Thursday, November 29, 2007

A (plaid) cardinal sin

Yesterday I cracked. I spent $17 on an outfit for Ladybug.

Seventeen dollars, smethenteen dollars, what’s the big deal, you ask? Because my rule when it comes to clothes shopping for Ladybug is: If I can’t get it for $5 or less, I don’t get it. Why spend more money than I have to when there are always bargains to be found?

But I had been eyeing the rack of velvet dresses in Sam’s Club for at least the last three trips. I never said anything to my husband about them because his philosophy to me has always been: If you want it, buy it. I knew that if he spotted me imagining what Ladybug would look like in one of them, he would tell me to throw it in the shopping cart, and frankly, I didn’t want to cave in.

And that’s exactly what happened yesterday. As we headed back to the food section, I nonchalantly steered the cart past the rack of toddler clothes. I made some passing comment about the cute dresses, what did he think of them, are we dressing up for Christmas again this year? Alright, alright, I planted the seed and he ran with it.

“Ladybug would look really cute in that one,” he said, pointing to a poofy dress with a black velvet top, plaid skirt and a velvet red rose pulling it all together.

“You think?”

“Absolutely. You should get it.”

No need to tell me twice. Into the shopping cart it went.

I felt a bit guilty about the splurge, so I dressed Ladybug up in it today and started taking lots of pictures. Our Christmas card will feature Ladybug sporting that $17 dress. Our annual Ladybug calendar will spotlight the same dress, different pose. And let’s not forget all the photo opportunities Christmas Day.

Oh, what the heck. Ladybug is absolutely adorable in that dress.

Seventeen dollars, smethenteen dollars.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

One, two, tree

My life right now is revolving around Christmas. When Ladybug goes to bed at night, I work on our photo Christmas cards, the Ladybug-themed gift we’re giving the grandparents, the holiday menu, the decorations. Did I mention Christmas is a big deal in our house?

This is the first year that Ladybug is able to appreciate Christmas. Last year at this time, she was just learning to sit up and was barely crawling. This year she’s running all over the house, babbling away as she dashes from room to room to examine the Christmas decorations.

I spread the holiday decorating over several days, giving Ladybug something new to look at daily. The big tree goes up on Thanksgiving Day, the smaller one a day or so later, the chimney wall another day.

Then a few days ago, I decided to surprise Ladybug by decorating a miniature tree and placing it in her room. After she had fallen asleep, I tiptoed into her nursery and swapped out the stuffed animals sitting on her dresser with the tree. I was looking forward to hearing her excitement the next morning when she woke up and spotted it.

As I expected, she loved it. Only problem, it was 2 a.m. when she discovered it. I awoke to Ladybug’s sighs of “petty” – her way of saying “pretty” – punctuated by “ooh”s and “what’s that?” It was 4:30 a.m. before she finally fell back asleep.

If she's that excited now over a tree, I can only imagine what she'll be like when she hears about the stuff Santa leaves under it.

Holiday distraction

I’m not quite sure when my husband and I started the tradition of putting our Christmas tree up on Thanksgiving, but it’s become the annual kickoff date for holiday decorating. What started as one small tree has grown over the years to two trees – one of them a towering eight feet – and a variety of ceramic, glittery, inflatable and illuminated decorations inside and out. We’ve accumulated so much Christmas stuff from post-holiday sales every year that our acquisitions literally line an entire wall – top to bottom – of our shed.

As we hauled box after box inside after Ladybug had gone to bed Thanksgiving Day, an out-of-place container accidentally found its way into the pile. It was packed with close to two dozen stuffed animals that I can’t bring myself to part with. I put the box on the side to take back to the shed the next morning, but as I pondered how we were going to keep Ladybug from pulling the ornaments and garland off the tree I had an idea: Distraction.

I figured if she had enough other stuff around the trees to distract her, she wouldn’t be so interested in what was hanging on the trees. So I propped stuffed animals under the branches, tucked a couple empty wrapped boxes beside them, and scattered the glitter-covered pinecones Ladybug made in between. Then I lined the back of the sofa with all the remaining stuffed animals.

When Ladybug saw the tree for the first time the next morning, she examined it with scientific curiosity, peeking behind it, trying to determine where the lights connected and how the balls hung seemingly without attachment. And then she spotted the stuffed animals – the “babies” as she calls them. It looked like my plan of distraction might just work.

Here it is almost a week later, and so far we’re down only two ornaments. The garland on the lower branches is a little disheveled from all the activity under the tree. The ceramic animal ornaments prove to be too much of a temptation for Ladybug at times, and the glimmering bells beg to be touched. But overall, we might make it through Christmas with the trees intact.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Take 2

We decided to give potty training another go round this past week. So far, we’ve had no better luck than Ladybug’s first attempt two months ago that was sidelined by a mysterious rash that made sitting on the potty uncomfortable.

Maybe the rash was a reaction to the cleaning products I used to scrub down her potty before the first use. Maybe it was from the toilet paper that she had piled so high in the potty it tickled her bottom. Maybe it was from the pee that soaked through her big-girl underwear faster than I could change them.

Maybe it was a sign she wasn’t ready to start yet.

So I waited a few more months before giving it another shot. I read a little more on various tactics, talked up the potty, printed out pictures of Elmo cheering Ladybug on and hung them in the bathroom. Rather than going straight to underwear as we did last time, I decided to try the pull-up diapers that let her feel when she’s wet.

The first time I put them on Ladybug, I explained that she would feel when she peed and that she would need to tell me. Sure enough, five minutes later Ladybug touched her diaper and said, “Pee-pee.” That was the first and last time. From that point on, if I wanted to know if she had gone to the bathroom, I either had to do the sniff test or ask, and I never got a reliable answer with either method.

So I’m giving up on the pull-ups for now. There’s no sense wasting money when Ladybug doesn’t care that she’s wet. In fact, the only thing that interests her in the whole process is the princesses printed on the front of the pull-ups.

I think we’re going to take a break from this potty training for a little while longer until I can figure out another strategy. If you’ve got a thought on the matter, please chime in by clicking HERE.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Hiding my own Easter eggs

About a month ago, Ladybug handed me the bottle she had just finished. It was missing the cap that she absolutely must hold in her right hand while downing the bottle in her left.

I looked in all the usual places that missing objects can usually be found – in her push, pull and ride-on toys; in her ball pit; on her book shelf between the pop-up books and the soft plush ones.


I gave up, accepted it as temporarily lost and pulled a backup cap out of my bottle supply. Then this morning I found it while looking for Easter eggs. Yes, Easter eggs. On Thanksgiving.

See, a couple days ago I had the idea to have an Easter egg hunt. Well, it was actually inspired by Ladybug after we pulled out a few home movies from earlier this year. As Ladybug sat watching her younger self celebrate her first birthday, take her first steps and have her first Easter egg hunt, she became excited, bouncing up and down in her chair.

So the next morning, I had the bag of Easter eggs and her basket waiting for her when she woke up. I hid the eggs in her nursery while she waited in the living room. She’d dart in every few minutes to see what I was doing, spot an egg, grab it and run back out. When I finally invited her in to search for the eggs, she squealed in delight each time she saw one propped in her shoe or sitting in the puppet dangling upside down from her crib.

When she had found all the eggs in her nursery, we did another hunt in the living room. But this time she wouldn’t leave while I hid the eggs. She watched as I placed an egg next to the entertainment center then would run and pick it up and soon as I sat it down. So as soon as she would bend over, I'd run to the other side of the room and line the sofa with another batch of eggs. She’d turn around and see them and dash over to put those in her basket. I'd go back to where she just came from and repeat the process.

We tired of the game after about an hour. We sat down and counted the eggs to make sure we had them all, then packed them back up to be put in the closet. I hung the bag of eggs on the closet handle to put away later, but I forgot.

So this morning as I slept in and my husband kept an eye on Ladybug, she found the bag and sprinkled the Easter eggs throughout the guest bedroom and the bathroom. I found them in the trashcan, on a dresser, under a pile of pillows, behind the bed skirt. That’s when I found the missing bottle cap.

I rounded up all the eggs and put them back in the bag. Except one. I can’t find it anywhere.

I’m giving up for now, accepting it as temporarily lost. But I’m sure it will turn up the next time I’m looking for a lost bottle cap.

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

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Survival of the spittest

You should know by now that I don’t like to throw food away. I’ll scarf down Ladybug’s untouched scrambled eggs, recycle her sweet peas in a casserole and make sandwiches out of her half-eaten bread. But there’s one thing I won’t touch anymore: her yogurt.

Oh, sure, I used to finish it off after she said “All done!” and handed me the slimy-sided container. That all changed after I sat down to watch her eat it.

She’d stick the spoon straight in the cup, barely managing to scoop up any yogurt, then slurp it up – typical eating style for Ladybug. Then, deciding she’d had enough, she leaned her head over the cup and hocked a loogie.

“All done!” she said proudly, passing me the half-eaten yogurt.

Eeeeewwwww. Me too, all done.

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

Dirt Devil distress

I’ve had a bit of a crunchy carpet lately. You know, the kind with crushed Cheerios and crumbled leaves and dry grass. It’s not that I don’t want to vacuum all that mess up; it’s that I can’t without a total meltdown from Ladybug. All of a sudden, she’s afraid of the vacuum cleaner.

I don’t know where her fear came from. One day she was fine, pushing her toy vacuum alongside me; the next day she’s howling when she sees me wheeling it out of storage. She’ll run in the opposite direction, tears pouring down her cheeks, pleading “No, Mommy! No, no, no!” as if she were afraid I might accidently vacuum her up.

For the last few weeks, I’ve only been able to vacuum when my husband can distract Ladybug in the backyard. But seeing as how she follows me closer than my own shadow, that makes the chore even more difficult to accomplish.

So I’ve tried holding her while I vacuum to show her there’s nothing to be afraid of, but that has only left me with bruised hips as Ladybug tries to kick free. I’ve offered to let her push the vacuum with me, making my own vacuum noises without turning it on, but that doesn’t do much to get rid of the ground-in dirt.

Ladybug’s kooky phobia is natural for a toddler, or so I’ve heard. I read an article the other day about one mother’s challenge to potty train her son. He’d scream anytime he got close to a toilet. Seems he was afraid the elephants in the drain would eat him.

Pachyderms in the potty, man-eating vacuums. Geez, it must be hard to be a toddler.

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

Our muse

Ladybug loves chalk and if she could have her way, she’d draw on everything. She’s already learned that chalk works on the chimney hearth and the coffee table. But for the most part we’ve been able to keep her scribbles contained to the chalkboard and … the deck.

Yes, our outdoor living space is a 300-square-foot chalkboard. Every piece of exposed wood is covered in circles and lines and squiggly shapes. Call it art decko.

Ladybug goes about her day with sidewalk chalk at hand. There’s a pile of it next to the patio doors and a small basket full next to my desk where a portable chalkboard is propped. Connecting the two stashes is a trail of broken pieces, which I pick up and place on the kitchen counter as I find them.

Last night after we had put Ladybug to bed, I walked into the kitchen to find my husband drawing on the counter with the chalk I had placed there.

“It’s a good thing Ladybug is in bed. You might give her ideas,” I said.

“You’ve got it all wrong,” he replied. “I get my inspiration from her.”

I know what he means. Scribbled next to Ladybug’s deck designs, you’ll find a few of my own.

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

Friday, November 16, 2007

Fingers crossed

Some days I feel like I’m on auto pilot. I go through the day completing tasks without memory of doing them. Recently I prepared dinner and left it uncooked on the stove top, apparently to be put in the oven later. Problem is, I don’t remember making it.

Then there was the dirty laundry that I went to get from the basket in the bathroom only to find out it wasn’t there. Seems I had already put it in the machine – detergent and all – but didn’t turn it on.

But the worst was this morning. I was in the bathroom when Ladybug walked in, sucking down the remnants of a bottle of formula.

“All done,” she said, putting the bottle on the countertop.

“Good job,” I replied as I usually do when she finishes drinking.

Hold on. Wait a minute, I thought. She already had her bottle this morning. Where did this one come from? I panicked as I remembered washing dishes last night after Ladybug went to bed and wondering where I might find the bottle for the cap I was holding. I made a mental note to look for the bottle as soon as I had finished but like so many thoughts these days, it disappeared before I got to the task.

I was horrified to think Ladybug drank day-old formula. What kind of mother lets that happen? Ladybug could get really sick, and it would be my fault. I sheepishly told my husband what happened, guilt-ridden by my distraction to clean the kitchen and the subsequent result it produced.

It’s been a couple hours since Ladybug found that bottle and so far, so good. I hope it stays that way. But for now I’m keeping my fingers crossed and the Pedialyte within reach.

UPDATE: We made it through the weekend with no sickness. Whew!

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

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Comparison shopping

Milestones never bothered me, I guess because they always gave me a chance to gloat.

If the developmental experts said babies Ladybug’s age should be able to stack three blocks, I’d brag to myself, “That was sooo two months ago.” If toddlers should be able to speak a half-dozen discernable words, I’d pat myself on the back that Ladybug was five times the conversationalist. Truth of the matter, I was feeling pretty good about Ladybug’s advancement.

And then I met her. The home-schooling mother of five whose two-year-old daughter could talk. Not just pointing-at-an-object-and-identifying-it talking; I mean full-blown sentences.

“Mommy, look at this book. Green is my favorite color,” the little girl said to her mother as I sat and watched in amazement. There was no lisping, no confusing l’s with w’s. I did a doubletake to make sure I was looking at the right child and not mistaking her for her older sister.

Nope, it was the two-year-old.

“How long has she been able to speak in full sentences?” I asked the mom in awe.

She thought about it for a minute and replied, “I don’t know. It’s been quite a while though.”

Oh, fine. Just dig the knife in deeper.

“Huh,” I said.

“Oh, you mean yours doesn’t use full sentences yet?”


“It must be because she’s learning two languages at the same time,” the mom tried to reassure me, referring to our attempts to raise Ladybug in English and my husband’s native French language.

“Uh-huh,” I responded a little too indignantly.

What the heck was wrong with me, getting jealous over some other two-year-old’s ability to talk? So what? For all I know, their idea of mother-and-daughter bonding could be sitting in a corner for hours doing flashcards – something not in my or Ladybug’s temperament.

And why am I even comparing my daughter to some stranger’s kid in the first place? Ladybug’s her own person, developing at the pace that’s right for her. I know that, I know that, I know that. But I guess that’s the flip side of tracking developmental milestones.

That said, I wonder how many blocks that little girl can stack?

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

If you haven't noticed, we have a kid

A while back, a friend of my husband stopped by our house to see Ladybug for the first time. After all the usual “she’s beautiful” and “are you getting any sleep?” reflections, he made another comment: “Wow, you’d never know you had a kid.”

He was making reference to the fact that the living room carpet was still beige, the walls were still off-white and the leather sofa was still cream colored. He went on to explain how his two young boys had wreaked havoc on his home.

“You’ll see,” he said.

Ah, yes. We certainly will.

It started with the carpet. We were loading up the car for an overnight trip when Ladybug made a dash for the open front door. In my haste to catch her, I put my coffee mug down on the nearest thing – the floor. No sooner had I scooped her up that my husband walked by and accidentally kicked over the cup, a torrent of dark brown spreading across the entryway carpet.

Next were the walls. First, a chocolate handprint from our cookie-baking adventure that I didn’t discover until it had hardened and sunk into every pore in the paint. Then, a scribbly crayon drawing under the living room window.

Most recently, it was the sofa. Despite my best efforts to store the crayons out of Ladybug’s reach, she always manages to find a stray one. It’s blue, as my sofa cushions will tell you.

A little dish detergent took the crayon out of the sofa. A dozen steam cleanings later, and the coffee stain is all but a memory. The artwork under the window is faded, as is the surrounding paint from all my scrubbing.

Oh, if my husband’s friend could only see us now ….

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

Wrapped around her finger

When I was a kid, my little brother couldn't pronounce my name so he started calling me Mimi. It stuck.

I was Mimi to my parents growing up, Mimi to my closest friends in high school, and eventually Mimi to my husband. But when Ladybug was born, Mimi got traded in for another name. My husband and I fell in the habit of calling each other Mommy and Daddy in front of Ladybug, sometimes even when we were alone. I don't know how or why it happened; maybe we were just trying to get Ladybug to recognize us as her parents.

She has long since been able to identify us as Mommy and Daddy, so my husband and I are back to using our pre-baby nicknames with each other. And Ladybug has joined in.

“Mimi! Mimi!” she calls to me from her crib in the morning.

“Mimi! Mimi!” she calls from the living room when she wants me to play with her.

I think it's cute but I also don't want her calling me Mimi when she's 12. So now when she refers to me as Mimi, I tell her that there's a very special name for me that only she can use: Mommy.

We go through this explanation at least a dozen times a day, and it typically sticks for about five minutes. The other day it didn't stick at all. In the grocery store, in the car, on our walk -- everytime Ladybug called me, it was with the name Mimi.

As I got her ready for bed that night, I stepped out of her nursery to get something. No sooner was I out of her sight that she started calling "Mimi!" I headed back to her room, the "you-have-a-very-special-name-for-me" speech prepared. But I stopped when I saw her. She had her face pressed against the crib slats, her lips puckered into a kiss.

"Mimi!" she sighed.

OK, OK, Ladybug. You can call me Mimi for a little while longer.

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

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tick tock

This whole daylight saving thing is really wearing me out. It’s been more than week since we’ve turned the clocks back an hour, but Ladybug’s inner timepiece still hasn’t reset itself. For the last five days, she’s woken us up at 6:15 a.m. – almost two hours earlier than usual. The three days before that, it was 5:30 a.m.

Getting up early isn't the problem. I mean, I had to get up at that time when I was working. It's just that I wasn't mentally -- or physically, for that matter -- prepared to have two additional hours with a toddler who can't have me out of her sight one second, even if it means she sits on the floor in front of the toilet while I go to the bathroom. So, 120 extra minutes is really a big deal.

At first I thought those early risings would have her conked out by dinner, but I soon found out she’s still raring to go hours later. It’s taken some monumental effort on my part to have her in bed by 7:30 p.m. For some reason, she has been overly hyper this past week. She won’t even sit through her favorite Little Einsteins episode. So I’ve been trying to squeeze even more physical activity into our day, including a ¼-mile pre-nap walk and another one after dinner.

I’m sure she could walk at least twice as far if I let her, but getting up with the sun has sapped my energy. If this continues much longer, I’m not going to wait for spring to turn the clocks ahead.

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

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Missing out

Ladybug never sucked her thumb. She never had a lovie. And she never looked back on the pacifier when I took it away at six months after she crammed the whole thing in her mouth, handle and all.

I was starting to feel like I was missing out on typical toddler behavior. And then one day we sat down to dinner, and Ladybug refused to eat the chopped chicken on her plate. The next morning, it was the pancakes and oatmeal. At lunch it was the rice. I rejoiced. I have a picky eater!!!!!!

Ladybug’s menu these last few weeks has been restricted to scrambled Egg Beaters, sliced or shredded cheese and a limited assortment of fruits. I’ve tried to slip in a whole grain English muffin or a chicken quesadilla on whole wheat tortillas here and there, but they end up on the floor as soon as I put them in front of her.

I won’t fight it. I’ll enjoy Ladybug’s current obsession and accept it for what it is. And I’ll rejoice in the fact that it isn’t macaroni and cheese she’s craving.

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

Fat clothes

I never buy Ladybug’s clothes full price if I can help it. I wait until the end of the season and then stock up on sale items a couple sizes bigger for next year. The practice has saved me hundreds of dollars, and really, what’s more exciting than getting a $25 outfit for the price of a can of soda?

This week I unpacked the winter-clothing purchases I made this past spring – two drawers full of dollar-pants, 99-cent sweaters and two-buck pajamas. I bought them in sizes ranging from 24 months to 3T since I wasn’t sure how fast Ladybug would grow. She has always been taller than 90 percent of babies her age, according to her pediatrician’s growth chart, so I figured I’d err on the side of caution.

But, wouldn’t you know, there’s not a pair of pants in the bunch that fits. Oh, the length is fine. I even have to roll a couple pairs up. It’s the waistband that’s the problem. Seems none of the factory seamstresses took into account that totally toddler characteristic of a tubby tummy.

It’s not as if Ladybug is overweight. She’s slender and oddly toned for someone so little, but that arched back pushes her stomach out like a half a cantaloupe. I can’t snap or zipper her pants closed to save my life.

I read that it will be a few more years before Ladybug’s stomach muscles strengthen enough to give her “normal” posture. I guess until then, she’ll be running around with her fly open.

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

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Too many boo-boos

These days, keeping Ladybug’s clothes clean isn’t the only challenge. So is keeping her pain-free.

She currently has four teeth coming in – soreness that she tries to chew away on every plastic toy, metal spoon and soft dish towel she can get her hands on.

Then there are the pinched fingers as she attempts to close her nursery door.

A few days ago, it was a bloody nose. She was playing with her dollhouse when all of a sudden she started crying. A small gash ran across the bridge of her nose and droplets of blood fell from her nostrils onto her lip. I still haven’t figured out how that happened.

And then yesterday there was the rug burn down the side of her face as she toppled from the boogie board I was dragging across the lawn and rolled a few times.

She’s a trooper, though. After a few whimpers soothed by hugs, Ladybug will get up and dart off again, often to resume the same activity. Meanwhile, my husband and I stand by, ready to jump in with kisses as needed.

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

Judge not

One day not so long ago as I was folding clothes at the dining room table, I commented proudly to my husband that I’ve been able to keep Ladybug’s clothes stain-free and ultra white. I then added that I didn’t understand how other parents couldn’t do the same.

Judge not lest ye be judged.

I am now on the receiving end of my own criticism, unable to find a shirt that doesn’t have the remnants of strawberry juice sopped up with cuffs and sleeves, or pants without evidence of Ladybug’s slips on the grass. I’m starting to think I’m Spray ‘n Wash’s best customer.

But I’ve got a new strategy: pink flowered tops and blue jeans. Spilled strawberry juice looks like petals from a distance. And dark jeans, well, they hide just about everything.

The only giveaway of stains these days are Ladybug’s streaked white shoes. But a run through a mud puddle will take care of that. They’ll look like brown suede, at least from far away.

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

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

On your mark, get set, go

Ladybug just went down for her only nap of the day. That means I have about two hours to pick up the toys scattered throughout the living room, clean up the kitchen from breakfast, fold the clean clothes heaped on top on my dining room table, wash another load, scoop the cats' litter, sweep and swiffer the floors, take out the trash and down about a half dozen cups of coffee to give me enough umph to get me through the afternoon. When did daily life get so busy?

When Ladybug spent her first months going from tummy time to the Exercauser to the bouncer and back again and communicated all her needs through very loud and constant cries, I thought toddlerhood would be so much easier. I’d get to sleep through the night, Ladybug would be able to entertain herself and my house might actually get cleaned.

All of that is true to some extent, but it never happens all at the same time. Ladybug plays by herself in 20-minute spurts then tugs on me to join her. I’ll get the kitchen cleaned but every other room in the house will be messy. And getting a full night’s sleep – yes, I get those but I need them after an exhausting day of running behind Ladybug and making the most of the downtime I have from her morning nap.

Sometimes I look back on those early days when Ladybug couldn’t walk and wonder how I could have thought her self-sufficiency would mean less work. I guess it’s all a matter of perspective. When you haven’t experienced a toddler emptying a roll of toilet paper before running off to do the same to your kitchen cabinets, the constant doting a newborn needs seems fatiguing.

I wish I had a time machine and could go back to those early months in Ladybug’s life and watch myself in action. Now that I’ve experienced toddlerhood and have learned a thing or two about time management, what would I do differently?

There’s no time to think about that now. I have an hour before Ladybug wakes up, and the dishes are calling.

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

Sunday, November 4, 2007


During our last trip to the library, Ladybug borrowed a board book that paired pictures of babies with words to describe them. A baby speckled with mud was dirty. A baby curled up with his eyes closed was sleeping. Another one with a big toothless grin was happy. That last image stuck with Ladybug, and she would flip through the pages of the book until she found it. She’d point to the picture, smile and say, “Happy!”

Since then, “happy” makes a frequent appearance in Ladybug’s vocabulary. Whenever we’re coloring or kicking a ball around or doing any other activity she enjoys, Ladybug will stop, hug my legs and say, “Happy!”

Me, too, I’m happy. I was thinking of that as I lay in bed last night, unable to fall asleep. As weird as it sounds, I couldn’t wait for morning to come and Ladybug to wake up. I felt like a kid on Christmas Eve, except that I already knew what my present was. She was wrapped in footed pajamas and snoring softly in the next room.

I’d laugh as I lay in the dark thinking over the day: Ladybug standing in the kitchen, pointing at the bowl of fruit on the counter and asking for a “nana.” Holding her arm straight up in the air so her purse didn’t fall off her shoulder. Picking “apples” off the tomato plants. Exclaiming “PU!” as she took off her shoes and socks for her nap. Me finally figuring out that “monkey” was her way of asking for her blankie.

I guess I’m feeling a bit sentimental about all this as my four-month anniversary of becoming a stay-at-home mom approaches. Now that I’ve experienced Ladybug around the clock, I wonder how I ever found the mental strength to return to work after maternity leave.

I’m happy I had the opportunity to become a stay-at-home mom. Happy and grateful.

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

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Tricked for a treat

Halloween night, the meteorologist on the late-night local news said the weather had been perfect for trick-or-treating.

I so beg to differ.

It was 81 degrees when we left the house. Eighty-one degrees at 5:30 p.m. at the end of October! Where I come from, costumes were always layered with long underwear and winter coats. It just doesn’t feel the same if you’re not collecting candy with gloves.

But I’ve been in the south for nearly 12 years, so you’d think I would know by now that summers are hot and winters are mild. Yet that hasn’t stopped me from buying furry, hooded plush outfits for Ladybug.

When we learned Ladybug was going to be born in the middle of February, I bought a furry, hooded plush Winnie the Pooh zip-up one-piece for her to wear home from the hospital. I got matching pink booties and mittens too. But the day we checked out, the temperature was 84 degrees. Ladybug ended up wearing a short-sleeved onesie home, and the Winnie the Pooh outfit got tucked in a drawer, never to be worn.

Then earlier this fall, we stumbled across a furry, hooded plush ladybug Halloween costume. I couldn’t let that one go, despite the nagging voice in the back of my mind that said it probably wouldn’t get cool enough for it. Surely Mother Nature wouldn’t be so cruel twice, I tried to convince myself as we stood at the cash register.

But as the thermometer climbed in the days leading up to Halloween, I accepted the fact that I had been duped again. When we finally did go trick-or-treating, Ladybug’s hood was down, her sleeves were pushed up and her cheeks were flushed. Before long, we ended up taking off her costume altogether.

That ladybug costume is now sitting on a shelf in her nursery, waiting for the day it gets cold enough to wear a coat. Ladybug may not have one of those, but she has a furry, hooded plush outfit that will stand in just fine.

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