Still not a big fan of water

Jack and water aren’t the best of friends.  It took a long time before he warmed up to baths (he likes them now), and it was only two or three days ago that we were able to rinse shampoo off his head without dealing with the shrieking.  Last summer, we went to the beach a few times, but he was NOT going to get in the water.  The first time, we dipped his toes in and he snatched his knees all the way to his chest.  A couple of other times, I carried him in to the waves.  He didn’t cry, but he did his monkey cling and hid his face.  Definitely didn’t enjoy it.

This past January I signed him up for baby swim lessons at URI, hoping he’d get more comfortable in the water.  We only had maybe five lessons before everything shut down because of the pandemic, but he was making a tiny bit of progress.  There were parts of the class he hated and parts he enjoyed.

Then, last week Mom sent us a water table.  I was pretty sure Jack would like it, but (happily) he loves it.  Yay for playing with water!  He splashes, he pours water into and out of it, and he doesn’t seem to mind when his clothes get soaked.

Jump to today.  It’s been hot, and we have two sprinkler-type splash pads.  You hook them up to a hose, turn the water on, and they’re like those fountains you sometimes see in parks with water spouting up all over the place.  I put one of them out in the yard on the north side of the house, hooked up the hose, got Jack into his swim diaper, and then…Jack wouldn’t let John put him down.  He wouldn’t go near it.  Dip a toe?  No.  Put a hand in it?  No.  I turned off the hose so water wasn’t spraying anymore.  Try it when it’s just shallow still water?  Not a chance.  Even when Mama is standing in it?  Nope.

And that was that.  Maybe he’ll come around on a really hot day.  Maybe he’ll be willing to try it if he’s playing with the water table next to it.  Maybe he’ll never be a fan of sprinklers and water spraying at his head.  Maybe I should just buy a normal kiddie pool.

Faceplant

We were on the floor after dinner last night when Jack slammed his face into my stomach (on purpose – he does that).  It was a little harder than usual, so it struck me as funnier than usual, and I started laughing.  A lot.  Somewhat uncontrollably.  Jack backed away from me (which was hilarious), and then he rushed me with a big grin on his face (which set me off again), and then he stood over John and said, “Mama….nuh-nuh-nuh HA!”

And then I died.  I am writing this from the afterlife.  Please write “She died doing what she loved: laughing at her child” on my gravestone.

He’s not a baby anymore

The biggest cliche in the world is “they grow up so fast”, but GUYS.  He’s starting to TALK to me, and I’m not ready.  He pointed at the seat of the bench this morning and said, “Ant.” Sure enough, there was an ant.  A couple of minutes later, he pointed at the sidewalk.  “Two ant.”  Then we got home, and he told me what song he wanted to hear.  “Elmo.  La la.”  (That’s “Elmo’s Song”, lyrics: “La la la la, Elmo’s song.”  Speaking of Elmo, I think I figured out how he manages to be every toddler’s favorite muppet.  Ready?  He speaks in the third person.  He says his own name ALL THE TIME.  “Elmo doesn’t like rainy days.  They make Elmo sad.”)

Jack appears to be growing too quickly for his naps, though.  Today, instead of napping, he learned to say “oh no”.  We haven’t had a nap of any kind for the last four days.  He’s had only two crib naps in the month of June, two naps in the car (not on purpose, but welcome), and three naps in the stroller.  If you’re doing the math, that’s 10 days without naps.

I keep googling variations on “how do you know when your toddler is ready to give up naps” (and I want to throttle the parents writing articles that start with “My 4 year old has recently started to resist naps”), and what I’m finding is what I already knew.  He REALLY still needs this nap – it’s important for development.  He’s only 21 months old, and he’s TIRED midday.  I just can’t get him to sleep in his ####### crib.

I KNOW it’s not my fault (except maybe it is?), and I KNOW it’s not the end of the world, but if I’m failing at anything parenthood-wise, it’s this.

Supporting local small businesses

The easiest local business to support, in my humble opinion, is a bakery.  (I mean bookstore, but go with it.)  Luckily for me, a new one opened within walking distance, and oh man, it is GOOD.  Not so luckily, for me or for the baker, she opened up shop on campus right before everything shut down for the coronavirus.  Where she would normally have a customer base of hungry college students, she’s got practically no one since they stopped in-person classes in March, and URI is pretty much a commuter school.

I didn’t even know she was there until a week or two ago when one of my mom friends mentioned it.  I went last week to check it out and pick up a few things to sample and WOW.  I went back today for more.  So far, we have tried her peanut butter chocolate chip cookie (John said it was really good), her blueberry scones with a lime glaze (DELICIOUS), and her coconut butter bars.

COCONUT BUTTER BARS.

When I went back today, I got TWO coconut butter bars so I don’t have to share one with John.  I also got a lemon blueberry scone, a slice of lemon blueberry pound cake, a piece of her Scottish shortbread, and a Neiman Marcus cookie.  That should hold us for a couple of days.

She is SUPER nice, and it is my mission to keep her in business.  Somehow.  Without eating my weight in coconut butter bars.

Itchy things are the work of the devil

I believe I have published my opinions on mosquitoes in the past, and since we moved into this house, I am adding poison ivy to my list of Things That Should Be Destroyed And Forever Removed From The Earth.  It’s all throughout the wooded areas in our yard, so we can’t let Jack wander out of the grassy parts.  And after today, I have to take the trail in Potter Wood off the list, too, at least until he’s old enough to understand and listen.  The trail is pretty wide and totally clear, but the sides are lined with lots of plants with SO MUCH poison ivy hidden underneath.  John and I took Jack there for a walk this afternoon, to let him run himself tired, and he doesn’t exactly run in a straight line.  He also has a tendency to fall down.  John and I spent the entire walk in a near-panic, trying to give Jack room to run but still keep him from veering off into the plants on the side.  He got annoyed with us after a while (“just let me go where I want”), but I cannot imagine dealing with a toddler with poison ivy.

More car drama

Waaaaaaayyy back in May, like a WHOLE month ago now, I sent the application for a duplicate title for the Tucson to the DMV (after we discovered we’re unorganized losers).  I sent it after multiple phone calls to their title office to make sure that I was including everything they needed.  I was assured that, despite the very clear instructions on the form, I do not need to include the lien release (because we never had a loan on the car in this state), and I do not need to get the application notarized (because of the virus and the shutdown).  They told me the turnaround time is 2 to 3 weeks.

Two weeks after I mailed the application, I got my self-addressed envelope returned in the mail.  For a minute, I was impressed at how quickly they sent us the title.  That lasted until I opened the envelope.

No, they returned my application and check with a letter listing what was wrong with it.  What was wrong with it?  It wasn’t notarized.

Something else weird: the letter was dated 5/6/20.  I signed my application on 5/14/20.  That’s probably just an oversight – it’s a form letter.  But still.

I called the DMV again and sat on hold for half an hour waiting for someone in the title office.  Then I spoke to Rosa, dear wonderful SUPER helpful Rosa, who was appalled, APPALLED I SAY, to hear that someone returned my application saying it had to be notarized.  Of COURSE we’re not requiring docs to be notarized right now!  How awful that I have to go through this delay!  Whose initials are on that letter?  When I told her there were no initials on the letter, she was practically sputtering with outrage.  “I will CERTAINLY be speaking with my manager about this!”

I certainly appreciated her outrage, over the top though it felt.  Of course, if we hadn’t already gotten rid of the car, I might have been right there with her.  She apologized all over the place and asked me to send it all back in, including the form letter, to her attention, and she would take care of it.  So maybe MAYBE we’ll actually get the duplicate title so we can actually sign it over to the mechanic so we can actually no longer be responsible if it were to turn out the car wasn’t junked and is evidence in a murder or something.

What if all my work was filled with zzzzzzzz?

Hi.  Working on very little sleep here, so I don’t have a lot to give tonight.  I try to stay a day ahead (at least), but I have two drafts not yet ready to go and not enough brain power to do anything with them right now.  Tonight, you get stream-of-barely-consciousness.  Let’s see how it turns out.

Jack was up from 2am to 5am last night, and so were we.  I dragged myself out of bed around 6 because that’s almost the only time I can work, and I do have to actually do some work.  That was painful.  Jack didn’t nap today, which is both surprising (he was super tired today, considering last night) and not surprising (naps are VERY hard to come by these days), so I didn’t get that window to myself.  I was able to answer a couple of emails during the day, but that didn’t get me very far, so I’m staying up late tonight to get some stuff done.

That is probably going to backfire on me.  He went to sleep right away tonight (John didn’t even finish the first bedtime book), but it’s impossible to predict anymore when Jack will sleep through the night.  It’s easier if I stay pessimistic about it and assume he will not.  Not a lot I can do about whether he sleeps or the need to stay up to work.  It just is, and it won’t last forever.  It’s not his fault he’s having trouble sleeping, and it’s hard to get worked up about the ravioli he throws on the floor when he’s only doing it because he’s tired and cranky and doesn’t know how to fix it.  (I do – GO THE **** TO SLEEP.)

Enough of this.  Gotta work.  Gotta sleep.  Gotta try again tomorrow.

Mom Brain Trust

When we tell Jack he can’t touch something, he listens, about that thing, most of the time.  Take the oven, for instance.  Unless he’s in a really ornery mood, he won’t touch the oven.  He might point at it and shout, “NO!” (to which we reply, “That is exactly right, Jack, good listening” because if we say, “YES, that’s right!” we’re afraid he’ll think that’s “YES, you can touch it”), but he’s not touching it.  Most of the time, he’s good about not touching the TV.  He’s even pretty good about leaving the fridge alone, but I think that’s mostly because we put a lock on it.

The appliance he can’t resist is the dishwasher.  When we latch it closed (which we always do now), he can’t open it, but that doesn’t stop him from pushing the buttons.  He starts the dishwasher over and over, every day.  All our stern nos and we-don’t-do-thats haven’t even slowed him down.

I finally posted to my moms’ group on WhatsApp: “Does anyone know how to keep a toddler from starting the dishwasher 15 times a day?”

The responses:

  • Supportive laughter. Nice, but not helpful.
  • Tape cardboard over the panel.  Could be effective, but ugly and has to be removed before WE can start the dishwasher.  Willing to try it.
  • Unplug the dishwasher.  Not really possible since it’s in the middle of the counter.  Maybe the plug is under the sink?  Still, this one would probably make me think the dishwasher was broken before I remembered it was unplugged.
  • See if there’s some way to rig the door so it’s unlatched, but stuck so Jack can’t slam it open and get in the dishwasher.  Um…no.

Then.  THEN.  One brilliant mom asked me if my dishwasher has a way to lock the controls.  She said one of the buttons on her dishwasher has a lock icon on it, and if she presses it for several seconds, the controls are locked until she does that again.

Whoa.  Dishwashers do that?  I’d like to remind my readers that we spent several years without a dishwasher in the places we were renting, so I’m not exactly up on the latest dishwasher technology.  (If dishwashers have done this for 20 years or something, I don’t want to hear it.)

MY DISHWASHER DOES THAT.  I tried it, it worked, and then I showed John, whose mind was also blown.

Problem solved.  Moms to the rescue!  Also, technology.

Also, also, it’s been 36 hours since I locked the controls, and Jack hasn’t tried to start the dishwasher even once.  How does he know?

The Jack Updates

Jack has added “No, Mama, no” to his vocabulary, and it is equal parts adorable, hilarious, and frustrating.  Like this morning, for example: “Let’s go change your diaper.”  “No, Mama, no!” as I carry him up the stairs.  Or, “Jack, we don’t throw toys.” “No, Mama, no!” as he throws more toys.

He’s also finally able to truly express his preference for whichever parent is not in the room.  The other night, Jack woke up a little before 3am, and John went in to try to put him back to bed.  A little after 4, I got the “help” text.  I went in, John left.  Jack was standing in the crib, but when he saw me, he sat down.  “Dada, up.”  “Dada went back to bed.  I’m here.  Can I pick you up?”  “Dada, up.”

He’s making connections left and right, too.  John was out mowing the lawn yesterday morning, and Jack was watching him go back and forth across the windows while he was eating breakfast.  When I let him down from the high chair, he went straight to his lawn mower and started mowing our floor.  Every 10 seconds or so, he’d pause, point out the window and say, “Dada”, and then point to his toy lawn mower, “Dat.”  “Dada”, window, toy mower, “Dat.”

Maybe all this learning is why he’s not napping.  Too much to think about.

It was like a cartoon

There is no possible way you will guess what happened to us this evening.  It’s so far out of the realm of normal – you just couldn’t guess.  So I’ll tell you.

Bees.

LOTS of bees.

(Everyone is fine.)

Jack and I were in the front yard, near-ish the road, playing before dinner.  It was around 4:45 or so.  I was herding him in the direction of the back door when I happened to look over at the area in front of our front door.  I saw lots of flying bugs.  My first thought was that it was a huge cloud of gnats.  You know how gnats get.  But they looked bigger, and I thought I heard buzzing.  In retrospect, I’m surprised the buzzing was as quiet as it was.  I snatched Jack up, and we went inside.

Went up the back stairs, paused at the door to John’s office, “something is swarming out front,” heard a “what?”, and headed for the guest room windows.  Yeah, guys, it was a swarm of bees.  I googled “beekeepers near me” and found the Rhode Island Beekeepers Association.  Miracle of miracles: someone answered the phone.

“Um, there are a TON of bees, like, swarming in front of my house. What should we do?”

A calm voice said, “That’s very likely this time of year.  Swarming is exactly what they do, and they don’t sting when they’re doing it.”  Seriously, that’s the first thing he said.  He knows what he’s doing, this guy.  “Where are they?”

So I told him they’re on a branch in a tree in our front yard, we discussed how high up it is and if he needs a ladder or could cut down the branch, and then he said, “Text me your address and send me a picture. I’ll be there in half an hour.”

No delays!

He showed up right on time, Steve the Beekeeper (lawyer by day, beekeeper by free-time).  He put one of those hive boxes down the ground, cut the branch out of the tree, and with one firm shake of the branch, knocked all the bees from the branch to the ground, right in front of the box.  They wasted no time flooding into it.  He came back an hour later to collect it.

I asked him what he was going to do with them, and he said he’s just going to try to keep them alive.  ‘Tis the season for hives to split, so we were seeing half of an older hive looking for a new place to live.  They would likely have been gone by morning (that tree branch was only a stopover for the night), but if left to their own devices, they probably wouldn’t survive. Bees are apparently bad at surviving (see news about not enough bees in the world).

Want to see what ten thousand bees look like?  If you’re looking out our front door, this is the tree directly in front of you.  It’s right up against our front-yard neighbor’s garage.

And here’s Steve, holding the branch with the bees still on it.

The whole incident took maybe an hour and a half.  What a weird day.

Experimentation

Today’s theme was “Empty out the freezer”.  In support of that goal, I made a berry pie for the very first time ever!  I bought a crust (let’s not be crazy here – I don’t have the time or inclination to experiment with crusts right now) and unloaded probably about half of the frozen fruit into it.  I had been warned by multiple recipes that using frozen fruit would add liquid to the pie, but those recipes didn’t prepare me for reality.  Folks, I made fruit soup in a pie crust.  It’s delicious fruit soup in a pie crust, don’t get me wrong.  But still, you can basically drink this pie.  Maybe it’ll firm up in the fridge.

Next up, frozen vegetables in a casserole!  It’s basically Thanksgiving’s green bean casserole, but with green beans, broccoli, peas, some cauliflower, and a few carrots.  And cheese.  And some sour cream added to the cream of mushroom soup.  I used almost all of my frozen vegetables, so it’s just as well that the glass pan I had available was the one a size up from 9×13.  (My 9×13 has the rest of the brownies in it.)  Guys, it’s so good.  And I made SO much, so yay leftovers!

The freezer is full again, but now at least there’s room for the ice cream (because pie), the frozen waffles (Jack loves them), and the popsicles (they’re going to blow his mind).

Our own little Keanu Reeves

Some of you have heard this story already, but I figured it’s worth mentioning because it was ALL Jack would talk about, EVERY DAY, for at least two weeks.

The story goes like this:

Jack: “Two guck!”

Us: “Did you see two trucks?”

Jack: Stretches one arm way up high.

Us: “One of them was a cherry picker with the bucket way up high?”

Jack: “Hat.”

Us: “And the worker was wearing a hat?”

Jack: Drops his arm and points at the ground.

Us: “He had a chainsaw and he dropped the branches he cut all the way to the ground?”

Jack: “Hat.  Choo-choo.”

Us: “And there was another worker in a bright orange helmet who fed the branches to the chipper?”

Jack: “Yup.  Choo-choo.”

Us: “Oh, the chipper was attached to another truck?  Like a trailer?”

Jack: “Yup.  Oowee.”

Us: “You saw a police car?”

Jack: “Whoa.”

Us: “And the police officer ran his siren for you, and it was loud, and you said “Whoa”?”

And repeat.  Sometimes he adds the “two baa” interlude, but seeing the sheep was way less exciting than the cherry picker and the siren.

Jack is usually way more excited about the cherry picker than the siren, but the way he said “whoa” right after the siren made him flinch was hysterical and is definitely my favorite part of that morning.  I LOVE that he remembers that he said it and includes it when he tells the story.

 

Not so much a “walk”, then, as a “carry”

Jack and I go for a walk almost every morning, but lately he’s been insisting on being carried a lot more.  He used to only jump into my arms when he heard a big truck coming.  Now, it’s like he just doesn’t want to put in the effort of walking.  At first, I thought maybe he was outgrowing his shoes and they were uncomfortable, but he has no problem running around in them later in the day, or even once we get back to our driveway from these morning walks.  Now I think he just prefers the view.  He doesn’t have to pay attention to where he’s going or what’s in front of him.  From my left hip, he can see traffic coming from both directions.

I wouldn’t mind at all except that these walks are supposed to help tire him out for his nap.  How tired is he going to be if all the exercise is mine?  So I put him down on his feet, take his hand.  Maybe he immediately blocks my way with an “up-up”, maybe he walks a little first before the “up-up”, but he always ends up with the best view on the street.

Six weeks to go!

Yesterday, while complaining musing about the difficulties of choosing my next book, I mentioned that the only thing that makes that decision easier is having a specific reading project.  Well, the universe listened and released this year’s Hugo voter packet to voting and attending members of WorldCon, so…I’m all set for the next six weeks.

Whew.  No stress about what’s next on the list.

Do I feel a tiny bit limited because now I feel like I HAVE to read the Hugo-nominated books and short stories and novellas?  Maybe, but that’s because I’m dumb.  An organization that I voluntarily joined and support and enjoy is giving me free books to read so I’ll be informed enough to vote on which ones are best.

Do I feel a little bit stressed about getting it done in time?  Yes (I have six weeks), but I can manage that kind of stress. I’ve already read three of the six nominees for best novel and two of the six nominees for best YA novel.  And for best series, I’m pretty sure the trilogy I’m reading right now is getting my vote.  Out of the other five series nominated, I’ve read all of one (Expanse), most of another (InCryptid), and the first of a third (Wormwood) that I didn’t like very much.  That only leaves two, and I think I can live with myself if I don’t get through them in time.

I can do this!  Prioritization!  Focus!  Staying up late!

A time-turner could be handy here

Mel just asked me for book recommendations, and while we were talking about that, she remembered reading something of mine the last time she visited that turned out to be scary.  She couldn’t remember the title or the author, and her description of the book didn’t ring any bells for me.  While she was checking with Corey (who read it, too, after SHE recommended it), I fell down the rabbit hole that is my Kindle library.

Guys, I have 711 Kindle books, and I haven’t read most of them.  I WANT to read them all – I was just browsing to see if any of the titles reminded me of the book Mel was talking about, and instead I was hit with this overwhelming desire to quit my job and hire someone to take care of Jack and just read all day every day until I can catch up.  If only we could win the lottery…

Part of my Kindle problem is that I can’t SEE the books.  I have plenty to read, but it’s hard to decide what’s next (unless I have a specific reading project) because I forget what I have, and there’s no easy way to view it all.  I want a holographic bookshelf.  I would like to project the title pages of my Kindle books onto a wall so I can browse through them as if they were on a bookshelf, not just a list, and decide what to read next.  Maybe that’s our million-dollar app idea!  Projection would be the hard part… (Yes, I know I can view my Kindle contents as a grid.  It’s not the same.)

Let’s shelve that idea for now, and get back to the point which is I DON’T HAVE TIME TO READ.  I’ve got a bookshelf overflowing with dead-tree books I don’t have time to read, either.  More on this in the near future.

The books Mel was thinking of (Corey identified it) were White Silence and its sequel, Dark Light, by Jodi Taylor.