Thursday, January 31, 2013

Other Favorites (Or; OMG MOAR PITCHERS of the BAYBEE Because You Cannot Get Enough Of Her, AMIRITE? Or is it just me...?)

Voting continues on which print to enlarge and/or make into a canvas.  Two favorites are running away with it!  I know I said majority rules, but a clear favorite is emerging in my head, so I'll be interested to see if I agree with the majority...  It's becoming clear that I will be printing them ALL, the question is how many will be framed and prominently displayed.  Maybe one for the bedroom, one for the gallery of frames in the hallway...  A 5x7 for my office?  The problem (and I use the word "problem" loosely here) is that she's just going to keep being cute and we're just going to keep taking more pictures!  We may need to put up some additional walls.  (Or move???  Thanks for the feedback on that post.  David and I are continuing to ponder our options, but we had lots to talk about over dinner last night, and I really appreciate your perspectives.)

Anyway, here are a few more favorite pictures from our six month photo session that I just had to share.

What's that?  You wanted to see my hillbilly face? I make this face while spitting and then drool down my chest.  It's my favorite trick!  Why isn't this going on a canvas? 11x14 print? Anyone?  

Um, excuse me?  What did you just say? OMG Sophie, did you hear that?
I'm getting kind of tired.  Being the center of attention wears a girl out. {Also cute is that this yawn looks a little bit like a fully belly laugh}

Squeaky toys are so funny! {This is another quilt made my by Nana--it went on the twin bed that was my first "big girl bed"}

Can you see the title of the book we're reading?

Just hanging out with Daddy.

Have you ever seen two people so excited to look at a baby in the air? I mean really.

Mom and Dad are pretty crazy about me.
OK.  Zuzu is seven months old now (!) so that is enough of the six month photo session, I promise!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Little Mac and the Trail of Turds

Little Mac is going to be thirteen years old in April.

She's always had a mind of her own.  When I'm feeling generous, I call her temperamental.  When I'm feeling less generous, I call her psychotic.

When I'm feeling reckless, I let her get this close to the baby.  (Not to worry--David was less than an arm's length away and actually trying to lure Mac away from the baby with treats.)

Baby loves psycho dog.
Little Mac has gotten into the habit of demanding to be let out in the middle of the night.  And by "demanding," I mean she wakes us up out of a peaceful slumber by wailing at the top of her lungs.  Think about a cross between a coyote, an ambulance siren, and a screaming woman.  That's basically what she sounds like.  When we first moved in, Mac got left in the back yard and voiced her displeasure.  Our next door neighbors came bolting outside to see what was wrong--they later told us they thought someone was getting raped in the alley.  THAT is what she sounds like.  There's no ignoring her demands even though we KNOW she COULD hold it all night long if she wanted to.  So we get out of bed and let her outside.  (And by "we" I almost always mean David, bless his heart.)

Usually she scurries right out into the backyard, pees, and then hurries back inside to go back to bed.  But there have been a couple of nights when she just stops on the deck.  Outside in the freezing cold.  After she's already peed.  And she just...  looks around.  Stares off into space.  Stands around doing NOTHING until David, tired of waiting for her, dashes outside, grabs her by the scruff of the neck (which she HATES, btw) and drags her back inside.

This always happens about fifteen minutes after the baby has woken us up.  So just as we are drifting back to sleep, Little Mac starts wailing and demands to be let out.

Last night was a rough night for Zuzu, so we both groaned when Little Mac started wailing about 2am.

David (bless his heart) got out of bed and went to let her out.

Except, she wasn't standing by the gate waiting for him to come out and open the back door.

She was curled up in her bed in the corner of the living room.  Just hanging out.  WAILING.

David asked her what was wrong and she ignored him.  Then she stopped wailing, got up, and started circling on the living room rug with her back arched.  This, my friends, is her classic "Immabout to poop" move.

David was trying to figure out what the heck she was doing when he realized she actually WAS about to poop.  Right in the middle of the living room!  In front of God and everybody!  With David standing right there watching!

So he swooped down and picked her up back the back of the neck.

She was growling and barking in protest, but he hauled her to the backdoor.


I just...  I just do not know what we are going to do about her.  Is she getting senile?  Or just malicious?  It's really anyone's guess.

The one thing she has going for her is that she has never shown ANY aggression (or any interest, really) towards the baby.  We know better than to believe that peaceful coexistence will continue once Zuzu is on the move, but we're going to take it while we can get it.

(FYI: On our last visit to the vet over Christmas break, Little Mac was pronounced in excellent health overall, with cateracts and a mild heart murmur.  Considering the fact that she's twelve-going-on-thirteen, I asked the vet about her life expectancy.  He thinks she'll make it to fifteen, easy.  The thought of not having Little Mac is so sad.  And yet...)

Zuzu is, of course, crazy about her.  She'll sit in her jumperoo and watch the dogs run around and it makes her laugh and laugh, which is just about the cutest thing ever.

Zuzu and her buddies.  Once again, Mac is being distracted and led away from the baby.
Not the cutest thing ever?  Cleaning up a trail of dog turds at 2am.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Question of Relocation

It has come time to sell our little bungalow and seek out a slightly larger nest.  I'm not in the market for a McMansion or anything, but I have high hopes for a place with a guest bedroom and more than one bathroom.  If I'm allowing myself grand visions, I see a sweet little office slash sewing room for myself as well.  Because right now my sewing machine just sits on the floor next to my reading chair until I move it to the dining room table for projects, which makes the entire dining room a sewing disaster area and is not really functional.  Oh, and a pantry.  Can I haz a pantry?

Seriously our house right now is tiiiiiny.

But I love every inch of it.  So leaving it is going to bring out all kinds of emotions, not to mention we will have to buy another house, and everybody knows that moving is stressful.

Our big problem, though, beyond pantry space and attached garages and finished basements and how many bathrooms is location.  I know.  Such a cliche.  Location, location, location.

Right now, I commute to the east to go to work and David commutes to the west.  My drive is just under 30 minutes, which isn't terrible for a commute.  David's drive is 45 minutes in the morning but about an hour on the way home in the afternoon, which isn't great.  Fortunately/unfortunately, we both love our jobs and have no intention of leaving them in the foreseeable future.  I'd say we each have about the same potential probability for getting different jobs in the next ten years (which is pretty slim but not entirely out of the realm of possibility--I just couldn't say whose job change would be more likely).

The question is...  do we move closer to his work to shorten his commute, thereby lengthening mine?  I vote no on this, for the obvious selfish reasons of not wanting to drive longer, but also because I'd like to stay close to Zuzu's daycare and close to all of the things we love in the city--the Botanical gardens, many of the parks, our favorite restaurants and coffee shops, and the Target with an escalator from the underground parking garage (Sorry to rub it in, Canada.  I hope it's your turn for Target soon!).  I hate that David has to drive so far, but since our jobs are so far apart, it only makes sense for us to live in the middle.  Which is pretty much where we are now.

Of course, I'm also generally adverse to change.  I like sameness.  The only thing I really like to change is my clothes.  I stress out about anything more permanent.  Paint colors are agonizing for me.  Hair cuts take weeks of adjustment.  Buying a new car practically gave me an ulcer.  I don't even do gel manicures because they last so long.  (Also I'm too cheap, but you get the idea).  So if I have to have a new house (which I do WANT, honestly), I'd really like to stay close to the same old neighborhood.

At the same time, I hate that David dreads his commute, and I'd love for him to have a shorter drive home to us, especially since his working hours are usually longer than mine.  But is his shorter commute worth me having a longer one, especially since my more flexible work hours usually make me the point person for Zuzu-care stuff?  I'm the one who drops her off and picks her up, which adds at least 15 minutes to my commute anyway, so that needs to factor in.

And I guess that I'm especially anxious about all this because it feels like with the housing market being all doom and gloom that whatever we buy we are going to be stuck with (assuming we don't just end up stuck where we are, which is a distinct possibility, I suppose).  It's not like we could sell the house in two years if we decide that it actually makes more sense for us to be somewhere else.  (Or is it?  I don't know!  That seems stressful!  But I guess not impossible?)

Then there's the big issue of school districts.  Like all good bougie parents, we want to live in a good school district, right?  And the public schools in our city are... ungood.  By which I mean they lost accreditation.  And Zuzu will not be attending a non-accredited school if her bougie parents have anything to say about it.  Which obviously we do.  So that means if we stay in the city, we're looking at private schools or charter schools.  Consider David is employed by a public school district in the state of Missouri, he is pretty adamantly opposed to paying for Zuzu to attend a private school, on principle and because OMG that shit is expensive.  And even if it's an affordable kind of expense, we would really prefer to send her to a public school.  You know, because we're socialists.  And also we'd like to pocket that grand a month that's currently going to daycare.

The thing is, I would love for her to attend a particular charter school in our area (it's a language immersion program!  She could grow up bilingual!  Si!  Oui!  However you say yes in Mandarin!), but then you get into the issue of lotteries! And testing!  And I don't know anything about charter schools!  There's actually an information night for one of them next week, but it conflicts with another event I have.  Also, is it crazy to go to a school information night when you are FOUR YEARS out from potentially enrolling a kid in the school?

(Maybe not...  David had a woman come tour his school the other day because she was looking at buying a house in the area.  And she was pregnant.  With her first.  I asked him if he asked her if it was her first and he said no, she volunteered that information.  And then he wanted to say, "I hope it lives."  But he didn't.  He just gave her a tour of the building.)

And this raises the question of whether we buy a house in a location for our kid to enter a lottery that may or may not get her into the school we want her to attend?  I'm probably more adverse to gambling than I am to change, and that just seems like a pretty big gamble.

So there's the option of moving from the city to the county, which extends my commute but shortens David's.  The best school districts in the county are also the most expensive communities, so there's a concern about what we'd even be able to afford.

Then there's the (relatively minor, but significant to me) issue of losing our street cred.  I LOVE living in the city proper.  I love being ten minutes from the stadium.  I think we are absolutely in the prime location for enjoying everything this city has to offer.  I wish David's school district wasn't so fabulous so he would just look for a closer job.  But he is committed to staying where he is, and I totally understand that.  I just don't know where that puts us in terms of buying a house.

If we could only decide on a location, I could start to get excited about this...  I could start making lists of kind-of-must-haves (main floor laundry?) and would-be-awesome-if (his and her walk-in closets?) and but-seriously-what-we-need-is (more than one bathroom, please!).  I could give myself lots of pep talks about kitchen storage space and built-in bookshelves and I could start to stage our house for selling (like maybe relocate one of the two strollers currently hanging out in our back room).

But right now it just feels like we don't know where we're going, so it's hard to get excited about getting there.  And I'm not really sure how we're going to figure any of this out.  Maybe when we start looking for houses in our price range?  Or maybe I need to do more school district investigating and charter school exploring first?  And who knows if our house will even sell?  And also what do we do with our obnoxious dogs when a realtor is showing our house?  See I don't even know where to start!

Okay.  Whew.  That was my brain dump for the day.  I feel a little better even though none of those issues are really resolved, at least I've identified what they are!  I'll keep you posted on our progress.  Should we make any...

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Decisions, Decisions

A couple of weeks ago we had Zuzu's Six Month Photo Session with the super nice and talented Katie Beach of Katie Beach Photography.  Zuzu had a bit of a runny nose, but she was cooperative for the photo session and showed us all kinds of personality!

Now we are trying to choose what photos to order.  I bought the CD from our session so I can get all several of them in 4x6's for the album, and I'll some as gifts for relatives and extra prints for us to frame here and there, but I think I want to order a really large print or canvas of our favorite photo.

The problem is deciding which one is our favorite.

It's difficult when they each seem to capture a different side of Zuzu's personality.  And we can't help but find her absolutely adorable in all of them.

So... David suggested that we turn it over to the blog.  I'm putting it up to a vote!  There are seven options.  Majority rules.  Voting will be open until next Saturday.

HOW TO VOTE:  If you look over to the sidebar, under the Blogher links there is the poll so you can choose your favorite option and submit it.  (You can also make a case for your favorite in the comments.  Because I'm clearly expecting all blog readers to have VERY STRONG FEELINGS about my special snowflake's portrait).

Now, the options:

option 1

option 2

option 3

option 4

option 5

option 6

option 7
Now remember, we will probably be ordering ALL of prints listed here, but this vote is for the big print or canvas that I'm thinking will hang in our bedroom (next to Eliza's pencil portrait).  I thought I wanted more of an up-close of her face, but the two of her whole body on the chair are just so cute (option 7 makes me laugh) so I can't decide.  I need a more objective opinion!  Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Also: Can you believe that six months ago, this was Zuzu?:

Newborn Zuzu - this was the picture we used for her birth announcements

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Just Saying Hi

I know.  You'd think being this cute would just be exhausting.  How DOES she do it?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I went to the dentist and other thrilling tales of adventure

* Today when I got out of my car, my gloves dropped to the ground.  I must have taken them off and set them on my lap while I was driving, then forgot about them.  I didn't notice that they had fallen.  I wouldn't have realized it until much later, but when I got back to my car after my dentist appointment, someone else had picked them up off the ground and stuffed them into the door handle of my car so I couldn't miss them.  See?  There are good people in the world.

* I love going to the dentist.  We have the best dentist.  She's a woman and her husband works as her receptionist.  She's incredibly nice and she always praises me for flossing.  Today she said I've been doing a great job, and I told her that my cousin works for a dentist office and she recently gifted David and me with a top-of-the-line Sonicare toothbrush.  The Diamond Clean one.  That shit is fancy!  My dentist was very impressed and raved about what a fabulous gift it was.  Another year cavity free!

* Speaking of Sonicare toothbrushes, we all remember back when I got mastitis.  Ugh.  Well a few months later... Octoberish?  My boob felt uncomfortable and I realized I had a plugged duct.  (I never noticed a plugged duct when I got mastitis, but I know they are usually related).  I was freaking out about it because I didn't know WHAT I would do if I got mastitis again.  Anyway, I called a local La Leche League leader I'd met at a meeting who was really awesome and most of the tips she gave me I had already found via Dr. Google, BUT then she asked me if I had an electronic toothbrush.  And she suggested holding the toothbrush against the plugged duct and letting it run through its cycle vibrating against the plugged duct.  What the what?  Sounded crazy but of course if this woman had told me to drink my own urine I probably would have done it, I was so desperate to fix this plugged duct without getting mastitis.  Anyway, I don't know if that was the magic cure, but it definitely seemed to improve things.  So there you go:  How to treat a plugged milk duct?  Vibrate an electric toothbrush against it.  You are welcome.

* Zuzu had a teensy bit of an eating break through--just when I decided to stop worrying about it! I was eating a banana and gave her a chunk of it to chew on.  She played with it but wasn't tasting it, so I smushed a little bit on my finger and offered it to her.  She happily sucked it off my finger and wanted more!  I smashed it up with a fork and tried to spoon feed her and she was not into the spoon, but ate (or tasted and drooled) more of it off my finger.  So bananas are the new favorite!

* It is possible that going to the dentist will be the most exciting thing that happens to me this week.

* When I don't check Instagram for a whole day, I feel like everybody is hanging out without me.

* I've been tackling a few pinterest projects.  Most successful:  project inspired by a Valentine mantle -- specifically the doilies, hearts, and baker's twine wrapped around mason jars (my version of the ubiquitous mason jar trend--I bought some glass bottles for $5 total at a consignment furniture shop near my house; bought doilies at Michaels for $1; had the red paper on hand for a Christmas project).  Least successful:  this cauliflower recipe.  Ours tasted buffalo-y but turned out soggy.  Also Zuzu is not a fan of cauliflower (we did not put the spicy buffalo wing sauce on hers--hmm... maybe that was the problem?).

* I've decided to make my students do online reading questions that correspond with each reading assignment this semester.  This means approximately 3 reading quizzes per week.  My students are going to hate me.  But hopefully they will actually do the reading?

* I'm totally excited to go to happy hour with some of the girls from work.  We went to a wine bar in December and they gave us sealed envelopes that contain a secret prize/gift.  The only way to find out what it is and receive your gift is to return to the wine bar in January with the sealed envelope.  Then I guess your server opens it for you and you get whatever the prize might be!  Isn't that exciting? I think it's kind of a genius marketing plan.  The wine bar is great, but even if it were mediocre, I'd go back just to see what is in my sealed envelope.

* I just realized that in order to read 100 books in a year I have to read like 10 books a month.  What the WHAT?  Who has time for that?  On top of the reading I have to do for class?  (I'm teaching the Iliad again this semester!)  Don't get me wrong.  I'm still tackling this challenge. I'm just kind of realizing that it is more challenging than I might have thought.  I'm a fast reader, but wow.  Must keep self motivated!

* I put the Wunderlist app on my phone (thanks for the tip, Dad!) and I love it.  There is a regular to-do list app that comes on the iPhone but since David and I have linked accounts, my list is constantly clogged with his work stuff.  There is LOTS of stuff to be done at an elementary school.  And I don't care about any of it!  I mean, not to the extent that I want it on my phone letting me know what my husband needs to remember to do at work.  So now I have my own list app and it makes a very satisfying little clicky noise when you check something off.  Love it.  Plus I can put it on all my computers (by which I mean work and home).  So many lists!  So many things to check off!  Confession: I've been known to enter things on my to do list after they are already done just so I can check them off.  I can't be the only one who does this...

Monday, January 21, 2013

Central Library

I have a lot of memories of the library in my hometown.  It has since moved locations, but it used to be located in an old brick building--an original Carnegie library.

Carnegie Library (Nevada, Missouri)

image from Flickr

We went there frequently--at least weekly, I think.  We participated in the summer reading programs and in the turtle race that took place in the library parking lot (One year my turtle Sprinkles won!  The next year year our turtle bit my mom on the flap of skin between her thumb and forefinger and after that we quit participating...).

We dressed up for the Dress Like Your Favorite Book Character Contest.  I was Pippi Longstocking, my brother was Paddington Bear. I believe I got second place in my age category and he got first place in his, which suited us just fine since my turtle had taken first place and his had taken second so we each had the same number of first and second place trophies.  (If only life still seemed so fair.)

I can remember the smell of the library, and how the downstairs (children's library) smelled different from the upstairs even though they both smelled exactly like a library should smell--like sweet glue and old paper.  I can see in my mind the exact location of all the Trixie Beldon books.  There was also red wooden playhouse that had a window for puppet shows.  There were board games in one part of the children's section and sometimes we would play Hi Ho Cheerios because we didn't have that game at home.

The librarian knew us by name and I can still remember my library card number:  2727.  Is that not the best library number ever?

Needless to say, I want the library to be an integral part of Zuzu's childhood, too.  I'm looking forward to participating in story hour and picking out new books to read and making it a regular destination for us.

On Saturday we visited the Central Library downtown for the first time.  And OMG it is SO COOL.  It's such a beautiful building, and they've done such great things with the space.  It was a library back in the day, but had stood empty for so long, and now it's just exactly what a library should be, with all of these separate rooms:  "Children's Library," "Teen Lounge," "Science and Nature," "Business and Law."  It has huge windows and the stacks are lit from within and the furniture is inviting.  They've done a great job of balancing historical restoration with modern technology.  I wanted to wander all over the place and then find a table or a chair to sit and read and write and study.  My inner nerdy bookworm was absolutely giddy.

image from here
My friend (and fellow-library-lover) Abby went with us to check it out.  We chatted with the librarian in special collections about Worlds Fair trivia, which was really fun, and Abby was kind enough to snap this picture of us in the children's library.  A bittersweet moment, honestly, as Make Way For Ducklings is my all-time favorite children's book and the one that I thought about most when I imagined reading to Eliza.

Make way for Duckworths!
No trip to a library is complete without borrowing a book, and I'm copying off another friend in my new resolution to read 100 books in 2013.  It's an ambitious goal, but one I'm perfectly capable of achieving, and I think I need it to be really challenging so that I'm motivated to do it.  100 books means I need to turn off the rerun of How I Met Your Mother so that I can get through a book--not that there's anything wrong with HIMYM, which I actually enjoy, but I just think reading 100 books is probably a better use of my time AND much more the kind of behavior I want to be modeling for Zuzu.  She's paying attention to everything we do these days (and girlfriend will watch anything on TV) so I want to make sure she sees me reading "real books" as much as she sees me watching TV and checking e-mail and reading blogs on my phone.

Of course, I know I won't be reading 100 books of the equivalent of Anna Karenina in a year's time, so I'm also indulging in my love for young adult literature.  I just finished The Golden Compass and have put in requests for the other two books in the trilogy.  Today at the library I checked out Lemony Snicket's new book, All the Wrong Questions: "Who Could That Be At This Hour?" I haven't read any of the Series of Unfortunate Events books that are so popular, but I heard the author do an interview with Terri Gross on a Fresh Air podcast and he was so funny that I decided I wanted to read this book, which seems to satirize the detective noir genre.

There are at least two other library locations that are much closer to our house than Central Library, and both are really nice facilities.  They just aren't quite as magical as this space downtown.  It isn't much like the hometown Carnegie library that I remember so fondly, but it's very lovely in its own way.  I am quite certain that Zuzu's first visit to Central Library will not be her last.

Here's a link to the website.  The video is totally worth watching, seriously.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have 100 books to read.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Baby Food Debacle

Zuzu turned six months old at the end of December and we were very excited to start the new year with the new adventure of NEW FOODS!

I had grand visions of my happy baby sitting contentedly in her high chair and plowing through mashed avacado and gulping pear puree and gnawing on well-cooked carrots and gobbling up mashed bananas and devouring sweet potatoes with cinnamon on them.  Maybe because this is my impression of how the baby food thing has gone down for most of my friends?

For Zuzu... not so much.  We've tried most of those foods and done a bit of cereal diluted with plenty of breastmilk and she's not really interested in cereal.  But that's better than her active distaste for... pretty much everything else.  Carrots are possibly the favorite?  I posted a picture of her on Instagram looking pretty happy with a mouthful of carrots and that was the first time she'd tried them.  Since then?

You guys, she basically hates all food that isn't shooting out of a boob.

At this point, she gets fussy and crabby the moment we start trying to get her to eat something.  I know food time is supposed to be fun time, so it's not like I'm going to shovel bites into her mouth when she's opening it in protest.  But that basically means she gets ONE BITE before she starts protesting.  And then unless one of us can put on a good enough song and dance routine to get her giggling, we give up pretty quickly because I don't want her to start associating dinner time with being pissed off.

Oh, and she did gag and barf on sweet potatoes.  I realize a sensitive gag reflex is normal in babies, but it's still discouraging.  I don't think they were smooth enough, which can be fixed, but even really smooth and sweet stuff I was sure she would like--like pears, she totally rejects. (Those pears are ORGANIC and from WHOLE FOODS you ungrateful little child!)

I'm just at a bit of a loss because I KNOW that right now food is just about exploring and getting used to tastes and textures and it's not like she needs the nutrition or calories from food for a while yet.  She's healthy and growing.  She just has no interest in eating.

I'm trying to tell myself this is fine and normal (somewhat normal?), but the truth is I find it really stressful and frustrating when my beautiful tiny portions of steamed and pureed organic produce get rejected night after night.

And in the few weeks that we've tried this, we've done various textures, mixed with breastmilk, warmed up and room-temperature, sweetened with a pinch of cinnamon, eating with us during dinner, eating earlier in the day before we're winding down for bedtime, making sure she's not hungry or cranky before she gets in the high chair, etc.  I'm trying to be consistent about just offering food and not taking it personally when she hates it, but SERIOUSLY.  Where is the happy baby with a face smeared with avocado and pureed apples that I had imagined?  Why does my baby get pissed off when a spoon comes near her face?

I know she's not going to be gulping down food at this point, and I was prepared for most it being drooled down her front, but I just thought it would be an enjoyable experience for both of us.  It really just seems like she hates it and she won't even pretend to tolerate it for my sake (babies are so insensitive that way).

I've read Baby Led Weaning and I had planned to kind of do a combination approach of baby-led gnawing on food and some purees, but I'm thinking maybe I need to focus more on the BLW style since she seems to at least enjoy playing with her food far more than being spoon-fed.

So... I just need to chill out and keep trying on a regular basis with low expectations and rest assured that my kid is going to eat something besides breastmilk someday... right?

Don't count on it, Mom.  These carrots aren't as good as I make them look.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Winter's Cold

I'm teaching a January term class now, which is fun because it's a class about fairy tales and I get to say things like "hetero-normative" and "necrophilia" and "bestiality" in class, and is also exhausting because the class only meets 12 times but for 3 HOURS at a time, and why yes, I do give us a 15 minute break halfway through so that I can go pump in my office.

It's also hard because it means that I had to drop Zuzu off at daycare this morning even though she's got a rotten virus.  A winter's cold, I call it.  David stayed home with her and took her to the doctor yesterday because she had a low fever and a yicky cough and was generally miserable looking/acting (note: our doctor does not actually consider those symptoms to absolutely necessitate a visit, but I do).  Because I had to be in class, I sent a written note to the doctor with David, detailing the progression of her symptoms:

Friday: runny nose

Sunday: cough began

Monday: coughing and cranky

Tuesday: coughing, cranky, not sleeping well

Wednesday: fever of 99 at 5am

(It was actually longer and more detailed than that, but I choose to make myself look less crazy on the internet).  (Not that David is not a very capable parent.  He totally is.  He just doesn't have the memory for PRECISE DETAIL of baby's every ailment that I do.)

The doctor was all, "Meh.  It's a virus.  Everyone and their dog is sick.  She'll be fine."

She basically slept ALL DAY LONG and David just sat in the recliner and held her because sick baby is SO very sad.

But today he couldn't miss work and various rescheduled meetings from the day before, and I couldn't cancel class, and she didn't have a fever, and the doctor said she was fine to go to daycare, so off to daycare she went.

I felt all conflicted and guilty about it (WHY must I have career ambitions and independent desires of my own when I should be following the Disney fairy tale model of idealized domestic maternity?).  I fretted over Zuzu all morning, decided to put her in a clean pair of footie pajamas instead of a real "outfit" to go to daycare because she wasn't feeling well, and told myself that it would be okay because she wasn't running a fever and she'd only be there for four hours.

She went ahead and made things easy on me by giving her daycare teachers a HUGE smile when she saw them.  Like, "Hey, ladies!  I missed you yesterday when I was stuck at home with my dad.  Good to be back!"

I was still a little teary-eyed as I left her, and I rescheduled an afternoon meeting so that I could rush back to her and pick her up by 12:30pm.  She hadn't taken a bottle for David yesterday, so I was concerned that she'd be fussy and hungry and miserable.

When I walked in, she was lounging on the lap of one of her teachers, sucking down a bottle (her second one of the day).

Confession: I LOVE that Zuzu loves her daycare, but sometimes I'm a little jealous of how much she loves it.  She always gives me a big smile when she sees me, but sometimes I get the feeling that I'm interrupting her fun time.

To be fair, when she heard my voice today, she sat up and started fussing and reaching for me (oh, that reaching!  It's still a fairly new thing and I can't even tell you how much I love it.) so that made my heart swell.  She snuggled her head into my neck and made me feel so good about my decision to pick her up early, even though she really seems to be feeling better today.  Just has that lingering cough.

The sickness thing has been the only part of daycare that really truly makes me feel guilty--like I'm sending her into a germ incubator.  (Of course my child does not carry any germs of her own; she only gets them from other people.  But not her parents or people in other public places.  Only kids at daycare. THIS IS FACTS.)

But really I'm fortunate to have a baby who is healthy--healthy enough that she can kick the ass of this virus is just a day or two.

And knock on wood and spit-spit-spit, here's hoping that David and I have immune systems that can withstand it because I really don't want to play this virus roulette game all winter long.

Is it springtime yet?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Love Is Fresh and Organized

Love is... knowing exactly what your husband or wife would like for an anniversary gift.

Friday marked eleven (11!) years since David picked me up at my parents' house and we went on our first date (you can read all about it here).

As we're still working on this transition back from the bacchanalia of Christmas break this week (meaning Zuzu has a bedtime, a bedtime routine, and goes to sleep in her crib!), we opted not to go out to dinner somewhere.  Zuzu can no longer be counted to sleep through a leisurely dinner out, and after a long week of being back at work, we were both content with a low-key evening at home (also we are super boring now).  But! David truly surprised me when he walked in the door with a bouquet of fresh flowers!  Specifically, a dozen red roses (because sometimes a girl just wants to get red roses, am I right?).  So that made the evening feel pretty special.

Girls like roses!

We thought it would be cute to get a picture of Zuzu smelling the rose, but she only wanted to grab it and rip off the petals.  So I'm holding her arm down and she's not impressed.  Also she managed to work her other arm free, and you can see her chubby little fingers reaching for the petals.
{Edited to add:  Thank you to the anonymous commenter who pointed out "Zuzu + rose petals = It's A Wonderful Life."  We watched the movie over Christmas and ever since then David and I will both exclaim at random, "Zuzu's petals!" or say to her, "Zuzu, you little gingersnap!"  It had been a while since I watched that movie all the way through, but I got a good laugh out of what happens to poor Mary if George Bailey was never born...  the horror of becoming a spinster librarian!}

I guess I shouldn't have been super surprised, because David does tend to buy flowers for special occasions (what a nice husband!), but we don't typically do gifts for our first date anniversary, so David didn't expect me to have a present for him. BUT I DID.  (what an awesome wife)

I told him that his gift was in the drawer of the kitchen.

He looked skeptical.

"This drawer?" he said, touching the knob cautiously.

I nodded and he gave me A Look, and then slowly pulled the drawer open, backing away as though he expected a small explosion, or a snake to jump out of it or something (I swear, you put a fake spider on a guy's pillow ONE TIME and he gets all paranoid on you).

But this was a true gift from the heart:

Yes, folks.  That's an extendable bamboo drawer organizer!

I picked it up yesterday at TJ Maxx.  The moment I saw it, I thought, "David would love this!  It would organize that one drawer that's always a mess."  I knew that it really would be a gift that keeps on giving!

It was originally $19.99 but there was a crack in it (visible there just betwen the vegetable peeler and the garlic press).  There weren't any others like it, so I (very politely) asked about a discount at the register and got it for $14.  Score!

And just as I predicted, David was genuinely thrilled.

Happy Anniversary, honey.  I'm really glad you called me at my parents' house eleven years ago.  You're still the one.

Friday, January 11, 2013


Brall is how my little cousin used to pronounce the word "bra."  As in "I'm wearing a new pink brall!"  And that girl loved her bras.  She started wearing one in second grade.  Not that she needed it--just because she thought wearing bralls was cool.

David and I have been doing some January cleaning/organizing around here and one of the bins under our bed is labeled "jeans, sweaters, bras."  I've gained and lost a lot of weight in the past two years (Like 40 pounds.  Twice.  Which is 80 pounds.) and a not-insignificant portion of that weight has been carried in my bra (weight in that particular location is STILL fluctuating rather wildly--breastfeeding be crazy).

This means that I have several bras that used to fit that will... maybe fit again?  Someday?  Or maybe not?  Ever?

Honestly, considering the state of my boobs post-breast feeding is sort of depressing, so I decided to deal with it later.  I snapped the lid back on the bin and slid it under the bed.

But the universe had other plans for my bralls!  Just a few days later, I read a blog post by my friend Emily about an organization that is actually collected gently used bras for girls in Ethiopia.  It's called the Studio Samuel Foundation and they work with orphaned girls in Addis Ababa to help them break the cycle of poverty.

It's a proven fact that donating to a good cause can give you a happiness boost, but it's also true that we generally like to do so in a tangible way--it's why Newtown, Connecticut has been overrun with teddy bears.  People want to reach out to helps those who are in need, but giving money sometimes feels less satisfying than giving something.  I try to make it a point to contribute financially to causes and organizations that we care about (the Humane Society, American Cancer Society, and others), but knowing that I already own something that would be of greater value to someone else is a different kind of feeling, you know?

Anyway, the point of this is that the stars seemed to align so that the very thing that I have a surplus of (gently used bras) is THE PRECISE THING that the Studio Samuel Foundation needs.

They are seeking 260 new or gently used bras for teenage girls at the Kechene orphanage in Addis Ababa.  My friend Emily has visited this orphanage when she was in Ethiopia in the process of adopting her son. I cried when I read her blog post about that experience.

The girls at this orphanage are too old to be adopted and as they age out of the orphanage they face an uncertain future.  The Studio Samuel Foundation helps to prepare them with life skills and to provide them with self esteem.

And if you've ever worn a bra that fits just exactly right, you KNOW what it can do for your self esteem.

Problems like poverty and AIDS and orphans can seem so overwhelming that sometimes I just want to shut them out and pretend that everything is fine.  Because how could I possibly ever do enough?  And how can you even start when the problems are just so huge?

But here's something simple that I did (going to the post office tomorrow, actually). And I know that it will make a tangible difference to one girl (or a few, in my case, as I seem to have far more bras than any one person needs).

The foundation needs to receive all the bras by February 1st to send them on to Ethiopia, so you don't have a lot of time, but you do have ENOUGH time to organize your dresser drawers and find a bra or two you don't need and stick them in a manila envelope and mail them to New York.

Here's the link to information about the program, and the address to mail your bras.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tomorrow Is Another Day

When I imagined myself being deliberate, I imagined rising with my alarm clock and taking a shower before waking the baby, dressing her for the day, sitting her next to me in her little seat at the kitchen bar while I eat my cereal and listen to NPR, then nursing her and getting in some sweet morning snuggles before gathering her already-laid-out supplies and my neatly-packed bag and heading out the door for school and work with plenty of time to spare.

Here is what happened today that I did not imagine:

A last-minute orange poop blowout (damn you, carrot puree!) that resulted in poop on the changing table, poop in the new diaper, poop on her shirt, poop on her socks, and poop on her hands.

A near neck-breaking incident (mine) when my high heel got caught in the throw rug in my bedroom as I dressed myself frantically after losing precious minutes to changing the poop clothes.

A frantic shifting of milk from storage container to bottles, during which I lectured myself for not doing it the night before.

Two trips to the car, in order to load a bag of clean diapers, a bag of daycare supplies (extra bib, change of clothes, two bottles, her hane), my purse, a bag of textbooks, a breast pump, pumping supplies (stored in a small insulated lunch bag), and my water glass.  Also a banana.

Pulling into the daycare parking lot as I realized that I never nursed the baby before we left the house.  She (charmingly) woke up at 5:30am and demanded to eat, so she wasn't starving by 8am, but STILL I had to feed her before I dropped her off because I'd only brought two bottles..

Breastfeeding the baby in the back seat of my car in the day care parking lot, while she seems distracted and keeps latching on and popping off, resulting in a milk shower all over her face, my shirt, and the back seat of the car, while I tried to gently shove her face back onto my boob and not shout as I said, "Dude!  Seriously!  Stop that!"

When I envisioned myself being deliberate and engaged, I picked up Zuzu at daycare and returned home to a tidy house and a snuggly baby.  We would cuddle, nurse, play with her educational and enriching toys, and she would quietly entertain herself in the jumperoo or her little kitchen perch while I washed bottles and pump parts, started a load of diapers, and made myself a cup of tea.

What I did not envision was this:

A return home to a nursery that was literally covered in shit because I'd had to run out the door leaving her dirty diaper, the pooping changing table cover, and her clothes all lying out.  I did not envision having a fussy, crying baby who did not want to be put down for EVEN ONE SECOND so I could clean up the nasty mess.  I did not envision me jumping around the nursery holding the baby and singing, "This room smells like shit, oh, this room smells like shit!" in order to make her stop crying (it worked--she actually started laughing because having a room smell like shit is hilarious!).

A baby screaming in her cute little kitchen perch while I washed bottles and pump parts as quickly as possible, finally abandoning the job half way through when she could no longer be remotely entertained by the magazine I was letting her destroy and she started crying real tears.

A baby who was so freaking crabby, wanting to be held constantly.  She insisted on nursing even though I knew she wasn't hungry.  And by "insisted," I mean digging her face into my boobs and clawing frantically at my shirt/neck/face/chest while grunting and crying.

Dogs who would start wailing at the back door to be let out at the precise moment I gave in and let Zuzu start nursing (even though I knew she wasn't really hungry).  Cooper howled along with Little Mac and I could not be calm about it and so I yelled at them to just WAIT ONE FREAKING MINUTE.  They ignored me but I felt bad for yelling anyway.

Zuzu BITING my nipple so hard I screamed again and stared at her in disbelief (she grinned at me, which was really unnerving).  I checked her gums to see if she had, oh, I don't know, a whole mouthful of shark teeth I didn't know about?  She did not.  But even with her gums alone she appears to have the jaw strength of a pit bull.  Not fun when it comes to chewing nipples!

A baby who refuses to be set down on her blanket, surrounded by her educational and enriching toys, even with me sitting or lying right next to her.  She burst into tears because HOW DARE I and proceeded to scream LOUDER and SHRILLER as I got up and hurried to the backdoor to let out the dogs.  They had pranced around so much that the rug was bunched up so I couldn't open the door and I couldn't straighten the rug because they were standing on it, so I yelled at them AGAIN because I was frustrated and the baby crying was stressing me out and then Cooper tucked his tail, which made me feel terrible and then I shooed them outside and slammed the door really hard to let off steam and then felt bad about being such a spaz.

A baby who had to be carried around as I tried to do minimal chores around the house because she was only NOT screaming if I was holding her, which proved challenging when I tried to put a clean cover on her changing pad, so then she had to scream in her crib for FIVE SECONDS which was TOTALLY unacceptable as far as she was concerned.  She was so pissed she wouldn't listen even when I told her I'd buy her an iPad if she'd stop crying.

Getting puked on as I carried her to the back room to let in the dogs, who by this time were wailing at the backdoor to be let back inside.  Without warning, Zuzu spit up all over herself and me and the coffee table and the rug.  Because that's what happens when you gorge yourself on milk and you're not hungry, just fussy!  (I don't know if she was just upset about being separated from me for so long after two weeks of much togetherness, but she was fine and normal at daycare today...  so I'm chalking this insistent nursing/chewing thing up to teething).

Admitting defeat and just sitting in the living room watching TV while I rocked her and gave her a pacifier.  So much for an educating and enriching evening.  But maybe she just needed to cuddle?  She dozed off and I called my mom and AT LAST David got home from work.

So... yeah.  Today was not quite the deliberate day that I had pictured in my head.  Here's to a more deliberate tomorrow.  Although honestly at this point I'll just settle for not being pooped and puked and chewed on.  At least not all in the same day.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Six Months

Six months is a baby, but such a big one.

I marvel at how much she has changed in six months.  I can remember her scrunched up little newborn body, and her wrinkly, flaky skin, and her tiny little newborn grunts, and her little billy-goat cries like it was just yesterday.

And now she's all chub and chunk and cheek, and she shouts and laughs and when she gets mad it sounds like she's cursing at us in German (Eich!  Nein!), and her cry is a loud and assertive wail.  Most of the time she's a happy girl, and when she is happy, she is so. much. fun.  I love watching her with her toys, the way she really studies them, the way she has just mastered the art of placing her hands exactly where she wants them go, and she'll carefully hold things, paying special attention to details like stickers and tags, twisting and tugging them with her little fingers.

Over Christmas she really started playing around with the sounds she could make with her tongue and her mouth.  She also had a runny nose, and she discovered that she is quite talented at licking her own snot.  (I'm telling you, very advanced for her age!)  Bring these two interests together, and suddenly she was constantly making this "hillbilly face." You know, like a toothless old man hillbilly.  (Surely you don't have to be from the Ozarks to get this reference, right?)

It made us laugh, but it was also very unflattering.

Of course, when it came time to take her 6 month pictures, she only wanted to make that face.  And (as my brother pointed out in his comment on my previous post) the outtakes from this session are enough to demonstrate that we need a pro in order to adequately capture more than the ridiculousness.  Brandon was here "helping" me get her to pose for the camera, and this is what we ended up with  I was cracking up, but I was also like, "Dude, seriously, stop looking like that in every picture!  People are going to think that's just how your face is!"

One thing we'll never be able to say about Zuzu is that she doesn't have any personality...

Look, Mommy!  I can stick out my tongue!

And suck my lips into my toothless mouth!

And do both at the same time!

Aren't I hilarious?

I think I'm so funny

I crack myself up!

I'm a little hillbilly!

But this IS my smile!

Tee hee hee

So cute and so slobbery.  I love this girl.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Be Deliberate.

That's my goal for 2013.

I've been reading Gretchen Rubin's book Happier at Home.  I read her Happiness Project in 2011, when I was feeling anything but happy.  Some things in the book were a little hard to swallow at the time (not to mention her oldest daughter's name is Eliza) but one point she made stuck with me--we need to safeguard our happiness so that it can help us in times of adversity.  Amelia made a point on her blog that more directly spoke to my experience as a bereaved parent trying to recover from loss:  "I'm happy about all the things in my life I can control."

That seemed like a huge statement, and one I wasn't sure was true for me.  So I started working to be happier in small ways--focusing on my marriage, walking the dog, doing yoga, repainting my living room, choosing carefully where and with whom I spent my time.

One thing Rubin does is choose a word to be her theme for the year.  Her word was "Bigger," as a reminder to reach out and live the bigger life.

My word for 2013 is "Deliberate."  As in "Be Deliberate."

I want to be deliberate especially in how I spend my time and money this year.  I want to choose projects that are meaningful to me, and I want to scale back on things that aren't important to me.

This also means I need to have some conversations with David about places where our priorities don't match up exactly.

For example, I love photos.  I love the snapshots we take on our phones and with our DSLR.  I want to spend some time learning to use the camera's manual settings.  But I also love professional-quality photographs.  Having Caroline's newborn photos taken was an amazing (and emotional) experience for me--I ended up having the same photographer I had previously booked to have Eliza's photos taken.  (She knew our whole story and was extremely kind, not to mention she took beautiful photos).  I want to continue to have Caroline's picture taken by a professional every three months up to her first birthday.

David doesn't see the point of having her picture taken so often when we have so many pictures of her (my iPhone has over a thousand--at least 75% are Zuzu).  But guess what?  Neither of us has much skill as a photographer, (as David should know, since I often gripe about the composition of the photos he takes) and I want to have a collection of beautiful photos to capture her first year--the kind I'll get printed and framed and maybe splayed across a canvas.

This is a place I want to spend my money, so I told David that her six month photos can be my Valentine's gift.  And since David spends an equivalent amount of money (or more...) on the golf course, I think that we've reached an amicable agreement.

I go back to work tomorrow, teaching a January term class that runs four days a week for three weeks.  Then the semester starts with my MWF teaching schedule.  I'm really happy with the balance of work and home-with-baby-time that I've worked out, but I want to make a conscious effort to be deliberate about it.  That means when I'm at work, I need to be working (Pinterest doesn't count!).  And when I'm at home, I want to be present and engaged (again: Pinterest doesn't count).  (Although I do love me some Pinterest and it actually brings me a certain kind of happiness when I do have time to sit down and peruse it.)

So that's why my goal for 2013 is to Be Deliberate.

In keeping with that theme, here are a few resolutions:

1. Be deliberate with memory keeping (blogging, baby book, photos)
2. Be deliberate with time (less TV, more dog-walking, less zoning out on the computer, more conversation, more sewing)
3. Be deliberate with love (like last year, give proofs of love--hugs, kisses, notes, texts)
4. Be deliberate with money (be frugal, shop thrift and consignment, buy what's needed).
5. Be deliberately organized (at work and at home)

I realize these are kind of vague and broad, which makes resolutions harder to keep, but I have a long list of specific things I want to do that I won't bore you with (examples: create a household inventory, learn to use Blackboard for teaching, organize my photos by date and category, also learn to crochet).

The best thing about 2013 is that I feel like I have the energy to at least attempt these goals, if not achieve all of them.  For a long time it felt like I was just surviving and now I'm working more on a purposeful existence.  That sounds kind of lame, but it feels like a big deal.

Meanwhile, I'm already working on my memory keeping by loading all the photos from my phone onto my computer...

This was me a year ago:

The Deuce. January 2012.

What a difference a year makes.

The Deuce.  January 2013.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

And done.

I rock at resolutions.

I resolved to organize my sock drawer.



I thought I'd reward myself with the purchase of some new socks, but it turns out that I have plenty of socks.  I have socks I'd forgotten about.  I am set in regard to socks.

That project went so well that I moved on to organizing my underwear drawer.  Turns out that I could actually benefit from a new purchase or two in that department.  I threw a pair of underwear in my suitcase to wear over break that were so saggy baggy I ended up tossing them in the trash at the end of the day.  Guess I shouldn't be surprised the elastic was shot as I'd had them since high school!  Tossed several more pairs in the trash can today that were at least ten years old.  #notcute

We got Christmas taken down and put away, which was kind of a relief because our house feels bigger (and cleaner) without the tree and other decorations up, and because Christmas was still pretty hard this year.  I'm ready for it be be over.

Speaking of challenging days, I was caught off guard by how sad I was last night.  We made it to midnight, but it was not a festive new year.  I was mopey and sad, Zuzu was grouchy and all kinds of off-schedule, as she napped from 5pm to 8pm (WHAT?  Why didn't we wake her up?  I don't know.  Believe me, we asked ourselves that from 8pm to 11:30pm).  I know some of my grief was for baby Jack and his family, but as I told David last night, it's hard to feel okay about celebrating a new year when it means more year without Eliza.  I hope this gets easier with time.  It might be nice to actually WANT to have champagne at midnight again someday.

Today was a better day.  The house (like my dresser drawers!) is clean.  I even pulled out the fridge and stove to vacuum and clean behind them (I should have photographed before & afters behind the stove but I would have been too embarrassed to post them--it was DISGUSTING).  In other household news, the washing machine is now in working order (wahoo!) and I've been testing it all day long... just 2 loads to go.  Zuzu was still a bit of a bear, but I wrestled her into bed at 8pm and I'm hoping we're back on a somewhat more normal schedule tomorrow.

And now that my drawers are organized, my kitchen is clean, and my baby is sleeping, there's nothing to do but sip some wine and make use of our Netflix subscription...

Not to worry...  I've got a few other resolutions.  I'll be writing about those soon.