Code of the Baby

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The wee baby Abel’s smile lights up the room, but only when he can’t see the camera/phone, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

After spending some time observing my little one and those of my friends and relations, I’m convinced that somewhere in this world, there really is a Boss Baby, and that he or she has handed down the baby equivalent of a stone tablet filled with the code of the baby. Based on my investigation, here are some universal rules that all babies are required to follow:

  1. Thou shalt taste everything. Seriously, if it’s small enough to fit in your hand, put it right in your mouth. Too big? Just open wide and lick whatever portion of the object is closest to your face.
  2. Thou shalt always be on the lookout for sharp and pointy objects. Make your desire for the object known in classic baby fashion: urgent looks, followed by reaching for and grabbing the object and, if you can’t get it in hand after a moment, obnoxiously loud crying. Bonus Boss Baby points for painfully poking yourself in the face if you do manage to get a hold of it.
  3. Whenever placed on the floor, thou shalt always creep or crawl toward the dirtiest thing within reach. Pet food bowls are okay, but a low, open garbage bin is preferable, and a cat’s litter tray that hasn’t been cleaned out for a day or two is ideal.
  4. Thou shalt covet thy neighbor’s toy. Even if you are already contentedly playing with what is normally your favorite toy, and even if the neighboring child is playing with a toy you normally don’t care for, you should grab for that other toy anyway.
  5. Thou shalt squeeze face. The face squeeze is the universal baby greeting. Show interest in other humans and any pets within reach by grabbing a fistful of flesh, preferably in the facial area.
  6. If you have accomplished a new cute behavior and your parent or other caregiver pulls out a camera to document it, you must immediately stop doing the activity until the camera is put away. Similarly, when the caregiver calls a human witness to observe the new behavior, cease doing it until the second person leaves the room. When you start to talk, use this same strategy when you learn a new word or phrase.
  7. Humor they mother and thy father. Remember to keep a steady stream of cuteness going for your parents, lest they decide to call the stork and return you for following the other rules so closely.
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Returning to Paradise

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From #docklife to #decklife, the view from my new place.

The BVI had Irma-geddon, then I had a baby. Baby, hubby and I escaped (okay, evacuated) to California for a while, which was both delightful and difficult.

People have asked when I will be writing about all of that, but the truth is that it’s still hard to talk about and I’m not sure I’ll ever write about it… So I guess the answer to that question is: not yet.

Anyway, seven months on and things are feeling almost normal around here, including at work, where the Limin Times is back!

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Here’s my latest Island Life column, which ran April 19th.

Island life means sharing your mornings with roosters, goats, cows and all kinds of other creatures, but recently I had my worst island wake up call ever. I was roused from my slumber by the feeling of something cold and wet on my shin. Without thinking – let’s be honest, I wasn’t even fully conscious yet – I grabbed the offending object and flung it away into what turned out to be the closet.

This was not a quiet process, so soon I was trying to explain to my groggy husband what the commotion was all about. As my mind cleared I gradually realized that it must have been a frog. I cannot articulate my disgust. A cold, damp frog had been in my bedroom, on my bed, on my leg, and then, shudder to think, I had held it briefly in my hand.

Hubby, hero that he is, wasted no time hopping out of bed and handing me the hand sanitizer. He advised me to take the baby and leave the room, heavy shoe in hand.

“Are you going to kill it?” I asked, realizing that there is indeed something more icky than a live frog hopping around the bedroom.

Beginning to be fully awake himself, hubby put down his shoe and, as if in answer, we heard a rustle in the closet. The frog appeared on the ledge of our son’s play pen and hubby lunged for it. The wily frog, evidently drawn to the sound of his friends outside the bedroom window, started climbing the curtain.

Watching the frog awkwardly make its way up the curtain was like watching a muppet flail its arms and legs. Suddenly, it wasn’t so icky. It was just Kermit. I watched as my resourceful husband coaxed Kermit into the play pen, covered it with a mosquito net, and carried the pen onto the front porch. Kermit was clearly no genius: after he hopped out of the pen he lingered on the porch until hubby made some noise before rejoining the other frogs that love to hang out croaking in the yard.

Even though I fervently hope Kermit never again finds his way inside, I do find myself wishing him well in a way. Now excuse me while I go scrub down everything he might have touched while he was there.

How to handle dengue like a pro

I just had my second or third bout of the extremely unpleasant dengue fever. I know you’ve heard all the classic advice for dealing with viral illness like get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids. Maybe you’ve even heard about the remedies like aloe juice and papaya leaf paste. What I’m fairly certain you haven’t heard is how to handle everyone’s second-favorite mosquito-borne illness like a journalist. Follow my lead if you dare.

First of all, make sure you get sick on deadline day. This means you probably have to get bit over the weekend, have a punishing and mysterious headache on always-busy pre-deadline day, and be reaching for whatever meds you can get your swollen little paws on for the all-important actual deadline day.

Speaking of medication, take some that you’ve never tried before. Later, you can make jokes about how you’ve puked out behind the office with the best of ’em. You can hint that this is because you are a hard-partying animal, rather than a dummy with a surprise drug allergy. Again, this should all happen on deadline day, so you can alternate writing and throwing up with no hope of leaving before your pages get sent.

As unhappy as your stomach is, you still have to eat. After things have calmed down, go for something bland and easy like a bowl of instant mashed potatoes. It’s very glamorous.

Once the paper is out, go ahead and stay home from work. Seriously, the last thing you want is the entire office also getting “breakbone fever” because the same mozzies that bit you are now biting and infecting them. That’s not cool.

But just because you’re home doesn’t mean you can’t work! If you plan it right, you can be home sick on a day the legislature is sitting, and have all the fun of listening to lawmakers conduct the public’s business while lying in bed. Nap while they take their breaks, and if you still have a fever, you might get really lucky and have a dream about the legislature. Freaking fever dreams.

Spend the next two to three days napping, watching cartoons, listening to audiobooks. Write one short story after you learn that someone else in the office is also sick. Go on that photo assignment with the cats. If possible, cuddle multiple cats.

When the rash appears, don’t scratch it. I know it’s all over and itches pretty much constantly, but the more you scratch, the itchier you will feel. It’s a dreadful cycle you don’t want to start.

Go back to work. Compare symptoms with co-workers, all of whom are now either sick or on vacation. Feel better than you actually are compared to the ones who are a few days behind you on the dengue calendar. Out on assignment, show off your rash to whoever wants to see. Listen to other people’s stories about what skin symptoms they and their family members have, and the debate about whether you have dengue or Chikungunya. Continue to drink lots of water, but don’t get on the internet, because that will only distract you from all those stories you didn’t write on your days off.

At the end of the day, feel great about getting some stuff done even though you’re still kind of sick. Feel even better that you didn’t get the scary hemorrhagic variety of dengue fever or something even worse. Vow to be militant about your application of homemade mosquito repellent in the future.