Saturday, November 20, 2010

Jack's Monthly Newsletter, Three Years Old!

Dear Jack,

You are three years old. Or, as you say "two and a half" (No, three!) "Three and a half." Either way.

We had a simple little party for you at our house, with Grandma, Grandpa and Deborah here. Nate bought you a present all by himself (Toy Story speedway) and you love running the cars around and around the loops. G&G got you a big set of matchbox cars and trucks, and a bouncy ball that you are way to small to use but Nate is bouncing the HECK out of. Deborah got you a dinosaur sticker book and a ittle dinosaur and tiger figure that you carry around everywhere with you. I got you a new pink doll, and watched a shy smile bloom on your face when you figured out what it was. You're a little uncertain what to do with her, but yesterday you marched into the kitchen and showed me "I have TWO pink dollars on my shoulders!"

I can't really process that you're not a baby anymore. You are still so round and yummy, and still love to be held and cuddled. Sometimes after Daddy puts you to bed you call for me; when I come in you ask me to sing you a song. When I ask you what song you want, you always say "Sunshine". It's an amazing parental moment to watch your warbling, off-kilter song make your child's eyes close. You are so sweet and dear and Daddy and I just eat you up.

School has been so wonderful. You have settled in perfectly and enjoy your time there, singing songs and doing crafts and running around in the gym. I think singing songs is your favorite part, and sometimes I hear you singing them in your crib before you fall asleep, or in the morning when you're waiting for us. That is, when you're not yelling "Mom! Mom! Mooooooooooommmmmm!"

Jack I found this post in my "drafts" folder and my memories have faded in these last 3 years, so I'm going to publish this unfinished.

With all my love from the future when you're a big six-year old boy!!

Monday, October 18, 2010


I called Nate a "drama queen" tonight when he was shivering and frozen after his bath. Of course, he asked me what a drama queen was.

I told him it's someone who is always SO mad, or SO happy, or SO tired. They're never kinda tired, or a little sad, or anything like that. They're always SO mad...he got into the act with "Yeah, they're SO pleasant. Like REALLY pleasant."


Sunday, October 17, 2010


The cuteness, the amazing-ness, of Jack actually hurts me on a regular basis.

Daddy was gearing up to give them their regular bath/shower and Jack wanted some juice. Nate and Daddy headed upstairs while Jack guzzled.

Then Jack asked me "Could you hold this for a second?" (one of his favorite phrases) and passed me the juice. "Now I'm gonna go bye bye. See ya Mom!" and he ran off down the hall.

My life is totally perfect, warts and all.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Shake your booty!

One of Jack's favorite, sweetest, things to do is to tell me what he likes about what I'm wearing. While I'm holding him he'll often finger my necklace, saying "I like your neckwace Mama! I like your colors!" and he'll name off the colors in a row (especially fun on my especially colorful one, where he rolls out "I like your blue, I like your green, I like your blue, I like your blue, I like your yelow..." through the length of the whole necklace.)

We try to have frequent dance parties, though they're less frequent than I'd like. Sometimes it's hard to get the boys started, so I frequently urge them to "shake your boo-tee."

Today it's just me and Jack, and I was dancing around in the living room while he was in the kitchen. I may or may not have been shaking my booty. Jack came up behind me, slapped my ass with both hands, and cheerfully said "I like your boo-tee! I like your boo-tee!"


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Jackie has a girlfriend!

The transition into co-op preschool has gone...I honestly don't know how to say how well it has gone. Jack barely likes to be left with his Auntie, let alone total strangers. Last year's brief experiment with co-op was a total disaster, so I had very low expectations for this year. I honestly get fairly speechless when I try to explain my incredulity.


The first day I stayed since it was my duty day. The next day we talked it out over and over, and when it came time for me to leave his little lip quivered and the tears welled, but he was fine just a few minutes after I left. The next day it was a bit of the same, and every day since he's given me a big smacking kiss goodbye and that's it. We talk a lot about how I'll always come get him from playgroup, and when I get there he repeats it over and over "You came to get me at playgroup?!" and it obviously comforts him. (Speech therapy note: playgroup is pronounced "pay-geeoop")

His teacher is very keen on potty training, and it's actually having some effect: he's peed on the potty 4 or 5 times now, twice at home. So no pressure, but we're starting to think about potty training. Fun.

Today was another duty day at co-op, so I got to see him do several fairly adorable things. There's a little girl, Alice, who hung out close with me today and so she and Jack spent a lot of time together. At the end of the day, Jack got right in front of her, bent down a bit so their faces were close, and exclaimed "I like you!" several times. It was delicious. I wish so much my Nanny could see him. She would adore him.

I adore him.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My son loves me

I've posted before about the hard relationship with Nate. I've often been frustrated and snappy with him; I lose my patience too easily. For his part, he's never been cuddly or loving, he's often moody and prickly. It has been tough.

I have always tried to work on our relationship, figuring out what my grumpier times are, trying to meet him where he is, changing things around. The last four months I've worked so extra hard, realizing that he's now at an age where he's going to start remembering things and I'll be damned if he only remembers the bumpy spots between us.

And it worked. It worked. My son loves me. He left last night for a weekend with Daddy, and before he left he said he'd remember me by the bracelets he was wearing because I got them for him. When he realized I wasn't going on the trip, he frowned and said "but I love my Mommy!" He told me he'd miss me. And while he was away he drew me a picture of one of my favorite things: a rainbow.

Last week he woke up before I did and crawled into bed with me. He snuggled up front to front and murmured that he loved me.

We did it. I did it. Things still aren't perfect and because I'm human and he's human and that's life they never will be. But they're good, they're great, they're enough to be grateful for. I am so grateful.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Nate was just picked up to head to school (carpool!!) and Jack was standing at the door watching him go. I said "say goodbye to Nate" and Jack said "goodbye Nate! Thanks for the party!" which is exactly what I told him to say to Deborah when we were leaving her party three days ago. Could he be any cuter?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Nate headed off to kindergarten yesterday and showed us again what a dream child he is.


We'd been talking up the fun of kindergarten and gone to an orientation; he was super shy during orientation, but didn't balk at the thought of it. The night before kindergarten was starting he said he didn't want to go, but it was in the context of a horrible tired hysterical tantrum, and he was asleep 7 seconds later. I didn't worry too much.


Monday morning we got up early and gabbed and got ready nice and leisurely. Stewart snapped some pics as we headed out the door, and we drove off. I had talked with him about walking him in, but while we were driving I told him I'd walk him to the door; that I knew he could go inside by himself.


So we parked and walked to the front of the school, milling around with a lot of other parents and kids. It was a treat to watch the little Pre-K kids waiting with their little bags and nap-rolls; they looked so tiny and sweet! Nate hung by my side, quieter than usual but holding up. When the doors opened and kids started in, Nate hesitated but seemed game - he had definitely absorbed that it was an important day. I knelt down with him and told him how incredibly proud I was of him, to have a wonderful day, that he'd be great. He gave me a kiss on the lips; a very rare occurrence. I stood up to say goodbye and heard him say something quietly: ironically he told me he'd said, very sweetly, "let me go."


I let him go. I smiled while he walked away from me. It was all terribly symbolic and touching and I teared up a bit but mostly grinned at my sweet happy son. We smiled and waved and blew kisses all the way down the ramp, and I headed home with my Jack.


I got there early to pick him up, as I always seem to, and waited what seemed like forever for his blonde head to be escorted out. He looked up and saw me waiting, and yelled "It was great!" He said it again when he got to me, and we headed home with Stella. After we'd dropped her off (carpool!), I remembered to ask him about his lunch: I'd packed a few special things in there. He liked the apple slices with hearts and the rice crackers and the name cookies, but what he mentioned was the note I'd taped to the top of his snack: Mommy ♥s Nate. He told me he found my letter, and that when he read it he kissed it. Then when we got home he taped it on the fridge, and added his own note (totally his idea, done completely by himself, except for spelling Mom):


He headed off to Chinese day today without a problem: jumped out of the car, yelled "I love you!" and slammed the door. He's on his way.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Little boy growing

Here are things that Nate does by himself now:

  • Peel carrots (he loves this!)


  • "Read" comic books.


  • Pour cereal, pull stool to the fridge to get the milk, pour milk, make "breakfast" for himself and Jack (please excuse the clothes, he dressed himself)


  • Clean up the toys in the basement, sometimes surprisingly well. The housekeepers were coming on Wednesday and I was trying to get us off to the zoo; I called down to Nate and asked him to help clean up the basement and he said "okay!" and headed downstairs to work on it. Huh.

  • Make friends in airports.


  • Climb into Jack's crib to fetch "pink doll and paci" that are requested 10 times a day.

  • Pinch samosas closed


  • Decide to share his silly bandz with friends because they don't have any.

  • Color the front walkway bricks with sidewalk chalk, making a pattern as he goes along.


  • Water the plants in the backyard

  • Really help with Aunt Drebba's charity auction


  • Horse around with cousins


  • Know to be careful with feelings: The other night he said he wanted Daddy to put him to bed because Number 2 is better than Number 1 and Daddy was Number 2...well, we were both Number 2 but Daddy was Number 3...

    He's pretty fabulous.
  • Tuesday, August 24, 2010

    Nate's first blog post!

    Today we went to the zoo, and on the way home I decided to include some "journal" entries from Nate as part of this blog. It'll help us all remember what we've seen and done, and give a better window into Nate's mind as he grows up.

    So from here on, in this entry, it will be only Nate's words and my pictures.


    We went to two playgrounds. One was a pizza one and one was the prairie-dog one. And we could pop up through little holes like prairie dogs.


    I had a great time seeing the animals. I saw lions, I saw goats, we saw prairie dogs...what else did we see? (Leah: we saw monkeys, we saw snakes, we saw lizards...)

    We saw turtles and fishes, those are reptile animals. We saw lions.


    I liked the lions because I liked how they look.



    Monday, August 23, 2010

    So happy together

    It's been a long day filled with Jack smearing poop around and laundry and cleaning up after everyone. Stewart left early and came home late, and I escaped to the recliner for a few minutes of reading blogs.

    Nate and Stewart are playing with a photo program on the Mac, taking silly distorted pictures of themselves. I hear giggling, and then Nate says "Mom, you've gotta come see this. You've gotta be in the picture." and I put down this laptop, walk over, and giggle with my kid. So grateful that he wants me in the picture.


    Wednesday, August 18, 2010

    I'm Jack

    Hi, I'm Jack River. My Mom's been calling me just "River" a lot these days; I know it and respond to it, and Mom's feeling very sneaky and pleased with herself.

    I'm getting towards turning three, but I'm still not sure of a lot of things.

    Am I right-handed?




    Whatever. This much I know: I love noodles.





    Wednesday, August 4, 2010

    It's like everything I've been pouring into Nate for the past (almost) 5 years has taken root all at once.

    This morning he got breakfast made for him and Jack - all I had to do was provide the bowls and strap Jack in. Then, when he was done eating, Nate looked at me and said "I'm sorry I poured too much milk and wasted some food, but I'm done." And somehow because he acknowledged it, I was able to be all "no worries!" It was so amazing.

    Yesterday we had the aforementioned "basement cleaning" incident. He also gets pink doll from Jack's crib when Jack asks him, helps Jack with the crazy-complicated Viewmaster, gets his own apples and juice from the fridge, and scolds Jack when he begs for more TV. Such a smart, sensible, grumpy little-old man.


    Tuesday, August 3, 2010

    So much to say

    There's just so much I want to say about these boys of mine, and time keeps marching on and there are more and more things to say about them and try to remember, and I'm totally failing at it. Even when I try, even when I write a good entry, I still fail. Because I can't capture their voices, the nuances of our lives. I can't capture the joy and frustration the way I want to, and I know that's what's keeping me from coming back and writing: knowing that I'm going to fail no matter how hard I try.

    But I'm going to try anyway, because something has got to be better than nothing. So here's what I say to say:

    When I get frustrated with Jack or discipline him at all, he throws himself at me and says in an anguished tone: "But I love you!" Today when I was holding him and telling him not to throw toys he calmly said "But I want to kiss you!" and delivered a chaste kiss on my lips.

    There are no words to describe how I feel about Jack. He is my heart, forward and back and all the way around.


    Nate and I are friends, finally. He wants me to put him to bed at night. He holds my hands when we walk places, and tries to carry bags for me. I push all of my frustrations down and try to relax and play and laugh and pull out my very best fart jokes.

    Tonight he called me down to the basement and showed me how he'd cleaned everything up, put it away in the right bins. It honestly looked great. I mentally patted myself on the back. Then he got really frustrated because Jack actually took out and played with some toys, thereby messing up the beautiful room, and scowled when I explained that we'd play for 10 minutes and then we could clean up again. So I un-patted myself and rebuked myself for all those times he was little and I snapped at him for messing something up or spilling something or not being orderly. Ugh.

    Either way, great or horrible Mom, Nate is a great (and only rarely horrible) kid. Sometimes he runs out and plays in the rain with me, and sometimes he doesn't want to get his clothes wet. He's a bit of a worrier. He's a little anal. He either came by it naturally or I was too hard on him. Whatever it is, he is who he is now. He's smart, kind, sensitive, and actually sometimes sweet. He praises Jack for behavior now, in a high-pitched Mom voice: "Jack, you did a really good job on the puzzle!" It's darling.


    Maybe I'll try to post at least one sentence every day. We'll see.

    Thursday, July 8, 2010

    Stranger danger

    Dear Nate,

    We're in the middle of a brutal heat-wave, and right now I'm sitting the cool air-conditioning at the public library in Rockville. You and Jack are visiting with Grandma, and I'm taking the opportunity to try to catch up on the 27 blog entries rolling around in my head.

    In the time since I last really posted about you, we've gone through a lot! If I'd been keeping up, this would be a nice manageable entry about how INSANE you are these days. But I've slacked, so we'll have to journey through "you're amazing and so is our relationship" before we come out on the other side.

    I'm sure I'm colored by the blinders of parenthood, but I think you are so smart and so insightful. A few days ago we got ice cream from the ice cream truck and were sitting on the front steps eating it. I decided I felt comfortable enough leaving you sitting out there while I went inside for some napkins, but that meant it was time for a little more extensive "talk." We've had the "nobody can touch your private parts except for..." talk several times. But leaving you alone outside meant it was time for the "If anyone tries to take you anywhere..." talk.

    I asked you what you should do if anyone tried to take you anywhere, and you said "ask Mommy first" which is a pretty decent understanding. But I had to press: what if someone tried to take you anyway, what if someone tried to steal you. You weren't sure what to say; you just shrugged. I told you that if anyone ever tried to take you somewhere, you should yell. You should yell "You're not my Daddy / Mommy" and you should fight. You should hit, and kick, and scream, and do everything you could to get away from them.

    Your jaw positively dropped. I spend most of the day explaining to Jack, and occasionally to you, why you don't ever hit. And now I'm telling you to hit and kick? You were thrilled, and a little horrified by how monumental this conversation had obviously become. You asked a lot of questions, and we talked for a long time, and I tried to reassure you but to keep the central point stressed: never let anyone take you anywhere.

    A few days later, I brought it up again to see if you'd absorbed anything from the talk. I asked you what you should do if someone tried to take you somewhere. You paused for a long time, and then you said this exact sentence: "You give away your niceness. You use your meanness."

    Oh child.

    Thursday, July 1, 2010

    Little people

    I just looked in on napping Jack, still in the exact same position in the crib as when I laid him there after a long morning of errands. Except that he'd pulled his blue blanket up over his legs. That kills me.


    Tuesday, June 29, 2010

    Ice cream

    Strawberry is the weird flavor; it never occurred to me to even try it. I picked chocolate every time, and I guess I could have been persuaded to have vanilla if there was chocolate sauce available. But strawberry is odd.

    And Nate picks strawberry. I love that.

    Saturday, June 26, 2010

    Sage words from Nate

    "The more you don't hit your people, the more you don't go to time-out."

    Amen, son.

    Saturday, May 22, 2010

    Today over lunch Nate told me he had an "I love you" dream last night. I asked him to tell me about it and he said he was at school, and going out for recess, but it was raining. When he got outside, he saw me and he wanted to run and give me a big hug. That's when he woke up.

    Strangely enough, he did wake up in the middle of the night last night and ask to come sleep with me. I wonder if they're connected?

    Thursday, May 20, 2010

    The cuteness is killing me

    A few cute things the kids have done / said over the last few days:

    Last night, we all went out to dinner to celebrate Aunt Drebba's birthday. Stewart got there a little later than the rest of us and when Jack saw him he happily yelled "It's Daddy! Daddy, it's me - Jack River!"

    While we were waiting for the food to come out, Nate was asking how long it would be. Deborah started teasing him, saying that first the kitchen had to kill the macaroni, then take the feathers off, and so on. Nate was saying "Macaronis don't have feathers, guys..." and after we kept the teasing up a while he said "The more you talk, the more you're wrong."

    I like to wear skirts when it's warm out, and I've been forced to start wearing boxer shorts underneath - Jack likes to swirl around them whenever we're standing still. He's under, through, pulling,'s cute but crazy. He's also taken to holding onto the edge of the skirt while we're walking places together.

    And last night at the hospital when we were waiting for Nate's second set of stitches (forehead this time), he looked at me plaintively and said "I wish I was the doctor and not the kid so I wouldn't have to get the shot." It was so sad, but so smart at the same time.

    These boys are amazing to me.

    Tuesday, May 18, 2010

    Our first stitches

    With two small kids, stitches were inevitable. I'm actually surprised it took this long!

    On May 8th, Nate was out back helping Stewart reclaim some lumber from a construction project a few houses down. After a while, I heard Nate crying and Stewart came hustling into the kitchen. I watched him pass by I saw drips of blood hitting the floor. Stewart told me "it looks deep" and I knew we were headed to the hospital.

    Our car was in the shop so our wonderful neighbor Sara drove us to Children's. The nurses confirmed that he'd probably need stitches and got us right back through triage into our own little private room, complete with a TV turned to cartoons (I love Children's hospital!) Nate was happy to lay back and zone out.

    They did an x-ray to make sure there was no metal left in the cut (there wasn't), plied us with fruit punch and sandwiches, and we were left to wait for the big stitch-up. I joined him on the gurney and we had a bit of a cuddle watching TV together. Look at the blood running down my poor sweetie's leg!

    On the way to the hospital Nate had asked me if the treatment was going to hurt, and I was frank that it probably was. I made him a promise that if anything was going to hurt, I would give him fair warning. Each time a nurse or doctor came in, I made sure to tell them that I had promised Nate he'd get fair warning if something was going to hurt. When the doctor came in to do the big job, it was time to give him the fair warning: this was going to hurt.

    The doctor asked if I wanted to "papoose" him to restrain him, and I talked it out with Nate. We decided not to restrain him and to have him sit between my legs (partly so I could help hold his hand still for the doctor) and she started injecting the anesthetic right into the cut. Blargh. Nate was crying and yelling, and after 5 or 6 she gave him one that made him scream and pull away. It was awful. She had to do another 4 or 5 and then she was done. He calmed down quickly and lay quietly during the whole process of stitching it up.

    He took such amazing good care of his hand, keeping it clean and dry. For the first five days, he really didn't use it at all; he held it pitifully in front of him. He had them removed yesterday; it was a little traumatic but he handled it well. I am so incredibly proud of his maturity, self-control, bravery, and independence.

    And to round out this long post about 4 little stitches, here's Nate rapping:

    Saturday, May 15, 2010

    Keeping a balance

    In my own life, I find it really hard to keep a balance. I overeat, I overwatch TV, I don't exercise at all. People say "just do it in moderation!" like it's a new idea and I laugh and laugh. Moderation, for me, is almost impossible. Sometimes it really is impossible.

    But somehow, with the boys, I'm a little better at it. Not perfect, not at all, but better.

    I am very good at feeding them healthy food, but somehow I'm also good at relaxing about it and not making it too strident. We have McDonalds once a week. They eat cake and cookies, and meat when they're at my parents house. And the other day their Aunt Deborah bought them a treat that was a big hit. So this is what their after-school snack looked like:

    Ooh, what a lovely snack! Is that healthy kiwi? Yes! Yummy healthy oranges and organic apples? Of course! And...what else? A cake? A...twinkie?!?!

    Yes. A twinkie. And not just a twinkie:

    A Shrek-themed green twinkie. Yuck. It was a big hit. :-)

    Tuesday, May 11, 2010

    We have a winner

    Rainy days always relax me. I think the pressure is OFF for being outdoorsy and productive, so you can hunker down, wear pajama pants, and enjoy the day inside.

    While Jack resisted his afternoon nap, I decided to try these energy bars. I wasn't in love with the earth balls and this recipe used a lot of the same basic ingredients, so I was skeptical.

    To say they were good would be an understatement. Let's say this: they were GOOD in a sincere OMG way, not in a "pretty good for vegan" way.

    I played around with her recipe a bit, and frankly I'm glad I'm writing this down so I can replicate it!

    1 cup raw almonds
    1 cup (plus 2 more) dates
    2 dried apricots
    1/4 cup peanut butter
    1 tbsp raw pepitas
    1 tbsp sesame seeds
    1 tbsp raw sunflower seeds
    3 tbsp dried coconut
    1 tbsp goji berries
    1 tbsp dried cranberries
    vegan chocolate chips, melted in a small saucepan with flax and hemp oils to make it spreadable

    I ground the almonds to a fine powder, then added the dates and apricots until everything stuck together. Added in all the other ingredients and ground well. Spread it in a pan, covered with chocolate, and froze for 10 minutes. It was dense, chewy, sweet (but not overly sweet - I was worried about the dates), and delicious.

    Friday, May 7, 2010

    Slipping the vegan through

    I try to volunteer for anything at Nate's school that keeps me from having to actually participate in the classroom. I help them with craft projects by prepping materials at home (peeling crayons, cutting out shapes, etc.) and I always volunteer to cook if they need food.

    This week was "teacher appreciation" week and there was a luncheon on Wednesday. I offered to make my version of summer rolls, which is tasty and surprisingly vegan. I don't miss the shrimp at all!

    They're rice paper with the traditional noodles, thick slices of avocado, cilantro, and chives. I served them with a bottled asian dipping sauce (I usually use a peanut sauce but the school is nut-free so that wasn't an option).

    I love showing people that vegetarian / vegan food can be so delicious that you'll never miss the meat!

    Big boy haircut

    It was time. I didn't want to know it but I knew it.

    Not the best pictures, but here's a few "before" shots:

    Since Jack now runs crying each morning when he sees me coming towards him with a brush, I anticipated a disaster. I tried to take him to one of those kiddie-kuts kinda places since I thought the TVs might distract him but got insanely lost. I ended up just taking him to the Hair Cuttery and crossing my fingers. I apologized in advance for the crying.

    He was perfect.

    He flinched a little from the water

    grinned at himself in the mirror

    and got pinned up like a proper lady.

    At one point he realized he was famished but couldn't find his hands. He was promptly hand-fed by one of his adoring Moms (Kari went along on the trip).

    He zoned out as the cut went on

    smiled at his new "look"

    even tolerated the buzzer

    and emerged a new man. With a huge muffin for good behavior.

    The muffin was considered


    and judged to be acceptable.

    I'm very proud of my little lawyer.