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.