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Deck the Walls

It never occurred to me to not display my son’s masterpieces – and I wholeheartedly believe they are masterpieces – on our walls.  Whenever he creates a new one, I ask him if I can hang it on the wall, and he says, “Tac, tac, tac!”  This is because I tell him I need him to help me pull pieces of White Tac to put on the back of the masterpieces in order to make them stick to the wall.

We are currently visiting family for an extended period of time, and the first things I thought to pack – before clothes, Calpol, blankie, and favourite books and toys – were the masterpieces.  I’m not sure if it was more for me or for him, but I immediately fixed the masterpieces on the walls in my parents’ home.  And when my little guy’s cousins came over, he was so happy to share these drawings, paintings, collages, and sticker, cotton wool, stamp and leaf creations with them.  He introduced each work of genius, excitedly stumbling over his words while describing the contents.  He was so proud, and I was stolzgeschwellt watching and listening to him.

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Sticky Fingers: A Story of a Semi-Addiction

My name is Lisha, and I am an enabler.  My son has had an addiction for the past two years and shows no signs of overcoming this obsession.  Because he is nearly three years old, one might imagine his addiction involves some sort of sport, imitating animal noises, or having tantrums.  In fact, my munchkin is addicted to stickers.

It all started with a sticker book his grandparents gave him when he was nearly a year old.  Because it had reusable stickers with those wax-like pages, we wore that book out until it had five of its 40 pages and 2 ½ stickers left.  Fearing a sticker meltdown, I bought more stickers and stuck them on the remaining handful of pages as my son slept.   Upon waking up, he went straight to the place he always went – his sticker book.  He opened it up, smiled from ear to ear, and probably wondered how the sticker fairy was capable of performing such a tremendous feat.

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It’s in the Bag…Literally

My husband calls it the Black Hole, and any time I ask him to get the baby wipes or snacks out of my bag, he rolls his eyes, exhales for approximately 42.7 seconds and then says, “You know I won’t find them.”  My friends and family have also taken notice of and commented on the ebony monstrosity, asking if it’s really necessary to carry around enough contents to sustain a small country.

A month ago, the woman at the British Airways counter eyed my bag and asked if I wanted to check it in, and I told her that it was one of my carry-ons.  Her eyes turned as large as a bush baby’s, and I immediately said, “It’s malleable.  It looks big, but actually there’s not much inside, and it squishes down.”  My husband laughed under his breath, while I hoped she wouldn’t ask me to show her just how malleable it was.

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B is for Babysitter

A friend of mine – one of nine children – once told me that the babysitters his parents decided to enlist were a couple hippies who lived down the street.  They made the little ones sing Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin songs while dancing around a pretend campfire.  Following this activity, they’d all sit down, combing and braiding each other’s hair and giving each other fake tattoos.  I told him his remembrances made me want to throw on some bell bottoms and watch Woodstock clips on VH1.

My own walk down babysitter memory lane was a tad different.  My older cousin watched us siblings, and as she microwaved our ice cream because it wouldn’t readily come out of the carton, we listened to Boy George asking if we really wanted to hurt him and Michael Jackson insisting that Billie Jean was not his lover.  Our parents let us rent a scary movie, and as we all viewed it together, my cousin covered her eyes for most of it, asking if we shouldn’t consider a different film.

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Diapers or Nappies…Dummies or Pacifiers?

When I first moved to London from the States – childless at this stage – I thought the word loo was far better than the word bathroom.  There aren’t always baths in bathrooms, so the misnomer didn’t sit well with me, especially when I was now being given the option of asking for the monosyllabic and more affable-sounding loo when my bladder needed relieving.

In those first few months after jumping the pond, I often thought of the late William Safire, wondering whether he wrote about lift versus elevator, rubbish bin versus trash can, or hob versus stove in his “On Language” column in the New York Times Magazine.  I considered writing to him to ask for some navigation techniques in this vernacular valley.  Dear William, could a California girl really get away with saying words like knickers, wellies and telly without sounding like a complete nincompoop?

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Ode to the Buggy

Photo courtesy of Storme Sabine Photography

Call ’em what you will:  buggies, pushchairs, strollers, prams, baby carriages, perambulators or carrycots.   Although we’re aware of the function they serve, some of us seem to be unaware of the imprint these means of transport will leave on our bodies and minds.

I had no idea what was in store for me when at eight months pregnant I smiled blissfully for a photo in which I stood alongside the buggy we just bought for our soon-to-arrive bundle of joy.  A few weeks prior to taking this photo, I was living in a buggy bubble, surrounded by objects referred to as Bugaboos, McLarens, and Gracos.  And once this bubble popped, I was transplanted to an accessories orb and encircled by cup holders, parasols, sun shades, footmuffs, bag clips, insect nets, and buggy boards.

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Rorschach Bibs and Carrot Paranoia

During the adventurous and oh-so-entertaining period which shall henceforth be referred to as The Epoch of Weaning, I used to pretend the carrot and mango purée stains on my son’s bibs were Rorschach tests.  You wouldn’t believe what I saw.  Once, I spotted Mary Poppins doing a handstand on top of her umbrella.  Another time I made out a smack of jellyfish making its way up one side of the Eiffel Tower.  You see, entertaining myself was required at such a madcap stretch.  After all, at what other point in my life would I find myself squeezing my breasts into a bowl on the table so as to add the essential milk to the baby rice cereal?

Somewhere along the line, somebody (read: Annabel Karmel) convinced me that making all of my son’s food was the best way to ensure he received organic, nutrient-rich meals without any artificial ingredients, preservatives or disguised sugar.  In preparation of W-Day, I lined up the army of accoutrement on the kitchen counter: a hand blender, colourful suction bowls, heat-sensitive baby spoons, bendy ice-trays, plastic baggies and markers to label and date them.  Go Team Introducing Solids!

How exciting for my little guy; he was taking his first step on the path to pulverized pieces of pleasure, of macerated delights.  And, after taking said step, he made it known that he did not care for baby rice cereal.  That’s okay, it happens.  He didn’t care for smashed bananas.  That’s okay, it happens.  He didn’t care for puréed pears, apples or sweet potatoes.  Like I said, it happens.  Take a deep breath and remember that the first stage of weaning is all about acquainting my son with new tastes and textures, helping him learn to take food from a spoon, and familiarising him with the process of moving food from the front of his mouth to the back and then swallowing.  New day, new efforts.  He didn’t care for porridge or parsnips or yogurt.  He didn’t care for the first formula we tried, or the second, third or fourth.  Time to consult the weaning experts again.

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Dijon Mustard and Engorged Breasts


So there I was at 3am with my son, trying to wean him off the wee hours feed so I could return to the concept known as a night of uninterrupted sleep.  I was informed by somebody – I can’t remember who, but it was somebody who at the time seemed to be the supreme advice-giver of all things weaning as I read his or her book with heavy eyelids – that your little bundle of joy may cry a little.  A little?  I immediately turned to the glossary to see if there was a definition for “a little”.  No such luck.  I turned back to the weaning page, which stated that with cries, said bundle is only responding to a change in routine and isn’t really hungry.

Unbearable as it was trying to sleep with my son crying next to me for what seemed like a few lifetimes, I started imagining he’d wake up in a few hours looking completely emaciated.  I convinced myself that he was starving.  After all, I’ve been known to wake up at 3am, in desperate need of chocolate or craving a stone-baked pizza.  Who’s to say he wasn’t ravenous. 

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Baby Wipes, Glorious Baby Wipes

It all started with a purple and green crayon drawing on the wall. After telling my son what a beautiful stegosaurus he had drawn and suggesting he draw it in his notebook the next time around, I panicked knowing that my one friend who has a curious obsession with clean walls was coming over in the next few minutes. I eyed the baby wipes, decided to give ‘em a go and am now faced with an unhealthy fascination with the wee cloths. There was not a single trace of any pigmented wax having ever touched the wall.

Since this eye-opening experience, I have considered adopting the role of Premier Advocate of the Rectangular Moist Cloth. The next day involved a chocolate incident. Although it is difficult for me to bring myself to return to the scene of the crime, I can say that even the CSI folks would have difficulty knowing that a Green & Blacks bar temporarily resided in our home.

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