Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas








Thanks Uncle Rick and Aunt Mary Lynne!











Reading a new book with Da.














Storytelling with Nannie.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A three year old's pre-Christmas stress

A few days before Christmas I was struggling to get Jack ready for a trip to the grocery store. His words: "I don't want to go to Whole Foods. Whole Foods makes me sick."

Friday, December 19, 2008

Birthday







Opening some presents on his birthday morning.
















His requested cake, vanilla with purple marshmallow frosting (except it came out kind of lavender).

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Shuffle repeat

We scored a hand-me-down cd player recently, and Hans hooked it up in Jack's room so Jack could play his cds. For the first few days Jack would put in a cd and then continually press next or back or pause, etc. Then he started messing with the function buttons, so sometimes I'll come in and find him listening to the same song over and over ("I just like it") or it'll be on shuffle and he'll have his face pressed against the display waiting for the song numbers to change.

A few mornings ago we heard him wake up at 5:45 or so. A few minutes later a Dead Can Dance cd started playing, and he tottered off to bed to listen while waiting for the clock to change to 6.

Jack's also been singing constantly, and his favorite songs include "Good Day Sunshine" and all of the They Might be Giants songs from ABC's and 123's.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Heffalump trap!

Jack and I were hiking at San Pedro Valley Park recently, and as we made our way slowly uphill, he got distracted by a little trench running parallel to the trail. At first it was just a pit, but we quickly realized it was, in fact, a heffalump trap! Jack "fell" in over and over again, and had a great time pretending for about 15 minutes. I sat down at the edge of the pit and enjoyed the view up to Montara Mountain. Our entire hike was about 2 miles, and it took us about 2 hours, but it was great fun. I know he'll want to go back again and check "the trap."

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Laugh of the day

Jack and I were making up a song about things we love. He asked me what I loved, and I told him a few things (him, Hans, hiking), then asked him what he loved.

His reply... bacon.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Branching out to board games

A few weeks ago I created a card matching game for Jack -- just a 4x4 grid of animal and plant playing cards for which he searches for a match card one at a time. This went so well that I thought maybe it was time for some board games. I've ordered some for his birthday and Christmas, but Hans brought home Candyland from Target this weekend, so here we go.

First of all, I just have to say, what happened to Candyland? It was so perfect (see the photo) -- I don't like the "modern" look of it at all. I looked around a bit to see if anyone made the classic version, but no... Dora the Explorer Candyland yes.

Anyway, playing Candyland with Jack is a really good test for a parent's patience. The first game he moved randomly around the board, back and forth, with no regard to the cards. But today we did a whole lot better; Jack moved his gingerbread man as the cards instructed and even took card one at a time. He doesn't yet understand the concept of winning and I have the feeling there should no hurry with that lesson.

The other games on the way are Hi Ho Cherry O, Hiss, and Caribou. Anyone have other suggestions?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Honeyspooner

Jack, the boy who loves licking the honeyspoon, has become incredibly sweet.

At Thanksgiving dinner, just after we all lifted our glasses for a toast, Jack took our hands and said, "thank you for our family! Thank you for our food! Thank you for our friends!"

Last night when he was heading for bed with Hans he gave me a kiss and said, "you have nice dreams mommy."

Such a sweet boy.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The power of three

Jack has been at preschool now for three months and his third birthday is quickly approaching. Perhaps not coincidentally he seems to have suddenly grown up in many ways.

He's engaging in dramatic play for the first time. At home he shows tambourine frog how to spell and count. We pretend cook all sorts of unappetizing things with his plastic food and pots. At school he's flirting with the play kitchen more each day.

Also at school he's stopped pulling letters and numbers off the walls and cubbies. He is interested in art projects and plays with a variety of things, not just with letters and numbers.

Jack has become more open to new experiences as well. We've been hiking several times lately and he willingly walks on his own two feet more often than not.

Tantrums are becoming less frequent too -- we're enjoying a more calm and happy child, at least for now.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Beeself

Jack's nickname, Beeboo, has persisted, even though at home we mostly call him Jack and at preschool everyone calls him by his full name (there are several Jacks at school). Despite that, for the most part, Jack still refers to himself as Beeboo, so when he asks a question or wants information it comes out, "mommy tell Beeboo" or "tell Bee."

Jack is increasingly independent, so I often ask him if he wants to do something himself or with help. Today when I asked him he answered "I'll do it Beeself."

Here is a photo of Jack "writing" words, which is his newest skill. He writes dog, pool, pig, and frog, among others, and usually it's pretty legible (at least to me).

Friday, November 28, 2008

The day after Thanksgiving

The day after dinner for 15.
Jack up at 5:10am.
This would be a nice day to have a nanny.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

San Francisco in November

We had a quintessential San Francisco autumn morning today -- hot chocolate at the Crissy Field warming hut, a long beach romp, several glimpses of a sea lion feasting on fish just off the shore, and finally, grass-fed beef hot dogs for lunch. A glorious, warm day!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Almost a whole week at home

Jack woke up Monday with a slightly runny nose, so I kept him home from preschool. It was a good call, because he was super cranky and clingy, and I doubt he would have made it through the day at school. I confess, we watched a good deal of Word World Monday, cuddled up on the couch with the blankets wrapped around us. For a special treat I made him some hot chocolate for the first time, and he liked that a lot.

Jack got a good night sleep Monday and on Tuesday his nose seemed to have dried up. In the afternoon we took a drive down to Yerba Buena Nursery for our annual native plant shopping trip. Jack slept for about 20 minutes in the car, but woke up pretty happy. He got to choose a plant (wild grape) and together we selected huckleberry, salal, and sticky monkeyflower for the garden. It was a really fun trip and he did great on such a long drive, which gives me hope for future hiking excursions.

On Wednesday school was closed for teacher-parent conferences. Jack did not like Hans and I leaving him outside to play while we talked to his teachers, and instead wandered around inside whining and saying "go home now". Later after lunch the two of us were headed to the playground and he fell asleep in the stroller. So we trucked back home, I got him out of the stroller, back inside the house, into his room. Still asleep. I plopped him onto his bed and he continued to sleep and sleep, for over 2 hours. At one point he rolled out of bed onto the floor and stayed asleep. He woke up happy and the rest of the day was fine, except he didn't get asleep until 9:30.

Today I'm so hoping he'll be able to go to school and make it through the afternoon. I don't think he's sick, but I do think his brain is going through a lot, with learning to spell. I can really use a break!

Wake up calls

Most mornings, most good mornings anyway, the house is quiet.

Then...
Little feet go thump thump thump.
"It's 6 o'clock! The clock says 6!"
Door opens.
Little feet go thump thump thump, closer now.
"Morning time!"

This morning Jack crawled into bed with us. Hans kept his eyes closed and tried to sleep just a few more minutes. Jack snuggled next to me and we watched the clock numbers change for about 10 minutes.

Then there the bad mornings. 5:15. 5:20. Any time before 6. Jack wakes up and trudges into our room. "Watch Word World NOW!" I never say yes to this, because I know if Jack thinks he can get right up and watch Word World first thing in the morning he will start waking up at 4:30 to do so.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Time to rearrange the bookshelves

Sweet innocent voice: "What does s....u....c....k....s.... spell?"
(pause)
Shocked mommy voice: "That spells sucks, like with a straw."
(book in question is Roger Ebert's "Your Movie Sucks.")

Sheesh. So, he's spelling. And he loves it. I blame "Word World."

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween

Jack was a coyote for our preschool party and yesterday evening we recreated the costume as much as possible (he was super tired and the brown pants were in the wash). We tricked-or-treated 3 houses, Jack ate one piece of candy, then went to bed! Here are some photos from the party and Halloween, including his annual pumpkin photo.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bagels!

I really miss east coast bagels and have pretty much given up on California bagel facsimiles. So yesterday it was fun to make a batch of easy and spectacular bagels. I followed the recipe in the King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion cookbook, here modified slightly and in my own words:

In the mixer work bowl combine:
1 tablespoon instant yeast
19 ounces bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar (barley malt is even better)
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water

Mix to combine and then have the mixer knead for 10 minutes (important). If the dough is pooling at the bottom of the work bowl and seems too wet, add up to 1/4 cup extra flour -- it's ok for the dough to be wettish, but most of it should be stuck to the dough hook rather than sitting on the bottom of the bowl. Then plop the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic and let rise 1 1/2 hours.

Remove to work area and with a knife or board scraper, divide the dough into 8 pieces. The cookbook recommends forming each piece into a ball and then poking a hole in the middle to make each a bagel, but I do it the old school bagel bakery way: form each piece into a snake, then loop it around your hand and squeeze into a circle. Repeat until you have 8 bagels. Place bagels on a piece of parchment and cover with plastic. Let rest 30 minutes.

Preheat over to 425 degrees.

In the last 15 minutes of rise, pour 2 quarts of water into a large wide pot. Add 2 tablespoons brown sugar (or barley malt) and 1 teaspoon sugar, then heat until water is steadily simmering. Drop 2-4 bagels at a time into the water (you may need to gently reshape them as they go in). Let simmer for 2 minutes, flip, then simmer 1 minute more. Remove with slotted spoon to a dish towel and repeat with the remaining bagels.

Place bagels on parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes, turning after 12 minutes, until bagels are golden brown.

Makes 8 delicious bagels.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Jack at a glance 10/20/08

Sleeping:
Jack sleeps about 11 hours a night, from 7ish to 6ish. Hans and I both believe Jack needs a bit more sleep, but were are not sure how to accomplish this.
Napping:
only when ill
Eating:
Jack eats a bunch at preschool, but at home his biggest meal is usually breakfast. He loves oatmeal and peanut butter toast with letters or numbers or animals made from jelly (you try to make a bobcat out of jelly sometime!). Fruit is always a hit. He still will request beets and carrots from the garden as well as lettuces. Protein is the trickiest food to get in his tummy (unless there's bacon or ham in the house). He pretty much will not eat beef in any fashion. Chicken and tofu get the green light occasionally. His favorite "meat" is salmon.
Potty:
We've been potty training for almost 2 months, and making slow and steady improvements. Accidents still do happen, but they are almost always small damp spots rather than floods. Jack did poop in his underpants at preschool once, but more and more when I pick him up at the end of his preschool day he is wearing the same pants!
Getting around:
Hans pushes Jack in the stroller most mornings and I usually take him in the stroller to preschool, but he is an excellent walker (until he wants to be carried 6 blocks from home).
Fun:
Preschool has exposed him to many new activities, and he is more and more interested in crafts and art projects. When we color, draw, paint, or do play-doh we pretty much do these things together or take turns (now mommy make an 8, now Jack draw a 7, etc.). He does not constantly insist that we do art for him any more, much to our relief, though he still does like us to do numbers in paint or crayons. When we're out driving or walking Jack likes to look for numbers everywhere. He's till quite obsessed with making letters and numbers out of anything he can find -- string, grocery receipts, blocks, leaves, anything.
Behavior:
When he is tired he is very difficult. There have been tantrums, some mild pushing, and tears. But we get through it!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cheater chili

Chili is one of our family's favorite foods. I used to make it based on a Cook's Illustrated recipe from a few years ago, but that recipe is time-consuming, especially cutting up the meat. So I made up my own recipe, and it's easy -- no vegetable chopping, meat cubing, or anything fussy.

Cheater Chili Serves 6
1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
1 (or 2) jalapeno, halved and seeded
2 tablespoons canola or other mild oil
1 tablespoon cumin seed
3 dried New Mexico chilies (or any large red mild chile)
3 dried ancho chilies
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1 28 ounce can tomato puree or sauce
2 limes
1 flank steak or 2 small skirt steaks
salt to taste

1) Throw the onion and jalapeno in a food processor and chop finely -- it's ok if it gets watery.
2) Warm oil in a large heavy pot and dump the onion/pepper mixture in. Cook over medium heat until vegetables are softened but not browned.
3) In the meantime, toast the cumin and peppers (I use a toaster oven). The cumin should be fragrant and slightly tan/brown. When the peppers puff up they are done -- be carefully not to let them burn, which is easy to do.
4) Pull cumin and peppers out of oven and let cool slightly. Grind to a powder and add to onion/pepper mixture. Stir and let cook for about 1 minute.
5) Add tomato paste and tomato sauce, juice of one lime, and stir well. Cut the flank steak into 3 pieces, then gently drop them into the pot. Add some salt (about 1 1/2 teaspoons) but remember the sauce will be cooking down, so use restraint. Pour about 4-6 cups of water into the pot, cover, and cook over low heat, about 4-5 hours (can use a crock pot -- you want small slow bubbles). At the end of the cooking time, the meat should be tender. Pull the meat (still in big hunks) out, put in a bowl/glass container, and allow to cool. Crank the heat under the sauce still in the pot to medium-high and cook down for about 1 hour, stirring frequently. At this point, combine the meat and the sauce and cool overnight in the fridge.
6) About one hour before you plan to eat, skim any fat off the sauce and reheat the chili over medium heat -- do not allow to boil. When the meat is warmed through and softened (about 30 minutes), pull it out of the sauce and shred it with two forks. Return the meat to the sauce, taste for salt, add remaining lime juice, and eat! We like it over elbow noodles with jack cheese, but there's a bunch of things you can do with it -- top baked potatoes, make tacos, etc.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Watching

A few weeks ago when Jack was sick, we watched a little tv. Previously our television watching had been exclusively Yo Gabba Gabba, but Jack is a bit bored by that now -- I think the segments are too short. So we surfed a bit and watched Higglytown Heroes and Backyardigans. I know that these shows are for kids and not parents, but eeek! I don't get Higglytown Heroes at all; it seems like a weird combination of Brady Bunch, Scooby Doo, and Mister Rodgers. And that squirrel Fran is sooo annoying. But I thought Backyardigans was worse. The first episode we watched showed kids lying with no consequences. The second at least was loosely about saying please and thank you, but the featured song, which seemed to go on and on, was "I love being a princess." Now I forget, is Nickelodeon a Disney company? Sure feels like it!

Jack watched these shows every once in a while for a few weeks and then (thankfully) lost interest. Then we found a keeper, for now: Dragon Tales. This show is completely at his level. The boy, Max, sometimes gets a bit wild and breaks things; we know a boy like that! The characters are not too annoying, and Jack is completely in love with Eunice the unicorn. This past weekend at Fairyland, we found a plush dragon and small unicorn in the gift store, and Jack adores them. Ord went to show and tell yesterday and today it's Eunice's turn (if we can find her; she hiding right now).

On the advice of friends (hi guys!) I'm recording Reading Rainbow to give that a try as well. What else? Maybe Sesame Street?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Going the distance

Today will be Jack's first full (4 hour) session of preschool. He had 3 very good preschool days last week, so he has earned the right to stay through show and tell, a big deal for him.

I now understand that the 2 tough preschool weeks we had were the result of him not feeling well. He doesn't really complain when he feels sick, but he is not himself either. In addition to loving sour foods, looks like he may have inherited being cranky while sick from me. Now that he is completely better, he's much happier and sleeping better too.

I remember a few months ago when a few parents mentioned their kids slept from 7-7 I was soooo jealous. Last night Jack slept from 6:30-almost 7. So there. Anything is possible.

Monday, September 29, 2008

"We're getting there"


That's what Jack's teacher said when I came to pick him up Friday. He played mostly outside (he tends to stay inside when he's tired/sad), seemed happy, and stayed for 2 1/2 hours. Maybe we'll try for 3 today.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Getting back on track

We thought we were all getting perfectly adjusted to preschool. For the first 2 weeks, Jack clearly enjoyed himself there, slept and ate better, and came home buzzing with enthusiasm. He did not seem to miss me when I dropped him off, though was always pleased to see me when I came back to take him home.

Then we hit a little bump. Last Wednesday Jack fell asleep at preschool, and I had to go pick him up and bring him home. This was the prelude to a little cold, and he spent the weekend crabby and napping, which threw off his sleep schedule.

So Monday rolled around and I filled in for an ill teacher during Jack's preschool shift. He was still a bit tired and wanted to go home early, so we did. I kept things mellow on Tuesday, and he continued to recover from his cold. Wednesday was my first preschool snack day -- I brought melon, red pepper strips, and zucchini bread with cream cheese for all the kids, and Jack "helped" me set that up in the preschool kitchen. Then he didn't want me to leave. Over and over he said "ready for mommy to pick me up now." I hung out a bit longer, and after consulting the pm director, kissed him goodbye and took off. According to the director, he cried for awhile and then pretty much moped around. When I came back to pick him up after 2 hours, he was starting to warm up to the idea of preschool, but was still a bit low. Jack finally did not nap and had a decent (and somewhat early) sleep last night, so I'm hoping that will put him back on the no nap/early bedtime/sleep until past 6am train again. Toot toot.

Today both Hans and I approached the preschool topic gingerly with him. He said a few times he didn't want to go, and I countered with "you'll just go for a little while and then I'll pick you up," which seemed ok. When we got there he said again "ready to pick up now," and his chin quivered a bit. I read him one book and then kissed him goodbye. I know the director will call if he's beyond coping, so I'm watching the clock and listening for the phone until his early pick up time.

This has been a good lesson for me. I've had to really scale back my expectations and desires for what I want preschool to be like for me, and focus on what's best for Jack. I had hoped to get some good 4 hour chunks to write, cook, maybe even lounge about (gasp!), but that's not really happening now. It will at some point. Right now I need to be patient and give him more emotional support when we're together at home, rather than letting him play by himself and trying to squeeze in one more load of laundry or email. I see the difference when I stay to close to him -- he is more secure and less whiny. So instead of a rest time before we headed off to school, today I read with him.

I'll update tomorrow how things went for him today....

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Not quite star struck

I went to college with students who went on to work for the New York Times, major television networks, and countless other prestigious places. And now I can say I went to college with a dude on Dancing with the Stars.

Jeffrey Ross lived on the floor below mine freshman year, only then his name was Jeff Lifschultz. It's kind of strange to me that he ended up as a comedian, since out of everyone I knew in college, he was not nearly the funniest. Perhaps he is the worst dancer though....

Saturday, September 20, 2008

He hides/mommy fumes

Jack's a sweet, smart, funny boy, but he has one "hobby" that really drives me nuts. He hides his number and letter puzzle pieces, and then wants me to find them. Two problems here: he's really good at hiding them and I don't want to find them anymore -- it's like a toddler version of Sisyphus in that it never ends. I keep encouraging him to look for the pieces himself. When he does find one he is very pleased, but all day long he begs and whines for me to find the pieces. Is this some strange developmental stage? When will it end? Should I just take the puzzles and pieces away?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Watching movies

Since Jack goes to sleep earlier, we're getting a chance to watch some movies these days. Netflix tells me we watched only 3 movies from July to late August, but we've already watched 4 in September.

We loved:
This is England -- British movie about 1983 England, skinheads, and the aftermath of the Falkland war
You're Gonna Miss Me -- documentary about Roky Erickson -- be sure to watch the update in the extras all the way to the end, which is nothing short of shocking
Into the Wild -- I didn't expect this from Sean Penn -- really loved the acting and the way he captured the spirit of the book

Not so much:
Stormy Monday -- director Mike Figgis's first movie. It's a long way from this stinker to Leaving Las Vegas
Eastern Promises -- loved Viggo, but I thought the movie was emotionally flat
Tristram Shandy -- a mess of a movie, but I had one good laugh at the chestnut scene.
Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford -- thought Brad Pitt was miscast and it was waaaaay too long. Nicely shot though

Anybody care to offer some titles for our Netflix queue? We'd love a juicy blockbuster from the last 2 years....

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Worn out by preschool

I remember at our preschool orientation one of the parents said that the afternoon kids get so worn out they barely make it through dinner and bath before passing out. I scoffed at that -- no way this would happen with Jack, who a few months ago could run and play and talk all day long but still would go to sleep at 8:30 or 9 (or later).

I'm happily eating my words. Since school started, Jack's gone to sleep around 7:15 or 7:30 every night (except for the one day he had an accidental car nap) and sleeps until 5:45-6:45.

Yesterday when I brought him back from preschool I asked him if he wanted to read a book. He said yes then got into bed. "I'm tired so I'm getting into bed," he said. Wow. I was speechless.

Yea hurray for preschool!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Happy Mondays


For the first time in a long time, I'm preferring Mondays to Sundays. Because Monday is a preschool day!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

He's loving it!

Jack adores preschool. He starts saying "ready to go to preschool!" about an hour before his session starts. When we roll up to the gate I can barely contain him as he struggles to climb out of the stroller and get inside the grounds. I drop him off with a kiss and return 3 hours later, to be greeted with "mommy came back!" No tears.

Yesterday when we came home from preschool he was practically bouncing off the walls with energy and joy. We see a change in him after less than 2 weeks of ps; he relates differently to people and his brain is engaged in a new way. He is tired too -- last night he slept from 7:30 - 6.

And amazingly enough, yesterday he had no pee accidents, not even at preschool. Ok, he did poop in his pants once at home, but he also pooped in the potty once at home, so that's hopeful.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

First two days of preschool

In two weeks, Jack's potty training has progressed really well. On a good day, he has one or two accidents, but they are usually fairly small, rather than floor-drenchers. Even better, Jack'll now often pull down his pants and underpants by himself and pee, rather than have us do it for him. We do still have a rough time in the late afternoon -- puddles do appear if I'm not on him constantly.

His first 2 days of preschool were really quite wonderful. Both days were extremely hot both inside and outside of the building, but Jack didn't seem too bothered by the heat. He mostly stayed inside exploring. Tomorrow he'll stay for 3 hours, which includes circle time and snack -- I'm hoping he can sit still for ct.

I feel like I've been training him for a marathon, and now it's started. He may win, he may lose... but at least he's out there running....

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Parenting essentials, from birth-age 3

These are/were my top picks, how about you?

birth-1
breast pump (not fun, but needed it)
sling/backpack (for walks and hikes)
washer and dryer (cloth diapers)
bouncy chair (for a few minutes of distraction)
extra help (should have asked for more family visits)

1-2:
safety gates and childproof latches (we needed them)
stroller (got constant use)
highchair (fantastic for when he started to feed himself)
mini food processor (baby food)
playpen (otherwise how would laundry ever have been done)

2-3:
Ibuprofen (for me, not him)
sweatpants and washer/dryer (potty training)
baby monitor (fun for playing "what is he doing in there?" at bedtime)
cd player (for mellow music at bedtime)
earplugs (for when my kind husband lets me sleep late)
memberships (Coyote Point, Zoo, Discovery Museum)

3-4:
?

First day


Well, after all our potty training drama, we made it to Jack's first day of preschool after all. Jack was a bit overwhelmed (me too), but he did great using the potty and explored the school a bit. We're going back today!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The best laid plans of mice and mommys

We're still here. Potty training progress has been slow (Thursday was a disaster), but we keep moving forward. Unfortunately, it looks as if we'll need to postpone his preschool start date, since Jack's not really up to the required potty training standards. However, this evening he did poop in the potty, a big step!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A bit better today

Things have improved. Jack peed several times in his underpants or bathing suit today, but only a little at a time. When he sat on the potty he peed quite a bit, so it feels like he's figuring things out.

We had a gorgeous sunny warm day today, so we spent most of the day in the yard or on the deck. Jack went snail hunting and we picked our daily apple from our gravenstein tree.

He did poop in his underpants again, but it wasn't as messy as yesterday. We'll work on that tomorrow.

I do feel hopeful this evening.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Potty training: day 2

(warning: somewhat graphic potty talk ahead. skip this post if you're likely to be offended.)

Day one was good. Jack was excited about the chocolate chips and only had one accident all day. We even went to the playground and used the bathroom there 5 times.

Day two not so good. I expected some resistance after a successful day one, and I got it. He would not be swayed by chocolate chips. We went through about a dozen pairs of underpants and pants, shorts, pajama bottoms, you name it. He achieved one spectacular poop-in-his-pants outside in the garden. The only remedy for that was a quick bath.

Toward the end of the afternoon I no longer used a timer or asked him if he was ready to sit on the potty. I just picked him up and plopped him down. He protested, but oh well -- tell it to the judge.

But what Jack might not realize is this: I won't back down. I don't want to go through this again. Forward only.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Panic

Wow, I really screwed up. I remembered Jack's first day of preschool as September 15th, but I just found out it's the 3rd. That's next week.

So we're canceling all plans and hunkering down with a stack of underpants and a bag of chocolate chips.

Wish us luck!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Progress

Jack's sleeps are stretching slowly, slowly. He's been going to sleep between 7:45-9 (usually around 8:30) and sleeping through to 6:30 or 6:45.

I have to say, getting up for the day at 6:30 is way better than the 5am wake up call Jack used to provide.

He's also getting better at putting himself to sleep -- twice this week we read to him until he was calm, then left the room and (eventually) Jack fell asleep, without running around or wrecking his room. Last night when I went to tuck him in before I went to sleep, I found he had fallen asleep in the little pillow nest behind his bed, with a book in his hands.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Big boys and auntie Dorothy

My sister and 2 of her 3 sons came for a visit last week. We all had a great time playing cards, picking blackberries, and hiking, among other things.

The highlight for everyone was probably our afternoon at Limantour Beach. Giancarlo and Matthew built sandcastles and Jack ran up and down the beach with Hans while Dorothy and I sat and talked while watching the waves.

I was quite worn out by the time they headed back to Boston, but happy!

Babysitter


Sitting happily with a bag of Bronx grapes (http://www.slowfoodusa.org/ark/bronx_grapes.html) at the San Francisco Ferry Building farmers market Saturday.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Love bug

I usually don't notice any big sudden changes in Jack's development, but a few days ago he had a dramatic increase in his language skills -- he started speaking clearly in full sentences and using "I" consistently instead of "b" (for beeboo).

He's also become very snuggly and loving. All day long he says "I love you mommy," and "I miss da," (when Hans is at work). He'll come up to me and say "give mommy hug and kiss," which is wonderful.

Jack's still crazy about letters and numbers. He prefers the "red" playground over any other because this playground has some letters and numbers panels and no other nearby playground does. At home he makes letters out of wooden blocks and requests that we draw or paint numbers on paper. This morning he spelled ice cream: ixcereo.

Quote of the day: "Letters eat everything. Letters are omnivores."

Friday, August 8, 2008

Mountain joy

Jack went to sleep late then got up early 2 nights in a row. Yesterday we spent the morning at the farmers market and playground, then came home for lunch and quiet time. Jack got whiny and I knew he was tired, so I let him crash in his room (he fell asleep on the floor). But he only slept for 45 minutes and woke up in a state. This happens from time to time and I never know what to make of it -- he cries and cries and nothing seems right. I held him and tried to get him to stop crying long enough to tell me what was wrong so we could fix it. But maybe the world was wrong, because nothing helped.

I called Hans to ask for advice and he suggested taking Jack for a drive or watching a video. I got Jack dressed, strapped him into the car, and drove up to the top of "our" mountain. It was foggy yesterday, and little rivulets of water drained down the fire road. As soon as his feet hit the muddy trail, he calmed down. Swinging the blackberry bucket and carrying a small wooden giraffe, Jack hiked up to the top of the hill with me, where we spent quite a while picking blackberries. He is really a very good berry picker -- sees the best ones and goes for them, regardless of the thorns.

When we had picked all the ripe berries on those hilltop bushes we wound our way downhill past Hummingbird Point, trekked across the grassland where a hawk watched our progress from a dead tree, and squeezed through the native treasures segment of the trail. Jack tried his first huckleberry. Ghostly white snowberries dangled from their branches like tiny full moons. We trudged back into the forest to the fire road and back to car, all the while debating the fruit preferences of his favorite animals (Jack thinks coyotes love strawberries the best). He hiked the entire way, and never once asked me to carry him.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

It just looks like a hula skirt

We're taking a break from potty training the past few days, and we were out of our regular diapers yesterday, so Jack was wearing pull-ups. At the playground his diaper gave way, leaving his pants soaked. I had slipped up on one of the foremost rules of toddlerhood -- always bring extra pants! So I took his pants off and draped his "toasty warm" over his thighs. He said he was comfortable all the way home in the stroller!

Also visible: bowl of pretzels, cup with our proprietary blend of carrot and apple juices, favorite new king snake toy, and Dinosaur Train book.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The magic of the Red Balloon

Jack watches almost no tv these days. His heavy infatuation with his ABC's and 123's dvds has abated a bit, and occasionally he'll ask to watch a Yo Gabba Gabba episode, but mostly we're unplugged. I almost never encourage him to watch anything, with one exception: I plop him down on the sofa to watch the Red Balloon when he really needs a nap.

This lovely French movie from 1956 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Red_Balloon) is one of Hans's favorites from his childhood. It follows a young boy and his balloon through Paris. Our dvd is subtitled, but there isn't much dialog, and it doesn't seem to matter to Jack. He watches rapt and then falls asleep.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Looking for bedtime solutions

I once read on another blog that after you make it through your child's first year, you never give your child's sleep another thought. Either that parent was extraordinarily lucky or we're abnormal, because sleep is just about all we do talk about here (well, and the futility of potty training).

I've come to terms with the idea that Jack is not a big sleeper. He sleeps fine, just not very much. Most nights he's slumbering by 8 or 8:30, and he wakes up for the day between 6-6:30. That doesn't leave us much time to ourselves, but we take what we can get. The real problem is getting him to sleep, a task which Hans undertakes most nights. About 1/2 the time Jack does fall asleep on his own (eventually and after some power struggles), either when Hans is reading to him or by himself once Hans leaves his room. But the rest of the time is not fun: Jack gets out of bed, runs to his door, opens it, and runs out to find us. And, oh how he laughs.

I pretty much avoid specific-topic parenting books, but I'm wondering if we need a little sleep guidance here. We've tried a bit of a technique I saw once on Nanny 911 (back when I thought the experts had the answers), wherein the parent continually places the runaway child back in bed, as many times as it takes until the child gives up and goes to sleep. It hasn't worked and I surmised it was because we didn't keep it up until he surrendered, but last night I tried it until Jack became totally hysterical, so it doesn't seem like a good option for us.

I guess that leaves us, on those nights when Jack won't settle down on his own, in a familiar position of reading with him until he falls asleep, which we did just about every night from the time he started teething until Jack got his big boy bed last year. Maybe we're lucky it took Jack this long to discover he doesn't have to stay in bed at bedtime. But we sure would like things to be a lot more mellow. How does everyone else get their toddlers to sleep?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mental health day

We had a somewhat rough week at home, recovering from colds or flu or whatever it was, and then Jack went and got himself sick. He's been sick only a handful of times in his life, so I am never prepared for his illnesses; they surprise me each time.

This week his nose has been stuffed up, he's been coughing a bit, and running an occasional low fever. I treated him with Tylenol and a few extra popsicles, but he was a little beast for 2 days, with operatic tantrums, super clinginess, and crazy sleep patterns. Last night Hans fought the Epic Battle of Bedtime, and Jack didn't go to sleep until 10:30. As usual he was up this morning at 6 something.

Hans gave me the day off, so I headed out for a hike around 10:30, only to discover it was flaming hot on the peninsula! Oh well, I hiked anyway, enjoying myself at Pulgas Ridge. (You can read some more about the hike on my new blog: http://bayareahiker.blogspot.com/) I came home hot but happy, took a shower, checked in on Jack (still crazy, still a little sick), then took a nap. What a wonderful relaxing day. Thanks Hans!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Two from the zoo

Almost forgot, we had a fun but mercurial (word of the week around here) trip to the Oakland Zoo last Sunday. This was our second ever visit and the first time we never made it to the Children's Zoo, so Sunday we started there. It is excellent -- the animal areas are large and cheerful and there's plenty of interactive stuff for the kids to climb on and explore. Unfortunately there is no goat feeding at this zoo, but Jack did get to pet these goats. Jack really really loved the fruit bats -- none of us had ever seen them before, and we can't stop talking about them. Our visit was marred with a few "goes to 11" tantrums, but all in all it was a fun trip. One of the highlights was watching Jack ride by himself on the little car ride. That was a first.

Berry picking


The weather was lovely Wednesday, so Jack and I hiked up Mount Davidson for some berry picking. Most of the blackberries were still very green, but we picked about a cup while watching swallowtail butterflies and hummingbirds zipping around. We'll be back!