is very bad. It means that we have largely been cooped up inside Stately Wasser Manor. Jack doesn't respond well to being cooped up, and last night reached some kind of boiling point. My sweet little Snugglecub morphed into his alter-ego, Tantro The Destroyer. He reminded me very much of Stitch from the movie Lilo and Stitch in that he just managed to trash every single thing he touched.

First he took his big tub of Legos and dumped them all over the kitchen floor. Then he pulled all of the pots and pans out of the cabinet and used some of them to make Lego Soup. As he ran around the house like a crazed maniac, he tripped over every single catlicking block and freaked out every single time he tripped.

Then he decided that he needed Mommy to hold him. No, Daddy. No, Mommy. No, I want to get down. No, I want Mommy. No, Daddy. And repeat.

Steve went to the store, so Jack was stuck with me. He decided that he didn't want me to put him down, ever, at all. Fine, I'm a mom. I can cook dinner with one arm. But it was not okay for me to go about my busines. If Jack had his way, I would have spent the entire evening on my hip, looking at his class picture on the fridge, pointing at himself and saying, "Jack!" He was very annoyed at my reluctance to take him up on what he thought was a very reasonable request.

While Steve and I ate dinner, Jack spent part of dinner sitting in his high chair throwing banana chunks at us like a cartoon monkey and the rest of it in the sunroom shredding a copy of Entertainment Weekly. While I agree with Jack that Jessica Alba really should not be considered the "it girl" of summer, I really wish he had found a less messy way to express that sentiment.

Steve took him upstairs to wash the sticky strawberry syrup off of his hands (and the bits of Jessica Alba photo that stuck to them) while I fixed the damage. It seriously took 30 times as long to pick up after him than it usually does.

After we finally put Jack to bed, Steve and I went hunting for wine.

Friday, July 14, 2006

All By Myself

Yesterday, my husband had a softball game after work. The day before, he asked me if it was okay for him to go, or if I'd rather he stay home to help me with Jack. I have a cold and am not feeling 100%, so it was nice of him to ask. But I pretty well insisted that he go. Not just because it's good for him to go out and have fun, but because I was relishing the idea of an evening to myself.

Okay, I didn't get the whole evening to myself. There was the portion of the night that included feeding Jack his body weight in melon, going to the park, bath, and some Elmo. But that was only until 7:30. After that, it was all about me.

The stuff I do when faced with an evening alone really isn't the most indulgent. I didn't give myself a facial or anything. Truth be told, I ate macaroni and cheese and watched TV. But there's something really nice about having some time completely to myself, to do whatever I want, to watch whatever I want, and to enjoy the silence. Tonight, the three of us will hang out together, and after Jack goes to bed, Steve and I will probably watch a movie. And I'll love it. But I still love a little alone time.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Tossed Salad

Now that Jack is more mobile and more independent, when he does something nutty, I often find myself wondering, "Should I do something to stop him?" Almost every time, I decide the answer is no. If he wants to put large rocks in his mouth, well, he'll probably be fine. If he were five, maybe I'd put a stop to it, but it's fairly socially acceptable for him to suck on rocks now, I guess. And hey, why not take advantage of that narrow "okay to suck on rocks" window?

Last night, the boys and I were all tired, so we ordered a pizza and watched it downstairs in our jammies. Jack took an interest in Steve's salad. First picked the matchstick carrots out. Some he ate, some he spit out, and some he gave to us (unfortunately, there was some crossover in those categories). Then he removed large leaves of lettuce and started throwing them like confetti. One piece in particular, he repeatedly threw into the air and caught on his head. I kept thinking, "Should I stop this?" and never really came up with a compelling reason to. He was having fun, and it was an easy enough mess to clean up. So I let it go. I don't want to be the kind of mom that is always mad about something, and this just didn't seem important.

The funny thing is, I must have this on my mind. Last night I dreamed that Jack was scooping potato salad into the interior of a plastic toy battleship. In my dream, I let it go.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Vacation Recap, Part 3: Montage

I absolutely love a good montage. Whether it's the Sports Training Montage, or, say, a montage of the funniest moments involving monkeys from 30 years of movies, if you take little clips of stuff and set it to music, you've got me. So today, Coffee Betsy Presents a montage of great moments from our vacation.

- Jack discovering that if he went from person to person, everyone would give him a bite of their dessert. This worked with Vickie's mango cake (awesome), Jenny's banana pudding (must get the recipe), and the traditional July 4th homemade ice cream. All told, he probably got more dessert than any of the rest of us.

- Taking walks on the beach with Steve. Since our honeymoon in Cancun, this has been one of our favorite things to do together. I love holding his hand and feeling the waves occasionally lap onto my feet. And since we had other adults there, we could have someone else watch Jack while we took walks.

- One night, all of the kids decided they wanted to entertain us. Devin showed us how he's learning to juggle. Caity and Elizabeth did a Punch and Judy style puppet show with Cookie Monster, Elmo, and Fancy Mouse that was hilarious. And then Jack decided that it was time for him to show off as well. He grabbed Devin's juggling rings and proceeded to put them on his arms, dance, and "sing." He was a huge ham, and everybody loved the Jack Wasser Variety Show.

- Jack discovering the ocean: squealing with delight when the waves washed over his feet, giggling when I walked into the water with him on my shoulders, running down the sand picking up shells and rocks. Steve and I love the beach, and I'm happy that the Cub does, too.

- A day with no kids. On Thursday, it was supposed to rain, so my dad and Vickie took all of the kids, including Jack, to the aquarium. This meant that we had all day to take naps, sit in the pool with drinks, go to the beach without needing a sherpa, and play a game of tripoly with Jenny and Chris with no kids wanting to play, too. It was bliss... though of course we were thrilled to see our little guy by the time he got back.

- Fabulous food. Vickie must have spent $40 on chips alone, and the house was overflowing with snacks. We had some great meals, too. Andy made two pies. Jenny and Chris made homemade guacamole (with jalapenos, yum) and arroz con pollo. My baked ziti was a big hit. But the best was the seafood feast that Dad and Vickie made- crab, shrimp, and fried mahi mahi. I ate until I could eat no more.

- Sister time. It was a lot of fun hanging out with Big Pregnant Jenny and Expectant Chris. If you looked past Jenny's enormously swollen feet and ankles, she looked beautiful, and it made me really happy to see Chris so proudly dote on her, rubbing her shoulders and feet. We also had several good talks where I gave her tips about life with a new baby, seeing as how she's ten years out of practice.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Vacation Recap, Part 2: Nemesis

Every mom dreads her. She's the woman in your family you thinks she knows better than you do how to take care of your kid, so much better that you're pretty sure if given the chance, she'd take over for you completely. The one who is full of advice, loves to butt in, and cannot let your kid take a step without commenting on how you should be supervising that step.

No, she's not my mom.
No, she's not my stepmom.
No, she's not my mother-in-law.

The most galling thing about That Woman in my life is that she is my cousin's nine-year-old daughter, Elizabeth. That's right. The adorable, freckle-faced girl who wants nothing more than to play with Jack drove me absolutely batty during our vacation. Yes, I realize this makes me slightly insane.

Elizabeth did her very best to spend every minute of vacation on top of Jack. She asked him to laugh like Ernie so many times that I was ready for him to snap and tell her that he was not her dancing monkey. Jack eats better if you hand him a fork and leave him alone, but Elizabeth was right there feeding him and fretting about whether or not the pieces of food were too big and if he was eating enough. Every time he fussed or fell down, she'd swoop in and be all over him, saying he scared her to death and covering him with hugs and kisses. You know, the kind of thing that actually encourages a kid to make a big deal out of a teeny bump or scrape. She narrated every single thing he did -- just a running patter of, "Do you want another bite, Jack-Jack? Oh, that was a big bite!" She was far more protective of him than I have ever been. If he dropped his binky, instead of letting him pick it up himself, she'd pick it up for him. It was just overwhelming, and it was constant.

To make matters worse, Steve thought it was adorable and kept praising her for being a big help. I know, she's a kid, and I know, she meant well. But the position of Jack's mother has been filled, and I do not need an assistant.

My dad came up with the best solution for this, so I don't wind up strangling Elizabeth at Thanksgiving when I see her next: This kid needs a kitten, badly.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Vacation Recap Part 1: The Journey

We're back, and we had a great time! I have all kinds of Things To Say(tm) about our trip, so rather than have one ginormous monster post, I'm going to break this into managable chunks. Besides, I'm going to have to sort through the 421 photos on our vacation picture CD to find the best ones to post/buy, so that's going to take some time!

As my loyal, devoted, and sexy readers know, I was most nervous about the drive. I am happy to report that it went CONSIDERABLY better than I thought it would. For the drive down, Steve and I decided to channel my dad by waking up at 3:00 in the morning and leaving then, hoping Jack would sleep through a big portion of the trip. He didn't go back to sleep right away, so Steve and I were very quiet until he finally gave up and snoozed until 7:00 or so. We made one stop on the way, at the World's Slowest McDonald's, for breakfast and for me to change Jack's diaper on the really gross sink, slightly less gross than the gross changing table. Lovely. I doused both of us in Purell when we were done, so hopefully we'll survive it. The McDonald's had a playland, but it was closed. Jack actually pressed his little face against the glass and looked at it for a while, but he was content to just roam around the restaurant. I drove for the rest of the trip, and Steve sat in the back with Jack and entertained him with the Elmo puppet. The subject on that episode of Elmo's World was Elmo's trip to Disney World, and how his Mommy and Daddy had bought vouchers instead of hard tickets. (Trust me- it was funny.) Thus Elmo entertained all three of us, and Jack was happy, cheerful, and reasonable the whole way to the beach. Nice work, Jack.

The drive home went well also. Steve and Jack napped for part of the way while I drove. We learned our lesson from the gross and sad McDonald's, and our pit stop was at a beautiful roadside Starbucks. The bathroom was immaculate, plus we all got drinks and pastries. Jack danced around to the Springstein music, and we all felt contented and refreshed. I sat with him the rest of the way home. We read books (and Jack can now say the word book, which is cool) for part of the way. Then Roary entertained Jack for quite a while. I actually was able to have Roary play with Jack (tickling him, playing peekaboo, etc) while I read comics- how great is that? I swear to Yoda, that tiger more than earned his keep on this vacation. Is it weird to have the urge to buy a present for a stuffed tiger?

So, ten miles away from our front door, Jack decided that he was restless and had had enough of being in the car. I thought food might distract him, so I gave him a SnackTrap full of goldfish crackers. Jack ate maybe three goldfish, fed me several, and contented himself with crumbling the rest of them into a lovely orange dust, coating his car seat, the floor, and the seat next to him. Guess what I did to stop that? If you guessed "Not a damned thing," you'd be right. It cost 75 cents at the gas station to vacuum out the car, and our sanity is absolutely worth 75 cents.

The really amazing thing was that at no point did we go for the Nuclear Option of turning on the Elmo DVD in the car. I am still very glad that we had it, though, as it came into play several times on our trip. Jack was actually willing to sit still and let me put sunscreen on him without running around the room screaming as if he'd been stabbed if I busted out the Elmo. It was also a good way to get him to relax and have some quiet time before bed. It's not exactly reasonable for me to ask Devin, Caitlin, and Elizabeth to pipe down and be quiet for half an hour so Jack could wind down, so the two of us would disappear into our room, learn about wild animals or whatever Elmo had on his mind that day, and Jack would go to sleep.

More recaps later, I promise.