Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Oh, Jackson.

I was getting Jack ready for his bath last night, and in the few seconds that he was naked, he managed to crap on the floor. Then he stepped in it.

I got him cleaned up, then focused on the carpeting. As I was on my hands and knees scrubbing away, he took a whiz on the floor right next to me.

Oh, Jackson.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Random thought

Can you imagine coming across a strange object and thinking, "Huh, I wonder what this is. I think I'll lick it."

Babies are weird.

Sunday Sanity Challenge

Jack decided to challenge me yesterday. He kicked things off by waking up at 6:00, and decided that "Shh! Mommy's Sleeping" was not a fun game to play. But he gave me a little time to wake up, so I took him to Starbucks for breakfast. Then, we headed to Delaplane for the Strawberry Festival and our 5K walk/run.

Wow. I was not prepared for that race. I mean, physically, I can do a 5K, no problem. But the course was completely wooded, actually on the trails of the state park. It was all dirt, with huge tree roots, rocks, and impressive inclines. It was really cool to be able to run in a place like that, and not on a road. I think I'm really a cross country runner at heart still. Of course, when I was in high school, not only was I a lot younger, but I also wasn't pushing 40 or so pounds of kid and stroller up those hills and over those branches! Still, it was an absolutely gorgeous setting, and I'm glad I did it. Jack was a bit cranky afterwards, probably because it was so hot. But sitting in the shade and splitting a strawberry sundae with him prompted a miraculous recovery. Kid went from low-level whining and figeting to laughing and kicking up his heels.

We headed home and Jack decided that there was absolutely no need to take a nap. Oh, Jackson. We spent the rest of the afternoon playing, with a quick break to go to the grocery store. There, I bought myself an absolutely beautiful steak, which I made myself for dinner, along with a baked potato, sweet corn, and a big fat glass of wine. Ahh, much better!

Today, I totally cheated and instead of attempting a game of "Shh! Mommy's Sleeping!" I put on a Muppet video and semi-snoozed until I felt human again. After breakfast, I began Operation Cub Exhaust. I took the little man to Frying Pan Park, where he absolutely loved running around and looking at animals. He seemed to especially like the chickens, as he spent a lot of time looking at them and saying, "Wow!" At one point, he did attempt to free them, but luckily lacks the dexterity to do so. Then we went home, played in the Elmo sprinkler, then went to the park. He has now been asleep for two and a half hours. Score!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Sanity Watch, Days 1-2

Steve is on vacation in Canada this week, fishing with my dad ("Dear Ennis, please bring home some fish. Love, Alma"), so Jack and I are flying solo. Can Betsy take care of the Wondercub without completely falling apart? Or will I degenerate into not washing my hair and eating nothing but Kraft Macaroni and Cheese?

So far, so good.

Last night, I picked Jack up at school, then we went to the park. He had a good time watching the big kids poke at a dead bumblebee they'd found. Then he decided he'd had enough, so he walked home, with me trailing behind (except for when he held my hand to cross the street). After a quick bath, it was bedtime. I even used his post sleepy time to make myself a casserole and run the dishwasher.

Today was a great day. Jack slept until 8:00, then we went to Caribou for breakfast. There was a family there with three kids that Jack decided were his new BFF's. Then we hit a consignment sale in Centreville. Spider-Man outfit and Elmo t-shirt? Score!

After that, we went to Eleanor C. Lawrence park. Jack absolutely loved it there. He wandered around, tried to climb into the pond, knocked the fluff off of dandelions, and petted both a caterpillar and a dog. At first, he fussed about having banana on his hands, but then decided the most fun thing to do would be to get as dirty as possible. Excellent plan. Naturally, this meant bathtime when we got home, followed by lunch, followed by him passing out for three and a half hours.

After his nap, we picked up dinner and went to Amanda's house so we could hang with her and Ethan and meet new baby Marley. Jack and Ethan showed only passing interest in the baby, preferring to pull out as many toys as possible and play together. We gave the kids dinner. Jack started doing his vehement head shaking, and Ethan thought it was hilarious. The two boys would shake their heads no together and laugh uproariously. Too funny. Amanda was awesome to hang out with, as always. It's funny how we now have conversations together in which we have to spell things out, like, "Maybe we could take the C-H-A-L-K out onto the D-E-C-K" and "Do you think we should put on the E-L-M-O video?" Ah, how things have changed.

Jack is now sleeping, so I think I'm going to pack up the car for tomorrow morning's adventure, then watch a movie.

So far, so sane.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Anybody Out There?

As far as I'm concerned, a new book by Marian Keyes is always cause for celebration, especially when the main character is one of the Walsh sisters. This book focuses on Claire, the second to the youngest sister. Claire has just recovered from a horrible car accident and has a scarred face and psyche. As always, Marian Keyes takes an unflinching look at the very difficult, very sad things that Claire is going through, but at the same time manages to be absolutely hilarious. I adored reading about youngest Walsh sister Helen's forays into the world of organized crime, the "kooky" outfits Claire is forced to wear as a PR for Candy Grrl Cosmetics, and her friend Jacqui's rants about men who are "feathery strokers." It was also great to see what the other Walsh sisters who I knew and loved from Keyes' other books are up to. It made me want to re-read Rachel's Holiday again, since I'd feel better knowing how things would turn out for her! This book was an absolute delight, and I look forward to reading it again.

It's official

Looks like Jack has selected a special buddy: Elmo. Little guy enjoys grabbing Elmo by the foot and slinging him over the shoulder. He wants to bring Elmo in the car with him, then sobs when he has to say goodbye to him to go to school, kind of like Elmo is about to leave to fight the Nazis. And on Monday morning, Steve and I went to wake Jack up and discovered him asleep, holding Elmo's hand, and rubbing it against his nose in his sleep. It was just about the cutest thing ever.

I had a really nice night with the boys last night. We went to Glory Days. Jack spent part of dinner scribbling on his placemat, just like a real grown-up kid. The rest he spent stealing fries off of my plate. Just as well, as the Jack Steals My Food Diet is sure to help me lose a few pounds.

Jack and I are also working hard at having him hold my hand instead of my carrying him when we're going to and from the car. I give him tons of positive feedback for doing it, and he seems to really like being able to walk around.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

I've Got Something To Say

Seems that kids around here are trained to call adults by Miss or Mr. and their first names. I am Miss Betsy and my husband is Mr. Steve to our neighbor kids. And I don't like it. I'd rather be either Betsy or Mrs. Wasser. Having your kid call me Miss Betsy kind of says to me, "I want to teach my kids to respect their elders, but I'm not really willing to commit to that."

I had a job the summer after I graduated from high school, teaching English As A Second Language to rising first and second graders. The certified teacher in the class said that last names were too hard to pronounce, so we teacher aides would be Miss Betsy, Miss Carmen, etc. That was a bunch of crap, not just because the kids would have had an easier time with Miss Green than Miss Betsy, but also because she wasn't Miss Linda- she was Mrs. Houk. It was a small way for her to show her rank and to get more authority than the rest of us.

The thing is, I don't really think I can escape this. For one thing, the teachers at Jack's school go by the Miss FirstName standard. And I think it would come across as Trying Way Too Hard To Make A Point if I had Jack call our neighbor not Miss Tina, but Mrs. Morrison or demanding that her kids call me Mrs. Wasser.

Also, I would like to acknowledge that this opinion sounds like a curmudgeony Emily Post sort of ranting.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Got home last night to find a state of semi-chaos at Stately Wasser Manor. I heard the water running, Jack doing medium-grade whining, and then Steve saying, "Betsy, is that you? I need you." I hurried upstairs and found that Steve was freaking out. Jack had a dirty diaper, and his diaper rash is really hurting him. Thanks, antibiotics! He needed a bath, and Steve said, "He needs to see the doctor, because that rash is really bad and really painful and I can't take off any more work and I don't know what to do."

This sounds like a job for Supermom!

I sent Steve downstairs to make an appointment for Jack to see Dr. Kelly- I could take him any time, any day but Friday. I'd get the Cub in the tub, and that Steve should take a minute to get it together.

He returned upstairs, much calmer and apologized for throwing all of that at me the second I walked in the door. No problem, I said. Jack was happily splashing in the tub and enjoying some decadent bathtime yogurt.

Me: And please, go ahead and go to the block captain mixer. I've got things under control.
Steve: Are you sure? I don't mind.
Me: We're cool. Jack, can you and Mommy handle things alone tonight?
Jack: No.

Way to have my back, there, kid. The best part is that when Jack says no, he sounds so very earnest and sincere.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Happy Mother's Day

Wow, my second Mother's Day was incredible!

Okay, granted, it was really not hard to top my first Mother's Day. The Cub was just four months old, and that weekend, he got sick with the dreaded rotavirus. He spent the entire weekend crying and refusing to eat, basically scaring the hell out of me. We had to take him to the Gross 24 Hour Kaiser in Falls Church twice. And to make matters worse, my in-laws were visiting. Not only were they absolutely no help at all, but they had no problem with having the new mom who was worried about her sick baby make them dinner. No, I am still not over it. So, the highlight of my first Mother's Day came when we actually got Jack to eat something- a bottle of Windex-blue Pedialyte- and then watching him crap emerald green diahrrea.

But even without comparison, this year was great. Jack slept until 7:00, then joined us in bed for a snuggle. Then the boys took me to Starbucks for breakfast, confirming my theory that since Jack had a hand in choosing my present, at least part of it would be lemon pound cake. After that, we took Jack to the park, taking advantage of the last few hours of sun. During his nap, I did some cooking, updated my obsessively nerdy Survivor jury article, and just relaxed. When Jack woke up, it was still raining, so Steve suggested that I take my book and go get a cup of coffee. A few hours to myself and a new Marian Keyes book? Bliss!

Plus, in addition to two really sweet cards, the boys gave me a gift certificate for a deluxe manicure and pedicure at the Elizabeth Arden spa. Nice! Jack really, really enjoyed taking the box with the gift certificate in and out of the bag, but probably not as much as I'll enjoy some serious pampering.

Oh! And Steve made me his famous chicken parmesan for dinner and did all of the cleanup. Thanks, boys!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Books Read By Mommy

Steve has mentioned lately that he wants to read to Jack more often. He admits that he doesn't always think of it and asked me to mention it every now and then, when he and Jack are playing. Sure, no problem. Last night, we were talking about what Steve and Jack do in the morning. I suggested that it might be a nice time to read, while I'm getting ready and Jack is having his morning cup of milk. Steve sighed and said this:

He only likes books read by Mommy.

I've got to admit, my first reaction was a teeny, tiny bit of glee. It's kind of nice to hear that Steve feels a bit insecure sometimes. He is such a good dad that he's right to be confident in just about everything he does, but that is of course also maddening at times.

Anyway, Steve went on to say that while Jack will sit on my lap and page through a book with me, woofing at the white dog in Brown Bear, he won't sit still for Steve. He'll close the book and try to squrim away. All of this is pretty much true.

But I honestly think the reason that I'm the Reader Of Choice right now is that for the past 16 months, I have been working my ass off to get Jack to read with me. I read to him in his crib. I'd fight him to not rip the pages. I'd read to him while he basically ignored me and played with other things. I'd keep reading while he walked or crawled over the page. And finally, it all seems to have clicked with him. What Mommy is doing is actually interesting, and I should check it out.

I think Steve's going to try the same thing. It really is worth the effort to get the little guy to sit in your lap and snuggle, cackle-laughing as he points to Ernie.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Rolling the dice

Last weekend, Steve and I made a bold move: We sold much of Jack's baby gear. The fish television bouncy seat. The play pen (oops, I mean Pack & Play), the Jacksack, the Jumping Jack, Chupacabre, the swing he never liked, and a ton of baby clothes.

We agreed on two things:
• That it felt right.
• That we would not let the fact that we'd have to buy a new exersaucer dissuade us if we change our minds and decide to have another baby.

It really did feel okay. We kept the things that we felt most sentimental about (such as Jack's MVP Cub jacket and the jammies he wore on Christmas morning this year), and we have tons of pictures of other things. So I think I'd already really been able to let go. And hot chocolate, did it free up a lot of space in the basement! Plus, we made over $400!

I feel really happy and content with the rhythm that the guys and I have. The three of us work so well together. I don't feel the need for any kind of change right now.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Goodnight Nobody

I recently finished reading Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner. She has written some of the most consistently entertaining books I've read in a while, yet I didn't snatch this one up as soon as it came out. The reason is that Weiner (hee) strayed from her usual straight-up, humorous novels and wrote a mystery. I wasn't sure how well she'd pull it off or if I'd enjoy it.

In the book, Kate is a mother of three small kids who lives in the Pleasantville-like setting of Upchurch, CT.
She does not fit in at all with the other moms on the playground. While Kate is disheveled in sweats, the other moms look perfect in pressed wool pants and suede jackets. The other moms pass out organic veggies while Kate rummages in her bag for some crumbled cookies. She feels really out of place and inadequate. Then she finds Kitty, one of the most intimidating moms, dead on her kitchen floor, a knife in her back.

Kate finds herself wrapped up in the mystery, not only of how Kitty died, but also who exactly she was. Turns out there was a lot more to this perfect mother than there appeared to be.

I was engaged in the mystery plot, but even more, I just relished Weiner's (hee) humorous descriptions on life as a mom. There's a great scene in which Kate has a birthday party for her twin boys. She has games, punch, and a bowl of cheez curls that the other moms look at as if they are "severed fingers," then later discovers that she is in the land of competitive birthday parties and should have rented a fleet of ponies and clowns. Oops. There's also a great scene that takes place before Kate and her family move to the suburbs. Kate gets mugged and "stroller jacked" in a dark alley. She gives the mugger her diaper bag and has to explain that she doesn't have a purse- that's it. Then, while she holds "about 63 pounds of squirming toddler" in her arms, she has to teach the mugger how to fold the "easy one hand fold" $600 German engineered stroller. The description was so point on that I could see every bit of it in my head.

This was a fun book, one that I'm sure I'll enjoy re-reading.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

That's my boy!

Sometimes, Jack really, really amazes me. The two of us went to the park together yesterday, and we ran into our neighbors Dave, Maura, and Ryan. Dave noticed Jack's sneakers and said, "Hey, Jack, those are some cool shoes! Are those Spider-Man kicks?" Jack smiled, squatted down, and touched the Spidey on his shoes! My son knows who Spider-Man is! Of course, I had to test this a couple of times, so for the rest of the night, I'd ask, "Jack, where is Spider-Man," and every time, he'd point to the webslinger on his shoes. Steve was, of course, beside himself with pride.

Jack's receptive vocabulary is really growing by leaps and bounds, and not just in the case of identifying superheroes (though of course that is impressive in its own right). I asked him if he wanted to go to the park, and he responded by putting Elmo down and walking over to the door. Cool! He also loves going through picture books and identifying the different things on the pages, whether it's a baby, banana, monkey, sock, whatever. A few weeks ago, he didn't know how to do any of that stuff.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Jack Gets Calculating

The boys and I were out for a post-Starbucks walk on Saturday morning and found a yard sale- and a major SCORE. We got Jack a play tent for a mere three dollars. The tent was immediately set up in the basement, and Jack had a great time crawling in there, dragging in toys- all the stuff we figured he'd be doing.

Sunday, the three of us were having a lazy morning and Steve was balancing the checkbook. As he was one sum away from being done, Jack raced over and hit the 8 key. Then he grabbed the calculator out of his dad's hand, ran away, and dove into his tent, laughing his head off all the way. It was quite possibly the funniest thing I saw all weekend.

On a less cheery note, Jack is working on a new tooth and a runny nose. Blech.