Monday, April 29, 2013

Painting the Nursery

We have been Weekend Warriors for this past month, which is great in the sense that we've gotten all the bedrooms and the upstairs bath painted in the new house (now we're taking a break from painting so the downstairs will get tackled later).  It's also been challenging in the sense that things that we normally do on weekends--laundry, menu planning, grocery store, catching up on the DVR, and various household maintenance--are getting shoved to the side.  However, even as we let our living conditions slide from disarray to squalor, we've managed to make time to have dinner with friends on Saturday night the last two weekends.  Because we prioritize seeing our friends!  And because if we go somewhere else to eat, that's a meal we didn't  have to plan in advance or prepare ourselves.  A total win-win.

If you follow me on Instagram, you saw a sneak peek of our nursery progress.  I had BIG PLANS for the nursery, as I mentioned a few posts ago.  I was very excited about creating something special and fun for Zuzu, and after browsing on Pinterest, I was inspired.

The nursery at the new house is a very small room--roughly 10'x10', so I wanted something that would really make it pop.  It has pretty high ceilings (compared to our current house), so I wanted to take advantage of that as well.  I decided to do stripes on the ceiling, but instead of your "basic" horizontal stripes, I decided to have them start in the center (at the light fixture) and fan out around the room.  And since there's no crown molding in this house, I thought we could add our own trim about a foot from the ceiling (I think it's called a picture rail at that height).  Then the stripes could continue down the wall a bit.

I had a fabric swatch I wanted to use for curtains, so I took that with me to Sherwin Williams and paired it up with paint colors.

This paint combo card matched my fabric (not pictured) perfectly so it became my inspiration
For the main section of the wall, I chose Light French Gray (the second color on the strip).  The stripes are regular old ceiling-paint-white and the top color--a bright coral called Begonia.  I'm not painting anything Friendly Yellow or Watery, but we're going with those as accent colors since they already match the chair and rug we have.

The first thing we did was give the entire ceiling a coat of fresh white paint.  Then we measured down to the top of the door trim, because that's where I wanted the picture rail trim to line up.  We ran painters tape all around the room, exactly where we want the trim to go, then I primed the top section of the wall and David painted it the same white as the ceiling.

Painting over the lavender.  Zuzu is looking for trouble.
Once that was done, we painted the bottom section of the wall gray.

Then we let it sit for a week.  On Saturday afternoon we were finishing up the master bedroom (well, to be honest, we ran out of paint so really we were just done for the day) and we thought about starting on the nursery stripes, but we decided that at 4:30pm we were exhausted and getting hungry and doing something that required mathematical thinking AND cooperation would simply put too great a strain on our marriage.  So we went home and showered and went to Lowes and then out to dinner.  (Yay for the babysitting co-op!).

On Sunday, we were fresh and eager to get started on the nursery.  I'd hired a babysitter to entertain Zuzu for two hours at our house so we could work without interruption, also known as the incessant whining of a teething ten-month-old who only wants to be held by her mama.

Lemme out!
(Oh yes!  One day before her ten month birthday, Zuzu's first tooth popped through!  As a result, she's been so crabby and clingy we've wished that my mom was in town--David has been singing to, "We're bringing Grammy back, 'cause Zuzu don't know how to act" to the tune of "Bringing Sexy Back."  He's a regular JT.  And my mom actually is coming to town next weekend, so it was kind of perfect.).

Excuse me?
The babysitters took Zuzu out for a stroller ride and David and I grabbed a roll of Frog Tape and headed up to the nursery.  (Note: This post is not sponsored by Frog Tape, but it totally should be.)

I knew I wanted four stripes of Begonia on each wall, so we started out measuring each wall to determine the width of the stripes.  This is when we discovered that it's an old house and the walls aren't exactly equal in length.  So the stripes are not perfectly uniform (they are roughly 14 inches), but you'd never notice the difference unless you came in with your yardstick.  Which would be awkward and also rude.

We measured the walls, and divided by 8.  Four white stripes, four coral stripes per wall.  We put the marks on the Frog Tape that was already up to delineate the placement of the picture rail trim.  Then I went around and labeled each stripe "W" for white or "P" for pink (even though it's a really bright coral, it was just easier to call it pink).

It's hard to see, but there's a penciled "W" up there.
That made it easier when it came to placing the vertical stripes, because the tape needed to go on the outside of the P lines and the inside of the W lines.  I was able to do this part by myself, but I needed David for the next part.

We had talked about using a chalk line to make our stripes, or using a string tied to a screw in the light fixture-hole at the center of the room, but in the end it was easiest to just stick the end of the tape on the corresponding stripe already placed on the wall, and then stretch it to the center of the room.

I had printed out a 16-sided shape from the shape function in Microsoft word (a suggestion my brother made) so we used that as our basic guide for lining up our stripes.  I knew they wouldn't be perfect since the walls aren't a perfect square and the ceiling's not perfectly straight, but I wanted to get them as close as possible.  (I'm not a perfectionist when it comes to sewing, but I totally am when it comes to painting stripes).  I stood at the wall and David stood in the center of the room and we stretched the tape taut, then pressed it into place, making sure it would adhere smoothly to the slightly textured ceiling.

It took us almost two hours to slowly make our way around the room.  16 stripes total means 32 pieces of tape meticulously stretched, lined up, stuck, and smoothed into place.  (Note--the stripes look uneven because the tape is inside the white lines so there's more surface area exposed to be painted pink.)

It was exhausting, and doing all that work with our arms over our head was like a cardio workout in itself.  It was a chilly 60 degrees out, but we were so warm we turned off the heat.

In addition to putting up the stripes, I added a sticker of tape in the middle of each stripe that was to stay white, so those are the green dots you see.  The last thing I wanted was to screw up and accidentally paint the wrong stripe pink.

We were left with a little pinwheel of painter's tape, and my arms were already tired!

It was about this time that the babysitters arrived back home with a sleeping baby in the stroller.  Their work was done, so David carried the entire stroller and sleeping babe upstairs so she could snooze in the nursery as I started painting.  Fortunately, Zuzu slept for almost two hours, and I got a lot done.

First, I used a brush to paint the center of the pinwheel, where the pie-wedges got really small, up by the light fixture-hole.  Then I edged all along where the ceiling meets the wall, and in the four corners.  Then I took a smaller roller and started rolling.  I found it less daunting to break the room into smaller chunks, so I rolled all around the walls first, then started on the ceiling and worked my way from the inside out.

Brush strokes in the middle and roller on the wall, done.  Now I just had to make them meet.

I'd gotten about halfway done with the first coat (we've found that the textured plaster walls always require two coats) when Zuzu woke up.  David had just finished up the master bedroom (we'd gotten another gallon of paint so we could do the second coat) so he came in and took over the rolling while I kept the baby entertained.  It took him another hour or so, but we were left with this:

And then we peeled back the tape and saw this:

Ta-DA!  Isn't she beautiful?
I was so nervous about peeling off the tape, but I'm really happy with how it turned out.  Yes, there are a couple spots where the paint bled a little bit under the tape, but I knew that was inevitable because of the texture.  Overall, I was so impressed with the way the Frog Tape made clean lines, even on a fairly uneven surface.

It truly wasn't that hard to do, although it looks impressive (even to me!).  It was definitely time consuming, but it was more tedious than it was challenging.  Totally worth it, though, as far as I'm concerned.

I smile every time I see the room.  I think it looks so bright and cheery and exciting.  David calls it the Big Top Tent, but it is NOT a circus themed nursery, as I do not care for clowns.  Or the mistreatment of circus performing animals.  I do, however, like a nice striped tent.

We still have to add the picture rail, and we've decided to paint the trim in this room white.  We've discovered that the trim is pine stained to look like the oak floors (hidden under the carpet in here), so I'm not as worried about salvaging it, and the trim in this room is not in great condition.  I think a  crisp white trim will look really nice.  Eventually we're going to refinish the hardwood floors, but I'm already on the hunt for a great rug because the carpet is older and while it's not worn out (it was a little-used office space previously), it is faded so you can see where they had placed furniture.  I also plan to sew some curtains (I need to order fabric this week).  We'll stick a small ceiling medallion up there to cover the points of the stripes, and I have a special project in mind for the light fixture.  It might just be above my skill set, but I'm going to tackle it if I can get my Crafty Cousin Amanda to come in town for a weekend and do it for me help me out.

So that's our Major Progress at the new house!

Other Things We've Done:
- painted the bathroom (Light French Gray, to be consistent with the nursery across the hall, and because it goes with the shower curtain we already have)
- painted the front bedroom
- painted the master bedroom and sitting room
- painted the pantry and repapered the shelves

Man, that list seems short considering the amount of time it's taken us to get through it (three weekends working long days).

Things We Still Want to Do
- repaper the bathroom shelves
- pull up carpet upstairs
- have upstairs and downstairs hardwood refinished
- put new carpet runner on the stairs
- make/buy window treatments
- repaint downstairs rooms (eventually)
- purchase a buffet for storage in the dining room
- make light fixture for the nursery
- stencil the half bath downstairs

And that's not even including David's plans for the lawn, garden, and chickens.  I feel like a certain home/lifestyle/DIY blogger after making that list.  Haha.

The big move happens this weekend (!) and the only thing on that list that really has to get done this week is repapering the bathroom shelves.  Oh--and we'll figure out some makeshift window treatments.  Everything else is on hold until we have the time and/or money to make it happen.

In the meantime, I'll just be hanging out in the Big Top Nursery, admiring my handiwork.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

State of Affairs: Mildly Frantic but Relatively Optimistic; Not Much Is New

So yeah.  Nothing too much to complain about, but I've been feeling a little frantic.  I feel like I haven't had two minutes to myself in the past two weeks.  Here's what's been going on:

Weekends are spent painting at the new house. We are doing a lot of light paint colors over dark paint colors, so everything has to be primed.  The walls are plaster, so there's lots of texture, which means even with primer it takes two coats to ensure full coverage.  I was supposed to paint the master bedroom tomorrow, in between having people come over to give us quotes on the floors.  The first floor needs to be resurfaced but shouldn't require sanding and refinishing; the second floor has hardwood under the carpets and we're debating pulling up the carpets but need to know what it would cost to determine when that will happen... we also might replace the carpet because I like soft carpet in bedrooms but all of these things cost a lot of money so we also might live with deep teal carpet for a while.  Yes, I said deep teal.  Same color as the walls in the master bedroom.  It was like a deep teal cave.

I will have Zuzu home with me all day tomorrow, so I'm not sure how much painting I will get done.  She was supposed to go to day care but she ended up going to daycare yesterday instead because I was in charge of a special event on campus and David had to attend DARE graduation (evidently the fact that the program has been proven entirely ineffective had no bearing on his required attendance).  My event was a HUGE source of stress that has sucked up many hours of work over the past two semesters.  (It went well; I'm glad it's over).  So Zuzu spent the afternoon at daycare and the evening with a babysitter (thank you, V!) and she did just fine.  I don't know whether it's a direct result of many hours without mama yesterday or just a coincidence, but she was a clingy little crab apple this morning.  She's usually perfectly happy to play on the floor while I get myself dressed and ready in the morning, but today if I wasn't holding her, she was screaming.  I do not exaggerate.  I was starting to get worried because she has NEVER acted like this before.  It's also possible that she's teething (I know--I always say that.  She'll be ten months old on Monday, girl still has zero teeth).  At any rate, she managed to be simultaneously endearing and incredibly frustrating and my morning was pretty hectic.


My students are getting all end of semester worried/whiny about their final grades and I'm all, "Should have thought of that back when you were blowing off the reading quizzes and not doing the optional extra credit."  But it means a lot of visits during office hours, which means I can get very little done in terms of grading OR blogging while in my office.


Oh--and this happened:  We went to dinner at our friends' house last Saturday.  I've mentioned before that Zuzu is not a spitty baby and she has barely ever spit up anything substantial.  My friend gave me some soft chunks of squash for Zuzu to eat and she LOVED them.  She was going to town on them.  I didn't cut them up small for her, thinking they were soft enough for her to gnaw and gum on them just fine.  However, I think she got too big of a bite, or maybe she was overstuffing herself since she'd just eaten a big dinner at home.  Either way, just as we all started to eat, Zuzu blew chunks everywhere.  Barfed up squash and baby puree at the dinner table.  Like gianormous gagging and vast amounts of puke.  I managed to catch most of it in her bib, and our friends barely even blinked and were totally cool about it but I was still kind of mortified.  I mean, we had JUST started eating and even baby puke is gross.

Zuzu recovered quickly and still wanted to eat squash, although I then cut it up in teeny pieces for her.  So we're finishing up dinner when she starts grunting and getting all red-faced.  Totally dropping a deuce at the table.  Like, could you be a little more obvious, Zu?  I guess maybe we need some etiquette lessons because I'm not sure where she got the idea that puking and pooping at the table is the way to make friends.   (Of course, I was the one who pointed out that she was working on a project in her pants so maybe I'm the problem.  So crass and rude.) We still managed to have a great time, but there was more cleaning up of semi-solid bodily fluids than I generally like to have during the dinner hour.


In addition to buzzing about the Veronica Mars movie in the works, I'm pretty excited about The Great Gatsby movie that's coming out soon, and Joss Whedon's version of Much Ado About Nothing.  A friend passed along the number of a reliable babysitter, and we're working out a babysitting co-op with other friends of ours who have a baby girl a couple months younger than Zuzu, so maybe David and I will leave the house on our own sometime in the foreseeable future.  It could happen.


Little Mac appears to be adjusting quite well to life at my parents' house.  In fact, while I'm relieved that it's an easy transition for everyone, I might be just the slightest bit annoyed that all it took was A NEW FAMILY for Little Mac to quit peeing and pooping in the house.  It really feels like she was truly acting out because she HATE US.  And that makes me sad.  But it also makes me sad that she's the kind of dog who bites kids.  So far things are good in both places.  It's weird adjusting to being a one-dog family, but Cooper and Mac don't actually seem to miss each other at all and life is much less stressful with the crawling baby, so I guess it's a win-win.


The crawling baby is ON THE MOVE.  She did find Cooper's water dish the other day and she managed to make an enormous mess in the 1.5 seconds it took for me to get across the room and get her out of the water dish.  I put the dish up on the bar and then forgot about it entirely until I watered a plant and Cooper tried drinking the water out of the plant pot.  Poor doggie.  (No wonder Little Mac hated it here.)  Actually, Coop is getting much more attention now that Little Mac is gone and he's allowed to go back into the bedrooms.  It's really sweet when I read to Zuzu and rock her each night and Cooper curls up at my feet.


I have so many projects running through my head for the new house but I'm also in the putting-out-fires stage of the semester at work, so I feel really scattered and disorganized, which I don't like.  We have packed exactly nothing at the old house.  We have moved over outgrown baby clothes, holiday decorations, and maternity clothes that may or may not ever get worn again by me.  David keeps wanting to move over furniture and I'm always like, "No!  I NEED that here!"  But, yeah, eventually it's all got to go.  Which means we need to get busy.  Like yesterday.

Speaking of which, I've got to try to get some papers graded before I head out of here.  I'm going to close my office door and hope no one knocks.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Photo Friday

(Disclaimer:  I'm not vowing to post a photo every Friday.  I'm just indicating that it's Friday and here is a photo.)

Zuzu's "school" frequently e-mails us pictures of what the kids do all day.  This week's fun including playing with a water table (they cover them in these little blue smocks--it's totally adorable).  There may have been one photo of Zuzu elbowing a friend out of the way so she could take over splashing...

But I really liked this one:

In case you can't read the title on the poster, it says, "Please Be Careful With the Future" (a sweet message for a daycare, no?).  I love how closely she appears to be studying this pro-conservation poster.  That's my cloth-diaper-wearing baby environmentalist!

Also:  the day this picture was taken the high was 85.  Today Zuzu had to wear a sweater cardigan and get bundled up under a blanket in her car seat.  Le sigh.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Little Mac and the Baby: Both Need Diapers

I like to sleep.  I need to sleep.  After spring break, David went out of town by himself for a weekend with some friends (question: why has he done this twice this spring?  When will I do this?) (truth:  I am so not ready to be away from the baby overnight) and Zuzu and I worked out the realization (for both of us) that she actually does NOT need to nurse more than once in the middle of the night.  (She probably doesn't "need" to nurse that one time, given the way she's now chowing down on food and taking bottles of expressed milk at daycare like a champ, but, you know.  It's her comfort and I don't mind getting up once, so for now we've found what works.)

So sleep has been going ok.  The best part is that on days when I don't have to go to campus, I'll often bring Zuzu into bed with me and we'll snuggle up and sleep in late.  (By "late," I now mean anywhere between 8 and 8:45am instead of 6:45 to 7am).  It's really sweet and I love those mornings.

Today was supposed to be one of those mornings.  And the setting was perfect--a summer rainstorm adding the perfect gray atmosphere and rhythmic rainfall that makes you want to do nothing but roll over under the covers and doze off, while smelling the top of baby's sweet head.  Heavenly.

Except, not this morning.

This morning, Zuzu decided she HAD to nurse around 4:30am.  Fine.  I brought her to bed, nursed her, went back to sleep.  But THEN she decided to wake up at 5:30am, which is exactly the worst time possible because (1) I work hard to make it a personal priority never to be awake for the day before 6am and (2) David has to get up at 6am, so being rudely awakened by screaming baby, wriggling baby a half hour before your alarm is set to go off is really unfortunate.

Usually I can pop a bink in her mouth and cuddle up with her and she'll let out a sweet baby sigh and go back to sleep.  Not today.

She screamed, she lurched, she flung herself around.  I started to wonder if she was in pain, but it wasn't her "I'm hurt" cry, it was her "I'm super pissed off and there is no rationalizing with me" cry and we were totally at a loss.  Finally I wrestled a bink into her mouth (sometimes she fights it and then she realizes she likes it) and then I changed her diaper (wet, not dirty).  And I brought her back to bed.  (It was 5:45 at this point, David was still desperately burying his head in the pillow trying to pretend he could go back to sleep.)

Zuzu was having none of it.  She crawled, she sat, she tried to stand, she pinched, she pulled hair, she smacked, she popped out her bink and babbled.  Girlfriend was AWAKE, and dammit, she wanted us to be awake too.

Finally David's alarm went off and I admitted defeat.  We both stumbled out of bed.  He got in the shower, I brushed my teeth and then carried the baby into the living room where I plopped her down on the floor with some toys and collapsed on the couch, exhausted and bleary-eyed.

Of course she no longer stays on her little blanket, so she was off and crawling.  I watched her crawl over by the curio cabinet filled with bobbleheads and then reluctantly stood up so that I could intervene if/when she got herself in that awkward position where she pulls herself up but then she can't get her legs to move in so she ends up with her hands on the curio cabinet, standing on her feet, but bent at the waist at a 90 degree angle and unable to move.

She didn't make it that far.  Instead, David came out of the bathroom and said, "What IS that?"

He was looking at the baby.  I looked at her, saw nothing, and said, "What are you talking about?"

He said, "What is she crawling in?"

As far as I could tell, she was crawling on the floor in front of the curio cabinet.  I had no idea what David was talking about (also:  it's only like ten minutes after 6 at this point, I was not yet functioning on full brain power).

So I said, "WHAT?"

And he said, "The floor is all wet."

Sure enough, when I moved to another angle, I could see the light reflecting in a puddle on the floor.

And I think we all know what that means...


Little Mac's bathroom issues have not improved since I took her to the vet last week and had a physical exam and full blood panel done to see if she has some health issue that is causing her to empty her bladder and bowels wherever she damn well pleases (the dining room is a favorite choice).

And NO--there's absolutely nothing wrong with Little Mac, physically.  She is apparently pain-free and has no internal issues according to her blood panel.  But SOMETHING is going on (perhaps she's senile?) because on Tuesday while I was in the living room she pooped and peed in the dining room.  And I was RIGHT THERE.  She EASILY could have gone outside.  I scolded her and made her go outside as soon as I saw the poop and pee (it was fresh so she had JUST done it), and I really think she had no idea why I was so freaking mad at her.

That night she had to spend the day in the garage and stay there while I was at work on Wednesday because I am freaking sick and tired of coming home to a house that smells like dog feces and having to clean up poop and pee (wipe up, spray and wipe, swiffer, then steam clean) as soon as I walk in the door.  (Fortunately the weather was nice, so it wasn't a big deal for her to spend the day out there--I made Cooper go too, so he didn't get special privileges.)

But last night she hid from David and he couldn't get her into the garage or the kitchen when he was ready to go to bed.  So he gave up (I was already asleep) and she had free run of the house.

And at some point she peed in front of the curio cabinet.

And this morning the baby crawled in it.

And so I had to give the baby a bath while David had to clean up the mess and YOU GUYS I CANNOT HANDLE THIS.

And all of this happened before 6:30AM and that is WAY to early for me to be doing anything but sipping decaf and eating cereal.

(Also, Cooper remains terrified of storms, so the entire time this was all playing out, he was constantly whining and underfoot.  Totally not annoying at all.)

David (bless him) cleaned up the mess (well, it still needs to be steam cleaned) and left for work.  I got the baby dressed and we played in her nursery for a while (normally a dog-free zone, but I took pity on Cooper and let him in there to lean up against me and tremble--meanwhile, Little Mac napped on a pillow in the corner of the living room because I just don't know what to do with her and also it was raining too hard to take her out to the garage.  All Mac wants to do is sleep anyway.  She's very low-maintenance when she's not relieving herself anywhere she damn well pleases).  Then I took Zuzu to the kitchen and plopped her in her high chair.  She ate some cheerios, devoured her favorite breakfast of fruit puree + yogurt, THEN ate some graham cracker with cream cheese.  So... maybe she woke up hungry?  Because I started a load of laundry and when I turned back around, Zuzu was asleep in her high chair.


She woke up when I wiped her face and hands with a wash cloth and carried her to her room to change her diaper, but then proceeded to fall asleep on the changing table.

To which I say:  MUST BE NICE.  I would like to go back to bed, but at that point it was 7:30AM and taking a nap would just screw up my day.

(I did take her temperature just in case, but it was totally normal.  I might have googled "baby narcolepsy" out of concern, but after consulting with Dr. Google, I don't really think that's the issue.)

In all seriousness, we have finally come to the conclusion that between Little Mac's unpredictable aggression and daily bathroom issues, we just can't go on like this.

I called my mom sobbing because that Tuesday that she pooped in the house with me in the next room, it really became clear that we weren't going to be able to keep her, and since it didn't seem likely that we'd find someone who wanted to take in a 13-year-old (perfectly healthy!) dog who doesn't see or hear really well, cannot be trusted around small children, tends to bite when startled or annoyed, and is evidently no longer housebroken, I realized we were out of options.  I was suddenly absolutely certain we'd have to have her put to sleep and I can't even express how terrible I felt.

I mean seriously.  Look at that face.
But my mom came to the rescue, and Little Mac is going to go live with her grandparents.  Indefinitely.

I'm so relieved, but I'm also nervous about how this will go, mostly because my dad and Little Mac tend to have personality conflicts (because their personalities are so similar, hahaha) and my dad has lots of ideas about "tough love" that I think, in this case, are misguided.  I just don't think it's a training issue.  I mean, maybe we're permissive about some things, but we have always been pretty firm on the idea that dogs have to go to the bathroom OUTSIDE.  This is a sudden and recent development, and it didn't correspond with any specific event I can put my finger on.  (I think it started around the holidays).  I really think maybe Little Mac is just confused, but I just don't know.  She seems perfectly FINE, except for this bathroom problem.  I'm afraid of adding to her confusion (if that's what is really going on) by sending her home with them, but she's familiar with their house and she loves my mom, so I think she will adjust okay. My parents have a huge dog crate, and space to set it up, so they can keep her confined during the day.  And I know it will be a relief to not have to set up barriers between Little Mac and the rest of the family, or run constant interference between her and the baby.  It will also be a relief not to have to freaking clean up her pee and poop every day.

Excuse me?  You should consider it a privilege to clean up after me.
But still, it's hard to send her away from her home (even if she is defiling her home on a daily basis), and I will miss her (even if I've been super pissed at her a lot of the time lately).  She's still my girl.  She's so weird and so messed up and so freaking obnoxious, but I love her, and she's been my dog for the past eleven years (yes, she actually came with David, but I quickly won her over).

A rare moment when Mac is near the baby. Mac is generally better behaved when she's out of doors, but she hit her limit and had to go back inside after about fifteen minutes.
And I will never forget when that surly, misanthropic, bizarre little dog who NEVER sits on our laps and NEVER wants to snuggle (she barely tolerates us petting her, and that's only if she initiates contact), suddenly jumped up on our bed, and curled up next to me one cold night in December.  She had never, ever slept in our bed.  In fact, that was the one and only time she did it.  It was the first night we were home after we lost Eliza.

Little Mac.  And the cord to the steam cleaner.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Old House New House

Things I Will Miss About This House
- white painted trim
- crown moulding
- the paint colors (especially the cute stripes in the bathroom)
- the close proximity of everything I need
- main floor laundry
- the breezy back room
- my built-in bookshelves

Things I Will Not Miss About This House
- the scarcity of kitchen storage space
- laundry in the kitchen (yeah... I love it and I hate it)
- lack of closet space (we have no coat closet!)
- one bathroom
- no guest room
- the roaring loud furnace and AC
- no basement during tornado warnings
- the damn smoke alarm in the hall that shouts TESTING TESTING EVACUATE SMOKE IN THE HALLWAY EVACUATE at the most random and inopportune times
- the noisy of the washer and dryer
- the mediocre dishwasher
- the microwave turntable that doesn't turn
- the sketchy neighbors on across the alley and to the left

Things I Love About the New House
- stained glass windows in several rooms
- an arched front door
- two and a half bathrooms
- a full laundry room (with sink!) that is unfinished but very fix-up-able
- a huge-ass closet in the master bedroom
- fancy new washer and dryer (I am so lame that I'm excited about this)
- great neighborhood (and friendly neighbors)
- proximity to park, Target, library, and frozen yogurt place (Ted Drewes!)
- fireplace in the living room
- new paint colors
- original hardwood floors
- kitchen storage space!
- mail slot next to the front door (as opposed to a mail box)

Things I'm Not Sure About in the New House
- dark oak trim (I totally love white trim, but the oak is original and it's in good shape and I think it would be kind of a sacrilege to paint it.  So...  I guess we live with oak trim and try to like it?)
- laundry in the basement (the basement is finished so it's not like a creepy cellar, and I'm happy to have a full-sized laundry room instead of a cabinet in the kitchen, but still--I'll no longer be able to switch loads from washer to dryer while watching Zuzu each Cheerios and waiting for my hot water to boil for tea the way I do now...  It will be an adjustment.)
- no island/bar in the kitchen (it has a spot for a small table and chairs, but it's not quite the same)
- carrying a vacuum up and down stairs (I suggested we get one for each floor; David looked at me like I was crazy, but I stand by this as a Good Idea.)
- very small backyard (it's big enough for chickens, and a small garden, and it has a little concrete patio, but it's still very small)
- the brass surround on the fireplace (I'm brainstorming a solution for this one)
- the small sitting room off the master bedroom (I just don't want it to be a waste of space, but I can't see myself spending much time there.  Yet I don't think I want to make a mini-office in our bedroom...)
- crawling baby with lots of stairs

None of these things are deal breakers (obviously) and anything that is quirky in the new house I know will be well-worth the additional room and the perfect neighborhood.  But you know how it is with change... change is hard.  I need to be giving myself pep talks.  We have such a routine here, and even though I'm frequently aggravated that I have to unpack the cheese grater, oatmeal, blender, and mixing bowls to access our largest cooking pot, there are also intangible conveniences to having such a compressed space (I can empty the dishwasher, fold the laundry, fill up a water glass, and microwave popcorn while standing in the exact same spot in my kitchen).  I just know how things work here, and I don't know how things will work there.  So many floors!  So many stairs!

OK.  Really I'm just feeling a little nervous and nostalgic.  I teared up last night as I rocked Zuzu in her nursery...  I love that room and I hate it a little bit but I mostly love it and she won't remember it...  and it is hard to leave a house that witnessed such heartbreak and such happiness.  And Eliza's tree will bloom even though we're not here.  I kind of feel like David and I grew up in this house, and while there are a few moments I'd like to forget entirely, it's hard to leave behind a place that witnessed so much of our mutual history.  I know we're taking all the important things with us--and the most important things aren't things at all--but, yeah.  Lots of complicated emotions.

On top of the stress of actually trying to get all our stuff moved.

And I'm not sure what to do with oak trim.  I mean really.

On the bright side?  I guess I'll get some exercise running up and down stairs to launder diapers...

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Weekend Round-up

* After getting involved in Kickstarter for Return to Zero (the movie about a couple whose baby is stillborn), I found myself backing another (more lighthearted) project:  The Veronica Mars movie.  I wrote about VM way back when (another lifetime, right?) and I still love it.  (David is actually a big fan as well).  So I decided to become a backer for the VM movie, which has become HUGE.  They've surpassed their original goal (in fact, I think they doubled it) and they're trying to break a record for the most backers ever on a Kickstarter project.  They are almost there and the minimum donation is $1 so if you're interested in backing what is sure to be an awesome movie, you can pitch in here.

* Now that I have backed two movies through Kickstarter, I'm considering adding line "Film Producer" to my CV.  That's legit, right?

* It started this weekend.  Packing up our house to move.  I thought I would have all kinds of complicated and mixed up feelings about this and I already have and I'm sure I will, but mostly right now I feel like holy shit we have so much stuff and it all has to get packed and we're trying to get things painted and painting takes forever and I want to be organized about packing because otherwise David will put stuff who knows where and then "forget" that he's ever seen it and a month seemed like a long time but actually we now have exactly three weekends between now and when we have to be out of our house.  And also, how am I supposed to get anything done at our current house (like laundry) when I spend all weekend painting at the new house?

* We close on selling our house and buying the new house on the same day in early May.  In the meantime, we decided to lease the new house for a month so we wouldn't be in a rush to get everything moved.  I hoped this would help keep the crazy at bay, but I'm not sure that's really possible.  Plus there are just a few things going on at work between now and then...  like the end of the semester and final exams and an honors convocation at which I'm speaking.

* The timing of all of this, at the busiest time of the semester, and a couple of months before I had really expected to be moving, also reminds me of when we adopted Cooper, which was right before my major field exam in grad school.  In what should know be called the "Classic Brooke and David move," we talked about doing something in theory, planned to do it that summer after I'd passed my exams, and then jumped in and did it about three months before we'd originally intended to.  Cooper arrived at the WORST time possible because it was still wet and cold outside and he had to be potty trained, I was trying to study for exams and he was chewing up everything in our house, and when he wasn't chewing on things, he was peeing.  Everywhere.  And I do mean everywhere because Cooper as a puppy did not make a little puddle in the corner.  He gleefully ran through the house, tinkling everywhere, as we shouted, "Outside!  Outside!"  And we still had carpet at the time.  I spent WAY too much time scrubbing dog pee out of the carpet when I should have been studying for my exam.  (Cooper was seriously such a nightmare to potty train.  However, one day it finally clicked for him and then he never looked back.)

* I finished reading The Fault in Our Stars last night (by John Green).  I cried.  Kind of a lot.  It was so damn heartbreaking.  I mulled over the line, "Grief does not change you... It reveals you." I'm not sure whether or not I agree.  Or whether or not I want to agree with that sentiment.  But I smiled at "The world is not a wish-granting factory."  Because, no.  It sure as hell isn't.  And it freaking sucks that some people can only wish for what other people take for granted.  Anyway, the book was great.  I highly recommend.

* The first room we painted at the new house was Zuzu's "Big Girl Room."  I chose a sweet, pale pink called "White Dogwood."  It's a slight homage to our current house, which has an adorable dogwood tree in the front, on the opposite side of Eliza's magnolia tree.

* The new house has three bedrooms upstairs--the master, the front room (which is the "Big Girl Room"), and a tiny little room that was their office that we're going to make a nursery.  I love Zuzu's nursery at this house, and there are lots of things in it that personalize it just for her, but the overall "theme" (baby ducks) was Eliza's nursery theme.  I didn't put the nursery together fully together when I was pregnant with Eliza because I was waiting until classes were over (one week after we lost her).  And I didn't put a nursery together when I was pregnant with Zuzu because I was waiting for her to be alive.  So this is basically the first time I've fully planned and executed a nursery without an eighteen-month gap in between the initial planning and the putting it together.  It's emotionally fraught in some ways, but also super freaking fun in other ways.  For example, I had a fabric sample and a vague idea in my head and walked into Sherwin Williams to find that the very color combination I was imagining had been put together on one of their combo-suggestion cards.  I was delighted.  It's going to be SUPER cute.

* Next up on the painting list:  The nursery.  Then the bathroom.  And then the master bedroom.  The nursery is small, but it's complicated.  I want to do stripes...  on the ceiling.  (No, it's a GREAT idea.)  The paint guy at SW seemed incredulous that I planned to do it myself, and now I'm experiencing a bit of self-doubt.  Mostly in term of time/energy.  But my parents will be here next week, so they will be able to wrangle Zuzu while we paint.  That's the hardest part, really--keeping her entertained.  She only tolerates baby jail (the pack & play) for so long.  Then she wants to crawl around and play with (1) paint buckets (2) paint brushes (3) the door (4) dirt, paint chips, various choking hazards, (5) iPhones.  All of which are generally off-limits, except today we left her have the iPhones because ANYTHING to get this paint up on the wall!  This afternoon she was obviously tired and refused to go in the pack & play so we strapped her into the stroller, rolled it into the center of room, and she fell asleep in it while we painted around her.  (Zero VOC paint, with the windows open and fan going, in case anyone was concerned about her brain cells).

* Speaking of cells (possibly worst segue ever) David's grandma and my nana are both currently undergoing chemo.  (Well, Nana starts on Friday).  David's grandma has lymphoma and my nana has lung cancer.  I also know of three little girls right now (relatives or friends of friends) who are battling leukemia.  My friend Brad from college died of leukemia last fall.  It's because of all of these people that I am registered at Be the Match.  I confess that I also hate the idea of being someone's match.  Well, I don't hate the idea of being a match.  I hate the process of donation (Needles.  I hate needles.). But if Zuzu ever needed a match for something like that...?  I would damn well want everyone and their brother who's not an IV-drug-user to be on that list.  The fact is, somebody's sweet little girl has cancer and there's a chance that she might be a match to me (people who sign up for the registry have a 1 in 540 chance of being matched with someone).  So I'm signed up.  Cancer effing sucks.

* Speaking of segues...  One time I was writing on a student's paper and telling him he needed a smoother segue from one section to another and instead I wrote "segway."  Yes, I spelled it phonetically.  Like the electric scooters tourists sometimes ride and that I kind of want to try even though I think anyone who rides them looks like a huge jackass.  At any rate, I didn't realize it until I'd handed the paper back to the student, and then later that day, it just hit me.  The certainty that I'd spelled "segue" as "segway."  I was mortified, but I'm not sure the student (1) read the comments or (2) knew the difference.  Or maybe he had a good laugh at my expense and wondered how such a moron ended up teaching college.  I occasionally wonder the same thing.  (Whatever... MOST professors totally  consult Wikipedia when writing lectures...)

* Zuzu had her 9-month photos taken this morning.  I know.  We basically take her picture CONSTANTLY and then we hire other people to take her picture every three months, PLUS I take her to JCP every now and again.  What can I say?  Girl looks good in photographs.  She was pretty good for our session today, but she is going through a slightly clingy mommy-phase.  It's cute and endearing, but also cramped our style at the photoshoot just a little bit.  Hopefully we got some good shots.  (You know I'll post them...  it's what I do.)

* Zuzu totally redeemed herself from photoshoot meltdown when we met up with a friend at a coffee shop and Zuzu smiled a friendly greeting and then proceeded to peacefully fall asleep in her stroller and nap for about an hour while we chatted.  #bestbaby

And THAT, my friends, is the weekend round-up.  Bear with me as the blog becomes focused on New House Makeover, because that is the obsession around here.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Easter Portrait

So I'm a little late in posting this, but I mentioned back here that I took Zuzu to have pictures taken for Easter.  We did not do a traditional Easter celebration this year (no bunny pictures or dying eggs) because we were in Arizona, and because I think the bunnies are uber creepy looking, and because I wasn't going to mess with dying eggs for a nine-month-old.  BUT of course she still had to have an Easter dress and Easter portrait.

Although there are about a million adorable Easter dresses out there, this year I decided that Zuzu would go vintage for her portrait.  She wore a dress that was mine when I was a baby.  Here I am modeling it:

I was five-and-a-half months old here.  This picture of me is weird for a number of reasons.  Note my square-shaped head and thinning hairline, which gives me an Elizabethan forehead.  (My bangs didn't grow in until I was three years old).  Also my hand appears to be enormous.  (As far as I know, this is an optical illusion and my hands were reasonably proportional).  And no matter how cute (or not) the baby is, the background is undeniably ugly (let's put your baby up against...  a nice muddy BROWN!).

What I realized in studying this photo is that Zuzu looks nothing like me now that she's not a newborn, although she does have my nose and mouth.  Her head shape is totally different from mine (less, uh, square), and she definitely looks like David through the eyes.  (Unfortunately we don't really have any baby pictures of David post-newborn until he was a year old, when he and his mom moved in with his grandparents, so I don't have a good side-by-side to compare how closely she resembles him.  I'm going to see if his grandma has some at her house next time we're there).

The dress is size nine months, so I assumed I was older than 5-and-a-half months in this picture and waited to have Zuzu's picture taken in it until she was 8-and-a-half months.  But regardless of our ages, I don't think we look much alike.  And I skipped the hairbow because I wasn't wearing one in my picture (although I could have used one to cover up some of that forehead...).

Anyway, I guess Zuzu is really just her own little person much more than she is a mommy-clone or daddy-clone.  She does, however, look good in my "vintage" dress:

She would only smile with her tongue out. That was her look for the day.  

I love this sweet expression.  Such a pretty girl.
I had the portraits taken at JCPenney (I scanned them, so the photo quality isn't as good on my computer screen as it is in the prints).  I don't think a studio can usually capture the full personality of a kid (at least, not the way our six month photos did, remember?), but I do think they are perfect for a photo session like this, when I mostly wanted a picture of the dress.  Plus, you know Zuzu looks cute, and the prints are very affordable (I had a coupon for an $11 portrait session that included one 8x10 and two 5x7s, then I bought two additional sheets of wallets for $4 each, so my total was just over $20 with tax.)  They tried to upsell me on everything, but I resisted since we are having nine month photos taken in Forest Park this weekend (and then I went home and tried my own photo shoot).  I love the journalistic style of the personal photo sessions at a park or at our home, but there's something about the slightly cheesy formal portraits that I really like, too.  I gave a 5x7 to each of the grandparents and tucked the wallet-sized prints into Easter cards.

And I think we can all agree:  Zuzu looks good in vintage!

Also hilarious (though blurry):  these pics I snapped with my iphone during the photo session as I was trying to make Zuzu smile.  Looks like Zuzu was over her photoshoot.

Being a child model is exhausting.  How much longer do I have to do this?
You think that noise you're making is funny?  You are embarrassing yourself, Mother.  

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Book Club

I have a new little book club with some friends from work.  We'd been meeting for monthly happy hours and we decided that we should push ourselves to read things that weren't necessarily related to teaching or academia.  Books had to be not too long and not too taxing in order to qualify, but we also wanted them to be good.  We decided to start with poetry, and I'd vaguely remembered hearing something on NPR about a poet whose work I wanted to read.  Thanks to a note I'd made in my phone, we decided to start with Natasha Trethewey's Native Guard.

I knew she was the poet laureate and the book was about the Civil War, and that's really all I knew (I must have just caught the tail-end of the NPR story).

Really, the book is a meditation on grief, and her mother's sudden and violent death.  It's also about growing up in the South as a child of a racially mixed marriage, about the history of the Civil War, and the way that history gets retold and shapes our lives today.  Her poems are poignant and lovely, but they are also masterful in a formal sense.  I was glad to be reading them with other literary nerds who pointed out meter and rhyme schemes that enriched my appreciation for Trethewey's talent.

My favorite poem in the entire collection is one called "Myth":

I was asleep while you were dying.
It's as if you slipped through some rift, a hollow
I make between my slumber and waking,

the Erebus I keep you in, still trying 
not to let go.  You'll be dead again tomorrow,
but in dreams you live.  So I try taking

you back into morning.  Sleep-heavy, turning,
my eyes open, I find you do not follow.
Again and again, this constant forsaking.

Again and again, this constant forsaking:
my eyes open, I find you do not follow,
You back into morning, sleep-heavy, turning.

But in dreams you live.  So I try taking,
not to let go.  You'll be dead again tomorrow.
The Erebus I keep you in -- still, trying --

I make between my slumber and my waking.
It's as if you slipped through some rift, a hollow.
I was asleep while you were dying.

As you may have noticed, the whole poem is a palindrome.  A brilliant one, in my opinion.  One of my friends said that it was only on the second reading that she realized the poem was a mirror image of itself.  I love that it is so emotionally loaded and yet so carefully and perfectly crafted.  (My blog is basically the polar opposite of that--more like emotional vomit at times.  Just keeping it real.  It is worth noting, though, that Trethewey herself comments on the fact that these poems were written many years after her mother's death, that she couldn't write about it when her grief was fresh.  So you know, maybe in ten years my prose will be carefully crafted? Don't hold your breath.)

I love how the forsaking that happens in the first half is different than the second half--when the lines switch around, there is a shift in who and what is being forsaken.  The speaker is at first forsaken by the dead not following her, but then it's as though her own consciousness forsakes her by opening her eyes each day and leaving that memory or that dream behind.

And the opening and closing lines:  "I was asleep while you were dying."  Forget the literal meaning of it--it perfectly captures the guilt that corresponds with grief.  I was asleep, distracted, oblivious while you slipped away from me.  How many times have I asked David, "How could I not have known?"  I can't even begin to say.

I had to look up the word "Erebus" -- it's the personification of darkness in Greek mythology, and is often related to the underworld where the souls of the dead reside.

I also think it's brilliant way the "still trying" of the first half becomes "still, trying" in the second half--that comma makes all the difference in the world and changes the meaning from an ongoing effort to a stillness that is part of the effort to capture what's gone. The word "still" is of course one that resonates with me.  Stillborn.  Still born.  Still as in silent.  Still as in dead.  Still as in unmoving, refusing to go forward, willing oneself back in time.  Still as in enduring nonetheless.

But I think the line that best captures my experience of grief is: "You'll be dead again tomorrow."

Because that's exactly what it feels like--not a continuation, but a repetition.  Not "You'll continue to be dead tomorrow" but "You'll be dead again tomorrow."  Like a groundhog day reality that I have to face over and over and over again.  Tomorrow, I have to wake up again.  And you'll be dead again.  And I'll have that moment of consciousness when the sleep falls away and the realization hits me: My baby died.  And the next day: My baby died.  And the next day: My baby died.  Again.  Again and again and again.  Everyday for the rest of my life I have to wake up and remember that my baby died.  When you think about it that way, it's truly a wonder any of us survives this.  It is the reason why we can only stare in disbelief at people who wonder aloud why we're not "over it" yet.  And it certainly explains why I cried every single day for an entire year.  Because every single day, my baby was dead.  Again.

In discussing this poem, and others in her collection, my book club ended up talking a lot about grief, and sharing personal stories that book clubs might not normally discuss.  We ate cheese and drank wine and celebrated a birthday and laughed a lot, but we also talked about death and grief and getting older and loss and some of us cried (me included).

It was one of those times I realized that sharing the stories we're afraid to tell can connect us with people on a deeper level.  I haven't lost a parent, but I have a perspective on grief that I can offer to someone who's coping with that loss.  I haven't had a miscarriage, but I can easily imagine the pain of having those precious hopes dashed so early.  I'm no longer afraid of other people's grief.  The truth is that it can still make me uncomfortable.  I'm getting pretty good at pretending to be okay, so someone else falling apart can leave me feeling taken aback and unsure of myself.  But I know how important it is not to hide behind a wall of platitudes and subject-changes.  I don't always handle grief (my own or other people's) as gracefully as I'd like to (and I definitely can't articulate it the way Trethewey can) but at least I'm not afraid to face it head on.

Friday, April 5, 2013


Things I've Done on Spring Break:

- traveled to Arizona and back
- attended two baseball games
- watched a zillion more baseball games on television
- played peek-a-boo
- laid a peaceful baby in her crib, where she went right to sleep
- wrestled an angry baby who did not want to get in her crib
- slept with a baby in my bed because I was too tired to deal with it
- helped my friend paint her living room "perfect greige" over a color that I like to call "bloody maroon"
- sold myself on the wonders of Sherwin Williams paint (the coverage is amazing!) Paint: You Get What You Pay For
- watched my baby (who was relatively immobile just two weeks ago) crawl across the room and pull herself up on a chair
- intervened for the umpteenth time to keep the crawling baby from crawling toward sleeping Little Mac
- cleaned up Little Mac's accidents (OMG it's getting bad you guys.  We've decided she will have to be confined to the tiled kitchen anytime we leave the house but that's easier said than done...)
- steamed cleaned the floors (now that the baby is not confined to a quilt on the floor, I'm so uncomfortably aware of how quickly our floors get dirty--and that's not even counting Little Mac's bathroom issues, which GROSS.ME.OUT)
- unpacked and done many loads of laundry
- put away laundry
- packed a couple of boxes of things (!)
- discovered and returned a book I borrowed from a La Leche group back in October
- read three books--the new John Grisham, Daring Greatly, and Unbroken
- extensively researched (by which I mean "browsed on pinterest") paint colors and decorating ideas for the new house
- started brainstorming ideas for Zuzu's birthday party
- made the switch back from disposable diapers while traveling to cloth diapers while at home (I used these disposable diapers while in Arizona and I liked them better than any other brand we've tried--which includes Seventh Generation, Huggies, and Luvs)
- eaten at least 50% of my meals not at home
- dropped baby off at day care to go to a coffee shop and grade essays (I have 55 of them in a huge folder)

Things I've Not Done on Spring Break
- graded essays

Thursday, April 4, 2013


Okay, so we brought our metaphorical sunshine home with us (pictured extensively below), but let me tell you.  I am missing the warmth of that desert sun.  50 degrees is so not cutting it.  Our mini-vacation (I declare anything shorter than a week to be "mini" in terms of vacation) to Arizona was so exactly perfect and although I will no longer discuss the weather because I swear find weather talk superbly boring (and yet! I love to talk about it!), suffice it to say that Arizona in March = Awesome.  Missouri in March = Total Hit or Miss; This Year It's a Miss.

We stayed with my aunt and uncle in Scottsdale, and my parents also joined us a day later to get their Zuzu fix.  The time we spent was just the right combination of doing things and doing nothing.  We had plenty of mornings to soak up sunshine on the patio (I read two books!) and plenty of time to go shopping and hiking and out to dinner.  We had a yummy Easter brunch.  We watched a ball game.  We played at the park.  We took countless pictures of Zuzu being adorable in various sun hats.  It was a complete win as far as spring break getaways go (not so much for David's favorite teams, unfortunately, but he managed to have a good time anyway).

You'll forgive me if some of these pictures are repeats for my Instagram-followers (Zuzu has many non-technologically advanced fans who don't get the benefit of her adorable face on their smartphones and thus rely on the blog).  Here is the photo-illustrated version of our vacation:

The welcome banner that greeted us upon arrival! 
Zuzu was delighted to meet Aunt Peggy!

At a spring training game.  I love how she's looking at her Dada in this picture.  I also love the dude in tie-dye.
Getting sleepy at the ballgame. She eventually napped (reluctantly) in the stroller.

Oh, yeah.  I do this kind of thing all the time now. You know, pull myself up and stand around. I'm kind of a big deal.  

Cute Easter bunny & cute baby.

Baby naps while Mommy shops = Perfect Afternoon

toys! are! fun!

She was soooo well-behaved when we went out to dinner. She sat in the high chair and entertained herself with toys and then with my bracelet.  The food was great and we were sitting outside.  

Dinner that night was at the Four Seasons Resort at Troon North--where I worked once up on a time as a pool attendant. I confess--it's much more fun to visit the resort as a dinner guest.

Kisses for Grammy.

Getting in the spirit for the Cardinals and D-Backs game

Zuzu and Mama getting ready to hike Pinnacle Peak.

The only thing more fun than toys?  Toys out on the patio!

Showing off her standing skills for Grammy and Gramps.

Don't you wish you were as glam as Zuzu? (Yes, I am framing this one for sure.) #modelmaterial

Family picture on Easter.

Pulling up!

And standing around. #hotshot

Working her core.

Hanging out with AZ cousins.
Stroller walk became our naptime routine. #whateverworks

Taking a stand against sleep. (It didn't last long.)

Going down the mini-slide with Dada. She liked it so much, we decided to take on the big slide! Mama understimated how fast we would zip down.

Zuzu and Mama.

What is this green stuff?  (AstroTurf)

Uh, you guys... this is weird.

Not sure what to think about this "grass."

Baby feet. 
Ready for a ballgame!

outside Chase field
Dada and his little Cardinal fan.

hanging with Gramps and Grammy at the game 

Family photo

In the Ergo (a brief nap during the game)

Watching fireworks with Grammy
Just a wee bit tired.