Guest Post From Parker: The Car Wash and Other Ways My Mom Tried to Kill Me

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Smiling with ridiculous pajamas on. It’s the only way to get her to stop.

 

I don’t want to incriminate anyone but I am pretty sure my Mommy has some issues and might, secretly, be bearing some unfortunate resentment of me. I can’t say I blame her, I did yell, “My Mommy has a vagina kind of penis!” at the grocery store the other day, but she really needs to look into some parenting classes or something. She’s a little bereft of the Mommy skillz.

Case in point, our trip to the car wash yesterday. Now, she KNOWS I don’t like the car wash. She might even delight in the fact that I get a little nervous when we go through it. She refers to the giant spaghetti monsters as “octopuses” and “sea creatures.” Well, all I know is that I am pretty sure we will one day die in a car wash. Especially since my Mom left the window open a crack yesterday when we went through it.

 

More Like Death Wash

“Close it! Close it! Close it!” I cried. Petrified of the sea monsters that were going to come into the car and eat me. She just kept saying, “I can’t close the car wash, buddy, don’t be scared.” Once the soap bubbles started flying all around the car and little pretty Celia was covered in suds, Mom the genius was singing a different tune. “Oh, I’m sorry, I’m sorry Parker.” And she rolled the window up. Thanks, Mom. I already am pretty sure that there is a man living under my bed at home while I sleep but now I have absolutely NO FAITH in you keeping me alive in a car wash. Great job there with the parental supervision. Maybe try to be a little more observant while you chat up your former student car wash attendant. Maybe take a second to keep your children out of harm’s way?

Arsenic in my Applesauce

As if that was not life altering enough, Sweet little Bridgette tried to serve me orange apple sauce. Orange. Applesauce. Do you know why? Because that little health nut thought that mixing in sweet potatoes might help me have a healthier meal. Does she know that I survive basically on milk and slices of white bread? Doesn’t she get that I have a sophisticated palette that only really enjoys the delicacies of popcorn, cookies and vanilla ice cream? I mean what kind of animal eats ORANGE applesauce? Seriously.

Eye Acid

As I am sure you can tell by now, I wear glasses. One unfortunate catch of this cute accessory is that some lame doctor has said I need eye drops twice a week. Yeah, that’s a lot of fun. Watching Mr. and Mrs. Tricky try to give me these things while I thrash, kick, pinch and bite is always interesting. I am convinced that they do it just to torture me. No matter the bribes or silly games they play, one thing is evident: clearly, they enjoy seeing me cry.

Humiliation via Pajamas

Since my Mom apparently wants more days off in order to better ruin my life- she was really, really hoping for a snow day last week. So much that she MADE ME put my clothes on backwards and inside out for good luck. I mean, it’s not bad enough she just wants to make me look stupid (more about that coming up;) but then she wants to go all Instagram photoshoot on me after. I swear that woman just capitalizes on my cuteness. When she’s not inventing new made up ways to get days off from work, that is.

Shampoo Death

And then, after I endure about all I can of the car wash and the applesauce and the eye drops, Mommy Dearest wants to put SOAP in my HAIR. From the time it touches my scalp, I can feel it running down my face headed for: you know where— my eyes. It’s like she doesn’t even want me to be happy. She just chooses a different torture based on her mood. Tough love doesn’t even describe it. This is the work of a devil.

Talking Back

So, I let her have it after all of this. I told her two things this weekend that really put her in her place.

“Here’s the thing, Mom. If you give me another time out, you will be a bad girl.” I just laid it all out there on the table. She should know her reputation is plummeting by the day.

and (my personal favorite):

“What words start with C? Celia! And STUPID! STUPID STARTS WITH C!” Now, this is funny on multiple levels. First, my mother is an English teacher. Whenever I don’t recognize a letter she goes all “Hooked on Phonics ” on me and starts talking in her teacher voice. Thinking that I have mixed up C and S actually bothers her. Which means she has to engage in a conversation with me and repeat the word stupid over and over again. And, do you see the irony her? Priceless.

If you can learn anything from this post, it’s how you should really, really not subject your children to the absolutely terrible parenting that Bridgette Gallagher is guilty of. Guaranteed your kids will be well-adjusted to car washes, enjoy foods where the ingredients are identifiable and might even have a bath without a nervous breakdown. If you are interested in helping me stage an intervention with my Mom, please contact me because I am really starting to get concerned for my baby sister at this point.

12 Days of Shortcut Girl: 12 Toddler Tricks

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So, in order to entertain myself and my readers, I have put together a series of 12 posts, ranging from serious to sarcastic, witty to ridiculous, poignant to preposterous.

Today I bring you: 12 Ways to Survive Your Toddlers at Christmas

Whenever I tell people I have a one year old and a three year old, the retort is, “Wow, then you’re REAL busy!” It’s kind of like telling people you’re an undercover ninja. “Yes, I might seem really, really normal and have it together here at the grocery store, but you should see the mounting laundry pile at home, it’s a doozie. Actually, being here at the grocery store is kind of a little vacation. I’m just driving my cart in circles until I am ready to pick them up from day care at a socially appropriate time” (not too early, not too late).

1. The Big Guy.

I know, I know, it’s cruel. Busting out the threat of no presents is a rookie toddler Mom mistake. But, take heed, there is a small period of time that this threat will actually inject pure fear into your child, so why not make the most of it?

Some good tips: Parker has decided that there are more than just naughty and nice lists, there is also a mad list, a happy list, a sad list, a mean list, etc. He has appropriately said that only the good people (the happy and the nice) will receive presents and the bad (naughty, sad, mad, mean) do not. This is a major coup. Any time he pouts and glares at me or shows anger towards me turning off another episode of Doc McStuffins, I can say, “do you want to be on Santa’s ‘mad at your Mommy’ list? Or Santa’s ‘you don’t ever eat vegetables list’? THOSE kids NEVER get presents.”

And it works like a charm.

2. The Little Guy

I wish someone had told me about all of the craziness that is Elf on a Shelf. Like, for instance, I wish I read this blog post. Because, even though I consider myself a rather creative person, being chained to moving and putting this elf in crafty and silly positions every day is just another thing on my list that I’d neglect. I am already successfully ignoring the pile of laundry in the laundry room—don’t give me ANOTHER chore to ignore!

But, he does work. Along with Santa threats, “Eddie is watching you” threats also work. And yes, it is creepy and commercial. And yes, it is a pain, and yes, the book is written really poorly. And yes, you will disagree with your spouse about the elf on the shelf “technique.” (Side bar: Mike thinks the elf should always be up high to show his “magic” and that Parker should never be able to touch him. Ugh, this makes it hard to be Super Mom and try all the Elf positions I have seen on Pinterest. Elf cotton ball bubble bath? Elf cereal party? Elf driving the Barbie car? In other words, your rule is making me fail at motherhood, just so you know.)

3. Your Guy

Husband/Dads can be depended on for rough play, loud play and sports play. If you have a warm day, get the kids O-U-T of the house with Dad. It’s your only chance to clean that dried yogurt under the table or fold every last pair of Woody underpants (Tee Hee).

4. Date Night

For the love of all that is good and holy, at least ONCE around Christmas time you should get out with your significant other to just, well, kind of, be able to talk about where you will next hide the elf on the shelf when you get home.

5. Pump up the Volume

This is something I have taken part in thrice already this Christmas season. Blaring till your ears bleed “All I Want for Christmas Is You” in the car with silent and slightly deafened children in the backseat. Just look in the rearview mirror, that’s Christmas spirit you see.

6. Run, run, run, run.

Many Moms have the same focus for their afternoons: Tire the heck out of every toddler in sight so you can have an early bedtime and watch more Breaking Bad.

Other Tip: My son has started soccer and we have found that his endurance is not that great (read: he lies on the floor during practice?). So, we have started doing some laps with him on the indoor track at the high school. A. Hilarious watching a three year old run the track. B. Makes you look like “one of those parents” who get their kids into psycho exercise at a too early age. Either way, fun to see what kind of looks you get.

7. Be cognizant of Toddler Time

“Next week,” “in two weeks” and “Christmas” all mean the same thing= NOW. Don’t mess with telling them what’s coming up in the weeks ahead. Let’s just take this day by day. My son actually started crying three days after Thanksgiving because he realized he never ate any turkey. They aren’t exactly firing on all cylinders when it comes to concepts of time.

8. Don’t use up all your carrots too soon.

Pace yourself. If you bake all your cookies, see all your Santas and do all you’re decorating before December 6th (I did), what the hell are you doing for the next 19 days?

9. Car Survival Kit

So that you can go anywhere you want when you throw those two tots in the car and take off, make sure you have a Winter Car Survival Kit (has nothing to do with being stranded with a broken car).

  • Goldfish
  • Wipes
  • Nutri-grain bars
  • Diapers
  • Plastic bags

You know why. You will get stuck “just picking up a few things” and feel like fast food might be your only method of making it through the night. No way, Jose. That’s only for emergencies. Give them some of these no-fail car snacks and you are good to go. And you’re good if they go— in their pants.

10. Toy Storage

It’s important to do a “where is _______gonna fit?” survey before the big day. Clear out old toys, toys missing parts, toys that are annoying or toys your kids fight over and make room for the ridiculous ones you know that big guy is bringing.

11. Embrace your addiction to creating a Baby Gap model.

Winter gives you the chance to layer the crap out of your toddler and give him all the accessories needed to be C-U-T-E. Zip sweaters, puffer vests, fancy hats and mittens. Just live it up, this time only comes once a year.

12. Chocolate Anything.

This is for you. Just eat it. The carbs and the sugar are cancelled out by the number of calories you burn shuttling around little people on your hip. Don’t think about it for a minute.

Girlfriend Gifts: Help a sister out

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In this post, I got a lot of feedback for a piece of advice where I said, “Don’t mistake your husband as a best girlfriend. He can be your best friend but only a girlfriend can be a girlfriend.” There are certain things that only the women in our lives can help us with– listening, listening and more listening– mainly.

I was thinking today how gift giving for my girlfriends went out the window when we all had kids. Above picture is of me and my college partner in crime whooping it up at a recent trek back to campus, namely our sorority. It becomes a kind of unspoken agreement. “No, no gift, let’s just grab dinner sometime so we can actually have a full conversation.”

So, this post is written in mourning of the girlfriend gift. The most fun gift to buy. Sad face.

Just like women dress for one another, we also love to buy for one another. Finding just the right fancy notebook for your teacher friend or the special comfy socks your BFF likes to lounge in is– comforting in some way. So, here’ s a list of my favorite girlfriend gifts— to give and to receive.

Disclaimer: Some of these I have not actually given, but if I was giving gifts out to all my girlfriends, this is what they would get. Think of it as my own little episode of Oprah’s favorite things. Girlfriends of mine, consider yourself gifted!

1. Lattes, lots and lots and lattes. Like girlfriend gifting, coffee with friends also went out the window with having kids. Lattes are pure luxury. Enjoying them with a friend— even more luxurious.

2. Manicures or pedicures in one another’s company. A fun date? Go for pedicures and insist on paying for each other’s. The idea that you are treating your friend and treating yourself at the same time is intoxicating.

3. Nick Arrojo dry shampoo. My hair and hair routine have been revolutionized by this product. If the smell alone does not draw you in, the saved time in the morning will.

4. Candles. Nice stinky ones. I don’t know why but relaxation and cozy to me is always a candle burning in the Winter time. It’s makes you want to cuddle under a blanket and watch Pretty Woman on TBS.

5. Trip to the movies together. No talking needed. Just popcorn, bottomless cup of diet Pepsi and Taylor Lautner. If that’s not the perfect girlfriend date, I don’t know what is.

If you can’t get any of these things for friends, maybe make a date for a drink or dinner, as I have with my college girlfriends. A time for everyone to chat about preparing for the holidays, laugh at your latest Mommy faux pas and just take the time to love on and appreciate the women who have been your supporters through all of life’s ups and downs. Whether it’s a partner to watch girly movies with or someone who will compliment your cute outfit, us women need each other.

Thirty Three: A Post About Me

 

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Me at our hotel in Lake Placid, NY

Anyone who knows me (and pretty much everyone who reads this blog knows me), knows I am very into my birthday. I blame my semi-only child upbringing and two great parents. Parents who celebrated everything. Every. Single. Thing. Let’s put it this way. We went out to dinner to celebrate my cross over the threshold of womanhood. My Mom grew up poor and liked to celebrate and reward good behavior, good grades, milestones, awards. My father was proud as a peacock to have a daughter who did anything well and was never really known for his modesty. “That’s my girl!” he would say. I lost my Dad in 2009. And I think it’s at my birthday when I really, really miss him.

So the product of all this: me. A big girl with a desperate, little girl trapped inside who wants me, me, me and more me. (You do know that’s why I have a blog, don’t you?). God help my poor husband at Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Christmas and, of course, the only day that is about me all day long: my birthday.

So yesterday I turned 33 and have to say I was very lucky to be so spoiled by my husband and children. Mike took me away for a night and it was Just What the Doctor Ordered. Couple time, me time, quiet time and relaxing time. Much needed and much appreciated. Nine years with me, Michael has learned my affinity for my birthday. And although he doesn’t go all out every year (to keep me guessing, I suppose), he really made this year top-notch.

While we were away, I played the “question game” with Mike. A chance for us to talk about things we never get to talk about. With questions like, what have you learned most about marriage? and what have you learned most about yourself as a parent?, we ended up talking about things we never get to talk about—how we are both feeling about this whole “marriage and family” thing that we have been a part of. A time for genuine reflection and analysis.

It made me think of a list I started in July. I was doing a writing prompt activity with a local author who I follow on Facebook. She challenged everyone to complete one writing prompt a day for August. In this prompt, she asked you to write down things you’ve learned over the years. As I wrote, it kind of took the shape of advice I would give my children, but more evidently my daughter. Once I started the list, I could not stop. Here are some of my favorites.

  • Forgive and forgive often.
  • When you have a negative thought, don’t feel compelled to share it.
  • “Knowing who you are” is not always an accomplishment. Keep finding out more about yourself. Never be content. Keep changing.
  • Don’t mistake your husband as a best girlfriend. He can be your best friend but only a girlfriend can be a girlfriend.
  • Say thank you. For everything.
  • Be careful with your words.
  • Listen. Don’t just hear what you want to hear.
  • Apologize for your moments of weakness in life. Recognize them.
  • Pay close attention to regret. It’s a powerful feeling. It tells you when to be more kind, more gentle, more adventurous, most dutiful, more direct, more loving, more loyal. It’s those regrets that help program your future behaviors.
  • Be available. Even when you are busy, don’t tell everyone how busy you are. People who are too busy all the time end up very, very lonely.
  • Your sibling is the only person in the world you have shared your parents with. Value this relationship and its ebb and flow. It’s a rich and powerful one.
  • Take care of your money. No one else will.
  • Always drive slow in your own neighborhood.
  • In the tough times, take a 15 walk or a 15 minute shower and see how things look afterwards.
  • Travel. At every age. Not just when you are young.
  • A friend is not someone you want to be like. They are someone you like because of how they bring out the things you like in yourself.
  • Trust your gut- always.
  • Bake cookies from scratch. It’s what your Nana would want you to do.

As I write these down, I can pinpoint which ones came from my mother, my father, my friends, my own unique experiences and even my own children. Even at 33, I feel young. I have learned a lot, seen a little but know that the best is still yet to come. So, I thank my Mom and Dad for instilling a sense of excitement and need for celebration for silly things like birthdays. Because, without them, there might not be a chance to reflect upon how far you have come and how much further you have yet to go.

At last year’s birthday, I never would have thought I would start a blog that would be my primary artistic outlet and recreation. At Shortcut Girl’s inception, I was skeptical, even of myself and wasn’t sure it I would keep it up. But here I am, about to publish post # 87, and feeling really, really excited to have a new frame for my life. I always wanted to be a writer. And look at that. Here I am. “That’s my girl!”

 

Judgy Mom-ness and Other Jewels of Parenthood

What would you say about the Mom who allowed THIS?

Guilty Confession: Once, to a friend of mine, I complained about a Mom  reading her Kindle while her kids were playing in the library playroom. I thought she must have not wanted to engage with her kids or pay them attention. I didn’t think that she might be trying to conserve and salvage the two good brain cells she has left and actually read a book that does not have a giraffe, a moose, a cat or a dragon in it. She was squeezing in me time. I totally get it. Now.

Dear Kindle Mom at the library,

I am very sorry I was so wrapped up in my mother-of-a-one-year-old self that I did not project I, too, someday would be dying to read a magazine while my toddler was busy not sharing trains with other kids in the library playroom. I owe you a coffee.

Sincerely,

Humbled Mom of Red Headed Toddler

The Library: So there I was this past Thursday, reading a new magazine called Working Mom (Irony much?) while Parker played with other children. I was attentive in that Thank-God-my-child-is-playing-nice way and inattentive in the I-need-something-in-my-head-that-is-not-work-or-kids way. I was having blatant and public Me-time right there for all Judgy Moms and God to see. I kept my eyes on the other Moms—some were playing with their kids and some were taking my cue for Me time. But, I was still feeling guilty. Even as I write this I wonder if my Mom readers will agree or say “Only Shortcut Girl would come up with a way to entertain herself and her children. She’s so lazy.” But I’m willing to let y’all do that because well, I think we all do it from time to time.

The Grocery Store: I’ve rolled my eyes before at the loud screaming kid. I’ve said to myself “Just leave.” And then, like karma, I’ve been the Mom just trying to pick up a couple things at Target in the middle of a major meltdown. For weeks, Parker said, “I was kye-ing and you took me out of Target?” Yes. I was there, little boy. That’s what happened.

The Neighborhood Party: This summer, at the lake, we were invited to a barbeque. While most kids are teenagers around camp, there is one boy just eight months younger than Parker. He was excited to play with him and like the awesome-I’m-so-cool-and–pack-extra-stuff Mom that I am (or was that day), I offered him a juice pouch since Parker was having one.

Smug Mom:“No, if we let him have that then we will have to give it to him at our house.”

[Avoiding the implication that I feed my kid crap and his teeth are going to rot out of his head]

Shortcut Mom:“Oh well, it’s our summer treat, I guess.” [While shoving said juice pouch deep in my bag she can’t see the cookies and lollipops inside]

Smug Mom:“He has only EVER HAD milk and water.”

Shortcut Mom:[Look at kids and smile in the hopes that my head does not explode with embarrassment slash anger]

The Best Friend’s House: A close friend and I had babies three months apart. The boys are best friends and go to day care together. Whenever we go to their house, I play the worst tug of war of behavior you have seen with Parker. He always seems too rough, too bossy, too contrary or just too toddler-y compared to his sweet blonde counterpart. This week, she invited us for a nice dinner. And by nice I mean the food she made, not necessarily my experience. The experience included repeating-ordering-demanding-asking-bribing-begging Parker to just eat, take bites, consume, sip, smell, look at or even touch something to eat. He didn’t. His buddy did. His buddy got chocolate milk (my idea to bring) and he didn’t. We’re talking Stage 4 Toddler Nuclear Meltdown. We departed quickly. No words were spoken by Michael or myself on the way home. I shed a few tears of embarrassment. Of frustration. Of complete and utter—what am I supposed to do?

25 hiccupping-chocolate-milk-requesting sobs later, I was putting Parker to bed. “I have bad buh-have-orr, Mommy? I didn’t have chocolate milk?” Yup, buddy. I was there.

The Conclusion: Judgy Mom-ness is like karma. You get back what you put out. You criticize the family bed that your hippy dippy neighbor has, your kid then spends two weeks spooning your head. You don’t understand why your work friends kids won’t sleep through the night? Your baby girl begins waking at various half hour intervals on the same night you decided to stay up and watch Real Housewives.

They are kids and there are no guarantees. You only really have today. Today he is not pushing his sister. Today all he ate were three bites of grilled cheese. You can’t make predictions, assumptions or guarantees about any person. We all have our days of perfectly civil behavior and we those of yelling, through tears, while cleaning up poop on the floor.

A wise Mom once told me, EVERYthing is a phase. The good, the bad, the ugly. It’s all temporary. So, don’t spend too much time worrying–or gloating. Because sure enough, it’s going to bite your little Kindle-reading-in-the-library-playroom Mommy butt.

 

 

If you like this post, you might like:

Beach post

Summer Cheats

Career Advice

The Summer She Lost Her Mind

You spilled WHAT?

Where’s Daddy?

15 Shortcuts My Mother Doesn’t Know

 

 

Mommy Monday: The Summer She Lost Her Mind

I’m a good Mom. Okay, I’m a great Mom.

I do arts and crafts (coloring books with fancy–like sparkly crayons), speak different languages (Dora and NiHo Kailan), discuss and expose my children to the animal kingdom (petting zoos and parks with ducks), eat ethnic foods (buttered Naan a.k.a. “butter sandwich”) and most definitely expose them to culture and the arts (banjo player at a street fair, thank you very much!).

But the Mom Gods have been throwing me curveballs today. And so, I want to give a standing ovation (stand up, dammit!) to my stay at home Mom friends. Not only am I impressed by them but I am also wondering what kind of therapy slash medication they have been relying on.

Today, in Summary. Let’s Run the Numbers:

    72 threats to throw away toys, send them to good children in foreign nations and/ or well behaved neighbors (The pitfall is that now when Parker does something wrong, he makes a request of where it should go, “You give it to Declan?” Uhm, NO. I’m not going to give your toys to your friend–that’s just all my Mommy arsenal had left at that point in the morning.)

    6 brother on sister bullying incidents including one bite.

    5 time outs related to said bullying. 500 tears were shed during these timeouts cumulatively. Only some of those by Mommy herself.

    1 child took a nap (I have two, so that’s bad- especially considering the 10 month old didn’t sleep)

    37 “I want…” related conversations (and only one child can talk).

    1 incident of an entire loaf of bread getting intentionally squished in the grocery store.

    5 miles covered in jogging stroller in an effort not to lose my mind (didn’t really work and very sore now)

    24 trips to the potty seat to pee a thimble worth of toddler pee.

    2 1/2 hours spent in the car looking for an open blueberry farm (apparently farms close on Mondays?). We went to two. More tears resulted.

    9 minutes spent with potty training toddler in porta-potty.

    10 minutes Mommy spent in the corner of the kitchen where no child could see me.

    9 moments of “I don’t think I can take this.”

    0 minutes spent showering

Good night and God help all the crazy mothers who do this 12 months a year.

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Mommy Mondays: Mommy Emergency Pack

Hmmm. The title makes it sound like I am discussing a first aid kit. Or a six pack of beer. I am writing about neither, sorry to disappoint. Today it’s all about “how to entertain your kids when you are stuck somewhere and you don’t want them to scream, cry and/or embarrass the heck out of you.” What are the magic things to have in your pack? I am sure some of these things just go for my kids but hopefully still give y’all some ideas.

  • Something New: Last weekend I was at a friend’s daughter’s birthday and I could see that the toys were slowly taking over the room as she opened them. I whispered a confession to my friend in consolation: I hide toys from Christmas and birthdays so that I have some “new” things to pack in a diaper bag or for a looooong car ride. We all know how new toys can entertain for a longer amount of time, so these are great for Mommy emergencies.
  • Bribery Candy: Call me a weak and maybe a little desperate Mommy but lollipops, jellybeans and/or any kind of candy that won’t melt all over the bottom of your diaper bag works wonders. Last week, my little guy had to go through a 45 minute eye exam complete with eye drops and lots of lights shining in his eye. The next day, we had to try on about 30 different pairs of miniature glasses to pick the right pair. Jelly Belly jelly beans are the only way we got through. Thank goodness. We have also used Pez in this capacity- a toy and candy all in one!
  • Stickers: you can get $1 packs at the Dollar Store, Target $1 section as well as A.C. Moore. Stickers save my Mommy butt all the time.
  • New Books: My son goes nuts for characters that are new to him. Throwing some new reads from the library in the pack also help in the distraction game.
  • Little Figurines: Little animals, people,etc (Think Smurfs from the 80’s) are great for pretend play anywhere. Hiding or stealing toys from Happy Meals (not that I buy them:) also works here!
  • GORP: If you need a snack, good old raisins and peanuts, seeds, goldfish, etc assures that you have a nutritious, crunchy, satisfying, shareable snack.

So, if Shortcut Girl has done you right, you just pack your emergency pack, show up to your un-kid -friendly location and resist the urge to show your kid “I’m Elmo and I know it” on your phone 12 times. Or you run through all contents of said emergency pack in the first 8 minutes and prolong the Elmo marathon at least!

…and if you are a Mom who read this post and said to herself, “Why does this chick need all this stuff? How bad is her kid?” Oh, How I envy you Mom-with-a-calm-child. Just make sure you give some sympathetic looks to the Mom in the mall whose kid runs out of the play area with no shoes on and straight into a store. Actually, help her out and make sure she hasn’t left her other child behind when she chased after him!

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