Friday, June 30, 2006


The boys and I are leaving tomorrow morning for a week-long vacation at the beach. I cannot wait. It's going to be a great set-up - we are renting a house on the beach with its own swimming pool, along with my dad and step-mom, my sister and her family (cannot wait to see big pregnant Jenny), my brother and his wife, and my cool cousin Angie and her daughters. Vickie is All Geared Up about this trip and has reportedly been buying buckets and shovels for the kids, making t-shirts for them all to wear, and baking cookies shaped like shells and sailboats. It's going to be the best of all worlds- we can have family time, in which Steve, Jack, and I chase waves together. We can have extended family time, in which Angie declares that it's "Wine o' clock" and we all get tipsy playing Trivial Pursuit. Or take Devin, Caitlin, and Elizabeth to play mini-golf or to see Superman. And we can have Steve-Betsy time, in which we hand Jack off to one of his eager grandparents and go for a walk on the beach.

The one thing I am not looking forward to is the drive. It will take about 7 hours to get from Stately Wasser Manor to Topsail Island. Jack never got the memo that babies love the car and sleep the entire time. Steve and I are arming ourselves to try to make the ride as enjoyable as possible for Jack, which in turn will make it enjoyable for us. In my bag of tricks are the following:
• Plans to make frequent stops to let Jack run around and stretch his legs. I will keep my eyes peeled for, say, a McDonald's with a playland
• All kinds of snacks, served in the new, Cubproof Snack Traps
• Roary, lifesaver that he is
• Magnadoodle
• Picture books for us to read together (I briefly entertained the thought that I might be able to sit in the front seat with my husband like a normal adult, but that is clearly a fantasy)
• Puppets (Elmo, Cookie Monster, and Fancy Mouse)
• DVD player

That's right, people. I am a Bad Mommy and fully intend to rot my son's brain by piling on the DVDs, and anybody who has a problem with that can suck it. I have packed approximately one billion hours worth of kid programming, including Elmo's World, Sesame Street, three Muppet movies, and the first seasons of both Fraggle Rock and The Muppet Show. And this way, we can answer the eternal question: Is there a limit to how much Elmo Jack is willing to watch in one sitting?

I am guessing not.

These Things

WeirdGirl has a fun post today that inspired me to follow suit.

Three things take me back to childhood:
1. Watching Sesame Street with Jack and singing along with all of the music. Ooh, or watching the Hoth scenes in The Empire Strikes Back. My brother and I had a record of TESB that we put on the floor between our bedrooms and listened to it every single night. I have it memorized.
2. Looking at a night sky full of lightning bugs.
3. Eating a nice cold popsicle on a hot day.

Three things take me back to high school:
1. Music by Violent Femmes or They Might Be Giants. Yep, there's a little bit of contrast there!
2. Public speaking. I was on the speech team in high school (hot!), so standing up in front of a big group of people, giving a presentation of some kind, is like coming home.
3. Emailing with the two people from high school (not counting my brother) that I still keep in touch with. Amy and Felicia can bring me into a giggle fit even now.

and I'll add a bonus list...
Three things that take me back to college:
1. Bourbon! Oh, beautiful, smokey, rich bourbon. One swallow of Jack Daniels or Jim Beam, and I'm sitting on the steps of Washington Hall, sneaking nips out of my flask on a beautiful spring night.
2. A fierce and spirited discussion with smart people about books, politics, or anything that we all feel passionately about.
3. Walking outside on a sunny day, holding Steve's hand.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Crisis on Infinite Earths

Setting: Betsy's car, as she is driving home from work. The phone rings. Betsy sees that it's Steve.

Betsy: Hi!
Steve (panicked): Do you have Roary?
Betsy: Yeah, he's right here.
Steve: Oh, thank God. We're having a Crisis on Infinite Earths here.
Betsy: I'm almost home.
Steve: Come right in. Bring the tiger.

Flashback: 30 minutes earlier.
Setting: Steve's car. Steve is driving Jack home from school.

Jack: Grrr! Grrr!
Steve: Are you talking about Roary?
Jack: Yeah!
Steve: Do you miss him?
Jack: Yeah! Grrr!
Steve: Well, let's go find him as soon as we get home.
Jack: Yeah! Yay! Grrr!

The two enter the house and begin a Tiger Hunt.

Steve: Roary, where are you?
Jack: Grrr!
Steve: Roary? Huh, he's not in your room.
Jack: Uh-oh!
Steve: Let's look in mommy and daddy's room. Roary? Huh, where is he?
Jack: Wah! Wah!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

My Spa Evening

Last night, I went from work to a spa to have a pedicure. We're going to the beach next week, so obviously, I need my feet to look cute. It sounded like a great time to have a little Betsy Time and enjoy myself. I was sick all day Sunday and really wanted to feel better. In fact, I still didn't have my appetite back and skipped lunch yesterday. And it had been a busy weekend (though fun), so hooray for a pedicure. Plus they had a fabulous sexsay red.

So, I'm in the pedicure throne, having my toes attended to, when all of a sudden, I felt that whooshing feeling by my ears and I totally slumped over and fainted. The aesthetician was scared to death, but after a soda and some peanut butter crackers, I was okay again.

I can go for a run in the blazing heat, pushing Jack's jogging stroller with no problem, but if I skip one meal, I will faint while receiving a spa treatment.

I would be the worst anorexic ever.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Happy Half Birthday, Jack!

My little man celebrated his half birthday on Saturday. Not everybody celebrates or even notices half birthdays, but when your real birthday is December 24, it's good to have a little celebration day that is just about you. Jack began his day by doing some cooking, and Roary, good sport that he is, was willing to be Tiger Soup.

Steve went and got doughnuts. While he was out, Jack was dangerously close to starving to death, so he was in his highchair eating yogurt when the treats arrived. The little weirdling initially resisted, actually slapping his tray and saying "NO" when we offered him some doughnut. After some coaxing, Steve convinced him that jelly doughnuts are a fine food.

I then took Jack for a haircut, and he proceeded to flirt with all of the women there, then with a baby girl on the way to the car. After his nap, it was time for the big event. We laughed in the face of the dire weather reports (Noah-like storms predicted) and went forward with the block party. It was Steve's first party as the Mighty Block Captain, and I think he was nervous. Well, I can't speak for everyone, but Jack and I had a blast. He loved running around the the other kids, especially the glamorous older boys. We had his pool there, so a bunch of the kids enjoyed splashing around. He refused to eat any food other than mini brownies and snickerdoodles, and I decided that I didn't care. Plus, this fiesta featured what for Jack is the hallmark of a good party: bubbles. Jack was totally exhausted by the time we went home, and so was I.

Happy 1-1/2, Cub!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Digging to America

Anne Tyler is one of my favorite novelists, so it's really no surprise that her latest book, Digging to Americais one of the best books I've read this year.

The story begins with two families waiting at the Baltimore Airport to meet the daughters they have adopted from Korea. The Donaldsons are white Americans, loud and noisy. The Yazdans are quiet Iranian-Americans. The two families become linked by this common experience, especially as Bitsy Donaldson insists on frequent social events to bring the two girls (Jin-Ho and Susan) together.

One of the most interesting themes in the book is what it means to be an American and how it is to be a foreigner living in America (though the Yazdans have been Americans for many years, they remain very connected to Iranian culture). Ziba and Sami change their daughter's name from Sooki to Susan, whereas the Donaldsons keep their daughter's Korean name, haircut, and dress her in native Korean clothing whenever possible. Bitsy is critical of the Yazdans for "americanizing" Susan, but I do believe that if you're a Korean kid with Iranian parents living in the United States, you're pretty darned multicultural even if your mom does put your hair in pigtails. There is a great scene in which Susan is singing a Korean folk song, wearing blue jeans, and preparing a traditional Iranian dish. Central to the discussion about foreignness in America is Maryam, Sami's mother. Maryam is reluctant to let these noisy Americans into her life and has even more misgivings when Dave Donaldson falls in love with her. Is there room for a quiet, thoughtful Iranian woman in all this tumult? Can she be an American and still be Iranian? Iran no longer feels like home to her, but she's still not ready to embrace the noise and clutter of American life.

The characters are all just fascinating. Especially entertaining is Bitsy, who is the absolute worst kind of judgmental, competitive mother. She's just the kind of woman I want to smack in real life, but Tyler writes her in such a way that I can see that her heart is in the right place. Nonetheless, I was cheering for her second daughter, adopted from China, when she resisted her mother's campaign to make her give up her binky.

This was a book I will absolutely read again.

Summer Fun Series

There is something special about summer, something that makes me want to play outside, stay up late, and do things I don't do when the weather is cold. Last night, Steve decided to kick off the Summer Fun Series at Stately Wasser Manor. Jack got an early bath, then we put him in his new Spider-Man jammies. The three of us took a nice long walk, then we cuddled downstairs to watch Madagascar. Jack loved the movie and kept pointing excitedly at the animals. After he went to bed, I made a quick dinner of fajitas, then Steve and I settled in to start a movie. I love that there are no TV shows to watch during the summer, and we tend to watch a ton of movies. Come fall, I'll be ready for Survivor again, but until then, this is fun. Steve then ran out to get us Slurpies. Yay, summer!

Tonight is my turn for the SFS. I'm thinking a trip to the park and popsicles.

Jack's school is initiating a Summer Fun Series of their own. I was really impressed by all they have planned. Every Tuesday is Splash Day, so Jack will need to bring a swimming suit, extra dry clothes, and a pair of aqua socks. Cool! Tuesdays are also Movie Days, which I interpret to mean that the teachers will be completely worn out after corralling a bunch of wet toddlers and will be eager to just take a break. I don't blame them one bit. There will also be frequent walks in the giant multi-kid stroller and weekly popsicle parties. Too cool!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Catching Up

I cannot believe it's been a week since I posted, but there's been a lot going on at Stately Wasser Manor...

• Last Wednesday, June 14th, was Steve's and my 9th wedding anniversary. We had what I think was our best celebration yet. We slept in to the kingly hour of 7:30, at which time Jack snuggled in bed with us for a while. Then the three of us went out for breakfast. The rest of the day was, of course, Steve-Betsy Time, rather than Family Time, but we both agreed that it was nice to spend a little time with Jack, since he's such an important part of our relationship now. We took a long walk, then got the makings of a picnic and took it to the Chrysalis Winery in Middleburg. It was an absolutely beautiful day, so we ate our lunch and drank a bottle of wine outside on the patio, taking in the gorgeous view. We then wandered around the pretentious, overpriced shops until it was time to pick up the Wondercub. Dinner that night was ice cream, which we ate while watching bad TV together. I felt really close to Steve and very happy.

• Much of the weekend was spent outside. I honestly have no idea how we survived being cooped up in the house all winter, because playing outside is so much better. On Saturday, Jack "helped" me in the garden. Actually, he was a little bit of help. I had to clear the bed under the tree, and Jack's job was to put rocks and sticks in my bucket. He had a great time doing that and an even better time playing in the dirt. We went to the pool several times, and Jack loves the water. It was also time to fill up the inflatable pool that I got for the deck. Steve and I had the hose in the pool, and of course, Jack had to come out to investigate. About two seconds after I wondered aloud, "How long until that tiger goes in the pool?" we heard the small splash of Roary going into the drink. Jack then threw his binky in after him and laughed. Luckily, I had Secret Backup Roary at the ready, so crisis averted.

• The pool itself is really quite fabulous. We let it sit out in the sun all day Saturday and Sunday, so Sunday evening, the water was nice and warm. All three of us (but not the tiger) fit in in comfortably. I predict that Steve and I will spend some summer evenings sitting in the kiddie pool drinking wine. Classy!

• Sunday was Father's Day. Jack and I were more than happy to take good care of Steve, because he really deserves it. We took him out for breakfast, then Jack and I went to the park while he got in a run. During Jack's nap, I handed Steve some cash and told him to go out for a beer. When he returned, it was his turn for a nap, so Jack and I cuddled and watched Shrek 2. Then it was time to take Steve out for ice cream. After Jack went to bed, I made us steaks, twice baked potatoes, and corn on the cob. Steve realized mid-afternoon that he had really not done much of any work at all that day- I changed all of the diapers, etc. Mother's Day, you hear a lot about pampering moms, but I think a dad like Steve should get a special day of pampering, too.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


The boys and I had quite the social weekend. Friday night, I had book club. Saturday we hit the Eagan-Bennett bash to hang out with Jack's buddy Andy (not to mention his parents). Let me tell you, there is something truly fabulous about going to a party at the house of someone with a kid Jack's age. Everything was baby-proofed, and there were more than enough cool toys for Jack to check out. Jack especially loved Andy's sandbox, but perhaps even more so, the cat. I was happy to see that Jack didn't completely traumatize the poor kitty and actually petted her in an appropriate and gentle manner. We had such a good time that we stayed later than we probably should have, which meant one worn-out Cub on the way home.
Sunday, we went to Ethan's 2nd birthday party. I bought Elmo wrapping paper for the gift, and Jack developed a fairly unhealthy obsession with it. First it was on the table, which was a mistake- Jack wouldn't eat, he was so excited about pointing at it and saying, "Mel-MO!" Then I hid it on top of the hutch, but he spotted it and would not shut up about it. Luckily, he was willing to surrender the gift, which was a bubble blowing puppy. The puppy was a huge hit with all of the toddlers, so obviously, we need to buy one. Jack was also pretty psyched about his party favor, a big rubber ball with his name written on it in big green letters. As we walked to the car, Jack alternated between exclaiming "bubbles!" "ball!" and "yay!" Then, yesterday morning, a groggy Jack took a swig of his milk, turned to me and said, "Bubbles."
Jack brought Roary the tiger to Ethan's party. He pretty much ran around clutcing Roary in one hand and using his free hand to gobble Teddy Grahams or to play with whatever else looked interesting. At one point, Jack set down the tiger, and Lucas, who is a few months younger, grabbed him. Jack totally lost his s-hit. He screamed, he wailed, tears ran down his face, until we finally got the tiger away from Lucas. Jack then found another stuffed animal and did his best to foist it on Lucas. Like, "Dude, you are so not getting my tiger, so take this instead." I'm going to make an effort to keep Roary at home when Jack is around other little kids. I totally respect that Roary is special and shouldn't be shared, but that's not fair to Jack's friends.
It occured to me this morning that it is probably no coincidence that Roary became so special when he did. Jack adopted him as his BFF while Steve was in Canada. I think on some level, Jack missed his dad and wanted a little extra security and love while Steve was away.

Friday, June 09, 2006


Wednesday night, Steve gave Jack a bath. Imagine his surprise when he noticed Roary floating in the water next to Jack, one of Jack's chubby hands firmly grasped around Roary's paw.

How did Jack manage to get the tiger in the tub without Steve noticing it? Yeah, I don't know either.

The good news is that Roary is machine washable. How did I get so lucky as for my kid's stuffed animal of choice to be machine washable? Roary spent the evening hanging in the shower, getting dry, and the next night was good as new. Still, I went ahead and bought a backup tiger on eBay. Thank Yoda for eBay, is all I have to say, because otherwise I'd probably be haunting store saying, "Do you have a little orange stuffed animal, one that could maybe be either a tabby cat or a tiger, depending on if the kid who played with it roared or meowed? Why are you walking away from me?"

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Back to Normal

Steve got home safely on Saturday: hooray! He met us at the park, where he was prompted greeted by a flying tackle hug from Jack. The boys and I then went to Celebrate South Riding. Can I just mention how great it was to let Steve load Jack into the car while I got the stroller and stuff, instead of doing both by myself? At the fair, Jack went on his very first ride- the merry go round. He absolutely loved it and giggled the entire time. Then we went on a little train, and Jack waved to the people like he was running for president. The three of us then walked past the stage (on our way to get more junk food, naturally). The band was warming up, and Jack was positively vibrating, he was so excited. Steve let him out of his stroller, and he rushed right out onto the dance floor. There, Jack showed off his hottest moves: the bounce, the foot stomp, the hip wiggle, and the twirl. He'd then go and work the crowd, giving high fives, and undoubtedly encouraging everyone to go out and dance. At one point, I had to keep him from climbing onto the stage like a drunk sorority girl. Good times.

I also loved hearing Steve and Jack playing together, just in the midst of doing something silly and laughing together. Makes me really happy.

Update: the tiger has a name. No longer will he be known as Tiger. His name is Roary, and it suits him.

Yesterday, Isabel (our 4 year old next door neighbor) gave Jack a small Elmo that she didn't play with anymore. Jack was absolutely thrilled and kept showing him to Isabel and yelling "Elmo!" He then decided to share his yogurt with Elmo. So darned cute.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

That's More Like It

Jack and I got through an entire evening without anything gross happening. Yay! In fact, he and I had the kind of evening that was ordinary, but that I want to remember because really, ordinary can be pretty great sometimes.

I arrived at school, and he greeted me with a flying tackle hug. Then he marched his little diapered butt right over to the door, ready to go home. There, he demanded a snack, so he enjoyed some raisins and some melon (new favorite food, I think) while I read him a story. We went downstairs to play, and he selected a DVD from the rack, something he hadn't done before. I so wish I could have known what he was thinking, because I bet it was something like, "No way! This DVD has Elmo on it! We are totally watching this." He handed it to me and said, "Em-o." Of course, we watched it, and it was a fun one, with lots of singing and dancing. Jack and I danced together, then did some bouncing songs. When the movie was over, he noticed his tiger across the room and ran over to him and gave him a hug and a kiss. He then spent a lot of time putting the tiger (who really needs a name, as I refuse to call him Tiger) on his car, put his sippy of milk next to him, and pulled him around the room. So cute.

Jack and the tiger then stood at the foot of the stairs and asked to go upstairs. Seeing as it had been at least half an hour since his last snack, he was ravenous. He had milk and animal cookies, which he shared with both me and the tiger. After that, it was bathtime, since the previous night's bath had been less a bath and more damage control. Happily, during his post-bath running around naked time, he decided not to relieve himself anywhere inappropriate and instead to sit on my lap so we could read. He was such a sweet, snuggly little guy.

I'm really enjoying this Mommy-Son time, but I am also excited that the day after tomorrow, Steve is coming home. Yay!