Monday, June 29, 2015

And Then She Was Three.






You'll never know, Dear, how much I love you.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Party at the Lake

Hanging out with my kid today was weirdly just like partying with my awesomely crazy friend Stephanie in college. It started with her doing sporty outdoor activity and ended with her skinny dipping with cute guys we'd just met. It was basically like watching Steph do spring break all over again. With less tequila. But just as much fun.

It started when David took Zuzu down to the lake to go fishing today. 


At first, she was serious about fishing.


She was surprisingly adept at casting.


And then she met the guys hanging out next door. They had fun music and a cute dog. And they were friendly. So, naturally, she invited herself to their party. (A classic Stephanie move.) They were having a "liquid picnic."


Oh, and somewhere along the line, Zuzu lost her top. (These things happen. Or so I hear.)


And once she'd taken off her shirt, she was having so much fun that one thing led to another...


SKINNY DIPPING!

(All adults remained clothed. Probably because Stephanie wasn't here.)

Here's to partying like Steph this weekend. Or like my toddler. Makes the lake way more fun.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Fostering Independence. Even When It Makes Me Crazy.

Zuzu is an independent toddler.

I don't have a clear gauge of how typical this is for two-going-on-three-year-olds. I assume it's pretty standard, the "I do it myself!" phase.

But wow.


Don't get me wrong--I'm proud of the way she asserts her independence. We are encouraging her to have some small responsibilities around the house. We've started by placing her dishes in a lower cabinet so that she can put them away and get them out herself.

It's a little bit hilarious to me that a chore that is certainly NOT my favorite--emptying the dishwasher--makes Zuzu so proud of herself. And I'm more than happy to have the assistance. (In a few years, I'll be ready to hand over the responsibility entirely--just when she's decided it is no fun at all.)

But this morning, she wanted to pick out her own clothes, dress herself without assistance, and make her own breakfast.

Fine. Except she pulled panties out of the dirty clothes basket instead of the drawer, so we had to battle over that. Thank heavens there was one more pair of undies that featured BOTH Elsa and Anna because having to choose between them, or settle for Minnie Mouse, or GOD FORBID settle for the cute little owls would have been a horrific fate.

Then she was furious that the straps on her sundress were getting criss-crossed and tangled, but she refused to allow me to assist her.

Fine. So I watched her flail around the room screeching with her head stuck in her dress for a moment before I finally stepped in and helped her, while insisting that I wasn't helping her: "I'm just looking at how pretty this dress is!"

Once we make it downstairs in the morning, I give her a choice between bagel with cream cheese or mini-pancakes with yogurt. Milk and fruit on the side. (She carb-loads at breakfast.)

This morning, she chose pancakes. But SHE wanted to open the freezer drawer. HOW DARE I OPEN IT?!!!

She wanted to select the pancakes from the package BY HERSELF.

And break apart the pancakes that were stuck together BY HERSELF.

And arrange them on the plate BY HERSELF. (After fetching the plate from the cabinet BY HERSELF, naturally.)

We've started giving her a real glass to drink milk out of in the morning. (In the evenings, we revert to a sippy cup because that way we can do some free-range parenting slash without worrying about spillage if she wanders out of the kitchen.) God forbid that glass be in the dishwasher because now that she has had a taste of adulthood in the form of drinking out of a real glass, she will NOT denigrate herself with the use of a sippy cup.

(Unless Coco expresses interest in a sippy cup, in which case ALL sippy cups belong to Zuzu and no one else can touch them. Ever. And she wants to "pretend to be a baby.")

(BTW, Coco is still drinking nothing but mama's milk from the tap or a bottle when at school, so she just gets sippy cups to play with, empty, when Zuzu allows it.)

I microwaved the pancakes for 30 seconds (only because Zuzu literally cannot reach the microwave without standing on the stovetop, and she likes to remind me that it is HOT).

(She is becoming a bit of a Safety Patrol. David was pushing her in the swing at the park and she kept insisting her push her higher and then said, "Daddy, be careful of my neck. You don't want to break my head off!" Which, yes. That is true, but perhaps an unnecessary warning?)

Then she administered the application of yogurt (she likes to squirt it from the tube directly on top of the pancake and then eat it in the messiest fashion possible).

Then she requested two additional pancakes and went through the ENTIRE PROCESS. Again.

It's adorable and all that, but it basically quadruples the time that we spend doing ANYTHING.



David and I had this text exchange this morning:



And that pretty much sums it up. It IS great. But not so easy to embrace it. Sometimes I wonder if I'm fostering independence or just ceding control entirely.

Toddlers are the most inefficient little dictators.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Swimming Pool: Like Returning to the Womb

David recently set up a swimming pool on the patio for the girls. And Zuzu is loving it.


This pool is deeper than ones we've had previously, and made of very durable material. It has a cushioned bottomed, which is ideal for sitting on the concrete patio. The sides are so high that we didn't inflate the middle ring, and this allows Zuzu to climb in and out of it on her own, and to splash to her heart's content without soaking everyone sitting around her. It's shaped more like an oval than a circle, which is perfect for the skinny shape of our yard.

We brought it home last summer--the same day we brought home Coco. They were kind of a buy-one-get-one-free deal, you see. Oh--and it was covered by our insurance.


That's right. It's a birthing pool.


I spent most of my labor with Coco in that pool, although she wasn't actually born in it. I hung out in there almost all day, eating orange popsicles and listening to Dar Williams, and then went from 8 centimeters to OMG ready to push during the last 30 minutes that I was in there. My water broke, and then I stepped out of the tub and had the baby. (Right--it was almost that easy.)

Don't worry. We rinsed out all the amniotic fluid.

(But seriously, it had a liner.)

Anyway, if you'd like to come over for a soak in my birthing pool, just let me know. It's very relaxing. I'll put Dar Williams on.


P.S. A year ago I was pregnant with Coco!
Three years ago, Cooper committed his worst offense ever.
Five years ago, (I was pregnant and) I was writing about trunk cruising.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Right now.

I can remember what it felt like to be sinking and suffocating in my grief while life carried on for other people. I did what I could to shut it out. I imagine the person who invented the DVR and the ability to fast-forward through commercials had no idea what a gift that would be to people who are too broken-hearted for the pathos of diapers commercials. There is no easy time to lose a baby, but right before Christmas felt especially cruel.

I'm on the flip side of that right now--June is the month furthest from my grief and summer is now associated with all my happiest moments--Zuzu, Coco, and David's birthdays, my own birthday, our wedding anniversary, time off work, and time for vacations.

I've always been aware that the opposite is true, for some of my friends lost their babies in summer months, when sun-lit evenings felt interminable instead of welcoming, and radiant morning sunshine felt like it was mocking their pain. At least in December it seemed more natural to curl up in a blanket on the sofa at 5pm and not emerge for hours (or days).

I'm reminded of the painful juxtaposition of beautiful weather and great pain when I think about the terrible murders in Charleston. I'm glad my kids aren't old enough to know about this, but my stomach clenches up tight at the mere thought of them living in a world where some people are so full of senseless hate.

There is a part of me that feels removed from the sadness, that wants to shake off the bad news and turn my focus elsewhere. There's a part of me that just wants to turn the radio dial or click away in my browser and read something benign and superficial before going outside to enjoy a lazy summer day.

But there's another part of me, a bigger part, that knows none of us is really removed from what happened. Just two weeks ago, I listened to my students talking frankly and openly about their experiences with race in relation to Toni Morrison's short story, "Recitatif." We talked about how fear looks like anger. We discussed one sociologist's theory of "white spaces" and "black spaces" in this country, and a soft-spoken black guy in my class commented wryly that maybe that's why a golf shop hadn't returned his calls about his job application. Is there a whiter space than a golf course?

I think my students understand the adversity and struggles caused by racism in this country, but they always want to locate it in the past. I'm not sure that they fully grasp the idea of white privilege and the ease that is carried with it today.

And so I try to show them by making them read. I can't solve race relations in St. Louis, Charleston, or anywhere else. I can't eliminate hate. I can't protect my own kids from growing up and reading headlines and hearing news reports. But if you want to have a conversation about race, you might try reading (or listening to) one of these texts and starting there:

Cool Like Me by Donnell Alexander -- I taught this once and had a student write in the comments that no matter how I handled this material in class, anything that contains the n-word is offensive. I respect her opinion. I also think sometimes it's important to read texts that are offensive. I finally got brave enough to teach it again last semester, alongside Frederick Douglass's Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, and my students LOVED it.

"Recitatif" by Toni Morrison -- I loved Toni Morrison's interview on Fresh Air, and I love this short story. It makes students really uncomfortable sometimes, precisely because of the way she describes the two main characters, one white and one black, without ever revealing which one is which.

If you're on the go and want to listen to something, I can't stop thinking about this chapter of This American Life's podcast on the Birds & Bees. It's titled, "If You See Racism, Say Racism," which also reminds me of what my friend Kristin wrote this week.

Speaking of black and white spaces, this story is more than twenty years old, but problematically relevant today, particularly in St. Louis (I knew Professor Early when I was in grad school).

This is another essay I've taught (shameless pandering to student athletes, perhaps, except it's also well-written and important).

And I can't link to the full text, but I cannot say enough good things about this book. I wish I could make everyone read it. This review captures it well: "The book explores the kinds of injustice that thrive when the illusion of justice is perfected, and the emotional costs for the artist who cries foul." I lose patience with my students when they want to say that's the way things were "back then." The "illusion of justice" is a great phrase, and one I'll borrow for the classroom. My white students really want to believe that we live in a post-racial America. I am encouraged by their optimism, but also frustrated by what sometimes feels like willful blindness to reality.

Right now is the season's of someone's grief. Right now is the season of great injustice. Right now requires us to make an effort to make a difference. What happened in Charleston was the work of one sicko with a gun, but he was also armed with a legacy of racism, and we can't ignore that fact, either.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

At Grammy and Bop's

I'm at my parents' house with the girls. We made the drive on Saturday and it went pretty well. We went up to our favorite park in the morning so Zuzu could splash in the fountain and wear herself out before the car ride. She LOVES the fountain, but she was go excited to see Grammy and Bop that she was ready to go early.

So we swung back by the house to pick up Cooper, and then we hit the road.

Coco dozed off right away, but Zuzu chattered to me excitedly for an hour as she ate her snacks on our way out of town. She was very cute pointing out things she saw--especially when we got outside the city and she would exclaim, "I see cows! And I think there's a donkey in the barn!"

I mostly listened to podcasts on our way, but when we'd turned off highway 44 and got back in the twisty-turny roads, the ominous clouds got closer and closer, and I turned on local (country) radio to make sure we weren't in a storm warning. Coco started fussing and Zuzu woke up (I think maybe she was having a bad dream, because she seemed to startle awake and was disoriented for a moment) so I decided it was a good point for a bathroom break.

I pulled into a gas station in a small town and made Cooper wait in the car. I had underestimated how exciting the gas station would be for Zuzu--I'm not sure she'd really been inside one before, and the candy aisle was absolutely thrilling. I told her she could pick a treat if she peed on the big potty and she totally managed. She ended up choosing a 50-cent "lully-pop" and was quite delighted with her choice.

While we were inside, the sky opened up and it was POURING. This was most unfortunate, as I'd left the window cracked for Cooper. We waited it out in the gas station for a bit because the rain was just drenching people who were running inside. After a while it hadn't let up much, but I was getting antsy (although Coco was happily flirting with truck drivers, and Zuzu was busy asking me what every type of candy was, so the girls could have stayed there all day). By the time I made it back to the car, the driver's side was completely soaked. Fortunately, there was a beach towel in the front seat from visiting the fountain that morning, so I was able to dry off the seat (and myself, since I was more than a little damp after buckling the girls in their car seats).

We drove in rain on and off for the last hour of the trip, but nothing too terrible. Zuzu at one point said, "Thank you, Mommy, for driving me to Grammy and Bop's house." It was so sweet how excited she was to see them.

We got there in time for dinner, and walked down to see the Bushwhacker Days carnival (we also made this road trip last year).

Zuzu and Grammy rode the hot air balloon ferris wheel, which Zuzu enjoyed enormously.



She's not quite 36" tall, so most rides were off limits and the lines were long enough (and the crowds undesirable enough) that we decided to just do the one ride and then let her do the fishing game she was so excited about.


She loved using the fishing pole, and we let her select her prize without any guidance, which ended up being a huge mistake, at least in Coco's opinion.


My stomach was bothering me (not sure why--dinner didn't settle well) so we made a quick loop around the square but I wasn't feel well and could barely speak when we saw people we knew. So we headed home.

On Sunday we went to my parents' church and the girls wore these adorable matching dresses that I could not resist when I saw them for half price on the Target clearance rack.




They did pretty well for much of the service, but Coco wouldn't nap at her scheduled time and Zuzu got antsy, so before the service ended, I'd hauled them both to the nursery where they were entertained by two delightful high school girls and one high school guy.

We attended the reception afterward for the pastor who is moving on to another church. She baptized Zuzu, so it was nice that we got to be there for her going away party. Zuzu was delighted by the vase filler marbles that were sprinkled on the table for decoration ("Mommy! Look at the treasure!") but the reception hit a real low point for her (and all of us within ear shot, really) when I committed the sin of cutting her meatball into pieces rather than letting her eat it whole. I mean, HOW DARE I?

Sunday afternoon my mom and I took the girls to Wal-Mart (because no visit to Nevada is complete without a trip to Wal-Mart) and picked up an inflatable kiddie pool so the girls could "swim." I also picked up some adorable hair bows for $1 each, so if you're looking for bows and you can stomach Wal-Mart's politics, check out the little girls' section (for the record, I'm not a fan, but the nearest alternative big box store is an hour from here).

We got the kiddie pool set up, but Coco was having no part of the freezing cold water, so really we all just watched Zuzu splash to her heart's delight in the icy hose water. And we watched Coco eat watermelon.


Monday morning Ellie Kate came to play. (Ellie Kate is the first baby I held after losing Eliza. She has a very special place in my heart.) I pushed the girls in the stroller to a nearby playground and had so much fun just listening to the girls talk to each other and play together. Ellie Kate was cracking me up wanting to take care of Zuzu. She's all of six months older, though she is much taller, and when I ran out to the car to get something, my mom overheard EK say, "Don't worry Zuzu, I can watch you while your mommy is gone. I'm an adult."


Ellie Kate later informed me that, now that she's an adult, her mom lets her drink champagne. I sincerely hope she shares that news with the congregation at the church where her mother is a pastor.

Ellie Kate also liked hugs and told me she misses me "so much" so my heart was just melting. I wish we lived closer!

The girls had a blast climbing and sliding and splashing in mud puddles.




Zuzu's dress and Ellie Kate's shorts were completely drenched by the time we left. Then Zuzu was playing in the puddle while Ellie Kate was back up on the equipment, and Ellie Kate called out, "Zuzu, I see a snake on you!"


That got my attention, although I figured maybe Zuzu had kicked up an earthworm.

But Zuzu came UNGLUED. I've honestly never heard her scream quite like that. She came running over to me, crying and shrieking about snakes, and it took some doing to convince her that she didn't have snakes in her shoes or on her legs. She clung to me, screeching and shaking her head as I insisted she was snake-free.

Ellie Kate came over and explained she was just pretending: "It was in my imagination, Zuzu!" But Zuzu really couldn't recover. She might be fearless about climbing and exploring, but creepy-crawlies (insects and reptiles) do her in.

It is possible this is a hereditary issue--I'm not bothered so much by insects (I can even handle spiders pretty well), but I saw a possum on my parents' deck Sunday night and I screamed my head off as Cooper charged it (it brought back so many memories), and then right after that, I was somehow convinced that I'd felt a slug ON MY THIGH, even though there was no evidence of slug presence on me, and I had to take a shower before I stopped feeling totally icky.

The weather has been gray and rainy off and on the whole time we've been here, so we've just tried to fit in outdoor time whenever we can. Last night after dinner, we walked up to the square and got caught in a rain shower on our way home. The girls were covered in the stroller but my mom and I got a little damp.

Today we took the girls to the library and then out to lunch. Zuzu forgot her restaurant manners and when I grabbed her just before she ran back into the employees-only section of the restaurant, I said, "What are you doing?" and she said, "I'm Captain Hook!"

It was clearly time for Captain Hook to go home.

Cooper had a vet appointment today, which he handled like a champ weenie. We learned that he weighs 36 pounds and Zuzu weighs 30 pounds.

We left Coco at home with my mom to nap, but Coco REFUSED to nap today. I kid you not--she slept for maybe 10 minutes when we walked home from lunch and 10 minutes when we drove around this afternoon. She had a bottom tooth pop through last week, but I think her gums are still bothering her. She was totally unlike herself today--fussy, wanting to nurse constantly, but still arching her back and fussing sometimes while nursing, and having lots of loose and gross poops. I hope she pops another tooth through soon because she wore me out today.

Zuzu fell asleep on the way home from the vet (we took the long way home) and she had a nice nap this afternoon, so we didn't feel too bad about leaving them with my dad while my mom and I went to yoga.

It was an hour well spent, and reminded me that I really do benefit from taking classes. I'm promising myself right now that as soon as Coco weans (or is only nursing in the morning and at bedtime), I'm going to start going once a week.

The girls were pretty good for him, except Coco only slept for 10 minutes. I'm just completely astonished that she skipped napping ALL DAY. She's usually so easy and predictable!

Because we're crazy, we decided that we'd go ahead and take the girls out to dinner at the new Italian restaurant in town. I really thought that Coco would doze off in the car, but the thing about a small town is that the car ride to the restaurant was literally like 3 minutes. So Coco was still awake when we got there, and NOT content to sit in her carseat (on a normal day, she will often chill in her carseat without complaint). Zuzu didn't want to sit still in the booth either. We're working on her table manners, so I make her ask when she wants to be excused. Tonight, she asked to be excused before we had even ordered our food.


So I made the executive decision to change our order to carryout, and my dad waited on our food while my mom and I went home with the girls.

Coco finally fell asleep at 8:30 pm but was fussing by 9 pm (BAH HUMBUG) so I'm already bracing myself for being up all night.

Overall, we are having a blast at Grammy and Bop's house, but we are missing David. We're hanging out here all day tomorrow and then heading home on Thursday to make it back for Zuzu's swimming lesson. I'm feeling really fortunate to have the summer off (my class ended on Friday so I don't go back until mid-August) and to be able to spend a few days here. I love watching the girls have fun with my parents, even though the adjustment back to real life might be a little challenging. I'm hoping we have enough sunshine here tomorrow to go to the swimming pool!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Vacation

I'm kind of craving a real vacation.

The sandy beach and tropical beach version, I mean. One involving a cabana and beach towels (and, magically, no laundry).

I do not have that kind of vacation planned for this summer.

I'm taking the girls to my parents' house for a few days this month, and in July we are all (my parents, David, the girls, and me) DRIVING (in a rented minivan) to Pittsburgh for my brother's wedding.

I know both of these trips will be fun. Or at least "fun." Haha. But probably not exactly relaxing... I'm actually not all that worried about the car trip--we're breaking it up into two chunks, and both of the girls are pretty content car travelers (without screens, though we'll bring the iPad for backup).

The exhausting part will just be the actual vacation part because regular life is kind of exhausting with the two of them anyway. Zuzu will fight napping and want to stay up late, Coco will be up frequently in the middle of the night, and it's not like they are really at a point where they can entertain themselves while I read a novel for an hour. (Although yesterday I did manage to work on my feminist cross stitch project while they played on the patio for thirty minutes--it was kind of awesome.)

But of course my parents will be there to give me a break. They are great at entertaining the girls, although, frankly, Zuzu does tend to be a bit of a pill when they are around to indulge her.

Anyway, since my summer vacations don't sound all that relaxing, I'm thinking ahead... I am squeezing in a weekend at the lake with my girlfriends from college at the end of August, which should be a great way to wrap up the summer.

But I also have a fall break this year, so I wonder if David and I could fit in a short trip somewhere, just the two of us. Will I be ready to be away from the girls by then? I've never been apart from Coco for more than a few hours, and we've left Zuzu just one time--with my parents for two nights just before she turned two when we went to Michigan for a conference I attended. I'm not sure whether I'll be up for it this fall. Honestly, a lot of it probably depends on whether Coco is still nursing.

So... Anyone taking a sweet beach vacation? Can I live vicariously through your IG photos?

And here's a trip from two years ago that wasn't exactly relaxing, but that I'd love to recreate!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Running Away to Join the Circus

We had a great summer weekend, you guys. We took the girls to Shakespeare in the Park (made it to intermission!)

I cannot get over how much Coco eats. She's a boss.
We wore coordinating shades of blue. It may or may not have been intentional.
This kid was obsessed with the wine bottle. Hashtag like mother like daughter.
We also went to a potluck at the home of a biology professor friend of mine who has a clutch of tortoises (twenty-two of them) living in her sunroom (I'm kicking myself for not getting a photo of Zuzu with Gus and Poppy).

And we kicked summer off to its official start at the Tower Grove fountain.



But the highlight of the weekend was taking Zuzu to Circus Flora last night.

Oh. My. Word. If you are in St. Louis, you've got to go to this show. It was so cute and so thrilling and just amazingly fun.

We had planned to get tickets for Zuzu as a birthday present, but as "early birthday gift" doesn't really compute to an almost-three year old, we didn't talk about the birthday part of it much. But she got all dressed up in a sweet little pink eyelet dress (hand-me-down from a cousin) and Coco stayed home with our friend K and her girls (and celebrated her 10-month-birthday)!


It was really sweet for Zuzu to have our undivided attention.


Because, clearly, she doesn't get enough attention.

We were gifted our tickets, so we were thrilled to find ourselves on the front row of a box--literally an arm's reach away from the action. (In fact, when the horses and the daredevil riders came out, the ringmaster instructed us to lean back because they ran so close to the edge of the center ring that we needed to stay out of their way.) The tent was both big and small, so the events were incredibly impressive but also intimate in the sense that we were thisclose to the action.


The tightrope walkers and the trapeze act were so good that my hands were sweating watching them--I seriously had to look away a couple of times. There were no nets! Just sawdust floor! It was the real deal.

Zuzu was completely entranced by the animal acts--all domestic animals, mind you, and all obviously trained with positive reinforcement. 

Later when we asked her what her favorite part of the circus was, she said "Popcorn!" (which she pronounces "quawk-corn" for reasons unknown and adorable) but she kept talking about the kitty-cats when we got home. And the cats were awesome! (As was the fact that their trainer is a lovely Russian woman who looks just like my cousin Angela.) There were miniature horses, and birds, and then the big horses. Honestly, I kept missing some of the acts because it was so much fun for me to watch Zuzu watching the circus.


I loved the kids who did the opening tumbling act--local kids from age 9-17 years old who are in an acrobat troupe that I kind of want to join. Zuzu and I practiced our somersaults and twirls when we got home and I think that we are just about ready to audition.

It was really the most delightful two hours. The acts all hang together with a narrative about a neighborhood called Second Street, and we just had the best time. My favorite was the landlord and his love on the trapeze, but really they were all wonderful. Zuzu got a real kick out of the handy man with his pretend cat, too.

I can't recommend it enough--and if you're not local, come in town and you can stay with us when you go see it. It's that good.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Oh, Universe, You Are So Funny.

So remember how I was totally over poop?

Well, now I'm totally over puke.

I got home from work Monday night and felt nauseated. It wasn't horrible, but I wasn't hungry at all and I had no energy. I basically parked myself on the couch and let David deal with dinner, bath, and bedtime all on his own.

I ended up barfing around 9:00 pm--a huge, splashy production that was a horrifying shade of bright pink as a result of eating blueberries with lunch.

When I finally dragged myself up to my bed around 11:00 pm, Zuzu was in it (not a surprise), but David was gone, and our duvet had been replaced by a quilt. Zuzu was awake and I asked her what happened to the duvet, even though I already knew the answer:  "I fro-ed up."

"Oh," I said, "Me too, honey."

Then I went to the bathroom and barfed again.

Then Zuzu asked me if I'd been eating boogers because as a booger-eating deterrent, I've told her that eating boogers makes you throw up. (In my defense, it seems plausible. In retrospect, not such a great plan since I don't want her to assume that when I get sick it's because I've been eating boogers. Gag gag gag.)

The next morning I had a huge headache and my entire body hurt. I canceled class, made David bring the baby to me to nurse.

He ended up staying home from work also. He wasn't barfing, but he had no appetite and felt achy. He went ahead and took both the girls to school, as Zuzu was cheerful, ate a normal breakfast, and asked if she could go. (Nobody had a fever or anything.)

So we hung out in bed and on the couch yesterday, binge-watching Bloodline on Netflix (which is super good but kind of dark--it deals with a family who lost an older child, but it has no baby/pregnancy triggers--at least so far, I haven't watched all 13 episodes yet), and eating nothing. At 4:00 pm, David went to pick up the girls and I made myself take a hot shower. I felt a little better after that, so I ate some toast and applesauce. David (weirdly) had two popsicles for dinner.

This morning, we were both feeling much better. David headed off to work and I got the girls ready for school. Zuzu wanted yogurt and pancakes for breakfast, so I fixed that for her, and Coco and I ate Cheerios.

We headed out the door ON TIME (a summertime miracle!) and I was feeling pretty good about that. I glanced in my rearview mirror about halfway to their school and saw that Zuzu had fallen asleep in her carseat.

This has never happened on the way to school before.

She woke up immediately when I parked and I joked with her that she could go have second breakfast with Miss Randine, or she could go lie down in her cot.

She asked to lie down on her cot.

This has also never happened before.

So clearly something was not right, and I decided I wouldn't stay and do essay evaluations in my office, but I'd pick her up right after class got out at 12:15 pm, so she'd only be at school about 3 hours.

I hauled Coco out of the car in her pumpkin seat (even though she is really getting too heavy for me to haul her around in that thing), and started to walk toward the school holding Zuzu's hand.

When Zuzu stopped short, bent over, and barfed up pancake and yogurt.

I tried to say comforting things, though I mostly wanted to say THANK YOU for not puking in my car.

So now I'm at school, it's 9:00 am, I have a 25-minute drive to campus, my class starts at 10:15 am, and my kid is puking in the parking lot.

I wanted to scoop her up and take her home and cancel class, but having already canceled the day before, I really hated to miss two days in a row since the class is only four weeks long--I wouldn't be able to cover everything on my syllabus.

I ended up dropping off Coco (who will hopefully avoid this plague), taking Zuzu home to change her out of the clothes that got puke on them. I considered taking Zuzu to school with me and teaching an abbreviated class, but I ended up calling our neighbor, who came over to watch Zuzu for a couple hours while I drove to campus and taught.

Zuzu was lying on the couch when I left, watching Sesame Street, but when I got home she was building an "ice palace" with wooden blocks in the living room. She was still pale, but she asked me if she could have dinner, so she ate some applesauce and a Hawaiian roll.

This was after she burst into tears because she wanted bread with "cheese"--she calls butter "cheese" like cream cheese because she always wants cream cheese on her bagel, but one time we were out of it so I just substituted a generous helping of butter and now she seems to think they are interchangeable, so don't be confused. The problem was that she wanted it cut out in the shape of a butterfly with our cookie cutter except I couldn't find the cookie cutter. I tried to explain this, but she insisted that "Daddy said" she could have her bread cut like that (we did cut her toast like a butterfly and bunny weeks ago on a lazy Sunday morning when we had time for that kind of nonsense).

I tried to freehand a butterfly shape with a regular knife (that looked pretty good, if I do say so myself), but then she cried because when she picked it up it kind of fell apart and so I ended up just tossing it and busting open a package of Hawaiian rolls because she loves those so much.

After lunch she asked to watch another show, and since I needed to evaluate essays and screen time when you're sick doesn't even count, I said sure. She fell asleep watching Mickey Mouse's [Godforsaken] Clubhouse and remains asleep, which means I need to pump again before I go pick up poor Coco-Puff from school.

So, yeah, I get it: Complain about cleaning up poop, and the universe will give you a DIFFERENT, but EQUALLY GROSS product of bodily waste to deal with. Message received.



Monday, June 1, 2015

More Thoughts on Poop; Or, I Miss Having Other Things to Write About

Sometimes when I take a minute to think about how fast the girls are growing and how much they are changing, I already feel kind of sad about how quickly they are leaving babyhood behind.

I will miss the hilarious things Zuzu says, the way she pronounces "does" as "dooze," the way she talks about herself in the third person, and the nonsensical questions she asks when she doesn't get a joke or doesn't follow the conversation ("What HAPPENED, Mama? Daddy, what HAPPENED?") . I already feel nostalgic about missing the way Coco's face lights up when I walk in the room and she bear-crawls towards at top speed. I will miss snuggles and quiet nursing sessions and the fact that clicking my tongue makes her laugh.

But you know what? 

I will NOT miss the amount of time I spend cleaning up bodily waste that is not mine.

I don't even just mean diaper changes. I can change diapers all damn day--even cloth ones--even now that Coco has started solids. Hosing those hummus-textured-turds out of a cloth diaper into the toilet is not my favorite way to spend my time, but I can deal with it. Babies poop in diapers. I get that.

I'm really talking about the fact that three-year-olds poop pretty much adult versions of poop. And this past week there has been poop in pull ups and poop in big girl panties and poop on clothes and poop on socks poop on the floor and poop on rugs. Poop while climbing the play structure at the park. Poop THIRTY SECONDS after peeing on the potty and pulling up her big-girl panties. Poop at school that comes home still nestled in the big girl panties, the whole freaking turd tied up in a plastic bag in her backpack.

(A plastic bag that David will then toss into the laundry room without opening, allowing Cooper to then tear the bag open and EAT THE TURD because he is so freaking disgusting I can't even.)

I am so over poop.

Last night Zuzu pooped in the potty completely on her own and I was so happy YOU HAVE NO IDEA how happy.

Or maybe you do.

Please let this be the start of something real and not just a fluke. Because I'm really tired of having so much mental energy taken up by policing and coping with toddler poop production. I'm sure other things happened in my life last week, but I can't for the life of me tell you what one of them was because ALL I CAN THINK ABOUT IS HOW MUCH POOP I CLEANED UP.

I miss my brain having other thoughts. I really do.

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?

(Later)

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)

(Later)

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

Coco-Puff

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.