February 4: Freezer full of cake

With Jake's birthday Friday, his party next Sunday, and a Trollops get-together next weekend, the downstairs freezer has been stuffed with cake since January. I've baked every weekend, which is great, but it's been rough on my hands.

Anyhow, he's two now, and, wow, big changes in the last three months. First of all, I found the time to bake every weekend (sometimes twice!). He's independent enough to play with his toys on the counter for fifteen minutes while I bake, or sit at his table and eat, or help me. He's co-ordinated enough to stir ("mix"), color vaguely near the lines and flip pancakes. It's so much easier to do what needs to be done, and be able to do what I want to do (which is baking). Mom liked 18 to 24 months best (although she admits I'm not so bad in my 30s, either), but two seems terrific so far.

Oh, it's not all peaches and cream, or butter and sugar, he learned how to open doorknobs with safety covers, so when he gets up at night or 5:30 a.m., he can walk right into our room and scare the bejeebers out of Mommy-O, who, yes, is still afraid of the dark. He bites when frustrated, but has stopped that now that I've stopped nibbling on his cheeks. He'll get to the I-want-it-I-don't-want-it screaming and crying point, and the only thing to do is do what I think is right (out of the tub now!) and hope to distract him; but I manage to handle this most of the time without considering auctioning him on eBay. And let me tell you, the feeling that I know what I'm doing is a complete relief.

He had a blast on his birthday, with cupcakes at school, and everyone signing to him. In fact, Happy Birthday has been in heavy rotation on the Jakob Channel (that is, when Jakob spontaneously bursts into song, about five or twenty times a day), for the past month, along with Jingle Bells (still! that's my boy!), Farmer in the Dell, Old Mac Donald, and Frere Jacques, to which I make up new lyrics. To wit:

Do you have it?
Do you have it?
Jakob's bag
Jakob's bag
Everything is in there
Everything is in there
But no juice!
But no juice!

As it was his birthday, he also had cake for breakfast because that's the kind of mother I am. Jorj tells me it was joy (I was still in bed). He even asked permission before biting the head off the teddy bear -- it was a small, bear-shaped cake.

And we have conversations! I'm not sure about what, although I do most of the talking, but there is statement and response, question and answer.

His favorite game right now is hide and seek, although he got so distracted once while seeking his hiding father had to go get him. All books are lovely, as is anything outside. He watches some TV (Muppet Show, Dr. Seuss, Nemo) and can recognize most of the licensed characters, but doesn't request any of them when we go shopping. The goodie bag was not licensed-character free (Sesame Street activity book with stickers and heavy on the -- but not limited to -- the E-muppet), but it was gender neutral and had pirate duckies. Yeah, pirate duckies. The party store also has Mardi Gras duckies; it's time to stock up.

January 18: Early video from Jorj's cell phone

Tobi made the duck.

January 15: And here I've discovered transitions

This video is now restricted to friends. Let me know your YouTube log-in and I'll make you a friend. Mine's ChristmasBaking.

January 14: Jake discovers playdough, Mommy discovers YouTube

Thanks to Aunt Jo-Ann for the playdough!

January 11: Statistics

34 inches (50% percentile)

28 pounds (50% percentile)

18 1/2 inch (head circumference)

Six to seven word sentences (I think he's less verbal than the kids in his class, but this is apparently above average.)

Known as: Jakob, the kid with the mullet. Auntie 'Nita will be so proud!

Likes Classical music (thank you Grandmother!) and "Jakob music" (Trout Fishing in America and They Might Be Giants).

December 27: What a wonderful year

Well ... right now Jorj is upstairs holding the door shut as Jake kicks his bedroom door. I think this is the week Jake learns to fall asleep without Mommy, but it promises to be painful.

However, we did have a wonderful Christmas. On the Eve, after cleaning up from the party, we decided to have Grandmother (Jorj's mom) and Uncle Scott (Jorj's brother) for dinner and presents. It really is much easier than going to them, even though we (Jorj) have to pick them up and drive them back. First, Jorj's mother doesn't like to cook, so we knew she wouldn't have anything planned for dinner, and we'd either have to go out or bring food. Second, her kitchen is tiny and terrible to cook in. Third, their apartment is dark (perhaps a floor lamp for Christmas next year?). Anyhow, they came to our house, we had a nice dinner (Jorj made Hollandaise and Scott had fifths), then opened presents and Jake went to bed. Grandmother and Jake got to play together, and many photos were taken. I especially like the idea that we found something that works, isn't overly stressful, and was very enjoyable.

He put the last felt ornament on his advent calendar and wore his new jammies to bed. Christmas Eve demands new jammies.

Christmas morning we opened presents and stockings. There are many new books, two packs of crayons, a toothbrush (Santa leaves personal care products in products in OUR stockings), blocks (from Grandmother), a special bridge and engine for his wooden trains, and a new set of Duplos (Grandma Sandy). We had Hefekrantz for breakfast while opening presents.

After his nap (he napped so well) we went to Omi and Opa's where we found a GIANT playhouse in Omi's den. It filled the room. She'd bought it on-line, and thought it would be the size of a card table. After Opa set it up, she was convinced we'd be mad. We think it's great. I over-cooked the steaks (someone stopped the timer), but dinner was otherwise very nice.

Then we took Opa to the family gathering/dessert. Omi didn't want to go because it rained, and she couldn't drive directly into my cousin's house. Normally, it's at my aunt's, but her son has the big screen TV and large house to allow everyone to see the game (ick). So, an extra 25 minutes into rural Bucks County. Jake had a blast; he was easily the youngest kid by twelve years (the kids near his age stayed in Boston), and careened around the room trailed by one parent or another.

December 7: It is what it is

As we drove away from my mother's apartment, and she and Fred drove to an appointment:

"Omi come? Omi come?"

I wish Jake. We've all spent a lot of time wishing.

December 6: I was in tears

Toddlers were made for video cameras and uncles with too much computing power.

December 5: Imminent motherhood failure

At dropoff* today, another mother was asking for the number and gender of students in Jake's class. Cripes, she's one of the holiday overacheivers. Worst, she's the mother of Jake's "best friend," Courtney. As much as a toddler can have a best friend; I don't believe Jake and Courtney's relationship has progressed to blood oaths (yet), but at least it doesn't involve open mouth kissing like our toddler neighbor.

Maybe I'll do an end-run and bring in something for the whole school, like a few loaves of bread, or, even better, breakfast -- breads, scones, muffins ... Oh yeah, I will kick your over-acheiving, mothering tushie.

My goal is one holiday so over-the-top, it cannot be competed with. Then I go back to slacking, leaving a demoralized competition in my wake.

Enough whining and plotting.

Jake's getting the hang of this Christmas thing. I don't think it will really sink in for another year, but he's enjoying the "new toys" (aka manger scene and wooden angel orchestra), his Advent calendar (we're not following the numbers), the cookies and our lights. Christmas lights in other houses are nice enough. He might be more interested if more people did single-color schemes, rather than white or multi-colored. However, I did teach him to say multi-colored, and called Mom immediately when he did.

He won't be seeing Santa (has no idea who that is). He has seen the Grinch, and managed to read the book once (it took two sittings), but we'll stick to intermittent viewings of Rudolf, Santa, Frosty and The Night Before ... No Christmas Carol (it's scary and sad, even the Muppet version), but I be he'll like the music in the Nutcracker.

We're trying to keep the volume of presents low. This is what I KNOW he's getting:

  • Train (unspecified)
  • Duplos
  • Dr. Seuss and Eric Carle books
  • Musical instruments
  • Clothes, 3T
  • Toothbrush, diaper cream
  • Magazine subscription, now that it's been so delayed

Things he's like, in general:

  • Child-sized apron, for helping us bake and cook
  • Books
  • Bath toys
  • 3T clothes
  • Socks, size 9 foot
  • Warm jammies, 2T or above
  • Stickers
  • Backpack
  • Kids vacuum
  • Carpet sweeper
  • Coloring books
  • Mittens

Things you are to avoid on pain of ... the look of death:

  • Clothes size 2T or smaller: he's outgrown anything smaller than 2T, and he has a full wadrobe from Aunt Mary and Cousin Xander
  • Anything with a licensed character: I have no need to try to find the ever-expanding complete set of FooTM, nor do I wish to hear some theme song sung unendingly (he sings, it's adorable)
  • Balls, we've got a lot right now
  • Tricycle: got one!
  • Piano: got two!
  • Blankets

* Daycare is such an assumed part of our world (or the world of me, my friends and co-workers) that we assume everyone knows what "dropoff" and "pickup" are.

November 21: Quotes

Note from the school:

Jakob bit Heather on the hand — she was annoying him while he read.

Can't blame him.

"Readabook" — the nightly request.

My do it!

"I woke up!" Said with moderate surprise this morning at 6:10 to his father, after climbing out of bed, opening his bedroom door and waking said father.

"Where are you, Nina?" First four-word sentence. Sorry Tobi.

November 1: Another failure of motherhood

[Steve Jobs holding a dragon/dinosaur]Bad enough I nearly poisoned the boy the other weekend (lesson: child-proof caps aren't, always have ipecac on hand), but I was a complete failure at Halloween.

Hey, I was sick.

When I picked Jake up the day before Halloween, a note on the daily activity board mentioned that there are 13 toddlers in his class, if the parents are sending any class treats in with the child. It sounded pretty optional to me, and a quick assessment showed that we had no child-friendly candy in sufficient quantity: Rosenberg's Peanut Chews are out for many reasons, the alcohol-spiked German chocolates seemed an equally bad idea, and the whole class wouldn't be able to split one small bag of M & M minis. Baking was beyond my capabilities that night.

The next day, I sent Jake in to school in his dragon/dinosaur costume and a, as requested, bag with his name on it: a lunch bag, in fact. How much space can half a dozen pieces of candy take?

Well, half a dozen pieces of candy, plus a dinosaur puzzle (I hope to God that was from the school, but I haven't asked.), plus two or three goodie baggies that included extra toys like stickers and temporary tattoos, plus a bag of pop corn, plus three goodie bags of candy and cookies, plus a big orange bag to carry it all in, plus ...

This was mommy-on-mommy competition at its worst. I know we're all trying to provide our children with that perfect, magical childhood our parents were too selfish to give us*, but let's keep it to hand-making all the costumes, shall we?

Last Halloween Jake was in the infant room, which seems to have its own non-compete agreement. This year I was sick and didn't know the stakes.

But come Valentines Day I'm kicking some goody-bag butt. Maybe I will give out alcohol-spiked chocolates.

* One of my clearest, fondest memories of toddlerhood is walking in to our house, seeing my mother and smelling the clean laundry. It was a moment when all was right with my world. There was nothing special, except that every day was special. Thanks Mom.

October 27: Pictures

Don't forget the pictures of everyone's favorite little man!

Aug 20: That was nice

So much for that. Jake's repeated the sleep through the night trick one more time (Friday a week after the first time). This past Friday Jorj and I got cocky and stayed up until midnight playing Settlers of Catan (he finally won a game). Fate handed us a smackdown in the body of a (very adorable) 18-month-old.

He is sleeping longer, and it's easier to get him back to sleep without long periods of nursing, but, damn, I miss my sleep.

Latest accomplishment is to put his Legos together. Now I can dump a box of Legos (Duplos and Quatros, really) on the floor and get something done, like folding laundry or emptying the dishwasher. Bonus: house no longer a disaster kept at bay by weekly visits from Michelle and Melissa. Now it's a mess kept at by by weekly visits from Michelle and Melissa.

He also climbs: stairs, chairs, beds, step stools, the changing table.

In Germany he learned to drink from a bottle (hah! I already made that joke), make a toast, and say "löffel" and "Tschuss". Everyone was very enamored of him.

Aug 5: In which our heroine learns an important lesson

Mommies that get a full night's sleep are much better mommies.

For the first time in nearly a year, I got eight uninterrupted hours of blissful slumber. I did not run away. I did not abandon Jake. I did not go on a solo vacation. I did not hire a night nanny. No, Jake slept through the night for the first time since last August. And yes, he did sleep through the night at 6 1/2 months, then gave it up (seemingly permanently) a month later.

My mantra was: one day he'll be fifteen, sleeping 20 hours a day and eating us out of house and home the other four. He'd shown he could do it, logically, he'd do it again, and if by fifteen he was still waking up, I could tell him to read a book. Otherwise, I was handling the nightly interruptions (two to four, sometimes five). I was coherent! Awake during the day! Frequently pleasant!

More and more I resented Jake usurping all of my free time, and Jorj having "time off" with DejaVu and the Warriors. How soon could I go away for a weekend and leave Jake with his father? (Jorj has spent two nights away from us, but one was for a funeral and doesn't count.) If Jorj thinks the nursing at night is a problem, why isn't he putting the baby to bed and getting up at night?

I started to think I'd made the wrong decision, and we were all screwed. Especially Jake.

And then I got some sleep.

And all is wonderful again.

Jake and I spent a great day together, except for Jorj watching him while I showered. We ran errands. He fell asleep in the car, slept through Rieker's German Deli, and for a total of 3 1/2 hours. We went to the park. He asked for noodles (nu-nu!) for dinner. We played with his train, sang more rounds of Row, Row, Row Your Boat than you would think possible, played with Legos, had a bath, and was asleep at 9.

I was patient, even when I got a head butt in the eye (and then I got a kiss), even when he stood up in the bath for the zillionth time (out of the bath young man!), even when he wanted "uppie" while I cooked (he distracted himself with making nests of the dishtowels). Thing that would have brought out my inner bitch were No Big Deal with eight hours of sleep.

I don't know what I could have done earlier. Like last August, he just slept through the night suddenly. It's not connected to eating more (he sleeps better after eating less, some times), temp, road noise, bedtime -- anything we can see. He just ... sleeps.

The only thing I can say is, I should have spent a night away from Jake two or three months ago. I should have gotten a good night's rest earlier, just to refill the patience resevoirs. We would all have been happier.

With luck, Jake's subconcious will make the connection between sleeping all night and having a Happy, Cheery Mommy All Day. I'd take a few nights a week. I'd take one night a week. This once a year crap has got to go.

May 5: Say what?!

A handy translation table for Jake-speak to human

JakeThe rest of us
Bah-n Balloon
Bah Ball
Nohs Nose
Meow Cat
JoozAny drink
(Pants) Dog (this is sign language for dog)
Eh-eh-eh Accompanied by pointing, I want that
Uh-oh Look how far I can throw this!
Bye-bye I'm done and am ready to leave; why are you still sitting there?
Me I can do it myself!
Mine I am a toddler. I know not of this "share" of which you speak

At the last doctor's visit, 22 pounds, 33 inches.

March 21: Kisses!

Jake will give kisses on request. He still kisses with his mouth open, so I usually wind up kissing his upper lip, or teeth. He will pucker, but does not equate this with giving kisses. This skill was discovered accidentally, when I said, "Come here, I want to give you a kiss," and he came to give me a kiss! Makes the sleepless nights worth it.

Yes, we are still not sleeping. It wouldn't be so bad if Jorj would get some sleep, but NOOOO, he's an insomniac. And not the good insomniac either, the kind that says, hey, it's 4 a.m., I'll go do a load of laundry. Or, it's 2 a.m., I'll write new software that makes us millions. No, he just lays in bed. One of us should be rested during the day, so that the other can take a nap.

We have gotten Jake to take a bottle at night, probably because he was sick this weekend and just dried me out by midnight. The bottle! The blessed bottle! I think he wakes less after having the bottle; tonight's experiment will be to return him to his crib (rather than us dozing off together in his bed). I just keep telling myself that no kid ever went to college still waking up in the night. Or, if he does, I won't care by then, 'cause he'll know how to eat from the fridge.

With this cold nasal aspirator skillz are finally in my grasp. First we tried the hospital aspirator but that never seemed to pull out anything. Recently we'd switched to the short-snout my sister gave us -- Jake screamed less -- and I seem to have grasped the thing firmly! When Jake's doctor mentioned "oncoming ear infection" and "clean out that nose," it was a happy day for Mama! Yes, yes, I peel sunburn and do other disgusting things, so getting "pussy mucus" out of Jake's nose is just joyous. And it makes up a little for the middle-of-the-night-tylenol-wore-off screaming.

Jake was weighed on the big scale, and came up about 25 pounds, that's 11 kilos!

Don't forget the pictures of everyone's favorite little man!

Feb 11: Cold pizza for breakfast

Hey Mom, I'm starting early!

Actually, Jorj fed him this, and it was more of an early lunch, although breakfast for Jorj. For breakfast he had diced peaches (swallowed whole) and cheerios. For second breakfasts he had diced peaches (still whole chunks) and graham crackers. And water.

Without molars, it's tough finding food he'll eat. Loves cooked chicken, ground meat (like the filling of steamed dumplings), crackers, bread. He's still eating pureed veggies and fruit, with the exception of bananas. He'll eat yogurt. Prefers chocolate cake.

I'd always hoped for the baby that devoured everything in sight. Not my kid, unless gnawing on everything -- including the cat -- can count for devouring.

Ah well, he's healthy, and gained some weight at the last visit (after no gain in December): 21 lb, 5 oz; 29.5 inches. Just about the 50th percentile: which means he's not outgrowing his clothes faster than we can buy them.

Jakob Emanuel's photos More of Jakob Emanuel's photos

What he's learned

Open doors, climb stairs, move chairs to climb on to get things off the counter/table he shouldn't have, open bottles (see Advil incident), jump, "Twinkle, Twinkle," being nice and not nice, up/down, in/out, on/off, hot/cold, wet/dry, turn keys, make the harmonica make noise, put together Legos, puzzles.

Words: Mama, balloon (bahl!), Dot (daycare), Anna (daycare), beh-be (he walks around muttering beh-be-beh-be-beh-be and will point to himself), duck, meow, nose (he pointed to my nose and said "nose" very clearly, and has refused to identify another nose since then), rock, dog, me, yes, no, yay, door, Jakob, eye, bubbles, out, bush.

Follows instructions (when he wants). Told, "You need to put your shoes on. Bring your shoes; they're by the stairs," he brought his shoes over so that he could go bye bye.

Drops things on the floor and says, Uh-oh! That's not uh-oh kid, that's goodbye.

Pushes chairs all over the place!

Likes to turn lights off, or on, as long as the switch is pushed down.

Nests his nesting blocks, then shakes them like maracas.

The child likes whisks. I'm so proud!

Everything I learned about Motherhood is on the Internet

Ask Moxie


Year 1: now what, or that's a lot of attention for something that doesn't move.

Pregnant and loving it. Sometimes. When I wasn't queasy, tired, large, in pain or diabetic. That might have been one day in September. No, really, a very easy pregnancy with only the gestational diabetes to complicate things.