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baby brain

  • Finding Independence Across The Field of Dreams

    Have you ever gone to visit a place you used to go as a kid, and rather than being the huge expansive place it was in your memory, it is actually the size of a bathroom.  When you are little, your perception of the world is drastically skewed because you yourself are so tiny.  I remember going to my grandmother’s as a child and thinking that I would walk miles into the woods to find the secret cabin where I would spend my afternoons.  I went back in my 20’s and realized you could see the damn cabin from the kitchen window.  I guess I wasn’t that neglected after all.

    So I figure from The Munch’s perspective, my mom’s house (which is right next door to mine but through a field) is like 8-light years away.  I would assume that for The Munch to traverse that distance by herself would be unimaginable.  Yet one afternoon I looked out the window and I saw her walking up the hill by herself.

    Munch: “Mamma, I need Gum Baby’s highchair.”

    Toni: “Munch, did you leave Manna’s house all by yourself?  You have to tell someone when you are leaving so they can watch you and make sure you are safe.”

    Munch: “But I need Gum Baby’s highchair.”

    Although that sounds like a really legitimate reason to run from my mom’s house like a wild banshee, I do think it is remarkable that The Munch went on her first solo adventure.  She is finding her independence and realizing that she is the master of her own domain.  The world is no longer a place she waits to come for her, but now The Munch is entering the world with her own intentions and volition.


    June 4, 2013 • 2 years old, Adventures, baby brain, Parenting, Talking and Not Talking • Views: 1770

  • How To Like Your Family Even When You Don’t

    The love you feel for your family is different than the love you feel for those you don’t share DNA with.  It is almost as if the love is choiceless.  Despite everything, you have to love them in this primal desperate way.  You know them on a cellular level, and even if their personalities are slightly repugnant, there is still a connection.  We are bonded to those we share blood with.

    The parent-child relationship is probably the most complex because there are so many strings attached.  The child needs the parent to keep them alive/safe, and the parent then feels some sense of ownership over their kid.  As the child ages into an adult, sometimes these dynamics are so deeply embedded into the relationship that it is difficult to respect each other.  It can be hard to find the friendship when there has been this distinct role of the superior and the subordinate.  The child who is always seeking approval from their parent, or the parent who is never satisfied with their child is one of many power struggles that can infect the love.

    That is why having things in common with your family can bring you together despite the complexity of past resentments or failed expectations.  No relationship is every perfect, but the more you share, the more time you will want to spend together.  If you have similar interests, then that are always activities you can together to reinforce the attachment.

    Since The Munch is only 2, I can’t exactly say that we like to do the same things.  I mean, playing in the sandbox and ordering people around is great, but when that person who is being ordered around is me – it kind of loses its charm.  We don’t always see eye to eye on what we want to do with our day, and I feel like I do a lot of the compromising.  I mean, reading Pippi Longstockings 19 times is not exactly what I call the best afternoon of my life, but I will do it for The Munch because I know its good for her brain… and I want her to be the smartest kid ever so I look good.

    One thing we do have in common is dance.  We go into my barn where I do my dances, and The Munch does hers.  Usually we do our own things, but  today  The Munch decided she would make up some moves for me to perform.

    Munch:  “Lift your left toe and put it over here on the window, then over the spider… twirl around 3 times – then fall on the floor. But don’t hurt yourself.  But hit your head and cry.  Then get up and jump like a frog like this.  Then go back and forth. Run to the mirror.  Shake your bum 20 times like this, then lift your right leg all the way to the ceiling.  Move your arms up and down, run over here, then fall down again. But this time, hurt yourself.”

    And I would do exactly as she articulated because that was some pretty imaginative choreography.

    “5,6,7,8 and walk 2,3,4…”


  • You Spin Me Right Round Baby, Right Round

    When the Whirling Dervishes come to town you are going to see that shit.  At least I am.  I think it is interesting to witness the practice of connecting to the oneness of all things and the eternal godliness of the universe.  Devotion through meditative gestures and excessive efforts seems like a path towards something.  The mystical journey of truth is not going to be found on my Facebook feed that is for sure.  Even though one seems slightly more entertaining than the other – perpetual bliss and enlightenment vs. a funny video with Jimmy Fallon lip-synching.  Tough call.

    Of course I brought The Munch with me, because if I am going to transcend space and time, so should she.  We got to the front desk and I handed the woman a check as my mandatory donation for the event.

    Lady: “Is that what your are planning on using for your signature?”

    Toni: “Excuse me?”

    Lady: “That’s the signature you are actually using for this check?”

    Toni: “Ummm yup.  That’s my signature.  I guess I should have been a doctor?”

    Lady: “Or paid more attention in school.”

    Things were off to a great start.  I wasn’t exactly sure of the scene upstairs, but I realized pretty quick when greeted with a bunch of “shhhhhhhh’s” that my friend Miriam and I had been talking too loud on our way up.  Everyone was seated in a circle around an empty space and we found our way next to my friend Sarah.

    The Munch was the only child in a five-mile radius and all I could do was pray that she behaved herself.  You don’t want to be that person that everyone resents because they brought their kid.  But at the same time, I think kids should be more integrated into adult situations.  If they are always excluded from things that aren’t specifically kid-friendly then how will they ever know your interests?  If I didn’t bring The Munch with me to things I liked then she would assume I actually think going down a 3 foot slide is exciting.

    The room was very quiet, then the music started to play.  It was subtle, and understated. A flute flittered in the background and The Munch let out this really loud noise/yawn/release that almost perfectly mimicked the pitch of the instrument – just 8 volume decimals louder.

    The Whirling Dervishes came in and started… you guessed it… whirling.  Just going around and around and around themselves in circles.  A man who worked at the museum came over because he was concerned The Munch was sitting on my lap.

    Man: “Does she need her own chair?”

    Toni: “No she is fine. Thank you.”

    Man: “Are you sure?”

    Toni: “Yes thank you.”

    The man then walked back to where he was standing, and The Munch decided I was wrong.

    Munch: “Mamma, I need my own chair.”

    Toni: “No Munch you are fine.”

    Munch: “No I need my own chair.”

    Toni: “Munch you are good.  Just sit on my lap.”

    Munch: “I am going to go ask that man for a chair.”

    She then slithered off my lap to ask the man for a chair. Now the Munch is wise enough to know to whisper at events like these, but the man she was talking to was old, and kind of deaf.  He couldn’t hear what she was saying.  She kept whispering “I need a chair” and he kept pointing to his ear.  She would then whisper “ear” because she assumed he was testing her knowledge of body parts, and things got all confusing.

    So I got her a chair and showed her that she could sit on it and stop harassing that man.  As the Whirling Dervishes spun around and around and around, Munch started fidgeting on her precious chair.

    Munch: “Mamma… I am stuck.”

    She had some how wedged herself into that gap between the seat of the chair and the back of the chair.  Either way I tried to pull her out seemed geometrically impossible.  It was like extracting a flat screen TV out of a bagel.

    Toni: “Jesus Munch.  Which way did you go in? Head first or feet first?”

    Munch: “Umm, my bum.”

    I barely managed to stuff her butt back through the tight space and she was free.  Then The Munch just started walking over to the man who worked at the museum to show him how she could twirl, what the inside of her mouth looked like, her new party shoes and would then remove the shoulder straps of her dress seductively while he desperately tried to pursued her to pull them back up.

    Munch then got hungry, and thank goddess Miriam had a Lara bar.  Of course she had to pee at one point, and then almost insisted that I “talk loud” because her baby needed to “wake up and not be so lazy.”  When the Dervishes stoped whirling the room was silent expect for a loud whisper saying “I don’t want to go Mamma.  I want to stay here.”

    I wasn’t sure if she was a welcome addition to the event, or some old hippies were going to stone me.  But luckily when people started talking they said how well behaved she was, and the man who worked at the museum called her delightful.  It’s a good think old people don’t see or hear that great.



  • Can I buy my Happiness online?

    When I was a young child life was much different.  If I wanted something, I actually had to go to store and find it.  Doesn’t that sound wild? Almost as extreme as having to walk 9-miles to school, in the snow, with the wind blowing in my face both directions while wearing shoes made of Kleenex boxes.

    There was no online shopping in the 80’s.  So as a 5-years old when I really wanted Teddy Ruxpin for Christmas, my parents had to drive around for hours searching for him.  After a whole day of their lives was spent frantically going in and out of Toys R Us’ they finally found my precious talking bear- only to find out that the reason I had wanted him was to see how he worked, and then didn’t give a flying fuck about him anymore.

    Okay, that was a dick move on my part.  But it wasn’t totally my fault.  Teddy Ruxpin looked so seductive in the commercials.  Like he was the Charmin bear come to life.  Once I realized you just stuck a tape in his ass so he could tell you some asinine story, the novelty quickly wore off.  But don’t blame me alone.  Blame the marketers! The ad guys! I was not a spoiled little shit!

    The Munch lives a pretty sheltered life, I am willing to admit that, but one day I mentioned the concept of buying something online for her.  She really wanted foot pajamas like her cousin Calvin, but Target didn’t have any.  So I explained I would get the jammas on the computer while she was sleeping. This was a strange concept for The Munch to understand, but once they came in the mail she was pumped.

    My issue with online shopping is that there is no effort involved.  I mean besides flapping your fingers around on a keyboard.  This breeds a disconnect between the thing you think you want, and what you are actually are buying.  The idea of material objects is irrationally seductive. Hey computer, I WANT ALL THOSE LEGGINGS!

    But when you are actually shopping and holding something in your hand, you have to identify with it more than if it were just on a screen.  Of course there are extreme cases of shopaholics where the act of spending and acquiring goods is a rush, but even if you have a semi-normal relationship to consumerism, it can still be corrupted in the ethereal world of the Internet. Not only do I want all those wrap-around dresses, but I WANT THEM TODAY!

    I didn’t realize that this concept had been so deeply imprinted into The Munch’s psyche until she was visiting with my mom this weekend.  She saw a doll catalogue that my mom (who The Munch calls Manna) had lying around.  Why my mom has doll catalogues floating around her house is yet to be determined, but once The Munch found it she was flooded with things that she desperately desired.

    Munch: “Manna, I want this doll right here.”

    Manna: “Well, there is no store to get that doll right now.”

    Munch: “You can get it on the computer.”

    Manna: “Oh I can?”

    Munch: “Yes go on the computer and you can pay for it.”

    Manna: “Okay.”

    Munch: “I wanna see.  I wanna see too!”

    Manna: “Alright well sit next to me.”

    Munch: “I want that baby too!”

    Manna: “Munch, you already have that baby.”

    Munch: “NO I DON’T!”

    Manna: “Yes you do, that is the same as Water Baby, just with a different outfit on.”


    Manna: “Pretty sure I know my babies and that is the same as the one you have.”

    Munch: “Can I get that baby then?”

    Manna: “Okay but for your birthday.”

    Munch: “Can I get the stroller too?”

    Manna: “The running stroller?”

    Munch: “YES!!”

    Manna: “Okay.  Done.  The baby and the running stroller on their way.”

    Munch: “But I want to have them now.”

    Manna: “You can’t have them now they are coming in the mail.”

    Munch: “NOOOOOOOOO!!!!! I WANT TO HAVE THEM NOW!!!!!!!!”

    The proceeded to fight about The Munch wanting her toys now and my mom saying she had to wait.  So my mom calls me on the phone to fill me in..

    Manna: “Your daughter is absolutely insane did you know that?”

    Toni: “I did.  But why now?”

    Manna: “Well she made me order some things for her online, and she was angry that they weren’t here right away.  So then she used my phone to have a pretend conversation with you and said ‘Mamma, get me my fucking stroller now!’”

    Toni: “Maybe the new family rule should be no more online shopping.”

    Manna: “Maybe you should stop swearing around her too.”

    Toni: “Maybe I fucking should.”



  • Sharing means let me have all of it

    The Munch is kind of selfish.  That or she has a major interest in candy.  Hard to tell which is the real motivation in this story.

    There were three lollipops.  At first The Munch was actually quite generous and wanted to share them with me and my friend Gita.  We each had one, and were eating them at our own pace- hers being the fastest.  She soon realized that her lollipop was smaller than mine.

    Munch: “Mamma, lets trade.”

    Toni: “Hmmmm okay…. Not sure if this is exactly what you would call a fair trade. But I love you so….”

    Soon after our “trade” The Munch and I had both finished our lollipops, but Gita still had hers.

    Munch: “Auntie Gita lets trade.”

    Gita: “Munch, your lollipop is finished.  So we can’t really trade.  But I can share mine with you.”

    Munch: “Okay lets share.  But it’s my turn now.”

    Gita let Munch have a turn, then Gita took a turn, then Munch and eventually Gita and I forgot about the lollipop and started having a conversation.

    Gita: “Did you read that article I sent you?”

    Munch: “Mamma, look, look, look, watch me.”

    Toni: “Wait, what did you say?”

    Munch: “Mamma, did you see me jump so high?”

    Gita: “The one about the artist who….

    Munch: “Mamma, Mamma, Mamma, do you like spiders?”

    Toni: “What? Which article?”

    Munch: “Mamma, Mamma, Mamma, Mamma, I need a new pair of tights, can you go get me some?”

    Gita: “You know the one….”

    Munch: “Mamma, Mamma, Mamma, Mamma, Mamma, Mamma, Mamma, Mamma, my shoes are falling off can you fix them?”

    Toni: “Wait what?? Munch I am trying to talk to Auntie Gita you need to give me a moment.”

    Munch: “Mamma, Mamma, Mamma, Mamma, Mamma, Mamma, Mamma, Mamma, Mamma, Mamma, Mamma, Mamma, Mamma, Mamma, Mamma, Mamma, Mamma, Mamma, Mamma, Mamma, Mamma, Mamma, Mamma, Mamma, Mamma, look I took off my shoes and tights to jump.”

    When The Munch finally went into the other room, I wasn’t questioning what she was doing.  Suddenly everything was quiet and I could talk for a moment.  It was a luxury to have 10 minutes of uninterrupted conversation.

    She then came back with the lollipop stick, sans lollipop.

    Toni: “Hey! What were you were doing in there?”

    Munch: “I ate the lollipop all up!”

    Gita: “Munch, I thought we were sharing the lollipop?”

    Munch: “Yeah…. Not any more.”


  • I Want To Be With you… and Eat You

    It is nice to be sought after.  To have someone express there desire to be around you.  The idea that a person desperately wants to spend time with you is flattering.  A nice little boost to the ego.  But when that being happens to be sort of crazy because their brain is only semi-formed, things can get a little intense.  Especially when they are really possessive and quasi-canibalistic.

    Lately The Munch has been particularly demanding of my attention.  She wants to engage with me every chance she gets, and is much more interested in interacting with me than playing by herself.  I figure like all things, this is a phase, and I should go with the flow.  She is mostly fun to be around, even though she tells the same story about her baby doll going poops in her diapi and wanting lollipop ice cream.

    But it can also be overwhelming being the center of someone’s universe, especially because The Munch is in a constant state of stimulus.  Sometimes I want to be like “kid, get off my nuts,” but that confuses her because I wasn’t eating any.

    Yet as exhausting as it can be, she does make me laugh.

    The comedy began this morning when The Munch wanted me to do her hair.

    Munch: “Mamma, can you braid my hair like Pippi Longstockings?”

    Toni: “Sure!  Wait Munch you have to keep your head still?”

    Munch: “Hahahahahahahah”

    Toni: “Munch you have to stop shaking your head if you want me to braid your hair.”

    Munch: “Okay.”

    Toni: “Alright…. (I would start for one second, and then she would start shaking her head again). Munch! You have to stop wiggling your head around!”

    Munch: “Hahahahahahahahahahaha.  Okay.”

    Toni: “Let me try again… Ahhhhhhhh!”

    Again, two seconds of me trying to braid her hair, and then her wiggling her head back and forth like Stevie Wonder in the groove. She did this for 25 min.  I know I was encouraging her because it was making me laugh… but it was just so ridiculous.  I don’t know why I kept trying. Probably because I thought she would look really cute.

    Then she decided she wanted to play a game with me.

    Munch: “Mamma, can you do me a favor?”

    Toni: “Sure.”

    Munch: “Can you play hide and seek with me?”

    Toni: “Okay.  I will count to twenty and you hide.”

    Munch: “Okay!!”

    Alright, so I would count to twenty, look up, and The Munch would be standing next to a tree looking right at me.  I could completely see her.

    Toni: “Munch! I can see you! You have to hide.”

    I would count again, and the same thing would happen.

    Toni: “Munch listen to me.  You have to hide so I can’t see you and I have to look for you. So if you can see me, pretty sure I can see you too okay?”

    Munch: “Okay”

    I counted to twenty, looked up, and there she was standing next to the same tree – but with her back to me.  I decided that was a good enough try, and indulged her and pretended I was looking for her.

    Toni: “Hmmmm is Munch behind the bushes?”

    Munch: “No Mamma! I am over here! Next to the tree!”

    Then we go over to her cousin’s house to play.  We are all roughhousing, pretending to be monsters and lions, and I am tickling them both.  At one point I was paying too much attention to her cousin and The Munch bit me.  It was right when we were about to leave, so I decided to talk to her about it when I was brining her to the car.

    Toni: “Munch, while we were playing, I felt you bite me.  Did you bite me?”

    Munch: “No?”

    Toni: “Munch I felt you bite me.  It was not nice.  Was it an accident?”

    Munch: “No.”

    Toni: “That makes Mamma very angry.  Were you jealous that I was paying attention too Calvin? Because I think you bit me on purpose.  Did you?”

    Munch: “Yes?”

    Toni: “So why did you bite me?”

    Munch: “Because I wanted to eat you.”

    Ahhhhhh I guess love is loving someone so much that you want to consume them entirely and eat them.  Kind of makes sense.


  • Bikini Girls

    Little girls in bikinis.  Is this okay? Not okay?  Should you even be reading this? Are we going to get arrested for talking about this? I am scared.

    Last week my friend Gita sent me an article about how Gwyneth Paltrow designed a line of bikinis for 4-8 year old girls, and a group called Kidscape was outraged that she was promoting the sexualization of young girls.

    I wasn’t sure what I thought about little girls in bikinis, but I was sure that the 5-year old model was way skinnier than me, so I immediately committed to getting back to my birth weight.  Then…the next day I opened the mail and my mom had sent The Munch a bikini! Coincidence? Irony? Or was the bikini actually for me and my mom was trying to inspire my new diet goals of weighing 7 pounds 4 ounces?

    Of course The Munch was really excited about her new bathing suit and immediately wanted to put it on.  She was at first confused about the idea of a top and didn’t get it.

    Toni: “See… It’s just like Mamma’s Munch.”

    Munch: “Ohhhhhhh.  I see. I see.  To cover my nanas.” (which is what she calls boobs).

    Then she tried on the bottoms, but it was too big,  So The Munch did what any normal person would do.  Took off the bottoms and just wore the top – for the rest of the entire day.

    So now that my daughter not only has a bikini, but is wearing half of one, what do I think about this?  Does clothing sexualize little girls? Or does the observer?  If someone is going to see a child as sexy, does it matter what the kid is wearing? Or does their perversion exists regardless of apparel?  I am not sure – I am kind of the thinking that if someone is going to be turned on by kids, its because there is something wrong with them, and putting the child in a Yves Saint Laurent dress isn’t going to make a shit bit difference.

    But I do think the fashion for children has changed drastically since I was a kid, and there is something creepy about it.  My biggest issue is that kids now look like mini-adults rather than children.

    This was never an issue I had to contend with.  When I was young we didn’t have low wasted jeans or Baby-Tees to chose from.  Clothes were distinctly for kids.  As a pre-teen Pearl Jam was the shit and grunge was what was in style.  All my pants were baggy corduroys, and all my shirts were long sleeve plaids.  In high school, hip hop was the main cultural influence – so again all my pants were baggy and my t-shirts oversized.  I wasn’t hiding my body on purpose, I was just wearing what was considered cool.  I didn’t wear a tight pair of pants, or shirt that fit me, until I was in my 20’s.

    Now leggings, skinny jeans, high heel boots, and tight tops are the current things to wear.  In order for your kid to fit in, they have to be somewhat hip to the trends. But is this look problematic?  I don’t think little boys are necessarily seeing the girls as more sexual -because they are too busy thinking they have cooties, but I do question how little girls start seeing themselves.

    I remember as a child being fascinated by the idea of being a woman. What it would be like to have tits, or my period, were concepts I was intrigued by.  But the truth is that we are women for 80% of our lives.  It is such a short time where we get to be kids, so why not fully immerse ourselves in the experience of it.

    Maybe what kids wear can contribute to their growing up too fast, or maybe it really doesn’t matter.  I tend to believe that valuing your childhood happens within the context of your parents treasuring it as well.  That childhood is more of a state of mind that is preserved through environment.  Maybe once The Munch grows into the bottom half of her bikini I will think differently, but under these circumstances, all I see is a crazy little girl mooning me.



  • You’re So Vain, I Bet You Think This Blog Is About You


    If I were to put a mirror right next your face while I was talking to you, 99.999999% of the time I would be looking at my reflection rather than you.  Humans are seduced by their own image, and we all secretly love watching ourselves.  If we were to watch a video of me and you eating cheese, I would be watching me, and you would be watching you, and the mouse we were hanging out with would be watching the cheese.  And then we would all make out because it was that kind of movie.

    No one wants to admit they are vain even when we all engage in vain behavior.  But the truth is that the human condition is to be obsessed with yourself, and vanity is a manifestation of that.  The problem with our current paradigm is that there are too many outlets to express our vanity.  Back in the day, the only way to catch a glimpse of yourself would be if you went swimming on a very still day.  But now not only are their mirrors everywhere you turn, there are all these technological outlets for exhibitionism and narcissism.

    Facebook, twitter, instagram, all provoke our vanity in a way that is too persuasive to ignore.  Look at me do this, look at me do that, look at me doing this and that.

    But the counter balance to vanity is insecurity.  If you are going to put yourself out there to be praised, you are also putting yourself out there to be criticized, or even worse… ignored.  If I posted a picture of myself that nobody liked – that would be worse than if someone said something rude.  To not be seen is worse than being judged harshly.

    And the more preoccupied we are with ourselves, the more we critique ourselves as well.  If I only saw my image once ever 9 years when I finally got to use the clean spoon first because my father Dwagfur and brother Shtupslnary always took priority, I would think I looked pretty damn good.  You know, underneath the dirt and scurvy.  But the more we expose ourselves to ourselves, the easier it is to notice every imperfection.  If every day of my life I look at my stupid face, then even eventually I am going to notice my flaws.  All 7,893 of them.  Not that I have counted or anything because that would be insane.

    The reason why I feel like vanity is an inherent trait rather than socialized is because The Munch has always been fascinated by her own image.  Ever since she was a baby she loved looking at pictures and seeing videos of herself.  I think it is natural to be enthralled by our own beings and to want to see what everyone else sees.  But I don’t want The Munch to acquire the inevitable emotional baggage and self-doubt when she starts looking in the mirror and judging what she sees.

    Here is my strategy to avoid this!! I think it’s working!!


    April 30, 2013 • 2 years old, baby brain, Behavior, Mommy Body, Mommy Mind, Musings • Views: 4160

  • Don’t Tell Me What To Do!

    No one likes to be told what to do.  Whenever someone tells me to do something, my first reaction is to do the opposite.  Probably why I always end up getting into trouble.  “Toni, don’t touch that bat, it carries diseases” well… not if you are wearing a condom.

    When you have a kid you are constantly telling them what to do, and sometimes they listen, and sometimes they are like “go fuck yourself.”  I can’t blame The Munch for not wanting to succumb to all of my demands.  Even though I am way smarter, and the majority of my requests are not only sensible but for her benefit, she will undoubtedly rebel.

    Sometimes I can anticipate here revolt, and sometimes she catches me totally off guard.  Her uprising against my logic can throw me off my game and confuse me.  Maybe she is right and I am being unreasonable? Does she really need to pee before taking a nap?  Should I risk the chance she urinates in my bed?  And then an hour later while ripping the sheets of my mattress I wonder why I let myself be manipulated by her mutiny.

    The insurgence of a toddler is intimidating.  It is never just “no thank you Mamma, I would rather not leave the park now.” If The Munch is pissed and doesn’t want to do something, I better get ready for battle.

    But now I have this new strategy.  You know how you might take a toy and talk as the toy’s voice to play with a kid right? And be like “Hey, its me.  Bear.  You want to smell my fart?” to make them laugh.  Well my friend Sarah told me, “just have the toys tell her to do things that she doesn’t want to do. If it’s coming from the toy, rather than you, she will do it.”

    Fuck yeah she will.  Even though my toy voice is undoubtedly creepy and out of a Stephen King movie, this method totally works!  I guess things are way more annoying coming out of my mouth… but when coming from her owl – no problem!  So for all you future boyfriends of the Munch, if she is not listening to you, just grab a stuffed animal and let them to the talking!