Monthly Archives: August 2008

Bye Bye Baby

Today was a momentous day in the Ragtop household. We said goodbye to one of the last vestiges of babyhood:

Yes, Belle was officially moved up to booster seat status today, a full 9 months older than her sister was. Which is slightly ironic, since Belle is about 2 inches taller than Krystal was at the same age, although she probably weighs less. Still, she does fit the height/weight guidelines on the booster, so it was time. After all, she starts Pre-K on Tuesday! Can’t have a Pre-K’er in a 5-point harness now, can we?

For any safety-mongers out there: yes, she still fits the height/weight guidelines on the 5-point car seat too, but a girl’s got to have her dignity. It has not escaped her notice that all her classmates are in “big kid” seats already. I’m just a teensy bit worried about what the extra mobility will mean in terms of trouble she can get into, but that will just be another episode in Extreme Parenting to report on.

Feeling Out of It

After taking a break from blogging while we were on vacation, I find it hard to get re-motivated to post again.

But here are some things on the brain, that if I’m smart I will revisit so I can post in more detail when I get my groove back:

  • Krystal is visiting with my ex this weekend (who I want to remind you all is NOT her father, as was his choice at the time) and I can’t believe how much I actually enjoy Belle when she is not having to “compete”. I realize that most of the time I really don’t like my younger daughter very much, which of course makes me feel guilty. But she is very different when she has someone’s full attention.
  • For the first time ever I took two weeks off in a row – the first week was our “away” vacation, but the second week (now coming to an end) was me staying home by myself (Krystal started school, and I sent Belle to her school so I could have a break). This second week was the best week I have had in a long time! I didn’t really “do” much (ran errands on my own, mowed the lawn, spent way too much time on the computer), but it was nice to have the focus be on ME ME ME for a change.
  • I booked myself for a speed dating event! It’s not til October 29th, so I have time to figure out how I’m going to approach it
  • Have you seen “The Pursuit of Happyness” yet? I watched this last night and I LOVED it! I was familiar with the basic storyline having read about Chris Gardner in a magazine several years ago, but the movie was fantastic: at once humbling, inspiring, scary, sad and hopeful. I highly recommend it!
  • Also saw “Wall-E” yesterday with Krystal and my ex (the 3 of us also had lunch before the movie). I am reminded how much easier it can be to have another person for my child to focus on. And how much more I feel freed to enjoy her because of it.

Off to try getting back in it – back soon (I hope!).

We’re Baaaaack!!

We got back yesterday from our 9 day trip to Florida and had a stowaway named Fay along for the trip! She was not a welcome addition to the group, but we had no choice but to embrace her into our plans. Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone. Also known as, make the best of it.

The good part about experiencing a record breaking Tropical Storm (4 land falls!) on your trip to Disney World:

  • No one wants to be out in the storm so the parks are virtually empty

The bad parts about experiencing a record breaking Tropical Storm on your trip to Disney World:

  • It is wet
  • Being wet is miserable
  • Especially when everything is heavily air conditioned
  • Even more so when you are forced to buy jackets or sweatshirts for your family to stave off certain frost bite from the air conditioned cold on buses and in restaurants after being out in the rain
  • Being rained on for 4 days (or was it 5?) was not part of the plan

But you know what? We still had a good time and have great memories of the trip.

Oh, and Krystal started second grade today!

Gone Fishing….or something like that

We’re off on vacation!

We’re flying to Orlando tomorrow, August 16th. We’ll meet our friends there for a little over a week of fun and frolic at the one, the only Walt Disney World. This will be our third trip as a two family unit and for me it’s ideal. I get to enjoy down time with my children, but I also get some adult friendship time for me, which is woefully lacking in my everyday life. This year we are all staying under the same roof, which will be even better, since “after hours” the adults can still enjoy some conviviality while small children sleep. Yes, we love Disney – the magic of the parks and all that goes with it. We also like to think we know how to do Disney right and pride ourselves on the way we plan our trips. No hour long lines for us (10-15 minutes is our max).

I’ll have the laptop with me, but don’t expect to be posting much – enjoy your week, and I’ll be sure to check back in about 10 days. In the meantime:

She’s Got Legs!

I had a very interesting experience the other day.

I was with the girls in Wal-Mart. Belle was in the seat in the cart and Krystal was walking behind. The store was semi-crowded, and I had to do some navigation with the cart. A youngish (20’s) man came out of an aisle on the left and nearly bumped into us. He said “Excuse me,” and continued on his way.

Not 15 seconds later, he bumped into us again from the other side, said “Excuse me” again, and I tried to ignore him because 1) I was getting annoyed, and 2) my weird vibe meter was going off.

Then he turned to me and said, “I just want to say you’ve got some nice legs.”

And even though I ignored him, and he never bothered us again, I wasn’t sure whether to be flattered, or offended, or creeped out. I guess I felt all three!

Book Thoughts

At bedtime tonight we read the final chapter, and epilogue, of “Ella Enchanted“, which is a Newbery Award winner by Gail Carson Levine. For anyone not familiar, it’s sort of a twist on the traditional Cinderella story. Ella is a girl of some station, who was given the “gift” of obedience as an infant. The story tells how she handles this gift through her mother’s death, her father’s re-marriage, and her two step sisters. There is even a pumpkin coach and glass slippers, along with the midnight deadline. But we don’t encounter those until late in the story, and to me it was more a wink than a plot device.

The book has been turned into a movie, which we’ll probably rent. We did the same when we finished reading “Because of Winn Dixie” not too long ago, and I was happy to see how closely that one followed the story (only a small diversion near the end).

As a reader, I always think the book is better than the movie. I remember reading “Prince of Tides” years ago and loving it. I watched the movie, and I swore if I hadn’t read the book I would have had no idea what was going on. I was distressed when it was first announced that the Harry Potter books were being made into movies. I’ve still not actually seen any of those, although I own (and have read) all the books. I think particularly with children’s literature, it becomes too convenient to skip reading the book altogether. After all, it’s a lot faster to watch a 2 hour movie than sit for many more hours and read. We need to encourage kids to read, not take shortcuts!

We’ve read, and loved:

  • Charlotte’s Web
  • Because of Winn Dixie
  • Ella Enchanted
  • All the Junie B. Jones books (I am not a fan of Junie B. Jones as a character, and I find the writing style more appropriate for parents to read to children, rather than beginning readers to read themselves)
  • All the Magic Treehouse books

Any other quality children’s chapter books to recommend? I wonder if Krystal would like some of my childhood favorites: Julie of the Wolves, A Wrinkle in Time, or even the Chronicles of Narnia (another series they had to go and make movies about!).

Dating is not for wimps


I just put myself on the waiting list for a speed dating event!

There was an article in our Sunday paper a few weeks ago about this, and it mentioned an organization I hadn’t heard of. So I went online and checked them out, and they had an event the next week at a restaurant I drive by everyday! But it was full for women, and thank goodness, since it was way too soon for me. But there was one a few weeks from then (and now) at a different place, a little further away, which still had room. I started to register, then chickened out. I emailed the “event coordinator” to ask how long the events typically last (around 2 hours, give or take), but didn’t follow through.

Today I had lunch with a friend who talked me into doing it. Of course now the event is full for women, so I had to get on the waiting list. I’m OK with that. If I end up making the cut I’ll need to line up a sitter and oh, man, what will I wear??? Or talk about???

Pluses of this type of thing:

  • No big time commitment to one man, especially if it’s obvious there is nothing there
  • A chance to meet many men at one time – very efficient
  • An opportunity to see if there is chemistry with someone, and then be excited about seeing him again

Minuses of this type of thing:

  • Thinking up new things to say on 10 first dates in one night!
  • Worrying about how I stack up against the “competition” at the event
  • The cost of the event ($35, which is really not bad) plus a babysitter and time away from my kids during the week, which I try to keep to a minimum
  • The possibility of getting involved with someone who seems great at first, but ends up being not, and how this will impact my kids, not to mention me

OK, I’m going too negative here – time to stop! I’m excited, I’m nervous and probably I won’t even make it into this event. And no, there aren’t any others in the area currently scheduled (closest is about an hour away, which is too far for me to travel during the week). But I’ll keep my eyes open. And I’ll keep y’all posted!


My vacation countdown clock says 5 days left till the start of my vacation. The paper chain the girls and I made still has 8 links because we keep forgetting to take a link off (what is up with that?) and all this together means that I not only have 4 work days to update everyone on projects that need covering while I’m gone, but I also need to find time to scour the house (I hate coming home to a messy house!), arrange care for Joey, our pet chinchilla, stop mail, stop newspaper, and oh yeah, pack!

To be fair, I’ve already done some of those things. Belle’s classroom will be taking pet duty for us – score, free pet sitter! And I’ve already submitted the card to the post office and stopped the paper online. Which we only get on Sundays anyway, but since we’ll be gone two Sundays, it definitely needed to be done!

Work, which has been relatively slow the past 2-3 weeks, took a dramatic turn the other way today. Figures. Two projects which had been on semi-permanent hold for months are brewing, and will require some heavy duty attention while I’m gone. Sorry teammates! Hey, I’d do it for you!

And I’m really, really looking forward to our week away. We’ll be meeting our friends in Florida for 9 nights, and when we get back I’m taking an extra week off work to recover from my vacation. My first ever two-weeks-in-a-row vacation.

Oh, and the day after we get back, Krystal starts 2nd grade, so we are also scrambling to make sure she’s ready for that!

Parenting is a thankless job, but then again…

Tonight when I picked Krystal up from camp she was wearing her sweatshirt by the hood. It wasn’t on, per se, but the hood was over her head and she seemed very invested in balancing it that way as she walked. It started to slip off at one point, and she nervously repositioned it as she came walking down the path towards where I was waiting for her.

“I have to keep this on my head,” she said as she got close enough to talk to me.


“Because I have gum in my hair!” she exclaimed. Sure enough, on one side was the biggest, nastiest, ugliest smeared piece of gummy yuck in her hair. She said she laid down on a picnic table, which some inconsiderate camper had apparently decided was his or her personal gum receptacle.

When we got home I quickly Googled home remedies for gum removal from hair, and decided to try the olive oil method. While that was soaking in we had dinner and Krystal said, “I’m so glad to have you for a mother.” Gosh, what mom doesn’t swoon at words like that?

“Gee, thanks, honey. That’s so nice to hear. What makes you say that?”

“Because some moms would get angry that I had gum in my hair, but you understand when it’s an accident. You understand stuff like that, and I’m glad.”

What could I honestly think or say, but “Wow.” And of course feel guilty for all those times I really do get angry over little things.

For the record, the olive oil worked, though not quite like the “charm” one message board reported. It still took some vigorous combing, but I’m happy to say we didn’t need to break out any scissors.


As a follow-up to Belle’s vagina issues, she had a really rough night last night. She was up for about an hour around midnight, crying and back and forth to the bathroom (and my room) several times. I called the doctor back this morning to report this. The nurse reassured me that her urine really was totally clear and was nothing of concern, that it really was vaginitis. She said the irritation is probably causing the acid in the urine to burn her skin on the way out, which makes her stop peeing before she’s really empty, which makes her have to go more frequently, etc, etc. She suggested squirting water on her as she pees, to dilute the urine as it hits the skin. I went one better and had her just pee in the tub tonight (and then I promptly emptied it!). Unfortunately, when she got in bed she started crying and scratching at herself, so I do think it’s a vicious circle kind of thing. We have always used All Free & Clear laundry detergent and no fabric softeners due to Krystal’s severe eczema, and I may have to try the hydrocortisone (even though the nurse said no creams or powders when I asked). Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions – at this point I’ll happily just take a good night’s sleep!

Our Vagina Chronicles

Oh, I can’t wait to see what kinds of searches turn up hits on this post!

On Saturday Belle complained vaguely that her vagina hurt. I honestly didn’t think too much about it, since she says that from time to time, but never for long. But when she complained again on Sunday I started to take notice. In fact, she said it so often that I had to remind her before we went out that it was something she should whisper to me in the event she felt she had to tell someone, rather than shouting it out for everyone in the ice cream shop to hear.

Monday was a rough day for her at school, and her teacher reported that among other behaviors she stood on her cot during naptime and chanted “My vagina hurts! My vagina hurts!” So much for that little lesson the day before, eh?

But it wasn’t until she got me up three times during the night on Wednesday to complain that I decided I needed to call the doctor. Yes, the same one that sent me to the ER for Krystal last week. (To be fair, it was the nurse, not the doctor, who made that call.)

The triage nurse said it sounded like a UTI, and that I should make sure she had plenty to drink before she came in as she would need to give a urine sample. I called her school to make sure she didn’t pee before I picked her up. I did a little reading on UTI’s myself (both earlier in the week, and then again after scheduling the appointment). I had discounted the UTI thing because she wasn’t peeing any more than usual, had no fever and complained at times other than just when urinating. After being told that’s what it “sounded like” I was dismayed to learn that a UTI before age 5 is considered pretty serious, and additional tests are usually ordered to see if there is an anatomical abnormality causing it.

So when we got to the doctor this afternoon, Belle gave a nice healthy sample, which she declared “bubbly”. The good news: there is no infection. The bad news: what the heck is making her claim her vagina hurts all the time!??!

The doctor inspected her entire crotch area (Is that a better word to use, from a search engine perspective, than genital? Well, I went and used them both so we’ll see!) and pronounced everything normal. She ended up diagnosing “unspecified vaginitis”, which to me says, “she says it hurts but we don’t know why, so it’s all pretty much a guess”. The doctor suggested baking soda baths, mild soap (which we already do), and enforcing the front-to-back wipe technique (which we do for #2, but not #1).

Back at home we had dinner and then got ready for bed. Belle peed twice during this time – once when I said it was time to go upstairs, then again when we got upstairs. I did the baking soda bath for her, and she peed again after that. We got in bed for stories, and when I finished her selection she got up to pee again. And again. She peed 5 times in about 30 minutes, and began whining and crying about how much her vagina hurt the whole time.

And I’m left feeling completely frustrated and helpless. I’ve done everything for her I’m supposed to do. She “shouldn’t” be doing this. I don’t think. I can’t think of anything else to do. I did give her some ibuprofen, as much for the placebo affect as for any pain relief it might offer.

I think she is sleeping now. I am hoping she sleeps through the night (I’m the one who needs it!) and wakes up tomorrow with placebo in full regalia. I’ll let you know! And if you have been through this and have any tips, please pass them along!