Friday, August 31, 2007

PMS baby

Ladybug is at that age where she’s full of emotion but doesn’t quite know how to express it.

If she’s having trouble with a task – say, pulling the zipper of her pocketbook open – she’ll scream and throw it if she doesn’t succeed after two or three attempts.

If she’s excited, she’ll hit whoever happens to be standing next to her.

If you happen to be holding her at the time, Lord have mercy. She’ll give your shoulder a gnawing that will put a pitbull’s chew toy to shame.

This week, she demonstrated a new emotion: embarrassment.

I had just given her a cup of yogurt and was walking toward the kitchen sink when I heard a kaplunk. I turned around and the cup was on the floor. Yogurt had splattered on Ladybug’s high chair, the wall, the cabinets, everywhere.

“Did you drop that by accident or on purpose?” I asked.

It was a legitimate question. She’s capable of eating from a cup on her own although she does have a tendency to have butter fingers. On the other hand, she’s been known to toss food when she’s no longer hungry.

Ladybug looked at me and then dropped her head forward in shame. Her shoulders slumped and she sunk down in her chair. All of a sudden, I was the one that felt bad.

“Oh, honey, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to embarrass you,” I apologized. “It’s just that when you don’t want anymore, you say ‘All done.’ We don’t throw food on the floor.”

I leaned in to give her a kiss on the forehead and felt a shooting pain go through my nose. Ladybug had headbutted me.

Now that’s a coping mechanism to remember.

You think that will work the next time I forget to mail the bills?

To share your thoughts and read other comments, click HERE.

Party time!

Yahoo! We’re going on a date!

My parents are coming into town next week to visit, which means my husband and I will get to go on one of our overnight outings. Family visits are the only time we ever get to go out without Ladybug, partly because we have so much fun together as a family but moreso because we aren’t ready for a babysitter.

I’m sure there are some good ones out there, but I have recurring visions of the rare occasions my parents went out. The one babysitter my brother and I thought was cool because she played with us nonstop got fired when my parents found out she hid my brother in the dryer during a game of hide and seek. The replacement they used after that was boring. She’d bring her homework over and tell us to go play.

But grandparents are different. They’re attentive and obsessively loving and will drop whatever they’re doing for Ladybug. So when my parents have been here for a couple days and Ladybug warms up to them again, my husband and I head off for our hotel room, a few dollars from Mom and Dad in our hands to help pay for our evening of fun. My mom calls it rent-a-baby. I call it freedom.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love my little Ladybug. Shoot, I quit my job to be with her. But it’s also nice to have some alone time with my husband. Last time we went on our overnight date, we stayed in and watched TV for hours – a luxury when you have a baby – and then went to IHOP at 1 a.m, another can’t-do when you’re raising a little one. Time before that, we hung around the Shreveport riverfront. We had dinner on the patio of one of the restaurants in the Red River District, went to the casinos and then wrapped up the evening at the comedy club.

Who knows where we’ll end up this time. Maybe we’ll go to the movies. We haven’t been in at least two years, maybe more. But it doesn’t matter where we go because I’ll be with my husband, Ladybug will be safe and having fun at home, and I might actually get to relax.

And as far as I’m concerned, that’s the winning combination for a perfect date.

To share your thoughts and read other comments, click HERE.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A penny for your cheap labor

Is it just me, or do there seem to be an awful lot of recalls on children’s products lately? Earlier this month, Mattel announced a huge recall of toddler toys because of excessive levels of lead in the paint. We had one of the models – a Sesame Street barnyard block set – but it wasn’t manufactured during the period subject to the recall and therefore presumably safe. But is it really?

My first reaction to the recall was anger. Here I am a mother doing everything in my power to keep my daughter safe. I routinely check her toys for loose or small parts. I cut drawstrings from her clothes. I reinforce wobbly buttons. I buy toys in the age range marked on the box. And now I have to worry about her chewing on a toy and ingesting lead because a conglomerate and its shareholders have opted for profit over safety by shipping production overseas. (Don’t even get me started on the politicians who think outsourcing is good for the country.)

Then two weeks ago I went to Wal-Mart to buy Ladybug’s organic rice cereal. I found it in its usual spot with the baby products and took it to the checkout aisle. The cashier attempted to scan it several times and then realized it too had been recalled. What if I had fallen on a cashier who just asked me the price and entered it manually as they sometimes do?

Then yesterday we received an email that the Britax carseat we had purchased – and bought because of its superior safety rating, mind you – has been recalled because its shoulder harness can detach. (Click HERE to see if your car seat is included and how to order a repair kit.) It would seem to me that if you’re in the business of making car seats and that’s your specialty, it wouldn’t take you two years to realize the defect. Never mind the fact that it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

And those are just the recalls. Take a walk down any toy aisle and you’ll see dozens of products that shouldn’t even be on the shelves – charm bracelets with lead, baby toys with glued on pom-poms and button eyes, toddler toys with long strings. And then there are the parenting magazines that warn of the dangers of crib bumper pads on one page and advertise them on the next. What’s a mother to do?

I never take Ladybug’s safety for granted. I’m always extra diligent. I mean, good grief, the first thing in the suitcase when we travel is a pack of outlet covers. But all of this goes to show a mother’s work is never done.

By the way, if you’re interested in seeing the latest recalled items, click HERE for the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s database. You can also sign up for email alerts by clicking HERE.

To share your thoughts and read other comments, click HERE.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

And the Oscar goes to ... Ladybug

Ladybug is already a little drama queen.

When she’s tired, she’ll run across the living room, intentionally fall on the floor and pretend to sleep. She’ll even make snoring noises.

When she wants a snack, she walks to the kitchen pantry and says “cooookkkk-eeee” a la Cookie Monster style.

And when she wants to go out, she runs into her nursery to get her sandals, yelling “bye-bye” all the way.

She went through the latter routine the other day, only to find her sandals weren’t in their usual spot. She had been playing with them that morning and left them in the family room, but she didn’t remember that.

“Ma soos,” Ladybug sighed, placing her hand against her face.

But the biggest scene is always reserved for cutting her toe nails. I don’t think we’ve trimmed her toe nails more than a half dozen times in these 18 months of her life. And when I say a half dozen times, that doesn’t mean that all of them get cut at the same time. Instead, I’ll put Ladybug on my lap and hold her legs while my husband grabs her feet and goes for the longest nail.

Ladybug wails and somewhere deep inside her finds the greatest force to pull her feet away before the clipper is even within sight.

“All done! All done!” she’ll scream and cry.

If we get one nail cut, we consider it a victory and let her go. She’ll hop down and run off like nothing ever happened.

“All done!” she says happily.

Yes, all done.

To share your thoughts and read other comments, click HERE.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Pack rats

It only took six weeks, but I did it. I finally had my yard sale this past weekend.

To say it took six weeks is an understatement. I had been planning it since I was pregnant more than two years ago. But then Ladybug was born and, you know, you can’t get anything done anymore.

Nonetheless, I’ve been trying to squeeze in a few tasks here and there when I can. I’ll pay bills while Ladybug watches Baby Einstein. I’ll work on filing a foot-high pile of insurance statements, birth certificates and other important documentation when she goes to bed. And for the last two months, I’d clean out closets when she took her nap.

I found things I don’t remember ever buying. I discovered things we never should have bought. And then there were the boxes of childhood memories my parents brought each time they visited.

I say “memories” but, truth is, I had forgotten about all of that stuff. If they had thrown everything away when I left for college, I would never have known the difference. But I suddenly found myself unable to part with an autograph book filled with fourth-grade signatures and a wallpaper-covered cigar box stuffed with scented erasers.

My parents are coming to visit again in a couple weeks, and my mom has been up in the attic preparing.

It’s a good thing I had that yard sale. I have a feeling I’m going to need the closet space.

To share your thoughts and read other commments, click HERE.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Flush with fear

If there was any doubt in my mind that Ladybug is ready to start potty training, it disappeared the other day with the diaper-removing incident in her crib. (Read “A Day in the Life, Part 2.")

Fact is, Ladybug has been showing signs of potty-training readiness for several months now. She’ll follow me into the bathroom, take toilet paper and pretend she’s just finished peeing. She has a great interest in her potty, even if it is only to put the bowl on her head like a hat and to drape the sponge seat over her shoulder like a pocketbook. And the latest addition to her vocabulary is the word “poopy,” accompanied by a tugging at her diaper.

But I’ve been putting potty training off. When I was working, I said it was because I didn’t have the time to dedicate to teaching her how to use the potty. Now that I’m home, I realize it’s because I don’t have the courage.

It’s not some unconscious effort on my part to hang on to the baby years. I’m almost ready for them to be over. Instead, I’m just intimidated by the idea. I mean, I’ve helped change 3,822 diapers. How can you break someone of the habit of going to the bathroom on themselves when they’ve done it that many times?

I keep telling myself it can be done. If we were able to get two cats to use a litter box, surely we can get one little girl to use a potty.

Now if I can just find the nerve.

To share your thoughts and read other comments, click HERE.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Note to self: Call first

I have no luck.

First I tried to take Ladybug to story time at the library a couple weeks ago, only to find out when we got there that the program is suspended in August. (You can read about that fun little outing in “Book ‘em.")

Then on Tuesday I planned a little afternoon adventure for us that involved Artspace, lunch and the Farmer’s Market.

“They’re probably closed,” my husband joked as we parked downtown.

Surely not, I replied. I checked their website before we left home. I verified the days and hours of operation. I was not going to get busted again.

And then what did I see? A sign hanging on Artspace’s door that it was closed to prepare for an exhibit.

My husband laughed. Ladybug cried. I wanted to bang on the door and scream “Let me in!!!!” How could this happen to me twice?

I’m about to give up on these outings. At least at home I know we’re always open.

To share your thoughts and read other comments, click HERE.

A day in the life, Part 2

So with lunch behind us and no morning nap, I figured I’d try again to get Ladybug to lay down. She didn’t put up a fight; she just stretched out and put her hands behind her head as she settled in for what looked like would be a long nap.

I figured I’d take advantage of the down time as well. I crashed onto the sofa and fell asleep. It wasn’t for very long though. Somewhere in the back of my mind, in a faraway voice, I heard Ladybug talking.

“I can’t believe she’s still not asleep,” I thought as I dragged myself to the nursery to see what she was babbling about.

Ladybug was standing up on her tiptoes. She had wedged herself into the corner of the crib – the only dry spot on her bed. It took me a minute to understand what had happened. I quickly ran through the sequence of events – Did I accidentally hand her a sippy cup when I put her down for a nap? Did she have a teething ring that broke? But it all made sense when I saw her diaper poking out from under a pile of stuffed animals encircled by three piles of poop.

I sighed. Why does so much of my day involve poop?

I spent the next several hours cleaning up the mess and disinfecting everything that had come in contact with the diaper strays. I guess the bright side to all of this was I didn’t have to worry about finding things to keep us occupied. Suddenly, we had plenty to do.

To share your thoughts and read other comments, click HERE.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A day in the life, Part 1

It was another day in Toddlerdom. Ladybug was seemingly bored and I was exasperated by my lack of creativity in finding things for us to do that were both fun and stimulating. So I plopped Ladybug in front of a Baby Einstein show while I scoured the Internet for ideas for toddler activities.

I found a web site with tons of suggestions but most were out of our developmental league with the exception of a pillow obstacle course. That one posed no problem considering I have – count ‘em – 10 decorative pillows for my king-sized bed. The pillows have been piled sky high on the dresser for the better part of 18 months and only find their way on to the bed on the rare occasion that I make it.

So we dragged the pillows to the living room and made a huge pile in the middle. We built a fort, a zoo cage, a staircase to the sofa. We fell on them and had a pillow fight. When Ladybug started rubbing her eyes – a telltale sign that she’s ready for a nap – I picked her up and carried her to her crib.

But she didn’t want to sleep. She babbled and played and laughed. I let her carry on while I picked up the mess we had made and swept the floor in preparation for our next activity – finger painting.

With nap time an unlikely occurrence anytime soon, I brought Ladybug out of her nursery, spread a shower curtain liner out on the floor, put one of my old tank tops over her and clothespinned the straps together behind her back to keep it on her shoulders. For the next hour, Ladybug squirted and smeared paint. She painted the inside of her nostrils blue when she went digging, and somehow got a green streak on her butt cheeks.

When we tired of that activity (actually, when I tired of it as she started wandering off the shower liner and began taking her paint-covered feet into the carpeted living room), it was clean-up time. Into the bath tub she went. That was followed by lunch and another round of cleanup.

With my allotment of creativity exhausted by the morning’s activities, I was beginning to panic. It was only 1 p.m. I still had at least another six hours to go until Ladybug’s bedtime ….

To share your thoughts and read other comments, click HERE.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A good idea but ...

A friend read about my predicament of not knowing what to do to keep Ladybug occupied and offered a thought: Make a “sandbox” using rice, hide things in it and let Ladybug dig for them. She added that she had never tried it.

Well, duh. If she had, she wouldn’t have suggested it.

In my friend’s defense, I did initially say it was a great idea. And I did originally think Ladybug would love it.

But when the first thing she did was scoop up a fistful of uncooked rice and shove it in her mouth, I knew this wasn’t a good idea. My doubt was solidified with each handful that got flung in every direction. There was rice everywhere – under the sofa, in the carpet, between her stuffed animals in the nursery.

And then it occurred to me: Maybe my friend meant for this to be an outside activity.

Well, duh.

To share your thoughts and read other comments, click HERE.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Showcase home

Each time I walk in the front door, I’m amazed at how much our house has changed in the last two years.

I used to take pride in my decorating. Each time I’d go out, I’d keep my eyes open for the perfect accent piece. Each room had a theme – the guest room, a cottage getaway; our bedroom, New Orleans romance; the family room, ancient artifacts. You get the picture.

But as Ladybug has grown, each room has slowly been transformed into Toys R Us. I moved my dining room furniture into the family room just to accommodate the spillover of toys from Ladybug’s nursery. The coffee tables, after one too many close encounters with their sharp corners, have been transferred to another room where Ladybug’s not allowed to go. The bookcases were also unpacked and banished when Ladybug learned she could climb them.

My living room is barren now, except for the sofa, an entertainment cabinet and a fake tree that needs to be moved because of Ladybug’s newfound interest in dismantling it. And my bathroom is just as plain after this week’s clearing out of all things potpourri, scented and bath salt. Those items had become dust collectors. I haven’t had time to take a relaxing bath in almost two years now.

Yet, despite its emptiness, the house has a new kind of life in it. And I’m not talking about what’s growing on the dried food stuck on the floor around Ladybug’s high chair.

The sound of Ladybug’s bare feet pattering across the living room, the plunk of a block as it falls into its plastic tub, the beeps and squeaks of rubber toys – those are the things that now make my house so charming.

I’ve finally found the perfect accent piece.

To share your thoughts and read other comments, click HERE.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


I wouldn’t consider myself overly sentimental. Sure, I kept the shirt I was wearing the night I met my husband, even though I outgrew it years ago. And of course, I packed away the blouse I wore to the hospital to have Ladybug, despite the fact the front is covered in mildew after I threw a wet towel on it and forgot about it for a week. But that doesn’t make me a sap.

Which is why I can’t figure out why I’m getting all choked up each time Ladybug pushes my hand away when I try to give her a bottle or feed her with a spoon. To my chagrin, she’d much rather do it herself. I try to remind myself that this is what mothering is all about – creating an independent, self-sufficient individual.

But it’s happening way too fast.

Maybe it’s because I’m home full-time now and I can see her daily developmental progress. When I was working, I always missed the milestones – and sometimes didn’t notice them for several days or weeks. Now I pick up on the slightest change in her habits and the newest sounds in her “vocabulary.”

I was thinking all of this as I was scrubbing the kitchen floor around her high chair for about the 10th time this week. Scraping up dried peas and scrambled egg is not exactly my idea of morning fun.

Maybe that’s it. Maybe I’m not so sentimental about Ladybug’s self-feeding as I am fatigued by the post-eating cleaning ritual.

Yeah. That must be it.

To share your thoughts and read other comments, click HERE.

She's a screamer

“Are you going deaf?”

My husband seems to be asking me that a lot lately. Not so much because I can’t hear but because I apparently talk loud. I don’t do it on purpose, but that’s what happens when you have an 18-month-old who has, um, discovered her voice. You find yourself talking louder just so she can hear you.

Ladybug has always had a good set of lungs on her. When she was born, she outwailed every newborn in the hospital nursery.

“Man,” the father of another newborn said to us at the time, “she puts my guy to shame.”

Since then I’ve gotten used to our high-decibel conversations and accepted it as something that comes with having a baby. At least I thought that’s the way things operated until another pint-sized squawker put us in our place.

We were at Chuck E. Cheese playing a game when a little boy decided he wanted to play with us. Ladybug handed him the padded baton and he began banging away. Ladybug shrieked with excitement and babbled something unintelligible, and the boy dropped the baton and covered his ears.

“She talks loud, doesn’t she?” I asked.

He nodded, his hands still over his ears, a look of panic on his face.

Since then, I’ve tried to remind Ladybug that we don’t need to scream when we talk. I’ll say, “Ladybug, use your quiet voice” or “No screaming, please. I can hear you.”

My success rate is hit or miss. But she must be getting the point because she’s picked up a new habit: Walking around with her hands over her ears.

To share your thoughts and read other comments, click HERE.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

It's an exotic zoo in here

I’ve been trying to teach Ladybug about different types of animals and the sounds they make using her stuffed animals as a “zoo.” We’ve got a dog, a cat, a pig and a cow. Easy enough – ruff, meow, oink and moo.

But when I look at the bulk of the stuffed animals overflowing from her baskets and shelves, I scratch my head. What kind of sound does a hippo make? What about a penguin, camel , squirrel, caterpillar and giraffe?

So I just say the name of the animal and skip the sound part. It doesn’t really make a difference right now anyway. According to Ladybug, every animal goes “quack, quack.”

To share your thoughts and read other comments, click HERE.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Master manipulator

One of the things I enjoy most about not having to go to an office job anymore is not setting the alarm clock. That’s not to say I get to sleep in, but I now get a different type of wake-up call: Ladybug standing at the end of her crib, peering around the doorway into our bedroom and yelling, “Hey, yooooouuuu!”

Usually I get up right away. Sometimes I’ll just lay there and listen to her adorable rambling. Other times I’m just too tired to move. On those days, Ladybug has discovered how to get me to jump out of bed right quick.

After she’s gone through her repertoire of “hey, yoooouuuu!,” “what’s dat?,” “didi” and “bye-bye” and I still haven’t budged, she pulls out the big guns.


After our first experience with that word recently (read “The Best Dirty Diaper Ever”), I don’t dawdle. But so far, Ladybug’s claims have been all talk and no action. She laughs when I show up at her crib ready to change her diaper, only to discover there was no hurry.

And then she gives me a hug and it doesn’t matter that I wasn’t ready to get up yet.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Super Mommy ... not

I’ve always been an overachiever.

One major wasn’t good enough in college. I did two at the same time – one of them not even in my own language – and still graduated in four years. When I fell in love, it had to be with someone a continent away. When we married and bought our house, I stayed up until 2 a.m. each night painting – and in the case of the family room, repainting four times – despite having to be at work first thing next morning. All of that to say, I have never been one to sit on my butt and settle for the status quo. That is, until now.

My husband and I believe in putting Ladybug first, but in my case, I have a tendency to overdo it. Take yesterday, for example. Ladybug and I were up at 7 a.m., and even though I had only gotten three hours of rest the night before thanks to another sleepless night, we went straight to play. We colored, we watched the Little Einsteins and clapped Rocket to take-off, we tossed her balls around the living room. I even made her crepes for breakfast (though I have to give a shout-out to my husband for making the batter the night before).

Then when she was taking a nap, I went straight to cleaning out closets, making salad for dinner and scrubbing Ladybug’s family-size inflatable pool. When she woke up, we went out and played in the pool together, then came back in for dinner and a bath. Then I stayed up until 2 a.m. with my husband, trying to redeem myself from my unintentional spousal neglect. And today I’m feeling it.

I didn’t hear Ladybug wake up this morning. Didn’t hear my husband get out of bed. Didn’t move from the couch this afternoon as Ladybug pulled every single toy out of her play area and scattered them throughout the living room. Didn’t even make dinner for my husband and me.

And, for the first time, I didn’t feel guilty about it.

As I’m adjusting to my new role as a stay-at-home mom, I’m beginning to accept that there will always be an area of the house in need of cleaning, a load of laundry to be done, a can of ravioli that will suffice for dinner. What’s important now is making sure Ladybug gets my attention and acknowledging that sometimes I can’t do it all – a tough admission for an overachiever.

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Thursday, August 9, 2007

This makes it all worthwhile

Ladybug hasn’t been sleeping well. I don’t know if it’s because she’s teething (I can see two tiny teeth trying to break through) or if she’s thinking I have to go back to work soon and therefore is just trying to absorb every moment with me.

Whatever the case, she won’t take her usual two-hour midmorning nap. And 7:30 bedtimes are about as obsolete. But I try anyway.

In one of my attempts to get Ladybug to take a nap the other day, I put her in her crib with some toys. I then lay down on the sofa in the neighboring room to try to catch some sleep myself. Just as I was dozing off, Ladybug started to wail. I rushed in to try to soothe her.

As I held her and gently rocked her back and forth, she quieted down. But as soon as I tried to put her in her crib or down on the floor, she started crying again. So I kept holding her and headed back to the couch. I curled up in the corner, Ladybug’s head on my shoulder, her feet dangling between my knees, and wrapped a blanket around us.

She didn’t fall asleep. But she stayed like that for at least 30 minutes, smiling at me every time I turned my head toward her to see if she had nodded off. We could have sat and snuggled like that all afternoon but my husband walked by and accidentally kicked one of Ladybug’s singing pots.

The spell was broken.

To share your thoughts and read other comments, click HERE.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The best dirty diaper ever

Ladybug’s vocabulary has been growing by leaps and bounds lately. She’s been able to say our cats’ names and ask for her bottle – her “didi” as we call it – for several months now. But in the last few days, she’s picked up our French slang word for sleep. She’ll lay down on the floor, put her hands behind her head, close her eyes and say “dodo.” She’ll also walk to the TV and say “baby,” meaning she wants to watch a Baby Einstein DVD.

She’s even started repeating a phrase I made up when she first began taking baths in the tub instead of the kitchen sink. When I pull the drain plug, I wave at the disappearing water and say, “Bye-bye dirty water.” Now when she’s tired of being in the bath, she pulls the plug, waves and says “Ba-ba da.”

OK, that last one may not count, but she’s getting there.

I’m always amazed each time she says a new word or indicates in her own way what she wants. I can pretty much figure out now when she’s hungry, tired, bored or wants something out of her reach. But there was still one area we were having trouble with – her diaper.

It used to be if she had a poppy diaper, you knew it even if she was 10 feet away. But for some reason, her poop doesn’t smell anymore. I’ll only discover it when I change her diaper. By then she’ll have an awful case of diaper rash. The last time that happened, I told her she needs to let me know when she poops.

“Say caca, poopy, yucky, Mommy change my diaper, anything. But if you don’t let me know, your hiney will keep getting sore,” I explained, as if she would understand.

I figured it just went in one ear and out the other – I mean, how much do they really understand at this age? – until the other night when she was playing in her nursery. All of a sudden she started crying.

“What’s the matter, honey?” I asked.

“Poopy,” she said.

Did she just say poopy????

I picked her up. I didn’t smell anything. I carried her to the changing table anyway, hoping that she had a full diaper.

And there it was. Fresh doo-doo.

I have never enjoyed changing a dirty diaper so much. I called my husband into the room to tell him what just happened.

“Good job!” he exclaimed, clapping.

Applauding over a bowel movement and Ladybug’s use of the word “poopy.” Who would have thought?

To share your thoughts and read other comments, click HERE.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Chucky doll

Would I sound like an ingrate if I said I put one of the dolls my mother-in-law gave Ladybug in a box for the yard sale?

It was a nice gesture on my mother-in-law’s part – a little doll for a little girl – but, well, the doll freaks me out.

My mother-in-law bought the doll in France, so it’s supposed to speak French. It does, but with a Chinese accent. It also has eyes that open and shut, and I’m pretty sure they roll up in its head. I keep waiting to pick the doll up one day and see the eyes fly open. There will only be the whites glaring back at me. The doll will cackle and say “Mama, mama” in that ghoulish voice.

When my mother-in-law was visiting us, she asked if Ladybug liked the doll. Truth is, I didn’t show it to Ladybug. But not wanting to hurt my mother-in-law’s feelings I said the doll had small pieces that could pose a choking hazard – a mini rattle, baby bottle, pacifier, butcher’s knife. Just joking on that last item, but that doll really could be a stand-in for Chucky.

Anyway, as I was separating things for the yard sale, I felt guilty for not giving Ladybug the doll. I figured I’d just show it to her and then put it back in the box.

“Baby!” Ladybug yelled when I pulled it out. “Baby! Baby! Baby!”

Oh, geez, what did I get myself into? I couldn’t very well put it away now. And neither could she. She takes it in her playpen, carries it around the house, totes it in the diaper bag.

You could almost say that doll is following us.

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Monday, August 6, 2007

Book 'em

I’m kind of stumped. I don’t know what to do to keep Ladybug occupied.

We have our daily routine, and we try to get out of the house every couple of days. But you can only go to the Boardwalk, the duck pond and the art gallery park so much.

So I’ve been trying to come up with other things – things that don’t cost money – to do. We’ve taped computer paper to the dining room floor and scribbled. We’ve loaded and emptied the bottom rack of the dishwasher with plastic cups and plates. We even made bowling pins out of empty one-liter bottles of water by decorating our own labels with stickers.

But Ladybug needs friends. I’m cool, but she needs more interaction with other little people.

I vaguely remembered hearing something about a summer reading program for kids at the library and figured that would be a way for her to mingle without commitment. I looked it up online, found the toddler reading group that of course happened to be at the library the farthest away from where we live, and made plans to go.

I woke up early that morning, 6:30 a.m. to be exact. I never know from one day to the next how much time it will take to get Ladybug ready, so I like to build in a little cushion. We were ready to go by our scheduled departure time of 10 a.m., had the diaper bag filled with snacks and toys and a spare bottle. We would make it to the 11 a.m. reading, despite the 45-minute drive.

When we got there, there were no kids. How could that be?

“We stop the reading program in August,” the librarian explained.


I don’t know what I was more upset with, the fact that I had just spent four hours preparing for this outing or that Ladybug wouldn’t get to meet other kids. I think it was the latter.

“I’m sorry you drove so far,” the librarian said. “You could always stay and color.”

Color?! Color?! I didn’t drive 45 minutes to color!

But it was too late. Ladybug had already spotted the crayons – a big basket of them sitting next to a five-year-old girl surrounded by stuffed animals.

We ended up staying for more than an hour, and my crankiness faded with each toddler that wobbled in. Ladybug got to see something new, she got to mingle, she got to color with other people who also don’t know how to stay in the lines. And best of all, someone else got to pick up all the books she pulled off the shelves.

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Friday, August 3, 2007

Coming full cycle

Our washing machine is kaput, and as weird as it sounds, I’m kind of sad.

It’s not so much that it happened while I’m not working. After all, when else would it happen but when we’re on limited finances?

It’s just that it has a long history with us. We bought it just after my husband was transferred to Louisiana with the military more than a decade ago. It took us months of scrimping and saving to finally be able to buy it, but that was better than having to lug our laundry to the base laundromat every Saturday and browse the PX for hours while our clothes washed and dried.

I was so excited when that washing machine was delivered. But we still didn’t have a drier, so we ended up hanging our clothes outside – and learned very quickly how fast the Louisiana sun can fade BDUs and black T-shirts, and how afternoon thunderstorms can ruin your plans for a particular outfit that evening.

We ended up buying a dryer a few months later, and I was able to retire the drying rack that I had to use inside during wet days and winter months. We still have the same dryer. It sits next to the washer that will be hauled off when the new one is delivered next week.

Now I just hope the dryer doesn’t catch a case of sympathy breakdown.

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Thursday, August 2, 2007

Parental newbies

When my husband and I first found out we were going to have a baby, we started buying all the “must haves” according to parenting magazines: Diaper Genie (hate it), a crib with a drop-down side (never could get it to work), a baby bath tub (never figured out how to get the baby in there and maneuver enough to wash her.) Then there was the ultimate gotta-have: The Baby Einstein collection.

Everyone we knew who had kids raved about the DVDs, how stimulating they are for babies, how riveted they are by the images, etc. So we bought a couple. At $20 a pop, this better be must-see TV, we thought.

We put the first one in the DVD player as soon as we got home. I don’t know what we were expecting but it certainly wasn’t moving images of toys and various lights that we had in mind.

I looked at the package to make sure we had bought the right thing.

“Oooohhh, it’s a digital board book.,” I said to my husband. “What’s a board book?”

“I don’t know how any kid could watch this,” he replied. “It’s kind of stupid.”

We put the DVDs on a shelf in Ladybug’s room, and there they stayed until she was several months old. Then one day in an act of desperation to get her to stop crying, my husband reminded me we had the DVDs.

“Just try it. We’ve done everything we can,” he said.

We put the DVD in and it got quiet. It worked! Ladybug’s eyes were glued to the screen. We ended up buying the entire collection.

We don’t need the DVDs to calm Ladybug down any more; she just asks for it by name when she feels the need to relax. The bonus: I get to unwind for 35 minutes as well. There’s just something about those moving images of toys and various lights that soothe the soul.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Scrambled eggs and nose cheese

Ladybug has recently developed a habit of picking her nose. And if you happen to let her get close enough, she’ll pick your nose too.

She does this despite my best efforts to stop her. I’ve tried saying, “Eww! Gross!” but that only makes her laugh and do it more. I’ve tried ignoring her but then she sticks a finger up each nostril and growls to get my attention.

Now she’s discovered that she can stick other things than fingers up her nose, like scrambled eggs. In a recent nose-plugging incident, I thought I had pulled all of the egg out at the time she shoved it up there. But chunks were falling out throughout the day, like fat raindrops plopping on her upper lip.

Who knows how far up all that egg went. I just hope that gravity will eventually do the trick on getting it out.

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