Mommy Lesson 212: Cranky Crickets

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If you wake up every few hours starving, your underpants are sopping wet, and your feet occasionally get stuck up inside your froggy covered feety jammies, then you would know what it means to “sleep like a baby”. While those things don’t sound awfully appealing I often find myself staring enviously at my responsibility and carefree snoozing little ones, wishing that I could sleep as they do.

However, with the many adult tasks to be accomplished sleep often falls by the wayside. I read somewhere once that a parent loses around 6 months of sleep in the first two years of their child’s life. Two kids equal the loss of one year, add in working night shift, and my somewhat implausible desire to be super mom, and it can be safely assumed that I am more often awake than asleep.

When the glorious time to visit snoozeville does roll around, I am often intolerant of interruptions that do not involve my children. Tonight was no different. After finally convincing myself that I had done all that I could possibly do in one day, I climbed in bed and turned off the tv. Without the background noise, the ambience of the room became even more noticeable. The chainsaw, that was my husband, was serenely echoed by epileptic beagle snores, and snooty shitzu snorts. Through it all, however, came a noise that would soon drive me to madness; a cricket.

 

imageJimminey was happily sitting directly under my window chirping incessantly. someone must have loaned him a loud speaker. The horrendous sound was becoming like nails on a chalk board. The years worth of sleep deprivation was catching up to me, and in this moment and all I could focus on was getting rid of the amplified insect! I lept from the bed, glaring at my husband, who was oblivious to my plight, grabbed a broom and stalked outside. I would like to add what a wonderful thing a privacy fence is. The men in white coats would have been called for sure had my neighbors been witness to the chaos that ensued in mu backyard.

Rockin my bed head hair, husband size shirt, and Mickey pajama pants, I stalked across the back yard weilding my weapon of choice. As I neared the bedroom window I noticed that a silence had filled the area. No Jimminey, he must be busy quaking in fear. I had heard that crickets will stop their irritating chirping in the presence of someone unknown, unsure of his hiding spot and wanting to ensure that I chased the now silent-but-waiting cricket away, I began to smack spastically and frantically at the grass all around the window and side of the house. Certain that my madness had frightened off every living thing within swatting distance, I triumphantly returned to the house.

I stood proudly at the entrance of my bedroom and listened. Through my husband, the jet plane, snores and the accompanying dogs, I could still hear it; that immortal cursed cricket. How could he have survived?! I ran to the window in an attempt to determine his whereabouts and plot my next attack. I listened carefully, surprise filled my mind when I realized that the crafty critter had taken up residence in the dog bed. Grabbing a weapon, I knelt down. With shoe poised to strike I yanked back the dogs blanket and swung. With mere centimeters left, I pulled out of my attack before I smashed Abi’s sound machine into smithereens.

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Jimminey was no more than a battery operated soother, meant to fill your room with serene forest sounds. Abi had been running around with her “computer” throughout the day and had obviously forgotten it. With the batteries removed glorious silence filled the room. I climbed back in bed to fall asleep to the soothing sounds of “freight train” and his friends.

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Mommy Lesson 118: Survival of the Mommiest

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Being the mom of a precocious toddler and a 3 month old we have some good days, and not so good days. The good days are filled with belly laughs, meals that are not refused by picky eaters, a lack of poopy diapers and bedtimes that occur on time. Mommy goes to bed smelling like roses and there are little unicorns and dancing rainbows in her dreams.

Then there are the not so good days. These days usually consist of at least one pooptastrophy, missed nap times, the disappearance of favorite shows from the DVR, toys that are MIA, a toddler who assumes that any food will most likely kill her (yes even peanut butter on bread). There is a high likelihood of tears and snot, and not just from the children. On those days, our focus is on one thing; survival. Which means, if I can just make it to bedtime with every member in the house still alive, I’m pretty happy.

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After church, lunch, and a definitely not long enough 20 minute nap Sister was slightly irritable and incredibly hyper. By 6pm Brother sat horrified, staring from his swing as his screaming sister ran around the house wearing a tutu and crown and most of her dinner on her face. He watched with confusion as she bounced her way down the couch towards him, with the single goal of poking him in the face with her giant stick (magic wand).

“Alla-ca-da-la” she chanted with a swish of the stick (magic wand), if landed with a thwack millimeters from the babies fingers. Fearing for his life, I’m sure, or at least the integrity of his appendages, Brother began to cry. I scooped him up and jiggled him around some, partly fearing the upchuck that would most likely occur from the rapidity of movement, and glanced at the clock. 6:02, yay! We made it another two minutes.

I knew Spouse, would not be off work in time to assist with bedtime, so I began the process of alligator wrestling (bathing) early. After twenty incident free minutes both children emerged smelling delightfully of baby shampoo. I gathered up some of Sisters favorite toys and settled down on my bed to nurse Brother before putting him to bed.

I settled Sister on the floor next to the bed with her favorite toys. The evidence of her fatigue appearing in the form if a yawn and the rub of an eye. “We’re going to make it” I thought happily to myself. I gazed down at my youngest, whose eyes were beginning to droop from the effects of a milk induced coma. Lost briefly in the thoughts swirling through my mother logged brain, I missed the beginnings of mischievous giggles.

The flush of the toilet snapped my attention back into the present, I glanced around the room. Sister was no longer in her spot, and was now standing by the toilet shouting encouragingly into the bowl. “Swim Minnie!” She flushed a second time and became annoyed with the lack of effort from her plastic Minnie Mouse figure. “This isn’t working”, she grumbles.

I jumped up and quickly retrieved a drowning Minnie Mouse with one hand while balancing the baby the other. While I washed our hands I explained the dos and do nots of the potty: potty in toys out.

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Seeming to understand she again settled on the floor to play with her “guys” and the dog to play. I had just laid the baby down in his bed and was returning to the bedroom when an unfamiliar sound greeted my ears. It was similar to the sound a cat makes when hurling up a hair ball, but it had a dryer quality to it. It was fairly rhythmic and I had almost placed the noise when I noticed sister was again no longer in the spot I’d left her.

I heard her little voice coming from the bathroom, it was calm and unconcerned, “This is a problem, I’ll go get mommy”.

Mommy was already in action, sprinting like a graceful gazelle (picture cat wearing socks), and bouncing over the bed with spy like firm (I really actually just tripped over the toys and fell onto the bed, but the momentum was enough to propel me over the side, flapping my arms like a baby bird flying for the first time). I knelt on the bathroom floor, my nursing skills expertly put to work as I performed a head to paw assessment on the gagging dog. I effectively performed the heimlich maneuver on an epileptic beagle who apparently cannot swallow an entire roll of toilet paper and turned my gaze to Sister.

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She blinked at me and shrugged her shoulders. Hey, good job mommy!” she said with a pat on the back. I glanced at the clock again, “Hey! It’s bedtime!” I was almost giddy, I might have been if I hadn’t been eyeballing the dog and wondering if the lack of oxygen did her any harm. She wandered over to the toilet paper roll, sniffed it and gave it a Lick; nope just as dumb as ever, I thought to myself relieved.

After a handful of books and seven rounds of twinkle twinkle Sister was asleep. I peeked in at brother to confirm that he was participating in bedtime as well and then dropped onto the couch. I glanced around, and briefly reviewed the days events. There were a couple close calls and Kia won’t go near the bathroom now, but everyone survived… I heard Sister’s sleepy little voice call out,
“Hey, Mommy? Donald didn’t come back out of the big hole in the bottom of the toilet”. Well most of us did anyway.

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Edible Play-dough

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My daughter LOVES play-dough. She loves squishing, chopping, rolling, plopping, mixing and creating. Her brother? Well he likes to eat it. Therein lies the problem. It can make for a difficult and not so enjoyable time if I spend most of it retrieving bites of soggy, spit covered dough from brothers mouth. Aside from that, sister tends to become hysterical when she noticed that her play-dough pile is depleting. While the colorful poo-poo make changing his diapers entertaining, I do worry about brother actually consuming play-dough.

So, why not only let sister play with it? Well, play-dough is an excellent sensory and fine motor activity! I believe in therapy through play and like finding any opportunity I can for both of my children to participate. Play-dough can be rolled between fingers, squeezed in hands, rolled into balls, cut with butter knife, used with cookie cutters, the options are endless. It also provides an excellent opportunity for brother and sister to play together and interact with each other but maintain a sense of individuality. Simply put, I love play-dough and so do my kids.

What do I do about my play-dough muncher? Make my own safe to consume edible play-dough! I found several recipes using kook aid that looked pretty good, and had almost settled on making that and then I stumbled onto the easiest, most delicious recipe (link here) one could imagine. It consists of two ingredients: frosting and powdered sugar.

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(You can find complete directions here,

The recipe called for 1 cup of frosting. I scooped out one cup and plunked it in the bowl. I then licked my fingers, and the spoon. (My kids, my germs, same thing). I peered into the can and realized, that it took up most of the can of frosting so I figured I’d just use the rest (more play-dough is better right?). Wrong, very wrong. I underestimated the amount of powdered sugar it would take to “dough-ify” the frosting and didn’t have enough. Even after using the amount it called for and the remaining 1/4 bag of powdered sugar I had, the dough was still pretty sticky.

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I took some time to contemplate options and nibble on some dough. Holy sugar high! I shouldn’t have been surprised seeing that the ingredients were frosting and powdered sugar, but wowzers was it sweet. Thinking of a way to thicken it and not add go the sweetness I turned to corn starch. I sprinkled the corn starch onto the counter, separated the dough into smaller balls and kneaded it like bread until the consistency was pliable but not sticky.

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I used my favorite frosting colors and kneaded them through the dough. You may want to wear gloves for this, otherwise your hands will look like the inside of a paint mixer. The end result was a lovely smooth textured, cloud like play-dough that both of the kids will love, mom too!

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A few recommendations for you:
I love to have my kids help with cooking and creating in the kitchen, I would recommend making this during nap time or bedtime as the powdered sugar or cornstarch can get a little (a lot, I mean a whole lot) messy.

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I would not participate in this activity just prior to any special event, as the sugar consumed may increase the activity level of your child. Imagine pinball, but add in screaming, squealing and diapers. This only occurs if the play-dough is consumed, however, it tastes really blasted good, so one should assume that it will be, possibly in large quantities.

You can substitute half of the powdered sugar for cornstarch. The consistency will still be the same, and it’s still suuuuuuper sweet.

Below is the link to the recipe that I used above and two extra ones that are just as amazing!

Edible Play-dough

Chocolate Play-dough

Edible Peanut Butter Play-dough

For those of you who are looking for a healthier alternatives:

“Healthy” Peanut Butter Play-dough 

Gluten Free Edible Play-dough

 

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Mommy Lesson 357: Square Hole, Round Dog

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According to the Humane Society website there are just over 78 million dogs as pets in the United States. 38 percent of American households own at least one dog. The two dogs that we have put us into the 28 percent that own two dogs. Kia, is an epileptic beagle, and Mya is snobby and chronically miserable, but they are just as important to us as any other member of the family.

I personally feel that pets are a terrific tool for teaching responsibility, gentleness, and can be a great motivating force. Sister helps to fill the dog bowls and feed the “puppies”. She enjoys walking Mya and asks frequently to take them. All in all, I would say, she “loves” her dogs. However, love can be a dangerous thing. On more than one occasion I have had to rescue one or both of the dogs from the shenanigans of Sister and today proved to no different.

Upon returning to the house from a leisurely walk with the dogs and two kids, I set about unloading the dishwasher. Sister grabbed a couple of plastic spoons and went off to “cook” dinner on her play kitchen in her room. I turned the dishwasher on and set about tidying up the living room. I took some toys to Sister’s room, grabbed a “bite” of dinner and almost broke my neck tripping over the dog passed out in the hallway. I rubbed my shin and glared at her, the thought that she had strategically placed herself in my path as payback for letting Sister drag her around by her leash, flitted through my brain.

I threw in a load of clothes and sat down in front of Brother’s bouncy seat for a little play time. In the midst of a full blown belly laugh I could hear a faint, but repetitive banging. I headed to the laundry room to check that the washer wasn’t out of balance and was surprised to find that wasn’t the source of the noise. I rounded corner to Sister’s room and noticed the dog had vacated the premises and the door was shut. The banging got louder as I got closer. I reached for the door handle and heard My daughter grunt and say, “If you’d just stop resisting….” (This is something I have said on numerous occasions to her and her brother in the midst of a diaper struggle or clothes tussle.)

I swung open the door and both my daughter and the dog froze in surprise. Chef Sister was attempting to cram 30 pounds of wiggling, flailing, beagle into a 6 centimeter square that made up her “oven”. She looked up at me with innocent eyes and grinned.

“Um, Peanut, why are you shoving Kia into the oven” Kia wagged her tail at the voice of her savior. Sister, still gripping the dogs hindquarters, sighed and responded in an exasperated tone, “I want hot dogs”.

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Upon those words Kia began to struggle again, possibly fearing for her life or more than likely the teeny tiny box encasing her head was running out of oxygen. I am not sure if the dog’s head became swollen while entrapped, if Sister used much more force than humanly possibly, or if the oven doubled as a Chinese dog trap, but all the epileptic beagle was able to do was drag the kitchen away from the wall.

The sudden and abrupt jerking of the kitchen propelled all of the items off and onto the floor causing an incredible crash, an angry shout of “my dinner” from The Chef and an increase in spastic thrashing from “dinner”. Fearing for all involved, I knelt over the dog trapping her between my knees, leaned into the kitchen, grasped the collar and jerked with all my might. The dog and I tumbled backwards pulling the plastic cookery down on top of us.

Now free, the “entree” bolted out of the room to seek refuge under the bed. I helped Abi clean up the room and explained to her that hot dogs were not really made from dogs, and that we don’t put our pets, friends and, just for good measure, brothers in the oven. She nodded in understanding and as we left her room said she was hungry. I saw Kia emerging from her hiding spot as I asked her what she wanted, “hot dogs” she replied. One glance towards Kia’s frantically retreating backside let me know that she was not in the mood for hotdogs.

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Operation Save the Dream Lite

Siri, please define Poop-tastrophy

This is a surprise event that typically occurs within the confines of your child’s crib, car seat, or whatever other location said child happens to be in at the moment of occurrence. This is most often associated with detailed fingerprinting murals with a substance that resembles chocolate, I assure you that this is not indeed chocolate, please refrain from testing my knowledge. Most often there is a gag inducing smell involved.

Interventions should include donning a hazourdous waste material suit. Proceed to remove said child from the event location and wash thoroughly. Feel free to vomit as needed, but remove hazmat mask first. After said child is scrubbed free of debris you may turn your attention to the event site. This is best dealt with by retrieving offended items with kitchen tongs (to be thrown away after) and placing them gently in a garbage bag never to be seen again.

Practices to prevent poop-tastrophy from reoccurring: NEVER put said child to bed in two piece Jammie’s again.

Scout didn't survive :-( NO amount of "gentle scrubbing by hand" was gonna save him...
Scout didn’t survive 😦 NO amount of “gentle scrubbing by hand” was gonna save him…

So after finding my sweet cherub cheeked nudist playing in his poo, I freaked out.  I had to scrub every inch of his crib, and inspect each and every toy that he may have included in his excrement excitement.  I will admit that several toys did go straight into the garbage can, including his favorite buddy Scout  (He was quickly replaced by one of his loving grandmas).

Scout was not the only participant in the poo party, little man had also included his second favorite toy, his Dream Light.  This is a lovely pillow type stuffed animal with an electronic battery operated light that glows in the middle of it.   There is also a little tag that says HAND WASH ONLY in menacing letters.  Great for bedtime snuggles, nightmare for mommy to clean.  Yet I was determined.  What’s a determined mommy to do when she has no idea how to do it?  Grab a screw driver a hammer and have at it!

Cue mission impossible music 

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You will need a screw driver, but you won’t need a hammer, unless you get frustrated……

Steps 1 and 2
Steps 1 and 2

1. Pop dream lite top off. Difficulty rating 1 out of 10, unless being helped by a know it all four year old
2. Unscrew screws, there are 8 of them. Place these in a secure location. Do not, I repeat, do NOT let four year old hold screws no matter how much she begs. Or you will spend the next 20 minutes on your hands and knees.

3. The top frame pops off the bottom frame.  Gently tug the two tabs inside to release it.  If gently tugging doesn’t work, feel free to take it pent up aggression and rip the sucker off.  I cant guarantee success if that route is chosen.  Once it’s free, flip him on over.

Step 4 and 5
Step 4 and 5

4. Unscrew screws, there are 6 of them.  The four year old has probably disappeared and been replaced by little brother.  Do not offer screws to him to hold or you will be waiting a loooong time for them to reappear.

5.  Pull light box out!  Pat yourself on the back, do a happy dance, eat a cookie or 6, however you want to celebrate the completion of a successful mission!

Follow the steps backwards after washing and drying to put him back together again? It is VERY important to make sure the fabric is caught between the top and bottom frame.  Here’s you a photo of the easiest way to do it.

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Mommy Lesson 313: Say Ahhhhhh

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I am a nurse. I have no doubt that children who’s parents work in the medical field are different than children who’s parents do not. I even found proof in an articles that list 21 signs you were raised by a nurse; my children meet the majority of the criteria. They have toys like stethoscopes, empty syringes (with no needles), face masks, gloves, tongue depressors, and other nurse paraphernalia. My children have been taught appropriate terminology for specific body parts (I’m sorry in advance if they share this information with your child). My daughter uses terms and phrases such as, “I’ve been injured”, “should we amputate”, and “I think I’ll survive”.

As a mom who is also a nurse, I have an adequately stocked medicine cabinet. It is clearly labeled with a bin specifically for children and a bin for adults. I have a drawer for medicine administration complete with syringes and medicine cups. Need a pill crusher? I’ve got one of those too. I have a lovely little canvas organizer labeled “emergencies” complete with rubbing alcohol, gauze, bandages, antibiotic ointment and the like. On the top shelf is a set of sheets for the kids bed and an ice bucket which traveled home with us from a hotel room the weekend my husband and I went away for our anniversary and he spent most of it puking his guts up. It is labeled, emesis.

 

My daughter takes after her mother, she loves go take care of things. She can often be found with a menagerie of stuffed animals making them feel better. She can perform a full head to toe assessment in ten seconds flat and can diagnose and prescribe treatment within the next minute. When she grows tired of the stuffed animals, or feels the need for a challenge she will frequently turn her attention to the dog. If she is satisfied that all of her toys and pets have been adequately cared for and still has a hankerin’ to provide some medical attention, she will approach myself or her daddy.

Today provided her with with a relatively low patient census, so she offered me her services and medical expertise. I sat in the living room folding matching socks when she approached with a concerned look on her face.

“Oh mommy, you don’t look so good, I think you need a checkup”.

“Oh, wow, thanks honey, that was sweet” I said with a slight sarcastic undertone. I sat patiently while she listened to my heart beat, checked my eyes and ears. She felt my forehead with the back of her hand and then cheek to rule out a raging fever.

“Say Ahhhhhhh” she demanded, I complied, and she peered inside with a furrowed brow. “I’m going to have to take your temperature” before I could refuse she expertly crammed a purple painted Popsicle stick into my mouth.

She yanked the soggy stick out and glanced at it. She dismissively waved her hand at me, “You’re fine mommy”, I was clear to proceed about my business. She gathered her supplies and spied the dog. I turned my attention back to the socks only half listening to her chatter. The dog had already had multiple assessment throughout the day, and although she appeared to be pouting, she sat patiently, waiting for her clean bill of health.

I glanced up when I heard a disgruntled snort escape from the snobby shitzu and found Dr. A with a very familiar purple Popsicle stick pressed against the cranky canines butt. I stared at her with a combination of shock and horror flitting through my brain.

“Ummm, peanut, whatchya doin?” I squeaked. “Im checking Mya’s temperature, but don’t worry, I’m only putting it on her butt, not in it like you have to do with brother.”

Please please PLEASE don’t answer the next question with yes, I thought to myself. “Oh, well, okay, uuuhhh, this is the first time you have checked her temperature right? I mean you didn’t check it before you checked mommy’s temperature?”

“Well yea, she had a fever earlier when I checked it, so I wanted to recheck it. I also had to use it to look in her mouth.” She stared at me, gauging my reaction.

“Uhoh, mommy, do you need the emesis bucket?” She came over to pat my shoulder.

“No honey, mommy is just going go brush her teeth…..for an hour…..or six…possibly with bleach…”

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Mommy Lesson 600: Peetunias

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The typical infant can use up to 2,500 diapers in one year. That number will continue to decrease as baby grows into a toddler. Not soon enough for some of us. While potty training can be stressful for both parent and child, it brings with it a sense of pride, success and a variety of messy and embarrassing experiences. I have learned to take a “poop happens” approach, which means; poop will probably happen on the floor, in the car or the neighbors yard. There isn’t much you can do about it, except walk around following your potty training toddler with puppy pads, or a bucket, and then blog about mishaps later….

After an extended car ride to visit a friend in the hospital, Peanut was complaining about needing to go potty. We pulled into the parking lot and I assured her that once we got inside the building she could go potty. I proceeded to gather up brother, all necessary items and cram them into the stroller. This took much longer than usual, since Peanut was doing the peepee dance in the parking lot and I had to stop and pull up her pants and panties twice, explaining that we don’t just drop trow wherever we please.

With both kids fully clothed and in the stroller I rushed to the building. Daughter immediately jumped from the stroller and pointed at the big potted plant in the corner of the foyer and asked what that was. I hastily and distractedly whispered the answer to her and turned to the receptionist to ask for directions. Before she could complete the instructions she gasped and looked down to my left side. Thinking there might be a serious situation I turned immediately ready to assist where needed. I was alarmed to see my daughter with Minnie Mouse panties down around her sandals sitting in the potted plant relieving herself.

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The thoughts rushed through my head. How exactly do I handle this? If I get her out of the floral arrangement she will undoubtedly peepee on the floor. But, I can’t really leave her there can I? Oh, my, gosh! What if she’s doing more than number 1? Is her face turning red, I can’t tell if she is smiling or pooping!

I rushed over, hoping to safe the lovely soiled flowers, and scooped her out of the “pottied” plant. I dusted her itty bitty butt off , thinking about what I was supposed to do and glancing frantically for a bucket to scoop the peepeed potting soil into. I adjusted her shorts and opened my mouth. (Let me explain to you, I’m not super great in situations like this. More often than not, what comes out of my mouth is just as much of a surprise to me as those whom I’m saying it too. Often when faced with with uncomfortable situation, I attempt to find the silver lining.)

“I am so very sorry, I ummm, well, ummm, hey, you know at least you don’t have to water it now” I babbled. The grim set line on the now less than helpful lady’s face was all I needed to know that she was less than thrilled with our plant care procedures. She hastily waved me away when I offered to help clean up, probably fearful that my daughter might get the urge to find another “pot”. As we quickly walked down the hall, Abi looked up at me, unconcerned and said, “Hey mommy, those flowers smelled really good, we should put some on our potty.”

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