She's Been Shawshanked

Living in a house built in 1928 has its pluses (beautiful moulding, hardwood floors, and character a go-go) but also plenty of minuses (cracks in the walls, minimal insulation, and far too few electrical sockets). Recently, we discovered another minus- we can't seem to child-proof it with gates.

The problem is that our doorways into the rooms we want to keep Isabella restricted from are uneven. So, while a gate would fit securely on one side, there's a gap on the other. We wanted to use tension gates, rather than ones for which we'd need to drill holes into the wall, because our walls are plaster, and we don't need another softball-sized hole in our wall, like the one a large mirror is currently hiding.

Add these annoyances to the fact that her main play area is our living room, which has adjoining entrances to my office, the dining room, and the kitchen, not to mention a stairway within the room, and we had one big hot mess on our hands.

Until my wonderful friend, a mom of twins, gave us this.

Behold, my child containment system. It is made of plastic. It is enormous. It is hideous. And I believe it is technically for use outdoors.

And I couldn't possibly love it more if it followed me upstairs every night and gave me a glass of wine and a back rub before bed.



It's called a "play yard." And I swear to you that right this moment I am writing a fan-girly love letter to the company that manufactured this absolute gem of a product. I no longer have to haul my child out of our fireplace, which she is drawn to as if it were covered in cheese, 43 times a day. She has ample space in which to crawl, throw toys, and explore, and I don't have to worry that if I turn my back for a second, she'll be upstairs playing hide-and-seek with the rats in the attic.

Yes, being 5'2'' I have to basically pole-vault myself over it each time I need to go into my office, or any of the other rooms whose access it restricts. And yes, Martha has rescinded her offer to photograph my living room for the cover of the October issue of Living, but to tell you that this system makes my life infinitely easier does not do its wonders justice. I now fully understand why my friend Marie is such a fan containment parenting.

And what does Isabella think of it?

Well, she asked for a spoon last night. Perhaps we shouldn't have watched Escape From Alcatraz as a family.


And like any prisoner, she has her good days.



And her bad days.



But even with good behavior, she's looking at a minimum of 18 months.

14 Responses to “She's Been Shawshanked”

  1. # Blogger Marie

    She's one lucky prisoner, with the food you feed her, Kristi!!!

    Hooray for containment. Long live the mighty plastic fence. We had something at least as hideous (more, really) cobbled together at my house, a while back.

    I remember what a relief it was coming home to my gates & fences after visiting other peoples' houses!  

  2. # Blogger Beagle

    Jail with toys can't be all that bad!  

  3. # Blogger Editorgirl

    Kristi - it is the best idea ever! C's sister has one and the best part is you can take it with you. Not only have I seen her use it at home, but also at her parents' house. I think it's the greatest invention - I was even talking to my mom about getting one for my nephew when he comes to visit - now if we could only convince my brother :-)  

  4. # Blogger My Wombinations

    this makes me laugh and laugh--and cry a little, too. In just a couple months I am going to have to figure out a baby containment method of my own.  

  5. # Blogger kenju

    What I wouldn't have given for one of those back in 1966! My son was faster than the speed of light when he learned to crawl. I had to put him in an old-fashioned play pen, which was only 4'x4', and so severely limited his field of play. This would have been soooo much better!  

  6. # Blogger l

    Wow, that's some contraption. It looks like it's taken over your living area. Better than an invisible fence, though, huh?  

  7. # Anonymous lisanne

    OMG. I *love* the way that you wrote this blog entry! hehe :) SO funny! We have a little "baby containment area" for Meredith upstairs in our bonus room, too. And it got so bad with Lucas at one point that we put our garbage can within the "forcefield" because he was constantly getting into the trash can and dumping it! LOL! :)  

  8. # Blogger Damselfly

    Hey! We have the exact same play yard -- except we don't have nearly as many pieces, so it's not as big. Yours looks like it protects the whole room! I used it for a few weeks until Fly got to where he'd cry if you so much as hovered over the play yard because he didn't want to go in it. Now I've doubled it up and am using it to shield the fireplace. What *is* it with fireplaces?!

    Containment parenting, hee hee...  

  9. # Anonymous sher

    Oh, that's so funny Kristi! Well, I think it's wonderful that you have this marvelous containment system. I always try to imagine the fun Isabella will have looking at all these pictures. Wonder how she will feel about picket fences later in life? :):)  

  10. # Blogger Shannon

    my MIL uses one inside too for the little girl she watches... so don't worry lots of people I know use them inside...  

  11. # Blogger sunShine

    Oh I love the pictures of the prisoner! What a great way to keep her in one room.  

  12. # Blogger Ramona

    That is just the smartest idea in the whole wide world!
    It's like the biggest playpen in the world!  

  13. # Blogger Haley-O

    She's SO cute! I have to get one of those jails!!!  

  14. # Anonymous Ness @ Drovers Run

    OMG, just followed your link from today (15 Sept 2009) to see this. First of all, had tears streaming down my face from the laughter of how you describe this thing (the back rub and glass of wine thing particularly), but then I was absolutely transfixed by how Isabella at this age - is the exact combination of Luci and Nicholas. Luci's face, with Nic's coloring. Nature is freakin amazing (even with testubular help).  

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