Monday, December 31, 2007

Snowflakes That Stay on My Nose and Eyelashes

Yesterday, I read an article in Runner's World about cold weather running. There was a quote about how running during a light snow is one of the most peaceful things you can experience. It sounded lovely, and I immediately wanted a chance to do it.

Nature, amazingly, cooperated... kind of.

Steve had to work for a few hours today and I had the day off, so I spent an active and fun - but tiring - morning with Jack. I'd already declared that when Steve got home, I was going running. So imagine my excitement when I saw it starting to snow mid-morning.

The trouble was, it was not a LIGHT snow. It was snowing like, um, cats and dogs. Still, I geared up and went. And it was really cool. I only did 2-1/2 miles because it was rough running on uneven terrain and because I knew I'd need to shovel the driveway afterwards. But it really did have a magic to it. It's nice to look at snow not just as something that's a pain in the butt to drive in. I was able to appreciate the beautiful fluffy flakes as they fell on my face, to look at the white iced trees hanging over the street.

What a beautiful way to end my 2007 year of running.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Happy 3rd Birthday, Jack!

On Monday, December 24, Jack turned three years old.

Jack's third year has been a crazy one. Luckily, it has been free of surgeries and has included only one trip to the emergency room - and only one ear infection. But we did pack up everything we owned in a "big orgish truck" and leave the only home Jack had ever known. There were also smaller transitions - his crib has been replaced with a toddler bed. Sippy cups are used only to protect our carpeting. Binkies are no longer a constant, but rather are only for sleeping and in the car. He's learning to use the potty with increased consistency - to the point where I am no longer buying giant boxes of diapers at Sam's Club.

His vocabulary has exploded - I could no longer list his words if I tried. He says please and thank you without being asked, and often finds me in the kitchen and asks, "Mommy, may I help you, please?" He can take his pants off by himself and does a decent attempt with his shirt, hampered only by his giant head. He can count to about 15 (then the rest of the teen numbers sound a lot alike), knows how to kick a soccer ball, play tee ball, and stir muffin batter.

In short, he's turned from a baby to a toddler to a kid. And not just any kid - a really cool kid. He has a vivid imagination and sometimes spends entire days pretending to be Luke Skywalker. He tries to make us laugh, doing pratfalls and making up silly words to songs. He gets so excited about everything from the rides at Disney World to an unexpected cookie that he jumps up and down with delight. He thinks that both pirates and princesses are cool. He is not at all shy, willing to march right up to the librarian and say, "I need some help, please. I am looking for a book about Thomas the train."

His birthday was very much a day of fun for a big kid.

He got a tricycle from his Mawmaw and Poppa, which he proceeded to ride all around the kitchen. We went out for lunch with his GrandmaGrandpa, Uncle Andy, and Aunt Ariel, and he was stunningly well behaved. He alternated between putting together a cool puzzle from Grandma and wolfing down kraft macaroni and cheese. He and I made cookie dough together, for later decorating.

We had so much fun that I let him pick out another recipe from my cookie cookbook to make. Not surprisingly, he chose candy cane cookies. I proved that baking kicks ass by letting him help me crunch up candy canes using a hammer. Unfortunately, even though I put the big hammers away, we caught him attempting the same when we left him alone for a moment.
Note not only the candy cane dust and Oscar the Grouch hammer, but also vaguely guilty expression.

I made him reindeer sandwiches for dinner, which he loved.

He got all kinds of Star Wars toys from us for his big day, including a very cool x-wing fighter.

If that wasn't cool enough, my brother made him a Roary cake. Jack especially liked eating the stripes. The night ended with a reading of "Twas the Night Before Christmas," which Jack has a surprising amount of committed to memory, then putting out the cookies that we made for Santa.

Happy birthday, Cub. I am proud to be your mommy.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Much Better

Hey, Internet, thanks for your kind words after my lousy day of mommying the other day. Jack's been doing much better since, and I think the only thing wrong is that he has a serious case of Two Year Old. Thank Yoda it'll all be over on Monday when he turns three!*

Jack was on the verge of turning to The Dark Side again the very next day, and I'm happy to report that we nipped it in the bud. He was offended by the ridiculous suggestion that Mommy and Daddy had that maybe he would like to sit down and eat some food, seeing as how he was hungry and all. Dude was about ready to throw some punches again, so I took him upstairs and we talked. I acknowledged his feelings - that he was mad at MommyDaddy - and had him say it in words. Then we practiced making angry faces, and by the time he was finished telling Pooh all about it (Roary was unavailable), he felt much better.

I really do think that the best way to keep him from hitting is to intervene as quickly as possible. It's like once he starts, he's like, "Hell with it, I'm already misbehaving, so I might as well keep it up." I shall advise him like Yoda: Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.

*Don't you dare correct me, people.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Last night was going really well. The boys and I had a nice dinner, and Steve and I made plans for the three of us to go for a drive to look at Christmas lights.

Then, Jack had what was basically the Chernobyl of potty training accidents. You would not believe how calmly I handled it, like a real mommy. The strongest emotion I expressed was to say, "Oh, yucky!" It was such a hideous mess that I decided to just give him a bath. I had Steve finish off the bath so I could clean up any additional mess and change my shirt (seriously, people: ew). Jack did not want to get out of the tub, a feeling he expressed by slapping Steve across the face, hard.

Steve put Jack in his time out chair and had me take over. Jack started to apologize, but then punched me. More than once. Back in to his room, this time by himself and with the door closed.

More hitting continued, so we had no choice but to tell Jack that because "nice guys get nice things and mean guys do not" that we would not be going to look at Christmas lights. That resulted in lots of crying.

We finally calmed him down and got him to go to bed, only to have him pop out of bed at least 20 times.

It was a really, really hard day to be a parent.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Geared Up

I finally got in a run, and not a moment too soon, sinc eaccording to the news, we are going to be completely taken over by ice any second now. It felt great to be out running, though when I was finished, my knee hurt again despite having a week off. Looks like I am going to have to break down and make a doctor's appointment.

I also discovered that going running in cold weather requires a lot more gear. For my three mile run, here's what I wore:

1. Hair in pigtails, as a ponytail would not fit under my
2. Hat
3. Sports bra ('cause I'm not Katie Holmes)
4. Long sleeved non-cotton t-shirt
5. Sweatshirt (with mud stains from Living History Farms)
6. Red windbreaker
7. Reflective vest (dorky but safe)
8. Long underwear in non-cotton fabric
9. Fleece pants
10. Socks
11. Shoes
12. iPod

A lot more effort than in the summer, but on the plus side, I got to look at Christmas lights! And, um, participated in the 8 on the 8th 3 Mile Fun Run, held on the 10th, with a time of 26:57. Also, people of Rock Island, Illinois: Shovel your sidewalks.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Charmed Life of Mr. Jackson Wasser

Jack and I went to the grocery store on Saturday. As we walked in, we had this conversation.

Jack: Maybe we see Santa there!
Me: Buddy, Santa is usually not at the grocery store, so I don't think so. But I guess you never know.
Jack: You never know.

We walk into the grocery store, and BAM! There's Santa. Believe it or not, my local Jewel actually had a Santa talking to little kids.

Frankly, I think that grocery stores should always have a Santa on duty, because Jack behaved like a perfect angel.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Why I'm Not Running

Ugh, Internet - I have not been running all week. I am so cranky about it. Jack was sick, then I was sick, and there were many, many scenes like this...

Setting: Stately Wasser Manor, 5:20 PM
Enter Betsy through back door.

Steve: (Standing in front of fridge, attempting to make dinner) Oh, thank God you're home.
Jack: (Crying hysterically, red faced)
Steve: He has been like this ever since I picked him up. He hit a kid at school, then he was rude to his teachers, then he wouldn't leave, then he complained and whined all the way home. We got home, and he was mad about something in the garage.
Me: Oh, you didn't let him push the button to close the garage door.
Steve: And then I was like, "Jack calm down," but he wasn't Jack, he was Luke, and I was the Wampa and the Wampa doesn't talk and -

At this point, it became pretty obvious I was not going running. I picked Jack up, and as his little legs kicked in my grasp, took him upstairs. I bribed him with vitamins to sit on mommydaddy bed and watch Dora with me. It is the "Dora La Musica" episode that we have seen eighty billion times and it bugs me that, for example, Benny says, "I play the drum, banga banga banga" instead of just banging on the drum to illustate the aforementioned banging sound.

Anyway, it worked like a charm, and Jack - who vacilated between being Dora and Senor Shush for several hours - calmed his crazy ass down. Steve (aka Tico) was still a bit freaked out. He needed to go to a basketball game for work, but he had just realized that we were the only house on our block that had not yet shoveled the walks and we are obviously bad citizens and will probably go to jail and all of the neighbors will hate us and -

I went outside and shoveled the walk while he and Senor Shush had cookies.

When Steve took off, I put Jack to bed. During Trip To The Potty #2 (aka The Stall), we had this exchange.

Jack: I will move my stool. That good idea, my friend. Ha, I called you 'my friend.'
Me: Am I your friend?
Jack: Yes you are. I love you.

So, life at Stately Wasser Manor is hectic, but good. I will be able to get back into the running soon (despite the snow).

8 on the 8th? I don't know. But I'll be back.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Gender Politics at Stately Wasser Manor

I find it fascinating to see how Jack, now that he's approaching the ripe old age of three, is starting to understand gender differences. Steve and I are both pretty liberal in how we approach things - there is no such thing as a girl toy or a boy toy in our house. Steve cooks and cleans sometimes, and I am more interested in athletics. Jack got a kitchen for his second birthday. Steve wears pink, and Jack does not own a single item of clothing with a football on it.

He definitely understands the physical differences between men and women. After we watched Shrek The Halls for the first time, he reprised his pretend role of Princess Fiona, and we had this conversation.

Jack: I'm Princess Fiona. You Shrek.
Me: Hi, Princess.
Jack: I have a 'gina.
Me: Did you just say you had a --
Jack: You have a pipper.
Me: Yep. You did.

Our attempts to keep things gender neutral have been mostly successful, it seems. Sometimes Jack pretends that Roary is a baby and that he, as Roary's daddy, has to take care of him. But then we were talking about Christmas presents, and Jack suggested that Santa bring me "a girl toy, like maybe Barbie."


Especially given that Jack had just spent the entire morning pretending to be a princess on her way to the ball, complete with girly dress-up clothes. You would think that a man in a necklace, velvet scarf, and fringed wrap would be a bit more open-minded.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Raising Cane

Last night, the boys and I decorated our Christmas tree. Steve and I were actually planning on doing it after Jack went to bed, but we decided to go for it and involve the wee maniac for the first time. I'm so glad we did.

For weeks, Jack has been fascinated by candy canes. He looks for them in decorations and keeps mentioning that he'd like Santa to bring him one in his stocking. So as you can imagine, he was psyched that his job was to put them on the tree.

He took his job very seriously. While Steve and I put up the rest of the ornaments, Jack concentrated on the canes.

The result was that our tree was covered in candy canes, but only as high as Jack can reach. In fact, he caned the utter hell out of a few patches, leaving the rest a bit more sparse.

When we were finally all done, I turned off the lights and moved Jack's table in front of the tree so we could all have a bedtime snack together. It looked beautiful.

I told several of my friends about this, and they all asked the same question: are we going to leave the tree as Jack decorated it, or wait until he's asleep and fix it? To me, there's no doubt - I'm leaving the candy canes where they are. If I spread them out around the tree, it would look more picture perfect. But it wouldn't make me smile the way it does now.

I am a (shiver) runner!

Without a doubt, the experience of training for, then running a marathon has changed me. In the past, even in my most devoted running times, the second the weather got cold, I'd go right ahead and slack off. I'd pretty much hibernate all winter.

Last night, it was freaking cold outside, but I bundled up and I went running. I hate the idea of running indoors (whether it's on a treadmill or indoor track), and if I have to buy a crazy amount of technical keep-you-warm gear, then that's what I will do, by Yoda!


Monday, November 26, 2007


Hi, Internet. I am back from a trip to visit my dad for Thanksgiving. It was a great mini vacation, and I am - you guessed it - thankful for a lot of things.

- That this year, we only had to drive six hours for Thanksgiving dinner. We did not have to spend two days driving like we did last year (apparently after having smoked a whole lot of crack). We also didn't have to get up at the crack of dawn, drive to the airport, lug the suitcase, car seat, stroller, and kid onto the shuttle bus, then wait in line at the ticket counter, then wait in line at security, then take a shuttle to our gate, then fly to one airport, then another because we couldn't get a direct flight. Then get our luggage, then go to the rental car counter, then lug all of our stuff to the shuttle bus to the rental car place, then install the car seat, then load up the rental car, then drive two hours to FINALLY get to my dad's house. I am really damned thankful I didn't have to do all of that crap.

- That, at the halfway point, there is an exit where you can find all in one parking lot, a Shell station, a McDonald's, and a Starbucks. I swear, that place is a little slice of heaven.

- That this year, unlike in years past, Jack was actually willing to sleep.

- That we live so much closer to my dad and Vickie that Jack actually knows them and is excited about visiting them. He did well in the car, but for the last 20 minutes, he got antsy. This he displayed by kicking the back of the seat and saying, "Where is Mawmaw and Papa's house?" It's slightly more charming than it sounds, really.

- That Jack was so excited about the prospect of spending an afternoon walking around the lake with my dad looking for snakes that Steve and I were able to spend an afternoon Christmas shopping.

- That Jack is now old enough to see a family movie. We saw Enchanted, and if you have a heart in your body and a brain in your head, get to the movie theater pronto and see it. It's fantastic.

- That this year, we do not have Jack's surgery looming in the near future like we did last year.

- That Jack is now old enough that we don't have to watch him every second for fear he will launch himself into the fireplace. And that he is happy to play with his cousins, giving us a moment's peace.

- That Jack can play independently for long enough that we could unload the car. Granted, this came at a price. In the short amount of time it took for Steve to take one load of stuff out of the car and for me to pee, Jack emptied every single toy out of his toy bins and onto the floor. It was an unholy mess. He then found our shopping bags and started shoving his toys in random order into them. Why? Because he was one of Santa's elves, and he was getting things ready for the sliegh. It should also be added that Jack should be thankful that he is so cute, or this would have been a lot more annoying than it was.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Santa, Baby

Santa Claus mania is reaching a fever pitch at Stately Wasser Manor.

We have visited three mall Santas so far - no pictures yet, just a quick chat for Jack to remind Santa that he has been a good boy and would like "some Star Wars guys" for Christmas.

He'll sing "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" to himself, looks for Santa decorations everywhere we go, and requests Christmas books just about every night before bed.

Jack also likes to pretend to be Santa Claus. Sometimes, I'm Mrs. Claus, and I read letters so he can guess who they are from. Such as:

Dear Santa,
I have been a very good boy. I rescued Princess Leia, then blew up the Death Star. I am working very hard at Jedi training with Yoda. For Christmas this year, I would like a spaceship and a new robot hand.

Jack excitedly yells, "LUKE!"

Dear Santa,
I have not been very good this year. I had Han Solo frozen in carbonite and I tried to feed Luke to the rancor. I dressed Princess Leia in a humiliating costume and licked her face. Then I tried to feed Luke, Han, and Chewbacca to the Sarlac. For Chrismtas this year, I would like a new sail barge.

Jack will then fill in, "Love, Jabba."

Jack also likes to be Santa while I am a little kid (often, I am assigned the role of Jack). I tell Santa I have been good, then ask for a toy. Santa-Jack goes over to his toy bins and brings me what I want, often adding addtional toys because I have been so good.

So, imagine my delight when I went to pick up Jack at my mom's house last night to discover him wearing a Santa Suit. He was so pleased with himself. He wanted to wear his outfit when we went to Lowe's, and I figured why not? If you're a little kid, you totally have license to leave the house looking batshit crazy. Of course, it being Jack, he had to crank the crazy up a couple of notches by deciding that he was not Santa, but rather Peter Pan. "My red suit can pretend to be green" was his logic.

The fun continued when Jack discovered that his Santa jacket was fastened only with velcro. He ripped that sucker off with the vigor of a stripper in a room full of singles and announced, "I'm dancing naked! Mommy, come watch!"

Monday, November 19, 2007

Race Report: Living History Farms

Oh, my gosh, Internet. That was so much fun!

The Living History Farms race is really not a race as it is a fun run. The atmosphere before the race could only be described as a party. Costumes abound: pirates, bees, Disney princesses, men in drag, a guy wearing nothing but a loincloth, superheroes, people wearing regular running clothes, but with a tutu, homemade Dunder Mifflin Fun Run shirts. Everyone was there to have a good time.

I'd also describe this as more of a fun run because, thanks to the number of people out there and some pretty small paths, there were parts where I couldn't have run if I wanted to. Any ideas about race pace were out the window; it was all about going out and having a good time.

I actually ran into a couple of people I knew while I was running - hi, Amy! Hi, Kent! That added to the festive air of the day.

Amy took a picture of me. It's before the first mile, so I'm looking fresh and clean:

The first few miles were pretty standard for a trail run. I was actually starting to feel a bit warm in my sweatshirt, pants, and hat. But then, jumping into the very first icy cold creek suddenly made me quite comfortable, albeit a bit swampy in my shoes. I crawled my way up the creek bed, looked down, and saw that my race number was completely covered in mud!

The rest of the race was a similar adventure. I climbed over giant piles of compost, leaped over logs, used trees for leverage, and jumped into creek after creek. There were hills that were so steep and so muddy that had it not been for the two ropes, I don't know how I would have climbed them.

At about the five mile mark, runners had to make a decision. One path was longer, but easier. The second was shorter, but harder. That's what she said. Anyway, I went with short and hard. I'd come all that way - might as well get my money's worth. I'm glad I did, because it was just so much fun.

I finished with a time of 1:33:46, a whopping 1,495th place, 162nd for my age group. I'm sure I could have run faster, since I had a ton of energy left when it was over, but that really wasn't the point.

Post race, there were piles and piles of doughnuts, the finest I have ever eaten, despite the fact that I discovered there was dirt in my mouth. There was also the entertainment that came in when it was time to change clothes. My sweatshirt was a muddy mess. My pants were caked in mud, especially the butt, since I found it effective to slide into some of the creeks. My formerly white socks are still grey, no matter how many times I've washed them. I wore my marathon shoes and threw them away after the race. They were shot anyway, and this allowed me to give them a warrior's funeral.

Without a doubt, I will run this non-race again. I hope there are pictures!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

You Take the Good, You Take the Bad

One of my big toes has spontaneously decided to start shedding its nail. What the hell, people? It's not like I've been running that much. It's really annoying.

Also, I hate to even talk about it, but my right knee is giving me a hard time. It's nothing I can't live with, but I'd hate for it to get worse.

My allergies are causing me to have ridiculous sneezing fits every single morning. Usually while I'm driving. It is totally hot.

Jack can be completely exasperating sometimes. Dude, I do not want to have ANOTHER lightsaber battle-fight. And can I please have my spatulas back? And on Saturday, he illustrated the fact that he was not hungry by throwing his exotic lunch of chicken nuggets and tater tots on the floor. Total dick move.

All of these running maladies are definitely not going to keep me from running the Living History Farms run, especially after Amy's post about it. Seriously, how awesome does that sound? I canont wait.

Steve and I are going out tomorrow night. Yes, on a Wednesday! Yes, without Jack! To an event that promises to be so much fun that I am willing to overlook the fact that it conflicts with the premiere of Project Runway.

This morning, I told Jack that I needed to go upstairs to get dressed. He said, "Okay, but first, I need to whisper something in your ear. Just one second." He then clambered up onto the couch, pulled my head down to his, and whispered, "I love you."

Seriously, you can keep my toenail if this is the kind of thing I can get in return.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Race Report- Hawk Hustle

I think that, no matter how many road races I run, and no matter how much time I've spent on the track, my heart will always belong to cross country. So I was totally psyched to see that on a free Saturday morning I could run the Hawk Hustle, a 4 mile cross country race.

With just 123 runners, this was the smallest race I've been in (high school meets aside), and the atmosphere was really laid back. People milled around before the race started, and we all kind of made our way to the start in time. And rather than having a gun go off, one of the organizers just yelled, "Go!"

Before the race started, I'd thought about my goals. I like the way that Kent gives himself gold, silver, and bronze goals. So, I was thinking this:

Gold - 36:00
Bronze - 40:00
Silver - Anywhere in between!

But as soon as the race started, I ammended those goals. The course? Really freaking tough, people. Up hills, down hills, small ones, big ones. Tree branches to dodge. I was working my ass off. And I didn't get any splits, so I really had no idea how I was doing. I just decided to go as hard as I could and enjoy the effort.

Imagine my surprise when I crossed the finish line in 36:57! I'm going to call that a Gold finish, especially given that the course was a lot more difficult than I anticipated.

Oh, and the after-party featured free cookies and sandwiches. All in all, a great way to spend a Saturday. I'll definitely add this race into my annual calendar.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Woo hoo!

I just discovered a 4 mile cross country race tomorrow! It includes "rolling hills" and free sandwiches. Steve and Jack were going out tomorrow morning without me anyway, so I am so there!

Yay for an unexpected race!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I Laugh In the Face of Pain

For a long time, thanks to a bad experience, I was really afraid of needles. Just the idea of getting a shot or an IV or something had me feeling faint. Although I've watched the movie Pulp Fiction a billion times, I have never actually watched the scene where they give Uma Thurman the shot in her chest, because I was too busy cowering with my hands over my eyes.

But things change, and the idea of pain is really not something that scares me. Steve suggested that I get a flu shot this year, to help protect Jack. I didn't give it a second thought - called the doctor's office and had them book one for me. It did kind of hurt, and my arm is a bit sore. But so what?

I ran 26.2 miles. You think some little needle is going to scare me? It'll be over in a lot less time and will hurt a lot less when it's over.

And, before that, I found myself thinking, "A marathon? Eh, I could do that." After all, it'd be over a lot faster than the three days I spent with labor contractions. Recovery seems like it'd be easier than having my body cut in half to remove a giant kid. And after it was over, I was able to sleep like a rock right away, not after 13 months of interrupted sleep.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Not Just an Excuse to Post a Picture of My Boyfriend Ewan...

Jack: Draw Obi-Wan.
Me: Okay.
Jack: No! Draw Ben instead.
Me: Obi-Wan and Ben are the same guy.
Jack: No, I want Ben. Not Obi-Wan.
Me: They’re the same guy.
Jack: ….
Me: Okay, what’s your name?
Jack: Luke.
Me: Um, when you’re not being Luke, what’s your name?
Jack: Jack!
Me: But sometimes, I also call you Cub, right?
Jack: Yeah.
Me: So, your name is Jack, but sometimes you’re called Cub. It’s like that with him – his name is Obi-Wan, but he’s sometimes called Ben.
Jack: …
Me: I just blew your mind, didn’t I?
Jack: Yeah.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Marathon Mamas

Paula Radcliffe kicks so much heiner, you guys. She holds the women's world record in the marathon, and she just won the New York City Marathon... and she has a 9-month old baby.

That blows my mind. Yet another reason for me to feel proud when Paula is the one who talks to me on my Nike +. I like her so much better than Lance Armstrong. I mean, Lance is an elite athlete (oddly, dating an Olsen at the moment), but he's not a runner. If I were riding my bike, I'd be happy to hear from him, but since I'm not, he needs to pipe down so Paula can tell me that I've just completed another 500 kilometers or what have you.

I also have to admit a certain amount of pride in the fact that my marathon time was about half an hour faster than Katie Holmes'. Maybe it's because I wore a bra.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Fun Runs

I'm still adjusting to my post-marathon running life. It seems really weird to be able to run whatever distance I feel like, to let my schedule and mood dictate.

Usually on weekends during training, I'd take Saturday off and do my long run on Sunday. This weekend, I opted to run on both days. Neither was a long distance, but both of them proved challenging.

Today, I did a run I've been itching to do for a while. I drove to Blackhawk State Park and found some trails to run on. It was a beautiful fall day, cool but not too cold, with a perfect breeze to rustle the leaves in the trees. It was quiet, and hardly anyone was out on the trails.

It sounds idyllic, doesn't it? Well, it was, but holy Yoda in the swamp, was it tough! I was constantly up and down steep hills, racing over rickety wooden footbridges, dodging big rocks, and hurdling over fallen tree branches. It was not easy... but it was fun!

Yesterday's run should have been an easy one. I did one of my simple, flat, neighborhood three miles. A great recovery run, one I could probably do in my sleep. The difference is that this time around, I took Jack with me in the jogging stroller. I believe I was pushing at least 40 pounds of Cub and stroller, which made me realize that there are inclines on that route that I'd never noticed before!

But again, it was cool. Jack kept up a steady stream of chatter, noting houses with pumpkins in front of them, remembering where we went trick or treating, and occasionally singing "Pupmky Pumpkin" to me. Every once in a while, he'd also just turn around and grin at me.

Jack informed Steve before we took off, "I going running with Mommy in stroller. And later, I get out of stroller and run with Mommy." Okay, I figured. I can accomodate that. So, we ran as far as the neighborhood park, and I let him out of the stroller so we could run around the baseball diamond together. You can see a huge dip on my Nike + where my pace slowed for that part of my workout.

I hope that I can instill in Jack a love of running. I can't think of a better activity for a fall day like we've had the past few days. When we got home last night, I had to think that he was on that track. He walked into the house, grinned at Steve and said, "That was good run," just like I've done so many times before.

And it was. It was a good run.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Dear Santa...

Jack wrote his very first letter to Santa Claus (I took dictation). Here it is:

Dear Santa,
I have a table. I have some Star Wars guys. I want Ackbar. I don't have Grand Moff Tarkin. I want to get another Rancor. A green one. I want a pen. A necklace - black. I want Mommy in a castle. I want a castle with Mommy. Daddy will get all of the house. I want a bat. Now I want a wall. I have been a good boy. I want a reindeer and an elf and Mrs. Claus and some elves.


I am happy to report that Jack later decided that Daddy can live in the castle with us. And Roary. This is good, as I suspect we'd miss Daddy and Roary before too long, castle or no.

Friday, November 02, 2007

No More Pop-Ups

Jack developed a bad habit in the last few weeks of getting up eighty gazillion times during the night. We called them "pop-ups." He'd pop up out of bed, we'd drag him emotionlessly back to bed, Supernanny-style, and he'd stay there for about four seconds, then pop-up again.


I could tell he was tired, and I knew that if he'd just stay in his room, he'd go to sleep. And I'd be able to relax and watch Survivor.

Finally, Steve and I concocted a plan to keep him in his room. We'd give him his big bucket of Star Wars action figures, point out the books in his room, and tell him to just stay there. It worked. No more pop-ups, and although we'd find books and action figures in his bed, he would go to sleep at a fairly reasonable time.

Last night, we heard him moving around upstairs. Then, we heard his door open. But no pop-up. What was that little scamp up to?

Steve went upstairs and discovered Jack sitting in the hallway, reading one of his picture books. Jack explained that he wanted to read, but, "It was dark in my eyes," so he left his room. Steve escorted him back to his room.

On one hand, my feeling about that was, "Go the hell to sleep, Jackson. It's 9:30." On the other hand, I have many memories of reading in bed well past when I was supposed to go to sleep. I'd sneak a flashlight under my pillow, or even just read by the tiny crack of light under my bedroom door.

But you know what? I didn't do that when I was just two years old. My boy is obviously a genius.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

How Crazy Am I?

It's funny how my perspective has shifted over the past few months. Our calendar for this week has a really good amount of fun - last night was trick-or-treating, of course, and on Friday night, Steve and I are going on a date. We are going to watch the Quad City Symphony's rehearsal, then go out for dinner (margaritas? tbd).

A few months ago, I would have thought, "Yay, Halloween! Yay, fun date with the husband!"

Now, I still think that, but I also think, "Guess I'm not going running on either of those nights."

The good thing is, this is the time of what Tom at Runner's Lounge has dubbed "ordinary running." That is, I'm not really training for anything specific, just running for the sake of running. Because of that, I am not now thinking, "But if I get up at 5:00, I will have time to get in a medium length run before Jack wakes up and it's time to get ready for work."

I may be crazy, but at least right now, I'm not that crazy.

Also, I am not as crazy as a certain little boy who set up a detailed Jabba's Throne Room diorama on the coffee table this morning and proceeded to dance for Jabba.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Autumn is Steve's favorite season. He is definitely starting to win me over. The boys and I had an amazing weekend, so full of autumn-themed activities it was like something out of a magazine.

Saturday morning, we headed to Boo at the Zoo, an event at nearby Niabi Zoo. Jack donned his Mickey Mouse costume, grabbed his pumpkin bucket, and collected an impressive amount of candy. He was happy not only to get candy, not only to be at the zoo, not only to be Mickey Mouse, but also to see the other kids in their costumes. He kept excitedly yelling, "LOOKIT!" and pointing to a princess, a pirate, a dinosaur, and so on. It was a beautiful day, and it gave Jack the opportunity to hone his skills at saying "Trick or treat" and "Thank you" loud enough for people to hear.

On Sunday morning, Steve somehow convinced the two of us that doing yard work would be fun. He and I took turns mowing the lawn and raking leaves with Jack. Jack participated as any reasonable kid would: by jumping into the leaves. Of course, he gave it his own twist, declaring that he was Han Solo, the leaves were the carbonite freezing chamber, and that I was Princess Leia, there to rescue him.

After that, the three of us went to the Family Museum for their Scarecrow Shenanigans event. Jack iced a sugar cookie and decorated it with M&Ms, practiced the bean bag toss, and decorated a mini pumpkin with googly eyes and pom poms. Then, imagine his delight when he found a little girl dressed like Minnie Mouse! The two of them realized the inherent cuteness of their pairing and spent a lot of time holding hands and hugging.

Today, Steve and I went to the Halloween party at Jack's school. The kids all got dressed up (suprisingly, there were no princesses in his class) and went to the nursing school next door trick or treating. Steve and I got there early and helped the teachers get the kids dressed and entertain the ones already in costume.

If you ever want an ego boost, hang out with a group of toddlers. Basically, if you are willing to be a tiny bit silly, or can make stuffed animals talk, or are willing to draw pictures, or will read a book with just a little bit of inflection, you are a rockstar. Jack was incredibly proud of how fun his mommydaddy were.

All of this, and we still haven't gone trick or treating yet!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Faster Than a Speeding Bullet

I decided yesterday afternoon that if I didn't go running I would probably die. I informed Steve of my fervent desire, and he said fine, so long as I promised to take it easy. I drove home in a state of Christmas-morning like excitement. I passed a group of cross country runners out for practice and wanted to yell out my window to them that I was going running, too!

Three blissful miles later, I was back home, and Steve and Jack were arranged in the Cutest Possible Moment. It was almost like they planned it, a moment I imagine like this...

Steve: Jack, Mommy will be home soon. Let's do something cute to make her happy.
Jack: We could dress up like Muppets.
Steve: Good, but there's no time for that.
Jack: I know! Let's cuddle and read a comic book.

Sure enough, they were snuggled up on the big blue chair reading a Justice League comic. Freaking adorable. And then, when I got out of the shower, Jack was playing with his Superman action figure while Steve made dinner.

I am a lucky woman.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Where Do We Go From Here?

"Where do we go from here?
Where do we go from here?
The battle's done, and we kind of won,
So we sound our victory che-er
Where do we go from here?"

--Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Once More... With Feeling"

The battle's done, and I kind of won... but what next? I know I'm not the only one thinking it, because today both Bowulf and Ex-Non-Runner Nancy posted about their post-marathon goals.

Training for, then running that marathon has definitely changed me. I have been a runner since I was 10, but there have been some fallow periods. After the many miles and two stress fractures of high school were over, I didn't run much at all until I took running for one of my PE credits in college. Then I mixed it up for a while at the gym. Went on the occasional run with Steve. Did a ton of running when I was unemployed (because Yoda knows I had the time). Then job, pregnancy, baby who didn't sleep through the night until after his first birthday, killer commute - all of that set in, and I didn't run as much as I'd have liked to.

But now? I don't see going through a fallow period ever again. Hell, I ran 26.2 miles just a few days ago, and it is killing me to take off this recovery time. I am even trying to figure out the best cold-weather running gear so that I can keep this going over the winter, avoiding the dreaded treadmill/indoor track for as long as possible.

I am also thinking about my upcoming race calendar and what I want to accomplish in 2008.

First up is the Living History Farms Cross Country Race. Apparently, it involves climbing up muddy hills, trying to jump over creeks, and similar. Hello, how awesome does that sound? I am so there, and that's just next month.

I want to run my first half marathon. A half sounds like a fun race to run. It's long enough to be challenging, but it's not like it's going to kick my ass so hard I have to take the elevator for a few days afterwards. The Quad Cities Distance Classic in May includes a half.

I could not possibly be a runner in the Quad Cities and not run the Bix 7. That's just a great party, has killer hills, and an elite field.

The Dam to Dam 20K sounds intriguing. Gorgeous setting, and an interesting distance to race.

I'll also grab some 5K's where I can find them, and I'll probably brave the horrendous hills of the Firecracker 10K next July 4th.

Then, the big kahuna will be the Quad Cities Marathon in September. I can't resist the hometown course, especially knowing it'll be so much easier for me to get some fan support. It's also a lot flatter than Des Moines, so I bet I can get a PR.

This is going to be fun.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Why I Run

Over 100 training runs
Over 555 miles
Two pair of shoes
Over 55,500 calories burned
all leading up to...

26.2 miles!

That's right, Internet: I did it! And all weekend long, I was reminded of reasons why I run.

  • Before the race yesterday morning, a perky blonde lead us through a warm-up. I participated, because what else was I going to do, wander around nervously some more? About 20 seconds into her warm-up, I was reminded that I hate aerobics. The stretches she did made no sense to me and seemed to involve cute poses. And her marching and double-knees and whatnot made me feel like a moron. I cannot get my arms and legs to coordinate to save my life. If I didn't run, I'd have to either do stupid crap like that or not eat cookies.
    And by the way, after the warm-up was done, I plunked down and stretched again, exactly the same way I have been since I was 14. I know what works.

  • Runners are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. It was really cool to be able to say hi to Amy and Tom, who set up a really cool Runner's Lounge meeting place. It was great to see their smiling faces both before and after the race. And Non Runner Nancy actually found me during the first mile and came up to say hi. How cool is that? Nancy, I wish we'd been able to hang out more! Next time, okay?
    But even runners who I hadn't "met" before were friendly and easy to talk to. Like the man staying at our hotel who spotted my marathon sweatshirt, the people who struck up conversations with me during the race, and the really funny man wearing a hat that said, "Old and In the Way." By the way, from the looks of that guy, he might have been old, but he sure wasn't in my way. I have a feeling he was way faster than I am.

  • What better way is there to see a new city on a beautiful fall day? We lucked into some gorgeous weather. It was probably in the 60s all day long, overcast, and with just the right amount of breeze. The leaves were changing colors, and the course routed us through some really cool places - from downtown Des Moines to an incredibly wealthy neighborhood (I'm not just talking big houses, I'm talking big houses with sculpture collections in front of them), through the neighborhoods of Drake University, along a wooded trail, through a lovely park, around a lake, and back downtown again.

  • All of the things I said about how nice runners are goes at least double for volunteers and spectators. Every single volunteer had a smile or word of encouragment for me, and they seemed genuinely happy to help. The people who passed out gummy bears were, I'm fairly certain, angels. There was a volunteer standing somewhere in that wooded trail, the only non-runner I'd seen in miles clanging a cowbell to encourage us along, and let me tell you, I was so happy to see someone, anyone, that I about hugged her. And there were families sitting in front of their houses cheering just as enthusiastically for us mid-packers as they were for the leaders, kids offering up high fives - it was just cool.

  • Male marathon runners are sexsay. Hot guy in orange that I followed for much of the race, I salute you. Imagine my shock when I passed him at around the half and he didn't catch me... when, an hour later, he blew past me and was nowhere to be seen, I felt the natural balance of the universe had been restored.

  • You can demand that people cheer for you, and they'll actually do it. The last 1.2 miles of the race seemed to go on for-freaking-ever. There was hardly anyone to be seen until about a quarter of a mile away from the finish. I was determined not to stop and walk (and as a bonus, got to pick off some people), but it was not easy. When I finally saw a crowd of people, I yelled, "Give me some love," and they did just that. It's not often that you do something difficult and can actually request applause, but runners can do it.

  • On that same note, if you do something really difficult, usually you don't get anything just for getting through it. But after a marathon? You literally do get a medal. I wore mine to work today and am considering wearing it every single day from now on. Okay, maybe not... but I was pretty amused by Jack's reaction to it. He asked me what it was, and after I explained it, he said, "Oh, like Princess Leia gave Luke and Han." So, I guess I should ammend that two difficult things you can do and get a medal are run a marathon or blow up the Death Star.

  • My two biggest inspirations in life - my reasons that I can and do run - were right there, cheering me on. I cannot stress how much it means to me that Steve and Jack were there to watch me. For one thing, it helped me think of the race not in terms of, "Only 22 miles to go," but more like, "Only four more miles until I see my boys again." Steve and Jack were there cheering for me at the perfect spots - the 12 mile mark, the 20, and at the finish line. Jack was very serious about holding up his sign and yelling, "Go, Mommy, Go!" and Steve kept yelling that he was proud of me and to stay strong.

I am really proud of how I did. I trained well and fueled well, so at no point did I hit "the wall," and at no point did I think I wouldn't be able to finish it. I'm sure I'll do better next time, and I'm sure there will be a next time... for 26.2 and for lots of other distances.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Revenge of the Jedi

Parts of my childhood were completed consumed by all things Star Wars. I watched the movies over and over again. Memorized dialogue. My brother and I used to fall asleep every night with The Empire Strikes Back playing on a record player in the hallway between our bedrooms. We had all kinds of action figures, ships, toys, and play sets. Return of the Jedi trading cards. Yoda t-shirts. I'd lead Andy and Jenny in Jedi Training just about every day during the summer.

All of this, I'm sure, drove our parents nuts. My grandmother recalls taking Andy and me to see one of the Star Wars movies. While we were standing in line for a movie that Mimi had absolutely no desire to see, one of us commented that this would be the 10th time we'd seen the movie in the theater. She wanted to get in the car and go home right then and there.

And now, the tables have turned. Jack is a full-blown Star Wars maniac. He wants to watch the movies constantly. Play lightsaber "battle-fight." Pretend to be Luke escaping from the Wampa, and I play the roles first of Ghost Obi-Wan, then of Han (including slicing open imaginary tauntaun with his lightsaber). The only books he wants to read are the storybook versions of the movie.

He is amassing an impresive collection of Star Wars toys, and will quickly rattle off the ones that he wants to go look for right now: Boba Fett, the cricket (aka Salacious Crumb), Jabba's best friend (aka Bib Fortuna), the wampa, and so on.

He is, in short, absolutely crazy.

Steve was the exact same way when he was a kid. It could not be more obviousl that we got the correct baby at the hospital.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


For the past week, one thought keeps running through my head:

I'm really going to do this, aren't I?

Because, oh my god, Internet - my marathon is on SUNDAY.

The damn thing is so close that I can no longer refer to it as "at the end of October" or "on the 21st." It is on Sunday. Soon.

I believe I am experiencing what is known as Taper Madness. Because I no longer have 40 miles a week of running, or a pending trip to Disney World, or the need to marry two of my friends - to distract me, I am going a little nuts.

It is a huge leap of faith to think that just because I ran 20 miles a few weeks ago, I can go ahead and throw in another 6.2, and a combination of adrenaline and crowd support will make it do-able. Especially because that 20 miles was not easy. But you know what? If Hal Higdon says it'll work, then I will just have to trust him.

I am also excited. Excited to get out there and run more than the 8 miles I did on Sunday. 8 miles, which used to be the farthest I'd ever run without stopping, and now feels puny. Excited to be part of the crowd. To see what I can do. And even to hopefully meet fellow runners like The Runner Formerly Known as Non-Runner Nancy and the gang from Runner's Lounge.

No matter how things go on Sunday (and I reluctantly admit that I do believe that I will finish the race and will survive, not that I want to jinx myself), the experience of training has been awesome. I have pushed myself to do things I never did before. Sometimes it was hard (that's what she said), but it was always worth it. Also cool? If we're in the car and Jack sees a runner, he'll say, "That lady running like Mommy." That makes me proud.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Where Have I Been, Part 3

On Saturday, October 6, my good friends Dan and Liana (aka Danana) got married. The wedding was special, not just because I love the Danana like family, but because I had the opportunity to marry them.

At Danana's request, I found a place online where I could become an ordained minister. Then, I did some research and worked with Danana so I could write the ceremony.

Here's one of the things I said:
I was friends with Dan and with Liana before they became Dan and Liana - or, Danana, if you prefer. I watched as their friendship grew into something even more special, as the two of them fell so deeply in love that they couldn’t imagine spending another day apart.
It has given me such joy to see the way that their relationship has made both of them happier. I love Dan and Liana separately, but I love them together even more together. They compliment each other and make each other so happy.

I really feel like I did something good for the universe in playing even a small part in getting the two of them married. They are best friends and true partners. They take such good care of each other, and I know they always will.

It was important to me that I do a good job with the ceremony, and one of my biggest goals was to not cry. Seriously, people, the minister does not cry. Kind of detracts from the bride and groom, which is definitely not cool. But sweet Yoda, it was hard. I practiced the ceremony several times, marrying an array of ducks that were outside while Danana got their pictures taken. And this part killed me, even when reading to the ducks:
Dan and Liana, you have stood before us today and promised yourselves to each other from this moment on. You may not know what the future holds, but you do know that you’ll face it hand in hand, side by side with your very best friend, the person who loves you more than anything. In those days ahead, may you always remember the happiness and love that you felt for each other on this day.

I am happy to say I got through it with no tears. There were people in the audience who cried, but I held it together.

And the weekend? So. Much. Fun. Our friends are an absolute blast, and I wish they'd all move here so we could do this more often. I also can't wait for Dan and Liana to come back from their honeymoon, because I miss them!

Where Have I Been, Part 2

As fate would have it, our vacation was smack dab in the middle of the peak mileage week of my marathon training. Yoda have mercy!

In the blazing hot Florida sun, I ran five, ten, and five mile runs. I swear, I thought I was going to melt. After the ten miler, I bought a bottle of gatorade that was pretty much the best thing I have ever tasted. It two about two seconds for me to guzzle it, like something out of a commercial.

All of this was on top of getting less sleep than usual, plus walking around the parks all day every day. And often carrying Jack around when the stroller was just not going to cut it.

We got home on a Saturday, and the very next morning, I had to wake up and do my 20 mile run. Conditions for this run were far from ideal. I wasn't rested at all from the week prior, not just because of the running, but because of the travel. And, right before the run, I had a brief scare in which I thought I wasn't going to be able to run the marathon at all. (Long story short, I'm still on track, but I didn't know that when I set off.) Both mentally and physically, I was not in the best place.

So, remember not so long ago when I completely rocked out that 18 mile run? Well this was a hell of a lot more than two miles harder. I really had to kick my ass through out the run. I actually envisioned picking myself up by the scruff of my own neck and hurling myself a few feet ahead at a time. Kind of like the fight Edward Norton has with himself in Fight Club.

It wasn't pretty, but I got through it. And now I'm tapering. It is so weird that the 8 mile run I'm doing on Sunday seems so short. And it blows my mind that my race is a week from Sunday. So soon! I will just have to trust that I trained right and that I am well and truly ready. I am looking forward to seeing what I'm made of - both actually getting my legs to go that far and making sure my head's in the right place.

Where Have I Been, Part 1

Okay, yeah... it's been a long time since I've posted. Things have been absolutely crazy at Stately Wasser Manor. The boys and I went to Disney World for a week. Then, there was a rushed week at home, then Steve and I left for a long weekend for a wedding - at which I was the minister. And in between was my peak mileage week for the marathon. It got to the point where I couldn't sleep because I was so stressed about things like when I was going to get a pedicure, because I really needed one, because the shoes for the wedding had peep toes, but what if they messed with my calluses and I got blisters - and holy Yoda, am I really stressing out about a spa treatment?

So, now it's time to catch up.

First, I colored my hair before our vacation.
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Believe it or not, I think it has a passing resemblance to my natural hair color, whatever that is.

Then, the boys and I had an amazing, amazing trip. I wondered if going to Disney World with a two and a half year old kid, especially one who is potty training, was going to be just exhausting. But it truly wasn't. Jack was so delighted by everything that he spent most of the vacation in a state of delight, saying, "Lookit!" about every two seconds.
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We saw Cinderella's castle...
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and met a bunch of characters. Roary was especially excited to meet Tigger, a famous tiger.
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We went on rides. Jack especially loved the Buzz Lightyear ride, Peter Pan, and Pirates of the Caribbean (which now features Captain Jack Sparrow). We also had a great time on the teacups.
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On our last night, we went to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, an after-hours event with trick or treating, special parades, different fireworks, and all kinds of other fun. The boys and I went as The Incredibles. Steve kept forgetting we were in costume and wondered why people were looking at us and smiling.
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There were all kinds of just amazing Disney moments. Jack "scared" Captain Hook by saying "tick tock" to him, which amused him for days. We'd luck into great spots to watch the parades, and we found almost all of his favorite characters at one point or another. A sudden downpour of rain coincided with the chance to watch the Bug's Life movie with no wait in line. A really nice Disney cast member gave Jack a Chip pin, which he wore the next day for a character breakfast where Chip and Dale would be visiting. A woman in the gift shop saw Jack's pin and was so charmed by him that she gave him her Dale pin.

One of the best moments of the trip really summarized the experience. We were watching the fireworks, which were amazing and featured a real live Tinkerbell zipping from the top of the castle right over our heads. Jack was distracted by the voice of Jiminy Cricket, who was narrating the fireworks. Where was Jiminy, he wondered? Steve finally told him that Jiminy's voice was all around us, and that's why we could hear him. Jack took a moment to let that sink in, then said this:

Look, Roary! Magic!
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Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes

Last night, Jack took a kitchen towel, tied it around his waist, and proceeded to skip and twirl around the living room, happily declaring, "I'm Cinderella!"

It was one of the gayest things I've seen outside of the crowd at the Madonna concert I went to a few years ago. Or, as Steve put it,

During his dress up routine, he flitted across the floor on his tippy toes in a faerie-of-the-glen way that I'd never seen him do before. I immediately envisioned hauling my elderly ass to Fire Island to visit him and his "roommate" Todd.

It was also hilarious.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Jack is Awesome

This morning, Jack threw a gigantic, crying tantrum because he could not wear his sunglasses. So, what better time than now for me to remind myself of why Jack is awesome.

  • Jack continues to prove that he is Steve's and my son with his Star Wars obsession. Yesterday, he looked in a stack of DVDs and handed me Return of the Jedi, saying, "Want watch this one, Mommy. Has Rancor in it." I absolutely love that he knows that, even though the Rancor isn't even on the box. I just got him some new Star Wars action figures, and it is a stitch to hear him playing with them. Vader will tell Luke, "Yuke, my your father," and Luke will yell "Nooo!" and jump off the coffee table. I also get a real kick out of hearing Jack say "bounty hunter."

  • He is doing a really amazing job with the potty training. Last week was 98% accident free, which is pretty darned good for his first week of underwear. He no longer argues about whether or not he should try. He even once suggested it himself, without prompting. Last night, he came over and told me he'd had an accident. You might not think this is something to cheer about, but the silver lining is that he at least understood what happened, instead of complaining that his chair was wet. Yeah, your chair is wet; you peed on it. Duh.

  • Steve and I used to say when Jack was a baby that his job was to spread joy everywhere he went. He was, after all, the smiliest baby you ever saw. Well, he continues to spread joy. You would not believe how he charmed every single person in the doughnut shop we went in on Saturday. He was all smiles, in a face completely covered in chocolate and sprinkles, happily chatting away about how we were going to swimming class and how he was going to throw his duck in the water.

  • I love the way he distinguishes Hank McCoy Beast from Beauty and the Beast Beast as "Blue Beast" and "Brown Beast."

  • The way he asks me, "Mommy, you going to runinng?" when he sees me in my running clothes. And that I can count on him for a high five and a kiss on the cheek when I get back.

  • The way he rubs Roary's tail when he's tired.

  • The fact that, thank Yoda, he seems to be over the seperation anxiety, at least for now. It's almost like a switch flipped and he realized, "Wait a minute! I have fun at GrandmaGrandpa house. Why would I cry?" and "School is great! My friends are here!"
  • Monday, September 17, 2007

    What I Learned From Running 18 Miles

    That's right, Internet! I rocked out 18 miles yesterday. Woo hoo!

    I am looking to these long runs to not only prepare me physically, but also mentally for the big 26.2 coming up in just 4 weeks. (Holy Yoda, only 4 weeks?!?) Here's what I'm learning:

    1. The iPod doesn't have to be playing music for me to run well. For this run, instead of listening to music, I listened to a couple episodes of This American Life. Not having the beats of the music did not affect my pace at all. The iPod serves mainly as a distraction, a way for me to not get bored during those hours of running.

    2. 10 miles is too long to go without Gu. At mile 8, I was starting to drag a bit. I had the Gu in my pocket, but I wanted to wait until my water break at mile 10, since it's better to have them with water. Those two miles were rough. I will plan better next time.

    3. During these long runs, I somehow manage to get a blister on toe #3 of my right foot. I'll have to figure out a new way to prevent this.

    4. A short break can really energize me. I walked up the hill at about 8-1/2 miles, then stopped for water and Gu at mile 10, then a Gu/pee/water break at mile 14. Every time I did, I felt totally refreshed. And it really didn't hurt my time at all. I finished at a totally respectable pace that I was proud of. If I need to take a little rest, I should do it.

    5. I need to figure out a way to actually EAT towards the end of these runs. On my two longest runs to date - 16 and 18 miles, I found myself feeling really, really hungry in the last couple of miles. I might have to experiment with carrying some kind of Power Bar with me.

    6. Long runs make me HUNGRY. I devoured everything in sight yesterday, and may do the same today.

    7. Ice baths? Crazy, but they work. I don't feel sore at all.

    8. I am in really good shape and truly seem to have trained myself to be able to tackle these long distances. That added confidence is definitely the most important thing. I truly believe I can do this.

    Thursday, September 13, 2007

    Dressing The Part

    Amy over at Runners Lounge has a post about fashion rules for running. Her first rule is "If you can cross the line, anything is fine." This is, of course, 100% true. One of the coolest things about running is that you really just need a decent pair of shoes (and a sports bra, if you're a woman), and you are good to go. No need for a whole lot of gear or flim-flam.

    The last time in my life I was really serious about running was when I was a cross country runner in high school. We trained a lot, two workouts a day for a total of at least 10 miles a day. We combined road runs, weight training, form drills, hill work, and some truly brutal track workouts (the 16 quarters we did my junior year is the second hardest thing I have ever done physically, surpassed only by 3 days worth of labor pains). And at the time, my teammates and I rather pointedly didn't care what we wore.

    We definitely weren't buying special running shorts or clothing made of tech fabrics. We wore old t-shirts and whatever shorts we had handy - often just cut-off sweats. The closest thing to real running gear any of us wore were tights, and that's only because in November when you're training for State, it's really freaking cold outside. We scoffed at the idea of matchy-matchy gear.

    But now? Well, my thinking has changed. I greatly prefer tech fabrics, because the moisture wicking really makes a difference to me. I have special socks that I wear just for running, otherwise I will get blisters. My running skirts are some of my favorite garments.

    I also do something that my teenaged self would have considered unthinkable: I wear outfits that are not only matching, but also... cute. I'll go out in a white running skirt with pink trim and a matching pink singlet. This morning, I wore my black running skirt, a grey t-shirt that proclaims me to be "ATHLETIC," a red zip-front jacket (I love you, fall weather), and a white running hat from One More Mile that tells anyone who can read it that Running Is My Happy Hour. I'll admit it: I looked adorable.

    I have come to terms with my new desire for running fashion. Amy is right that if it gets you across the line, it's fine. But I swear, knowing that I'm out there looking like a serious runner makes me feel even more like I really am one.

    High Five!

    Monday: Jack wore underwear and kept it clean and dry all day.

    Tuesday: Jack had two accidents. My mom, who was taking care of him, says it's her fault because she wasn't good about making him go. Jack will use the potty if you ask him (and if he is reasonably assured of some M&Ms or similar afterwards), but he's not going to come up with the idea on his own.

    Wednesday: Jack wore underewear to school for the first time. He stayed clean and dry all day.

    Way to go, Cub!

    Wednesday, September 12, 2007


    - Jack has decided that he wants to wear underwear. We'll see how this plays out.

    - I got my Illinois driver's license finally, so I guess this is all official (as if getting a job and buying a house didn't make it so). The picture is surprisingly good. And going to the DMV was not a ridiculous pain in the ass... not much, anyway.

    - I could not be happier about the fall weather we're having. When I went out for my run last night, it was actually a bit cool outside. Delightful!

    - Plus, bonus, Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks. How I love the PSL!

    - The boys and I are leaving in a little over a week for Disney World. I am really excited.

    - All this talk of Pumpkin Spice Lattes means it might be time for a trip to 'Bucks.

    Friday, September 07, 2007


    So, it turns out that in addition to a general iron deficiency, my B12 levels are also pretty low. I swear to Yoda, once all of this is worked out, I am going to be such a superhero.

    In the meantime, I am taking iron supplements, but for the B12, I have to get shots! It's once a week for a month, then once a month, probably for the rest of my life. It's a good thing the zillions of blood tests I had to take when I was pregnant have gotten rid of my fear of needles.

    Instead of being scared of the frequent shots, my first reaction was to wonder about the logistics of it all. The easiest thing to do would be for me to go Monday or Tuesday morning before work, since Steve takes Jack to my mom's house those days. But no luck - that doesn't work for the doctor's office. No problem, I reasoned - I'll just get their first morning appointment, bring Jack with me, and take him to school afterwards.

    It's a real sign of how much easier life is at Stately Wasser Manor that I'd even consider taking Jack to a doctor's appointment with me. He is growing up and is a lot easier to corral than he used to be. I also know that he is old enough to understand that Mommy needs to get a shot to stay healthy, just like Elmo did in that book we read. And that it will hurt, but just for a second, and that this time, only Mommy needs to get a shot, not Jack. I don't have to worry that he will freak out, cry, try to escape, or have a tantrum in the middle of the waiting room. Yeah, it might happen, but it's unlikely, and I can probably talk him down from the ledge.

    This morning was our first trip to the doctor's office. Jack and I talked all about it, and he seemed awfully proud of his role of helping Mommy be brave. When we arrived, I snuck Linda, the nurse, a Buzz Lightyear sticker to give Jack when it was all over. It was pretty obvious that they don't have any pediatric patients in the practice, since she needed a second to figure out what I was asking.

    The whole thing took about two minutes and just could not have gone more smoothly. Jack was not one bit bothered or worried by my getting a shot - and neither was I. He was pleased to see that Linda gave me a Band-Aid, but thrilled with his sticker.

    All the way to school, he chattered happily about how the doctor gave him a sticker for being brave. He then immediately showed his bounty to his friend Emma.

    My little guy is growing up, and in so many ways, it's a good thing. I can feel confident that taking him with me somewhere unusual is not a total act of bravery, I know just how to take care of him, and I know that he can be brave, too.

    Friday, August 31, 2007


    Hey, Internet!

    On Sunday, give a great big cheeer for Sandy, who will be running her very first half marathon in Virginia Beach.

    Sandy is one of my partners in crime at RNO, and a few months ago, one of her friends somehow convinced her to run a half marathon with her. Sandy had never been a runner before, but she decided to give it a shot. She's been working hard, and now her big day is coming.

    I think it's incredibly cool that she went from blogging about how she was able to complete most of her run that day with only a few breaks to walk and is now ready to go a 13.1 mile race.

    So, good luck, Sandy! I will be cheering for you in spirit!

    The Color Game

    Jack and I were in the car this morning when this went down...

    Jack: I know! Let's play The Color Game!
    Me: Okay, sounds good. What color should we do first.
    Jack (looking pointedly at Roary): NOT orange.
    Me: How about blue?
    Jack: No, my want to do yellow.
    Me: Okay, what's something that's yellow?
    Jack: Shrek candy!
    Me: Hey, yeah! There's yellow Shrek candy. Good one, Jack.
    Roary: Shrek candy!
    Me: Can you think of anything else that's yellow, Jack?
    Jack: No, Mommy. I did my job. It not my turn anymore. You do your job.

    Tuesday, August 28, 2007

    How *you* doin?

    One of the things about Jack that makes me most proud is that he is a very outgoing little guy. Jack pretty much assumes that everyone around him is friendly and approachable. He is not afraid to march his little diapered (or Pull Up'ed, I guess) butt right over to them to say hello.

    The challenge is the opening line. Jack's favorite way to kick off a conversation right now is to say, "I have a new house." If that seems to generate some interest, Jack will then tell them that he has a big boy bed and that it has Elmo on it. He might then let them know that, "Him a tiger. Him name Roary."

    Sometimes, he begins by seeking common ground. Jack saw a man the other day whose arms were covered by tattoos. Jack excitedly pointed to the Mickey Mouse stamp on his hand (which he got after tumbling class) and said, "My got it stamp, too! You got lots of stamps!" Luckily, the guy seemed to find it funny.

    With other kids, Jack often just asks for their name. It is pretty much a given in Jack's mind that they will want to play with him. Last week at the Family Museum, he tried a different tactic. Jack was, at the time, completely obsessed with The Incredibles. He was wearing a vest that he'd decided was a cape, so he was Syndrome for a change instead of his usual pick of Mr. Incredible. Jack kept saying, "My Syndrome! My bad guy! My got cape!" all in his gruff little "bad guy" voice. The girl tried her best to ignore him. I pointed out that maybe she doesn't like to play Incredibles (also, maybe isn't into bad boys yet), and perhaps would prefer a she's Cinderella, you're the mean kitty cat kind of scenario. Finally, he gave up on being Syndrome and just told her his name.

    The best, though, was when he was playing with a little girl at the zoo. He went so far as to also chat up her mom. I saw him pointing to Steve and me and saying, "That my mommydaddy. Her name Betsy, Him name Steve."

    Monday, August 27, 2007

    Running Report

    Remember two weeks ago when the half marathon kicked my ass?

    Well yesterday, I ran 15 miles, and I rocked it out!

    My plan was to run a six mile loop to and from my house, grab some water and pee if necessary, then do another six mile loop, water/pee break again, then three. I felt so strong after loop two that I opted to just keep going and finish out the fifteen. At several points when the Nike+ lady told me how far I'd gone, I just felt giddy. I knew I could keep going, and I knew I'd finish strong.

    I then got home, guzzled some Gatorade, and took an ice bath. My friend Cindy says that I must have "brass ovaries" to even consider an ice bath, and I have to say, the first time was quite the leap of faith. But yesterday, I was actually looking forward to it. I even thought it felt good. I didn't even need my post-run nap! Instead, I took Jack to Starbucks and the pet store.

    I feel amazing.

    In other news, I had a check-up last Thursday. The doctor immediately asked if I feel tired often or if I am having trouble with my endurance levels. No, I told him, and added that I'm running a marathon in a few months.

    He was very surprised, because my blood tests indicate that I'm anemic! He told me to take some iron supplements, which I started today. I suspect that once that extra iron is coarsing through my veins, I will be a superhero.

    Like maybe Iron Man?

    Wednesday, August 22, 2007

    Boogie Nights Situation

    This scene from Boogie Nights makes me incredibly tense. The drug deal is going horribly bad, Alfred Molina is batshit crazy, and that kid keeps making firecrackers go off. When I watch it, I want to knaw all of my fingernails off, because you just know that any second, something is going to go wrong, wrong, wrong.

    The scene has inspired us to coin the phrase Boogie Nights Situation at Stately Wasser Manor. There are times when Jack is just the wrong combination of tired/overstimulated/hungry/randomly pissy that we just know that we are seconds away from something bad. Any second, Jack is going to rear back with a kickass tantrum, or he's going to hit me, or he's going to break something, or he's simply going to wack the hell out of his head on a sharp corner.

    Sometimes, we can prevent disaster, but other times, we're just waiting out the clock, hoping that the scene will not end too badly.

    Tuesday, August 21, 2007

    Dios mio!

    Can I tell you a secret, Internet?

    Dora The Explorer is kind of growing on me.

    The pace of the show is still excruciatingly slow. "Who do we ask for help when we don't know which way to go?" For the love of Yoda, Dora, it's the map, just like it is in every single episode. The loooong pauses are undoubtedly great if you're a preschooler, but if you're not, they are painful.

    And sure, Boots is cool, but what about her creepy squirrel friend Tico, he of the multicolored vest and flying/floating/rocket ship car?

    I'd hate to meet that dude in a jungle.

    But Jack loves the show so much that I have to admit, his enthusiasm is contagious. I love hearing him answering Dora, telling her, "Swiper right there, Dora! No more swiping!" He also pays very close attention to the show and can tell you all about it. The stories as told by Jack are always more amusing.

    "Mommy, Boots thought he saw bear, but Isa was being bear! That funny! Dora and Boots thought the bear was in the cave, but him no was in the cave. Bear was in the grass!"

    At the end of the show, when Dora asks which part of the adventure you liked best, I always want to tell her that my favorite part was watching Jack.

    I know that after a painfully long pause, she'd nod sagely and say, "I liked that part, too."

    Monday, August 13, 2007

    Extreme Cuteness

    Steve: Achoo! Oh, excuse me.
    Jack: No, Daddy. Excuse me is for burps. I say "bless you" for sneeze. Bless you, Daddy.


    Yesterday was my longest "long run" yet. Granted, I'll be able to repeat this sentence pretty much every Monday until my marathon, but it's still satisfying to say it.

    My goal was to run 13 miles, but I figured I might as well make it 13.1 and call it a half-marathon, because that sounds so much more kickass.

    Sadly, it ended up kicking my ass.

    For starters, I got a lousy night's sleep on Saturday. For whatever reason, I woke up at 4:00 and was wide awake. I didn't get as early of a start as I would have liked because once I finally did fall asleep, I was dead to the world until Jack woke me up. And when Jack woke me up, Steve was then dead to the world for another hour. Once I finally got going, it was 9:00 and blazing ass hot, not to mention swampy humid. I could not catch a breeze to save my life, even though I stayed as close to the river as possible in hopes that it'd be a bit cooler.

    The heat made what would have been a challenging run an absolute slog. I had to make all kinds of bargains with myself - if I gutted it out and didn't take another walking/water break for a couple more miles, I could walk up the killer steep hill at mile 10, for example. And if I needed to slow my pace? Hey, no problem.

    Even still, by the time I got to the last mile, I was hurting. I have a mantra that I say in my head to encourage me: I am strong. I am tough. I can do this. I am a marathoner. I went from saying it in my head to muttering it out loud. Even that wasn't enough, so I spent much of that final mile saying, "Come on already. It's just one stupid mile, and you'll be done soon. Suck it up and keep going. Don't be such a fucking wimp."

    Finally, it was over. Instead of feeling strong and triumphant, I was absolutely exhausted. I decided to cut through the grocery store on my way home to soak up a little air conditioning (which was heaven).

    On my way in, a man stopped me. "Hey," he said, "I saw you running all the way in downtown Rock Island. Did you run all that way?" I told him yes, and then some. "Damn, girl! That's some running!"

    With that, my mindset completely changed. Yeah, it was tough, and no, there was nothing pretty about that run. It was really hard - and you know what? I did it.

    The Non-Runner's Guide to Marathons refers to "running angels." They are people who come along at just the right minute to somehow save you with a gel, a drink of water, or just a few words of encouragement. That man was my very first running angel.

    I headed back home to survey the damages. My outfit was completely soaked in sweat. I downed two huge bottles of Gatorade in about 30 seconds. Then I took an ice bath. If you're not crazy enough to run 13.1 miles in ridiculous heat and humidity, then surely you're not crazy enough to be familiar with an ice bath, so here's the deal. You fill your tub with freezing cold water deep enough to cover your legs and stay in it for as long as you can. The cold water causes your blood vessels to tighten and drains the blood out of your legs. The new blood then sends more oxygen to your muscles and aids in your recovery.

    It was painful, yet awesome.

    I also discovered that I had sunburn on my face and shoulders and some chafing on my chest from my shirt. And that taking a post-run nap is even better if Jack joins me.

    Tuesday, August 07, 2007

    What Do I Know?

    Sunday night, I was chatting with Steve and said, "You know what? Screw potty training for the time being." After all, we're going to Disney World in a little over a month, and it's not like Jack's going to figure it all out before then. We might as well just forget about the whole thing until after we get back. It was agreed, and it was a sound policy.

    Then, I picked Jack up from my mom's house last night. Little man was lounging around in his t-shirt and a pair of underwear. My mom reported that he was interested in using the potty, did a fantastic job, and insisted on wearing his new (and awesome) Spider-Man underwear like a big boy.

    So, yeah - what do I know?

    On the way home, I told Jack how proud of him I was. I asked him if he wanted to go to Target after dinner to buy more big boy underwear, and he was all over that idea. I told him I'd get him whatever kind he wanted, and I don't think I'd even finished the sentence when he requested Thomas. Upon further thought, he decided he'd also like Elmo. And at the store, he put a pack of Cinderella underwear in the cart, which I removed when he wasn't looking. I'm a liberal mom, but I draw the line at cross dressing.

    Is he really interested? Who knows. But in case he is, we are stocked up on Thomas and Elmo underwear - and carpet cleaner.

    Friday, August 03, 2007

    The Hills Are Alive

    Last weekend, Steve, my brother, and I ran the Bix 7. The Bix is a long-standing Quad City tradition: a seven mile road race that attracts elite runners from around the world, as well as apparently everyone who lives anywhere remotely nearby who has the faintest interest in running. This was my third Bix, and now that I live here again, I can't imagine missing one.

    The race is, in short, a blast. The course is really difficult. Not only is the distance tough (though decreasingly so for me, as my training miles have gone up), but the course itself is really challenging. The race starts almost immediately with a run up a very steep hill that goes on for about half a mile. And there are yet more hills, some rolling, and others that aren't very steep, but are long - the kind that kind of sneaks up on you.

    It turns out that running hills is a really good idea for me. At the pre-race expo, I picked up some information about the marathon in Des Moines that I'm training for. There are hills at miles 3 and 7, and the literature advises, "If you haven't already incorporated hills into your training program, please do so now."

    Message received!

    Luckily, I live in a really hilly area. If I'm running more than three miles, it actually takes some doing to avoid hills completely. So hey, why not be prepared? I have a three-mile course that includes a really steep hill at around the midpoint, so that will be the run that I begin my week with every week from now on. And I'll definitely make sure my long runs are not flat and easy.

    Thanks to four years of high school cross country, I am no stranger to running hills. They're definitely challenging, but the key to tackling them successfully is the mental game. The book The Non-Marathoner's Guide to Running suggests that you embrace the hills. The book advises that you say, "Hello, hill. Come run with me."

    I take a slightly different tactic. When I hit a hill, I'm more likely to say, "Hill? I'm not scared of you, bitch. You're not that tough. I'm much stronger than you are, and I am almost done. You are a tiny part of this workout for me." And before you know it, I'm at the top, feeling triumphant.

    Oh, and by the way, it wasn't just us grown-ups who ran the Bix. Jack was able to compete in the Junior Bix, a grueling 70 yard dash. Once he convinced me that he would literally die if he had to wear his race number, he was all smiles, running down the street, holding my hand, and taunting his fellow two-year olds with a "Neener, neener, neener!"

    Thursday, August 02, 2007

    Get The Lead Out

    Fisher Price announced yesterday that they are recalling more than one million toys because they may contain lead-based paint. The toys in question are all Sesame Street, Diego, and Dora toys - pretty much Jack's favorite stuff. I just reviewed the LONG list of stuff, and it's like looking into Jack's toy box, he has so much of it. Luckily for me, the recall only affects toys sold after May 1, 2007, and all of Jack's are older than that. But that's honestly just luck.

    This story has me in fits of Protective Mama Bear Rage. Lead paint? Are you fucking kidding me? A few months ago, there was a safety recall on a toy chair that Jack had. That was a case that I'm not upset about. They tested the toy, but some kid got creative and found a way to hurt himself with it. Grownups can test things like crazy and still not have the ingenuity of a toddler bent on destruction. That's understandable. But lead paint is pretty damned easy to avoid- and to test for. Things like this are completely avoidable and simply should not happen.

    Tuesday, July 31, 2007

    Lesson Learned

    Now that Jack is sleeping in his Medium Boy Bed, one of the little joys of my day is that he likes to come wake me up. I can always hear him coming. First, there's a light thump as he climbs out of bed. Then, I can hear him scuttering over to turn off his sound machine. There's a creak as he slowly opens his door, then closes it behind him. More little footsteps as he opens our door, then pads over to me. He rests his little hand on my arm and whispers, "Wake up, Mommy!"

    It's really nice.

    It is, however, less nice when it happens too early in the morning. In those cases, Steve and I just haul Jack into our bed to sleep between us. It never really works that well. He likes to position himself perpendicular to the two of us, forming a giant letter H. Or he'll kick us in the backs repeatedly. Or somehow get his feet tangled in my hair. Not ideal sleeping conditions by any stretch of the imagination, but still cuddly.

    This morning, he arrived at the hideous hour of 5:00. He announced that he needed a binky, so I staggered into his room to get one (should really add one to the bedside table). Then, he told me that he needed Roary. Ugh, could he not have asked for Roary AND the binky at the same time? I brought him Roary, then tried unsuccessfully to go to sleep.

    I finally told Jack that if he couldn't lie down, I'd take him back to his room. Jack, believe it or not, seemed into the idea. So, I took him to his room, and he stayed there for a whopping half hour.

    He showed up again, and I took him by the hand, walked him back to his room, tucked him in, and proceeded to curl up next to him on his tiny little bed.

    After a few minutes, he put his little hand on my arm and said, "Mommy, go to sleep." I told him that's what I was going to do, right there next to him. Jack clarified. "Mommy, go to sleep in mommydaddy bed."

    Well, he didn't have to tell me twice. I went right back to mommydaddy bed and didn't hear from him again until 7:30.

    Steve and I agreed that from now on, we'll try to put him back in his own bed. With Roary and plentiful binkies.

    Friday, July 27, 2007

    People Are Boobs

    This is a picture of Senator Hillary Clinton on the Senate floor.

    Washington Post writer Robin Givhan wrote a ridiculously puritanical article about it, saying that she was startled to see the "small acknoledgment of sexuality and feminity" from Senator Clinton. She talks about the history of Hillary's public appearance, noting that she rarely wears anything feminine in public and that when running for the Senate initially, she opted for a uniform of flattering, but sexless black pantsuits.

    Givhan's article suggests that the fact that Senator Clinton is starting to show a more feminine sense of style indicates that she is becoming more confident. That she's not only intelligent and experienced, but that she also has a womanly side. I think that's true. I believe that Hillary is increasingly coming into her own, not just as Bill Clinton's wife, but as a force to be reckoned with all her own.

    Unfortunately, Givhan also says, "To display cleavage in a setting that does not involve cocktails and hors d'oeuvres is a provocation."

    Well, break out the red paint, because it's time to put a great big A on Hillary's chest. Calling Senator Clinton's outfit "a provocation" is absolutely absurd. She looks completely professional and businesslike. You have to squint to see the faintest hint of boob in that outfit. It's not like she's dressed like Amanda Woodward, for Yoda's sake.

    I'd like to think that we, as a country, are evolved enough to elect a woman as president (whether it's Senator Clinton or someone else), but this makes me sadly wonder if it's true.

    At least it's not infuriating as the conversations I've overheard about what Bill Clinton's title will be if his wife is elected President. "What's he going to be, First Gentleman," is bandied about with a guffaw as if that were the most ridiculous thing ever suggested.

    My answer? I don't know; we'll work it out. Any man who is smart enough to marry our first female president ought to be smart enough to come up with an appropriate title, whether it's First Gentleman or something else. Martha Washington didn't have a template to follow, and she did all right. Let's not distract ourselves with stupid details like this.

    Monday, July 23, 2007

    The Age of Discovery

    Yesterday, as Steve was changing Jack's diaper, he attempted to distract him with a little dance. The dance was goofy and included Steve hiking up his shirt to expose his belly (sorry, baby - abs)... and more.

    Jack: Daddy, what's that?
    Steve: Um, those are my nipples.
    Jack: Want those off there.
    Steve: I can't take them off. They're part of my body.
    Jack: Want those off there.
    Steve: Sorry, buddy - they're part of my body. Look, you have some, too.
    Jack: Where Jack's nipples?
    Steve: See, there they are.
    Jack: Here Jack's nipples!
    Jack: Here Daddy's nipples!
    Jack: Where Mommy's nipples?

    Could it be more obvious that I didn't breast-feed him?