I am throwing myself a parade

It’s working!  I feel like SUCH a moron for not doing this before, but making sure Jack’s room is super-dark seems to have fixed our nap problem.  (I am totally jinxing myself right now, I’m sure.)  After a few days of hanging the comforter over the curtain rod, I bought a cheap blackout shade, cut it to fit the window, and stuck it to the top of the window frame.  I still close the curtains over the shade and tape the edges down, and it gets nearly as dark as when I used the comforter, with the added bonus of not having the extra weight try to pull the curtain rod down.

Here’s what you want to know:

Jack has napped (!) in his crib (!!) for EIGHT days in a row (!!!), and EVERY nap has been between 90 minutes and two hours long (!!!!).  He has slept through the night, nine to ten-plus hours, for every one of those nights except one.

I know this won’t last forever (growth spurt, sleep regression, his two-year molars – have I mentioned that he already has all of his teeth except for those four in the very back?  He has so many teeth! – something will happen to disrupt sleep or naps), but I am going to enjoy it for as long as I can.

All ball, we all play ball, we’re just waiting for the hammer to fall

The only words in my head are Dr. Seuss rhymes, along with the occasional Queen or Elton John lyric (we watched Bohemian Rhapsody last week and we’re watching Rocketman tonight), so I think I’ll take last night’s waste of time as a lesson and spend this time reading.  (I’m waiting for John to come in from the studio so we can finish the movie.)  Only two and a half weeks before Hugo voting closes!

There goes my evening

I have spent the last half hour doing nothing.  Not a relaxing nothing.  More like a deer-in-headlights nothing.  A stuck-between-too-many-things-to-do nothing.  Procrastination of the if-I-wait-long-enough-to-decide-what-to-do-with-myself-I-won’t-have-time-to-do-anything kind.

At the very least I could have been reading.  I gave up on one of the Hugo books (nominated for the YA award) yesterday.  It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t grab me, so last night I started one of the remaining Best Novel nominees, one I’ve been looking forward to because it’s by Seanan McGuire and I have yet to read anything by her that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy.  So why wasn’t I reading that?

I can go do that now, but sleep is looming, and even though it’s the weekend, I’m planning on getting up stupid early to run (before it’s hot), and I don’t want to skip tomorrow because I skipped today because I was up for two hours last night with Jack and when I’m up that long with him in the middle of the night, my 5am run is the first thing to go in favor of just a little extra sleep before I have to get up anyway because 6am is work time for me.

[Pausing for breath]

Well, that was helpful.


First trip to the beach this year

Jack was totally adorable at the beach yesterday morning, but he is still not ready to actually go in the ocean.  When we stepped onto the sand from the parking lot and he could see and hear the waves (when I stepped onto the sand – I was holding him), he immediately said, “No.”  He let me put him down so I could lay out the mat, and then he took to the sand right away (which surprised me a little).

He seemed perfectly content to play right there, and I certainly wasn’t going to push the water thing, not on our first trip to the ocean since September.

Then Emily, Sean, Graham, and McKenna arrived, and guess who wanted to see what everyone else was doing in the water?  Turns out peer pressure DOES work.  A little.

Once he saw the others playing in the waves, he decided it was okay to at least investigate this craziness going on where the beach ended.  We walked into the very edge of the surf (Jack was wearing water shoes).  The water was FREEZING, and it was still foggy and pretty chilly out, but that didn’t seem to bother him.  A few baby waves got him in the knees, and after about a minute, he’d had enough.  “Hold up, this isn’t the bathtub.  Up-up!  Up-up!”  I squatted down to his level for a little bit, but that wasn’t safe enough for him, so up he went.  The ocean is SO much more enjoyable from four feet off the ground.

And that was pretty much that.  Voluntarily walking into the surf is a HUGE step after last summer’s timidness and this past winter’s reluctance to swim in the pool.  We’ll have to see what happens the next few times.


There are many many things about Jack that make us confident that he is truly our child, but yesterday we found one trait that made us question EVERYTHING.

On the spur of the moment, we went out for ice cream yesterday afternoon.  We met up with Emily, Sean, Graham, and McKenna, and after trying to go to Brickley’s (the GOOD local ice cream place that – whoops – is closed on Tuesdays), we went to Swirls and Scoops.  Some ice cream is better than no ice cream.  We got Jack his own small scoop of soft-serve chocolate.  Jack took a bite, but refused a second bite.  He reached for John’s vanilla-chocolate swirl, but when John offered him a bite of that, he refused it (vanilla, chocolate, AND the swirl).  I offered him my German chocolate cake ice cream, which did NOT taste like German chocolate cake but was otherwise acceptable, but he refused that, too.

Who is this child who doesn’t want ice cream on a hot day?  On one of our walks in the woods did I look away long enough for one of the fair folk to snatch him and replace him with one of their own?  (I don’t know why a fairy child wouldn’t like ice cream, though.)

Maybe – MAYBE – he’s refusing on principle.  He was promised the good stuff, and he will not accept an inferior product.


Jack just took his first crib nap in almost three full weeks!  We put a window A/C in his room last week, and it was letting SO much more light in.  We tried blocking the accordion sides with black cloth napkins, but it wasn’t enough.  Today, I turned off the A/C (which will not really be an option later in the summer) and hung a dark comforter over the window.  It got really dark.  Duh.

Jack fell asleep in the crib (after some protest) about half an hour after I put him in it, and he slept for nearly 90 minutes.  Fingers crossed this is the start of something awesome and not a fluke!

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.


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.


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.