Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Road Trip

This past weekend we had to take an unexpected road trip to the hill country. We planned it perfectly; we would wait until their nap time and they would sleep the entire way! This worked until the driver of a large 18-wheeler slammed on his breaks and decided to lay on his horn waking the girls up in unison – a mere 45 minutes into our 3 hour drive. Fifteen minutes later I found myself climbing into the backseat to entertain the girls. Neither Dora the Explorer nor Ratatouille were cutting it. I read them books, sang songs, played patient/doctor with Bean as she administered “shots” in my arm and wrapped my “wounds” with water bottle labels. In between my “doctor” visits, my husband and I were entertaining the idea of a Disneyland trip in the near future. He, being the positive one, thought it would be an amazing trip and something that Bean would remember forever. I, on the other hand, know that it will be somewhat fun; but mostly brutal and exhausting. I mean, would an almost 3 year old really enjoy a themed park at such a young age?

Apparently, yes.

The theme was chic safari. This instantly got Bean's attention; she was thrilled from the moment she stepped through the doors. Her energy level went from medium to extreme in under a second. She took off methodically, like a cheetah hunting prey close in sight. She headed west, investigating every crevice, nook, and cranny. She jumped into the white slip and slide luckily avoiding injury. She started to turn on the water as I quickly reminded her that it wasn't the time. Before I could finish my sentence, she was already out and heading east to investigate further. As I ran to keep up with her, I had realized that I was two steps too slow. She was already on top of the zebra-patterned trampoline screaming from the top of her lungs. “Watch me! Whoooooa! This – is – so - sooooo - fun!”, she said while laughing and jumping. I started to reach for her arm and she pulled away like we had magnetic repulsion. She quickly jumped down and ran toward the huge screen displaying local activities. She gazed at the screen in awe....3, 2, 1....she was off. She quickly jumped up on the adjacent trampoline, laughing and screaming with all of her might. Ladybug mimicked her sister as she too began to scream with excitement - shaking her arms, kicking, and squirming trying to break my release to join her big sister. Brett swooped in behind Bean pulling her down, and started to spin her in a circle while kissing her face. They were having way too good of a time. I looked down at Ladybug's pouty face, her big blue eyes looking up at me, begging me to give in. I rolled my eyes then started to spin Ladybug around while kissing her face as well. Giggles, laughs, and smiles filled the air.

“OK, NOW can we get out of here and to get some food!?”, I asked. “But mom, I looooove it here! This is the best! Can't we just eat here?”, questioned Bean. Brett and I looked at each other with an agreeing nod. “Fine. Throw me the menu babe. I guess we're ordering in”, I said. Bean screamed hooray, ran and started to jump on the trampoline (read: the bed) again.......

Who knew that so much fun could be had in a hotel room; and definitely a lot more affordable than Disneyland.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

If You Can't Beat Them....Join Them.

The sound of Ladybug repeating “Dad” started at 5am and lasted until I finally rolled myself out of bed at 6am for our morning feeding. I flipped aimlessly through the TV channels hoping for something entertaining. On a typical Saturday morning we'd have both girls fighting for space in our bed while Bean watched early morning cartoons. Today was different. Bean was gone as she had spent the night at her Mamo and Papo's house {nicknamed by Bean – these are my parents} and Brett was out of town for work. I turned the TV off in disappointment. I wondered if she would be awake already, describing to Mamo her cupcake and cookies dream she claims to have nightly. The morning came and went with no phone call. I decided to be strong and just let it go. Besides, I knew she was in good care so I may as well enjoy my alone time with the Ladybug.

The day was slow, actually sort of boring without my talker around. I had forgotten what it was like to only hear myself talk with an occasional grunt, “mama and dad”, and screams for a response. I kept looking at my watch as the minute hand seemed to never rotate. I'd look down at my watch, then up at the clock as if I were an eager child waiting for the school bell to ring....wait..... something had moved....LADYBUG! One second, or minute I should say, she was sitting next to me and obviously a few minutes had passed because she was already a few feet away from me! She had started to crawl! Her left knee was firmly down on the ground, her right knee up in the air, and her right foot was the motor helping her to push off the ground. The crooked crawl, I like to call it. I immediately jumped to my feet, started to scream, and ran to her side. This reaction made her cry. As I tried to calm her with my laughing kisses, the phone rang. They were finally back home and at the front door.

After retelling the crawling story to Mamo we sat down for some “show off” time. I couldn't stop praising Ladybug. Bean retreated to the sofa and started to suck her thumb as Ladybug followed and began to cry when she couldn't figure out how to pull up on the sofa.

“Etta, let's lay off the thumb sweetie”, I said nonchalantly while peering out of the corner of my eyes.

“I'm tired of playing this, don't tell me that. I'm tired of this game”, she snapped.

“Etta, I need you to lay off”, I said in retaliation.

She looked at me, mouth wide open in shock, thumb dripping with saliva....”I'M ONLY 2 yrs old! I don't understand things! I don't know what you are talking about!”, she yelled then started to suck her thumb even harder, as if to actually believe her own statement.

She was upset and jealous. She was used to getting all of the attention and wasn't used to her little sister being in the spotlight. I took her hand and pulled her next to her easel in our living room. “Hey, I bet you forgot to show Mamo how you can draw a quatrefoil”, I reminded her. Her eyes grew bigger with excitement as she jumped off the sofa and ran toward the easel and started to draw. Ladybug crookedly scooted as fast as her little knee could take her and nearly sat on top of Bean's foot. “Perfect!”, I said while giving her a big hug with one arm and patting Ladybug on the back with the other. I continued to praise both of them namelessly as Bean mastered the backwards crab walk across the living room with Ladybug following at her toes.

The praises continued as we had a remarkably perfect dinner. Both girls ate everything presented to them. Not one substitute or alternative menu option was requested. After finishing dinner I kindly requested a little clean up help before heading to bed. She looked at me with that blank stare and repeated that she was only 2 yrs old and didn't understand what I was saying. I calmly repeated myself, hoping that she would take note of the seriousness in my tone. She looked at me, slowly looked down at Ladybug on the floor, and said in a calm, but demanding voice, “Come on Sissy. Follow me”. As my eyes widened and mouth dropped, I watched Bean with my little crooked crawler head down the hall. Backs {and one diaper} in my face, they both rode off into the sunset together...and never looked back.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"Clothes" Attack

Have you ever noticed that when you really want something, you can't seem to stop seeing it wherever you go? It's like when you get a new car, all you seem to notice is the same-exact-color-model-style- car passing you on the freeway. When I was a singleton, it seemed to me that everyone around me was either engaged or already married. When I finally got married, everyone around me seemed to be pregnant or had already started a family. Now that we have our two beautiful children, everyone around me is pregnant {again} working on #2 or #3. Yes, this has been a gleaming question in my head as my little Ladybug and Bean have been growing like weeds. Are we done having babies?

My mother-in-law had been in town visiting for the past couple of weeks, and on her last day we decided to dig through the clothes bin that was hiding out in Ladybug's closet. We will be getting a new niece in the family and it would be the perfect time to clean house, I thought....And I guess we're done having kids. As she pulled each item out, her movement seemed so fast as if she had four arms moving at one time. Everything else around me seemed to move at a glacial speed, and I couldn't seem to move my eyes as fast as her hands. Memories of holding each girl for the first time ripped through my brain. The first time Bean smiled in her carseat, wearing that tiny yellow and white dress; their “My First” Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year/Valentine onesies, bibs, and hats; Bean's first fancy dress she wore to a wedding and “danced” with her daddy; the preemie-sized blue flowered “blow out” one piece {it never failed to have that reaction with both girls, but it always made us laugh}. All of these visions overcame me and I became so sad. I tried to remind myself that “they are only clothes, material items” and to let them go. I have no use for them anymore and they will do no good unused. I continued to shake my head in agreement that new baby would look adorable in “that” dress and “those” outfits as I continued to part with dear memories. Will I lose those memories I had by not seeing the objects that reminded me of the instance in the first place?

Only hours later, a full bag of baby clothes in tow, we drove away from the airport. Bean immediately started to cry, “I want to go back to California! I want my old house baaaaaaaaack, mama. Please!” Ladybug hollered in response to Bean's cries, trying to calm her sister, it seemed. It was a long 20 minute drive. 5 minutes from home, the car fell silent. Both kids asleep. The car slowly edged up across the driveway and I saw Bean's eyes slowly roll and open in the rearview mirror. She let out a refreshed sigh and was ready for the day. “Can we play now? Can I, can I?”, she said enthusiastically looking out the window. “Sure” I replied, happy that she seemed to be in better spirits. I opened the door, pulled her out of the carseat, and she took off running like a caged animal being freed. She looked so happy. Her hair blowing aimlessly with the strong gusts of wind, her arms flapping like a butterfly, her laughter filled the air making the Ladybug and I smile with delight. “It's a beautiful day!!! I love Grammy and Tampa! I love you, and Addie, and Daddy, and Kody! I love my dress that Grammy gave me!” she sang while running and holding the bottom of her dress as if she were a princess. I looked up from unsnapping the baby from her carseat. I memorized that very moment. That overwhelming feeling of happiness, the gigantic smile on her face, the carefree look in her eyes, the youth, no worries, nothing but love shining through her. A new memory, and a new dress, I will never forget.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Birth of the Original Criblanket

I'm sort of back tracking here, as I feel that this entry should have been my FIRST post. Better late than never. Here is a little background about how The Ladybug and Bean {the company} came about.....

Did anyone LOVE the infant blanket that the hospital gave you as you were released to go home with your brand new baby? Honestly, I grew to love it because of the sentimental value it carried with it. The first time I held my children, the first time I nursed, the first time I changed their diapers....that hospital baby blanket was with me the entire time and keeping my newborn warm. Because of these reasons, I still have the blankets safe and sound - as keepsakes that I will never part with.

As I slowly started to venture back into the "real world" and losing my baby weight, I remembered that I liked to wear my Joe's Jeans, my only pair of Christian Louboutin heels {hey we all have our vices}, and various Anthropologie vintage inspired tops. I started to regain my style and honestly I didn't feel stylish carrying or covering my babies with, well, that blanket. It wasn't stylish. It wasn't functional. It wasn't helping me with all of my daily "baby" issues. This is when the Original Criblanket was born.

Neither of my children loved to be swaddled during naps. So I would literally take that hospital blanket, fold it in half, tuck the sides between the crib slates and mattress, and let them sleep. The problem was that if they barely moved, the blanket would move with them. So I bought cute fabric, made a slight alteration (utilizing removable straps), and created the Original Criblanket. It was a stay in place crib blanket! It is also the same size as a hospital blanket so I used it as a swaddle at night time when they did prefer swaddling (no straps). As each baby got older and started to move around more in the crib (around 4 months) I stopped using the blanket as a stay in place function. However, I realized that I could use it as a stay in place stroller blanket in both my single and double stroller. Another function is a breastfeeding cover, again by using the straps. Also we use it as a regular flat/tummy time blanket (no straps).

Yes, it's a blanket. With multiple functions. But as a mother of two, constantly on the go, it's more economical and functional for me to carry one blanket then 5 different items. The added value of the product is that they are sold as a gift set. Each blanket comes with a matching burp cloth and a pair of no-scratch infant mittens. They are all 100% hand made, take between 1-2 weeks to create (if I don't already have it made) and takes 2-3 days for delivery.
For those paranoid mother's out there {like me}, I took the liberty to have the products tested by an accredited laboratory to ensure that we conform to the Consumer Product Safety Commission Improvement Act for Small Businesses.

Final thoughts? They are functional, practical, affordable ($60), safe, hand made, unique, and hopefully one of your keepsakes-to-be.

Hear Her ROAR

“The Leo type is the most dominant, spontaneously creative and extrovert of all the zodiacal characters....”

She squealed with laughter as she tugged on my hair waking me from my three hour slumber. I jumped up from being startled which made her laugh even more. As I sat up I caught my reflection in the mirror and saw the horror staring back. Hair disheveled, raccoon circles from smeared mascara, my head slightly crooked from the pain in my neck, eyes squinting...this was me at 6am. Ladybug on the other hand was bright eyed and bushy tailed. At 3am I had decided to lay her next to me instead of dealing with the screams after her unusual night feeding. I was exhausted and needed to get some rest. She must be in the early stages of teething or experiencing another growth spurt, I had hoped. I mean, why else has she nursed every three hours for the past three days? Why else has she been inconsolable and moody? Why does she yell at the top of her lungs when she doesn't get what she wants?

Three hours later we were back at it. Bean was running around practicing her tap dance routine, and Ladybug eating once again. “Ouch!” I shouted. Ladybug gazed back at me with a devious smile; proud that she had gotten a reaction out of me from the harder than normal tug signaling that she was “done”. I placed her on her tummy time criblanket, tossed a few toys in front of her, and checked the damage. Yup, that'll leave a bruise, I thought. As I took a deep breath, Bean fell to the ground with exhaustion and decided to play with her little sister. She snagged Ladybug's ball from her hand immediately making her cry. “Here, with this one”, she said handing her an alternative. Without hesitation Ladybug leaned over and placed her mouth on Bean's arm and bit down as hard as she could with her gums of steel. Bean started laughing and screaming, “She's tickling me! No Addie! Stop!” This made her angrier, so much that she screamed letting out a low sounding growl as if a dog were guarding a bone. “Whoa, Addie”, Bean said reinforcing my thoughts as she threw the ball back in her direction.

Eight nursing sessions later, I was finally back in my bed, head sinking in the pillow, face washed, and hair finally eyes were closed and the only sound I could hear was the dog snoring. I started to fall into a slight slumber. Visions of the kids flashed through my mind as if I were watching a home video on fast forward. The sounds. The screams. The biting. The screams. The screams.....the screams! I quickly jumped out of bed and ran to Ladybug's room. As I turned on the light I found her laying on her stomach, legs hanging through the crib slates. Her face was red, eyes puffy from the crying, sticky nose matter smeared to her rosy cheeks. I knew what would calm her and quickly started to nurse. No sobbing, no whining, the sad face had disappeared, just a calm baby relaxed in my arms. I started to rock in the chair hoping that she'd fall back to sleep when I instantly endured the same pain from earlier. “Ouch!”, I screamed looking down at her. Her response? The same devious smile glaring back at me.

“...They [Leo's] are uncomplicated, knowing exactly what they want and using all their energies, creativeness and resolution to get it, as well as being certain that they will get whatever they are after.”

Friday, May 13, 2011

Little Miss. Understandings

Nearly almost three years after Bean's birth, we finally let her stay up past her bedtime to experience the stars in the sky. She looked up with excitement, trying to count each one. I watched her expression as she stared in the sky, in awe that they actually exist unlike many things she sees and reads about in her books,. “Where's Noisy and Rocket Stars like in Dora?” Quickly I gave her a kiss, picked her up, then put her to bed.
She woke up at 4am this morning screaming “I have to tee-tee!” Within seconds she was in our room doing the potty dance, eyes wide open as if she had just seen a ghost. I rushed her into the bathroom and relief came over her. As we sat I had realized that it had been an entire week with no diapers. “Wow you are doing so well using the potty! What a great feat!” I said with a congratulatory tone. She looked confused. “We don't use our feet to potty silly, we use our butts”, she said shaking her head with disapproval. She continued to shake her head and walked herself back to her room.
2 and a half hours later I was trying to get ahead of schedule and had started preparing breakfast. The smell of cooked turkey bacon woke her up as she ran down the stairs yelling “I want to help!” “You can help me measure the ingredients”, I said. “ OK! I'll be right back” she said running off as if she had already missed too much. She came back holding my measuring tape and instantly held it up to the bag of sugar stretching it vertically. “It's 6 and a half. Is that enough?” After showing her how to use measuring cups, I could tell she was losing interest since she kept looking back at the Spongebob episode that was on the TV. “Go watch it for 5 minutes as I finish up here”, I said slightly relieved. Ladybug squealed as Bean ran around her in circles, then returning to her Mozart skills on her infant kick and play piano.
After a busy morning of sidewalk chalk, painting, and picking dead flowers out of our garden, we had worked up an appetite. I was craving sushi so we went to my favorite local joint. We were entertained as Bean tapped the chopsticks drumming on the table. The impatient waitress took my order then said, Edamame? Bean gasped thinking she had said Etta Mommy...”How did she know our names!?” The waitress looked irritated then quickly walked away.
After a rushed lunch, we headed back home. Bean ran inside leaving the front door wide open. I struggled with carrying Ladybug in while attempting to wrangle the dog in from running out to greet us. As I entered the house I saw Bean leaning against the sofa, legs crossed at the ankles, eating a piece of turkey bacon. “WHERE DID YOU GET THAT!? “I asked in shock.” I hid it under this pillow on the sofa” she said as she continued to nibble. “Give me that! That's disgusting!” As I scolded her I started to grab it out of her hand. In retaliation Bean pulled the bacon out of her mouth and stuck it in her eye. The agonizing scream made Ladybug cry with fright. “Why did you do that!? Oh my God!”. I quickly ran to the emergency kit, grabbed the eye wash, and started to flush her eye of any remaining debris. After 10 minutes of screaming and crying she finally calmed down. This was my opportunity to do some questioning again. “Etta, why did you do that?” I asked calmly hoping to get an answer. “Because Patrick did it! He was eating a Crabby Patty and Spongebob tried to take it away! And he put it in his eye!” This was my moment to explain the importance of taking care of her eyes. She shook her head with understanding then apologized for her actions.
We started to clean up the pieces of bacon from the floor and sofa when my husband walked in. “Helllllllooooooo?”, he said while fluctuating his voice to make the girl's laugh. ”Daddy!!! I'm so glad you're home! I stuck bacon in my eye and it hurt and mommy told me not to do it. AND Addie SCREAMED loud when I cried. But I won't do it again”, she said running away after finishing her thought. “OK, sounds like an interesting day. Why are you feeding her bacon this late in the day?”, he asked looking at me like a crazy person. I glared at him with “that” look. He took a beeline to the freezer, grabbed the pint of mint chocolate ice cream, planted himself on the sofa, and started eating. “What are you doing? You can't eat that before dinner and in front of them! You are setting a bad example. Why do you get mad at me for eating junk on occasion but you can do it? “, I said. “She was eating bacon in the afternoon! Besides, I'm a hypocrite”, he said with a slight giggle, stuffing his face with another spoonful. Etta ran up to him, placed her hand on his shoulder, looked sideways and said, “You're not a hippo. You're name is Brett.” “No baby, he's right. Sometimes he is a hippo”, I said with a smirk.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Patience is a virtue. Unfortunately, this is one virtue that I didn't possess for a long time {and quite frankly I still struggle with on occasion}. Being a parent I now understand that patience is a virtue and that you MUST possess it in order to stay sane, and to keep your children sane as well. When Bean was born, I couldn't wait for her to start crawling. That day came and went. Then I couldn't wait for her to start walking. That day came, along with her first tooth and her first word - all coinciding on her first birthday. My mom always reminds me to cherish every minute because children will grow up fast; and it's the truth. One minute you are looking at your newborn, you blink, and then a two year old is standing by your side.

It was a sad revelation, realizing that all of those moments were gone – that I'll never get them back with Bean. “I'll cherish and really embrace her next big milestone”, I remember thinking. Since then, I have enjoyed watching her learn how to ride a scooter and tricycle, throw and catch balls from a distance, put puzzles together like a wiz, and draw various geometric shapes impeccably. “What could be next?”, I wondered as I was preparing lunch four days ago. Ladybug was finally asleep in her swing when I noticed that Bean had grown suspiciously silent. “What are you doing!?”, I whispered. No response. I dropped the knife on the counter and ran to the sounds coming from the bathroom. As I reached the hall I immediately noticed that she had taken and thrown her diaper off, leaving its contents on the wall and floor. I entered the bathroom and she was there, sitting on the potty. “I did it! I climbed on the potty like a big girl!”, she said with such enthusiasm. After reminding her to tell me before going in her diaper, she agreed to give it another try later. For the remaining seven hours we had attempted to use the potty 14 times. All unsuccessful. We ran, hopped, screamed, scrambled, slipped, and jumped trying to make it in time. Bean thought it was the BEST part of her day. I on the other hand had realized that we had reached the next “milestone”. The next few days were exhausting and I honestly didn't think she was ready. “Keep going”, “stay patient”, “be a role model for her”, “don't get upset”, “BE PATIENT”, “if I have to clean poop up one more time, I'm going to...” were all thoughts that ran through my mind multiple times a day.....UNTIL today.

It was as if the birds woke her with a sweet inspirational song. “I'm ready!”, she screamed as she came charging in at 6am. It was like she had ants in her pants...running while partially stumbling trying to make it in time. My heart was racing from the live alarm clock as I quickly grabbed my glasses from the nightstand. There she was. Sitting on her little potty, right thumb up in the air, and a smile on her face.
The rest of the day was just as smooth. No accidents in the house, or in the car, at Chuck E. Cheese, or even during her nap time. It was a successful day and we celebrated by treating her to one scoop of chocolate ice cream after her dinner. “I'm so proud of you, sweetie!”, I said while kissing her on the cheek. “We did it by being patient, right?”, I asked. “Right. You have to be patient like the girl in the book. The potty book. She went when she was ready, like me.” Funny kid, I thought as she spoke. Not a moment sooner Ladybug started yelling as she let out some impressive flatulence. “She's definitely your kid”, Brett said nonchalantly. I rolled my eyes, grabbed her, and took her to the changing table. Good lord, another doozy. As I reached for the wipes Ladybug immediately reached for her diaper. “NO!”, I screamed. It was too late. The mess was already in her hand. “Calm down”, Brett said while coming to my aid. Bean quickly jumped off her seat and ran to the bathroom. “Here Addie!”, she screamed while charging full speed in our direction. She tossed the potty book up on the table hitting Ladybug in the face. “Read that.”

Patience. Oh, how I need more patience.