Monday, December 22, 2008

Snow!

Last week it snowed a little bit and we had fun outside. It was cold enough for Jack to wear a snowsuit and the whole thing was novel and delightful.







Then on Thursday, it snowed for real. The snow is knee deep at our house and dressing up like astronauts to go outside has lost its novelty. On the bright side, we hunkered down at Bridget's house for the weekend with her family. We've also been watching people snowboard down our street. Crazy.


Jack and friends

A couple of weeks ago, Ryan's parents sent us an Elmo doll that is really more of an Elmo robot. Elmo has many routines.. jokes and stories that he tells depending on which part of his body you press. I thought Jack would be frightened by the talking monster but he is completely in love with him.




In other news about Jack's pals, Lily has the cutest clothes. Here are the kids in Lily's faboo winter coat:


Thursday, December 04, 2008

And it's also true that I lost the map

On the way to Guemes, I was listening to Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville. I listened to it a lot in my 20's and haven't listened to it much since. When I listen to her now I wonder who discovered her because I think they had to be brilliant. She doesn't have a great voice but she wrote great songs. Her music was filled with anger, defiance, sadness, craziness and fun.. things that remind me of younger years. Then I listened to her later music and it's really, really boring in comparison. As I read a little about her life I learned the big change that happened between the two CDs was that she had a child. And suddenly, she became .. well.. kind of .. dull. She sounded happier though.

I was thinking about this after a couple of activities I had with friends who have no children. Their lives seem so full of adventure to me.. big trips to faraway places, staying up late.. sleeping in (maybe my standards are a little low for adventure). They know interesting things because they read .. books. There are many differences between the two paths and I don't think one is better than the other. However, my life focus is currently very small .. 33 inches and 25 pounds .. and it feels small.. very rich but small. I am pleased with my decision. I imagine Liz Phair feels the same.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

happy birthday jack!

I cannot believe j is 2. This year seemed more like a month than a year. We had a little party at a local pizza place. Jack received lots of great gifts -- books and learning toys (what a great community of friends we have). He was a little overwhelmed by all the noise and attention. I can't believe this but I actually forgot my camera so I have no pictures. So sad.

But we have many pics of Jack from almost every other day in his life. Hopefully that makes up for my mistake. Since J's bday is so close to thanksgiving, I'll post those pics. We had a great time with friends and you can see Jack enjoyed the dessert as usual.





Then we headed off to Guemes Island where some friends built a very cool cabin overlooking the water. It was so peaceful and quiet. We loved it in spite of the gray weather.






The latest with Jack is that he is starting to talk in complete sentences. This morning he said "Where'd my dad go?" His favorite phrase is "where did my (fill in the blank) go?" He says that almost as much as he says "binky? binky!" or if he is in a room that has a guitar "Tar! Tar!" It is very entertaining until the 50 or 60th time then I am no longer entertained but I admire his tenacity.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Traditions

I attend a parent-child class at my local community college and I love this class. Every week, the parent-educator raises a different topic and we discuss as a group. This week, the topic was traditions. She asked what traditions we remember having as kids and what traditions we have created with our new families. I actually cannot remember one tradition in my family which may be a result of a poor memory of such things rather than an absence of them. Moms from the group had some lovely traditions. One woman's dad traveled a lot. Every year during berry season her mom picked a day he was out of town and took the kids to a local berry farm. They picked as much as they could, then went home and the mom made home-made ice cream. That night, that's what they all ate for dinner.. nothing else. Another family made pizza every Sunday night. Another family let the kids decorate the christmas tree by themselves with ornaments they made.

We have a few traditions.. one of my favorites is our Saturday morning walk. We choose a bakery somewhere in town then go to a nearby park for a walk. Last Saturday after our bakery run, we went to a park near our house. The weather started out crummy but then became another sunny beautiful fall day that we have been having a lot lately. Jack has really been digging the slide lately.. as you can see.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Happy Halloween!

We dressed Jack as John McEnroe for Halloween. Why? Because he has curly hair and throws some mean tantrums. Unfortunately, he would not keep his sweat band on so no one really knew who he was supposed to be.. Here's bridget subtly holding his arms down:



Lately Jack has been asserting his independence (euphemism for freaking out constantly when he doesn't get what he wants even if I don't know what he wants). It has been trying my patience. After dutifully avoiding the books, I needed some help. 'Positive Discipline' has been highly recommended by many people I respect so I consulted. Jack has been demanding to be carried a lot and the book gave some great advice: instead of picking him up, give him a hug. This works. Ryan and I sometimes follow Harvey Karp's advice and get on the floor with him as he throws the tantrums.. sometimes that helps. But I have realized that just like everyone else, Jack has good days and bad. Friday (Halloween) was horrible. We were at a kid-friendly restaurant and maybe J was tired, but he bit me really hard and I wanted to throw him. It was sad. Then this weekend has been great... The weather was amazing.. we spent lots of time outside. Reading the parenting book re-energized my spirit and reminded me that the skills it takes to be a good parent often do not come naturally. Luckily, I continue to enjoy parenting more and more. Jack's vocabulary and motor skills are expanding rapidly and it's a wonderful experience watching him discover his new world.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The walk-about

Jack's favorite activity these days is walking around our neighborhood. The walk has to be his idea and he has to lead the way.. None of our neighbors have gates around their front or back yards so Jack just explores it all. He generally first visits the slide, then the kitty, then the swings (not pictured), then the bigger slide in a different back yard. He also really likes standing under a tree when the leaves are falling on him .. Mom helps make the leaves fall too. We have tried to get a picture of him on his trike but he doesn't really ride it. He just gets on and off.













Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Kurt Vonnegut

Many, many years ago, I read Kurt Vonnegut's autobiography. He wrote about his divorce from his wife after 40 years together. He said their mistake was that each thought they could provide for the other what only a community of 100 people could provide. They thought they could be everything to each other, and inevitably, they failed. This was revelatory at the time and it's the only passage from the book I remember well.

Lately, I have been feeling guilty about spending time away from Jack. Besides work, I have had a few other activities that have required my attention in the evening so there have been a few days when I don't see Jack awake at all. This has been sad. However, I remind myself that I cannot be everything to Jack. I am just his mom and he needs lots of people to love him, not just me.

Jack loves Bridget and Gen. They love him. Every time Jack sees Bridget now, he runs up to her and gives her a big hug. I have a great video of it.. but sadly I am having problems uploading it. It's really cute.


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Inland Empire

We went to Spokane this weekend to visit friends. Eastern washington is just beautiful, and we had a great time. Several of my college friends live there -- they all have kids so it was fun to hang out in all of their very sunny, wide-open, unpopulated spaces. My friend Sarah has twin 4.5 year old boys who have many, many cool toys. Jack fell in love with their guitar and played it constantly.

Mr. Personality

Jack's personality seems to be evolving. I have described him as mellow but now he is much more jovial. He laughs all the time. He also seems like a bit of a ham. When meeting someone new, he likes to show them all of his tricks -- sticking out his tongue, clapping, kissing them, imitating a giraffe ( I have been trying to get that on video for such a long time -- I have hours of video of me following jack saying 'what does the giraffe say?' over and over). He also likes to imitate an elephant but that looks more like he is spitting and gets fewer laughs so he seems to be phasing that out. When meeting new kids, he's a little cautious but he eventually jumps into the action. He doesn't show other kids his tricks -- I imagine it's because they never react the way adults do. Adults have BIG reactions .. they are just delighted with his responsiveness to them. The other new-ish thing with him is that he thinks he is mr. independent. When we go places, he just walks off like he has a meeting or something. I try to give him a little space but I am still amazed at how far he will go without wondering where I am.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Another great monkey shirt

Our friend Erma brought this shirt all the way from Paris so Jack could have another stylin monkey tee. Thanks so much Erma!


Summer Vacay

We spent last week at the oregon coast. Except for the very beginning, we had a great time. We had our second ER visit the night we got there.. in fact, we drove all the way to portland so we could go to a children's hospital. Jack had a high fever and he was having these weird spasms (like full-body spasms) that had kept him up for 24 hours by the time we arrived. I called our own doctor since the spasms became more frequent and stronger. The long story short is that we got great care at the hospital .. the doctor felt that jack was not having seizures but rather myoclonal spasms which were probably a result of the high fever. Sure enough, the next day, after one more horrible night, his fever broke and he has been fine since.

My sister, her boyfriend and my brother joined us for the weekend.. and then a few other sets of friends joined us during the week. We basically just went to the beach and ate good food, returned to the beach, then ate some more. Jack loved the beach. He spent many hours sitting in the sand... usually throwing it.



WHen my family was visiting, we figured out where jack gets his faboo hair -- My bro on the right is the genetic influence, justin on the left is the style influence...



Sadly, I didn't take many pics... Something about vacationing on the beach makes me forget about the future..

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Saturday, July 12, 2008

bye bye to bridget

Yesterday was bridget's last day and it was a really sad day. While I was pleased I held it together at our going away party, i had cried on and off during the week after being in denial about it for a while. It never occurred to me when Bridget started working with us that she would one day leave.. then I realized all of Jack's caregivers will leave one day. Luckily we hired Bridget's cousin Gen to watch the kids so Jack will always know them as we are very close to Bridget's big family.

I started taking a class on Tuesday nights this summer so I get home from work, have 5 minutes with Jack and then I have to leave again. As I was leaving the house I told Bridget that I felt like a really bad mom and bridget responded "some moms smoke crack." That exchange pretty much sums up our relationship. For the last 18.5 months, bridget has reassured me that everything was fine .. perfect in fact. I learned a lot from her about parenting and child development but I have to say it was all of her peaceful reassurance that I will miss the most.

Jack knows something is up because he was pretty clingy with her last week. At the party, he kept wanting her to pick him up and he'd lay his head on her shoulder. He loves her .. we all do. We wish her well but we wish she could have stayed forever.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Outside!

Jack is talking more and more these days. His favorite word is currently OUTSIDE. He loves loves loves to be outside and gets really whiney if he's not outside.. and when you bring him back inside, he gets really mad. Even when he's outside, he repeats the word outside a lot. I think he probably says it 50 times a day.

So this weekend, he got to be outside a lot as he visited his grandma and grandpa on the olympic peninsula while mom and dad went on a 2 day vacation to victoria. Jack had a great time (and so did we!) When we returned we all took a little ride on grandpa's new boat. I learned a boat is not a great place for a toddler as Jack wanted to be outside while in the boat so I spent most of my time restraining him from leaping into the water.



Sunday, June 22, 2008

Pink eye for the little guy

Last weekend we noticed Jack had mucus coming out of his eyes. I had never seen someone with pink eye before but I was pretty sure that was it. It's pretty gross. Compared to everything else he had had this past month, it was no big deal. I remember a few years ago, a friend of mine going through medical school had a professor who explained various illnesses and medical problems using his own kids as examples. My friend commented that between 4 kids most common childhood illnesses and accidents were represented. I thought that family must have had bad luck but now I see how that could be a totally normal experience with 4 kids.. which is why I will never have 4.. that sounds like total insanity to me... in fact, 2 sounds like total insanity.

Since being sick, Jack has not wanted to sleep in his own bed. It's been very rare that he doesn't just go right to sleep but for the past few weeks he has really put up a fight most nights. I rocked him to sleep the other night but as soon as I put him down in his crib, he started crying. When I picked him up, he fell back to sleep but when I started to lay him down in our bed he opened his eye as if to make sure he was in the right place. Sure enough, he slept really well in our bed.

Luckily these past few nights, he has gone back to his normal sleeping pattern.

Now that I have just re-read all this, I feel like this is a perfect example of a story that would have bored me immensely 2 years ago. However, now it's so interesting to me that I feel like I need to record it. Maybe Jack will enjoy it later? Here he is digging story time:

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Summer time!

A few weekends before ER weekend was memorial day and the weather was amazing. We went to lots of local parks to celebrate. This is one of our favorites because of the cool water feature.




Current J monkey health update: all is well. I thank the universe for my health insurance, the world class children's hospital a few miles from my home, and my pals who brought pizza over, kept us company, and made our chaotic weekend seem ok.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The ER

Since working in an ER, I have often said that I would never go to an ER (or take my child to one) unless we were so sick we had to be taken by medics. I would formally like to retract every "never" statement I have ever made as I clearly made those statements when I had no children.

Jack has had a rough few weeks. He got an ear infection in Arizona.. where I unfortunately went to the urgent care that exemplified our stratified health care system.. this place being on the bad side. Then Jack got his mmr/varicella shots last week and I thought he was having a reaction to the shot last week because he was incredibly miserable. Then Friday he started vomiting and today he could barely open his eyes because he was so dehydrated. So we spent the morning at a posh ER (exemplifying the finest $$ can buy) where we got medicine that will hopefully help us keep him hydrated.

I have become very accustomed to sleepless nights and not having the social life or freedom I used to have. Those aspects of having a child don't bother me at all anymore. However, when Jack is sick I am very troubled by how little control I have. I become panicked and very sad when he is suffering. I don't know how to deal with it gracefully yet.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Evolution

Jack has now been walking for about a month. His new ability to travel on two feet also seems to have brought about other changes in his development and personality. He talks a lot and he ads a new word or two to his vocabulary almost daily.




He prefers to eat with a spoon and fork and drinking from a regular cup.





He now loves the swing whereas before he was just luke-warm about swinging.



He is also showing a lot more affection .. giving us hugs and kisses and snuggling with his stuffed animal.



He likes driving the golf cart with grandpa. We recently visited arizona.



He also loves being naked in the warm sun but who doesn't like that?


The Sum of all Fears

Recently, I started attending a great parent-child class at my local community college. I bring Jack and we play with other kids his age in a room filled with toddler activities. Then we break up into two groups and parents from one group meet with a teacher who leads discussions on all kinds of subjects regarding raising a child. One recent topic was temperment. I learned that temperment is different from personality. You are born with your temperment and your personality arises from and is influenced by it. While reflecting, the only thing that is obvious to me at this point is that Jack is pretty mellow. He doesn't seem easily fazed. He likes to explore rather than play with toys (these are both reflections of the mellow temperment to me).

However, there is something about Jack that has mystified me and bridget. Jack is deathly afraid of all balls larger than a tennis ball (including a tennis ball). He becomes completely undone in their presence. We have been watching and reading some of Alfie Kohn's work (love it and highly recommend it). He talks about looking at the world from your child's perspective. Bridget mentioned she has tried to explore what could be so terrifying about a ball. Neither of us can figure it out.

"Nightmare on Jack's Street"

Monday, May 05, 2008

My talented friends

Many years ago, one of my very talented friends went to a top-tier law school then, in order to fulfill her ROTC commitment, she joined the army to be in the JAG corps. She met a guy there who was equally talented and ambitious and they got married. Then he joined the secret service. Our college group of friends all thought this was quite cool even if we would never take a bullet for the people he was trained to take bullets for.. A couple of us went to visit DC and we wanted a tour of the secret service building but for some reason that didn't work out, and we ended up with T-shirts. The shirts had the secret service logo and they were nice but not so flattering on me. A month of so ago, I wondered what I should do with the shirt because I didn't want to throw it out but I never wore it.

Then I remembered another talented friend of mine turns adult clothing into cute children's clothing. She agreed to turn my secret service tee into something for Jack. I have been having a more difficult time getting Jack to sit still for pictures so these are the best I have so far. You can see the logo on the second photo on his right arm.


Saturday, May 03, 2008

the jackie man walks

Jack is an active little guy -- he climbs, jumps, dances, and moves almost constantly. The one thing he hasn't been doing .. the big developmental milestone it seems everyone is obsessed with .. the one verb that has not followed the subject Jack is walk. No walking. Jack has not been into walking. Yes, at 17 months, he had only taken a few steps and he preferred to crawl. The rational side of me really didn't care. He seemed healthy to me. If I didn't know any other babies I wouldn't know he was behind. But I interact with other parents that I don't know frequently -- mainly on playgrounds or other kid-centered venues. The first question everyone asks me or any parent is 'how old is he?' I never thought much about this seemingly benign question until I started to feel like it was part of an assessment of my child. 'Oh, my sister's son didn't walk until 18 months' or some version of that was the response to my response to the age question. So the not very rational side of me started to get irritated, defensive, and not very rational.

I made peace with this as (coincidentally) Jack has started to show more interest and confidence in walking. I have to remind myself almost constantly that Jack will be who he is regardless of other people's (or my) expectations so it is a waste of time to worry if he is "normal" when he is always just going to be "Jack." I keep learning this lesson over and over again.. not sure when I will finally get it. Hopefully, soon. Imagine how popular I am on the playground when a nice mom asks me how old my son is and I respond 'Why?'

Not very.

Here is the banana doing his little baby strut...

video

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

First Haircut

Jack's hair had become rather large. He was forming dreadlocks in the back so we decided it was time for the first haircut. I was very nervous because Jack doesn't sit still much. We went to a children's hair salon in madison park (not joking). I knew they would know how to deal with kids and all went well. They put Jack in a cute little car with lots of toys. We gave him his pacifier and he just chilled out. The whole thing took about 10 minutes and he left with a snazzy little do.




Playtime

If I need a little time to do something, the best place for Jack is our kitchen and laundry room. He doesn't need any toys. If the washing machine is going, he watches it like a TV. If the dishwasher is open, he tries to unload it (usually knives first) and uses it as a jungle gym. I know I will figure out the dishwasher thing is a bad idea when it collapses with him on it.