Sunday, February 24, 2008


I remember riding home with my mother from college one spring day and telling her with all the self-assured conviction (i.e. arrogance) of an 18-year-old that I was going to “be somebody” one day. I could just feel it.

Yeah, you can groan now. It is corny.

I don’t know when I lost that “feeling” that I was going to make something of myself. Maybe it happened when I got bogged down with the daily grind. It’s hard to pull ahead when you can barely keep up.

But in the middle of the night two years ago, as I held my newborn Ladybug, I had a flicker of hope. Not for me, but for her. Maybe if we gave her a good start in life she’d find her own dreams and have more success than we did in reaching ours.

My husband and I talk often about how to accomplish that. Ladybug has the unique advantage of having two cultures – French and American – under one roof. But the question has always been, how do we make sure she makes the most of it? How can we best teach her about her two cultures and the world around her? Where will she be able to perfect both of her native languages and be exposed to others like her?

We have an opportunity now to try to answer some of those questions. And as we do, I must leave you. This will be my last blog entry.

Thank you for following Ladybug’s journey for the last 10 months. I’ve enjoyed sharing our triumphs and our not-so-successful adventures (we’re almost three weeks into potty training, and still no luck!). And I’ve appreciated your suggestions, your praise and – yes – even your criticisms.

Thank you again for reading. May your mothering days be happy!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Too cute

Before Ladybug was born, I washed all of her clothes in anticipation of her arrival. I’d hold up the tiny socks and the little pajamas and envision the small bundle that would soon fill them. Those miniature clothes were just too darn cute.

Ladybug’s clothes are still adorable, but they’re not baby clothes anymore. They’re little girl clothes. Polka-dotted underwear, brightly striped tights, pom-pom boots. And pocket books.

Ladybug’s favorite pocket book is a purple and pink vinyl Beauty and the Beast purse that we take on every outing. Inside are her princess flip phone, a princess wand, a small rubber Beast figurine, a leather wallet I bought in Spain years before Ladybug was born, a fake credit card and a princess camera.

She hangs the ‘book, as she calls it, in the crook of her arm or drapes it over her shoulder, raising her arm in the air to keep it from falling off. Then she takes my hand to help her down the stairs.

Sometimes she’s just too cute for words.


Ladybug was holding puzzle pieces when the pediatrician walked into the patient waiting room for her two-year checkup last week.

“What do you have there?” he asked.

“Elephant,” Ladybug said, holding up one chunky wooden piece then lifting the other. “Monkey.”

“Normally people your age can say about 30 words,” the doctor said to Ladybug. “If you can say ‘elephant,’ I think you can say 30 words.”

And then some.

That night, my husband and I started listing all the words that Ladybug could say in English and French, easily hitting 75. Each day, a new word pops up in her vocabulary.

I’m always amazed when I hear a discernible word in Ladybug’s babble. To watch her name animals in a book and then make the correct moo or meow is nothing short of incredible. Hearing it come out in French is even more cool.

Watching her language develop has been one of my favorite parts of her growing up – the visible signs of Ladybug’s frustration when we don’t understand what she says, the glee when we do, the shared humor in an exchange of a few words.

The days she understands without effort, like during a visit to Sci-Port a few weeks back, are awesome to watch. On that particular day Ladybug was hogging a kid-size tractor, inviting other toddlers to sit next to her but not relinquishing the steering wheel. A particularly brazen little girl climbed into the cab, leaned across Ladybug and started driving.

“Why don’t you and the other little girl switch places so she can drive? I said to Ladybug, who dumbfounded me when she stood up and changed seats with the girl.
And then there was yesterday, as I held Ladybug in my arms and asked her, “Does Mommy love you?”

“Uh-huh,” she replied.

“Does Daddy love you?”


“Does Attitude (our cat) love you?”

Ladybug looked down sheepishly and shrugged her shoulders. She was remembering an incident the day before when she yanked Attitude’s tail. Attitude arched her back and hissed at Ladybug, chasing her off as she cried, “I’m sorry Tee-Tude! I’m sorry Tee-Tude!” Ladybug has been a little gun shy since, approaching Attitude with caution and a stream of apologies.

I stand back secretly smiling and watching it all in awe. To think that this little girl hugging my legs and smiling up at me is my daughter humbles me and makes me proud.

It’s only a matter of time now before Ladybug is speaking in full sentences, and to be honest, I can’t wait.

Ms. Apologetic

The other night I woke up to the sound of Ladybug talking in her crib.

“I’m sorry train,” she said, her voice cracking as if she was going to cry. “I’m sorry nose. I’m sorry toe. I’m sorry rain. I’m sorry …”

She proceeded to fill in the blank with just about every word she knew. Usually I try to stay quiet during these middle-of-the-night one-sided chats lest she draw me into conversation, but I had to say something.

“What are you sorry for, Ladybug?” I called from our bedroom. “You didn’t do anything.”

“I’m sorry, Mommy,” she whimpered.

These days Ladybug is “sorry” for everything and to everyone for no apparent reason. She could be sitting on the sofa flipping through a board book by herself, and all of a sudden she’ll launch into a long list of apologies.

I feel awful when she does that, like it’s my fault. I start going over the preceding minutes: Did I inadvertently snap at her? Was she reading something from my body language? Did I make her feel as if she did something wrong? The majority of the time, I can’t find anything in my behavior to have prompted Ladybug’s apologies.

Then this afternoon as we were watching the home video from Ladybug’s birthday party, I think I found the source of the sorries: Me. Each time I’d bump into something, the recorded me would say, “Oops, sorry.” When Ladybug’s balloons came untied from her chair, it was followed by “sorry” from me. Every time I turned around, I seemed to be saying sorry, sorry, sorry.

I’m sorry that Ladybug is mirroring my habit. But if she has to mimic me, I’m just glad it was a five-letter word – not a four – she picked up on.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Up, up and away

I’m kind of an impulse buyer. Not for myself, but for Ladybug. If I see something I think she’ll like, I have to get it. I’ll leave to your imagination the kind of havoc I am capable of wreaking on a checkbook.

So when I walked into Party Central to buy helium balloons for her birthday this past week, you know I couldn’t walk out with the generic latex balloons I intended to buy -- not when there were giant Cinderella-carriage and Disney-princess castle balloons beckoning me.

Each balloon was almost as big as Ladybug – how cool is that? – and they would go so well with her princess-themed party. So I bought two of them … for a grand total of, gulp, $21.

But Ladybug loved them. I tied them to her high chair for her party, then moved them to her rocking chair in her room where they’re still bouncing around.

Each time Ladybug looks at them she says, “Balloon sky.” That’s because the last time she had a balloon I accidentally lost hold of the string, and the wind whipped it up and away before I could grab it. Ladybug watched in amazement as it floated over the houses and disappeared into the woods.

“Balloon sky,” Ladybug said to me again this afternoon, taking me by the hand and pulling me to her rocking chair.

“Oh, no, honey,” I replied. “Last time was an accident. I didn’t mean to send them in the sky. Plus, these cost $21.”

Yeah, I said this as if my two-year-old, who thinks empty penny wrappers go in piggy banks, understands the value of money.

But who am I to talk? I spent $21 on two balloons.


Every time I strike up conversation with other parents at the playground and they tell me their children are the same age as Ladybug, I politely say, “I thought they might be the same age.” But in my head I’m thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding me! They’re so small!”

Ladybug consistently stands at least a head taller than other kids her age. Her above-average height is confirmed each time we go to the pediatrician. This week, when she went back for her two-year checkup, the doctor gave us the latest news: Her height is off the growth chart.

I watched as the pediatrician scribbled a couple numbers on a piece of paper, saying he could use a formula to estimate Ladybug’s final height with 85 percent accuracy, give or take an inch. Care to venture a guess?

Six feet. Six feet!

I suppose it’s to be expected. I’m just thee inches short of that height. My husband is about that tall. My father is a few inches more, while my husband’s grandfather towered more than seven feet. It’s genetics, pure and simple.

But what the doctor said next made me kind of proud: “If she continues on her current path, she’ll have that tall and lean look that everyone desires.”

At 37 inches tall, Ladybug weighs a healthy 30 pounds thanks to our efforts to feed her nutritious, well-balanced meals made from scratch. It’s a tedious endeavor at times (especially in the middle of potty training), but hearing we’re doing something right makes it all worthwhile.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Happy Birthday, Ladybug!

Another birthday for Ladybug has come and gone. As I stood at her crib tonight, holding her hand as she said “Night-night Mommy,” I couldn’t believe she’s two. Could that much time have passed already?

It seems like only a few weeks ago that we gave her a toy walker for her first birthday to help with those early steps. And now here she is bouncing around the living room like Tigger. My, how time passes.

Ladybug’s birthday is extra special because she was born on the day my husband and I met. Fifteen years ago today our journey began in a Paris bistro. Who would have thought that we would be here today with the daughter we had named a week after we met?

But, really, what better way to celebrate the day?