Must trust

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Husband and I ventured for an evening out on Tuesday night, as one of our favorite musical performers was playing at a club in Louisville. We got Baby B tucked into bed and made sure everything was in order at home, then we hit the road to the show. There was quite a downpour for most of the drive there, and it was so bad that we kept losing traction on the interstate. Scary times, to say the least, and it was a relief to be off the interstate and finding our way to the club. Street parking was necessary, then we had to walk a couple blocks to arrive at our final destination.

The rain was still coming down in sheets. There was no doubt we were going to get wet considering the distance we had to walk, so there was no point in making a run for it. We were resigned to becoming soaked.

Just then, a man with an umbrella came from out of nowhere and saw  us walking. He ran over to us and put his umbrella over my head, walking beside me, with The Husband right behind me. He said to The Husband, “Don’t worry, I’m not gonna get fresh with her. I’m just trying to keep you dry.” He jokingly asked,”Why’d you all make it rain so much anyway?”

Now I’ll admit it: I was highly suspicious of the man. He was by himself, we were dressed fairly nicely for a Tuesday night, and we were out at 10:30 p.m. at night in an unfamiliar area of a city in which we do not live. The neighborhood didn’t seem like a bad one, but I know crimes can (and do) happen anywhere. I was totally expecting him to ask me to hand over my purse at any moment, despite the benign chit-chat he was making.

We continued walking down the street, about the length of ten or 12 houses, when the man asked where we were going. I told him the club name (it was around the corner), and he paused for a moment and said, “Look, I trust you. You take the umbrella with you, and bring it back to this house, and just put it on the porch.” And with that, he went inside the house we were standing at, leaving us with his umbrella to borrow.

Instantly I felt bad for thinking that he might mug us. Sure, he only entrusted us with a basic umbrella — something easily replaceable — but that was a step above what was expected of him in the situation. His words kept resonating in my head.

“I trust you.”

I trust you.

A complete stranger, trusting us with something of his.

And it got me thinking about Baby B and the trust between us. She might be at an age where I don’t trust that she’s always going to make the right choices as she’s feeling her way around the world…just as I didn’t trust Umbrella Man initially. But she has complete trust in me — to protect her, to love her, to look after her — and that alone is enough to make me want to be even more trusting of her. Also also trusting of the job we’re doing to prepare her for life.


Wordless Wednesday: Clowning around for Halloween

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

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On a role

Monday, October 26, 2009

As previously mentioned, Baby B has stepped up her role-playing interest lately. Typically it is limited more to scenarios that she is familiar with, but we have a great time acting them out — and hopefully getting her to see things in a new light.

One of her recent favorites is to put me and The Husband in timeout. She used to say we (or The Dog) should go to timeout, but that’s where it ended. That’s not the case now. She fully steps into the role of a parent or teacher and enforces the rules. If I talk while she’s reading? Here’s how it goes:

Me: [talk talk talk]

Baby B: “Mommy, you do NOT talk while I’m READING the story. You go to ti-MOUT!”

She leads me over to a place next to her closet doors and instructs me to sit there.

Baby B: “Now you stay here and you do NOT talk. And you do NOT dance when you’re in timeout.”

As part of our role reversal I like to pretend to be a child who does not listen, so she can hopefully see the kinds of frustrations that we (her parents) and her teachers have to deal with. Basically I push it as far as I can (though backing off when it’s clear that Baby B doesn’t feel like it’s a game anymore).

So I’ll start dancing in timeout. Which, of course, draws the wrath of Ms. You’re in Timeout.

Me: [dancing, dancing, dancing]

Baby B: “Mommy, you are NOT being very good! You are not listening to me. You do NOT dance in timeout. And you do not talk in timeout.”

I’ll pretend to be good for a few seconds, neither dancing nor talking, then I’ll do something new, like lie down on the floor. Immediately she comes back over to me, exasperated.

Baby B: “What are you doing? You need to sit up.”

Me: “But I wasn’t dancing or talking.  You just said no dancing and no talking!”

Baby B: “No, Mommy. You need to sit UP!”

And so it continues for a good ten or 15 minutes, this game that is so much more than a game. I always used to think it was most beneficial for Baby B, as she gets to see some of what we have to deal with, but I’m learning that it’s also useful for me and The Husband, as we get to see things from her point of view, too. The end goal of respecting each other is reached by first taking the path of understanding each other.

How awesome is our babysitter?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Somehow we went from me offering to buy or make dinner for The Babysitter and Baby B since The Husband and I were out last night…to her offering to make a homemade chicken pot pie for them — and then her leaving us leftovers for lunch today!!

She is one-of-a-kind. (And a good cook!)

Wordless Wednesday: How tall this fall

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

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Once upon a time

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Once upon a time, there was a girl who’d never held a job a day in her life, and she lived quite the life of privilege. She was so pretty, and everyone admired her for this feature alone. One day, she found herself in quite the predicament — but never fear! At that very moment, the handsome prince was riding in on his white horse to save the day — and the princess too. Despite knowing each other for a few mere hours, they kiss passionately, profess their love for each other, and vow to marry immediately in a lavish ceremony attended by the entire kingdom. And, of course, they live happily ever after.


Does that about cover it?

Is it any reason I despise some of the lessons that come out of fairy tales?

We don’t discourage fairy tales and princesses in our house, but we don’t actively encourage it, either. Basically it just really doesn’t come up at home — much like, say, the topic of landfills, for example.

So you can imagine my surprise when a friend asked Baby B last week, “What are you going to be for Halloween?” and without any hesitation, she answered, “A pink princess,” as though we’d discussed it before and had come to a clear decision. In fact, we’ve had her costume for a few weeks, and it is not a pink princess.

But oh, the princess stuff begins.

Honestly, I don’t mind if she does some princess roleplaying. Obviously it’s an appealing thing to young kids, and who doesn’t wish to be whisked off their feet and rescued from all their troubles in such a simple manner? I think my main desire is to stay away from the overcommercialization of princess paraphernalia, including the ever-present Disney princesses (barf! So not a Disney person in the first place). And really, that comes down to me exerting my authority as a parent to not buy all that crap. And it’s not just limited to princesses; I also feel like she can occasionally watch Elmo, but she’s not going to have Elmo plastered on every item she owns.

So really, even though my main issue is with the princess fairy-tale fantasy, the real beef is with the overcommercialization of all such things targeted to kids. Looking around the room at the daycare kids, it’s everywhere. Dora shoes and Mickey backpacks and Wiggles t-shirts. There’s a seemingly endless supply in the marketplace, and parents have bought into it big time, just like these companies want.

But that doesn’t mean we have to play that game. After all, I’m too busy waiting for my knight in shining armor to come along.

Readers digest

Monday, October 19, 2009

As an update to my last post, Baby B recovered nicely from Thursday’s illness. She could have gone back to daycare on Friday, I think, but we went ahead and kept her home with me since I was off that day anyway.


I’ve got a journalism degree and read every day for a living and in my spare time, and The Husband has an English degree and gobbles up books faster than he can get them from the library.

To say that reading is an important activity in our house might be an understatement.

We understand first-hand how much reading can enhance your life in so many ways, and of course we want that for our daughter, too. It can exercise her mind. It can help her analyze information. It can help her learn to focus. It can help her focus on her goals and point her in the right direction in life. It can help her understand the world around her.

I think I can speak for both of us when I say that it makes us so happy when Baby B makes the choice — all on her own, without our insistence — to read books. She she’s deemed this a worthwhile activity that she enjoys doing. Sometimes she’ll ask us to read her a story, other times she’ll flip through the pages and narrate what’s happening in the pictures, throwing in snippets of plot she remembers from before and asking occasionally, “Can everybody see the book?”

But what I love best is when we leave her room at bedtime and she asks to read every night before going to sleep. This is not something we are going to discourage. She’ll ask us to keep her dimmer switch turned up a little so she can see, and sometimes she’ll spend half an hour devouring the books she has chosen. We can see her on the video monitor, and she looks determined to get every bit out of those books that she can. I love it.

Does it cause her to miss out on a little extra sleep?

Sure, it does.

But does it offer her so many benefits that will last her a lifetime?

Most certainly, yes.

Signs of the (sick) season

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ah, another illness, another double ear infection. Lovely!

Baby B went to bed last night with a slight runny nose and a touch of a cough, and she woke up at 4:30 a.m. with much more pronounced symptoms. When it was time to get her up for the day today at 6:30 a.m., we quickly decided she wasn’t well enough to go to daycare, as she seemed to have a low-grade fever, runny nose, more pronounced cough, and some labored breathing. Honestly, if it were a normal year, I wouldn’t have taken her to the doctor for these fairly mild symptoms, but with the whole country on flu alert and with Baby B without a flu shot thus far (she was scheduled for their clinic this weekend, but they’ve now had to cancel due to lack of shipment), I figure it was a good idea to go ahead and take her in.

I called the pediatrician when they opened and got in for an 8:30 a.m. appointment. We had maybe a 20-minute wait in the waiting area, then we were taken back to the exam room. Baby B weighed in at 29.5 pounds, and since she said her throat was hurting, they decided to do a strep test in addition to a flu swab. She did great for the strep test but didn’t like the flu swab nearly as much and cried for a bit after that was over. The doctor came in, went over her symptoms and asked questions, then checked for things such as her blood oxygen level and listened for pneumonia. He didn’t hear any pneumonia, but since the strep and flu tests came back negative, he went ahead and sent her for an x-ray to check if there was anything brewing in there.

Baby B had been in good spirits up to this point, but the sick feeling caught up to her and she was quite lethargic while we were waiting about 25 minutes for her x-ray. Very unlike her, she was curled up in my lap with her head buried into my shoulder, just staring off into space. She did great for her x-ray, complaining at first about sitting on the table but then cooperating fully. We left to go to the pharmacy to fill her prescriptions for antibiotics and a steroid (just in case she does have something lung-related), and waited for a call from the doctor about the x-ray. They called about an hour later and said the x-ray was negative for pneumonia, which was good, but that meant we were pretty much left with a generic virus diagnosis and “call us if her symptoms worsen.” But, that’s about what I expected, so I wasn’t surprised.

Once again she was very lethargic while waiting at the pharmacy and sat in the chair the whole 20 minutes without moving (again unlike her). We went home, did her first medicine doses, and went to lie down in our bed for a nap. I crawled in with her and napped for about an hour until it was time for me to get ready and eat lunch before going to work. She ultimately ended up sleeping from 11 a.m. until about 3 p.m., but woke up feeling some better, so clearly she needed it.

I’m thinking if she gets one more ear infection in the near future, I’m going to call the ENT to see what they say about a second set of tubes; I have no hesitation having that done again if it looks like ear infections will continue to be a trend. Here’s hoping we don’t get to that point, though.

Wordless Wednesday: How to get anything you want

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

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Here comes the Boo Boo Monster!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It did not amuse me when Baby B came home from daycare over the summer talking about monsters. This was not something she picked up at home. Not that I expected her to completely escape knowledge of monsters, but putting it off a little longer would have been nice.

In hindsight, I think it’s been a pretty good thing, as we’ve (so far) been able to take the idea of monsters and put our own spin on them, turning them from scary creatures to silly, oaf-like beings.

One thing Baby B really likes to do is a game where we roleplay monsters. She calls this the Boo Boo Monster Game (no clue why she calls it that). The game starts out by me putting a blanket or towel over my head and proclaiming, “I’m the Boo Boo Monster! You’d better go hide or I’m coming to get you!” I’ll then proceed to walk zombie-style toward the bed while Baby B and The Husband shriek and scramble to take cover under the blankets. I finally reach the bed, feel them through the covers, saying, “I found out! I’m gonna get you now!” More shrieking from Baby B and The Husband.

Finally, in the big climax, I dramatically pull the covers off them and say, “HA! I found you!” Baby B shrieks in delight, then I take off the blanket over my head and say, “Hey, you guys! It’s just ME!!” And we all have a good laugh.

Immediately Baby B puts the blanket over her head and tells us to hide because the Boo Boo Monster is coming to get us. She goes through the same steps that I did as she pretends to be this monster, before finally revealing that, “It’s actually me!”

This, of course, isn’t to say that she’ll never be scared of monsters (in fact, I’m sure at some point she will be), but I like that we try to have fun with it and help her see things in a different light sometimes.

Where the wild things are

Monday, October 12, 2009

I know where the wild things are.

They’re taking over the bouncy obstacle course without regard for the little kids around them.

We were at our local bookstore for an event to celebrate — appropriately — “Where the Wild Things Are,” and they had several events set up, including a reading of the book, face painting, balloon animals, crafts, and a bouncy obstacle course. Lots of good, free family fun.

The bouncy obstacle course had three rules posted at the entrance: 1. No shoes allowed, 2. Only two at a time, and 3. Have fun. It seems that one more rule — which I think should be assumed (but apparently not) — should be been included: Parents, please supervise your children.

That was not the case for these two boys, who were probably around 7 or 8 years old. Despite the bookstore worker’s pleas, they would enter the obstacle course when it wasn’t their turn, play rough among all the little kids inside, and wouldn’t come out immediately like they were supposed to. The worker tried her best to get them to obey like all the other kids were doing, but with no luck. I applauded her efforts, but you know what?

That’s not her job.

Where were the boys’ parents, you ask? The short answer: They were not in the immediate vicinity and thus were unavailable to encourage the boys to behave in a more appropriate manner. My suspicion is that the parents saw a way for the boys to be entertained and then vacated the area, going to a more remote part of the (quite large) bookstore and completely unaware of how the kids were behaving.

Well, that’s what store workers are for, right? To babysit kids that aren’t their own?

Maybe I sound like an old fuddy-duddy here, but what happened to taking responsibility for your own kids? I’m not saying the parents could have necessarily prevented the boys from acting like this initially, but they certainly could have been present to show their disapproval of such behavior and enact consequences if they didn’t shape up quickly. No parents, no consequences.

It’s no wonder so many people think that kids are such brats these days.

Anatomy lesson (Baby B style)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

In the car on the way home from the dog park:

Baby B: “Mommy, where are [The Dog’s] elbows??

Me: “They’re on his legs*.”

Baby B: “On his legs? Not on his arms?”

Me: “He doesn’t have arms. Just legs!”

Baby B: (pondering this) “Are they on his legs to make him run faster?”

Me: “Yes, they help his legs bend and he can run faster.”

Baby B: “So if I took them off his legs, he would run slower?”

Me: (laughing) “Yeah, if you took off his elbows, I’m guessing he’d run a lot slower, wouldn’t he?”

Baby B: “That’s silly!”


*I know this isn’t technically true, but she’s two, for crying out loud.

Fall family festivities: Flapjacks and a flick (and farm fun too!)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Some days, you know exactly what’s in store when you get out of bed, but other days, you never know what great things lie ahead for you.

We had one of the latter days on Saturday. The day began on a rough note, as we were not pleased with a 6 a.m. wakeup call from Baby B; that’s half an hour earlier than the time we wake her up during the week. Her normal weekend wakeup time is around 8 or 8:30 a.m., so a two-hour head start on the day isn’t ever a welcome surprise. I tried to lay in her bed with her, hoping to extend her early rise a bit, but I was unsuccessful. By 6:30 a.m., I’d had enough of the whining — “I wanna get up. I wanna eat breakfast. I don’t wanna be in bed anymore.” — and declared us up for the day.

I wasn’t amused, but I was trying to think of a way to redeem the day. We’d been told about Flapjacks and a Flick (all-you-can-eat pancakes and drinks plus the movie for a single price) at a local movie theater, but the start time is at 9 a.m. on Saturdays, so we’re usually not up and at ’em early enough to make it to that. I figured we might as well give it a shot since we were up anyway; it seemed like a good way to take Baby B to a movie theater for the first time (ie, her sitting still for 90 minutes? Not so sure about that).

So we got ready and headed out, arriving at the movie theater a few minutes early. We had three choices — we picked Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs over Bee Movie and Shark Tale — and then went into the theater to pick a seat. As I was hoping, the theater was nearly empty. We picked our seats and soon were delivered our first batch of pancakes just as the previews were starting. The movie went wonderfully. Baby B stayed in her seat for just over an hour or so. For the last part of the movie, she wanted to wander down our row a bit and then came back and wanted sit on the steps of the aisle. (No one was near us, so this really wasn’t a big deal.) I was really proud of her! I’m not so sure she’s ready for a movie in a regular theater, but with these conditions — pancakes and almost no one else in the theater — I think it went really well.

When we left the theater, we saw it was a gorgeous day — no clouds in the sky and a great warm temperature for a fall afternoon — so we decided to go to our favorite local orchard for some fall fun. We played on their awesome playground, went through the corn maze, let Baby B ride a pony (not her first pony ride, but her first in two years, and this time she held on all by herself like a big girl; she LOVED it), went through the petting zoo, then had some lunch before winding up our day with a wagon ride through the farm. Of course, because we hadn’t planned on doing this, I didn’t have my camera with me, so I don’t have any pics of our outing, but there’s also something to be said for doing things without feeling any obligation to take pictures. Not that I consider it to be a burden or anything, but it’s nice to be relieved of the duty from time to time.

What a full morning/early afternoon we had, and none of it had been planned beforehand. I love that we make plans to do a lot of fun things, but we still remain flexible and let fun things find us.

“It’s fun to have fun, but you have to know how.”

Cat in the Hat, Dr. Seuss

Just wait

Thursday, October 1, 2009

“Just wait until…”

If anyone starts a sentence with those words, just turn and run the other direction. Chances are pretty good the conversation is not going to go in a good direction.

It starts during pregnancy.

Tell someone you’re feeling kind of queasy? They follow up with, “Just wait until you’re hovering over the toilet nonstop, puking up bile because there’s nothing left in your stomach.”

All right, um, thanks.

It continues throughout pregnancy.

Have heartburn early on? Oh, just wait until it’s even worse in the third trimester. Annoyed by maternity clothes? Just wait until nothing fits at the very end. Having trouble sleeping? Just wait until the baby is here; you’ll wish you got this kind of sleep then.

But it doesn’t end once your child is born. No, that”s when the real fun begins. Lots of yucky dirty diapers? Just wait until they start solids. Mention that you’re chasing your crawling baby all around? Just wait until she’s walking! Tell someone that your one-year-old is having a tantrum. Just wait until the terrible twos! In the throes of the terrible twos? Just wait…three is even worse. Exhausted trying to fit everything into a 24-hour day? Just wait until you have two (or three) kids.

So why do women do this? Why do we (unintentionally) minimize another person’s current experiences in an effort to warn about the future? I think, for one thing, a lot of people like to be the town crier. They want to be the one to pass along such warnings of the future, no matter how dire.

And we think we’re making others feel better by reminding them that it could be worse, even though that’s often not what people want to hear in the moment. In hindsight, perhaps, but not when they’re going through something difficult at the time.

And we like to think that if we had to ensure some challenges along the way, then we want to do what we can to give a heads up to others. (Thus all of the unsolicited advice new moms get.) We want to spare others the troubles we endured, not really remembering that sometimes people need to go through an experience on their own to really learn what works best and how to get through it.

But I think it also is rooted in the fact that there are many aspects of motherhood that people don’t warn you about. All those things the pregnancy/parenting books don’t tell ever you. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard someone talking about a pregnancy or parenting experience, saying, “Why didn’t someone warn me about this?!” But the funny thing is that chances are pretty good that someone did warn you about it, but perhaps you chose not to listen at the time.

So you end up in this cycle of women ignoring the “Just wait until…” conversations because they feel their current experiences are being brushed off, but then they feel inadequately prepared when they do reach that stage and don’t remember getting the heads up all that time ago…then they pass along the “Just wait until…” line to those who have yet to go through that experience. The cycle perpetuates itself.

I really, really try to minimize my “just wait” conversations with friends; it’s so easy to fall into the “just wait” trap, but I’ve learned you can still convey the same general sentiment — especially when you’re excited for something they’re going to experience in the future —  just with different wording. Let’s say a friend’s daughter has said her first two or three words. A common thing to hear at mention of that milestone might be, “Just wait until she’s talking in sentences and running her mouth a mile a minute!” Why not change that around and say something like, “That’s so exciting! Before you know it, she’ll be talking in sentences. What a great step in that direction!” It conveys the same general sentiment, but acknowledges the current achievement more than the “just wait” statement.

Just wait until more people catch on to this approach!