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.