May 29, 2009

Not one of my finer moments

Thursday night was a bad night. We had issues with bedtime . . . more issues with him not staying in his crib.

I'm not proud of how I handled it. I yelled at him. I yelled at my two year old. At one point, he said, "Mommy is so sad." And I replied, "No, Jack, mommy is very angry because you won't obey." I was not gentle. I was not kind. It was not one of my finer moments.

The worst part was on Friday morning. when I got him out of bed. I apologized for yelling at him and he said, "Mommy's not sad anymore?"

"No, I'm not sad" I replied.

Then he asked, "Does Mommy like Jack?"

Ugh. Of course I do. It kills me to think that I ever made him question how I felt about HIM. He needs to know when I'm displeased with his behavior, but I never want him to think I don't love him. I hugged him until he wouldn't let me anymore.

This week was a rough week. It was just stressful and busy. Jack's become a pro at unlocking and opening our glass sliding door to our deck . . . thus letting Murphy escape countless times.

At one point after I got back from chasing her, I was tired and frustrated and just sat on the couch and cried for a few minutes.

Jack climbed up next to me and asked, "You ok, Mama?"

"Yes, I'm fine."

"You have tears. You crying."

"I know . . . I'm sorry buddy . . . I'm just frustrated with Murphy."

"You ok . . . I so proud of you."

How could I have ever yelled at a boy that sweet?

Staff training starts tomorrow . . . which means starting tomorrow night, my life is no longer my own. We're so lucky because we have a great babysitter for Jack, and she'll watch him where we work every day so we'll get to see him quite a bit. We're leaving Jack with Kyle's parents when we go on our campout Wednesday - Friday . . . I don't question whether or not he'll have fun or be well cared for. I do question whether or not I'll go crazy wondering how he is and what he's doing.

May 28, 2009

Looking back at Jack's second year . . .

I did end up doing a birthday video for Jack. It's a little sloppy because I was so rushed, but I don't really think it matters. It serves its purpose quite nicely.

Jack is two. from Sara on Vimeo.

May 27, 2009

Jack is (almost) two

Jack's birthday party was so much fun! I was afraid that he would be tired and cranky by the end, but I'll be honest . . . I was crankier and way more tired than he was by the end! He was so well behaved and it was such a great day.

It was so much fun on the day or two leading up to the party to see him getting excited about it. He had been with me when we purchased most of the decorations for the party and knew that his birthday party was coming.

This post has more photos of party decorations, but you can see all of our birthday party photos here.

We decided to go with a "numbers" theme, given his propensity to count from one to ten at random times (often leaving out four and five). He's actually started adding eleven and twelve, but usually skips to eighteen from there.

So, to incorporate numbers as much as possible, the invitations that went out announced his birthday in seconds, rather than years . . .

I know it looks like i have dirt under my fingernails, but it's actually the chocolate cupcake I had just consumed. Gross, I know.

And here's the back . . .

We put matching numbers on the wall . . .

And I made a banner for the fireplace (of which I am quite proud) . . .

On the tables, we had blue and orange table cloths and we had jars of candy and the guests (who were mostly adults) guess how many pieces were in each jar. The jars, of course, were the prizes. We scattered number cut-outs around the plates on which the jars were displayed.

Maria once again made her amazing cupcakes . . . honestly, you've never had cupcakes this good. I glued a bunch of tiny little card stock pieces shaped like a "2" onto toothpicks. This is something that I will NEVER do again. Or if I do, I'll find a better way to do it. It was miserable.

And here's the birthday boy himself . . . in the t-shirt that we painted following this tutorial.

We served sandwiches . . . egg salad (Kyle made it with this recipe and it was great), chicken salad and peanut butter and jelly. We also had fruit, chips, lemonade, iced tea, etc. Perfect for an early lunch.

I helped Jack open his gifts . . . which, of course, means that I opened his gifts while he tried to play with everything that I just opened. He got some really cool toys and has had a lot of fun playing with them. He also got some great clothes and I'm pretty sure he's set for the summer!

We're so grateful for everyone's generosity and for their willingness to come to his party and celebrate with us! Jack is a lucky kid.

When we got home, Kyle finished putting together our gift to him . . . his new swing set.

P.S. If you're interested in throwing a number themed birthday party (especially for a two-year-old) contact me . . . I saved all of the number cut outs and the wall numbers for the "number of seconds" old that a two-year-old is. Just contact me and I can send them your way. Already claimed. :)

May 24, 2009

Seven Dwarfs

We painted our bedroom this weekend. Which doesn't seem to make sense since we should be working on Jack's room. But there's a logic to it. There's a thought pattern that led us to do our bedroom first. I just don't feel like explaining it right now.

Anyway, I don't know why we decided on THIS weekend, but we did. This is our craziest time of year. And I'm slightly panicked (not really panicked, just slightly) about the fact that we'll be in staff training a week from now. Wow. Typing it just took my breath away.

Tomorrow is Jack's birthday party. It's 9:47 PM and I haven't started his video yet, so I'm thinking we probably won't have one. I haven't even really decided what I'm going to do about beverages yet. I went to set up tonight and forgot most of what I needed, so I'll have to finish tomorrow morning. The party's at 10:30 AM (I know . . . random time, but I'm trying to make it mesh well with his nap schedule for optimum cooperation). I'm not really stressed about anything, but I am wishing I had started planning sooner. I have all of these ideas that would be AWESOME with the theme, but I just don't have time.

I just keep wondering, "Will Jack ever appreciate the work that went into his birthday parties?" My response? "I don't care." He's so excited for his party tomorrow and whether he realizes the amount of work it took or not, he's worth the effort.

We were supposed to have family pictures taken today, but it didn't happen. Jack and I are both still recovering, we attended Kyle's cousin's graduation party and at some point, Jack tore a hole in his shorts. While he ended up looking like a kid who's been living on the streets for a while, it was nice not to have to worry about keeping his clothes clean for the pictures.

Amidst the craziness, I got back from setting up tonight and I found this in my inbox. It made me smile:

I miss you too, Heather.

Oh, and it's time to get some new shirts.

May 22, 2009


My throat is sore. My lungs hurt from coughing. My nose burns from wiping it. My head hurts from concentrating so hard on breathing.

Nonetheless, on my way home from the doctor's office, my hazy thought pattern kept bringing me back to how much I had to be thankful for. The thick coat of pollen covering my car is a reminder of why I feel this way and that it's only temporary. Things could be better, but they could also be much, much worse.

I have allergies. I am blessed.

May 21, 2009

In five minutes or less

In five minutes or less . . .

  • Bill Cosby was on the Today Show this week. When Jack saw him, he pointed and said, "Presdent Obama!" It's possible that, for Jack's sake, we should move somewhere a little more culturally diverse.

  • We turned on the air conditioning last night. It just about killed me to let Kyle do it, but Jack's allergies (and mine, for that matter) are so bad that sleeping with the windows open was out of the question.

  • In the car on Monday, Jack told me that "Life suck wi-out you." Whoops. Um, time for less Kelly Clarkson and more in the car. He's such a little parrot.

  • I cannot believe that our staff arrives in a little more than a week. How on earth will I get everything done before then? During the first week of staff training, we'll go on a 2 night rustic campout . . . no electricity, no water. Doing that at 6 months pregnant will be challenging. We haven't decided yet if we're taking Jack with us again. He loved it last year and it wasn't too bad, but I was so distracted and I felt like I wasn't really that effective in training. Then again, sleeping on the ground at 6 months pregnant might also make me ineffective. We might leave him with his grandparents. I guess we need to decide that soon.

  • On top of camp work, and card orders, I have an overwhelming number of photos to edit, too. But it's true that if I weren't busy, I'd be antsy for something to do.

  • Jack's birthday party is Monday and I'm finally starting to make some progress at being ready. I have a feeling that it'll be thrown together at the last minute most years. But it will always, always remind me of when I was pregnant with him and trying to get last minute things set for the summer.

May 19, 2009


Kyle took Jack to a baseball game for a few hours and I should be excited for this uninterrupted time in which to be productive. Instead, I'm just stressed out because of the FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS MISSING FROM MY BANK ACCOUNT!

That's right. Someone used my name to purchase $500 of golf equipment. I called the bank and they said I needed to first call the company that charged my card. The company, of course, told me I needed to handle it with my bank. I pushed the customer service agent a little and they agreed to try and stop the shipment of the items today so that they could refund my money. So now I'm waiting for a call to verify whether or not they can do that. If they can't, I have to fill out an affidavit and it can take 30 - 60 days to get my money back. I don't know about you, but for us, losing $500 for that long hurts.

This is so frustrating.

It's the card that Kyle keeps in his wallet and we use it when we're out and about. He checked and he still has the card, so it wasn't stolen. And to those of you who are fearful to use credit or debit cards online . . . please know that this card is the one that is never used online. Seriously, the internet is the safest place to use a credit card, as long as the site is secure (which most reputable sites are).

Think about it . . . when you pay at a restaurant, the waiter disappears with your card for 5 - 10 minutes. He could totally write all of your information down. In person transactions are the only times when actual humans handle your information.

It's exactly how I feel about paying for things online, too. Online, I put my bank account info in, it's encrypted and no one at the given business really sees any of it. If I send a check, there's an actual human being who at least takes the check out of the envelope and has access to ALL of my checking information.

I had this happen one other time about 8 or 9 years ago on my credit card. The information was stolen by a gas station attendent who told me he had to manually fill out a credit card slip because the machine wasn't working. That may have been true, but he also kept the information for himself and proceeded to purchase a cell phone and ring up quite a bill . . . pardon the pun.

Ok, I'm going to try and and get my mind off of this and on to something else.

May 15, 2009


Jack did have a virus. The doctor first thought it was strep, but the test was negative. She said there were white spots and open ulcers on the back of his throat and that it looked really painful. Yikes! I was holding my breath when she looked in his ears. We've made it almost two years with no ear infection and we have 2 1/2 more weeks to make it all the way!

That night (Tuesday) was probably the hardest. He woke up screaming throughout the night and just couldn't get comfortable. He wouldn't drink anything and kept grabbing at his chest. He just seemed miserable.

Wednesday was his day of recovery and by Thursday, we were back to our normal routine. When we prayed for dinner on Wednesday night, Jack said, "Dear Jesus, Thank you for day. Thank you for helpin' my feel better. Thank you for food. Amen."

He found a new place that he likes to sit and look out the window. Which isn't great, because that kind of become Murphy's "spot." I've been letting the two of them battle it out on their own.

He asked for an apple and ate almost the entire thing. I said, "Jack, what did you do with the rest of his apple." And he held out his hand and said, "Right here." What was left of the apple literally fit into his closed fist. Whoops. I should have been watching that a little more carefully.

Later, I was in the bathroom for two minutes and he managed to get our Dyson vaccuum out (which is quite heavy), plugged it in and turned it on. A little bit after that, I said, "Are you ready to head to the playground?" And he said, "No mom, I'm dusting."

This is a habit that I'd like to nurture.

May 14, 2009

22 weeks. Right? I think.

People have started to ask if there are differences between this pregnancy and the last . . . and I honestly can't remember. My memories of being pregnant with Jack are mostly from the last few weeks. So, I can say that it seems like this baby is moving less, but it's probably that I'm really only remembering Jack's movement in weeks 37 - 41. When I was pregnant with Jack all of my neck and shoulder issues disappeared, but this time around, not so much. I haven't had any carpal tunnel issues (a.k.a. the return of the claw) but I don't think that started until around 30 weeks with Jack. I know I had to stop wearing my rings at 28 weeks.

I guess one difference doesn't necessarily have to do with the pregnancy as much as it does with being busy . . . I can NEVER remember how far along I am. When people ask, I have to really think about it. Sometimes, I just give my due date, but they'll usually say, "So how long does that make it?" To which I'm tempted to respond, "Do the math!"

With Jack, I always knew his approximate weight, length, what piece of fruit his size was equivalent to and what part of his little body was developing most this week. With this baby, I depend on my weekly baby center e-mails to remind me how long I have to go.

And seriously, look at the picture below. I look a lot farther along than 22 weeks. Or so it seems to me, at least.

Getting belly pictures regularly has become difficult with how busy our schedules are during this time of year, so I opted for the "self-portrait" today. Let's just say it took a while to get all of me in the picture.

I'm wearing maternity clothes almost exclusively now. Most non-materity shirts are too close to showing my belly for my comfort. And my pants with a lower rise will still fit okay, but my belly pushes them down and they're hard to keep up.

As a surprise, my mom bought me an entire bag full of clothes from A Pea In the Pod when we were in Chicago . . . they're incredibly expensive clothes but they are so comfortable! I had to take one pair of shorts back because, as I told the saleswoman, they fit well now, but I didn't think they would fit in July.

She said, "Oh, well the shorts won't shrink."

I just smiled and wished I could show her a picture of me in all of my puffiness during my last 7 - 8 weeks with Jack.

May 12, 2009

Sick Day #2

Jack woke up bouncing off the walls this morning. He had zero fever and the little bit of congestion he had last night was gone.

So, we called his babysitter and said, "Come on over!" They played outside for most of the morning. When I got home at noon, I could tell by the whiny pitch to his voice and the fact that most of what he said wasn't making sense, that we were not, in fact, in the clear. I took his temperature and sure enough, it was 101.0 degrees. Yuck.

I laid him on the couch and went to get him a snack. By the time I got back, he was out.

We have an appointment with our doctor at 3 PM . . . this is might be our 2nd non-routine check-up in his life. Or maybe our third. And I'm fully expecting the doctor to tell me that our son has swine flu.

Just kidding.

Sort of.

Meanwhile, I have work piling up. Camp work. House work. Design work. My thought is that if he's completely better by Saturday, I might hire a sitter to come for most of the day so I can catch up. I hate doing that on a weekend, because that's usually family quality time. But we've had lots of quality cuddle time this week. Granted, most of it has been in front of the television. Jack hasn't watched this much television in one day since we drove to Florida in February. Anyway, on Saturday, I have a photo session at 10, but other than that, my day is wide open. I might be able to get all of my work done and Kyle might be able to get his swingset put all the way together and get a start on getting Jack's new room ready. We'll see. Oh, did I mention that over the weekend Kyle finished putting steps all the way around our deck? It looks AWESOME!

May 11, 2009

Sick day

We didn't get much done today thanks to his perpetual fever. Nap time was almost non-existent, most likely because of the aches that I'm sure he's dealing with. So I have a whole pile of things to do post bedtime. Tylenol keeps him relatively happy, but he still wants to be cuddling next to someone all the time.

I'm thankful, though, for no more throwing up. In all of the stomach flu we dealt with in the winter, we never had anything as gross or, um, projectile as it was last night. Thankfully, Kyle and I were able to salvage our mattress and pillows.

But my time with this sweet little boy today was well spent. He's never been more cuddly and I don't think he's ever told me "I lub you" as many times as he has today.

I lub you, too, Jack.

May 10, 2009

Highs and lows

High: Kyle and Jack bringing me breakfast in bed (from McDonald's, of course).

Low: Working in the church nursery. I know this shouldn't be a low but for some reason I was lacking energy and enthusiasm.

High: Kyle took Jack home from church and I went to Ann Arbor to return a few things and do some shopping. The alone time was nice.

Low: Being 30 minutes late to dinner at my in-laws' house.

High: Spending time with family.

Low: Noticing that Jack wasn't himself . . . he was very whiny and cried at the drop of a hat. Then my mother-in-law said those dreaded words: "He feels warm." And he did. Feverishly warm. I took him home and changed him into pajamas and set him on our bed to cuddle for a while. About 10 minutes later, he puked everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Even on Murphy.

High: Praying with my sick baby and singing him to sleep.

Low: Cleaning up the vomit and feeling a little bit nauseous myself.

There's a sort of poetic justice to ending mother's day covered in your child's vomit, no?

Not possible.

Today, I'm grateful for the little one who made me a mother.

May 8, 2009

I'm so strict

Ok, I know you're sick of reading about it, but . . .

Today has been the best day with Jack all week. He's been relatively obedient. There were very few tantrums and maybe two time outs. He did throw a fit because I forgot his baseball cap this morning and then later because I wouldn't let him drive. Seriously. That's why he was mad. I know, right . . . I'm so strict. But overall, we've actually had a lot of fun. It's been refreshing.

In Target this morning, we walked up to get our usual snack. The cashier looked at me and said, "What can I get for you?" And before I could answer, Jack said, "Popcorn combo, pease." Seriously, I'm not kidding when I say that we go there a lot.

Later at the pharmacy, I thanked the pharmacist for her help and said, "Jack, can you say goodbye?" Jack waved and said, "Bye! I love you more!" Hmmm . . . I guess that phrase has lost a little bit of its meaning.

May 6, 2009

Dear Jack, Month 23

Dear Jackson,

I had a letter all prepared for this month . . . it was about our world . . . our planet. It was about keeping it clean and the importance of taking care of what we've been given. I told you that it's important to minimize our waste and maximize our efforts to preserve the world of which we've been made stewards. I talked about being pro-life and how it's about saving and valuing the lives of unborn children . . . but it's also about valuing all life. It's about protecting life. And it's about preserving the life-sustaining environment in which we live.

I watched a talk show a few weeks ago about how the flow of trash throughout the Pacific Ocean leads to a pile of trash north of Hawaii which is estimated to 9 feet deep and about the size of the state of Texas! Seriously. Who knows how big it will be when you're old enough to read this letter?! Dad and I have never been real "earthy" people. Meaning, we recycle when it's convenient and haven't put much thought or effort into conservation. But watching this has really caused me to rethink things a little. Nothing drastic, but I definitely think twice about whether something is recyclable and what I can do to cut down on our waste. I have a feeling that through the years, your generation will have so much more to teach me about preserving our environment than I could ever teach you. This all goes hand in hand with what we always try to teach you . . . try to leave a place better when you leave than it was when you got there.

All of that stuff is important, but I feel like all I need to do this month is remind you that I love you. I know, I know . . . I tell you that every month. But I want you to know that I really, really mean it.

Last weekend, you told me that you don't like me. Your exact words were, "No like Jack's Mama!" You've never told me anything like that before and it crushed me. It broke my heart.

But as much as it hurt, it was ok with me. I can live with that. You won't like me all the time. And in this instance, you didn't like me because I was doing my job. I was parenting. I was doing what I needed to do to shape you into the kind of person that you should become.

I'm not really sure how to put this because I'm not sure there's ever a time that you'll read this and adequately understand what you mean to me. Maybe when you have children of your own, but even then . . . I think it's hard to understand 20+ years later that your parents really felt about you like you do about your children.

But even if you never understand how much your dad and I love you, it doesn't matter. It doesn't change the fact that we do love you. It doesn't change how much we love you. Nothing will ever change that.

I could write more about the challenges that began during the last two days of your 23rd month, but I've written about those elsewhere. All I want to tell you right now is that so many people love you, but none more than your Dad and I. No matter what.



Little boys who take their diapers off and throw them over the side of the crib are less likely to swing a leg up and over the side rail and climb out of their cribs.

A related fact: Some moms would rather change the sheets later, than re- diaper their crib-climbing sons.

May 5, 2009

Like a ton of bricks . . .

The last two days have been slightly better. On Sunday night he slept 12 hours, and he slept for almost 4 hours yesterday afternoon (he's usually a one hour napper) before I finally woke him up! I'd say he was overtired, for sure! I'm just not sure what I could have done to stop that, other than not take the trip. He just WOULDN'T sleep at my sister's apartment.

While things have been slightly better, the tantrums have not stopped. But during my time watching Jack sleep on Sunday night, I was trying to figure out how I could have ever raised my voice at such a sweet little person. I've done really well at remaining calm and just leaving the room for him to have his fits alone. And when he hits or kicks, I pick him up, put him in time out and tell him how sad I am that he made that choice. I feel like even though his behavior is staying the same, I'm getting better at handling it. Though, I am feeling like I can't really leave the house with him. I was planning on taking him to the library tomorrow after his nap, but I might change my mind.

To answer the question/respond to the comment that everyone has seemed to ask about on twitter and facebook . . . yes, I realize he's probably ready for a big boy bed. And to be honest, we were planning on converting the guest room to Jack's new room (to make room for baby) this month anyway. But to be even more honest, as I look at work responsibilities for this month, I'm not completely sure that will happen until sometime mid-summer.

And while I realize he's ready for a big boy bed, I also think that this is partly a matter of obedience v. disobedience. Yesterday, when I was putting him down for a nap Jack said, "Jack can climb out of crib." And I said, "Yes, Jack can climb out of his crib. But mama says,'No, no.'" And he repeated me. He knows what he's supposed to do and he needs to obey whether he wants to or not. This is no different than the time out chair. I put him there for two minutes and he doesn't move. Well, he squirms, but he never gets down. And that's only because the first few weeks of time outs, we took him back to the chair repeatedly until he got the idea . . . mom and dad are in charge. SO, yes, while I know that this probably a sign of him being ready for that change, I also think we need to teach him that it's about obeying mom and dad. After all, he'll need to stay in the big boy bed once he starts sleeping there, right?

On top of all of this, our "busy season" has hit like a ton of bricks. I have so much to do, and our Tuesday/Thursday babysitter was officially done until the end of April. I have someone who can start on May 15, but that seems like a really long time from now.

So, I'm feeling a little overwhelmed and tired by Jack's new stage, stuff to get ready for the summer, the number of photos I have to edit, cards I have to complete, etc.

Tonight, when I was putting Jack to bed I said we were going to pray and he said the phrase that he says seemingly hundreds of times a day: "I do it MYSELF!"

Ok, fine by me.

We folded our hands, bowed our hands and he proceeded to say, "Thank you, God. Thank you God. Thank you, Jesus. Amen."

It's these kids of moments that keep me going.

May 3, 2009

A little perspective . . .

After reading Nicole's post, I went upstairs to peek in at Jack while he slept (yes, he finally did go to sleep). To get to him, I had to step over the contents of his dresser and his closet (which he will be spending tomorrow morning picking up, with my help), but he's asleep. That's what's important right now.

Anyway, I looked at him sleeping . . . all cute and cuddly with blankets strewn everywhere . . . and then I came back to my office and looked at this picture from this weekend . . .

. . . and I thought about four things:

1. I can hardly remember the what the tantrum that he threw about 30 seconds after this picture was taken was about but I will always remember the look on his face the first time he saw his humongous pile of chocolate chip pancakes (of which he only ate one). I just need to make sure we keep having the moments we'll remember in the midst of all of the "character-shaping" ones we hope to someday forget.

2. Jack is still the same sweet kid that I've always loved. He still hugs spontaneously. He still tells me that he loves me. It's just a stage. It's just a stage. It's just a stage . . . this is what I will repeat to myself several times daily. Thanks to those of you who have been reminding me of that with your encouragement.

3. This stage means he's developing normally. For this, I am thankful. These little fits can actually be considered little blessings.

4. As dramatic as these situations seem at the time, there are WAY worse things that we could be going through with him. We are so lucky.

Day 3

It's 8:14 PM on Sunday night and we're back home. And the bedtime issues have followed us here and multiplied 10-fold. Thursday night . . . no bedtime issues. Tonight . . . I feel like I accidentally brought the wrong child home from Chicago.

Jack's been able to climb out of his crib for about a year, but hasn't really done it regularly until recently. And up until tonight, he's basically just done it when he's woken up . . . to come and get us.

Tonight, he climbed out and we took him back (silently, without saying a word) 17 times before we finally took the mattress out of the crib and put it on the floor. We put a baby gate in his doorway and he dragged the mattress over and used it to give him a boost over the gate.

So, we moved the mattress back to the crib and left the baby gate up. He'll just have to fall asleep on the floor when he gets tired, I guess. I don't know what else to do (and please don't suggest a tent). We removed everything that could be at all harmful to him from his room, and right now he's singing into the monitor.

I'm so fried. After a drive home full of tantrums and screaming I have no idea how I'm ever going to be able to handle two children . . . especially if Jack continues like this. I honestly feel like the child I've had for the last week is someone completely different than the child I raised for the 23 months prior to this. Is it crazy that the first 23 months were so good that I thought we might skip some of these behavioral things? Because I did. I honestly thought that.

His room is now silent. I'm going to go take a peek and then find a corner in which to have a good cry.

UPDATE: Diaper rash cream everywhere. In the middle of previously mentioned "good cry."

May 2, 2009

Highs and lows

Jack and I shared a bed for most of last night. When he woke up this morning (though his eyes were still shut), he grabbed my arm and said, "Mama feels better. Jack's not crying." I said, "Yes, mama likes it better when Jack's not crying." Then he said, "Sorry for hitting last night."

I'm not sure if that was my favorite part of the morning or if it was when we went to breakfast at my favorite breakfast place EVER. It's a place called Nookie's (Old Town). If you haven't been here, it's worth the trip to Chicago just to eat breakfast here (followed closely by Ann Sather, which is where we'll be headed tomorrow morning). When we visit my sister, we usually eat a small snack in place of lunch and a smaller dinner because these two breakfast places are always on the top of our list.

They always have amazing seasonal specials, including a sampler in which you can test a select three of their specials all in one plate. This morning, I had a "small portion" of:

1. An amazing corn flake crunch french toast with creamcheese filling, strawberries,
2. Bread pudding pancakes with white chocolate chips and toped with cherries and cherry syrup and
3. Banana oatmeal pancakes topped with a friend banana and toffee coffee sauce.

I'm pretty sure that my minimal weight gain so far during this pregnancy has just been foiled by this trip.

From breakfast, we walked to the Lincoln Park Zoo and had a good time there. It wasn't super crowded so we were able to let Jack get down from the stroller and walk/run most of the time. He was in a decent mood and obeyed well, so there were few confrontations.

We planned our day so that he could nap in the car since yesterday proved that napping at my sister's apartment was probably not going to work. It worked! He was out within a few minutes. We dropped my sister off where she needed to go downtown and started out toward the suburbs to visit some friends.

On our way out there, we got a text message that our friends' kids were a little under the weather so it probably wasn't going to work for us to get together. Kyle and I decided we'd continue on toward that area and visit the mall and IKEA.

This is where the story turns ugly.

Jack slept for about 1 1/2 hours in the car by the time we dropped Karina off and battled traffic to the mall. He was seemingly happy when he woke up, but when he came to the realization that our afternoon plans had changed . . . minor meltdown. We were at the mall for about 30 minutes and headed to IKEA because he's usually pretty happy at IKEA. But then we had a major meltdown at IKEA that resulted in us just leaving. He won. We were all miserable.

On the way back to my sister's apartment, we contemplated just packing up and leaving early, but decided it wasn't the best option. And of course, he decided to be happy and charming from that point on. He insisted on a "family hug" when we got out of the car and kept saying, "Good driving, dad."

Later, he was reciting his book "Gossie and Gertie" to us . . . the part where they say, "Gossie and Gertie are friends. Best friends." I said, "Jack, who's your best friend?" At first he said, "Jack." So I said, "Who's Jack's best friend?" He said, "Dad is."

And now we're back to bedtime. Kyle's taking a turn right now. After all, he is Jack's best friend. I will say that there's less screaming and violence, but he's still protesting. Bed time is rarely a problem at home. I hope that these episodes don't result in bedtime problems when we get home tomorrow.

I know it has a lot to do with him being tired. And maybe there's a little bit of an effect from the lack of nutritional value in any of his food for the last two days. I really do appreciate the comments and e-mails I've received. In my head, I know that this is "normal" and that "this too shall pass" but hearing it from other people is reassuring.

May 1, 2009

At a total loss

We're in Chicago. Kyle is in my sister's bedroom trying to get Jack to settle down. It's his turn . . . again. I'm so tense from my last turn that my shoulders ache.

The terrible twos are upon us. Up until this point there have been a couple of times when I thought, "This must be what it's like to be in the terrible twos." I was so, so wrong.

In this stage of rapid development, he is growing and talking and learning so much every day and I'm amazed at the things he does and says. But he's also testing every boundary we've set and as a result, is pushing my nerves to their limit. I would say that most of my inability to cope with this behavior was coming from pregnancy hormones, but I think Kyle feels as helpless as I do.

Jack is a naturally sweet, silly and happy little boy and for that I'm thankful. But during these times of boundary testing, it's like he morphs into this foreign creature that I am totally unfamiliar with.

He screams "NO!" when we tell him to do something. He kicks us and acts as if he'll hit us when we physically restrain him from doing the things we tell him not to do. I just heard him command Kyle to "SING SONG!" as he's trying to get him to settle down. He runs when we ask him to come. About 50% of the time, he does the opposite of what we ask him to do. Where does this little monster come from? He's so disrespectful and mean spirited when he gets into these little tantrums. Helpless is the only word to accurately describe it.

Today, in the Container Store, we told him it was time to get back into the stroller. Wait, to set the stage, you should know that he did not take a nap. Not even a 20 minute nap. He was really tired, but he wouldn't fall asleep in an unfamiliar place.

Anyway, Kyle picked him up to put him in the stroller and I witnessed something I have never in my life. I've seen kids throw tantrums before, but Jack threw the tantrum of all tantrums. It involved kicking, screaming, thrashing around on the floor and accidentally wacking his head on the window. Kyle couldn't even hold him. I've never even seen another child throw a tantrum like this. It took everything in me not to break down into tears. It took both Kyle AND I to restrain him. I have no idea what I would have done on my own.

I know that this is a "normal" stage or whatever, and I know that ultimately I'm a good parent, but for tonight I feel a little bit like a failure. I'm listening to him scream in the other room and I'm at a total loss for what I can do to appease him.

And I just heard Jack turn on the tv. How on earth did he do that?

I'm so tired.