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.