Friday, May 22, 2015

Conversations with Zuzu

From the month of May...

SceneLying in bed. I've been reading to Zuzu and now I'm reading my own book.

Zuzu: Mommy, I want you to read to me.

Me: I'm reading my book. You read your book.

Zuzu: I can't! I don't know my words.


SceneIn the basement, playing with Coco. 

Zuzu: Coco, are you going to make a choice to come over here? Or is Zuzu going to have to come get you? Make a choice!

* * *

SceneDavid gets off the phone with his grandma and tells me that his mom has broken her arm.

Zuzu: (very concerned) How Grandma Connie break her arm off?


Zuzu: Grandma Connie trip over her sister and break her arm off.

* * *

SceneZuzu has selected bandaids as her prize from the peepee (now poopoo) prize box.

David: I'm going to put the rest of these bandaids back in the peepee prize box.

Zuzu: No, Zuzu want to keep them with her.

David: Well, you can keep these (gestures to the three in her hand), but I'm going to put these back.

Zuzu: Daddy, please don't stress me out.

* * *

ScenePlaying in the backyard. Zuzu got her clothes wet and took them off.

David: Go inside and put on clothes.

Zuzu: No! I no want to wear clothes.

David: Well, have Mama help you put on your swimsuit then.

Zuzu: No! I want to be a stinker.

* * *
ScenePlaying on the patio with Coco and a Minnie Mouse doll. Zuzu pushes Coco over. I run to comfort Coco, David lectures Zuzu that it is not okay to push over her sister.

Zuzu: Minnie did it!

(David and I exchange alarmed looks as we wonder about sociopath behavior in toddlers and lying)


Scene: Zuzu is riding her scooter, Minnie is lying in her path.

Zuzu: Minnie won't let me pass!

Me: Minnie is being naughty tonight.

Zuzu: (giggles) Yes!

David: You should put her in timeout.

Zuzu: (hops off scooter, picks up Minnie, puts her in chair next to David) You sit here in time out.

David: No talking, Minnie.

Zuzu: No talking! You just sit here and cry.

Thursday, May 21, 2015


Oh, my Coco.

I keep a one line a day journal, and I feel kind of bad about the fact that Coco seems to play such a supporting role in it. I started it when Zuzu was born, but now that Zuzu talks so much, my entry is often something funny that she has said, or an update on potty-training, or note of an epic temper tantrum, and poor Coco's easy-going babyhood gets less attention.

But she's so great.

She's as expressive as her sister, but a little more even-keeled. She will definitely let you know if she's upset, but she is quite easy to please (basically, as long as she's fed, she's good.)

She's still a big fan of mama-milk (and Mama in general, thankyouverymuch), but she's also seriously into food in a way that Zuzu wasn't for a long time. I remember telling my mom that Zuzu would take a thermos of breastmilk to kindergarten because she was coming up on her first birthday and she just wasn't interested in eating regular food--purees or stuff she could feed herself.

Coco has been wanting to hang with the rest of us since she was six months old. Her first bites of sweet potato were a delight and since then the only food she has rejected is avocado. (Most babies love avocado, and I know it's kind of a superfood for babies, but neither of my girls care for it. In fact, avocado is the only thing that made me throw up--twice--during my last pregnancy. I love guacamole, but I've actually lost my taste for it since I barfed both times I ate it while pregnant with Coco.) She likes broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peas, asparagus, mushrooms, rice, tofu, berries, oranges, bananas, applesauce, pears, bell peppers, salmon, refried beans, pasta, goat cheese, baby food puffs and yum-yum teething biscuits.

Coco started crawling at 8 months, was standing up at 9 months, and at 9 months and one week old she took her first staggering steps behind the toy shopping cart. She frequently "bear crawls" around the house so her knees don't touch the ground and she's just balanced on her hands and feet. David says at the rate she's going, she'll be walking before she has any teeth. (I'm already worrying about the issue of stairs in our house... I'm not sure if this technique will work for Coco the way it did for her sister.)

She adores Zuzu in a way that makes my heart itch. Her face lights up when she sees her sister, and she's so delighted to play with her. Zuzu can make her laugh, but is also the most frequent reason she cries. Fortunately, Coco is made of tough stuff. She has bonked her head and fallen on her face and gotten her little fingers stepped on and been pushed over backwards by her sister, and her tears of protest and pain only last a few moments before she's recovered and confident enough to get back in the game.

She still gets so many comments from strangers about how cute she is, especially her big blue eyes. I'm flattered when people say she looks like me--I actually think she's cuter than I was as a baby! Her hair is already started to come in a bit, so maybe she'll have bangs before she's three years old!

Coco is the baby who set her own bedtime at 7:30pm. We had been trying to put her down around 8, but she would get SO CRABBY that I finally realized life was easier for everyone if we started bedtime at 7:00pm instead. David didn't love putting her to bed so early since he doesn't get home until 5:30pm and wanted more time with her, but she was much happier when she'd have bath and nursing session earlier so she could be snoozing in her crib by 7:30pm.

We co-slept for the first several months--first with Coco in the bassinet in our room, and then with her in our bed. I loved having her close to me. Eventually, though, being in my bed meant that she was doing the all-you-can-eat buffet all night long. Now that she's in her crib, she wakes up once in the night to nurse and we all sleep much better. I know that technically she could be sleeping through the night, and we could probably train her if we really wanted to, but her first year is already going by so fast that even when I'm exhausted in the middle of the night, staggering out of bed to sit in a comfy rocking chair and nurse the baby doesn't feel like too much of a hardship. (Of course, if she wakes up a second time, I make David go to her!)

Coco loves her daycare teachers and in all her days of being dropped off, she's only cried once at my departure. Today when she kicked her legs in excitement at seeing her teacher, I actually felt a pang of jealousy. But her face always lights up when she hears my voice or sees me enter her classroom, and she crawls over to me at top speed every time I come to pick her up.

I swear she was saying "Mama" before she said "Dada" and her babbles sound more and more like she's trying to express herself in words. She waves hi and bye and says "Ba-bye!" which is incredibly adorable. Last night she was making happy shrieking noises in the kitchen that sounded exactly the way I imagine a baby pterodactyl would sound, at pretty much the same volume.

She's not a snuggler on my shoulder anymore, which I really miss. When she goes to sleep, she never lies her head down on my shoulder but instead prefers to stretch out across my lap. She takes the binky at nighttime and reminds me of her sister in the way she gives a soft sigh of contentment when I pop it into her mouth.

Her favorite toys are the Baby Einstein radio and anything of Zuzu's that she probably shouldn't really have--particularly hairbrushes, lunch boxes, and small figurines (not choking hazard small, but still ages 3+ small).

I love putting her in some of my favorite clothes that Zuzu wore, but I've also found that I sometimes favor different kinds of clothes than I did just two years ago. Coco is dressed a little more for comfort/function and a little less in the cute/decorative category. Fewer tutus, plenty of leg warmers. Because she's on the move, I tend to put her in more onesies and pants than dresses that hinder her ability to crawl. She's five weeks younger than Zuzu in terms of season, and as far as size goes she's a bit shorter and has more of a belly.

I love her baby belly and her thighs and her cheeks. I feel really fortunate that breastfeeding has gone so well for us (in spite of getting mastitis again!) and I'm so grateful that she has been healthy this year, with nothing more severe than a runny nose and a couple of ear infections. I know this cold and flu season was rough for a lot of people, and I'm so thankful we escaped the worst of it.

I wonder sometimes if Coco is so chill in part because she doesn't get as much undivided attention, or if she's just making it easy for me to split by attention by being so chill. Either way, I'm especially glad that we have had at least one day a week for the past nine months that was just Coco and Mama day so that I could focus on her instead of fitting in her nursing schedule and naps around Zuzu-mania.

Coco is so easy-going and predictable that staying home with her is an absolute pleasure. She's in that really easy nap routine (wakes up, naps two hours later, wakes up, naps three hours later, wakes up, goes to bed a few hours after that) but she's also happy to snooze in the car or in the stroller (although stroller naps are a bit more challenging because she's so curious and observant). Even if she doesn't nap in the stroller, she's usually content to watch her sister run around a park or playground. As long as her belly is full, she's pretty content to do pretty much whatever.

She is very active--a grabby and squirmy baby, and wrestling her on a changing table can be a real challenge! She's not especially patient when getting dressed or undressed, but she's very happy to be in the bathtub with sister, and thankfully is pretty chill when it comes to being splashed and having toys yanked away from her.

Eliza was the baby we planned for, and Zuzu was the baby we desperately worked for, and Coco is the baby we were gifted when we least expected it. The best surprise of my life. Everyday I am so grateful that she is ours. Her huge smile is reflecting my own big, goofy grin, because I feel incredibly lucky to be her mama. Our Coco-Puff.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Bike Shopping Ends Badly for All Involved; Expectant Couple PossiblySecond-Guessing Life Choices

Zuzu's birthday is coming up next month, and we've decided to get her a bike. We've had some debate about whether to get a balance bike or a small bike with training wheels. After weighing our options, I think we're going to go with the training wheels option, but we took Zuzu to a toy store to try out a couple of bikes and see what she liked. (Spoiler alert: We decided to get her a bike with training wheels, but we already bought it off Craigslist for $20. I'm cleaning it up and adding handlebar streamers and it will look brand new!)

Zuzu was more interested in the bike accessories (helmets, knee pads, etc.) than in the actual bike. The Frozen bike received admiration for a few minutes, but the instruction manual was attached in such a way that it prevented her from  pedaling and she quickly lost interest. 

Instead, she modeled every helmet within reach for us. David noted she was more interested in the outfit and accessories than in the actual sport--just like me and tennis!

After she'd gone through every helmet they had, she obliged me by trying out a scooter. Really she was overstimulated by the entire store, so it was hard to get her attention focused at all. I was putting the scooter away and David was looking at the bikes and suddenly we turned around and she was gone.

She'd been out of our sight for a split second, so we knew she couldn't have gone far, but a quick jog down neighboring aisles didn't locate her, so my heart was POUNDING by the time we found her a minute later in the most obvious place: sitting in a Frozen Jeep. 

David was joking that she needed to ask Grammy to get her that Jeep for her birthday when she said, "Uh-oh. Poop!"

So we took off running for the bathroom. And we ran completely the wrong way at first, so we had to circle back. I was holding her hand and we were both sprinting through the store. She looked up at me and said, "Mommy, this is FUN!"

What was not fun was when we got to the bathroom and the "uh-oh" was already in her pants.

I then found myself in the enviable position of first wiping her poop-smeared butt with single-ply toilet paper and then trying to rinse a turd out of toddler underwear in a public toilet. I had to call David on my cell phone to tell him to go out to the car and get the diaper bag. We needed wipes and a change of clothes. I knew there were wipes in the bag, and an emergency pull-up, but we didn't have an extra pair of shorts or pants.

Zuzu told me she wanted to go back to the Frozen car and I said, "No, when you poop your pants we have to go home. That's why you need to poop in the potty."

Clearly, I am an unfeeling monster for not allowing my daughter to poop her pants and then frolic through the toy store wearing only a pull-up, because that statement unleashed THE FURY of Zuzu.

She started screaming and then she bolted.

So there I was, bent over the (public) toilet, flushing it in an effort to get most of the poop rinsed off her underwear. She was completely naked from the waist down, having removed her own shoes in a public restroom (gag gag gag, but also the least of my problems), and she still had poop still smeared on her butt and one thigh.

And she took off running--shockingly fast.

She got the bathroom stall unlocked, managed to open the (heavy) main door to the restroom (running on pure adrenaline, obviously), and RAN into the store. When I realized she was strong enough to open the main door to the bathroom, I dropped the wet and poopy underwear on the floor in the stall, left her shoes and skirt next to it, and took off after her, chasing her down the main aisle near the entrance of the store. I grabbed her and picked her up (carefully trying to avoid touching the poop-smeared areas). I carried her (SCREAMING and kicking) back toward the bathroom.

I was so intent on catching up with her before she made it back to smear feces all over the seat of the Jeep that I hadn't noticed we had an audience. As I staggered back to the bathroom with my half-naked and thrashing toddler, I passed a couple who had just entered the store. The guy laughed and said, "Looks like she got away from you!" Zuzu shrieked and flailed in my arms. His very pregnant wife rubbed her belly and looked somewhat alarmed, while also undoubtedly judging me, as I would have done before I actually had kids.

I managed to smile at them like "haha isn't this so funny? Toddlers! Wild and crazy! Hahaha" but really I was fiercely whispering to Zuzu through clenched teeth, "You do NOT run away from Mommy!"

We got back to the bathroom and she tried to repeat the escape (my fierce whisper does not penetrate the psyche of a crazed toddler) but David (and Coco in the stroller) had gotten back from the car at this point so he caught her outside the door and, between the two of us, we managed to get her cleaned up and wrangled into a pull-up, while completely blocking access to both bathrooms and the drinking fountain (thank goodness the store wasn't crowded.) Then we gathered up wet and poopy undies, an outraged toddler, a confused-looking baby in the stroller, and what was left of my dignity (very little), and walked quickly out the entrance-only door to escape to our car.

Where we listened to Zuzu scream and cry in protest. 

How could we be so cruel, really? 

This incident also reminds me of the story of my friend Monica when she was little and went to Wal-Mart with her uncle. She sat in a Cozy Coupe and didn't want to get out of it so she peer her pants in it. Her uncle was embarrassed, so he bought the Cozy Coupe rather than leave it full of urine for the next unsuspected kid. Perhaps this is an instinctive toddler thing? If they can just mark child-size vehicles with their poop or pee, they get to take them home! 

It's really a good thing Zuzu's efforts were unsuccessful. Our garage does not have room for a Honda and a Jeep.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Stay At Home Day

Today is my stay-at-home day. It's raining. I have nothing against the rain, except that it lowers my productivity by approximately 50%.

I need to go to the grocery store. It shouldn't be that big of a deal--the girls will be delighted to sit in the car shopping cart together. But the mere idea of loading everyone up (in the rain) and then unloading and carrying in groceries (in the rain) is enough to keep me sitting here in my pajamas.

The best thing about right now--Zuzu is 2 years and 10 months old, Coco is 9 months--is that they entertain each other. They've actually started playing together. This still requires supervision (newsflash: I'm not going to the grocery store and leaving Zuzu home alone with Coco!) but it doesn't require much intervention (except the occasional reminder that Coco's head is not to be covered up with a blanket, and when she starts crying that means she's saying "STOP IT"--toddlers can be real A-holes).

It just about makes my heart explode when Zuzu makes Coco laugh, and Zuzu loves it, too. She'll say, "My sister loves me!" or "Coco wants to hold Zuzu's hand!" Coco is pretty content to sit anywhere and watch Zuzu run around, but she'll get in on the action, too. One evening they were all wound up and Zuzu had a handful of fruit snacks from the peepee prize box (yes, we're still bribing her). She was running in circles around the living room and kitchen, and Cooper was following right behind her, wanting a fruit snack, and Coco was crawling behind them, getting lapped frequently, but totally trying to keep up.

My work out plan has been going... ok. I've managed to walk/run with the stroller three times a week for the last three weeks, so that's a good thing. Of course it's complicated--I feel guilty for not bringing the dog even though I can't bring him because he can't (or won't?) keep up with me so I don't actually get my heart rate up if I'm walking Cooper.

If I take the stroller to a park with a playground (they ALL have playgrounds), then I have to turn up the music loud enough to drown out Zuzu's whining. She is rarely satisfied with my explanation that we'll go to the playground AFTER the stroller ride. It works out ok if we go somewhere that the playground isn't visible the entire time, but I still find myself saying, "We are GOING to the playground. It's this way!"

As indicated in this post, Zuzu is pretty fearless on the playground. I have made a conscious decision not to be a playground hoverer, and I also let her take off her shoes. I worry a little about this because it seemed like it would be easy for her to get hurt (I got a splinter in my own foot the other day when I stepped on what appeared to be a rogue piece of mulch on our stairs inside the house) but this article makes a pretty persuasive argument for bare feet. Bare feet also allow for lots more agility on the playground equipment. She can easily climb up the slides and use her toes like a little monkey to grip the climbing bars.

I wonder if I was being judged by a mom at the park yesterday, whose two-year-old boy was trying to copy everything Zuzu did but couldn't really keep up because he wasn't as coordinated and he was wearing clunky sneakers that didn't give him much traction on the slide. Still, he kept after it. His mom kept encouraging him to climb up the smaller slide because he couldn't quite do the big one, which I thought was silly because obviously he had mastered the small one and wanted to move on! But I decided not to worry about it and Zuzu had a ball playing looking like a little barefoot ragamuffin and playing with her new little friend.

And clearly she's honing her climbing skills at home, too:

Meanwhile, Coco took two steps today while holding on to the shopping cart! I couldn't get my phone flipped to video fast enough, but I snapped a couple of photos of her in action. In the first she's (unexpectedly) moving, and then her face is like "holy crap I just walked."

Yesterday at the park, there was another mom front-wearing a baby in an Ergo carrier. She had another little boy who was probably three and she was trying to lift him out of the swing. His big tennis shoes were caught in the leg-holes of the swing, and she couldn't get a good grip on him because of the baby on her chest. I was passing by with the stroller, so I asked if I could give her a hand and she said yes, so I hauled her little guy out of the swing.

It was such a little thing, but I've been in that position where you're awkwardly trying to wrangle one kid while wearing the baby, and it made me feel ridiculously good to help out someone else in a small way.

Today I'm riding that goodwill wave even further, because I donated to Momastery's Love Flash Mob. The three stories they are featuring today are really remarkable and incredibly deserving. $25 is the maximum donation they're accepting--or you can give $5, 10, or 15.

David is such a grouch about charitable donations (seriously, he's awful) because he's always suspicious that the money doesn't go to the people who really need it, but instead covers administrative costs or something. (Ironic, since he IS an administrator who is certainly not overpaid for the work he does.) Anyway, Momastery is entirely volunteer and nobody gets paid anything for what they do there, so 100% of donations go to the people whom they are helping to rise up. It's such a good thing. And you know I left a comment saying my donation was in memory of Eliza.

The rain let up, so we headed to the store. It's the little things that make these girls so happy!

P.S. A few pictures of Zuzu when she was the age Coco is now. Less hair but equal cuteness!
And a few pictures of the doggies, back when I was pregnant with Zuzu.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Greeting Cards for Grief

You've probably seen the awesome empathy cards for cancer that were created by Emily McDowell--I wish I would have seen these in time to order some for my friend Beth! (There are a couple that are not cancer-specific that I also love.)

Heather Spohr created some mock-ups of cards specifically for grief and child loss, and I got teary-eyed as I read them. Because they are EXACTLY RIGHT. These are the things we need to hear.

I remember feeling appalled and so pissed off at people who wished me a merry Christmas three weeks after Eliza died. I know they just wanted to acknowledge me during the holidays, but wishes of merriment felt like a huge slap in the face--even a year later. This card is much better. You can send me this card for the next million years.

image borrowed from The Spohrs Are Multiplying

So if your friend lost her baby and you don't know what to say? Borrow the words on one of these cards. Heather gets it exactly right.

My friend Caroline recently posted this quote from Glennon Doyle at Momastery, and I want to share it here, too:

You can't fix a friend's grief, but that's okay because grief isn't supposed to be fixed. It's not something we need to grab from each other. Grief is holy. Your friend doesn't want it taken away from her. Sometimes a mama's boundless grief is the only proof she has that she loved boundlessly. Great grief is the price of great love. So forget about making it better. Just call, or email and say: I am thinking of you. And of your baby. And I love you. And I'm so sorry. 

That's all. That's all we can do. We don't have to make it better. We just have to remember.

(My bolded emphasis. Because reading that sentence just made me cry.)

Here's to boundless love and greeting cards that get it right.

P.S. How Old Navy got it wrong a year ago
A text that sent me over the edge: What NOT to say
The post I wrote on Mother's Day five years ago and waited to publish

Monday, May 11, 2015

I've Had Worse Days

So Mother's Day is over.

It was mostly a really nice day--David worked hard to make it nice for me. He fixed breakfast and fixed dinner and took charge of all Code Brown Situations. (Perhaps because I threw a bit of a fit on Saturday and said, "You know what I want for mother's day? To not have to deal with anyone's poop except my own!"). The girls had sweet homemade gifts they'd made at school, and David also got me a book I wanted and some plastic tumblers for summer drinks outside and helped the girls make me a card.

Also there was a mimosa waiting for me when I came downstairs--my favorite kind of breakfast!

We spent the morning at the Botanical Gardens. It was lovely and even warmer than I'd expected. 

Coco was supposed to nap in the stroller but was too excited by the lovely flowers and the people watching. 

She was content to watch her sister run around, though, and Zu was good about staying close to us except when she took off by herself across the docks in the Japanese garden.

She made her way back into my good graces when she peed on the big potty, though!

By the time we circled back to the children's garden (she's obsessed with the cave--"The Tunnel!" she calls it), it was time for lunch and Zu was getting cranky. 

She wanted a snack but we hadn't planned to be at the gardens that long and hadn't packed anything. Fortunately, there was an apple in the diaper bag from Wednesday that was still perfectly good. We used it as a distraction to keep her from stripping off her clothes to get in the sprinklers there, and headed out.

(All that remained of the apple)

After the gardens, Coco immediately fell asleep in the car and David needed to run to Home Depot, so we decided that I'd drop him off and then go to Sonic to get us limeades (because Sonic is in the parking lot of Home Depot) and then wait in the car for him to get finished. Zuzu wanted to go with David into Home Depot, so I said good-bye to both of them and cruised over to Sonic for strawberry limeade (and cheddar bites because it was a holiday).

When they came out of the Depot, Zuzu was doing her fake-crying thing so I asked David what was going on.

"You're not going to believe what happened," he said.

They were in the bathroom tile aisle and Zuzu wanted out of the cart. David said that she could get out if she stayed close by him. She was good about this, but then she saw the display showers and she wanted to check those out.

She stepped up on the bottom shelf and pulled the door of a display shower open so she could run inside. At the same instant, David bent down to pull her away from the shower and tell her she didn't get to climb all over the displays.

The shower door was not attached to the hinges of the shower, though, so when she pulled it open, it actually fell toward her, and since David was bent down to pick her up, the door hit him instead of her. It hit right on the back of his head and SHATTERED. He was crouched over Zuzu as the door broke into a zillion pieces and showered them in glass--all down his back.

He had a small cut on his neck and his hand. Zuzu had a scratch next to her eye and a tiny cut on her foot. She was completely freaked out.

A bunch of employees ran over to see if they were okay (David said they were, even though Zuzu was crying) and started cleaning up. They didn't see a manager or anything. So he loaded Zuzu up in the cart and went and checked out. I think David was embarrassed by the scene--he said Zuzu shouldn't have been playing up there. But you can't tell me that other people don't open those shower doors! If it hadn't happened to her, I think it could easily have happened to some other kid (or adult). And if David hadn't been right there, bending over to pick her up, she could have been seriously injured.

I'm glad I didn't see it happen--I think I would have been totally freaked out. I was freaked out enough when David told me the story in the car. We got so lucky that no one needed stitches.

We spent the afternoon putting together some new patio furniture and cleaning and rearranging the patio. I really like the new set up--I think it's a much better use of space. And I have a few more ideas for things I want to do to spruce it up out there, but we're making progress!

(As we were putting together our lawn furniture, our neighbor came over to help us out by entertaining the girls and she noticed a piece of glass in David's hair--it was a shard actually stuck in his scalp!)

Later that evening, not to be outdone by her sister's brush with danger, Coco pulled up on a bench in Zuzu's bedroom and then somehow slipped and bashed her head on the corner. She's got an ugly bruise right in the middle of her forehead.

(In case I was feeling competent as a parent, both girls went go ahead and got visible and frightening injuries on Mother's Day. Well played, ladies.)

We tucked the little ones into bed, picked up the house, and relaxed for a while. We have a new little routine on Sundays where we let Zuzu skip her nap and then we put both girls to bed at 7:30pm. Zu is asleep by 8pm and we hang out and watch Game of Thrones and eat ice cream. (I highly recommend this routine as Super Fun.)

So that's how we wrapped up Mother's Day. I got some sweet texts and e-mails from friends and family telling me they were thinking of Eliza, and I wore my necklace that has each of the girl's names on it. I told myself (after crying Saturday night) that I was going to spend the day being grateful for what I have, and I DID/WAS/AM. But it still stung a little to see families with three little stair-step girls at the gardens. (One of them in matching monogrammed sundresses--adorable. I hated the adorableness SO MUCH.)

Five years ago on Mother's Day, I saw two pink lines. I was pregnant for the first time and had no reason to believe anything would go wrong. It was such a happy Mother's Day for me.

Five years later, I had a different kind of happy Mother's Day. Bittersweet (I think it always will be) but with an emphasis on the sweet, for sure (well, you know, except for the shattered glass and forehead bruises).

Friday, May 8, 2015

Komentucky Derby

Last Saturday we donned our most festive party-wear and headed out to a winery for the Komentucky Derby in honor of my friend Beth, who recently had her final surgery on the road to recovery since being diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer eight months ago.

Looking festive in bow tie and big hat. 
Quick backstory on my hat: I had borrowed two great hat options, one from a friend of a friend and one from the counselor at David's school. Both were adorable, but the friend of a friend's didn't fit on my big head (!) and the other just didn't go with the bright yellow dress I (obviously) ended up wearing. So I picked up a white straw hat on Friday at Target, and then on our way to pick up Chipotle Friday night, I had David stop at Hobby Lobby so I could run in and grab some decorative accessories. We got there at 7:45pm and they close at 8:00, so I literally ran through the store like it was Supermarket Sweep. I snagged a bouquet of yellow and pink flowers (the cheapest I could find, fake flowers were also 50% off), rang the bell in the fabric department so the girl would cut me half a yard of yellow netting and half a yard of white netting ($1.67/yard), and then asked her where I could find feathers. The craft department was in the back corner, so I bolted and found a package of bright yellow feathers ($1.99, plus I used a 40% off coupon). The next morning I used straight pins and a big of hot glue to put the hat together. After the derby was over, I carefully disassembled the hat, and now I can wear the plain white straw hat this summer!

with Beth
She looks fabulous and her hair is coming back as thick as ever and with some curl to it that is driving her bonkers. She spoke at the event and her speech made me cry. (You can watch it here, if you're interested.) 

Beth's dad walked up to stand with her when she got emotional. She told us after that she didn't think she was going to cry, but I told her that when people talk about important stuff, they are supposed to cry. 
She talked about how terrifying it was to get that diagnosis. Now here she is, on the other side of it all, but it's not like she'll ever leave that behind. She's done everything she can to diminish her risk of recurrence, but obviously the fear doesn't go away.

Still, for now we are celebrating. Beth and her family have been through so much in the past eight months, and it was great to just hang out with them on a beautiful day, wear a ridiculous hat, and spend a little money on raffles and drinks, knowing it was going to a good cause. 

the college girls who live in STL (the rest of our group never left our college town!)
It's kind of funny how I used to think being grown up would mean getting dressed up and going to benefit events and really being grown up means I actually know people who are affected by terrible things (and obviously I've experienced loss myself) so really it means that I get dressed up and go to benefits because we're desperate to try and help.

It's still a good time, it's just personal in a way I hadn't imagined.

Bridget's Brigade is an organization that works to not only donate money to cancer research, but also to help ease the burden on women who are dealing with the daily reality of cancer treatments in our local area. (Bridget is the woman who is first talking on the video). She organizes this event each year, and we were so glad to be a part of it.

And we are so very, very glad that, 9 months since her diagnosis and 10 months since first finding that little lump, Beth has been through three major surgeries, six rounds of chemo, the loss (and regrowth) of her hair, and has come out on the other side.

Here's to big hats and good health. Cheers!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Getting in Fights (Except Obviously Not Really)

I took Coco to a nursing mom's group last night.

She actually nursed right before we left, so I stuck her in the carseat and popped the binky in her mouth and we hit the road.

When we walked in, I set her carseat down and an inquisitive little two-year-old boy came over to see the baby.

"Oh," his mom said to me, "He's wondering what that is! We never used a pacifier."

She said it with a smile, but it sounded as SMUG as possible.

If only I'd had an extra binky. I would have popped one in his mouth right then.

Now, I GET that there are people who choose not to use pacifiers (crazy people) (kidding). I get that there are babies who won't take pacifiers. I get that there are people who struggle with breastfeeding and maybe a binky could complicate that further. But seriously.

So then I fought her.*

* * *

Today at the park there was a mom with her seventeen-month-old toddler. He was climbing around pretty well and she was following him on the jungle gym.

Zuzu climbed up on her own and I stood underneath, pushing Coco back and forth in the stroller, hoping she'd doze off. (She didn't.)

Zuzu marched herself up the stairs to the tall twisty slide. This wasn't our usual park, but she's a master of the tall twisty slide. She has no fear and she's been going down tall twisty slides since before she turned two.

The little boy tried to follow her.

"No, no!" his mom said. "You're not big enough for that slide." (Which, granted, he really wasn't).

Zuzu launched herself down that slide as the boy and his mom headed across the bridge. I'm not sure what move she was trying to do, but she ended up twisting around and somersaulting. She's chosen to go down the slide head-first on multiple occasions, so I didn't think much of it. She came off the slide kind of fake-crying, so obviously her descent didn't quite go as planned, but she was obviously fine and looking to me for a cue as to how to react, so I just smiled at her and said, "Whoa! That was crazy!"

The other mom turns to her kid and goes, "And that's why you don't go down that slide."


I was just standing there, sort of stunned at her passive-aggressive parenting judgment, and Zuzu looked to this other mom for a cue and then started whining but she was CLEARLY just fine and so I said, "You're fine. You need to be safe on the slide." She rubbed her head and said, "I bonked." (Which, yeah, she probably did, but not very hard and also that's a daily occurrence and also: natural consequences.)

And then the other mom was all, "Oh, honey, are you okay?" to MY KID.

And then I fought her.**

* * *

I really feel totally fine about the fact that I give my baby a pacifier. Also, I have made a deliberate and conscientious decision not to hover over my kid at the playground (as much as I want to). I happen to love the fact that a binky keeps Coco from screaming in the car. I'm also proud of Zuzu for being a confident climber, jumper, and slider--her gross motor skills are one of her strengths. So it's not like I'm second-guessing my parenting choices based on these comments.

I just am a little appalled that people are so rude.

Or maybe the weirder thing is that I haven't had encounters like this before, and then I had two of them on back-to-back days. I mean, who does that?

**Didn't happen.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Overheard This Morning

I was doing the usual push to get everybody out of the house this morning, running through the checklist in my head of bottles and baby food and pump parts and extra undies and cloth diapers and shoes and hats and my phone and my water and my purse and anything else I need to not forget.

Zuzu and Coco were in the backroom, amusing themselves and staying out of trouble (I hoped) when I heard Zuzu say, "Oh, no, Coco. You know better than that!"

Clearly that's a phrase that she's hearing a lot at our house recently.

And no, it's not directed at Coco when she hears it.

(I still have no idea what Coco was doing to prompt this admonishment from Zuzu. Maybe she did know better?)

Friday, May 1, 2015


David and I share an obsession.

And it's not Game of Thrones or Gay of Thrones (my favorite re-cap) although we both enjoy both shows.

It's DIY peanutbutter.

There's this little, local grocery store not too far from my work that has a nut butter section where you select your own nuts and then run them through their machine to turn them into butter right in front of your eyes. Kind of like grinding coffee, except it doesn't require brewing.

This peanutbutter is magical. It is so incredibly delicious. The texture is in between crunchy and smooth--it's definitely not smooth, but the crunchiness is smaller. We love it so much.

And I love that nothing is added to it--it's just peanuts. So it has way less sugar and just as much protein as jarred peanutbutter.

It is the best food discovery we've made recently, and we can't get enough of it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Sunny Day Sunday

Well, it seems there is no nose picking advice and possibly no end in sight. Charming.

I wasn't going to write about this parenting fail because I am so ashamed of myself, but then I thought, what the hell. Possibly other people also make mistakes? Could that be true?

We went to Earth Day celebration in Forest Park on Sunday. It was lovely. The weather could not have been better. My friend Erin went with us so adults outnumbered kids which made things easier than they might have been. David wore Coco in the Ergo carrier and Zuzu ran around like a nut. She was actually being kind of a pill all day--she really wanted a coin purse and was not satisfied with the hair clips made from swimsuit remnants that I purchased for her. She only wanted to hold hands sometimes and although she made a show of putting on her listening ears (she really does touch each ear, it's super cute), they appeared to be not functioning very well.

Anyway, we walked around the booths and peeked in at the Montessori classroom, and picked up coupons and samples for green cleaning products and essential oils (I'm actually going to a class on essential oils tonight because I'm a crazy hippie). Then we got lunch and I was so happy that my favorite restaurant, Lulu's, had a food truck there.

We sat at a picnic table over looking some water and there were a lot of kids playing in the water and Zuzu wanted to get in on that action (of course) so David took her to walk around over there (she was wearing her rainboots) while I finished lunch. I sat with Coco on my lap and noticed that we were getting a lot of direct sun, so I draped a blanket over her head. A few minutes later, David came walking back over to the table, carrying Zuzu, who was screaming and flailing in his arms.

She'd wanted to get in the water, he said no, she kicked her boot in the water, he had to step in the water to get it, so basically they were both soaking wet and pissed off (for different reasons, obviously).

It was clearly time to leave, so we headed back to the car.

I left David at home with the girls and went to a coffee shop to work on the mountain of essays I have to grade. When I got home, I walked in the kitchen and Coco turned in her high chair to look at me and I gasped. Her face was BRIGHT RED. I asked David if it was a sunburn. David said no, she'd been crying before I walked in, so her face was red from exertion. I wasn't sure, but she didn't feel hot. I smeared lotion on her face before bed and hoped it would be faded in the morning.

The next morning proved him wrong. I almost cried when I saw her sunburned little face peering at me from her crib.

I really try not to judge people on their parenting choices. I know parents who let their kids cry it out love their kids as much as attachment parents do and blah blah blah. Basically, the only parenting choices I will judge are (1) giving pop to your baby and (2) not protecting your kids from the sun.

The thing is, it was 65 degrees out! We were all wearing long sleeves and pants! There was a cool breeze and warm sun. We were walking in and out of the shade. It was the most gorgeous day! And it's only April!

But both the girls got too much sun on their little faces.

Monday morning, I doubled down on moisturizer and sunblock (they loved that) and sent them to school in jackets and sunhats.

I feel absolutely terrible about the sunburns (and embarrassed that all the daycare teachers witnessed the evidence of my neglect). I wanted to be mad at David for not noticing all the sun Coco was getting, but I should have thought to put sunscreen and hats on both of them.

Lesson learned!

So... parenting mistakes you've learned from? Can you make me feel better about this? (By Tuesday, the burn had faded and I was able to joke to David last night that I wish I had a golden tan like Coco--but I also bought new sunscreen at Target and loaded up the diaper bag and the basket we keep by the back door.)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Doctor, Doctor, Give Me the News and Answer All These Questions Also

Colette's nine-month check up isn't until next month (nine months! what?!), but April is World Health Month and the American Recall Center (a resource for drug and medical device recalls) contacted me because they noticed my "passion for a healthy lifestyle."

I'm pretty sure that my passion for a healthy lifestyle must be reflected in my post about how I ought to make myself do a 10 minute core workout every now and again and also maybe walk outside sometimes came up on some kind of google search. I don't know how algorithms work.

But yes, of course, health is important to me. And the health of my kids is hugely important to me, and certainly not something you take for granted after losing a baby. I'm getting better at taking coughs and colds in stride, but I have huge anxiety about fevers. So I decided to see what you guys think about their recommended questions-for-your-doctor.

We've been enormously lucky that our girls have been healthy so far. This has been a huge relief for me because each of my girls started daycare part-time at about 5 months old and I worried about all the germs that live anywhere where little kids hang out. (Side note: If someone can tell me how to get Zuzu to seriously stop putting her finger in her nose and then LICKING IT, I will be eternally grateful because that is so freaking disgusting I can hardly even handle my life when she does it.) I attribute their good health mostly to luck because the other things I do to try to keep them healthy--breastfeeding, serving reasonably nutritious meals, putting DoTerra On Guard essential oil on their feet at night during cold and flu season, singing the ABC's while washing hands--these are things that MANY people do, and the fact is that it doesn't always keep your kid from getting sick.

Zuzu has had only one stomach bug that lasted more than a day, and so far Coco's experience with illness has been limited to two ear infections. Both of her ear infections required antibiotics and she was really great about taking her medicine the first few days and less enthusiastic the last few days. (No idea why! Shouldn't it taste the same?).

Anyway, medicine and little ones is never a fun combination, but before I try to wrestle them into taking medication, there are a few important questions we should be asking:

(1) Exactly how much and how often?

Zuzu was a spitter when it came to medicine, so after we discovered this charming response to our healing efforts, I wanted to know if I had to absolutely make sure she got .5 ml in her belly, or if I should administer .5 ml and not stress out if some dribbled out down her chin or got spit back at me in a demonic fury. If it says "once a day" can I go ahead and give a dose that evening and then start giving it to her each morning? I like to be very specific. For the medications my kids have taken, the timing hasn't been too big of a deal (every 12 hours is pretty easy since that's basically breakfast and bedtime for Coco), but I still have to set a timer on my phone because my brain is useless.

(2) How long does she have to take this?

Until the whole bottle is gone? Or a week and then dispose of what's leftover? I know it's important not to shortchange it even when baby is obviously feeling better. It took about 48 hours on antibiotic for Coco to be totally back to 100% normal, but we kept slogging away with the syringe full of medicine because the doctor instructed us to finish the full regiment of medicine in order to make sure the whole infection was taken care of and wouldn't come back as some kind of raging antibiotic-resistant monster ear infection (obviously a scenario we want to avoid).

(3) What are the side effects?

This is a question that I think is easy to skip because we assume the doctor would just tell you without being asked. When I went in for strep throat I did not want to talk at all, let alone have an extended conversation about potential side effects. But of course I needed to tell them I was breast feeding and make sure there weren't any side effects that could interfere with that. Plus I tend to get queasy if I take medicine on any empty stomach, so I always want to ask about taking it with food and whether a glass of wine is off limits... Inquiring minds want to know.

(4) Have their been any FDA warnings or recalls on this medication?

I confess I haven't actually ever thought to ask this question, which is why I agreed to post these recommended questions here. Because wouldn't you assume if a medicine got recalled, it would not be prescribed? But I guess that's sometimes not the case? So obviously a better-safe-than-sorry situation, right?

I think the real lesson with all of these questions is that even though you should have a solid and trusting relationship with your physician, you always have to be an advocate for yourself and your child.

I still feel terrible for not speaking up when Coco was given the wrong blood test as a teeny baby. People make errors and it's better to come off as high maintenance and full of questions than to not say anything and regret it later. Being polite is important, but if you're uncertain about anything, you should say something. No health care provider should be too busy to walk you through every step in layman's terms. And if a doctor doesn't automatically know the answer to this question, that's a red flag worth investigating!

Other advice? Questions you wished you'd asked? Questions you always ask? Advice for curing nose-picking in contrary two-year-olds?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Around My House

In my fridge you'll always find:
Organic whole milk, cheese, and fruit 

Favorite family recipe:
Grandma Vance's chocolate waffles 

Favorite junk food:
Movie theatre popcorn

I'll do anything to avoid:
Grading papers!

My secret cleaning weapon is:
Vinegar and water (nontoxic, cleans everything, and I actually like the smell!)

Before company arrives, I hide:
Kiddie toys and the pile of mail on my desk

I love to shop for:
clothes for the girls

I hate to shop for:
Jeans for myself

Bad habit:
Procrastinating on grading 

I just learned:
Peaches are the ovaries of the tree. (This came up in a discussion of T. S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" when a biology major in my class was commenting on whether or not Prufrock would eat the peach.)

Stuff I can't live without:
Burts Bees lip balm, nursing tanks, girlfriends, and the power of reverse psychology on stubborn two-year-olds

Weird housekeeping compulsion:
I always keep the toilet lids down when not in use. I got a massage one time at a crunchy/hippy spa and they had a sign in the bathroom asking people to put the lid down after use because it helped with feng shui. I don't know much about feng shui, but I figure it can't hurt and now it's a thing--it drives me crazy if the lid is up.

On bed making:
I love when the bed is made. It feels soooo much better to be in a room with a made bed, and better to climb into those sheets at night. And it only takes about 45 seconds to yank up the duvet and toss pillows on top! But if Coco is having a clingy morning, I'd rather skip making the bed than put her down and make her cry for 45 seconds. So basically her moods decide whether our bed gets made or not.

Personal motto/mantra:
Be grateful.

I wish I could tell my younger self:
Chill the eff out.

Do you put down the lid to the toilet? Do you let your baby dictate whether or not you make the bed? What's always in your fridge? What advice would you give your younger self? Spill it.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Work Out Plan

So... exercising. Bah.

It reminds me of my dissertation in that I hated doing it, but I loved having done it.

I also remember this little technique I used when finishing my dissertation--I changed the way I talked about it. Instead of saying, "I have to do some work on my dissertation today," I would say, "I want to do some work on my dissertation today."

So I'm trying that mind game with exercise. Forget the "I should be working out more" or "I really need to strengthen my core." I'm replacing that with "I want to do a quick workout today!" and we'll see how that goes.

The truth is that I don't always have time for things I want to do (see the recorded episodes of The Good Wife, languishing unwatched in my DVR, and my copy of Wolf Hall which I still haven't gotten very far through, despite my plans to reread it before watching the PBS series of the same name). (Spoiler: I watched a couple episodes of Wolf Hall this morning while Coco napped and I WORKED OUT AS I WATCHED IT).

I was talking with my friend Kristin (by which I mean e-mailing and blog commenting even though I did also see her in person yesterday but we talked about more interesting things than my core) and she proselytized about her gym membership. She's pretty persuasive, but right now I don't want to pay for a gym membership just to take a couple classes a week (this may change when the girls are a bit older and can do more stuff at the Y) and I just don't want to spend ninety minutes exercising in the evening when I'm away from my family at work all day (this is not just a philosophical thing--it is mostly because of breastfeeding).

So I've decided not to bother with thinking about yoga classes until I'm no longer nursing a baby. Once Coco weans, I'll commit to yoga class once a week and maybe something else. I'd love to try a Barre fitness class. My awesome yogi cousin Bekah does yoga everydamnday and I am super jealous of her skills and her dedication to yoga practice, but she is also a darling hipster grad student with a different set of cares and responsibilities and schedules than I currently have right now (once upon a time, I did Pilates like it was my second job...).

The issue is what can I reasonably want to do right now. And by "right now," I mean between now and July 25. I'm setting the goal of my brother's wedding, not because anyone there will be judging me or probably even notice what I'm wearing, let alone whether it's a size bigger or smaller than what I'm wearing now, but just because it's happening in about three months and I feel like that's about the only extended length of time that seems reasonable for me to commit to anything--should be long enough to get into the habit and see results, but not so long that I can't pretend the end is in sight (Although, the idea is that the "end" will just be switching things up rather than giving up entirely. You know, because I'll be totally fit and buff by then. Hahaha. Ahem. Yes.).

A little TMI: I don't like jogging right now because breastfeeding makes my boobs ridiculous. So instead of telling myself I should be jogging but I can't because I don't have a bra that fits, I'm going to (1) make the investment in a $40 sports bra that fits me NOW, and (2) do a lot of fast walking. I'm pretty sure there are studies that say walking briskly is good for your heart and also burns calories and it's got to be better than nothing, so I'm just going to do it.

I'm not going to even think about a treadmill because walking on a treadmill in my university's fitness center sounds disgusting. And smelly. (Not me, the dudes.) Plus part of my thing about not working out is that it's more time away from the girls on work days. So the solution is obviously to push the stroller on a walk. Before work is just not going to happen because hahahaha so after work it is.

My new plan is to pack my workout clothes and change into them before I leave the office. Then after I pick up the girls, I'll push the double stroller for a 25-minute walk. (Why 25 minutes? Because it sounds way shorter than half an hour. I'm going to pick 6 songs I want to walk to that's it.)

I can easily go to Forest Park or Tower Grove Park on our way home, both of which are absolutely lovely and have plenty of walking trails that don't have a clear view of the playground (because then you know it's all over). I may have to give Coco some boob time before we leave daycare, but as long as she gets a quick fix and I remember to pack a snack for Zuzu, this should go smoothly. Plus, walking briskly while pushing 45 pounds of kid in a double stroller is serious business.

Bonus: Fresh air for everyone! And you know I'll be in a better mood after, which is probably the biggest win.

I'm going to plan to do this twice a week. I could probably do it three times, but right now I'm going to say I get Fridays off.

The other trick that I'm employing from my dissertation days is the old "You only have to do this for 15 minutes" thing. When I couldn't get myself to start, I'd set a timer for 15 minutes and make myself sit down for just that length of time. Invariably, the timer would get off and I'd already have the momentum to keep going. It was just the idea of 15 minutes that made it palatable.

The same applies to working out, except in this case it's 10 minute Pop Sugar workout videos. If all I can do is squeeze in 10 minutes, then that's fine. In most cases, I can do two 10 minute videos back to back.

And let me tell you, if I do two 10 minute core videos back to back, I am FEELING it.

The other one I do is Tracy Anderson's 8 minute arms. (I think it's a segment from a longer work out--I searched Tracy Anderson 10 minute arms on youtube and it came up, but really it's 8 minutes. It will be the longest 8 minutes of your life. And I say that having birthed a 8 1/2 pound baby without meds less than a year ago.) Her workout doesn't require weights and it is killer. I can barely finish it right now. But when I do, I feel like a badass. (Bad ass-ness is relative, I do realize.)

So that's my plan. Long walks with the double stroller twice a week. 10 minute workout 5 times a week.

I get that it's not much. But it's something. It's something I can actually DO instead of just beat myself up for not doing. And I do believe it can make a difference, at least in how I FEEL if not so much in how I look.

(Particularly considering I ate a donut for breakfast today.)

(It was delicious.)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

SIDS Research

We've been keepin' on keepin' on here. It's been a busy week--David has late nights, I have stuff going on at work that's keeping me busy, Zuzu's still been hitting (and occasionally missing) the potty, Coco is trying new foods every three days like it's her job, Cooper is barking his ass off at anyone who walks by our house or drives a large vehicle by our house, and has just barked himself right outside because it's nap time and they are both sleeping at once and NOBODY BETTER RUIN THAT FOR ME.

Today was my first stay at home day in ages that I didn't have a ton of grading to do, which meant I've almost caught up on laundry piled up downstairs (missing last weekend's laundry session, plus Zuzu going through more than one pair of pants per day is keeping our washing machine busy) AND I managed to mop the kitchen floor. My bare feet are thanking me because it was seriously kind of gross. Cooper is a great clean-up helper, but it turns out that for the really clean feeling, you need more than a dog's tongue mopping up spills. (You can quote me on that.)

I also cleaned and organized the refrigerator because I DON'T KNOW WHY. Actually, I think it's because I did a 10-minute core workout and after I do that I feel weirdly productive and also kind of smug. Until I try to put on real pants and then I see how much core work there still is to do and I think I should just eat Thin Mints and watch TV.

Anyway, this is all lead up completely unrelated to what I actually wanted to share, which is an article about recent research in SIDS. I hope so much that this doctor is able to determine a specific cause, and most importantly, to develop a way to screen newborn babies for it in the hospital.

I remember all too well those moments when the baby was sleeping just a little too still, or her hand was placed in a certain position, or she'd been napping for so long that I'd peek in on her, and there would be a moment when my heart was in my throat because it was impossible for me not to imagine the worst. To be able to prevent SIDS would be an incredible gift to families all over the world.

This other article includes a link where you can donate to his research--I haven't done it yet, but my friend Laura got a thank you e-mail from the doctor after she donated. I'm impressed, and really hopeful this is something we see solved in the near future.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Oh Hey We Spent The Last Few Days Doing All This Stuff

We had an eventful three day weekend. I even took a nap on Saturday!

(Let's all pause to reflect on the fact that my ability to take a nap (1) was noteworthy enough to get mentioned in the opening paragraph (2) evidently merited use of an exclamation mark (3) probably won't happen again until 2020.)

We drove to my parents' on Friday. The day started out not-so-great. I had to work on Friday and didn't get out of there as early as I'd hoped (story of my life). Coco woke up Friday morning with eye gunk and I just KNEW she had another ear infection even though she had no other symptoms (same story as two months ago). I scheduled her an appointment for Friday afternoon and David offered to take her while I finished packing.

Of course packing for three people at the last minute is not easy, and even though I tried to plan ahead, I actually under-packed for the girls, forgot my tennis shoes, and packed Coco's size 9-months pink leggings for Zuzu to wear. Oops.

Anyway, after the doctor appointment and my frantic packing process, Coco got her meds, we got the car loaded, and we finally hit the road.

Oh--but we had one other factor to consider.

Zuzu potty-trained herself on Thursday.

I really can take no credit for this. After my frustrating attempts at 3-Day Potty Training, David and I decided we would just scale back. Basically, we put diapers on her when convenient, and let her wear big girl panties at home, encouraging her to go to the potty and cleaning up a LOT of messes. It was so aggravating because I had all these awesome prizes for her and she didn't even have ONE success so she could get a taste for bribery.

But I decided to just chill out about it and pretend that inconsistent parenting was actually the pathway to potty-trained.

So Thursday morning was a stay-at-home day for me, and when Zuzu got up in the morning, I asked if she wanted to wear big girl panties. She did.

But she also wanted to wear this:

So I told her she could wear her Elsa dress, but she'd have to keep it dry. Because if she peed in her big girl panties, the dress would have to be washed and she wouldn't be able to wear it anymore.

Little did I know, I actually had landed on the ONE THING she cared about not peeing on.

That kid peed in the potty every single time on Thursday, even when I would forget to prompt her. (Which was every time. Because I was in the practice of being inconsistent.)

She told me when she had to go, we hustled to the potty, and I busted out the Peepee Prize Box in all of its glory (in case you're wondering, Peepee Prizes include character figurines from Frozen, Minnie Mouse stickers, applesauce pouches, princess glubs, a tiara, a personalized canvas bag, crayons, and a notepad sent by Crafty Cousin Amanda as an Easter present but confiscated by me for potty training purposes, a hand-me-down purse from my friend Erin, packets of fruit snacks, and Skittles).

She loved the personalized bag so much, she slept with it. In our bed, because of course.

I was SO happy that things went well on Thursday. Gleeful. I sent her to school in big girl panties on Friday and she only had one accident on her way to the potty, and ACTUALLY CARED. Her teacher texted me, "She almost made it and she was really sad, so I told her that accidents happen and gave her a sticker for trying."

I texted back, "OMG I am so happy that she is sad!"

And then had to explain, "I mean, I'm just really happy that she cares she didn't make it and she wants to TRY!" But I still kind of sounded like a monster.

We haven't had a perfect record since then (to be pefectly honest, three out of five Duckworths pooped or peed on Grammy's carpet over the weekend--and Cooper was the most ashamed) but we are not buying any more diapers!

Anyway, we put Zuzu in a pull-up for the car ride because we are not crazy. But she kept it dry and actually peed in the big potty at Taco Bell (!). We ended up with an hour delay at Taco Bell because we walked in right after a team of softball players had already ordered but not yet received their food so we placed our order without realizing we'd be there FOREVER. Or at least long enough for Zuzu to peepee on the potty and get comfortable enough there to try to run circles around the restaurant shouting, "I peepee on the potty!"

We finally made it to my parents at 11:00pm. Zuzu was so excited she had actually managed to stay awake until 9:50pm in the car, and then she rallied to hang out with my parents for an hour before we headed up to bed.

Coco showed off her crawling and pulling up skills as I was changing her diaper right after we arrived. She pulled herself to standing at the love seat with a bare little baby butt and then tinkled all over the carpet. (Just making up for what they are missing since Little "I Pee Wherever I Want" Mac is no longer with us.)

At 8 months old, she stands around all the time now.

Coco also spent the weekend forgetting all her good sleeping habits and has now regressed from sleeping all night or waking once to wanting to nurse three times a night. You can guess how much I love this.

Saturday morning we went to a pancake breakfast at the Catholic school. We knew it was time to leave when I caught Zuzu trying to shimmy up a large cross in the dining hall. At least Jesus wasn't hanging on it.

After breakfast we took the girls out to get their photos taken for the annual Little Cutie contest. Two years ago, Zuzu got an Honorable Mention, which obviously means we got robbed. Last year we didn't make it to Nevada at the right time to get them taken, so this year I wanted to have both girls.

The photographer had an adorable tea party table set up and Coco was doing such a good job of sitting in the chair.

Until she face-planted off of it onto the hard floor.

I was RIGHT BEHIND her and ready to catch her, but she'd also broken a tea cup right before she dived off the chair and I'd picked up the broken pieces so I had them in one hand and when she tipped forward, I just couldn't move fast enough to grab her. I slowed her fall, but couldn't keep her from bonking her head on the floor.

She had a big red spot on her forehead and I felt terrible, even though she didn't actually cry that much.

Zuzu was reasonably cooperative, and Coco did quite well even with interrupted morning nap time and a head injury. #MOTY

With a little luck, I think the pictures are going to be really cute. And of course that's all that matters, child welfare aside.

After that debacle, I needed my nap. It was blissful.

Coco slept while I slept and Zuzu made Moon Clay/Kinetic Sand with my mom and also dumped a bunch of gold glitter on the carpet. Cooper ate a bunch of the sand outside, so he had fun, too. Because glitter really is the herpes of the craft world, we're still finding gold glitter in unexpected places, included a very sparkly deposit Cooper made last night on our walk.

That evening we attended Dancing With Our Stars, Nevada, which is a charity event in which local couples compete in a dance competition. It was so much fun to watch. My high school boyfriend's little sister was in it, and his other sister has a baby boy who is just a month younger than Coco (but taller!) so I got to see both of them and their kiddos, which was great. I'm trying to convince David that we should see if non-residents can compete next year because I want to enter the dance contest! Not that we are great dancers. I just think it looks like fun.

Zuzu was really into the dancing but had no patience for the talking in between each performance. And when dancers came up from the crowd to join the couple performing "YMCA," Zuzu thought that the audience got to go up on stage whenever they wanted and she was DETERMINED to get up there. So the second half of the show was a little more challenging in terms of keeping her corralled in our seats. But she ran off a lot of steam "dancing" at intermission and enjoyed the high school swing choir's performance at the end.

We took the girls to church on Sunday which means that I barely got to listen to the sermon and Zuzu peed twice and "tried" to pee three times while we were there.

After church we went to the White Grill, where Zuzu rejected suzy q's but ate some of her grilled cheese and part of the bun of Grammy's burger (the kid loves bread but not potatoes). We also saw my BFF Monica's mom there, which was a fun surprise. Also I had a coke, which was an awesome treat since I never drink pop and it is SO delicious. And somehow tastes better in a styrofoam cup with crushed ice.

David and I caught a community theatre matinee show that afternoon, and then we hung out with my cousin Brandi and her daughter Mesa and had dinner with them and Brandi's parents and my Papa. It was a really nice afternoon, and we were sad to load up in the car after dinner to head home.

We'd decided to head back to St. Louis Sunday night because we had tickets to the Cardinals home opener, so we thought it would be easiest for the girls to sleep in the car, then get up and go to school as usual the next day while David and I played hooky from work and had another "day date."

Zuzu told me her tummy hurt as we were leaving and I asked if she had to poop (because all we talk about is pee and poop). She said, "No,

I sad." I said, "Do you mean your chest hurts because you miss Grammy and Bop?"

She nodded, "Yes. I miss Grammy and Bop."

I said, "I miss them, too. So we need to remember that they are coming to see us soon! They're going to come to our house in St. Louis."

She smiled and said, "That make me happy!"

So sweet.

The ride home was uneventful (lots of sleeping in the backseat, no stopping!) and David and I had a great time at the ballgame, although we underestimated the traffic, ended up making a crazy left turn across two lanes in bumper-to-bumper traffic under an overpass, and parked so far away that we had to climb a chain-link fence to get to the brewery where we had a beer before walking the rest of the way to the stadium. It was a fun date!

We left the game early to make it back to daycare before it closed for the day, so we missed the sad end to the game but had a great time in the crazy atmosphere even though we missed seeing the Clydesdales because the lines to get in through the metal detectors were SO long and slow.

We took the girls to the park last night and then to Ted Drewes because it didn't feel like a Monday, it felt like a VACATION day! 

She likes swinging, in case that wasn't obvious.

Except really we went to Ted Drewes for us because Coco's not eating ice cream and when I offered it to Zuzu, she said, "I no like ice cream."

I said, "You don't like ice cream? What kind of kid are you?"

She looked at me like she was kind of hurt and said, "Zuzu."

Now it's back to real life. I came into campus to meet with students and get organized and David has a lot of late nights this week which means I'm on my own for dinner which is the worst. But! Only four weeks until my semester is over! And plenty to keep me busy in the meantime. Like grocery shopping by myself with both of them. (Actually they did great--but man it's hard to get organized after bring out of town for a weekend.)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Easter Portraits

This is my last post about Easter, I swear! I was looking back at Zuzu's very first Easter portraits, and wanted to post this year's cuteness.

Zuzu is wearing my old Easter dress (made by my mom) from 1983. Coco is sporting a bunny jacket that belonged to the daughter of a teacher at David's school.

I love this photo of Zuzu. The basket she's holding is a Longaberger basket I got as a bridesmaid gift when I was in Crafty Cousin Amanda's wedding. Normally I keep Chapstick and lotion and whatnot in it by my bed, but it made a cute little Easter basket.

The eggs were borrowed from the photographer. They were foam and Zuzu was obsessed with how cool they were. In fact, when it was time to leave, leaving the eggs behind caused serious problems. It was an epic meltdown--one of the worst ever and definitely the worst one she's ever had in public. I was changing Coco, so David got the brunt of it, including a bite on the shoulder that left a wicked mark (he had the bruise for days, even after the teeth marks faded).

But she sure looks sweet holding that basket!

Coco was actually not at all smiley for this photo session--I swear it was the only morning in her life she wasn't full of smiles. 

I know the studio portraits are a little cheesy, but I love capturing special outfits, and it's so affordable. Worth the hassle, as long as I can avoid getting bitten.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

In Which We Ruin Otherwise Lovely Photos of Flowers and Chickens

We took the girls to the Botanical Gardens on Easter. It was such a lovely day and things were blooming and I thought that we'd take lots of charming pictures of the girls in front of flowers. David took most of the pictures (no comment) and I thought that we would have several really good snapshots. I mean seriously, we must have taken like 300 photos. These are the best of the bunch. I wish I were kidding.

On the upside, I was pleasantly surprised by how many lovely flowers were already blooming, and it was really such a nice day to be there (just a little chilly in the morning, but a perfect opportunity for Zuzu to wear a little Easter sweater I'd picked up for her at a resale shop) and--as long as you weren't trying to dine in their restaurants--it wasn't at all crowded.

I climbed with and chased Zuzu in the Children's Garden and it was so nice to not be pregnant and to be able to keep up with her. Last summer I felt so hot and heavy and slow, but on Sunday I was able to go across the rope bridges and duck into the corners of the little cave.

I swear Coco had more fun than it looks like she's having. Zuzu was obviously too busy to pose for photos. I don't love that David and I have sunglasses on in all the photos, but I also don't like squinting. It was still a beautiful day at the gardens, though.

Skipping along, but refusing to look toward the camera.

Seriously, Coco? Is it really that bad?

They're both looking in the same direction. This is as good as it's going to get.

Pensive baby, face oddly shadowed. Flowers are pretty!

Not looking!

Happy baby tongue.

Mama and Coco. Took about 50 photos to get this one.

This basically sums up the reality of the photo session.
Close up on the sweater. Isn't it sweet?
Coco is so over us.
Close up on Coco's face. That lip!
Oh, hai, baby. Thanks for the wave.

Running away at the Children's Garden. Not pictured: meltdown when it was time to leave.

After the gardens, we headed back home to have lunch. We were already late for nap time, so we decided to skip it and had another Easter egg hunt in the backyard. Then we busted out the new chickens.

The old chickens are alive and well, but no longer laying for us because they are lazy bitchez. So they are going to retirement on a farm owned by one of the teachers at David's school (that's not a euphemism).

Easter egg hunt at home.

Singing to the chickens. Like ya do.

Grandma Peppa shows Zuzu how to pick up a chik'n

Making chik'n friends

I don't think I'll ever get the perfect, smiling-yet-candid shots that I envision when I try to do these little photo sessions of and with the girls. But even with the drama, the pouting, and the singing, I love that we are able to capture a little bit of who they are right now.