Glue for the girl who has everything

I’ve got my dreidel jammies on, that means it’s Hanukkah time! Or was. Our dreidel jammies are comfortable enough to wear all day, all Winter. Just ask Captain. I made the mistake of putting them on before Thanksgiving and BB exclaimed,

“Fall is over already? It’s Hanukkah time?!!”

“First Thanksgiving and then Hanukkah.”

I string some Christmas lights along the railing upstairs. BB shouts,

“It’s Halloween time?!”

Things are getting confusing.

I ask BB, 

“What are you excited about for Hanukkah?”

“Crispy latkes!”

Me too!

All year I’ve marveled at how much stuff BB has. In October I wondered if there was anything left to get her. 

Two nights before Hanukkah I found myself wrapping up almost 30 presents for her. How did this happen?

We wanted to get her arts and crafts supplies. I don’t like to shop, so doing it online is the best way. I browse the selection. It’s hard to get an idea of everything that’s available and appropriate for someone with limited fine motor skills. 

I decide it’s a good idea to go to a brick and mortar Michael’s. By myself. 

I walk into the store. Oh no. This is bad. What was I thinking? I don’t like shopping and I don’t like arts and crafts. This store is a combination of both of them. I feel overwhelmed just standing in the entrance.

I head to the kid section. A month ago BB told me,

“I need colored pencils.”

“Ok put them on your Hanukkah list.”

The next day, 

“Mom, I need colored pencils.”

“I know, they’re on your Hanukkah list.”

A few days later,

“Colored pencils?”

“Hanukkah list!”

We continued this way for a month. I look at the colored pencils in the kid’s section of Michael’s. Not only are there at least 4 different brands of colored pencils, but they’re in 4 different aisles within the kid’s section so if I want to price/color count compare. It’s just about impossible. I postpone making a colored pencil decision.

I get kiddie scissors. That’s also a comparison nightmare. Glue. I stop comparing. Elmer’s all the way. It claims to be washable. Then there’s white construction paper, colored construction paper, markers, water colors, water-color paper, and some Hanukkah stickers.

Mission accomplished. I check out, head home and hide it all away until I’m wrapping presents two days before Hanukkah.

I pull out the Michael’s bag. Where are the colored pencils? I scan the receipt. I NEVER bought them. The only thing BB put on her Hanukkah list everyday for a month, and it costs all of $5, I did not buy. 

I could go back to Michael’s, Target or even Stop & Shop. I don’t consider it. With limited comparison, I settle on a 36 count box Prime next day shipping. DONE.

BB opens up her Elmer’s glue. She declares,

“Mom, I need googly eyes.”

Good news. I already have a bunch. I got them years ago to April Fool’s prank Captain. I bought them online.

Last night BB opened her last Hanukkah present.  She exclaims,

“Colored pencils!”

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Paper Turkey Time

I am not a crafty person. My mom learned this when my pre-school teacher expressed her dismay with my lack of scissor skills. I haven’t improved much, but I’ve made a life for myself that doesn’t rely on scissor skills, or so I thought.

BB loves to color, loves to paint, loves to glue. She LOVES arts and crafts. This has made it apparent that Captain has contributed his genetics to this. He is great at art. Before I dated him I didn’t know there was such a thing as AP Art. There is and he took it.

Nothing makes BB happier than an art project. And just like Captain, all the joy is in the process. Almost as soon as it’s done, she puts it in the recycling. There appears to be zero attachment to the finished product.

When I hear that the library in the next town over has a story time followed by a craft, I know this will be perfect for us. Orchestrating arts and crafts is almost as low on my list as creating them.

We’ve been twice now. The first time the craft was creating a squirrel. There was an outline of a squirrel on a piece of paper with pieces of grey felt for the body, leaves for the ground, an acorn for its hands and glue for everyone to put it all together.

We approached the craft table. It was surrounded by small children watching their caretakers make a squirrel. I got BB situated. She started to glue leaves onto the squirrel’s body and grey felt in the sky. I have never had to exert so much self-control in my LIFE.

I reminded myself on repeat that I did not come to story time so I could make a squirrel.

The next week I ask BB if she’d like to go to the library again for story time.

“YES! Glue googly eyes and leaves!”

This time it’s a paper turkey and there’s plenty of glue and googly eyes. Again all the caretakers proceed to make turkeys and again it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done to step back and watch as 6 googly eyes get glued on or around the turkey.

I keep asking myself,

“Jessica, if you didn’t have a small child would you be here making a turkey?”

“Absolutely not.”

“Right, then let BB do this.”

The librarian tells BB,

“You’re doing a great job!”

Then she turns to me,

“I’m so glad you’re letting her do that.”

“It’s so hard!”

“I know.”

I never knew my dislike of arts and crafts could be consumed by my intense desire to glue turkey feathers in the “correct” place.

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BB’s turkey. And for the record, BB paired the eyes together herself

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The turkey we were intended to make

Memorializing my baby at Claire’s

I got my ears pierced for the first time in my life.

When I was 10-12 I thought I would die if I didn’t get my ears pierced. My mom said if I made it to 16, I could do it then. When I turned 16, I didn’t care anymore.

Then I got pregnant again. I started daydreaming about what I wanted for a push present. For BB I designed 2 interlocking rings with her birthstone that I wear on my right hand. I toyed with the idea of getting my ears pierced for the next kid.

For whatever reason I still felt reluctant. Really why bother now? And I didn’t ask our midwife, but I figured if I’m not supposed to eat lunch meat, a body piercing can’t possibly be recommended.

Then we said goodbye to Angel Baby. A week later Captain had to work on a Saturday and BB and I were hanging out at home. I turned to her and said,

“Let’s go to Claire’s.”

She’s never been there, but she agreed.

To be a 36-year-old customer at Claire’s is a very odd feeling. I strapped BB into her stroller. A toddler loose in Claire’s is enough to raise my heart rate just thinking about it.

I sit in the piercing chair with BB in the stroller beside me. I tell the Claire’s employee,

“This is my first time getting my ears pierced.”

A mom and her 6-year-old daughter overhear me and stop to stare. The mom points at BB,

“Is it the first time for her or for you?”

“For me.”

“Really? The first time for YOU? Not for her?” And she points at BB again.

Yes, I’m very sure I’m the one getting my ears pierced and not my daughter, although if she makes it to 10 or 12 years old that’s another story.

I ask the young woman piercing my ears,

“In your experience, what’s the oldest person who’s gotten their ears pierced for the first time?”

“85.”

So there you have it, I’m still doing it on the young side.

I notice the woman’s name badge. It’s the same name we gave our Angel Baby. I hadn’t planned on telling anyone at Claire’s anything, but now of course I unload on this poor young woman. She is very kind.

And there I am, in Claire’s, surrounded by 6-year olds, sobbing and getting my ears pierced for the first time.

We named Angel Baby after a unicorn from one of my favorite childhood books, so now anything unicorn is kinda my thing.

I opted for gold stud earrings because I have to wait until my ears are healed to wear the earrings I really want. Captain, who forgot there’s a market for little kid jewelry, says,

“Good luck finding unicorn earrings.”

“Don’t worry, they’re a thing.” Mostly for people under 12, but for at least one 36-year-old and maybe an 85-year-old.

People do any number of things to memorialize their losses: services, gardens, crafts, you name it. I got unicorn earrings, in honor of Angel Baby.

 

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BB may have gotten a unicorn purse. And a unicorn bracelet. But that’s really it. Because I’d already bought a unicorn mug from HomeGoods. And a tiny unicorn figurine to put next to the family photo by my bed

My Angel Baby

Oh dear blog. I don’t know what to say to you. I lost my baby, I was 16 weeks pregnant. Yes I’m blogging about it; it feels impossible to blog about anything else. I’m aware that this isn’t the funniest topic in the world. It puts my dog dying post in perspective.

I feel like I have a deep understanding for the whale who carried her dead calf around for weeks. Don’t worry, I’m not carrying my baby’s body around. Mostly because Captain made sure we said goodbye to her after we held her for hours.

BB does not appreciate my crying. She keeps saying,

“No mommy, don’t cry.”

But TV seems to totally distract her. I can sob in the kitchen as long as Daniel Tiger is on.

And for whatever reason, BB has decided to start sleeping through the night in her room by herself for the first time in almost a year. I don’t know how many days of this to expect, but I’ll take whatever I can get.

I’ve often looked back at BB’s newborn photos and marveled at how tiny she was. Now all I can think about is how huge a full-term baby is compared to our 5″ angel baby.

After she was delivered, the nurse put an ice-pack in my underwear. She said,

“I don’t know if you need this, but I’m doing it just in case.”

No. I don’t need it. BB tore me open from end to end. Angel Baby didn’t have a chance.

Very late in the evening the day our baby was delivered the doctors were inclined to discharge us if we wanted to, but Captain and I felt better staying. I tell the nurse I’d like to take my IV out. She asks me,

“Is it bothering you?”

“Yes, I don’t think I’ll sleep well with it in.” My baby just died, I’m anticipating sleeping about an hour, and it would be nice if this thing wasn’t stuck in my arm.

She hems and haws.

“Well they were going to send you home.”

“Yes. I was thinking that.”

“If you start bleeding a lot, I’ll have to put another one in. No arguments.”

“Of course.” Yes, please save my life, even if it means putting in another IV.

While we were saying goodbye to our angel baby’s body, I had such a stinky fart that I felt compelled to check under the blanket to make sure that’s all it was. After the air cleared, I told Captain,

“I’m impressed at how magnanimously you handled that.”

“I know what it’s like, I’ve farted before.”

My heart is broken wide open. I have no physical pain, yet if it weren’t for BB I’d be hibernating in my bed until further notice.

There’s something to be said for putting clothes on, getting in the car and going to a playgroup. Even if all it proves is that my legs still work.

Two days after we lost Angel Baby at a hospital near the theater district, my iPhone grouped all our photos into an album called “Friday night at the show” and suggested I share it.

I’m sure we’ll try again and I’m not sure you’ll hear about it. In the meantime I’m going to drink some pumpkin beer. It is October and I’m not pregnant.

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Another list of ridiculous things my daughter has said

Out of sight of strangers, BB continues to talk non-stop.  Sunday morning she was fast asleep. She opened her eyes, sat up and started singing “Wheels on the Bus.” We squeezed in 5 seconds of quiet awake time.

I hosted book club last week and BB was not pleased to be missing out. I told her that she’d have book club with Captain up in her room. This morning she tells me,

“I’m having book club.”

“Oh good.”

“I need 2 books and some wine.”

 

The other morning she woke up and wouldn’t stop rubbing her eyes,

“Sleep dirt in my eyes, maybe I need to see the eye doctor.”

Maybe.

 

In Acadia, Captain put her in the backpack for a low-key hike. BB had a super serious face and wasn’t talking. I was concerned about whether or not she was enjoying herself. I ask,

“BB are you ok?”

No response.

“BB, do you like the backpack? Are you having fun?”

No response.

“BB??”

She breaks her silence and orders,

“Keep walking.”

 

The other day I was changing her diaper and my mother-in-law was at her feet. BB farted and said,

“I tooted.”

My mother-in-law said,

“I heard.”

BB adds,

“It was a juicy one.”

 

And this last quote could easily be TMI, but it’s kinda my favorite, so here ya go. I was changing BB’s diaper and she was poking herself. I said,

“That’s your vagina, I have one too.”

She looks at me and replies,

“You have a hairy one.”

 

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If I go buy organic dog food for BB, you’ll know we have a problem

Well. Acadia was lovely. We came home early because my 14-year-old Lab Booker wasn’t doing well. We knew he was old and probably didn’t have long, it was just a question of when would he go downhill. Only a few weeks ago he was still walking around with his puppy rattle in his mouth.

We put him to sleep. He’s gone. BB doesn’t understand. We watched the Daniel Tiger episode where his goldfish dies. We read a book about a dog getting old and dying and we’ve talked about it repeatedly because she keeps asking for him and he’s still dead.

Maybe she’ll remember him. Maybe she’ll remember all the dog food she’s eaten. I read not to make your dead pet’s things disappear immediately. I’ve been putting stuff away here and there. The dog food vanished the fastest. BB holds out her hand and demands,

“Dog food?”

“No. It’s all gone.”

“Dog treat?”

Nice try. Also all gone.

When Booker was alive I’d let BB eat some dog food. That seemed better than dealing with a tantrum every time I fed the dog. But with Booker dead, I can’t see paying $5 for organic blueberries to turn around and give BB the second cheapest dog food that Stop & Shop carries. Sometimes the cheapest if I catch the sales right.

Now BB doesn’t even form a full sentence about him, she just says,

“Booker?”

“Do you remember what we said about him?”

“He’s old and sad and we bury him in the dirt.”

Something like that.

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2008, when he first came home with us and still had his balls

 

 

Is it still called glamping if there’s a two-year-old along?

We’re going “camping” in Acadia. Not that I have anything against camping not in quotes, but Captain asked for AC and bug protection. I’ll be happy to sit in our cabin’s screened-in porch and survey the people staying in tents.

I wasn’t sure if BB understood that we’re gearing up for a trip, but the grocery store clerk said,

“BB! How are you?”

“I’m going on vacation!”

Little does she know we’re in for a 5 hour drive. I ask her to pack her suitcase with some toys. She tells me,

“I’m taking a sandcastle.”

“You’re taking sand toys?”

She looks at me like I’m really dense and tries again,

“A sandcastle.”

I’ll let Captain know to make room in the car.

Now that BB is in vacation mode, she can’t stop. She tells me,

“I’m going to see a mountain!”

“That’s right! And you can climb it!” Or Captain can climb it with you on his back. I’ll be in charge of photos. I ask BB,

“What else should we take?”

“Snacks!”

Check.

“Sandcastle!”

Noted.

Sleeping is the only thing that’s up in the air. There’s a queen bed, a bunk bed and a pack ‘n play, whatever that’s for.

I have a feeling BB is claiming the queen bed with one of us and Captain and I are going to be taking turns in the bunk bed. We’ll have to save the romance for the screened in porch.

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Udderly unrelated

The things we’ll do for a sticker

BB has a history of freaking out whenever we go to the pediatrician. We’ve seen several different doctors, so the common denominator is BB. But for whatever reason, she has a great time at the ophthalmologist.

And it’s not just the shots. You’d think looking in BB’s ears was the same as trying to cut them off.

Back in June I glanced at the calendar and noticed that BB’s 2-year physical was a day before her ophthalmologist appointment. That’s not going to work.

Last time, the ophthalmologist sent us home with a sheet of pictures to practice. That’s the vision test they use for little kids before they know their letters. BB and I were all practiced up. The wild card would be if BB would be willing to talk in front of the doctor. Not her strong point. And terrifying her with a physical 2 days before didn’t seem like a great idea.

I postpone the physical. I tell BB we’re headed to the eye doctor. She shouts in excitement,

“Fishies?!”

“Oh no, sorry, that’s the other doctor’s office.”

The ophthalmic assistant sits BB in a chair and tries to get her to peer into a machine to measure her corneas. She tells BB,

“Hold still and look straight.”

Who expects a 2-year-old to be able to hold still?

She tries again,

“Please hold still.”

I can assure you adding a please to your request is not going to make a difference. The assistant keeps trying. Another assistant approaches and offers,

“She might be too young for this.”

Thank you!

We move onto the vision test with the same assistant. She puts up several letters on the screen. I interject,

“BB is two. She doesn’t know her letters. We practiced the pictures that the doctor gave us last time.”

“I prefer the letters because it’s more accurate than the pictures.”

Okay, IF BB KNEW HER LETTERS. I don’t know what else to say. BB has identified one, she declares,

“Circle!”

The assistant keeps pressing her. I’m frustrated. We’re using up all of BB’s goodwill and not accomplishing much. We finally head into the office to see the doctor. There’s the TV screen I was waiting for. BB shouts,

“Mickey Mouse!”

Yes, a Mickey Mouse video. Thank goodness.

The doctor comes in, reviews some notes and says,

“Looks like her vision test went well.”

“It did? We practiced the pictures you gave us, but the assistant insisted on letters.”

“Really? Lets try the pictures.”

BB names the pictures, asks for a sticker and we go on our way for another 4 months.

A week later we head in for her physical. BB shouts,

“Mickey Mouse!”

“No, sorry, that’s the other doctor’s office. But this one has the fishies.”

“Fishies!”

We check in and a nurse approaches us in the waiting room.

“The doctor is running 40 minutes late.”

SIGH. That’s a lot of time with the fishies. We push through. Every ten minutes BB asks,

“Mickey Mouse?”

The nurse shows us into the exam room. BB asks,

“Toys?”

The eye doctor’s exam room had a lot of toys. There are no toys in this room, but tearing up the paper on the exam table is fun, so is rifling through the drawers, typing on the doctor’s keyboard and touching every possible surface.

The doctor manages to examine BB without any crying. Success. Then the nurse comes in with her vaccination. I brace for the worst. BB makes no sound. No flinch. Nothing. The shot is done. BB breaks the silence,

“Sticker?”

We go to get her blood drawn. Same deal. She doesn’t whimper, doesn’t move, nothing. Is my child ok? Has she all of sudden become unable to feel pain? The blood draw is complete. BB speaks up again,

“Sticker?”

She’s taking this sticker business very seriously. The phlebotomist offers her several stickers,

“You did better than some adults!”

And someday she’ll even know her letters.

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Potty training is on hold, but there are lots of other things you can do with a potty seat

Have potty, will travel

And just like that BB is potty training.

I potty trained when I was 2.5 and I’m sure Captain was later than that, so this is not something that was on my radar as being imminent. I knew and hoped it would happen one day. I figured I’d get some books, buy all the gear and be ready. I was not ready.

A week ago, BB was “helping” me fold laundry, which is really an exercise in folding and putting away as fast as I can before BB can undo what I’ve already done. BB has always liked playing with clothes and underpants are no different. She tosses them in the air,

“Daddy’s underwear, mommy’s underwear… I need my panties.”

“Uh huh.”

“I need my panties.”

“Ok.” I feel sure she wants panties to play with just like she’s playing with mine and Captain’s. She raises her voice at me,

“I NEED MY PANTIES.”

“You want your own panties?”

“Yeah.”

“We’ll get them later.” All I’m thinking is: I need to make dinner, can I avert a tantrum?

A half- hour later, Captain gets home and I’m starting to cook. BB tries again,

“I need my panties.”

“Ok.”

“I NEED MY PANTIES.”

“Ok we’ll go to the store tomorrow and get some.” I don’t know why she needs panties so desperately, but I would really like to avoid a tantrum.

“I NEED MY PANTIES I NEED MY PANTIES I NEED MY PANTIES!!!” She’s starting to scream cry. I ask her,

“If you get panties, what are you going to do?”

“Go potty.”

What?! OK! I had no idea she understood what panties are for. I’ve never dropped everything and left for Target so fast.

BB insists on a shopping cart. I put her in and we find the underwear aisle. She grabs Mickey Mouse “boy underwear” and Sesame Street “girl underwear.” I ask her,

“Would you like any other ones?”

She’s already half way back to the register. She calls back to me over her shoulder,

“This is good.”

I chase after her, leaving the empty shopping cart behind. She reminds me,

“Shopping cart?”

“Do you want to get in it?”

She clutches the 2 packs of underwear,

“BB walk.”

“Then we can leave the shopping cart there.”

“SHOPPING CART!”

Or I can push it and try to wrangle a toddler marching through Target. I can do that.

We get home. BB wanted Mickey boy underwear so I got it. I assumed it was like how a store will label a blue truck a “boy” truck and a pink truck a “girl” truck, but aside from color they’re the same. So boy underwear, girl underwear what’s the difference?

I opened the packages. Oh right. There is a difference. I didn’t want to add explaining penises to this day, but BB does not know or care that her underwear can open in the front.

Only half believing that there is any chance of success, I put her in her new panties. She grabs her little potty, drags it from the bathroom, into the kitchen, over and through the open baby gate and sets it up next to Captain who’s working on his computer. She sits down and pees, straight through her new underwear.

Well that’s something. It’s been a week now. Some days we’ve had 100% success and other days are more like 30%.

First full day of no diapers, BB comes dashing into the kitchen screaming,

“POTTY!!!”

I don’t know what’s grosser: poop in the living room or the dog eating it.

Three days into it, I want to put a diaper on her to go to the grocery store. I’m not trying to wash the whole car seat right now. BB tells me,

“No diaper, big girl panties.”

Ok. The car seat could use a wash.

I go into a frenzy of potty paraphernalia shopping. Toddler seats for the full-size toilets came a few days ago. BB really likes those the best. Me too. Emptying little buckets of poop and pee does not feel like a big step up from changing diapers.

We’re far far away from this being a done deal. Sometimes BB is self-initiating and going potty by herself, but she still isn’t pulling down her underwear. She yells from the bathroom,

“Mommy, I went potty!”

I cheer and jump and clap. Then I remind her that she can pull her panties down next time,

“Let’s put on new underwear, these ones are wet with pee.”

“No mommy, just sweaty.”

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When it’s 95° and you’re potty training and you’re really into “The Three Little Kittens Who Lost Their Mittens.”

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And when you gotta go potty, but you also really need to trim your toe nails

Are you hitting on me or do you just need a seat?

The other night I go out to meet a girlfriend for dinner. I get there early and head to the bar with my book. Being at a bar, reading a book, makes me feel like everything will be ok.

I pull up a seat and acknowledge the people around me. I get a drink and I bury my head in my book. There is nothing about my demeanor that says “please talk to me.” In my many years of working at a bar, I know it’s possible to project the message that I’m looking for someone or something. I’m doing all the things to project the opposite message.

The woman across from me asks,

“What are you reading?”

“Do you know Trevor Noah?”

“Who?”

This conversation is off to a terrible start. Why is she bothering me? I offer,

“He’s the host of The Daily Show, he took over for Jon Stewart.”

She gives me a blank stare. This is my cue to go back to reading. She interrupts again,

“What’s it about?”

“His childhood growing up in apartheid South Africa.”

“Have you been to South Africa?”

“Yes.”

“I’ve always wanted to go, but I’m not interested in doing a safari.”

“There are plenty of other things to do.” But I don’t know why I’m encouraging her. I should spare South Africa. I try putting my head down in my book again. She interrupts again,

“Are you meeting someone?”

“Yes.”

“Me too.”

Great. She continues,

“But I don’t know where we’re going to sit.”

There’s an empty seat on the other side of me. She leaves me in peace for the next 15 minutes. Her friend arrives. She points at the seat on the other side of me,

“There’s a seat there, but there aren’t two together, I don’t know what we’re going to do.”

I pipe up,

“Would you like me to move over?”

“Would you? That would be great!”

GOOD GRIEF! Is that what this conversation was about from the very beginning?

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Adventure awaits and a fair amount of effort, but it’s worth it, sometimes

We spent 4 days and 3 nights on my in-laws’ sailboat and it is now safe to say it went better than expected.

It was fun and hard. But really a lot of fun. So I’ll take the hard. It was four adults to one toddler, which is a great ratio.

Despite the occasional wish to jump overboard in order to go swimming, BB was happy to play on the boat. I did pack several new toys and coloring activities, but I didn’t even use them all. And we watched some TV but not as much as I was ready for us to watch: unlimited.

I’ve been excited about this for months. Years ago I met families backpacking around the world with little kids and I thought to myself: I’d love to do that! Then I had BB and I thought: are those people insane?

Now I’m itching for more adventures. Maybe not around the world yet, even though BB seems willing to wear a backpack, but a sailboat, a few hours from home, sounds about right.

Captain left several days ahead of us so BB and I took the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard the two of us. The first test. How much adventure was I was really up for?

The main dilemma of that first travel day was where/when is BB going to nap. She hasn’t napped in the sling while I wear her in over a year. I ask Google: “Nap toddler in a sling?” Is it possible?

Boy did that make me feel good about my life. There are people who are still wearing their toddlers to sleep like I was with BB when she was less than a year. Bless those people and their backs.

I have no idea if it’ll work, but I’m going to try to nap BB in the sling on the ferry. A little bouncing, a little roar of the engine and a little rocking of the waves. I feel sleepy just thinking about it.

BB is as excited about the adventure as I am. As we’re waiting for the ferry and I’m trying to keep her from walking off the side of the dock in search of the boat, she declares,

“This is fun.”

“Oh good, I’m glad.” I hope it stays that way.

We board the ferry and I slip her into the sling. She used to nap with her entire body squished in it. I try that first. She squirms,

“Mommy, I’m stuck.”

I take her feet out and I start bouncing. I haven’t forgotten how to bounce. And in no time at all she’s passed out. I can’t believe it. I sit down and enjoy the entire ferry ride in peace.

We land and as I step off the boat, BB pokes her head out of the sling,

“I woke up.”

“Yes, I see that.”

We find Captain and our sailboat-home for the next 3 nights. There are minimal window shades so the boat doesn’t get dark until the sun goes down and BB sees no reason to go to sleep before that.

There’s a fair amount of sailing, a decent amount of beach and swimming and enough land time in general to run around like a crazy person. I can still walk fast enough to keep up with BB’s running, but it’s a close call, especially if she’s got some downhill momentum.

On our last morning on the boat, BB wakes up, stretches, sighs and says,

“BB’s boat.”

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An example of not sleeping

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Who’s Captain now?

Date weekend: letting the pheromones fly

Captain and I had our first weekend away together since BB’s arrival. It was magical for me. Bittersweet for Captain. He almost couldn’t bring himself to come.

My friend’s wedding was in New Jersey and BB wasn’t invited through no fault of her own. I was going no matter what. Captain couldn’t decide. I tell him,

“It’s July 4th weekend on the Jersey Shore. This hotel is not cheap, you should come.”

“But what about BB?”

“She’ll be fine.”

As of the last 6 months she’s been beyond thrilled to spend time with her grandparents. Special treat for everyone!

My mom takes BB duty and I get Captain in the car with me headed for New Jersey. That’s when the magic started. No toddler in the car: absolute zen.

BB is great in the car, she can be happy for a couple hours. But what makes her happy is listening to the same song on repeat. Right now it’s “Shoo Fly.” That’s a 66 second song with a 3 second reprieve between repeats. The other day we listened to it for an hour.

With adult music and Captain asking if I’d heard anything from my mom every so often, we make our way South.

I had no idea, but the highlight for me of our 2 nights away was waking up in the morning with Captain, but without BB. To snuggle in bed and then enjoy a coffee and a muffin and another cup of coffee. I could’ve driven back home after that and been happy.

Neither of us having been to the Jersey Shore before, we’re on the lookout for poofy hair or any other sign that we’ve arrived. We see some half-naked people bent over on their front lawn, butts in the air, playing some drinking game. I tell Captain,

“We must be close.”

I ask my friend’s wife,

“Is this the Jersey Shore from the show?”

“No you have to go further South. This is the family friendly area.”

After our hours long breakfast, we take our butts to the beach. We’re surrounded by families. I watch parents and toddlers scuttle around. I miss BB. But watching the parents run after their kids is enough to make me ready for a nap. Or a swim and a nap. Or a swim and a nap and some lunch.

I can’t resist a junky souvenir shop. I want to return with something for BB. Captain and I settle on a lifted school bus. BB likes school buses and Captain likes vehicles that are lifted. It’s a win.

Captain and I head back to our bed and breakfast to get ready for the wedding. It’s 90 degrees and humid. The only way it’s bearable is to be is in the ocean or in the air conditioning. Our room is lovely. It’s also a renovated attic. All 3 of our window air conditioning units are cranked up. Captain packed his suit. We nix that.

I shower, walk to get my hair done at a salon around the corner and head back to the room. We dress, beat it out of there and walk several blocks to the party.

I start hugging people. What’s that smell? I go to the bathroom. I panic. I FORGOT DEODORANT! Of all the days and of all the places. I tell Captain,

“I think I should go back to the hotel and come right back.”

“I’m sure it’s not that bad.”

I link my arms around his neck like we’re reminiscing about our wedding.

“Oh.”

“See?”

“You know I don’t mind.”

“But what about everybody else? And there’s still 2 hours of dancing!”

“Why don’t you just wipe off in the bathroom?”

“There aren’t any paper towels and toilet paper won’t work. Oh I’ll use a napkin!”

“Good idea!”

I grab my cloth napkin which has a little pizza sauce on it. That’s gotta smell better than whatever I’ve got going on now. I soak the napkin in the sink and head to the last stall. I take a sponge bath. Not sure what to do with my cloth napkin and thinking I might need it again. I hang it on the hook.

I link my arms around Captain again, as if I can’t get enough. He tells me,

“Oh much better.”

Phew.

I wipe off a couple more times and I survive the night. I didn’t make any new friends, but I didn’t lose any either.

After another decadent morning doing what used to be super normal, plus reapplying deodorant multiple times as if that’ll make up for last night, we head back for BB. In the middle of our 6 hour drive, Captain turns to me,

“Who’s sleeping with BB tonight?”

I give him a hard look. What’s his angle? He looks eager/anxious. I ask him,

“You want to sleep with her huh?”

“Yes.”

“I won’t fight you for it.”

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I almost didn’t get into our lunch spot. I had to scrounge around for a shirt. I thought my bathing suit was full coverage, but I was wrong.

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A list of silly things my daughter says

I like to talk, not non-stop, just an average amount. It’s too soon to say for sure, but it seems like BB, with no strangers in sight, would like to never stop. If it were up to her, she’d monopolize the entire dinner conversation without any input from Captain or me.

She’ll talk about her swing set, which will remind her of her sandbox, which is a turtle, do you remember when we fed the turtles? And we fed them lettuce, so she’ll talk about salad, which will remind her of pizza, and several different birthday parties, which makes her think of party hats, and the hat she wears for the sun, so she’ll break into a little song, “oh mr. sun sun” which reminds her of the beach and swimming, which makes her remember the tub, is it tubby time? ALMOST!

And if you’re wondering if a mouthful of food slows her down. Nope. Just makes everything she’s saying unintelligible.

After one dinner, Captain was working and I was cleaning up. I turn around to see BB blowing bubbles in her milk and dumping food into her bib. I exclaim, with what I assume is a rhetorical question,

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!??”

In a super calm voice she replies,

“Having fun drinking my milk.”

Yes. I see that.

And BB has started calling us “mom” and “dad.” It aged me 10 years instantaneously.

Then she was in the other room playing and I hear,

“Oh my goodness.”

“Oh my goodness?” I ask her. Do I say that? She replies,

“Oh my goodness sakes alive.”

BB sounds like she just aged 70 years.

She loves bubbles, but the learning curve on how to make them is a challenge. She succeeded briefly and made one big bubble. She tells me,

“That’s a great one right there.”

Yes, yes it is.

Captain gets home from work, she runs to him, turns to me and says,

“I love him.”

Me too.

I was getting ready to go out for dinner with a couple girlfriends and BB was prancing around my room with two of my purses on her arm. She tells me,

“Going out for dinner.”

“Who are you going with?”

“Friends.”

Captain asks her,

“Which friends?”

She stares at him and declares slowly as if she were already 13 and exasperated with him,

“Peo-ple.”

When I reclaim one of my purses and it becomes clear I’m going out for dinner with friends and she isn’t. She starts to shout,

“Mom take you! Mom take you!”

“Me” is overrated. I did not take her, but it was her best effort yet.

Last weekend our synagogue was having a BBQ and I’m not one to pass up free food. Of course they were serving the food after the service. I ask BB,

“Do you want to go with Mommy to sing some songs and have dinner with people?”

“Yeah.”

Ok, here goes nothing. I claim two seats in the back next to the door. BB is the perfect candidate for this. She likes to sit and color and she doesn’t like to talk in front of strangers. But she must have started to feel comfortable/really hungry/bored, because during a moment of silence near the end, she handed me her coloring and declared,

“Dinner?”

“Almost.”

This isn’t the answer she wanted so she raises her voice,

“DINNER?!”

A guy a few rows up turns around to tell her,

“I’m ready for dinner too.”

That’s enough to send her straight back to coloring.

I’m getting ready for BB’s second birthday, so I pop into a party store with her. That’s a huge mistake. She wants absolutely everything. Disposable silverware is all I manage to buy before we need to beat it out of there.

That evening I tell Captain about our quick exit. BB gets really excited and shouts,

“BB Birthday presents! Forks and knives!”

We may even get her some spoons too.

I also managed to order balloons. BB shouts,

“Balloons!”

“Yup, we’re getting balloons for your birthday.”

“On my head?” She rubs her hair with a food covered hand. I ask her,

“Balloons on your head?”

“Nooo that’s silly.”

And my recent favorite: I broke out a Summer nightgown for the first time since last year, which is an improvement on my Winter jammies. My favorite pair of plaid flannel bottoms is not from the same set as my favorite plaid flannel top, but that doesn’t stop me from putting them together, everyday, all Winter.

BB sees me for the first time in the morning and she exclaims,

“Oooh Mom fancy new dress!”

 

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Circa February 2017, when BB was 8 months old and we both fit inside my Winter jammies.

I have a toddler, don’t cross me

Before BB I never would’ve believed for one second that going to the grocery store by myself could be a special treat. But it is. And I have a reasonable toddler for the grocery store. Whatever that means.

She loves shopping carts. She’s happy to munch on her piece of free fruit for at least 5-10 minutes and then the rest of the trip is a balance of talking, negotiating, being terrified of strangers and fighting me to hold and open every single thing I’m putting in the cart.

Most things she’s content to inspect and hold in her lap. A loaf of bread may get a little squished, but no big deal. She got her hands on a package of hot dogs last week. THAT was a mistake. I wasn’t paying attention and she was gnawing on the outside of the package so hard that the dogs were turning into more mush than they started out as. Yes I have snacks for her.

When I pull up to check out, it’s with a feeling of relief that we’ve made it and dread that anyone will say,

“She’s so good!”

Don’t say that. And if you really want to say it. Wait until my car leaves the parking lot. If we have a meltdown, we’re all going to wish you didn’t say that.

I’m waiting in a moderate line to check out. These last 10 minutes are always the ones I forget about, thinking I’ll show up and start checking out immediately.

An entitled white guy in his seventies walks up behind me. He has a small cart with 12 or fewer items. He says,

“You don’t mind if I go ahead of you do you?”

“Ha ha.” I assume he’s trying and failing to be funny.

“I’m serious. Do you mind if I go ahead of you? I don’t have many things.”

I give him BB’s best death stare. GET LOST BUDDY. I direct him to the other end of the store,

“Self-checkout is open down there.”

“I know.”

Good. Then go do that or wait patiently behind my charming daughter. If only I could cue a tantrum.

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Family pink eye: sharing is not as much fun as they make it out to be

I’m all done with eyes. We are emerging from a month of pink eye. BB got it first. Then Captain. I washed my hands more than I ever have before and thought I wasn’t touching my eyes. I thought I got away without getting it. WRONG.

A week ago I woke up and my left eye was angry. It was red, puffy, pussy and oozy. Today was my last day of antibiotics and boom I woke up with my right eye out of commission. And my biggest fear is that BB will get it again.

Trying to put eye drops into BB’s eyes was the worst thing we’ve had to do to her. It was a two man job. One person to pin her down while she screamed her death curdle and another to pry her eyelids open and put drops in. FOUR TIMES A DAY FOR A WEEK.

The pediatrician told me,

“Wash her hands often and try not to let her rub her eyes.”

I must have stared at him like I thought he had two heads because he added,

“I know she’s a toddler and there’s only so much you can do.”

Yes. Thank you.

And I’m the last one to worry about germs, but I have now Lysoled the entire house and am praying to the pink-eye gods to take mercy on our family. Please.

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Baby Bop finds her voice

Baby Bop is a legitimate person. I made that decision a long time ago when the two of us went in the HOV lane, but I still find myself being taken aback by her emerging personhood.

She is not a baby anymore and needs an updated blog name. I’ve got no spectacular ideas so I’m going with BB for now.

BB has a lot to say. Usually she’s too reserved to speak up in public. Every week at the grocery store I try to go to the same cashier. It’s nice to know that she’ll accept BB’s death stare and not torture all of us by trying to get her to break.

I’ve given up on cutting BB’s hair myself. A couple months ago I went to a salon that markets itself for kids. I will never drag BB in there again.

I thought it would be fun. Instead we had to wait while 2 other kids screamed. BB looked torn and appeared to be deciding whether she should cry too. I whipped out a video on my phone before she could make a decision.

Five minutes and $20 later we were out of there. BB didn’t even cry, but they still rushed us along and gave her a mediocre cut. A month later with her bangs in her face, we have to try somewhere else. I want it cheap and close to home.

I find a tiny, low-key, barber shop. We walk in and there’s a kiddie chair with tires and a steering wheel. This feels like we hit the jackpot.

The stylist is finishing one guy and greets us with,

“Two ahead of you, won’t be long.”

Two grown men, who look like they haven’t had a hair cut in a year, are ahead of us. I’m happy neither are crying.

We sit down to wait and I point out the “tractor chair” to BB. She’s thrilled. She’s also concerned with the men getting their hair cut. She points at all the hair on the floor and tells me.

“A mess.”

“Yeah.”

“Dirty, a mess.”

“Yes it’s a lot of hair.”

“Mommy clean it up.”

“It’s ok, it doesn’t need to be cleaned up right now.”

And now uncharacteristically for BB in public, she raises her voice and demands,

“Mommy, a mess, dirty, clean it up.”

“It’s ok. It’s hair and the stylist is very busy. It’ll get cleaned up later.”

BB now is speaking at a volume that causes all other conversations in the barber shop to cease.

“MOMMY! A MESS! CLEAN IT UP!”

GOOD GRIEF! Are we about to have a tantrum? And does my daughter have a dose of the OCD that runs in my family but may have missed me? Every carpet fuzzy she finds comes straight to me with a demand to put it in the trash.

BB survives until it’s her turn to get her haircut. The stylist, who is the only one in the shop and hasn’t been sweeping up for the sake of saving time, tells BB,

“I’ll sweep up and then I’m ready for you.”

BB concurs,

“A mess.”

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Freedom!

I just spent 5 days without Baby Bop. I visited a dear friend in San Diego. It was AMAZING. It’s a little like you don’t appreciate your good health until it’s gone. I didn’t/couldn’t truly appreciate my personal freedom until I surrendered it to an infant.

The time away was reassuring. Missing Baby Bop was a physical ache that photos on my phone didn’t assuage. What a wonderful feeling missing Baby Bop! I’ve never been gone long enough to experience that. And it was not SO hard that I would change anything. It was the loveliest thing in the world to sip wine, chat with my dear friend and think it’ll be nice to see Captain and Baby Bop again someday.

I still feel incognito when I’m without her. I have a baby, but no one knows I have a baby. And no one cares. It was on my mind because as much as I was looking forward to sitting in the airport BY MYSELF. I still managed to chat up several people traveling with babies, making sure to inform them that I too have a baby, but I abandoned her.

People didn’t react well to the term abandon. I understand, but all I could think was: I’ve escaped! I started one of three books I’d packed. I was torn between packing 2 or 3. I was trying to pack as light as possible because my friend promised to send me home with hand-me down toys. Couldn’t risk running out of reading. Could risk not getting another Elmo.

With the book I’m reading in my handbag and the other 2 in my rolling carry-on, I board the plane. There’s a woman on the gang way juggling an 8-month-old baby, a stroller, several bags and an iced coffee. People are speeding past. How is that possible? I’m sure plenty of these incognito people have children.

As she struggles to get her stroller ready for gate check I ask,

“Can I help you?”

“Oh yes thank you.”

And she hands me her baby.

I expected to help her with the stroller and bags, but the baby is dangling in the air coming my way. I grab him. In my anxiety for her having handed her child off to a stranger. I reassure her that I too have a baby. I leave off the abandoned part.

I help her board the plane and by then there’s no room in the overhead. They check my rolling carry-on. I don’t give it a second thought until I finish my 300 page book. So good! What do you mean there’s still an hour left to this flight? My other books are checked. I have to watch some TV. It’s not the worst thing that’s ever happened to me, as the mom I helped paces up and down the aisle bouncing her baby.

I spend 5 full days unconcerned about nap time, bed time, changing diapers, fussing, household chores, the list is endless. And I go to the bathroom by myself so many times it starts to feel normal again.

Meanwhile Captain is holding down the homestead. I knew he’d be great, but what I didn’t know was that he knows where Baby Bop’s hair accessories are and he matched her hair clips to her outfits. I had no doubt she’d survive, but I did think Baby Bop’s wardrobe was a wild card. I stand corrected.

On my way home, my bag and I get pulled aside for additional security screening. The TSA lady tells me,

“I need to pat down your groin area, would you like to go somewhere private?”

“No thank you.” If a stranger is going anywhere near my groin, I feel much safer if it’s done in public.

I can’t imagine what set them off. I ask TSA,

“Is it my IUD?”

“Oh we can’t see that, it’s the tissue in your pocket.”

Huh.

Then a TSA guy plows through my bag and zeros in on the Elmo cash register my friend sent me home with. Elmo gets wiped down within an inch of his life. No other items warrant a second glance. I agree that adults flying without children, but with Elmo, are suspicious.

Back home I’m looking forward to sleeping with Baby Bop. She wakes several times, which is normal. Sometimes she wakes screaming, sometimes she screams words, recently it was,

“Shopping cart! Shopping cart!”

She really likes shopping carts. When she chats on her pretend phone, if you ask her who it is, she usually says “shopping cart.” She also gets upset when we leave the grocery store without the shopping cart. Yes, she has a toy one, but I’m tempted to push a real one home for her birthday.

So throughout my first night home she kept screaming,

“Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!”

“Mommy’s here.”

“Daddy!”

Captain snuggles beside her.

“Daddy’s here.”

And then the rest of the week was a chorus of “daddies.”

One morning I’m holding a screaming Baby Bop, my intense longing for her has vanished and it’s starting to feel like it’s going to be a long day. She yells,

“Daddydaddydaddy!”

Captain appears and gleefully takes her.

It’s been 2 years of “mommymommymommy.” I would’ve gone away a long time ago if I’d known her switching parental allegiance could be so easy.

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Another car and it’s not for Captain

I’ve got a bad case of Spring fever and I’m ready with my bathing suit. The plastic kiddy pool is coming out of the basement any day now.

We continue to accumulate more and more kid gear. We head to the swing-set store. Baby Bop claps her hands and exclaims,

“Special treat!”

Yes, indeed. And the sticker shock is for real. But faced with not getting a swing set, we’re ready to pony up. What’s life without a slide, a swing, a fireman’s pole, an add-on ice cream stand, a telescope and a steering wheel? We decide we don’t need the steering wheel. The swing set is stationary.

And while we’re shopping for gear, what about a toddler bed? I’m tempted because the 6 months of beauty rest I had are never far from my mind. Baby Bop hasn’t slept in her crib in 3 months and maybe a “big girl” bed would be just exciting enough to do the trick.

I browse the toddler bed selection. There’s a standard looking bed for a reasonable price, but the race-car bed is where my heart is. Who wouldn’t be excited to sleep in a race-car bed? New they’re over $300. What’s that about? A plastic car. And it’s not even a full car, it’s got a big hole in the middle of it for the crib mattress.

I can’t fathom spending that without knowing if it’ll make Baby Bop sleep. I’d spend it immediately if I knew she would. Maybe she’ll love the swing set so much she’ll sleep out there.

Even though we’re already buying that, I’d add the optional playhouse with flower box windows just for her sleeping pleasure.

I browse Craigslist. There’s a $40 plastic car bed in great condition 20 minutes away. DONE.

I try to put Baby Bop to sleep in the crib one last time before we dismantle it. She does her panic scream where she stops breathing and her mouth is open in a silent wail. This is as bad as it gets. Captain gets his tool box. Goodbye crib. For now.

Baby Bop is thrilled with her new car bed. Not so thrilled that she wants to sleep there all night, but thrilled enough that she’ll start out there.

Captain and I alternate the rest of the time sleeping with her on her mats on the floor. She would prefer we slept with her in her car bed.

Awhile ago a friend of mine mentioned getting into her son’s toddler bed with him like it wasn’t a big deal. I couldn’t fathom this. Surely I’d never do that. First of all, how could I even fit?

Well I do. And so does Captain. With our head on the plastic “trunk” and our feet hanging down over the headlights, it’s more comfortable than it sounds. Not comfortable enough to sleep there all night, but good for a little rest.

Another friend shares about her 4-year-old sleeping with her. She says,

“I don’t mind. Someday he won’t want to sleep with me.”

I hear that. So I’m enjoying my Baby Bop snuggles in our new toddler-size car bed and simultaneously hoping for another miracle.

Captain says,

“Seems like when she’s 5 we’ll be able to reason with her.”

Neither of us has spent much time with a 5-year-old, but the little that I do know, doesn’t make me think everything will be reasonable.

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So far no number of friends in the bed can get Mommy and Daddy off the hook, but I’m willing to add more

I’m over this diaper thing

Aside from sleeping or not sleeping like she’s out for revenge, Baby Bop is in a delightful stage. She’s chill. Or at least compared to Baby Bop of 6 months ago. She’ll let me out of her eyesight without assuming I’ve abandoned her forever.

She’s often happy to play by herself and even understands when I tell her to. She still has her clingy moments, but the minute she has a dirty diaper she is hard to find. I smell her across the room and I say,

“Do I smell poopies?”

Yes, these are the quality conversations we have. Baby Bop looks at me in consternation. She does not want to leave her toys to go change her diaper. I’d be happy to let her keep playing in her poop if it weren’t for diaper rashes.

I say,

“Diappie time!”

Baby Bop looks at me and declares,

“Mommy wash dishes. Baby Bop play.”

In other words she just asked me to leave her alone. And boy do I wish I could!

A few days later I smell poop and she tries again. She points at my computer,

“Mommy work. Baby bop play.”

She hasn’t learned the word “blog” yet.

And best/worst of all is she has turned into a parrot. I heard and smelled something funny, so I tell her,

“I need to check your diaper.”

“A peek?”

“Yup, going to take a peek.” There’s a small streak and without thinking I say,

“Just a juicy fart.”

Baby Bop prances off singing,

“Juicy fart, juicy fart!”

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When you’re waiting for the doctor, but you really want to wear your new shoes.

We’re Weaned

Baby Bop and I are weaned. Freedom! And a week of weeping and the most painful breasts I’ve ever had. I sob on Captain’s shoulder,

“She’s all grown up!”

She’s 20 months old. If I can still say her age in months, I know she’s not grown up, BUT STILL.

Captain rubs my back and asks,

“What’s going to happen when she leaves for college?”

I sob some more.

I never had any idea how long I’d nurse for. When Baby Bop was born I was hoping it would work. It worked for a couple months. Then around the third month I had to stand and bounce her in a sling to nurse or do all nursing in the middle of the night. It was so intense I was sure I was going crazy.

I stopped the bouncing and night nursing at 12 months. Either she figures it out or we’re done because if I bounce her one more time I might throw her out the window.

She figured it out. Lying in bed, nursing my baby felt so easy, why stop now? So on we went. Then around 17 months I felt like it would be nice to stop, but was terrified of screwing up her beautiful sleeping.

At 18 months she screwed it up all by herself. So at 20 months with her still not sleeping well and nothing to lose, I went for the wean.

She never asks to nurse unless we’re near a bed, so avoiding beds works for most of the day.

We went from 3 feeds a day, to 2 and then our nap time feeding was the last one. I was terrified. Her nap is what helps me survive the day. Faced with not napping you could probably convince me to nurse her until she’s 5.

I gave it a go. First nap without nursing I didn’t whip a boob out and she didn’t ask. Next few naps she asked, cried a little, sighed and drank milk from a sippy cup. Two weeks later, she seems like she’s forgotten she ever nursed. Then without thinking, I slip out of my jammies to get dressed. Baby Bop declares,

“Mommy! Tummy! Milkies!”

Shoot! I hide in my closet.

“Mommy milkies!”

“All gone.”

“A taste?”

Is she bargaining with me? Now we’re three weeks weaned and almost ready for college.

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