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.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter Egging

We had a really low-key Easter, but it was really the most fun. Zuzu was really into it--even more than she was into Christmas.

And my heart is a lot lighter at Easter than it is as Christmas, so it was easy for us to get excited, too.

Coming at the end of spring break didn't hurt, as the week was pretty relaxing overall. David's grandma was in town and we fit in some fun activities and some downtime.

Thursday was rainy, so we made a trip to Central Library and Zuzu got her very own library card!

On Friday we went to the science center. We didn't think about the fact that it was Good Friday and all the schools would be out. It was way too crowded for my taste, particularly because Zuzu didn't want to hold hands with anyone. She stayed pretty close, but it was such a zoo as we tried to navigate with Coco in the stroller. We did run into another St. Louis blogger who recognized Zuzu from my IG feed, so that was fun, but I was more than ready to go after about an hour. Still, Zuzu seemed to really enjoy herself, even if she was too little for a lot of the displays and activities.

Helped Daddy build the arch!
On Saturday, David decided he wanted to add more landscaping bricks around his garden in the backyard, so he and Zuzu made a trip to Home Depot. It turned out that Home Depot was having an Easter egg hunt, but there were very few people there, so David told Zuzu she could pick up six eggs. They gave her a bucket and she gathered her eggs and when she got home, she was still SO EXCITED about it. It was really adorable.

He had to make another trip back to Home Depot for the second load of bricks and his grandma decided to ride along, so she and Zuzu walked around and an employee told Zuzu she could pick up Easter eggs (she was still carrying her bucket from the first trip). Gma explained that Zuzu's dad had told her she already had a turn and wasn't to pick up any more eggs, but the lady said Zuzu could pick up as many as she wanted.

You better believe she FILLED that bucket!

We don't let her have bubblegum or jawbreakers, but she got plenty of Skittles and Starburst, so she was pretty freaking happy. She did try a piece of chocolate and then spit it out and said, "I don't like clock-clot!"

At bedtime on Saturday, she was so excited about the Easter Bunny coming to our house and hiding eggs that she had a hard time settling down. She was super excited to find eggs when she woke up in the morning.

She spotted an egg the Easter bunny had hidden near the fireplace
She and David put out a carrot for the Easter Bunny and she was delighted to see the bunny had nibbled on it!

Her Easter basket contained an Elsa dress, a doctor kit, a Mr. Pencil (that goes with an iPad app), some bubbles, a book with the characters from Frozen and a pair of shorts. No candy! I did put Skittles and yogurt covered raisins in her Easter eggs, though. She probably would have been more excited if they'd contained berries.

I actually had more things for Zuzu's basket, but I transferred them to the PeePee Prize Box.

(She has collected a few prizes--but far fewer than she should have. I'm going to leave it at that.)

(I wish I got a prize for peeing, although Zuzu's positive reinforcement is quite charming: "Good job, Mommy! You peepee on the potty!")

Coco's Easter basket had a swim suit and sunglasses, a book, Where Are Baby's Easter Eggs?, pacifiers, and bubbles. She was pretty fascinated by the empty Easter eggs, though.

My parents gave the girls some Minnie Mouse pots and pans and utensils for the play kitchen, and their adorable Easter sleepwear.

After the excitement of the baskets and the egg hunt, we ate homemade cinnamon rolls and had a fun morning with David's grandma.

The weather was so beautiful we decided to take the girls to the Botanical Gardens. More on that (and photos) to follow later.

I'm loving the girls at these ages. They can really test my patience, but they can also be so, so sweet. I feel very lucky to be their mama, and so glad we had an easy going break and a very happy Easter.

P.S. What I was writing about two years ago: Easter in Arizona

What I was writing about four years ago: four months without Eliza, my favorite tree, and my mom

What I was writing about six years ago: why I didn't change my name

Thursday, April 2, 2015

April Flop

So I planned this hilarious April Fool's joke for David. I stole the idea from Heather at The Spohrs are Multiplying and decided that Zuzu and I would trick David when we made lunch.

We took the girls to the zoo on Wednesday morning. The weather was gorgeous, so we got there early enough to beat the crowd and left at 11:00am. David asked if we wanted to walk through the River's Edge section, but Zuzu and I were more than ready to go. She had a meltdown on the carousel because she wanted to ride the giraffe but it was already taken.

(Sidenote: She is currently really into giraffes, based in part on this book Giraffes Can't Dance that David reads to her almost every night these days. So she's always talking about Gerard the Giraffe and when we got to the zoo, she immediately said, "I want to see Gerard!" Last night when I was reading the book to her--while David was at his THIRD fantasy baseball draft--I realized that the giraffe's name is actually Gerald. Regardless, we strolled out of the zoo with her sobbing, "But I want Gerard!" I've decided Gerard the Giraffe is Gerald's sophisticated older brother.)

Anyway, we got home from the zoo and David took the girls upstairs for changes and hand-washing, and I scurried around to make grilled cheeses. I'd started carefully planning this on Tuesday when I went to the store.

Step (1): I bought a pound cake. I peeled the sticker off so it didn't say "pound cake" and casually mentioned to David that I'd picked up some good bakery bread for grilled cheeses.

Step (2): I bought a container of buttercream icing. It already has a yellowish tint, but I added red and yellow food coloring to it to make it velveeta-orange.

Step (3): When I started lunch, I sliced the poundcake and toasted two pieces of it in the toaster oven. Then I spread the frosting over, adding plenty so that it smooshed out the sides just bit and looked like melty cheese. (It obviously didn't look quite right, but if you were expecting grilled cheese and didn't look at it too closely, it totally worked.)

Step (4): I put some potato chips on the side and told David his sandwich was ready.

David wanted to watch part of a ballgame, so he took his plate into the TV room. Zuzu and I tiptoed into the dining room to peek around the corner and watch him eat. I'd told Zu that we were playing a trick on Daddy and to get ready to yell "April Fools!"

So we watched as David ate a chip.

Then he took a drink of water.

AT LAST, he took a bite of sandwich.

I stifled giggles and waited for his reaction.

He chewed, swallowed, and TOOK ANOTHER BITE.

No comment, no weird expression.

I said, "Are you KIDDING me?" and started cracking up.

He said, "What?"

I said, "How's your grilled cheese?" (Zuzu was also giggling even though I don't think she knew what was funny, but I couldn't stop laughing.)

He said, "Kind of sweet."


He said, "I wondered why I couldn't really taste the cheese."

And that, my friends, is an April Flop. We yelled "April FOOLS" anyway, but it wasn't quite what I'd been imagining.

I'll never beat the year that I convinced him the shed had collapsed in the backyard right after he spent two days painting it (he still talks about it). I think I need to give up the practical jokes and go back to drama/acting if I really want to trick him...

Any good jokesters out there? I considered saran wrapping the toilet, but let's face it: we are cleaning up enough pee as it is around here.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Spring Breaking

We are on Week Day 2 of Spring Break and it's been a pretty good one so far.

Today, for example, David and I had a "date day." I hear people talk about "stay-cations" and I kind of roll my eyes at the idea, but today we did it and it. was. awesome.

We slept in (as late as you can sleep in with a baby and a toddler) then took the kids to daycare and went to the art museum. We wandered around and I made David play my hypothetical games: "Which of these paintings would you put in our house?" "Which of these artists would you want to paint our family portrait?"

We went out to lunch at a little vegetarian eatery that is my new FAVORITE restaurant and I plan to return there as soon as possible. Maybe this weekend.

We wandered down the street from the lunch place and ordered gelato and sat outside soaking up the sunshine and eating gelato.

And then we went to the grocery store and bought Easter egg filler (yogurt covered raisins and fruit snacks for our child who is missing a sweet tooth) and beer and pancake mix. We forgot milk.

We came home and hung up frames in the big girl room and our bedroom and the nursery (since some of the nursery art work moved with Zuzu to the big girl room) and then I picked up the girls from daycare and dropped them at home and David hung out with them on the patio while I ran back to the grocery store to get milk.

I've also managed to attack my reading list. I graded essays the first day of break, and I still have a bunch of exams to grade, but I'm also (finally) doing some reading. I read Citizen by Claudia Rankine and texted my BFF from high school and told her she absolutely MUST order it and read it right this second because it was taking my breath away as I read it. (She did order it. And a copy for her sister. I love that about her.)

I also raced through the thriller The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. It was intense. I figured it out before the end, but I still liked it enough to finish reading it under the covers with the flashlight on my iphone because David was whining about the lamp being on. [Edited to add: This book involves a dead baby. It isn't central to the story, but it's definitely disturbing. I mean, the whole book is somewhat disturbing, but if that's a trigger for you, skip it.]

As far as thrillers go, I think I liked The Farm by Tom Rob Smith even more. Creepy and intriguing and a cool narrative set up. I basically neglected my family to finish it, which is the sign of a great book.

Speaking of the family: Coco has started crawling, which is exciting and also exhausting (for me, not her!). She's a week shy of eight months old and is on the move about six weeks younger than Zuzu was when she crawled (Zuzu started crawling Easter weekend two years ago!).

She spoiled us last weekend by sleeping through the night two nights in a row. She's continued to do pretty well since then, but still wakes up once or twice. I almost think it would have been better if she'd never teased me by sleeping all the way through at all. She really is the sweetest thing, though.

We've had some issues with Zuzu pushing Coco over onto her back from a sitting position. She's never hurt Coco, though obviously it could bang her head, but it does infuriate Coco (and me, because Zuzu KNOWS she's not supposed to do it). When Coco cries, Zuzu then tries to dramatically cradle her in her arms and whisper words of comfort. It's become clear that she's still acting out the early scene in Frozen when Elsa hurts Anna and then cradles her sister and says something like, "It was an accident!"

This imaginary play is really adorable, but I also feel compelled to keep poor Coco from being the victim every time.

I've finally decided that I'm going to keep hurting my back until (1) I quit lifting small children or (2) I get my core back in shape. So now I'm doing daily core workouts. It makes me remember my grad school days when I paid the student rate to attend Pilates classes once or twice a week and I thought holding a plank pose for one minute was NO BIG DEAL. Ha. I'm hoping that muscle memory is a real thing and my ab muscles start to remember that they once existed.

Okay. Should we talk about potty training? We had two full days of ZERO success (I mean nada, nothing, not even once, unless you count the time I caught her in the act and she peed down my leg on the way to the toilet but then was still going when I sat her on the toilet so... she halfway made it? But I had to change my pants and hers, so not really a win.). I was ready to just give up. Instead, we decided to chill out as best we could. Instead of making it an all or nothing thing, we're just trying to make it work and using diapers when necessary for our sanity.

Tonight, we were in the back room and she came walking in carrying her Thomas the Train potty chair (it lives in the bathroom, where potty chairs belong). She was already in her pajamas and night-time diaper. We asked what she was doing. She said nothing to us, set the potty down on the floor next to me, pulled down her pants, removed her night-time diaper, sat down and peed in the potty.


She got three Skittles and a prize from the Peepee Prize Box--she selected sunglasses.

The problem is that now that she's demonstrated how capable she is, I will feel even MORE frustrated when she refuses to go to the potty tomorrow. But I'm trying to remember this is a process. A process that requires lots of laundry and plenty of wine.

Aside from failing at potty training, reading novels, cursing doing core workouts, and going on day dates while my children are being cared for by others, I also got a massage yesterday. So what I'm saying is spring break has had its ups and downs, but the ups have been pretty great.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Rainy Stay at Home Day

Thanks for all the thoughts about a land line. I'll keep you posted on what we decide after we do more investigating over spring break. It sounds like so many issues (911 locating capabilities, soft dial capabilities, connection during storms) are specific to particular locations, so we need to figure out how things work here in St. Louis.

This has felt like a long week--maybe because I am more than ready to have a week off. David called me on Tuesday afternoon. I was at home. It had been a frustrating morning--Cooper disappeared on me while the baby was napping, and wouldn't come when I called for him. A quick check of the backyard showed no sign of him, but revealed that the back gate that appeared to be closed actually wasn't latched, so I got kind of panicky. Coco was sleeping, so I quickly ran down to the restaurant on the corner to make sure he hadn't somehow launched himself into their garbage, and forced myself to peek out on the busy street to make sure he wasn't there.

Not wanting to leave the baby alone any longer, I went back home and spent the next twenty minutes trying not to cry, imagining every worst-case scenario, thinking about how I'd yelled at him over the weekend, pacing the living room, e-mailing our neighbors to alert them that our dog was missing, and wondering if I should go ahead and go wake up Coco so we could go out to find Cooper.

When Coco woke up from her (very short) nap, I bundled her up to go out in the stroller, in the rain, to look for the dog.

And after getting her into her hoodie and rain jacket and finding a blanket to wrap around her, when I opened the backdoor, there was Cooper. Filthy--coated in mud--and looking very ashamed of himself.

I'm not sure if he'd been in the chicken coop or the garden or if he'd gotten out of our yard and ventured somewhere else through the alley, but he had to have a bath, and Coco didn't want to be put down, and when David called me back to see how things were going, I vented about the naughty dog and the clingy baby and complained that I hadn't gotten any work done. I needed to read a play for class and write an exam for Friday and I hadn't factored in the dog bath and the baby only wanted to be held, so nothing was getting done.

David told me that I should just take Coco to daycare and get things done so that I could enjoy my time with her once I was finished.

He has a point--I do believe that I have much more fun with my kids if I'm not stressed out about what's not getting done.

But then Coco fell asleep on my chest like she used to do when she was a teensy newborn. And I remembered why I'm doing this stay at home thing two days a week.

Yes, it can be frustrating. But having a sleeping baby curled up on your chest on a rainy Tuesday afternoon while listening to the dog snore and thinking of questions to ask your students about Romantic poetry is pretty much the greatest way to work ever.

Even if not much work gets done once she's awake.

P.S. What I was writing about 5 years ago -- adventures as a "dog mom" (makes me miss Little Mac!)

What I was writing about 3 years ago -- sick and pregnant with Zuzu

What I was writing about 1 year ago -- my thoughts on Truth vs. Happiness

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Land Line

Like many people living in the twenty-first century, we dropped our land line. We had one for a while when we were in our old house, but as we started relying more and more on our cell phones, eventually it got to the point where the only people who called the land line were solicitors and David's grandma. For some reason, it was kind of hard for me to let it go, but David convinced me that it was silly to spend money every month on something we didn't use. And so we dropped it.

I haven't missed the landline at all. We've never had one in this house, and we've never needed one.

But I have a tendency to go over worst-case scenarios in my head, and with two little ones, many of these worst-case scenario visions/fears/anxieties involve having to dial 911.

Except, what if I can't find my phone?

At least twice a day, I find myself hunting for my cell phone. It's just too easy to set it down when I get distracted by something (read: someone) and then I forget where I put it. I'll find it a little while later in a closet, on top of the towel rack in the bathroom, next to the olive oil on the kitchen counter.

The point is, I can't always put my hands on it immediately. And I often put it somewhere that Zuzu can't reach it. Plus I'd have to teach her how to use it. Not to mention that she doesn't know the passcode to unlock it.

Anyway, lately, I've been thinking what would happen if... And I was worried enough about it that I talked to David about maybe getting a land line again.

I asked a few friends about this when we got together for a BBQ over the weekend. Of the five couples there, only one had a land line. And all of those who relied on cell phones only had worried about the 911-emergency issue as well. I mentioned that we were seriously considering getting a land line, if only to give me some peace of mind about it.

Jamie pointed out that you don't have to unlock a cell phone to dial 911, so a kid could do it without knowing your passcode (though she admitted that she's never shown her 4 1/2 year old how to do that). The emergency feature on the phone does solve the problem of not wanting your kids to know your pass code, but doesn't do a lot of good if you can't FIND your phone in an emergency.

Beth's husband, Curt, came in during our conversation and made a pretty brilliant suggestion. Instead of paying a monthly fee for a land line, he suggested we could each buy a pre-paid cell phone and keep it in one place in the house, designated for emergency use only.

I really like this idea! I would definitely feel better knowing there is always a phone available (and not buried in the bottom of my purse or sitting on the ironing board in my closet), should I need to use it. My cell phone could still be off-limits to Zuzu, but eventually we can teach her how to dial 911 on the emergency phone.

What do you think? Would you buy a pre-paid phone just to have in case of emergencies? Do you have a land line? If you have older kids, have you taught them to dial 911 on a cell phone? Do you freak out about not being able to find your cell phone in an emergency? Do you have another solution? (Please don't say hip holster!)

Updated to add: We'll be contacting our telephone provider this week to see what our options are. (And by "we" I mean David because in the division of household duties, "Talk to strangers on the telephone" falls in his column. Also, he owes me for the Code Brown Bathtub Situation I had to deal with last night while he was out to dinner.) 

I also found this post really helpful, and, unfortunately, Missouri is not on this list of "soft-dial" states.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Nothing to Report Here

I feel like I have gotten lost in the minutiae of day to day life.

David was out of town over the weekend and my parents came up to help but left Saturday after lunch. A friend of mine came over Saturday afternoon and (perhaps sensing my desperation?) ended up sticking around to help me with the bathtime routine before bed.

I kept thinking that having multiple kids would not be so challenging if they were always (maybe even sometimes) in sync with each other in terms of eating/sleeping/playing, you know?

Sunday morning, I had some lofty goals. I wanted to get the house picked up and vacuumed, I wanted to jog/walk to the park with the girls and the dog, and I wanted to get myself showered and dressed in time to pick up David from the airport at noon.

Coco also had some goals: She wanted to lose her bloody mind and scream anytime I left the room without her and refuse to nap except (briefly) in the stroller.

Zuzu also had some goals: She wanted to build a pillow fort on the rug while I was vacuuming, go down the slide two more times after I said "Last time," and also shower with me.

Coco achieved her goals. Zuzu achieved two of hers and then was thwarted because I did NOT have time to negotiate around her while trying to take a super quick shower.

Instead, I showered while listening to my children finally doing something in sync: screaming and crying.

Coco was pissed that I was behind the curtain and out of her sight. Zuzu was pissed that she was not with me. Zuzu won't leave the baby alone when she's eating or going down for a nap, but she wants nothing to do with her when I could use THREE minutes to shampoo, condition, and rinse my hair. Coco will arch her back and contort herself in order to see what her sister's doing when I'm trying to nurse her, completely ignoring me in the process, but when I set her down outside the bathroom door for JUST A MOMENT, you'd think I'd destroyed her hopes and dreams for the future.

We were SO READY for David to get home.

Anyway, between picking up David and having lunch at a restaurant (the girls were magically well-behaved), we managed to get all the Sunday Duties taken care of--laundry, bottles prepped, diapers gathered--and we went to my friend Beth's house for a BBQ that was really nice except for the part that it's kind of hard to sit down and have a conversation with a bunch of kids under the age of five running around, needing various levels of assistance with different activities, and wanting to report on their dramas and squabbles. Zuzu was actually less interested in socializing and more interesting in exploring the vast toy collection that Beth's girls have accumulated, so she kept herself pretty well entertained and didn't bite anyone (win!), although I thought she might have a meltdown when it was time to leave. (Beth managed to coax her out to the car for me.)

She fell asleep on the way home, and I was celebrating what I was pretty confident would be a successful sleeping transfer from carseat to bed at 7:30pm as I carried her in the house, when I realized that she smelled terrible and I was  feeling the cold smear of a leaking poop diaper on my hands. She did not sleep through the diaper change, and what I thought was bedtime turned out to be a 30 minute power nap between 7:00pm and 7:30pm. Not ideal!

So now it's Monday morning and I don't feel very well-rested and I need to write an exam for Friday and I need people to respond to e-mails who haven't responded and I'd really like to get pictures hung in Zuzu's big girl room and that laundry that I finished didn't get entirely put away and I haven't done any reading for fun lately and I feel like I am just putting out fires instead of getting things accomplished.

Next week is spring break for both David and me, and we are MORE than ready for the break and psyching ourselves up for Potty Training, Let's Try This Again.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

St. Patty's Day News

Happy St. Patty's Day! I had planned to do some fun things for the holiday--a fruit rainbow for breakfast, some chocolate gold coins left by a leprechaun for a treat after school--but as things turned out, I was barely functioning this morning.

I have been knocked OUT by strep, you guys.

It started with noticing that my throat was sore when I was getting ready for bed Thursday night. I thought maybe I was getting a cold, or allergies even, what with the warmer weather, so I shrugged it off.

It still hurt Friday morning, but I had to teach and then we were doing phone interviews in the afternoon for a new hire in our department, so I couldn't miss work. I didn't feel bad except for my throat--no headache or anything, and I wasn't especially tired (I mean, no more than usual, considering Coco is teething and has been up pretty frequently at night this week--but Thursday night she actually slept better than she had all week!).

My days at work are pretty nonstop--e-mail, pumping, meeting with students, class, lunch, class, pumping, and then phone interviews all afternoon. Those went until 5:30, so it was six o'clock by the time I was driving home. It was gray and raining and as I got in my car and exhaled for what felt like the first time all day, I realized how bad I actually felt.

I got home and immediately collapsed on the couch. Still, it's kind of normal for me to feel pretty drained by the end of the week. It was only when David said dinner was ready and I didn't want any of it that I knew something was really off.

I'd invited some co-workers over for a little mid-term potluck on Pi Day (#nerdalert) but when I woke up Saturday, achy and chilled, I knew that I was going to have to cancel. So instead of prepping for a potluck, I dragged myself to Urgent Care, got a throat swab, and it came back "really positive" according to the paramedic who looked at my tonsils. They sent me home with a prescription and then I went to bed.

For three days.

Last night I finally felt up to going downstairs and I sat out on the patio for a little bit to enjoy the weather. I was in bed by 9 and on my own this morning since David had an early meeting. I took both the girls to school today so I could have a little more time to rest and recover.

While I was busy doing my invalid thing yesterday, David came upstairs with a package that had come in the mail from my Crafty Cousin Amanda. You guys may remember her from the waxed paper capiz shell chandelier project or from her invaluable assistance with turkey art or maybe from one of these adorable dresses:

February 2014
February 2014
January 2015

Crafty Cousin Amanda also helped me reupholster a bench and sew pillow covers, and she's given me advice on virtually every crafty project I've tackled on my own. 

She really helped me do so much with Zuzu's nursery (she sewed the crib bumper as well as the chandelier) and so it's partly thanks to her that the nursery got featured yesterday on the Good Housekeeping website in a round-up of themed kids rooms!

Isn't that awesome? I admit--I was really excited when Good Housekeeping contacted me, and it made me realize that I need to get moving on finishing and revealing Zuzu's big girl room, and adjusting some wall art and details in the nursery to make it officially Coco's room.
Anyway, Crafty Cousin Amanda sent an awesome item to us this week. I know it's obnoxious of me, but I can't reveal exactly what she sent (yet) because it's a surprise for something later in the month (I'll post about it later, I promise).

But I CAN tell you that she has officially gotten her Etsy shop up and running! She's doing a lot of paper goods, but has some other things available, too (and her prices are ridiculously good--like I'm telling her she needs to raise them). 

She's already been doing well with orders and while she's not quite ready to quit her day job (yet, I like to say), she is always thinking about expanding what she adds to her shop. It totally makes me wish yet again that we lived closer so that I could bug her give her unsolicited advice request more things help her out.

Anyway, the best part about her Etsy shop? It's actually called... (wait for it...) ...  My Crafty Cousin Amanda. Isn't that awesome and hilarious? She said she had a hard time coming up with a name and then it just came to her in a flash of inspiration. 

I think I should convince her to do a little give away on my blog. That my friend Brandy will probably win because she wins all the free things. (Some people are just lucky like that, right?)

Anyway, considering I basically dropped off the face of the earth for three days with strep throat, that's literally all that is going on in my life right now. (Well, that and the Netflix binging I've been doing--more on that later.)

P.S. What I was writing about around this time...
four years ago (my pet peeve remains the same!)

Sunday, March 15, 2015


Because this sort of thing fascinates me, here's a side-by-side look at me, Zuzu, and Coco, all at six months of age (try not to let the psychedelic wallpaper of my nursery make you dizzy):

Zuzu is the baldest! And the drooliest, bless her heart. She didn't get a tooth until she was 10 1/2 months old, but she drooled like crazy until that tooth finally pooped through. I also remember she was so funny in her six month photo session with blowing raspberries and making funny noises--it was hard to capture her regular big smile.

This side-by-side kinda weirds me out because when I look at the girls now, I think Zuzu looks more like David and Coco looks more like me. But when I look at their baby pictures, I think see lots of similarities and differences with both of them--and I don't think they look very much alike at all!

Zuzu's head is shaped more like mine, but Coco has my smile and eyebrows. The little round nose (and big ears!) look the same across the board. The shape of my eyes look more like Zuzu's here, but I'm not sure that's actually true--I just think we both squint the same eye when we smile, but the size and color of our eyes is actually different. You can't tell from the 1980s photo, but my eyes are blue (and stayed that way). Zuzu's had turned hazel by six months and are really pretty much brown now. Coco's are blue (though one eye has a small brown stripe through it!) and I think they are going to stay.

Here's a side by side of the girls at seven months:

Both adorable, but definitely not identical!

Okay, here's head-shots of all of us at seven months:

My cheeks are different from both of theirs--and Coco has the roundest face. Again, I think Coco and I smile just, but Zuzu and I both have that one squinty eye!

And just for fun/reference, here's my mom:

I just realized that when I had Coco, I was 10 YEARS OLDER than my mom was when she had me. Considering I still feel like an incompetent child myself a rather large proportion of the time, I'm not sure what she was thinking having a baby at age 24, but you know. It was a different world in the 1980s. People had babies in their early 20's. People collected spoons and put them on their walls.

Here's present day me and Zuzu. She's not smiling in many of the photos we take of her these days because she NEVER STOPS TALKING!

It's my understanding that this may be a family trait as well...