Thursday, May 31, 2007


On the phone last night...

Jack: Hi, Mommy!
Me: Hi, Cub! How are you?
Jack: A little sad.
Me: You're a little sad?
Jack: I miss Mommy.
Me: I'm a little sad, too. I miss you, too, Jack.
Jack: Yeah.
Me: I'll see you in a couple of days, okay?
Jack: Okay, Mommy.

I managed to get through that whole conversation without crying, but it wasn't easy. I'm actually a lot sad, and I miss my Cub more than I can say.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer

Let's get one thing straight right away: I am not a "non-runner." I have been running since I was about nine years old. I earned varsity letters in cross country and track all four years of high school. In fact, at the peak of my training, I was running an average of ten miles. I've run countless road races, and I know how to pace myself, stretch, do interval workouts, use proper running form, and all of that good stuff. I also know about injuries -- which ones I can run through (shin splints, sore muscles, the tail end of a pulled muscle) and which ones I can't (two stress fractrues). I also have really come to realize since Jack was born how important running is to my mental health.

Despite that, I found this book -- The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer -- to be both helpful and inspiring. The book was inspired by a course taught at the University of Northern Iowa simply called Marathon. Class members train for and run a marathon together, and 199/200 of the participants have met their goal and finished the race. That is pretty darned impressive. The authors believe that the secret to their success is not just the physical training, but also the mental training.

Each chapter represents a week of the training program and is divided into three sections -- the physical part of training, the mental part of training, and anecdotes from participants in the class.

The physical stuff is pretty basic, and I'm not following the training program set forth in the book. I'm using Hal Hidgon's program, which is pretty much the same. But the mental aspect was very interesting. The book is full of ways to maintain a positive outlook, so that you have the confidence that you can haul yourself through 26.2 miles, to build mental toughness, to achieve flow (a sort of zen state where it's just you and your feet), and to concentrate so you can focus on the task at hand. The anecdotes from other runners were also interesting. I liked reading in plain language what a first time marathoner's experience was like.

I got this book from the library, and I'll probably check it out and re-read parts of it before the race.

The one comment in the book really rang true for me. If you're going to run a marathon, you need to make time for training. You can make time for training if you make yourself a priority as much as everything else in your life. It's easy for me to take care of other people, but it's more of a challenge for me to make time to take care of myself. Through running, I am able to take time every day that is 100% for me.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Saturday morning, Steve, Princess Fiona, and I loaded into the car for the six hour drive to visit my stepmom. Along the way, something comepletely miraculous happened: Jack entertained himself the entire time.

I know. I can't believe it either.

Usually, whoever's not driving has to sit in the backseat and provide all kinds of in-flight entertainment, from reading books to singing songs to performing with puppets. But this time, Jack contentedly blasted imaginary bad guys with his lightsaber, "read" books, and jammed along with my awesome Toddler Mix on the iPod. We stopped for lunch and Jack said, "Jack no go Donald's. Jack go Mawmaw's house." I promised him we'd go to Mawmaw's house after lunch, and that Donald's would have Shrek toys to look at, so he decided it'd be okay to take a break. Also, there was a Starbuck's next to the 'Donald's, so it was clearly an important place for us to stop.

After lunch, Steve decided he was too tired to drive or to hang out with Jack, so we put on the Shrek DVD for him. Towards the end, Jack wanted to also chat with us. Specifically, he wanted to have a fanboy conversation about "battle-fights." I swear, it could not be more obvious that he is our kid. We debated who would win in a battle-fight - Yoda or Shrek (Yoda, duh), Princess Fiona or Darth Vader (Jack and I are going to have to agree to disagree on that one), Spider-Man or Elmo, and so on.

As much as it occasionally pains me that he is growing up, I really like that he is becoming more and more of a real person, not just a little blob of need.

Friday, May 25, 2007


Jack is losing manliness points left and right these days, and it's cracking me up. The other day, we were driving, and from the backseat, I heard this.

Jack: Mommy, you Shrek. Hi, Shrek!
Me: Hi! Who are you. Are you Donkey?
Jack: No. Roary Donkey.
Roary: (in lower voice than usual) Hi, Shrek!
Me: Hi, Donkey! Donkey, who is Jack?
Jack: (in incredibly high voice) I'm Princess Fiona! Hi, Shrek!
Me: Hi, Princess Fiona!
Jack: Hi, Shrek!
(and repeat)

Jack absolutely loves being Princess Fiona, and has since assigned Steve to be Princess Fiona's Daddy, the king. My mom is Dragon (who Jack calls Dragonfly, since she can fly), and Doug is Puss In Boots. Why he opted to be the princess and let me be Shrek is a mystery to me, but whatever; it's funny.

The manliness continues, though. Yesterday, Steve took Jack to get a haircut. We take him to a place called Cookie Cutters because you can sit in a toy car, fire truck, or whatever and watch cartoons while they cut your hair. And then you get a balloon, so Jack loves the place. The stylist asked Jack if he wanted to watch Cars or Dora. She guessed he'd pick Cars, since you not only get to watch the movie, but also sit in McQueen himself. But nope, Jack headed right over to the Dora station, complete with baby blue Barbie car. All Steve could do was laugh.

In other news, the boys and I are going on a road trip this weekend to visit my stepmom, Vickie. It's a six hour drive, so we stocked up on car activities for Jack (including Dora stickers), and I made a completely awesome playlist for Jack on my iPod. It consists of songs that he will like but that don't make me want to stab my ears with a fork. There's a lot of Laurie Berkner and Justin Roberts, some relatively non-offensive Wiggles, and lots of stuff from movie soundtracks. Lion King. Little Mermaid. Toy Story.

The amusing side effect of that is that this morning, when I was on my SEVEN MILE RUN, the song that came on as I was heading down the home stretch was none other than "We Did It!" as sung by Ms. Dora The Explorer and Boots. I actually found myself picking up the pace as Dora and Boots sang about their triumph in helping some puppies.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Completely Obnoxious

I've officially started my training program to run the Quad Cities Marathon on September 23. I finished Week 1 and am heading right into the second week. And you know what? It's so awesome that I fear I am going to become completely obnoxious about it.

I have always wanted to run a marathon, and by Yoda, I am going to do it this year. I feel really strong from all of the running, and I'm confident that the increased miles in the weeks ahead will make me feel even stronger. And today, I opted to get up an hour early and run, which has me feeling positive and energized.

I do believe that for me to meet my goal (which is simply to finish) I need to be at least a little bit obnoxious. I have to be positive and confident that I can do this very difficult thing. I have to be dedicated and focused, to make sure I get in all of my training runs and take care of myself to avoid injury. And I have to be excited about the whole thing.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Pop Culture Roundup

We've got all kinds of good news in the world of fluffy pop culture, people.

The nightmare is over! Sensitive and intelligent singer-songwritter John Mayer and orange big boobied bubblehead Jessica Simpson have broken up! Hoo-ray. Now let's hope that the two of them switch to someone of roughly equal intelligence. Such as Natalie Portman or Kate Winslett for John, and perhaps a trained chimp for Jessica.

Melinda Doolittle got the boot on American Idol.

Yes, she's a good singer. And I'm sure she's a lovely person. But you know what? I cannot, for the life of me, imagine buying a Melinda Doolittle CD or going to one of her concerts. The woman has a huge charisma deficit, and that's something, the x-factor, as Simon puts it, that changes you from being a really good singer to being a star. Jordin and Blake both have starpower. I can defintely see myself buying a Blake Lewis CD, and if Jordin goes with fun, pop music (rather than her standing around in an evening gown singing ballads), I'd probably download some of her stuff to listen to. But Melinda? Nice, but boring.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Oh, okay.

Last night, we had yet another fascinating conversation at Temporary Wasser Manor. Jack and I were watching American Idol (gigantic shocker) when this went down.

Jack: Jack want it boo-abies.
Me: What?
Jack: Jack want it boobies.
Me: ...
Jack: Boobies!
Me: Um, okay, buddy.
Jack: (pointing to his plate) Jack want more boobies.
Me: Oh, are you saying blueberries?
Jack: Yes!
Me: Oh, okay, then.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I'll Never Join You!

Last night, I was giving Jack a bath, and he apparently decided it was time to ramp up the cuteness. Jack has a set of drums that he can play in the bathtub, and he grabbed one of the sticks.

Jack: That ite-sader. Ho, hee, ho, hee!
Me: Are you saying lightsaber?
Jack: Yes!
Me: Are you Darth Vader?
Jack: Yes, Luke. Here. Here Mommy’s ite-sader.
Me: I get to be Luke?
Jack: Yes, Luke. Ho, hee, ho hee!

Is that not the most awesome thing ever? I was psyched that I got to be Luke. Usually when we do pretend stuff like that, it’s to play Dora the Explorer, and I always get stuck being lame-ass Dora. Jack is Boots, Daddy is Swiper, and Mommy is stuck being Dora and saying "Vamanos!" all the time. But Luke Skywalker, that's genuinely cool.

Also funny, Jack would drop his lightsaber (which made me think, “Ooh, just like Return of the Jedi”), and I’d hand it to him. Jack would say, “Thanks, Luke!” and I’d say, “You’re welcome, Darth Vader.” Those are not words I ever thought I’d say.

Never Mind

Remember not so long ago when Jack initiated potty training and was doing an awesome job of it?

Well, for no apparent reason, he decided that he didn't like it any more after all. He quit asking to go, and if we suggested it? Well, there's something exceptionally pathetic about a kid crying, "Noo! No pee-pee potty!"

Steve got the brunt of it, since he's home with Jack all day. There is absolutely nothing pleasant about having Jack scream and cry every time you suggest he relieve himself in an appropriate way. No offers of stickers, special books, or even the knowledge that Buzz Lightyear underwear exists could sway him.

So you know what? We quit. Jack and I talked it over, and I told him that if he preferred to use diapers, that was okay. When he's ready to use the big boy potty, he should let us know. Until then, we'll just go with the diapers.

I have no idea what triggered this change, and frankly I don't think it matters much. Other than this, he's doing just fine. No new behavior problems or anything like that. And he's still really little. It's not like he won't figure out what to do eventually. I think he just wasn't quite ready to make the leap. But when he does, that Buzz Lightyear underwear is all his.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Mother's Day

Steve and Jack were extremely good to me on Mother's Day. Jack made me a butterfly and a tissue paper flower at the Family Museum, which thrilled me. The boys also gave me a Pooh mug, some candles (all selected by Jack), and a really pretty outfit (selected by Steve, luckily, or it would have just been an Elmo t-shirt). I got to spend a lot of time just hanging out with my little guy, reading books and playing, then we went out for dinner, where Jack was a semi-good boy.

It is wonderful to be pampered and doted on for Mother's Day, but it also made me think about how really lucky I am to be Jack's mom. I love the way he reaches his little hand up to hold mine, squeezing my fingers. His saying, "BIG HUG!" The way he absentmindely strokes my arms when he's sitting on my lap. His bringing me chubby fistfuls of flowers. And that occasionally, out of nowhere, he says, "Mommy pretty," and makes me feel like I really, really am.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Super Grover, Ready for Action

The boys and I enjoy the theater, as demonstrated last night by our trip to the Adler Theater to see the latest rendition of Sesame Street Live -- Super Grover, Ready for Action.

Jack, is, of course, a SSL veteran, having already attended "Everyone Makes Music" at the Patriot Center in Fairfax. We told him that we were going to go see Elmo sing and dance on the stage, and he was totally psyched. He patiently waited for us to dress him in an Elmo-Cookie Monster shirt, grabbed Roary, said goodbye to Buzz Lightyear and Woody, and was, like Super Grover, ready for action.

The whole way there, Jack talked to Roary and to the plastic snakes in the car about how he was going to go see Elmo. And Big Bird! And Cookie Monster! And Zoe!

He was not at all impatient waiting for the show to start, happily dancing to the background music, looking at the other kids, and playing with Roary.

When the show started, Jack happily clapped and yelled, "Yay!" as all of his favorite characters took the stage. They sang several classic Sesame Street songs (including "I Don't Want to Live on the Moon," which is one of my favorites), and Jack bopped along.

Also, this might sound nuts, but I thought that this show was superior to "Everyone Makes Music." Better story, better characterization, better use of Muppets.

All the way home, Jack talked excitedly about his favorite parts of the show. He liked it when Cookie Monster ate all of the colors (ie fruit and vegetables) and thought he was funny. He loved it when Oscar took over Elmo's World and Elmo had to save it (so did I). But for whatever reason, the scene when Grover threw his cape in the trash and Oscar threw it back out at him really stuck with Jack. I know this because Jack mentioned it about 47,000 times on the drive home.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Kind of Good

When I got home from work last night, Jack had a brand new bag to be obsessed with. And it was a really good one -- from the Disney Store, and featuring his new favorites Buzz and Woody from Toy Story. As usual, Jack was engaged in putting stuff in the bag and dumping it out again. And repeat. Over. And over. And over.

As you can imagine, it's mind-numbing.

So, I decided to mix it up. I told Jack that we were playing a game. I then challenged him to find certain things to go in the bag by my descriptions. Someone who's wearing a hat? Woody! Somebody who is friends with Bert? Ernie! Someone who is the same color as Jack's shirt? That one was harder, but he got it -- Elmo!

Jack thought our new game was the coolest thing ever. Several times when he figured out my "clues," he'd break out the full on "I Did It!" Dora The Explorer Dance Of Triumph. For my part, I was considerably less bored and was able to feel like he was learning from what he was doing.

When Steve got home and I told him this story, he said, "Huh. You were kind of a good mom today, weren't you?"

I opted not to kick his ass because I'm hoping for good Mother's Day presents.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Stuff I Love

It's Friday afternoon, and I'm in a good mood. But at the same time, not in the mood to write something really long and substantial. So, I think now is a good time to write a quick list of Stuff I Love right now.

1. The way Jack pronounces the word "orange." It comes out more like "orgish," and it's a word that comes up pretty often. Roary, after all, is orgish, so he loves all things that color.

2. Neutrogena hair products. I have no idea why, but I was recently afflicted with some crankling static hair. Isn't that supposed to happen in the winter? Well, I looked on my Internet Machine to see what I could do to fix it, and got the recommendation to switch to a clarifying shampoo and a mega-conditioning conditioner. Bought Neutrogena, and boom - problem solved. It smells good and clean, too.

3. The Nike + for in iPod. I am about to crank up the running in order to train for a marathon, so i finally got around to hooking up the Nike + that my brother gave me for Christmas. Yes, the Christmas that takes place in December. Anyway, it's the coolest toy ever, and allows me to track my pace, miles, time spent running, and uploads all of it to the nifty Nike website. I can also hold down the center button to listen to a "Power Song" when I need an extra boost. Mine right now is "All These Things That I've Done" by The Killers, and I don't anticipate getting sick of it any time soon.

4. The Target here has a Starbucks in it. How hot is that?

5. Jack's "mommy" song. Every once in a while, out of nowhere, Jack sings the word "Mommy" over and over again to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." It is so adorable, almost as adorable as the word "orgish."

6. Any kids' books by Mo Willems. They have great typography, funny but simple illustrations, and best of all, are written in such a way that it's easy to read them out loud and have them be funny. I don't get tired of reading them over and over again, which is of course a very good thing.

7. The proliferation of small, independently owned coffee shops in the area. Sure, Target with Starbucks in it is pretty much heaven on earth, but I love being able to support local businesses. There is a place I like to go to on my way to work. Along with my coffee, they give me a napkin and a mint so I can enjoy my coffee like a gentleman. Isn't that lovely?

8. The unexpected response I got to my celebrity gossip post. Apparently several of you are just as intrigued by it as I am. I'll have to post more musings as I have them.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Celebrity Gossip

My friend K has helped me to accept the guilty pleasure that is celebrity gossip. Technically, I know that I have no business spending any of my time pondering the train wrecks that are Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan. Or wondering if Sarah Michelle Gellar is pregnant. Or hoping that Katie Holmes manages to break free from her captors. They aren't people that I know, so it's none of my concern what they do with their lives, and maybe SMG just wore a slightly loose top one day, that doesn't exactly make her pregnant.

And yet, I find it good fun to read about the latest exploits of Brad, Angelina, and their gorgeous children, or to make jokes about Alec Baldwin's parenting skills, or to marvel at the freakishly skinny shoulder blades of Posh Spice Beckham.

Anyway, I've lately been thinking about celebrity relationships, and I'll tell you, some of them seem kind of fake to me. Like these people weren't all so much in love than they were looking for publicity. Their relationships seem almost political. Consider who some of them have dated.

Ben Affleck dated Gwyneth Paltrow back in the day. Does she have anything at all in common with Ben's later girlfriends (and wife) Jennifer Lopez or Jennifer Garner? Can you imagine those three women having anything in common?

Or take Jennifer Lopez herself. She dated PuffyDaddyDiddy, then Ben, then Skeletor/Marc Anthony. Really? Those three guys seem completely different. Would they all really be interested in the same woman, other than for her hotness?

It's funny how they loop together, too. Gwyneth Paltrow, who seems incompatible with Ben Affleck seems equally incompatible with Brad Pitt. And how did the guy who dated her also wind up with Jennifer Aniston and then Angelina Jolie?

They're like arranged marriages, I think?

Finally, I am upset to an unreasonable degree about the fact that John Mayer is dating Jessica Simpson. John Mayer is a talented singer-songwriter. He's also really funny and has written great stuff for Esquire. Why oh why is he with an empty-headed girl with big boobs?

Mama Bear

Last night, Steve and I took Jack to McManus Park. This park has been one of our best discoveries since we moved, because it is freaking awesome. It's absolutely huge, with all kinds of really fun playground equipment, all on top of a spongey surface (as opposed to the ever-popular mulch). The play structure is so big that we can play hide and seek on it.

Jack's favorite thing to do is to boldly climb all the way to the top of the very tallest twisty slide. Roary will wait for him about halfway down, and they'll slide down together. The slide is really high up, probably at least 15 feet, so it takes Jack a while to climb up there. Last night, he was working his way up the steps when two bigger kids (and by bigger I mean a maximum age of six) shoved past him to go down the slide. One of them practically stepped on him in his hurry to get to the slide.

Well let me tell you, my protective Mama Bear instincts came out in full force.

"HEY!" I yelled, "Watch it. He's littler than you."

To their credit, they were pretty nice kids. Both of them apologized and seemed truly sincere about it.

I was absolutely furious. Never have I wanted more to knock out a little kid than I did in that moment. I don't care if you're only six. You mess with my cub, you mess with me.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I Did It!

My mom has recently invented a new "chore" for Jack to do. There are eleventy zillion rocks in her garden area, and Jack's job is to wash them. We have stressed to him that it's very important to get them nice and clean, and it's a task that he takes very seriously.

Last night, I helped him fill his plastic wheelbarrow (an excellent score at a yard sale for a mere $1 on the part of Yard Sale Master Mom) with water and handed him a toothbrush so that he could really get the rocks nice and clean.

Jack was quickly engrossed in the job, so Mom and I were talking and only paying passing attention to him. Next thing you know, Jack gave a triumphant "I did it!"

What'd he do? He figured out how to operate the hose himself, a skill that he immediately demostrated by spraying his grandma, the side of the house, and Roary. We will definitely regret letting him get his little paws on the hose.

In other news, remember how Roary's Mommy-Daddy can be found at the zoo, in the pages of many books, and on TV? Well, Roary's mother also apparently lives in the soap dispenser on our bathroom sink. Every time Jack washes his hands, Roary has to spend some time talking to his mommy. Steve is about ready to kill me for buying that soap.