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September 2007


September 5, 2007

Whew! Anastasia is suddenly taking a single 1 hour nap a day, so I barely have time to get anything else done! Sorry for not posting sooner.

I think Anastasia's hair is starting to grow back. She's been pretty good about using her blanket to snuggle with (instead of pulling her hair). It may also have helped that one of Anastasia's favorite dolls had a "talk" with her. This particular doll has lots of curly black hair, which Anastasia seems to admire. One day the doll said: "Would you like to have long, pretty hair, too? Hmmm. Well, I think if you want long, pretty hair you need to stop pulling it out." Miss A. responded with a very contrite expression.

She's a funny girl. I've been reading that most 2 year olds speak only in two word sentences and that it isn't until age 3 that most kids use longer sentences. But while Anastasia doesn't use words or sentences very often, she speaks in fairly complex sentences when she wants to. The other day, for example, she said: "Where are you going?" She's also finally starting to say "yes" more often. Well, actually, she says "yeah" or "yup." (I guess mom and dad are a poor example.) The other day her daddy sat down and said: "Do you want to cuddle?" And she said, incredulously, "Yeah!" Or, if we tell her she's a good girl, she nods her head and says "yup."

Today we experimented to see just how big a girl Miss A. is. Before she was born, I taught singing lessons. When I went on bed rest, I stopped and I haven't taught since. But I've been wanting to help make ends meet a little better, so I emailed a few of my old students and said I was interested in teaching again. I explained that Anastasia would be present at all lessons, however, and that I wasn't sure how that was going to work out.

Well, today one of my former students came by for a lesson. Anastasia was very shy with him, of course, and spent the first 15 minutes or so sitting on the piano bench next to me, her face buried in my arm. Soon, though, the music got to her, and she watched closely while he sang and I played. A couple of times she helped me play the piano a tiny bit. After about 45 minutes, she finally wanted down from the piano bench, but she played quietly at my feet. I was impressed!

Anyway, if I continue to do this, it will be a good thing. RSV season is on its way, and while we won't be totally sequestered this year (as we were the past two years), we still need to be careful. We think we'll stop going to playgroup during RSV season, and all this winter and fall we'll do our best to keep Miss A. away from sick people. As our pediatrician said, two isn't a magic age. Some preemies get RSV after age 2 and end up in the hospital. Nobody knows whether Miss A. might be one of those kids, and considering that RSV usually has life-long effects on kids with lung damage, we want to carefully balance protecting her from RSV with making sure she still gets to be around people.

So lessons might be a good way to continue socializing Anastasia.


September 9, 2007

I am ridiculously excited. :)   Anastasia drew her first picture yesterday!  Oh yes, I know. It's just scribbles. But Miss A. has never been really interested in drawing before. She wanted to eat the crayons, not make pictures with them. And she had a hard time pressing hard enough to transfer color to paper. But yesterday something clicked. She was focused, and had a great time. She drew with one color for a moment or two, then carefully chose another. Then she drew with two crayons in one hand. Then she drew with three in one hand. After perhaps 25 to 30 minutes of drawing, she carefully put the crayons back in the box, one by one.

And here is her masterpiece :)   :


Unfortunately, we've also been dealing with a lot of tempter tantrums this week. I'm working really hard to make sure I give Miss A. some sense of independence. I let her pick her clothes (choosing between two different outfits), I let her choose some of her foods (again, by showing her two options), I encourage her to brush her own teeth (although I do a follow up brushing), etc. But this doesn't appear to help.

 Mostly she throws tantrums if I won't read to her the very instant she wants me to (I swear she thinks being read to is a constitutional right!), or if she wants to go outside and we can't right that moment. I've tried totally ignoring her. I've tried scolding her. I may have to try a time out next.

Her daddy has great success by saying "Shhh! I can't listen to that right now," and ignoring her. This quiets her almost immediately. But that doesn't work for me.

Speaking of books and reading, I recently got Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever through Paperback Swap. I actually belong to two online book swap groups, the other being BookMooch. If you love to read and have more books than bookshelves then I highly recommend you check these sites out. All you do is list a few books you want to give away (by entering their ISBNs onto the website). Then other members email to say they want one or more of your books. You mail them, at your own cost (which is a about $2.50.) Each time you mail a book to a member, you earn points. With those points, you can ask any other member for some of their books, and they ship them to you at no cost to you. It's easy, convenient, and cheaper than buying books at our local thrift store.

Anyway, Miss A. thinks Best Word Book Ever  is the best book ever. It's just about the only book she wants read to her.  And she wants it read thoroughly. She's clearly learning new words and concepts, and by the time the book is done, she's one tired girl!


September 10, 2007

Anastasia had a big tumble today at the park. She was running down the sidewalk, laughing, when she tripped on her own feet and fell forward. Her face nearly smacked into the sidewalk, but thankfully she caught herself. Lots of tears, but only a scrape on her knee and a little boo-boo on her lip. (I think she bit herself slightly.) She landed right in a puddle (from the park's irrigation system), so she was splattered with mud from head to foot. I loved on her and said: "You're okay, honey." She stopped crying and said, "Yup."

Other than that, she had a fabulous time at the park. A family with two little boys about Anastasia's age stopped by, and they had a dog who was super-kid-friendly. Actually, they use the dog for "therapy" at a local organization that helps disadvantaged families or families with disabled children. Anastasia spent a lot of time petting the dog and trying to feed it mulch. She was also inspired by the boys to go down some of the taller slides. When it was time for the family to leave, I said, "Say bye-bye, Anastasia." She replied, "Noooooo..." and kissed the dog, then each of the boys.

By the way, Miss A. had another temper tantrum this morning. I tried all the usual things, including loving on her and ignoring her. Finally, when she started hitting me, I told her she was going to have a time out. I put her on a kitchen chair (which she thinks she can't climb down from), explained that we don't hit, that time out is punishment, and that I was setting the timer for one minute. "You sit here for one minute and calm down," I said, then left the room. She sat quietly the whole time. After one minute passed, I came back in and picked her up. She was back to her usual self.

Tomorrow, Anastasia's physical therapist is supposed to drop by to see how she's doing. I think she'll be pleased. Miss A. can now go up and down stairs without holding onto our hands, as long as she has a rail to hang onto. She's also running, using the big kid swings, and moving easily over all different kinds of terrain. I know they expect her to sit on a ride-on toy and push it with her feet by now, but Miss A. doesn't do this. She can...she just doesn't like to.


September 11, 2007

Last night, as I was trying to corral Anastasia into bed, she cried, "I want Daddy!" My hubby came running in from the kitchen, wide eyed, and scooped her right up :)  Funny how Miss A. can talk when she wants to!

Today, the physical therapist checked in with us. Overall, she seemed pleased with Anastasia's progress. She watched her kick a ball, go up and down stairs, and climb in and out of her sandbox. I explained that Miss A. doesn't think she's capable of going up and down stairs - even shallow ones - without hanging on to something, so the PT wants us to work on that. She feels Anastasia can do it, she just lacks confidence. She also suggested I could start encouraging Anastasia to jump - first by showing her how, then by using an old mattress or cushion to let her jump on as I hold her hands.

I was surprised that she wanted to see Anastasia in another month; I thought she'd let more time elapse before she felt the need to see us again.

Oh, and by the way, Miss A. now weighs 24 lbs.


September 14, 2007

On Wednesday, our Early Intervention coordinator visited for the first time in over a month. At one point, Miss A. threw a puzzle piece in frustration (she couldn't make it fit where it was supposed to). I said, "We don't throw puzzle pieces. Go pick that up and bring it back to [our coordinator]." Anastasia lay down on the floor and said, "Noooooo." Eventually, I took Anastasia's hand and she gladly got up, picked up the puzzle piece, and gave it back. Our coordinator said, "She's definitely two now!"

Our coordinator was also mystified by Anastasia speaking in sentences...then suddenly stopping. "I wish I knew what was going on in her head," she said. The coordinator is surprised and impressed by the words Anastasia can readily identify. For example, I can ask her to look at any picture and find such details as a pinecone, a porcupine, a scarf...

We discussed the possibility of teaching Miss A. to sign so she could communicate more clearly. "I know they say that facilitates learning to speak sooner," I said. "But I believe that in Anastasia's case, it would prevent her from speaking. I know my daughter. She likes to do things the easiest, most comfortable way possible." Our coordinator smiled and said she's seen it go both ways. Some kids do learn to speak more quickly if they sign first, while others definitely do not.

So she had a conversation with Anastasia about how she needed to use words every day, and that it's okay if they come out a little funny-sounding. The important thing is that Anastasia tries to use words. Miss A. nodded knowingly. (And, long after our coordinator left, said to her daddy, who was changing her into her pj's, "Hey! Let's go!")

On Thursday, we went to a new (for us) playgroup. It meets at a local elementary school in a large classroom filled with art supplies and toys. It's a busy group, and at first, Miss A. was very shy. I tried to sit with her at a table to color, but she cried. So instead, I held her and we watched some toddlers play with a train set. After about five minutes, she was down there with them, squealing with glee at every toy she happened upon. She had a terrific time, and left hungry and exhausted.

Yesterday, Anastasia's potty chair finally arrived. I opened the box, and before I could even take off the plastic wrap, Miss A. squealed and sat on it. She then drug it all around the house, sitting on it in various locations. Later, I put it in the bathroom and she sat on it. A little later, I helped her take off her pants and diaper so she could sit on it. She seemed to think that was a little odd, but she did it anyway. We'll be gone this weekend, so we won't be using it, but I'm in no rush. I only occasionally see Miss A. stop and squat (as opposed to just going without thinking about it), so I think it's a little early for her to be using her own potty. But she sure is excited about it!

Insisting on sitting on her potty chair in the kitchen. (Yes, that's pudding on her face and a scrape on her knee.)


September 18, 2007

Last weekend, we traveled a couple of hours to visit with my in-laws. The first night, I was worried because Miss A. wouldn't touch her bottle, but the next day she drank two 8 oz. cups of orange juice...so apparently she was trying to make up for it. She ate reasonably well the rest of the time...She even ate a banana! (Previously, she's always gagged and vomited after tasting banana.) I also discovered that if I said, "Anastasia, show your cousin (or grandpa, or grammy, or whomever) how you can feed yourself," she eagerly obeyed. This garnered overly enthusiastic applause from our family, which only made her want to feed herself some more :)

Anastasia also had a fantastic time with her young cousins. She adores them, and they her. At one point, I walked into a room where Miss A. was playing with two of them. Miss A. was playing with a pillow that had beaded trim; I took it away, since she still puts everything in her mouth. One of her cousins (just six years old) said, "I'm sorry. I'm trying to guard her." I told him he was doing a great job, and explained that I didn't want Anastasia to put small things in her mouth. He nodded gravely and I left the room. A few minutes later, when Miss A's three year old cousin went into the room with her, I heard the six year old say, "I'm trying to guard Anastasia. And it's not going well!" Later, he said (kindly but with fatigue) to Miss A., "Stop getting into everything!" So I moved them into the same room I was in.

At one point, Anastasia wanted to go outside when it was still cool. I'd forgotten to bring a jacket for her, so her grandma offered one of the boy's jackets that had been left at her house. Anastasia shook her head, said, "Nooooooo!," stamped her feet, and in every way tried to get out of wearing the jacket. She never does this at home. In fact, she likes wearing jackets. But the jacket was plain, and just slightly dirty. I guess she just didn't think it was pretty enough.

Instead, she pointed toward a silk kimono jacket that her grandma had just held up to her to see if it would fit. She wanted to wear the soft, pretty jacket instead.

The kimono outfit is a family heirloom. My mom-in-law's dad brought it home to her from the Orient when she was two years old. She had her photograph taken in it, as did her daughter and niece. Now it was Anastasia's turn:

Anastasia slept little at her grandma and grandpa's house. One night, she woke me up while saying "noooooooo" in a dream. Another night she awoke at 3 am and didn't go back to sleep for three hours. And on Sunday, she refused to nap. I left her in the playpen in a quiet room, anyway, thinking she'd at least play quietly and get a little down time. Not realizing we could hear her through the baby monitor, she babbled most of the time, and we heard her say at least one thing: "Babble babble babble I'm Anastasia! Babble babble..."

Yesterday she added "I'm funny" to her repertoire of sentences. At least, that's what we think she's saying. (I do sometimes tell her, "You're a funny girl, Anastasia.")

I also bought Miss A. a couple of tutus at The Dollar Tree yesterday. She adores them! I caught her "dancing" in them on video; she started by standing in front of the stereo (which was playing The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies...you can't see the stereo in the video), then moved on to the living room to dance in circles, then moved back to the kitchen to watch her reflection in the oven door :) You can watch the video here.

Later, she insisted I help her put on her doggy backpack. Then she decided she needed to put a necklace on her doggy's neck. She looked pretty darn adorable, walking around the house:


September 19, 2007

Time outs are working pretty well :)  Last night, Anastasia purposefully crumbled a page in one of her books, so I took it away and told her she could only read board books for the rest of the evening. (And yes, she does understand the difference between a board book and a "big girl" book; I keep them on different shelves.) She wasn't happy with this, and grabbed a bunch of "big girl" books and threw them on the floor while screaming and stomping.

I scooped her up and told her she needed a time out for one minute. I placed her in one of the kitchen chairs with her back to us (so she couldn't socialize) and turned on the kitchen timer. She sat quietly for the entire minute. When the kitchen alarm went off, she started to slid off the chair. I helped her down, hugged her, kissed her, and all was well again. "Wow! That really works!" my hubby said.

Oh, and by the way, this afternoon, Anastasia said "kitty" repeatedly. A few times it was a little off, but she said it over and over again until she got it right. She was so proud of herself!


September 21, 2007

Is it just that there are very few little girls running around that are Anastasia's age? Or does Miss A. already have a preference for boys? I'd been pondering this for a while when yesterday, at playgroup, Anastasia spotted a little boy with a softball. She tried to take it from him, but he refused to give it over. So Miss A. leaned over and kissed him twice...then tried to take the ball. Then today, at the library, she went straight for one little boy, hugged him and kissed him repeatedly. He appeared shocked at first, then patted her back gently.

Should I be worried?? (Just kidding...I think...)


September 22, 2007

We are all at various stages of sickness. My hubby is the most ill; he has cold-like symptoms, but with a fever. Anastasia is cranky and has a runny nose. And I feel achy with a bit of a sore throat.

So far, Miss A. has shown no signs of wheezing, which is the main thing we have to look out for, since her lungs may still be damaged from being on a ventilator when she was first born. And hopefully this isn't RSV...


September 23, 2007

I am so thankful for baby monitors. Some people scoff at them and say that if their child needs them, they'll hear them crying or calling without a monitor. But I've found that's not necessarily true.

When I went to bed last night, I turned up the volume on our baby monitor; I hoped it would alert me if Anastasia started wheezing. At 1:00 am last night, I awoke instead to the sound of Anastasia coughing, then vomiting. I wouldn't have heard either without the monitor.

I rushed to her room to find Anastasia on her hands and knees, still vomiting. When she finished, I cleaned her up and sat her in her rocking chair while I cleaned up her bed. She obviously had a fever, although the ear thermometer only read 95.6. I gave her some Tylenol, and she started coughing and vomiting again. Long after she had nothing more to vomit, she was gagging terribly. Finally, she started screaming, she was so miserable. That woke up her daddy. (He'd been sleeping in the family room, hoping to sleep better there.) I cleaned Anastasia up again and we took her temperature under the arm: 101.6, which meant her actual temperature was a bit higher. (Taking someone's temp under the arm isn't that accurate.)

I called our pediatrician's office. The nurse told me they'd been having a lot of calls about a stomach virus, but also said coughing and mucus could cause vomiting. I told her I was especially concerned because Anastasia only had about 7 oz. of fluid the entire day, and refused her evening bottle. (She couldn't suck and it and breathe at the same time because her nose was stuffy.) The nurse said that as long as she had one wet diaper every 12 hours, she was hydrated enough. She also said that if her temp reached 104, measured under the arm, I should call them again. "Take away her blankets," the nurse said, "and try to get her to go to sleep in her crib. Holding her will only increase her temperature."

I gave Anastasia another dose of Tylenol, she kept it down, and I put her back to bed.

At 5:30 am, about a half hour before I could give her more Tylenol, she woke again, making moaning noises. I held her for a bit, then gave her a dose of Tylenol (once it was safe to do so), and put her back to bed. She was mad. She cried for about a half hour, then slept fitfully.

As you can imagine, I was exhausted, and I was so thankful that my hubby was already awake when Miss A. woke up at 7 am. He took care of her while I slept a little.

Happily, she took 4 oz. from her bottle, and ate quite a few Goldfish crackers. Her fever is just slightly elevated, but she's obviously feeling better. Hopefully, that will continue.

In the meantime, I have the sniffles. Blegh. What an introduction to the cold season.


September 24, 2007

Happily, the worst seems to be over for both Anastasia and her daddy. And I have no further symptoms...so maybe I won't get sick. I gave Miss A. Tylenol and Vicks rub last night and she woke up cheerful this morning. She's been taking her bottles, but not eating much in the way of solid food. I'm trying to offer salty things, since I imagine she can't taste most food.

And she's back to her usual "I love clothes" self. Yesterday, while I was at Wal-Mart, I bought her some gloves. She'll need something this winter to protect her hands on walks in the cold, and I thought she'd be more likely to keep gloves on (as opposed to mittens) since she's fascinated with them in books.

She squealed with delight when she saw them, but seemed afraid to put them on. Finally, I sat her on my lap and put them on her hands. Then she didn't want to take them off.

Today, I received some pink and white gingham rain boots in the mail, which I bought off eBay. Anastasia was jumping up and down with excitement when she saw them and insisted on putting them on right away. They're a little big, and she could barely walk in them, but I could almost see her thinking, "I don't care! They're cute!" (Such a girl!)

I also received Miss A's Little Red Riding Hood costume in the mail. I wanted to sew it myself, but I just didn't have the time or energy, so I found a lady on eBay who sews them. I figure Miss A. can use the cape for other dress-up occasions, and she can wear the dress (minus the apron) later, too. Anastasia was delighted with that outfit, also, so I had to hide it so she doesn't wear it out before the NICU reunion :)


P.S. A friend of mine wanted me to post about the recent crib recall, but I'd rather just point you to the U.S Product Consumer Product Safety Commission's website. Make a habit of checking this site every week, and you'll always be up to date on all the latest recalls for toys, baby supplies, and more. You can also sign up for email announcements of recalls.


September 25, 2007

Miss A. knows her shapes!

For a while now, she's been able to identify a circle and square, but a few days ago, I came up with a shape game. On the computer, I made two of all the basic shapes: circle, square, triangle, rectangle, heart, and diamond. I cut out each shape and showed it to Anastasia. I let her play with them as she liked for a little while. Then I laid out all the shapes and asked her to show me both circles, both squares, etc. Whenever she got it right, I applauded madly. Once she had this down, I put one of each shape in a line on the floor. Then I handed her one of the shape twins and asked her to put it on the appropriate shape: "Anastasia, put this circle on top of the other circle." Again, lots of wild applause when she got it right.

She thinks it's a great game; in fact, I have to really distract her in order to take the game away and work on something else! Since each shape is a basic color, next we'll work on colors. If you like, you can download my template for the shape game here. It's easy for mom, but effective for toddler.

Anastasia continues to get better, by the way. She has the sniffles, but otherwise seems fine. Now if I can just get her to eat! I'm afraid to weigh her...


September 27, 2007

Well, Anastasia and her daddy are still recovering. Miss A. has a runny nose that won't quit, and she gets pretty congested at night. I still feel like I'm coming down with the bug; but with all the runny nose I have on me, it's amazing that I haven't gotten sick yet!

Our Early Intervention coordinator visited yesterday. She was impressed with the increase in Anastasia's verbal skills. She is now saying "book," "kitty" (or sometimes "cat"), and "baby" regularly. Yesterday, when our coordinator showed her some plastic fish, Anastasia said "shark" or "a shark" repeatedly. (I can only guess she learned this from watching about 40 minutes of Finding Nemo last weekend.) She also tried to say "top" (it came out "tuck"), and has a fascination with all words ending in "uck." (Even a certain "bad" word, which we ignore by saying, "Do you mean "truck?") She's said "purple" several times and said "purple block" repeatedly while handing me a purple block. She's also saying "up" a lot now.

Anastasia's verbal progress fascinates me. At 10 months actual (6 1/2 corrected age), she starting speaking words. Then, last winter, she pretty much stopped. Then she started saying  a few words again, as well as things like "I love you" and "thank you." Then she pretty much stopped. On her second birthday, she flooded us with sentences like "I like what?" and "Whatcha doin'?" Then stopped. Now she's back to single words or two word sentences. (!)

While our coordinator visited, Anastasia also showed off her ability to point to shapes. Our coordinator's jaw dropped. "Well, I don't think we need to worry about her cognitive abilities," she said. Later, our coordinator said, "I also brought some matching games. They're really more for three year olds, but I thought we'd just see what happens."

Now I know Miss A. can match pictures in a book. She has a couple of "look and find" books that show small pictures of things in one corner. Then I ask her to find those items in a larger picture that shows those items, plus many other things. This is an easy and fun activity for her. But I've never been able to get her to do matching cards. Well, our coordinator got her to do them...at least for a few minutes, until Miss A. got bored.

Anastasia surprised her, too, by noticing details our coordinator had never seen. For example, one of the matching cards had a picture of a teddy bear. "Where's the teddy bear on this page?" the coordinator asked, pointing to a large card with pictures of several objects on it. Did Miss A. point to the big, obvious picture of a teddy bear? Oh no. She pointed to a teeny tiny picture of a teddy bear on a photograph of a stack of books.

That's actually pretty typical for her. She's detail oriented, like her daddy.


September 28, 2007

Ugh. Mornings are turning into the part of the day where I want to lock myself in a closet with muffs over my ears. Miss A. whines and cries from about an hour after she wakes up until her daddy comes home for lunch...almost non-stop. She doesn't want to be held. She doesn't want to be read to. She doesn't want to play. She doesn't want a snack. She doesn't want...well, almost anything.

I think she's still feeling pretty icky from her cold (which makes her sleep uncomfortable; last night she woke me up several times, coughing up gunk). Plus, I think she misses her friends.

Every morning this summer we've gone on a walk, often ending in play time with other kids. I was hoping to attend at least one more play group activity, one more story time at the library, and perhaps a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meeting before RSV season came, but this awful virus/cold thing has kept us away.

I feel sorry for Miss A., but oy! Does this make for loooooooong days.

Through Paper Back Swap and Book Mooch, I got The Everything Toddler Activities Book and Gymboree's Toddler Play; I'm looking forward to learning some ways to get us contentedly through the endless RSV season...


September 29, 2007

Yesterday I had one of those "only-a-mom-knows-how-hard-it-is" kind of days. Miss A. cried and whined virtually all day, except when her daddy was home. (And it wasn't like she was clinging to him when he was home, either. She ignored him while she played.) I couldn't comfort her in any way. And the stress and noise led to a series of frustrating events. I'll just give you just a little taste of what it was like.

When my husband came home from work, I begged him to watch Anastasia for 20 minutes while I locked myself in my office to write and have some quiet. That part was great...except that the 20 minutes flew by. When I came out, I needed to finish dinner, and hubby needed to chop kindling. He went outside, and the whining and crying instantaneously started again. As Anastasia screamed - always underfoot - I dropped a dish and broke it. (Fortunately, it only broke in two pieces, so I was able to clean it up before Miss A. could step on any shards.)

A few minutes later, I dropped a measuring cup of milk. I rushed to mop it up, telling Anastasia - repeatedly - to stay back. She didn't listen, and instead slipped on the milk, falling on her behind. No tragedy, except now I needed to change her clothes and give her a bath, and mop the floor, and tend to the bubbling pot on the stove...and get it all done in about 30 seconds.

I sat Anastasia on a kitchen chair; I felt bad about doing this, since this is her time out spot. But it was the only place I could put her where she'd stay. As I mopped the floor, I told her she didn't do anything wrong and wasn't in trouble. Then I picked her up and took off her clothes. I wiped her body with a baby wipe, figuring that after dinner I'd give her a bath to wash the milk from her hair. As I listened to the soup bubbling on the stove, I briefly considered letting her run around in her diaper...but it was too cool in the house. So I stuffed her into some PJs.

I was about to take a towel to the floor to soak up any residual water (and - let's face it - milk), when my cooking timer went off...and Anastasia simultaneously came tearing around the corner. She had - miraculously - stopped crying and whining after I changed her clothes, but now she was crying again...because she slipped and fell flat on her back, hitting her head. I scooped her up in my arms, saying soothing words as I turned off the screeching kitchen timer and removed the pot from the stove. (It didn't overflow! Hurrah!)

Then Anastasia's daddy came in and wanted to know why Miss A. was crying...