Sunday, 30 March 2008

Bright idea

With Kickbaby collecting 'loot' before he even makes his debut, sending thank you notes has constantly been on my to-do list lately.

This weekend I had a happy wave of inspiration and finished a brand-new design – the Oh-So-Euro "Merci" notecards! I got very absorbed in making them and now I'm feeling quite excited about sending out fabulous new thank-yous.

They're in the Thank You section of my Etsy shop right now, and will also be available on the Pepperina Press web site soon.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Talking to strangers

When the waitress enthusiastically complimented Berry's Autumn Girl outfit for the second time, my spiel about how my sister sent it from South Africa was interrupted by little thunderbrows glowering, "No, yady! No touch! My dress! Go 'way, yady, my dress!".

She would not be shushed until the "yady" did, in fact, go away. It was all very appalling.

Thursday, 27 March 2008


A medal for whoever planted the mass of azaleas that fill our front yard. I suspect I'm about 15 years too late with my award-giving – these plants have clearly had a long time to reach their present glory – but they are brilliant.

We've made a mental note: if we ever decide to sell this house, we sell it in March. Genius.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Unnecessarily large

My eighth birthday present: my brother Jules.

This photo was taken on the third day of his life (see the hospital band still on his left arm) and if you think he seems abnormally bulky, you'd be right. He weighed in at a completely unacceptable 10lbs 10oz – and this is why I've been earnestly asking Kickbaby not to take after Uncle Jules just yet.

Sadly, I don't think he's listening.

My obstetrician ordered a growth-study ultrasound because I'm still measuring three weeks ahead of where I should be. Nathan got me an appointment yesterday and later he went down and looked at the images with the radiologist, who said the following:

Kickbaby's measuring fully 34 weeks and 4 days (I'm only 31 weeks, 4 days).
His head is 95th percentile.
His body is 95th percentile.
His legs are 50th percentile (so, at least that's normal).
And lastly: "He's huge. Are you sure your wife doesn't have gestational diabetes or something?"

No, I absolutely do not have gestational diabetes.

For pitiful comparison's sake, Berry measured in the 4th (yes, fourth) percentile all over at birth, and stayed at the bottom of the charts for absolutely ages. The doctors are estimating that Kickbaby already weighs more than Berry did when she was born... he's going to be a whole new ballgame.

I've warned our families to resist any urges to buy cute-tiny-baby-clothes. Because, you know, he'll probably need a scooter or something.

(A shout-out to our intrepid mother – all five of us weighed at 10lbs or more at birth. Did I say intrepid? I meant unwise....)

(Wait: Aaron proudly informs me that he was the "runt" at a mere 9lbs 9oz. Yeah, I'm sure that makes a big difference.)

Monday, 24 March 2008

Merry Easter, Charlie and Lola

I'm being bombarded with earnest and incessant commentary on Charlie and Lola and Sizzles. This would be fine, except that I'm also required to show I understand all Berry's garbled Charlie-and-Lola insights by making detailed Charlie-and-Lola comments of my own... or there's capital-t Trouble. Faking it with "oh, really!" or "wow!" just isn't good enough.

Of course, this is all the Easter Bunny's fault.

The "Easter Bunny" (unlike her husband) was raised in a world of very few lollies, and balks at the thought of two-year-olds eating chocolate. So Berry's Easter basket contained two Charlie and Lola books, a Charlie and Lola DVD, a giant plastic egg with Elmo and Grover figurines, and one mini Tootsie Roll. The Tootsie Roll was gone in a heartbeat, but she's been completely absorbed by the rest ever since.

The Easter egg hunt late in the day was a roaring success, and the egg decorating in the morning was pretty good even though it brought on some inexplicable (post-Tootsie Roll low?) tears: "I bit sad, mama. I bit sad. I angry." By the time we went out for a fancy brunch with Grandpa Tom, she'd recovered enough to tackle a long series of mini-muffins.

So I don't know exactly what kind of mish-mash message she's taken away from the whole Easter experience this year, but I'm pretty sure it involves Charlie and Lola. Maybe we can straighten things out in 2009.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Being two / acting two

At the Astor Crowne Plaza in New Orleans, Berry proved that even busy lobbies are fair game when you're two and you need to make a point. Cold marble floor? No worries – the message is the same.

Yes, that's her... the crumpled bit of pink at the bottom of the photo above.

And here's a close-up – you know, in case there's any doubt that she really meant it.

I almost wish we could say Berry was the worst-behaved child in the hotel that weekend, but sadly – no. We (and Kirk and Pauline) were deeply unlucky to be given rooms in the same wing as a completely appalling University of Alabama fraternity in town for a social... so at 2am the halls were filled with scrawny shirtless 18-year-olds running around with buckets of ice, drunkenly bellowing at locked doors and fighting; girls carrying their shoes and crying; and exasperated security guards trying to herd them all away.

At 3am we were treated to some kid, completely smashed, pounding on the door next to ours: "Evaaaaaan! Evan open the f------ door! Evan you m------------! Evaaaaaaan! Open! [BANG] The! [BANG] Door! [BANG] Evan you d-------, this is the lowest thing you've ever [BANG] done! Evaaaaaaaaaan!"

And as I dialled security again, I couldn't help thinking: at least when Berry threw a tantrum, she was acting her age.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

A nearly-bonfire

Our last big bonfire on the beach was pre-Hurricane Katrina, and we had no kids, and it was fabulous. We've always wanted to do it again but we never quite organised ourselves to get a permit. So when Boone and Melissa invited us to theirs, we were keen.

Sadly, the wind and the weather were against us. It was warm all day at our place (and we live less than a minute's drive from the beach) so we were caught completely off-guard by how outrageously cold it was on the beach.

We were shivering as soon as we got there; getting blankets and moving closer and closer to the fire didn't help as much as you'd hope. In light of Berry's recent-and-ongoing sicknesses (and her freezing little clenched fists) we couldn't stay for long.

Berry got a cookie from Melissa before we left, though, so she counted the whole outing as a great success. We took her home and thawed her out, and we'll try the whole bonfire thing again soon. With bigger jackets.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Kickbaby scores!

This week Kickbaby finally staked out a dresser drawer among his sister's avalanche of outfits. My friends had a fabulous shower for us in Ocean Springs, and Kickbaby doubled his wardrobe in one morning!

This is huge progress – when Pauline visited, she pointed out that he owned nothing at all. I felt a bit guilty about that, so I made a list of practical things he'll need and went on a little non-practical baby-clothes-shopping spree with Pauline at Gymboree.

Nathan and I have been Vespa fans ever since Italy, so of course I couldn't resist this blanket (orange Vespa on one side, Italian landmarks on the other) and the Vespa socks.

So it's been an outstanding few days on the Kickbaby-gets-loot front. Next on his campaign list: changing the walls of the "kids' bedroom" to something less girly than pink...

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Does not play well with others

They warn you about the Terrible Twos, but it still doesn't mean you're ready for them when they come.

As two-year-olds go, Berry's not very terrible at all. In fact, she's generally quite mild. But when Pauline and little Sophiene came to visit from South Carolina, Berry revealed a combative side that caught us off-guard.

Although she plays well with other kids at school and at her friends' houses, at home it's a different matter entirely. When another toddler tries to play with her toys, in her territory, she becomes – well – territorial. Sophiene is the first child ever to stay with us, and we were horrified by Berry's outbursts – the grabbing, the pushing, the flailing, the hitting, the shouting: "My Dora! No my paints! My Rody! No Fofie, my chair! My Elmo! Mine! My Mama!"

Sophie is one year old, still in the lovely, easy-going, live-and-let-live stage of toddlerhood. The fuss was all very baffling to her. When Berry was at that stage – facing the shoves and bellows of older kids with an "oh well" attitude – I was concerned that she might not be assertive enough, that she might end up being a doormat.

I needn't have worried.

From the photos here, you wouldn't know there'd been any conflict, any embarrassing outbursts. That's because when the fights were on, all the grown-ups were desperately refereeing – and when peace reigned, we all said "Quick! Get the camera!"

I know (intellectually) that sharing – especially on her own turf – can't really be expected of Berry yet. As psychologist John Gottman, PhD, writes:

"...Attempts at cooperative play and sharing are often problematic, given the "toddler rules of ownership," which are: (1) If I see it, it's mine; (2) If it's yours and I want it, it's mine; and (3) If it's mine, it's mine forever. Parents should realize that such attitudes are not based on meanness; they are simply an expression of the toddler's developing sense of self.... the concept of sharing is meaningless to them."

But I still can't help feeling alarmed, apologetic, and a teensy bit of a failure when these one-sided fights break out. I told my friends at coffee (all of whom have more and/or older kids) how embarrassing I'm finding the whole two-year-old tyrant thing, and the universal response was "Oh honey, get used to it. There's no way around it, only through it."

Which is not what I wanted to hear... but at least I'm not alone.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Stupid people and sick babies (a whingefest)

Someone stole Nathan's credit card today. Someone with bonehead taste – Walmart, Shell, Sonic, more Walmart. I'm just glad we realised it was gone before they did any more damage.

And this after I've spent much of the day at the hospital with poor little Berry who, it turns out, has an ear infection and a sinus infection in addition to her endless cough. She's been attached to me like a limpet, burning up, and occupying the teensy bit of real estate not already claimed by Kickbaby.

The bank has cancelled the card and removed the fraudulent charges. There. Now I hope they choke on their Sonic burgers.