Come, Mommy

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

NJ Geography - Go Figure

Liam and I ventured into Princeton today to do a little shopping - lots of family birthdays coming up in June. On the way home we cut through campus, and I turned onto a street that I drove every day as a student. In the 10 years since then, the avenue has been converted into a one-way street, and I was going the wrong way. I drove into the nearest driveway to turn around. A small voice piped up from the back seat:

Liam: "Mommy is doing something funny with the car."

Me: "I'm just turnng the car around, kiddo. We can't go this way on this street."

Liam: "Oh! Mommy's lost!"

I wasn't technically lost, this time, but the kid has a point. I've been in New Jersey for 16 years now, and I can tell you one thing for sure - driving here is so not like driving in the Midwest. There's a hellacious amount of traffic on the roads, many of which were constructed in the pre-suburban sprawl years and are not adequate for the traffic volume of today. And there are some quite aggressive drivers out there just to keep things interesting.

But what really gets me lost and fast is the geography of the state. Specifically, the names of places and roads. Suppose you find a road that goes through, say, three towns, A, B, and C. In the Midwest, this might be named County Road 11 or some such thing. In New Jersey, that same road is likely to have two names. The stretch between towns A and B will be called A-B road, while the route between towns B and C will be called B-C road. In the towns proper, this road will have a different name entirely, like Main Street or Maple Street. Same road, different name, and it gets really confusing for roads that run through five or six towns.

Then there's the issue of town names. I discovered on a recent drive that Red Bank is a town on the Delaware River south of Camden. Who knew? I was pretty sure Red Bank is a town on the shore in Monouth County. Hhhhmmmm. After consulting my trusty road atlas, it turns out that yes, Virginia, there are two towns called Red Bank in the state. And just the other night Kevin took Liam out for a drive to get him to sleep, and told me he drove all the way to Bellmawr and back. I assumed he must have been driving at warp speed to get down the South Jersey and back in ninety minutes, but before I could criticize his driving, he informed me meant Belmar, which is much closer to us. Then, a few years back, our vet phoned in a prescription for one of our ferrets to a pharmacy in Moorestown. It's a good thing she gave me the phone number of the drugstore, for it was by reading the South Jersey area code that I realized she most definitely did not call a pharmacy in Morristown, about 40 miles north of here.

It's all very confusing at times. But there is one good thing about driving here in this very congested place. If you get lost, there's almost always someone handy to give directions.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Household Safety and Sanity Tips

1. Do not reinjure an already sprained ankle. This is most likely to happen in situations of extreme floor clutter, where, for example, one might step on a Matchbox car, thus resulting in an unfortunate as well as embarassing slide across a tile floor.

2. Do not leave small children unattended while ministering to the aforementioned ankle. It is entirely possible for a two-year-old to open, dump, and crawl through the contents of a 7.625 ounce bottle of Elmer's Glue-All in a very short span of time.

That is all.

Note to Pop-Pop and Gran-Gran

Hi Mom and Dad,

Remember when you announced you were moving to Texas and I said something along the lines of "Are you guys NUTS? Dad hates hot weather, and Texas is really, really hot?" and you replied something like "The average Spting temperature in the Hill Country is in the 70's?" And I snorted?

I owe you an apology. According to Wunderground, it is 93.7 oF here, and a chilly 88.2 oF at the Southern Star Ranch in Bulvedere. So, Spring does seem to be cooler out your way.

As further proof, I'm pasting in part of the heat advisory for central New Jersey that is effect tomorrow:

Hottest and most humid day of the year so far expected on

High temperatures on Memorial Day reached near 90 degrees under
ample sunshine. Another hot day is on tap on Tuesday with slightly
higher temperatures and humidity levels. The combination of both the
temperature and humidity will produce heat index values well into
the 90s during Tuesday afternoon.

This will be the first hot and humid day of the year, after a may
that has been relatively cool until the last couple of days. It is
advisable to take it easy on Tuesday until we get better acclimated
to the hotter weather.

Will you guys see what you can do about sending some cool weather this way? Please and thank you!


Sunday, May 28, 2006

A Much Improved Day, Thank Heaven

I have to start out this post by thanking Kevin from the bottom of my heart. My dear, kind husband stayed up until the wee hours this morning applying the remainder of the paint to our living room. Then he got up early with Liam this morning, which netted him about five hours of sleep last night. All of this activity worked wonders, since a) it ended home improvement stress, b) we were able to turn on the air conditioning this hot afternoon, and c) Liam was quite happy today, what with the coolness and the ability to find his toys. Unfortunately, it also resulted in Kevin getting a nasty headache tonight, the poor guy. All of this was above and beyond the call of duty, but gosh darn it made life so much better today. It's stuff like this that makes me so glad I married this guy! Thank you, Kev!

Since the painting was done, but the walls were wet, we went to a dressage event at the Horse Park of New Jersey. There were some stunning horses and some amazing riding there. (Liam, while he enjoyed the horses, was most impressed by the tractors and water trucks working in the rings.) If you ever in central New Jersey and are in need of a family-friendly outdoor activity, there's stuff going on there during most of the warm weather months. It's set in the rolling hills of Monmouth County, it's absolutely beautiful, and it's full of friendly horses and dogs.

Kevin and I tag-teamed with one of us watching the competition, and one of us following Liam as he explored the grounds and stands. At one point he spied this cat for sale at one of the vendors' tables:

He made it clear that the cat was meant to come home with us, just absolutely meant to. I gave him the "adoption fee" and he paid for his new pet and then commenced to show her the park. He took her to meet Daddy - "This way, Kitty Cat! It's nice to meet Daddy!" He took her to a tree - "Here, Kitty Cat! A tree! I'm a fireman. I can rescue you if you get stuck. Climb the tree, Kitty Cat!" And then two horse statues -"Look, Kitty Cat! A mommy and baby. They are horses. Friendly horses!"

After a couple of hours it got hot, so we came home, turned on the air conditioning, and the rest of the day was uneventful. Kevin even got a nap in before dinner. And to think I was worried that today would be as bad as yesterday.

I have, however, decided two things. First, the reason nature designed kids to need two parents is that with any luck, one parent will have patience when the other parent is on the verge of total meltdown. Second, the good thing about bad days is that they help us appreciate the times when things are going well.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

When I Whine, I Whine

As seen at Chichimama's place:

You Are Oscar the Grouch

Grumpy and grouchy, you aren't just pessimistic. You revel in your pessimism.

You are usually feeling: Unhappy. Unless it's rainy outside, and even then you know the foul weather won't last.

You are famous for: Being mean yet loveable. And you hate the loveable part.

How you life your life: As a slob. But it's not repelling as many people as you'd like!

In Which My Head Explodes - or - Never Mix Home Improvement and Toddlers

Attention: Much nonsensical rambling and out-and-out whining ahead...

It's been a long couple of weeks here at the Menagerie House. We've had various ups and downs, some personal stuff, some family stuff, and some stuff that comes with the territory of toddlerhood. The personal stuff I'm not ready to write about, the family stuff is really not mine to tell, and the toddler stuff, well, y'all probably all been there and done that.

Essentially, though, my nerves have had it. The problem with maternal crankiness is that mornings start out tough, and then the days go downhill from there. Mr. Do By Self has been alternating appearances with Mr. I Don't Wanna Do Anything Mommy Suggests. That would be all well and good, but about the time I get good and mad, Mr. I Love Mommy appears, and then it's like whiplash. I just wish one of these personas would stay around for more than a few minutes at a time because it is just all kinds of confusing when I never know with whom I'm dealing from one moment to the next.

And, too, I think Baby Duck is weaning himself. He's hardly nursed at all during the day these last couple of weeks. Although in some ways it's a relief, it's also sad. I'm all for child-led weaning, but I never imagined it would happen this suddenly, and I'm a bit at a loss. I'm having to learn all sorts of maneuvers for calming an upset child, or getting a tired child to sleep without nursing. I'm achy, and I miss all the sit-down-and-cuddle time that nursing entailed. Furthermore, I'm losing all those nice calming nursing hormones, and on several occasions I've been really tempted to throw myself on the floor alongside my son and have a nice healthy temper tantrum of my own. It would just feel so good, but since I'm supposed to be the adult here, that's clearly not acceptable.

I was about to lose it completely yesterday, but then Suzanne, Sean, and Allie dropped by for a lovely playdate, and a good time was had by all. (Well, mostly. There was this issue of our dog terrifying Sean and Allie whenever he got too close to them. He really is a sweet dog. It's just that he's both huge and loud.) I'm sorry, kids, next time I'll see if I can keep Casey a bit further away from you. And thank you so much for entertaining my son yesterday!

And so, we arrive at the topic of my head exploding. You'd think I'd find something calming to do this weekend, right? Wrong. We picked this weekend to paint the living room. So, we have much of the downstairs essentially unuseable, and most definitely not toddler-proofed. Today has been a constant stream of diversions to keep Liam from "helping." So we have Kevin painting, and me trying to occupy Liam, preferably outside given the state of the downstairs, and it's in the 80's and humid. I hate hot weather. Liam hates hot weather.

The highlight of the day was a trip to Superfresh to buy milk. Just to demonstrate the depths of despair in the Menagerie House today, I will share a bit of conversation Liam and I had upon leaving the grocery store:

Me: "Do you want me to pick you up or hold your hand in the parking lot?"

Liam: "NO! NO! NO GO HOME!!!"

Me: "Why don't you want to go home?

Liam: "NO GO HOME! Stay at the grocery store!"

Me: "I got that, but why do you want to stay at the grocery store?"

Liam: "I was just having a fun time at the grocery store. It's nice and cool. And the walls are dry."

Me: "You know, son, I agree with you. Completely."

We did make it home, eventually. Kevin suggested I paint while he amused Liam, which lasted ten minutes until I fell off the step stool, planted a foot in the roller tray, and managed to track yellow paint over the hardwood floor.

Oh, and the best part? Tomorrow we get to apply the second coat of paint and touch up the baseboards. It could be loads of fun, I'm telling you. Or not.

If you've made it this far (Hi Mom!), I thank you. If not, I completely understand. And please forgive the lack of structure and proofreading. I'd try this whining post again if I thought I could make it more readable, or at least funny. However, with my head in pieces, it's a bit tricky to formulate a lucid thought. However, tomorrow is another day, and with any luck things will improve.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

How the Weather Works

While outside walking down the street, Liam spied some clouds in the sky...

Liam: "I really, really need it to snow."

Me: "Well, it's spring now. I don't think it's going to snow for a few months yet."

Liam: "See those clouds, Mommy? Snow comes from clouds."

Me: "Well, that's true, but I think those clouds might bring us a thunderstorm."

Liam: "With rain?"

Me: "Sure."

Liam: "The rain just might come. And then lightning and then thunder! AND! The lightning is the daddy and the thunder is the baby. That's why thunder is loud. Because it's the baby. Yeah!"

Liam spun himself around and around in delight at his conclusion. I just love the logic of a two-year-old.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A Note to Baby Duck

Dear Baby Duck,

I know we've been working on manners a lot lately. I love that you say "Thank You, Mommy" at dinner even if what I cook is not of interest to you. I love that you share your toys and snacks with your friends and family.

However, it is possible to take a lesson too far to heart. Do you think that the next time you have a cold you could not share it with me? Just once? Please?


Monday, May 22, 2006

Fun With Ferrets

I get a lot of hits from people looking for answers to various ferret questions. I've been keeping track of them for a while, and here are my (not to be confused with an expert's) answers to the recurring ones.

1. How big will my ferret grow?

Well, if you've got a girl (jill or sprite), she'll get to 1-3 pounds when grown. Boys (hobs and gibs) get to be a bit bigger, in the range of 2-5 pounds. Now that's American ferrets. Some of the German and Australian lines get to be about 50% larger than the American ferrets.

2. Can I give Imodium to a ferret who is pooping liquid?

I wouldn't recommend it. Diarrhea in ferrets can get serious very quickly, and you need to find the root cause of the problem. Call your vet immediately.

3. Why is my ferret going bald?

There's an outside chance there's a skin disorder or parasite, but the most common cause of alopecia in ferrets is an adrenal tumor of some kind. There are medical and surgical treatments available; again, call your vet.

4. Why won't my ferret use the litter box?

It's possible the box isn't clean enough to suit your pet. Scoop it every day and change the litter every other day and see if that helps. You can try changing the litter type, too. I've had good luck with recycled newspaper pellets, and some people swear by wooden stove pellets. Just stay away from clumping-type cat litters. There have been cases of ferrets eating litter, and I'm sure you can imagine what might happen internally when clumping litter is swallowed.

Put a box on every level of your pet's cage. Short legs don't like to travel far to find the bathroom. Also, put at least one box in every room where ferrets roam, for the same reason. If you have more than one ferret, I'd suggest one box for each ferret to get a rough idea of the number of boxes you need.

Also, my experience over the years with many different ferrets is that the best of them only use the box 80-90% of the time. So there's always going to someone who misses the box with at least some regularity.

5. Are ferrets expensive pets?

Yes. They need annual vet checks, plus distemper and rabies vaccinations yearly. They are prone to cancers of several kinds; I'd guess 60-70% of domestic ferrets develop cancer, often by the age of 3-4. Then you're talking surgery plus medication usually. I just took Houdini in for a vet visit today. She looks like she's developing an adrenal tumor, and it was $150 just for the pre-op testing. The surgery will probably run $300-400.

And there's the cost of food. We spend about $40 a month to keep three ferrets fed and happy.

And there's litter. And the cost of the cage. It adds up quickly.

6. Why is my ferret jumping with his mouth open?

That's what we call a weasel war dance. Ferrets often do this when happily playing or excited. It's a fun thing to see, actually, and nothing to worry about.

7. Why is my ferret stealing my socks?

Maybe because he wants to kiss your toes?

I have no idea. Most of mine have done this at one time or another. If you want your socks back, look under the bed or sofa, in the back of the closet, or wherever your ferret hides his stash of treasures. This behavior is so common that one company has capitalized on it to make a rather fun ferret toy.

8. Is a ferret a good pet for a child?

Yup, I can see why that search would end you up on this blog.

My answer is that it depends on the age of your child, and on how much work you as a parents are willing to put in. For older kids, maybe over the age of eight or so, who can read up on ferret safety and health, and who have parents on board with the idea, ferrets could be amazing pets. They are lively and curious animals, they play hard, and are quite affectionate.

The combination of small children and ferrets gives me pause. Both ferrets and small children can play rough, and without close supervision, there's too much chance of a ferret being seriously injured, or a child bitten by a mishandled ferret. (Of course, that's probably true of just about any pet you might envision.) Also, small children can't be counted on to close doors and windows, and a ferret who gets outside will not live long unless he's rescued.

Yes, we're doing it, but it's not easy. The ferrets are kept in their own room closed off with a special baby gate. They can see us, and we can see them, and I can climb over the gate any time to play with or tend to the ferrets. I am thisclose when Liam is petting ferrets, and now that he can really run, I shy away from letting him in the room with the ferrets unless there's another adult right there, too. We're not that far away from the day when Liam will be able to scale, knock down, or remove the gate, so I have to be extra vigilant if he's anywhere near the ferrets' room.

If you're an experienced ferret owner, you could probably make it work. If you have small children and are thinking about acquiring your first ferret, my heartfelt advice would be to wait until the children are much older. There's a steep learning curve for first-time ferret owners; add in a toddler or two, and it could be too much too fast.

So, those are the big ferret questions that land people here. Hopefully, this will help other ferret folk who stop by. Look for other exciting ferret talk in the future when I am inspired by new searches. In the meantime, it seems that Liam has decided to share his cold with me. Accordingly, I'm taking myself off to bed for as long as I can keep him entertained with books and crayons.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Little Painted Girl

We went down to the paint store today to pick some samples for our living room, which we're painting some as-yet-to-be-decided shade of yellow. There was a little girl there with her mom, and Liam fell in love immediately. The girl was about five or six, and was just cute as a button. Judging by the multiple colors of paint on her T-shirt, she had been helping her mom paint some big project. Liam couldn't take his eyes off of her, and talked about her constantly for the rest of the afternoon. It was truly a case of love at first sight.

Fast-forward several hours to right before dinner, when Liam and I were outside playing with sidewalk paint on the driveway. Liam continued the conversation about the little girl. Where did Little Painted Girl go? Could she come over to play? Would she like Casey? Most importantly, does she like chocolate?

And then came this statement:

"Little Painted Girl's not here, but Baby Duck can pretend to be the Little Painted Girl!"

With that, he began smearing sidewalk paint of various colors across his shirt and pants. And dribbling it on his shoes. Did I mention that right before we went to the paint store we went to Stride-Rite and bought these? No? Well, we did. And yes, they were worn home. And no, it doesn't seem that sidewalk paint washes out of clothing or off of shoes any too easily.

Ah, well, I guess if the paint doesn't come out in the wash, Liam can pretend to be Little Painted Girl every time he wears today's outfit. And the shoes will be a reminder of his first crush.

Update: Liam's having a hard time sleeping tonight what with this stinky cold he picked up a few days ago. He's snorting and snuffling and rolling around. A few minutes ago he woke up, and I told him I'm sorry he feels so yucky. The answer?

"Baby Duck's nose is not too happy. But Baby Duck loves the Little Painted Girl and he's all happy now. Night-night, Mommy."

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Linguistically "Speaking"...

This is what you get when you take a girl raised in the Midwest by Southern parents and then put her in the Mid-Atlantic for 16 years:

Your Linguistic Profile::
35% General American English
20% Yankee
15% Dixie
15% Upper Midwestern
10% Midwestern

I really need to get my father-in-law to try this. He was born and raised in Egypt, and has been in the good ol' USA for almost as long as I've been alive. Hi Dad! I see you out there!

Thanks for the link, Chichimama!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

This'll Teach Me to Get My Facts Straight

This morning Liam didn't want to leave the house. Again. He seemed a bit healthier and was loaded for bear with Motrin. I was determined that we would in fact go to music class, despite his insistence to the contrary. After several rounds of my suggesting we go, and Baby Duck saying "NO!", Liam gave up on language and instead threw his plate of breakfast and his drink across the kitchen.

(Finally we reached a compromise in which he agreed to go for a car ride that happened to end up at music class. And a good time was had by all. And the day went quite well after a rough start. Whew!)

I was recalling the events of the morning for Kevin tonight, and I told him that Liam had thrown a glass of orange juice across the kitchen.

Kevin: "Liam?"

Liam: "Baby Duck!"

Kevin: "OK. Did you throw a glass of orange juice across the kitchen?"

Liam (face screwed up with indignation): "NO! It was a sippy cup!"

At least we are in agreement on the general theme, if not the particulars.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Baby Duck Wants This and That and the Other Thing

I think I need to rediscover my Attachment Parenting skills. I used to use them. Frequently. These days those skills are off gathering dust somewhere, and there are days where the only evidence of AP practice in our house is the nursing and the Fuzzi Bunz. The problem is that AP is easier to apply to infants, and now I've got a son who will reach the 2.5 year mark in a couple of weeks.

AP theory says that, in essence, it's our job to meet our babies' needs. That they are not manipulating us, and that those needs are real. The catch is that at 2.5 years, Liam still needs me to meet most of his needs, but sorting out what those needs might be is infinitely more complicated. For instance, when he's tired, he needs sleep. Sounds simple, right? Nope. When he gets tired, he presents with a lengthy list of wants, and at least some of those wants have to be fulfilled in order for him to sleep. "Baby Duck wants grilled cheese, soy milk, and crackers. And then to read Little Quack. And then to play zoom with cars." Usually, supplying one of the above items will do the trick, and then it's naptime. Sometimes, however, the list keeps growing and growing and growing until it's the longest list in the world. (With due apologies to Margret and H. A. Rey. Pretzel is a Very Important Book in our house.)

Lately I've found myself growing impatient with toddler antics; I've been snippy and short on several occasions, and I hate being that way. I find myself thinking that he's 2 and there's a reason for the term "Terrible Two's." The issue is that when he gets this cranky, there's a valid reason behind it, and just saying to myself, "He's being a cranky toddler" isn't cutting it. There's a problem that needs to be fixed in there somewhere.

Yesterday and today I found some patience reserves that I thought I'd lost somewhere. I was calm, and so was Liam. Amazing how that works, no? And it turns out he can tell me the problem if I'm willing to listen. He had another unending list of demands today at naptime, and instead of just starting to turn down requests, I asked Liam why he was asking for all these things. The answer?

"Baby Duck's mouth hurts. And his neck hurts. And he's cold. And he's not too happy, is he?"

After this answer, I was able to verify that he's got molars coming through, and he's feverish, and it looks like a cold is brewing just to top things off. So I'd say he's got reason to be cranky, and he kept asking for all of these things because he was looking for something that would help him feel better. It's just that at his age, he doesn't have the ability to cut to the chase and ask for Motrin and a nap.

Mothering a toddler is in many ways harder than mothering an infant. Sure, I'm not pacing the floors at midnight trying desperately to find a reason for all the crying. But chasing a toddler is physically demanding, and the tantrums, they are draining. I'm pretty lucky since Liam doesn't throw tantrums as often as many toddlers do, but still, this mom gig is hard stuff. And from all I've been told, it never really ends.

I guess the moral here is that I need to stock up on patience, empathy, and good humor. Pronto. Anybody know if I can find any of that stuff at Walgreen's or e-Bay, or somewhere?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Weather's Pretty Boring Here

I'm such a weather geek. My interest in meteorology developed as a child in the Midwest, where I learned early on to keep an eye to the sky during the spring tornado season. The fact that my grandfather was a spotter for the National Weather Service helped, too. He often took me on storm spotting drives, much to my grandmother's dismay. But we always had fun, and he always brought me home safe and sound.

Now I'm stuck in the Mid-Atlantic, and the weather here is just plain boring by comparison. The forecast for the upcoming week is an illustration of this, as the prediction every day is a high in the upper 60's, with a chance of thunderstorms. Even so, I always click over to the local NWS office's forecast discussion just to read some meteorology lingo. I got a big laugh out of part of today's discussion, which I've excerpted below.

April showers did bring may flowers and we are seeing plenty of them
today as we celebrate mothers day, which by the way was first
observed in these parts(philadelphia)in 1907. Will be rushing
through my work this afternoon, not for lack of data, not for
equipment problems, and not for this being a tough forecast. But
since this is the day when the phone is used more than any other
day, i'll certainly be called, but on the carpet if I am late for
mothers day dinner with my mother in law.

Thanks for the chuckle, Forecaster Eberwine. I hope the dinner wasn't too painful. And I hope everyone out there had a happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 12, 2006


I love listening to toddlers as they figure out language skills. It's a hard job given that everything has to be learned from context, and that logical thinking isn't a strong point at this age.

At any rate, we have new favorite word around here these days. Liam has discovered the word "because" and is trying it out in all sorts of ways. Various tidbits from this week ranging from the clearly logical to the downright funny:

"The birds can fly because they have wings."

"We go home now because Casey will be glad to see us."

"Casey is wet because he's a soggy doggy."

And the winner:

"The trucks sleep in the street because they have wheels! And that's why cars sleep in the driveway, too."

Monday, May 08, 2006

I'm In The Market for A Deep Hole In The Ground

And to think just a couple of weeks back I was all happy because my son had reached the complete sentence stage of toddlerhood. Yeah, that's me, the red-faced mom hiding over here in the corner.

You see, there's a certain mom in the parent-child class that Liam and I attend. I don't get along with her for a variety of reasons. Her daughter, hhmmm, I'll call her Rosie, is a sweetheart. Rosie's mom, however, sets my teeth on edge, and I've begun talking, well, whining, really, about her so much that last week Kevin was concerned I might need therapy if Rosie and Liam end up in the same class next year.

Apparently small ears have picked up on my whining, for after Rosie and her mom arrived at school this morning, Liam ran up to the teacher and announced in his best outside voice, "My Mommy doesn't like Rosie's mommy." And then he ran off to play.

Fortunately, Rosie's mom didn't actually hear the comment, and I'm not all sure how that small miracle occurred since Liam's outside voice is audible in Center City. During outside play time, Liam's teacher beckoned to me. She was quite civil about the whole affair, saying that children will repeat what they hear, and perhaps Kevin and I should discontinue adult conversations when children are nearby. She also mentioned that each of her kids had done something similar at about the same age, so clearly I'm not the first parent to be this embarassed.

Still, if y'all will excuse me, I'm going off to search for large crevasse in which to hide. I'm considering staying there until the end of the school year.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Menagerie House's Newest Addition

Introducing Shoggy, a very very big mylar dog balloon. Liam woke up in a bad mood this morning, and the only thing he could think to ask for was a balloon. Since this is such an easily-filled wish, we drove on down to Party City.

Amidst the zillions of balloons on display was this pup, all by himself and quite lonesome. Liam took a fancy to him right away, so we "adopted" him and brought him home. It was quite a struggle getting the balloon out the door of the store. Shoggy is wider than Liam is tall, but Mr. Do By Self prevailed and manhandled his new pet outside. Liam would like you all to know that Shoggy says two things - "woof-woof" and "crinkle-crinkle."

I would like to know the origin of the name "Shoggy." I guess some things will forever remain mysterious.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Our First Blogger Playdate

This morning Liam and I had the pleasure of a playdate with Suzanne, Sean, and Allie of Mimilou fame. As you might guess, Suzanne is as charming in person as she is in Blogland, and Sean and Allie are simply adorable. We met at a local children's museum, and things were nice and quiet early on. Later on we were swept up in the midst of a bunch of older kids on a school trip, and things became pretty chaotic. I was amazed at Suzanne's ability to carry on a conversation while watching two kiddos run in different directions. I then realized that she is fully capable of carrying on a conversation while actually chasing those same small children. She must be Superwoman!

As further proof that Suzanne possesses superparenting powers, I present Allie. This young lady is the same age as Liam. She regularly uses those lovely terms "please" and "thank you." Liam? Not so much. I think some work on these words may be in order at the Menagerie House.

Then we have Sean, who calmly picked up his little sister after she fell down some steps, assured himself all was well, and went back to playing. And gosh darn, Sean and Allie are so cute together.

It's a real treat for me to have adult conversation in the morning, and Suzanne and I talked about things ranging from tantrums to the difficulty of working from home, to the dangers of bird flu, to all kinds of things. And it was fun.

I hope everyone had a good time. I know I did. I know Liam did, too, since all afternoon he kept repeating, "Go back to the museum right now! Want Sean and Allie to come back!"

Thanks for the playdate, Suzanne. Let's do it again soon!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

It's A Tough Job Being 2, But By Golly, Someone's Gotta Do It!

It was yet another day of tempers and tantrums here at the Menagerie House today. Oh, and Liam was up every hour on the hour last night. Toys were thrown, the word "NO" was used frequently by everyone today, and naptime was way.too.short.

But! There is some good news! I think I have figured out at least part of the reason for Liam's crankiness. After really watching him yesterday and today, it became obvious to me that he's really, really mad at how many things he can't do. He can't put his socks on by himself. He can't feed the fish by himself. He can't make a sandwich by himself. He can't open the fridge by himself. He knows how to do all of these things, but he's too short, or too little, or too uncoordinated, to actually do them. Life's awfully darn hard for a guy who has a clear vision of how things should play out, but who can't physically do many of those things.

This afternoon, Liam became quite angry with me when he discovered that I had taken his sippy cup of soy milk downstairs. He declared he was going to take it upstairs. Alone. Bear in mind he's too small to climb the stairs while holding something; he has to put his hands on the stairs to climb. He made it up one stair and collapsed in tears.

Liam: "NO! NO! NO!"

Me: "Do you want some help?"

Liam (pounding fists and kicking): "NO! Baby Duck must carry milk BY SELF!!"

He gave the whole endeavor another Herculean effort, and then collapsed in my lap.

Me: "Are you mad because you want to do things by yourself and it's too hard to do?"

Liam, lips quivering: "YEEEAAAAH! Baby Duck is just too teeny-tiny. Baby Duck needs Mommy to help him do by self."

The poor kid! It's really got to be hard to realize that he's too teeny-tiny for a lot of things, and this made me realize I need to keep an eye out for things he can do at the moment.

This train of thought led me to ask him if he wanted to go to the duck park down the street, and glory be, he did. After all, who better to feed six baby ducks than Baby Duck himself? He picked out the bread By Self. He picked out his shoes By Self. He found the ducks By Self. He counted the baby ducks By Self. He was looking quite pleased with himself by the end of the excursion.

Hopefully tomorrow will be better than the last couple of days. And hopefully I can find some more things for Baby Duck to do By Self.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

In Which I Am Forced To Recant My Happy Story...

Yup, it was nice while it lasted, the whole Happy SAHM gig. The mercurial guy known in these parts as Baby Duck woke up at an unseemly hour this morning, and he's been mad ever since. I think he's catching another cold, or else it's seasonal allergies, who knows, but he's not at all happy about the situation. Which means Mommy's not allowed to be happy, either.

The high spot of the day came at 6:30 this morning, when he insisted the only thing that would help him feel better was a car ride. During the car ride we saw a fleet of dump trucks. Since then, things have gone downhill quite rapidly. Liam has refused to go outside. He has refused a nap. He has refused his favorite toys, except for a wooden elephant, which was lobbed at the poor dog. He has even refused food. (That is actually not an entirely bad thing, since we have very little food in the house, and a certain little boy is refusing to go to the grocery store.) You get the drift?

And now, to make things worse, I'm overwhelmed with Mommy Guilt. About 30 minutes ago I was about to lose my temper over more toy throwing, so I stepped out of the room for a minute. Liam came running after me in a panic saying, "Come, Mommy. Mommy stay. Baby Duck isn't so happy today. Mommy give Baby Duck a great big hug!" I picked him up, we hugged, and he fell asleep on my shoulder. And now he looks so sweet and precious all curled up asleep, and I feel bad because I walked away from him.

So I'm forced to revise my thoughts about the whole SAHM gig. It's a great job, but the bad days are Really Bad. No corporate manager could get away with treating colleagues the way toddlers can treat their moms. There are laws about that, I think.

I'm off to get a cup of tea and remember that the good about this job far outweighs the bad. For the most part.

Monday, May 01, 2006

May Day

We found this mama duck and her babies during a walk to a nearby park last week. Thanks for the picture, Gran-Gran!

Liam had his first encounter with a Maypole today at school. You haven't seen high comedy until you've seen eight toddlers trying to dance around the Maypole; the parents were on hand to prevent knots and collisions between the dancers. (Which is all to the best, as I'm fairly sure I couldn't dance a Maypole dance any better than my two-year-old.) So I guess between May Day and the baby ducks, we are now well and truly into the heart of Spring. YAY!