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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Once upon a time Baby Bop had a great-grandfather

My 91-year-old grandpa died. It sucks for a lot of reasons, but his being dead is not one of them.

After several days of insisting I wasn’t going to the funeral in upstate New York, I decide to show up for my mom.

I head to the rental car agency. We own four cars: a family car, the Toyota Highlander, a 14-year-old Nissan sports car, and two trucks, one from the 70’s and one from the 90’s, Captain’s babies. Out of all of these vehicles the only one that works and takes a car seat is the Highlander and the only one I drive is the Highlander.

At the rental car agency, the customer next to me is spouting off all of his car knowledge at a volume meant to encompass everyone whether they like it or not. I avoid showing any signs that I know he exists.

The rental agent offers me a hybrid. He asks,

“Are you going far?”

“Upstate New York.”

“So the hybrid will be perfect.”

“Yeah, thanks.”

The schmo next to me asks,

“What’s in upstate NY besides a bunch of cows?”

“My dead grandpa.”

Once we get there, my mom, brother and I head out for pizza and beers. We may be staying at a Super 8, but it’s the nicest hotel in town and I have a room to myself. This is my first night away from Baby Bop.

I propose a toast,

“To never coming here ever again.”

I really hope this is true.

The next day we sit by my Grandpa’s dead body for three hours while very few people who aren’t family stop by. This is what happens when you let your friends die first.

Finally it’s over. I’ve never been happier to return home.

Now all that’s in upstate NY is a bunch of cows and my grandpa’s dead body waiting in a fridge for the ground to thaw. The funeral director promised to let us know when the burial is.

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This wasn’t the funeral I was at, but we did take a selfie. 

How many bunnies do we need to get some sleep?

Baby Bop’s sleeping has gone off the rails and is a big ol’ train wreck. I have no idea why it was so good for so long and now I have no idea why it’s bad again. Captain’s theory is that we never should’ve talked about how good it was.

At 7am, after waking up at 5am, Baby Bop says,

“Mommy, sleepy.”

Tell me about it.

We’ve been screwed up for 6 weeks. For the past 3 weeks we just maintained status quo, i.e. bed sharing so we could save our sanity because we knew going away would negate any progress.

We went skiing in Killington. Skiing was awesome. We all got the Norovirus. So that was the worst. But if I have to have a puking toddler, being in a hotel room that I’ll never smell again is not a terrible idea.

Now we’re home, feeling better and still not sleeping great. Except now Baby Bop is used to sleeping with both of us and not just one. She woke up screaming even though I was right next to her and kept saying,

“Dada? Dada?”

I settle her down and she reaches her arm out for where Captain was when we were on vacation. We were in a queen bed, so we were on top of each other.

At any given moment Baby Bop’s head was on Captain and her feet were on me. Or vice versa. Feet sound preferable because they don’t weigh as much as her head, but you’d rethink that when there’s a foot doing leg presses against your jaw.

Captain says,

“I think we should wash her bunnies.”

Agreed.

The only reason I wasn’t washing them, was because she was sleeping through the night. No point in keeping vomit-scented bunnies now.

I wash one at a time. She’s attached to two. There’s a third, untouched, entirely new back-up bunny on the shelf. While one is in the wash Baby Bop asks for her bunnies. I hand her one of her usual ones. She tells me,

“Two.”

“Yes. We only have one right now.”

She points to the brand new one on the shelf.

“Two.”

Hard to argue with that. I hand it to her. She looks at it. Looks at me. Takes a big sniff and wrinkles her forehead in consternation. It smells way too clean. She says,

“Bunny?”

“Yup, bunny.”

She gives me a look like she wants me to know I’m not pulling one over on her and gives the new bunny a hug.

Now both bunnies are washed and the new one is stored out of sight. She tried to have three. When I emerge from her room with the new bunny, Captain says,

“You got it away.”

“I’m not having her attached to 3 bunnies.” Then I’d have to buy 3 more bunnies to have back-ups and that would run us up another $120. Sleep may be out of control, but I’m standing my ground with the bunnies.

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Glasses? No problem. Haircut? NO THANK YOU

So after all that, Baby Bop’s glasses are a non-issue. She wears them 90% of the time. What I didn’t anticipate is how often I’d have to wash them. When she’s tired, instead of rubbing her eyes, she rubs her glasses. She loves a big ol’ slobber from Booker and he sees no reason to avoid her glasses.

Food on her fingers? Rub it on the glasses. Singing “Head, shoulders, knees and toes?” Smear fingers all over glasses. Demand that Mommy and Dadda wear their glasses? Inspect her glasses. And I knew I was cleaning them constantly when on the second day of wearing them, Baby Bop was “washing” them in her sink.

Now the best part is that Captain doesn’t want to wear his $8 fashion pair, but Baby Bop isn’t going to stand for that. She sees him without them and she declares,

“Dadda! Gasses!” (The “L”  and in Baby Bop’s version is silent.)

And really how can he argue with that?

I’m tired of wearing mine too. Baby Bop seems to be the only one who’s NOT struggling with glasses. Her and Cookie Monster.

So really all my anticipation about how Baby Bop was going to manage, should’ve been directed toward how Captain and I are going to manage. And it’s a new aesthetic to get used to too. The full head strap that keeps her glasses on her head is very necessary, but not great for her baby mullet.

Her hair could use a trim from someone besides me, despite how much I’ve tried to learn from YouTube.

Captain watches a YouTube video on changing our dryer vent from the back to the side and he does it in the tiny bathroom, in a few hours, on the first try.

I watch a YouTube video on trimming bangs, and after 5 or 6 separate attempts over the past year, I’ve yet to be happy with the outcome. It’s always a case of,

Oops, a little uneven, I’ll take some more from this side.

Baby Bop moves.

Gah! I need more from the other side.

She moves again.

I give up. I have to stop or else there won’t be any bangs left. A couple months go by and I get to try again. We’re at the point of me trying again or paying $20 for the pleasure of torturing her at a salon and hoping I can immobilize her long enough for them to do it.

I’m leaning toward the torture.

But yay for seeing! And Baby Bop likes what she sees. The first time she looked in the mirror with her glasses she stared at herself for a long time and kept turning from side to side. Then she gave a big smile and said,

“Gasses!”

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Potty or extra large cup holder? Who’s to say?

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You get a pair! You get a pair! Everybody gets glasses!

Happy New Year! We’re all starting the year off with glasses. Cookie Monster has a pair. Baby doll has a pair. The giant stuffed panda has a pair and Captain, who doesn’t need glasses, has an $8 fashion pair from Amazon. All because Baby Bop needs glasses.

For months I’ve wondered if Baby Bop’s left eye was doing its own thing. Sometimes it looked like it was focusing and then sometimes it looked like it was on vacation. It didn’t always seem wonky, so maybe I was imagining things.

Then a teacher of one of our classes pulled me aside and asked if I’d noticed that Baby Bop has a lazy eye. SIGH. I guess so.

We make an eye doctor appointment. I’m nervous. Baby Bop screams like we’re trying to kill her when all we want is her length measurement.

Captain takes the day off work. We’ll both be there. When I make the appointment I ask,

“How do you do it? We just had to abort a haircut because she was in a panic.”

“Oh we’re used to it.”

Used to the screaming and being able to examine a screaming toddler’s eyesight seem like two very different things. We show up and there are several other toddlers in the waiting room. One goes before us and we can hear the screaming. This is not encouraging.

And now Baby Bop does sympathy screaming. We were in a restaurant the other night and she was perfectly happy coloring away. A kid, not even in eyesight, started screaming. So Baby Bop screamed. He stopped and she went back to coloring. He screamed again, so she screamed. This continued for our entire meal.

Baby Bop’s motto seems to be: “when in doubt, scream.”

We head into the exam room. A Disney movie is playing, there’s a stack of books, puzzles and a cash register. Baby Bop ditches us the minute we walk in. This is off to a better start than expected.

A mechanical dog pops out of a doghouse on the wall and starts yapping away. Baby Bop lets out a big laugh and all the while the doctor is examining her eyes. Then Baby Bop starts hacking. She hacks like an old man who’s got a golf ball of phlegm in his throat. The doctor looks concerned. I can’t believe I have to explain this. I tell her,

“She’s imitating our dog. He has an obsession with licking his feet, then gets hair in his throat and hacks it all up. So if you ask her what a dog says she hacks.”

“It sounds like your dog has a problem.”

Yes and now it sounds like my daughter does too.

I ask Baby Bop,

“What does a doggy say?” In the hopes that I can prove she knows that dogs say “woof” and Booker hacks. She looks at the mechanical yapping dog and lets out a throaty hack.

The doctor tells us,

“She’s getting glasses!”

In theory I’m all for it. The reality of it is perplexing. I ask the doctor,

“How do you get toddlers to keep them on?”

“Once a kid realizes that they see better with them than without them, they’ll often want to wear them. But that’s not the case with Baby Bop, because she sees fine with her right eye.”

Huh. She adds,

“It’s like how we always wear our clothes. We always wear our glasses.”

So we don’t always wear our clothes.

Baby Bop’s glasses should arrive this week. Stay tuned.

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My sippy cup collection. It’s not Baby Bop’s unless she decides to reimburse me

I never thought I’d own this many sippy cups. When I was pregnant, someone told me that I’d go through a lot. I just nodded. Kinda like when everyone talks about new-mom sleep deprivation. I understood, but not really, not until I was up at 3am for 11 months in a row. Then I understood.

Now I open the kitchen cabinet dedicated to Baby Bop and sippy cups fall on my head. It was a slow accumulation starting a year ago. It’s 11 sippy cups of 7 different varieties. Which doesn’t sound super crazy considering people own table settings for 8 or more, but today all the sippy cups ended up on the counter and it really looks like I have a problem.

Two weeks ago, our music teacher started class with a cough, a runny nose, a hoarse voice and a promise that he wasn’t contagious anymore. We took the tambourines he offered and now Baby Bop is producing enough snot to smear on all the furniture in our home. In an effort to get a dehydrated Baby Bop to drink more. I pulled out our sippy cup arsenal.

Some can be drunk without tipping; some need a little tipping. Some need a lot of tipping, but can be drunk from any side. Some leak a little; some leak a lot. Some don’t leak at all until Baby Bop flings it on the tile floor for the millionth time and it cracks so I rush onto Amazon and order another one. Because the one that doesn’t leak is my favorite. The one with mermaids that leaks everywhere is Baby Bop’s favorite. Although her most favorite of all is a real cup. No lid.

This works if she’s strapped into her high chair and I want to monitor her every move. It’s that, or accept that I will be cleaning up milk flung to the far reaches of the kitchen. I have a hard time accepting that.

As it is Baby Bop likes to wave her silverware around. The other day a spoonful of applesauce went flying and splattered on a chair. The next day Baby Bop finds it and points it out to Captain. He asks,

“What’s that?”

“Applesauce she flung.” It’s on my list of things I might clean someday.

And you know what we got Baby Bop for Hanukkah? Another sippy cup. It’s a matching plate, bowl and silverware set. She loves it. The cup has Peter Rabbit on it. She spends a good portion of her meals taking large spoonfuls of food and dumping it on the side of her cup. She’s feeding Peter Rabbit.

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We don’t have this one… yet.

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TV Time for Hanukkah

Baby Bop and I haven’t watched much TV. In part because our TV wasn’t hooked up until a week ago. Hanukkah has changed that.

If we’re home in the late afternoon, Baby Bop has very strong opinions about what I should be doing. She wants me holding her, playing with her or watching her play. If I even think about going in the other room, the crying and clinging is almost unbearable.

I’ve resorted to making dinner at lunch time. I’m not a strong cook and I can’t begin to make anything edible and keep the moaning at bay.

For Hanukkah I had my heart set on frying up some latkes. I did not want to make them at lunch time. I wanted them hot and crispy at 6pm. And if you’re thinking, what about Captain? Baby Bop would happily spend all day with him, but if she can see me and it’s after 3pm, I can’t escape.

Sometimes I make food with her scaling my lower legs, but latkes, even on the back burner, are splattering hot oil.  And the last thing I want right now is a crying, clinging baby who’s also been burned by latke oil. I need a solution.

I turn on the TV. Baby Bop lets go of my leg, raises her arms to the TV and doesn’t bother to watch me leave for the kitchen.

I’m not sure why we didn’t hook up the TV sooner.

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Can’t go wrong with matching Hanukkah jammies!

Things are going as smoothly as my legs on a week that I’ve shaved

Baby Bop and I have a good flow going. We have just the right amount of classes, playdates and naps to occupy our time. There are still the moments in the afternoon when it’s next to impossible to do anything.

I try to put Baby Bop down and she clings with the strength of her gorilla baby ancestors. I manage to distract her. I put her down. Success! I think about making dinner. WAIT! Don’t jump off the back of the couch!

Captain puts her to bed and I relax with Baby Bop videos. Not every night, but more nights than I would think is reasonable if you had asked me before I had Baby Bop.

We’re taking a few classes like music, and a development class with a good dose of music, but not swimming. I can take Baby Bop to the pool and we can have the same amount of fun for a hundred dollars less. The only problem with this is that paying the hundred dollars motivated me to get my legs shaved and my butt in a bathing suit.

The other motivating factor is that Baby Bop LOVES the water. After a long bath, she will hunker down in the empty tub with no water because she doesn’t want to get out. And maybe if she can’t see us, we can’t see her? Who knows? She doesn’t explain herself well.

I try to go to the pool on Mondays. Last week was busier than usual and Friday ended up being the only day for the pool. I had an epiphany: if I shave for the pool Friday, then I’m shaved up for the weekend. Which is not a necessity, but nice. That and a clean shirt and it’s a special occasion.

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The countdown is on for my diminishing coolness

This post is 2 weeks late, but that’s in keeping with all of my posts now, so maybe that means it’s on time.

Halloween. It was a big success. Baby Bop fit into last year’s dinosaur costume and Captain and I fit into our Mommy/Daddysaurus t-shirts. It was a $50 investment, so good news that we got to use them again.

Yes I could wear my Mommysaurus t-shirt any day of the year. I’m tempted to, but I’m not sure what sort of statement I’m making without a babysaurus in tow.

Before Halloween arrived, in August, neighbors kept telling us,

“Halloween is epic here!” “We went through 20 bags of candy last year.”

Captain turns to me,

“Should we buy candy now to make sure we have enough?”

“It’s August.”

He’s unconvinced and I’m not sure what else to say. I buy candy in September. It stayed unopened for all of 30 minutes after I got home. The week before Halloween I made a mad candy dash because someone, me, had eaten all the candy.

You think one piece here or there isn’t going to add up, but if you eat one piece followed by several more pieces every day for 2 months, that does the trick.

The Halloween plan was for Captain to hold down the fort and for Baby Bop and me to toddle around the neighborhood for as long as each of us could stand it.

Baby Bop screams when she sees me headed her way with the dinosaur costume, but she lets me put it on and then she couldn’t care less. For someone who has strong feelings about not wearing certain standard pieces of clothing, I’m surprised. We hit the street.

All it takes is Baby Bop sighting the “big kids” walking up to random doors and she’s all about it. Baby Bop would follow a 6-year-old just about anywhere.

We go to 5 houses and I’m done. Baby Bop is thrilled. She is at the stage that putting objects in and out of containers is very appealing. So lots of shiny crinkly things to put in her little pumpkin is delightful.

A bunch of kids see Baby Bop toddling up to them and squeal in delight,

“Oh she’s so cute!”

A four-year-old asks me,

“What is she?”

“A dinosaur!”

He rolls his eyes, lets out a long sigh and says really slowly,

“What kind?”

“Oh, a stegosaurus I think.”

“That would make sense, that’s what’s on your t-shirt.”

Thanks kid. I’ve never been cool, but exasperating a 4-year-old is new.

We head home. We did not get a lot of trick-or-treaters. Some. But not 20 bags of candy worth. So here’s to blogging while I eat a Reese’s, a Twix, a Milky Way and a Snickers. We’re saving the candy for next year.

Those hormones have a mind of their own

Working at the bar was an amazing way to have crazy conversations with strangers. The other day at the doctor’s office gave me a little taste of what I’ve been missing.

Baby Bop’s doctor tells me,

“I’ve called in some labs. You can come in anytime. You can go to Weymouth or Braintree.”

“We’ll go to Weymouth, that’s closer.”

“Ok. Weymouth has one phlebotomist and Braintree has several.”

“We don’t mind waiting.”

“Well Braintree is great with kids and shouldn’t be too traumatizing.”

Ok. I get it. Baby Bop’s doctor is telling me in the most diplomatic way: DO NOT get Baby Bop’s blood drawn by the phlebotomist in Weymouth because whoever it is will stab her multiple times and scar her for life.

We head to Braintree. We toddle around the waiting room splitting our time between tapping on the fish tank and trying to tear up Golf Magazine. A woman with curly hair approaches us, points at Baby Bop and asks,

“Is her hair naturally curly or do you curl it?”

Who has time to curl a toddler’s hair? And what toddler would stand for that? “It’s natural.”

“She’s so lucky.”

“Your curls look great.”

“No. They’re not soft like hers.”

“She’s a baby.”

“I didn’t always have curly hair.”

“Me neither.”

“It started growing in curly when my period stopped a few years ago.”

What? Considering the social taboo about talking about periods in a normal voice, in public, with a stranger, I’m caught off guard. I’m about tell her my hair was straight until I got my period. She continues,

“All of a sudden it grew in short and curly. I got a few more periods, but then they stopped. You must still be getting yours.”

“So far.”

“It’s no good when it stops.”

I’ve sat through enough Winter car rides with my mom and the windows open to know it’s not comfortable for anyone.

The woman’s name is called or else we’d still be talking about her menopause transition.

A few minutes later Baby Bop is called. We walk past our new friend getting her blood drawn. Her moans are so loud that Baby Bop starts to whimper before the basket of stickers has a chance to emerge.

Baby Bop’s stranger anxiety is at its peak and she reaches full-throttle screaming long before the needle is inserted. The phlebotomist is great and we’re done before Baby Bop can catch her breath to resume screaming. I recommend going to Braintree.

On our way to the car two older women are taking tiny steps across the parking lot. One says to us,

“We’ll get there eventually.”

The other chimes in,

“Don’t get old!”

“I don’t like the alternative!” If only so I can see what happens to my hair when I stop getting my period.

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Nothing says “I’m ready to play in the dirt or go dancing” like overalls and a tutu.

 

A vacation

We just got back from a family vacation to the White Mountains. Having fun with my family has meant letting go of what fun used to mean to me.

Yes Captain and I can still drink a beer. We can do it in a beautiful location while managing a toddler or after she’s asleep in a dark corner of our hotel room. Or we can do both.

A couple months ago I asked Captain what he’d like for his birthday. He tells me,

“A relaxing dinner with cheeseburgers.”

“Sounds great! So after Baby Bop goes to sleep?”

“It would be nice to eat all together.”

Dinner with Baby Bop can be nice, but I’d never say it’s relaxing. Same goes for vacation. Captain’s request makes me wonder if we’re experiencing the same reality. I ask him,

“Do you think it’s possible to have a relaxing dinner with Baby Bop?”

“Maybe not. There’s never much time for digestion.”

Baby Bop does not appreciate lingering at the table long after the food has disappeared. Baby Bop doesn’t do lingering, at the dinner table or on vacation.

We buy tickets for a scenic train ride described as great for families with small children. There is strength in numbers. Not only will other parents be empathetic to my screaming child, there’s a good chance their kids will cause an equivalent amount of trouble.

As we wait for the train I notice several toddlers lingering near their parents on the nice grassy area. Baby Bop is on a mission to run in the parking lot regardless of the fact that she keeps falling on the pavement.

We get on the train and she’s determined to not sit with us. If I weren’t worried about her getting hurt, I’d be very happy for her to hang out with whatever family she likes better.

The train starts moving and that combined with snacks chills her out. The hour train ride is a surprising success.

Before the trip, we had decided that the three-hour, roundtrip train up Mt. Washington was unfeasible, but the successful one hour train ride made Captain reconsider. I look up a photo of the Mt. Washington train: one car. No where to go. If Baby Bop doesn’t make it, she’d take the whole train down with her. And tickets are $70 a piece.

I tell Captain,

“Ok, talk me through how you think this is going to work.”

“Maybe it isn’t.”

We don’t need to pay $140 to torture ourselves and a bunch of other people. We opt for a slow hike around a lake with a view of some mountains related to Mt. Washington.

We head out for dinner. On this trip we ate more meals out than we have in the entire time since Baby Bop was born. She was a super star as long as we kept providing something new every few minutes. Turns out she’s a big fan of eating butter packets and crayons.

Captain was so excited about her coloring for the first time that the placemat traveled home with us and is on the fridge. And I was impressed with Captain’s ability to draw, sideways, a really good pumpkin. AP art was worthwhile.

Vacation was fun and a little less work than if we’d been home. One toddler and two adults is a reasonable ratio. There was even a little bit of relaxing when Baby Bop was asleep.

Bummin around

I’m not worried about germs. I wash my hands, but that didn’t really take off until I was an adult.

If something drops on the floor/ground/wherever gravity takes it, I’ll still eat it or give it back to Baby Bop.

When she was a newborn, I was hyper vigilant, but then Baby Bop became obsessed with shoes. One day she had Captain’s work shoe in her mouth, he says,

“Nothing like chewing on the laces that were dragging around the mens’ urinal today.”

Gross. But the dog is licking his butt and licking her face, why should I be worried about shoes?

Now Baby Bop has a bad case of the runs. No big deal except her butt doesn’t agree. It’s super red and sore. So sore that she cries when I hold her on my hip. That’s breaking my heart.

The doctor suggests some diaper free time. This is great in theory. We did lots of diaper free time when Baby Bop was 4 months old and liked to lie in one place / couldn’t move if she wanted to. Now if I put my fitbit on Baby Bop, she’d clock the daily 10,000 steps before morning snack. The idea of doing that diaperless is perplexing.

We give it a go. Seeing Baby Bop’s butt bouncing around the house is super cute. She squats down to pick up a toy. First round of poop on the rug. We clean up and resume.

Then it’s a big puddle of pee in the kitchen. I dash for a towel, but Booker gets there first and laps it all up. Gross, but super helpful.

Then it’s another big slop of poop in the kitchen. This is all within 30 minutes. Before I know what’s happening, Booker eats it all. As long as he doesn’t throw up later, this is perfect.

I find another stray pile of poop and point it out to Booker. Special treat for doggies!

Baby Bop poops on one of her toys. Booker to the rescue. Captain looks like he’s going to faint. He tells Booker,

“You better not kiss me later.”

We start chatting about our anniversary and the weekend we met. I didn’t know there could be any new details we hadn’t talked about. Captain says,

“I remember I was drinking a water. I asked you if I could get you a drink and you said water would be good. I was going to go get you one, but you said you’d just drink mine.”

“I don’t remember this at all.”

“I thought, who is this woman who drinks other people’s drinks?”

“Never mind that I was hoping to make out with you.”

“You were?!”

“Are you kidding?”

Here we are. Wedded bliss. Watching our dog eat our daughter’s diarrhea.

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The things mattresses go through

Sleep is precious. To have it be interrupted by a bad mattress is unacceptable. Ten years ago I could sleep on any old, bunk-bed, hostel mattress in a room with many people. Why I’m snobby about my mattress now is a mystery.

As fast as I fell in love with Captain, I fell in love with his Tempurpedic queen mattress in one night. Many mornings Captain would leave for work and I’d stay with his mattress.

Then Baby Bop and I took it over. Then we moved and bought a king bed frame. Moving was crazy time and money was flying. I decided we should try the mattress in a box that’s ordered online and returned for free within a 100 days. We could save a lot of money and we wouldn’t have to go mattress shopping with Baby Bop.

The mattress came and I immediately preferred Baby Bop’s 4 inch floor mat. Within a month I went back to sleeping on our original queen bed now in our guest room. Why suffer? Captain wasn’t happy with the mattress either, but the convenience of being close to our shower and his work clothes won out.

We needed a new mattress. Still opposed to mattress shopping with Baby Bop. I ordered another one online with free returns and called to return the first one. They scheduled Salvation Army to pick it up.

The truck pulls up and the guy asks me,

“We’re here to pick up a mattress?”

“Yeah.”

“Is it new, still in its plastic?”

“No.”

“We can’t take used mattresses… because you know what happens on them.”

Oh yes I do. She’s 14 months old and wreaking havoc as we speak.

After a phone call he takes the mattress and we’re on to the next. It’s not good. At this point Baby Bop is sleeping in her crib, so I steal her twin-size floor mat and put it on my side of the bed. I may be 4 inches higher than Captain, but at least we’re sleeping together. When I want to snuggle, I just roll over and gravity does the rest.

We have to go mattress shopping. My mom stays with Baby Bop and we go for date night at Jordan’s. Our date features some wonderful mattresses and a very nice sales lady.

We are on our third mattress in 4 months and this one’s a keeper. We’ll see what happens on it.

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Tooka-tooka-tooka! You’ll have to ask Baby Bop about that

I’m excited for Baby Bop to start talking. I’m imagining conversations that will never happen:

“Mama, I’m all done eating, please take my plate away before I dump everything on the floor.”

Because if I’m not paying attention, Baby Bop does a massive sweeping swipe with both arms and clears her tray in seconds. Food doesn’t just fall on the floor, it goes flying across the kitchen in every direction.

This is when having a dog is useful. The problem is Booker is getting old. I have to walk around to every piece of food on the floor and point it out to him. It’s not enough to make me want to clean it up myself, but close.

Baby Bop has three words: “Mama, Dada and quack quack.” Mama and Dada seem very useful. Quack quack? Makes me wonder if all I’m doing every day is making animal noises.

It’s not a random sound. I say,

“Baby Bop, what does a duck say?” And she says,

“Whack, whack.” Which is close enough and maybe even closer than quack. I’ve never heard a duck say exactly “Quack.”

I’m a big fan of making the animal sound as life-like as possible. For a pig I do an actual snort. After 6 months of snorting, I realized Baby Bop isn’t going to learn that. Or when I do my realistic rooster impression. She can’t hope to master that for years. So for all these months of animal noises, I should’ve been doing what I’ve done for the duck, and just saying “quack,” or “oink” or “cock-a-doodle-do.”

Now when I’m in the shower I start singing “Old McDonald Had a Farm.” It makes me want to shoot myself. Nothing against Old McDonald. I’m sure his farm is very nice, even if it’s a bit noisy.

It’s bad enough to sing these songs with Baby Bop. I do NOT need to sing them by myself. Then I go to sleep and dream about pigs. Cute little muddy pigs trying to eat me. It was a borderline nightmare. Old McDonald, you need to keep your animals under control.

When Baby Bop is really happy, she likes to say “tooka-tooka-tooka.” It seems to have no meaning except now Captain and I say it all the time. And without Baby Bop. Captain tells me,

“I fixed that problem at work today.”

“Awesome!”

“Then I said ‘tooka-tooka-tooka.'”

Tooka-tooka-tooka.

So Baby Bop can quack. I wish she could moo. I like cows. And if you’ve ever wondered what your face looks like when you’re making an animal noise, here’s mine “mooing.”

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