Difference Between 1st & 6th Child’s Baby Memory Book!

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Okay, okay I plead guilty to Baby Book Slacking!  But it was self-defense. Should we put mothers on trial for omitting crucial information from subsequent children’s baby books?  Wouldn’t the father be an accomplice?

So I got a little lazy?  Besides, who really ever reads these books anyhow? It’s not like they’re headed straight for the New York Times Best Yeller Seller list, are they?  Number six child is lucky she got any kind of handwritten documentation out of me at all.  She could’ve just had a copy of the below dog-eared book shoved in a keepsake box (or an empty Lucky Charms cereal carton) along with some loose teeth and a lock of hair. And it could’ve been the dog’s teeth and hair. Give me some credit!images (2)But just for the sheer fun of shaming me, let’s take a quick looksy at the differences, shall we?  Of course, the First page of all Baby Memory Books always starts off with the classic Family Tree. Important stuff!

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Above is a beautiful specimen, sure to be treasured through the years.  But nothing beats the creativity of the sixth child’s Family Tree below.photo 1 (5)

As I further compare and contrast books — all information from First Child’s Baby Memory Book will be in Blue Font.  Whereas Sixth Child’s info (what little there is) will be in Pink Font. 

BABY’S NAME:  Benjamin       

SIGNIFICANCE OF NAME:  Your Dad and I bonded over watching actor, Benjamin Bratt in the television series, “Law & Order.”  On our honeymoon, we kissed in front of the Big Ben clock in London!

BABY’S NAME:  Lacey      

SIGNIFICANCE OF NAME:  I wanted to remember my favorite vintage blouse which got ruined when morning sickness made me vomit all over the Chantilly applique collar and sleeves. Tsk, Tsk!

HOW LABOR BEGAN:  – We were shopping for nursery furniture when I felt a mild twinge so we rushed to the hospital. The labor and delivery nurses thought we were so cute and sent us back home three different times until the pains came closer together.

HOW LABOR BEGAN:  At Disneyland, my water broke on Splash Mountain. Nobody would believe me. Your siblings insisted we stay for the Electrical Light Parade. Sitting curbside while writhing in pain, I was suddenly seized by a huge contraction which made me kick an extension cord out of an outlet. The entire park plunged into darkness.

THESE WONDERFUL INDIVIDUALS WERE PRESENT FOR YOUR BIRTH: Nana, Papa, Aunt Carol, Uncle Gary, Great Grandma Ethel, my wonderful obstetrician Dr. Pransky and of course, your Daddy!


FAVORITE STUFFED ANIMAL:  A darling lavender poodle who sleeps in a doghouse on your dresser.

FAVORITE STUFFED ANIMAL:   A dust bunny who hangs out under your crib.

Time for Baby’s First Hand & Foot Prints.  Awww…. 

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Though not depicted below, 6th Baby does possess a complete set of Hands and Feet!  I thought leaving that to the imagination was a nice touch.

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Yes, 6th Baby WAS nicknamed SpongeBob SquareToes for quite some time.

YOUR FIRST SOLID FOOD:  Mashed banana, rice puree and strained spinach

YOUR FIRST SOLID FOOD:  A piece of What’s His Name’s  bean, rice, cheese and guacamole burrito, french fries, a diet coke. 

FIRST WORDS:  Mama, Dada, light, doggy, ball, cookie, more!

FIRST WORDS:  Help! Valium, postpartum depression, Crème Brûlée, Weight Watchers!

YOU BEGAN TO USE YOUR HANDS AT   6 months      THIS IS WHAT YOU DID:  You reached out tentatively for a colorful rattle shaped like a butterfly!

YOU BEGAN TO USE YOUR HANDS AT   2 years       THIS IS WHAT YOU DID:  You shoved a pen and this Baby Memory Book into my arms and looked expectantly into my eyes. 

Story time together is such a delight. Here are your favorite books and now they’re mine, too!

 Pat the Bunny         Green Eggs & Ham       Where The Wild Things Are!      If You Give A Mouse A Cookie!              

I’m so sick of these stupid books, I’ve taken creative license with the titles. Also, you’re getting more astute and have started wondering why every book consists of only two pages and then we chant triumphantly “The End!” Here’s your faves:

Splat The Bunny        Green Eggs & Scram        Where the Reviled Things Are!         If You think Your Mom is kooky!              

FIRST LULLABYE:  Rockabye Baby, I sing it to you in the rocking chair

FIRST ALIBI:  I couldn’t have sung to you because I became tone deaf. Plus we used the rocking chair for kindling wood during a family camp out.

FIRST OUTING:  We went to the park and you experienced your very first swing.             

FIRST SHOUTING:  You got to listen to your dad and I argue (over emptying the dishwasher) and experienced my first mood swing.               

And the Last Page always ends with such independence!

FIRST WALK:   You took three steps and we all applauded for you!   FIRST WAVED:  You’re off to preschool already – – turned and waved to me “Bye-bye!”  Good job! Where did all the time go??          

There were some “small time gaps” in Sixth Child’s book, but I DID finish the last page:

FIRST JOCK:  You’re a cheerleader now dating the high school quarterback!  FIRST SHAVED:  Your legs look smooth and silky. You’re off to college already?  “Bye-bye!”  Good job! Where did all the time go??

Who was “She?”

Disclaimer:  Thank you for allowing me a departure into the truth today.  More laughs again soon.photo-241

Wasn’t Sweet Sixteen a little young to be visiting the inside of a mental institution?

But today she wasn’t visiting. They had checked her in. Why would they do this with her?  Because they didn’t know what else TO DO with her.  The Doctor swore there were no more options.  Doesn’t matter that she had never spent even one week at a summer sleepover camp.  Doesn’t matter that total strangers terrified her.  Doesn’t matter that the roommate they assigned her was an openly hostile lady of 62 who strung her bras across bed posts and window sills like strands of Christmas tinsel.

This was where a troubled teenager was sent in 1980.  If they suffered long-term deep depression, culminating in a suicide attempt.

Nurse #1 – – Apparently she locked herself in the bathroom and tried to swallow Liquid Plummer.

Nurse #2 – – You mean like Drano?

Nurse #1 – – No I mean exactly Liquid Plummer.

Nurse #2 – – Nobody tries.  They either do or they don’t.

Nurse #1 – – Exactly.

Nurse #2 – – I’ve heard of a lot better cries for help than that.  But it got the father’s attention, I suppose.

She had watched a lot of movies so she was certain any moment she would see Jack Nicholson or Nurse Ratched ambling down the hallway.  But instead there were just regularly dressed people milling aimlessly about.  Kind of like the anxious folks who look at their watches at subway or train stations.  Only these people weren’t going anywhere. Physically.

There were no special wards separating adolescent from adult patients back then.  Crazy was Crazy and age wasn’t a barrier or reason for seclusion. So she got to see it all.  The unkempt forty something blonde who oozed sex like melted cheese in an overstuffed quesadilla, making humping motions against the nurse’s station until two orderlies escorted her away as she drawled, “C’mon Sailors, I’ll take ya both on right here, right now.”

The dark-haired, ethnic faced girl of twenty, slumped against the drinking fountain, hugging her knees tightly while holding her breath, eyelids clamped shut as she whispered her mantra, “You don’t see me.  You don’t see me.  You don’t see me.”

A prematurely graying man, (handsome like a movie star) raced around the bright orange (was that considered a soothing color back then?) corridor, chiming the ABC song until he got his face within two inches of Ethnic Girl’s large nose and blurted, “Peek-a-boo, I DO see you!”

Some days Group Therapy could take hours. There was no cooperation from patients like these.  When you didn’t want to be somewhere, why should you go along with the program?  But she sat and listened anyhow.  And finally it dawned on her.  Everyone else seemed to have a reason.  Something that justified why they were the way that they were.

Several teary-eyed females with molested pasts, slowly recounting excruciating details. One word every ten minutes – – yes, the talking and the memories came that  s-l-o-w-l-y.  Or maybe it was the abuse that did?

“It.”  (Look at clock)  “Was.”  (Bury mouth in jacket hood)  “My.” (Find the ceiling extra fascinating)  “Father.”  Stare straight ahead, daring anyone sitting in the group circle to meet your gaze.

Other tales of woe.

Schizophrenia ran in the family.

My Aunt was a prostitute and brought strange men into my bed.

My brother tortured my poodle in front of me.

My father was an alcoholic who raped my grandmother.

We were poor so I worked in a factory where they beat us if we went too slow.

I said goodnight to my mother.  She said, “No, it’s goodbye.”  And it was.

And on and on.  And that’s when she knew.  No matter what was wrong with them, something worse was wrong with her.  Because she had no reason.  No excuse.  No justification.  No scapegoat.  She had a two parent, functioning family.  No drinking, no drugs, steady employment, good morals, nice house, lots of friends, religion.  How could she blame it on happiness?

There was just something wrong inside her brain.  It would get dark in there.  For days on end.  And noisy with chatter.  So she would go outside of herself.  Watching vigilantly.  She could count her throat swallows, the chest inhales/exhales, heart thumps, eye blinks.  All her reflexes could be perceived as someone else’s.  Her head felt better in close quarters and so she stayed inside her closet.  Dissociative Behavior, they called it.

And that’s when everyone decided to agree.  Medication!  Medication had to be the answer.  They didn’t even mention the question.  They skipped right to the solution. Every single night.  She had to swallow two tablets and three capsules in front of the nurses, then open her mouth wide for inspection afterward. And she hated that one ugly male nurse who would swipe under her tongue with his foul-smelling fingers.

There were all sorts of Therapies.

In Art Therapy, they told her to paint or sketch.  Her hands froze.  “C’mon Honey, draw what hurts you.”  She drew a World Globe.

In Dance Therapy, they told her to hop and jump and prance.  Her feet froze.  “C’mon Honey, move to the music.”  She rocked ever so slightly to the metronome inside her head.

In Life Skills Therapy, they took her on outings.  They taught her how to ride a public bus.  How to go into a library and check out a book.  How to grow vegetables in a garden.   How to sit on a beach and enjoy the sunshine.  “C’mon Honey, it’s time to go outdoors and live quickly.”  But she went inside her head.  To die  slowly.

Until someone else died suddenly. The only other 16-year-old in the place.  They had become friends.  Sort of.  She was an anorexic named Mitzi.  66 pounds.  The medical staff was very thorough inside those walls.  Searching your bags when you came back from a field trip, confiscating even fingernail clippers or compact mirrors.  But not quite thorough enough.  They forgot about dusk.  When the sun went off and the lights came on.  Nobody would notice one missing bulb from a lamp in the sitting room area.  And nobody did.  Until they found it smashed and red-stained, between the sheets where it had sliced open a pair of very young wrists.

Nurse #1– – She woulda been gone in a few weeks, anyhow.  She was starving herself to nothing.

Nurse #2 – – Because she felt nothing. She was numb.  Our little Mitzi girl.

But our little Mitzi girl knew that cutting herself would be the first time she would feel something.  And I knew exactly what that something was.  She could have whispered it to me, too.  But she didn’t have to.  It was freedom.

Shortly after that, I stopped thinking of myself as “she.”  I was me.  Again.  And I began to get much better, much faster.  Not quite fast enough, though.  The medical insurance ran out before the Doctors  felt I was completely ready to go home.  But some Head Administrator made a lot of noise, stating that I had the right tools now. To cope.

I got to sit in on a long matter-of-fact meeting and we all nodded our heads discreetly at the end.  A helpful nurse leaned into my ear to whisper, “You’d best put this whole thing behind you.  Never speak of it again.  Never.”  (But nobody mentioned writing.)

That night the kitchen help baked me a German Chocolate Goodbye cake.  I hate the nuts in that kind of frosting. And my father avoided German cars, and German beer because he was a holocaust child.  But I ate a piece for Mitzi since she dreamed of any kind of cake.

It had been 3.5 months and now I could talk about my feelings, paint, draw, dance, ride a bus, grow a carrot, check out a library book, enjoy the beach. And most of all, I could feel.

And what I felt most of all was. . .

Sweet Sixteen was definitely too young to visit the inside of a mental institution.