Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Coco's Picnic Party

We had a birthday party for Coco in my hometown, a week belated. We wanted to celebrate with family, and this location allowed for the most people to attend, plus it's already a birthday treat to get to go to Grammy and Bops's house, right?

Of course, we celebrated Coco on her actual birthday as well. Although Zuzu and her friends were blown away by the extra-posh and professional Frozen cake she had at her party, Coco seemed equally impressed by the "Mermaid cake" that Zuzu and David made and decorated together.

Instructions for a mermaid cake:
Ingredients: yellow cake mix, white frosting, blue glitter sprinkles
Directions: follow directions on box of cake mix. Top with frosting. Accept that there's not really enough frosting and pretend the "naked cake" look is deliberate. Allow preschooler to liberally sprinkle blue glitter sprinkles over cake. Top with two plastic mermaid dolls, taken straight out of the swimming pool bag (extra points if you rinse the chlorine off first, but I can tell you from experience it's not required).
Add candles dipped at Silver Dollar City.

Coco opened gifts from us--mermaid dolls and back pack that was immediately purloined by her sister, who insisted that Coco actually wanted to trade her new butterfly backpack for Zuzu's hand-me-down owl backpack. Coco seemed fine with it, and also with sharing the mermaids, so I just let it roll.

And then we headed to my parents' and celebrated with a picnic at the park--the same park was Coco was baptized, but a different pavilion. This one was up on the hill close to the playground (and away from the alarming amount of goose poop down by the lake).

We put together a basic picnic spread--ham and cheese sandwiches, baked beans, chips, potato salad, watermelon, coleslaw, and my Aunt Dottie (pictured below talking to her brother, my Papa) brought her amazing pistachio salad. I thought I was super organized (I even had made sticker food labels!), but I managed to get to the park without silverware. Fortunately, our friend Johnny saved the day with a quick run to the store and we ate the finger foods course and then the silverware course because our picnic was super fancy like that.

We completely lucked out on the weather--for some reason, that weekend in August turned out to be a respite from the heat and we had cool breezes and low humidity. The breezes were actually so intense that I couldn't put up some of the decorations I'd brought because they just got blown around, and I had to tape the cute food labels to the plastic table cloths to keep them from blowing away, but it was still preferable to muggy stillness and it kept the bugs away.

The girls had so much fun with their cousins and friends, and I realized how independent they are becoming--Coco was the youngest of the bunch, and everyone else could play and climb with minimal adult supervision.

I borrowed a cake pan that a friend of mine had bought for her niece's second birthday, and whipped up a super adorable #2 cake (with a mix and store bought frosting). It was too windy to light the candles, but Coco didn't seem to mind and was happy to pantomime blowing them out while we sang "Happy Birthday."

It was a sweet celebration for a sweet little girl, and while I do feel a pang of not having a baby-baby anymore, it's been delightful to see her vocabulary explode and her personality assert itself more and more. She says "I love you, Mommy" now, which just slays me every time. (Particularly if she is saying it through tears as I drop her off at school and then I have to walk to my car with my heart bleeding, waiting for her teacher to text me a photo of Coco five minutes later having a great time with her friends).

The day after the party we hit the pool and Coco proved that she can keep up with her big sis when it comes to be tossed in the air.

All the cliches about days and years and blinks of eyes are so true, and I'm planning to rock this baby before bed every single night from now until forever.

Thursday, August 25, 2016


I've used cornstarch for two important and bizarre projects in recent weeks.

The first was preparation for Zuzu's birthday party. I made "Magic Snow." This calls for two 16 oz packages of cornstarch plus one can of shaving cream and a generous helping of glitter. (I quadrupled the recipe for tons of Frozen fun, but mixed it up one section at a time).

I found that it worked best when I layered it in a big plastic mixing bowl or bucket. Put in cornstarch, add a layer of shaving cream, repeat. Then mix it all up with your hands in a big bowl--it feels cold and powdery at the same time. I'm not someone who loves sticky stuff on my hands, but I didn't have any trouble mixing this stuff. You'll want to store in a gallon ziplock in the freezer (mine sat for over a week while we were on vacation), and presto! Fill your water table (or a plastic bin) with magic snow and Frozen figurines!

It is messy, though, so I'd definitely recommend doing it outside. If you had just one or two kids playing (and they weren't prone to snowball fights), you could do it inside on tile or linoleum, or on some kind of tarp or cover. I put the water table on top of a plastic tablecloth because I'm not sure that cornstarch and shaving cream is good for grass (or vacuums?).

The second use of cornstarch was for an unexpected dilemma. I'd been home with the girls all day and was relieved when David got home from work. He was downstairs (presumably keeping an eye on the kids) and I was on the phone with my mom upstairs. I'd already gotten the girls bathed and in their pajamas, and I was  irritated when I heard Coco crying as she walked in the door to our bedroom because I am sometimes a heartless monster who just wants David to deal with her issues. Anyway, she walked into my room crying and saying, "Eyes! Eyes!" and that's when I looked at her and realized that she had vaseline smeared all over her face (including her eyes) and all over her hair.

So then I did what any not-really-heartless mother would do--I quickly wiped it out of her eyes and then took a photo.

She had NOT been downstairs being supervised by her father. Instead, she had been unsupervised in her nursery, where she climbed up on the changing table, grabbed a tub of vaseline, and proceeded to smear it all over her head and face.

(Sidebar: We used to have a shelf above the changing table on which we stored lotion, diaper cream, nail clippers, and various other baby accessories, including a rarely-used tub of vaseline. That shelf has since been removed, as nothing up there was safe and it seemed to only encourage climbing.)

(Sidebar #2: I have NO EARTHLY IDEA why she would decide to smear vaseline all over her head and face. I mean WHO DOES THAT?)

She did not appreciate my photo documentation.

Anyway, this vaseline issue was a huge conundrum. I mean, you can't just rinse this out! After I wiped her face a little more thoroughly, I gave the sad baby a binky and googled "How to get vaseline out of hair." (Also? I'm grateful that she is still a little sparse in the hair department because a full head of hair coated in vaseline would have been even messier.)

Given the title of this post, you probably saw this coming, but the solution to vaseline in the hair? Cornstarch. I ran down to the kitchen, grabbed our can from the cupboard, ran back upstairs, stripped Coco down and put her in the tub, and then applied a liberal sprinkling of cornstarch.

It had the added benefit of making her look like she was in a stage production playing an old person--brought back fond memories of my sixth grade production of A Christmas Carol.

let the cornstarch sit for a minute, then I shampooed as usual. Her hair still felt a little gunky/greasy , so I did it again.

Then I used shampoo one more time. (The water was still beading up on her face and arms where she had rubbed the vaseline, but her hair seemed mostly clean.)

The next day, her hair was a little bit greasy, but after we went swimming, the chlorine water seemed to take care of any residual vaseline.

So, there you have it! Two excellent reasons to stock up on cornstarch.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Back to School Brain Dump

Well, last week happened. Faculty meetings for me started on Monday. School for the girls (4 year old preschool for Zuzers, Toddler House for Coco) started on Wednesday.

You may notice there is a problematic two-day gap between Monday and Wednesday in regard to child supervision, especially as David's school started a week earlier. Fortunately, my parents saved us by having my dad come to St. Louis with us on Sunday and then my mom drove up on Monday to meet him. This meant that my dad was Home Alone with both girls all day Monday, which was a long day for everyone (except Coco, who took a two and a half hour nap).

When I walked in the door and greeted Zuzu and asked if she'd been a good listener for Bops, she said, "A little. Not really."

SO. There you have it. My dad was really glad to see my mom when she arrived Monday afternoon, and relieved to have some back-up on Tuesday, I'm sure.

Coco's first day of school was hard on my heart.

It started when there was another set of parents tearing themselves away from a little boy who was crying. I'm kind of a contagious crier, so seeing him cry made me want to cry. And then Coco started crying and calling "Mommy! Mommy!" and I started crying as I walked out the door. And then I couldn't stop.

I cried walking to my car, I cried the entire way to work, I cried on the phone with David. I texted me coworker to warn her that I was a mess and I tried to pull myself together as I walked into the building, but she gave me a hug when she saw me and I cried again. I'd go to a meeting and keep it together, but then I would get a picture from Coco's teachers of her playing happily), though the first one I could see her wet eyelashes and pouty lip, which made me sob hysterically in my office) or of her napping peacefully, and I'd lose it and cry again. It was brutal. I was ready to quit my job and home school them forever except that actually I was really excited to be back at work. So conflicted.

Anyway, I think a lot of it was complicated by that quiet nagging grief of starting preschool and toddler house and nobody starting kindergarten. This has been a slow, creeping feeling. There was no major trigger. I didn't love seeing back to school kindergarten pics on Instagram, but they didn't feel like a knife to the heart, either. There wasn't One Day when everything felt terrible. Except, I guess, for last Wednesday, when I cried all morning. It felt like I was crying about Coco, but I think it was more than that. By lunch time I had managed to stop sniffling, but I had to take ibuprofen for my crying-hangover headache in the afternoon because my essential oils were not cutting it.

Coco is still not thrilled to be dropped off at school, but she likes her teachers and they promise me that her tears dry very quickly. In pictures, she's always looking happy or focused, raking the yard or coloring or playing in the sandbox or washing her hands. When I ask her at home if she had fun at school, she always responds very enthusiastically, "Uh-huh!" so it's just that initial moment of separation that SHREDS MY HEART on a daily basis.

Zuzu, on the other hand, has had a seamless transition in terms of drop-off. A hug, a kiss, a see-ya-later, got-stuff-to-do. When we went to an ice cream social for parents at the school on Friday afternoon, Zuzu didn't even hang out with us. She was super excited to see us, but then went off to hang out with her friends who were also too cool for their parents. But it warmed my heart on Friday morning to see her run over to the toddler house playground (with her bestie) to comfort Coco when I was leaving. Coco quit crying when she saw Zuzu, so I'm really happy they are at the same place.

Both girls have been pretty worn out and tired from the new transition (David and me, too!) so Coco goes to bed easily and Zuzu gets tantrumy in the evenings (charming). The other night she demanded something and said, "If you don't do this, I'm going to BREAK ALL YOUR THINGS!"

(She talks to her dolls A LOT about "consequences," which is pretty reflective of how often we're having those conversations at home.)

We also have hit the wall on what Zuzu wears.

Now, here's the thing. I LOVE dressing my kids. I love picking out their clothes. I love seeing them in cute outfits. I think that part of it is just that I happen to enjoy clothes, but part of it also is that since I'm not with my kids all day, I want the people who are with them to see that they are loved and well cared for and the only way I know how to do that is by dressing them in matching outfits and brushing their hair. They may be stained and ratty and tangled by the end of the day, but they at least they start the day looking like someone cares about them.

(Sidenote: I totally realize that no one is actually judging me if my kids are dressed like ragamuffins because people understand stubborn toddlers and preschoolers, and I certainly am not judging people whose kids clearly are picking out their own clothes, but it still makes me feel better when they are wearing cute outfits.)

I am willing to work with what Zuzu wants (mostly dresses, the softer and twirlier the better). But I like to give her two options and have her choose. This worked pretty well last year. This year, though, she'll say, "No, I'll show you what I am going to wear." And she'll go to the closet and pull out something else. This results in me hiding a lot of clothes, but I can only do so much. She has adorable shorts outfits that I'm begging/bribing/manipulating her to wear, but she's not having it. Today she insisted on wearing a ratty pair of leggings with her new favorite t-shirt (a rainbow shirt from Target) even though it's going to be 85 degrees today and I tried to convince her to wear shorts. So I guess she dresses herself now and I just learn how to roll with it and be flexible. Insert gritted-teeth emoji.

Also? Yesterday I asked if she wanted an orange with lunch. "I'm not really into oranges anymore, Mommy."

Transitions are always rough, so I'm reminding myself that we'll find our footing next week. Or at least by midsemester. In the meantime, lots of after-school snuggles and early bedtimes for everyone.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Failed It | Nailed It

In my final week of SAHM-hood, I was ready to go all out.

My version of all out: Fun, enriching, educational activities! Baking and cooking meals from scratch! Keeping on top of all housework! Not raising my voice or threatening to take away privileges! It was going to be EPIC!

Eff that noise, you guys.

I slaved away over applesauce muffins (with secret ingredient! Pureed butternut squash!) and homemade macaroni and cheese (with same secret ingredient!).

While the muffins were baking, we went for a quick walk up to the corner of the block and back, just to get some fresh air. The girls chatted with neighbors and I felt like my exercise clothes were justified because: walking outside = exertion! But the day went downhill from there.

Lunch was a disaster. The muffins went over better than the mac & cheese. When Zuzu literally took a bit, optimistic bite and then spit it all out on her plate, I wanted to throw my own temper tantrum. She just ate her fruit and then politely said she was full. Coco barely ate any mac & cheese either, but I was NOT WILLING to let it go, so I packed it up and put it in the freezer for another day when they are super hungry.

After my roasting of squash and pureeing of squash and mixing of muffins and cooking of macaroni, the kitchen was basically wrecked, and since I was preoccupied with cooking and cleaning up, the girls were doing things like coloring their legs with a gold Sharpie that they dug out of my desk drawer, which they know they are not supposed to get into (good news though: Honest soap might not touch it, but there's nothing that chlorine won't remove!), begging to watch TV (even Coco, who doesn't really care about TV except for the occasional episode of Peppa Pig, has caught the fever from Zuzu and will join her chanting "Show! Show!"), and digging lip gloss out of my purse to smear all over their faces and, inexplicably, the back cover of Between the World and Me.

I emerged from the wreck of the kitchen (now tidied up) just in time to yell (and then apologize for yelling after Coco burst into tears) about the Sharpie, gently wipe the back of Coates's manifesto as well as their faces, and then carry a violently protesting Coco upstairs for nap. She went to sleep easily, but when I went back downstairs, the turning off of the TV (even with my clever use of the sleep timer) resulted in outrage and outrageous behavior. Also threats: "If you don't turn on my show again, I'm not your girl anymore."

I tried to engage Zuzu in the preschool workbook we've been going through this summer, as well as the ongoing process of writing her name (she can copy it just fine now, but writing it from memory appears to be impossible, which makes me crazy because it seems to be an issue of effort rather than ability, which reminds me of potty-training, which makes me back off because: There is literally nothing I can do.).

Usually, she enjoys work time, and we sit together at the dining room table, and sometimes I can even read or go back over syllabi during this time, but today it was just a battle. She wanted to skip ahead in the workbook. She wanted a different marker. She didn't want to do work. She was NOT going to write her name. She was a complete pill. So wretched. I'd pick something up, and she'd throw it down on the floor again. She kept asking to watch TV and threatening to stop loving me if I didn't let her. I told her she'd lost the privileges of all shows for the day and she was going to have more consequences if she didn't stop being so nasty.

Coco got up from her nap and they had a relatively pleasant snack of muffins and milk (trying to salvage my efforts in the kitchen) and then I decided to take them to the park for the double benefit of fresh air and not trashing the house, and park time was fine. Coco's been napping later in the day, so by the time we got home it was time for dinner. I thought the muffins would buy me some time, but it was HANGRY time and I was the whipping boy.

I decided the best option was to whip up the no-fail solution of scrambled eggs. After all, they are farm-fresh from our backyard and the girls love them. Coco had finished her raspberries and crescent roll and had probably eaten two-thirds of her eggs when she accidentally dumped the whole plate on the floor. Cooper finished her meal, which was apparently the greatest tragedy of her life so far. I was paralyzed for a moment, trying to decide whether it was worth scrambling her another egg (I'd already washed and put away the pan!) when she was really almost finished anyway and she has an annoying habit of finishing her food, asking for more, and then not touching her second helping.

As I tried to settle the screeching Coco, retrieve her scattered plate and fork, and get Cooper out of the kitchen (after letting him clean up the eggs), Zuzu said, in her MOST irritating, sassy, and demanding tone, "Mommy! Milk!" and then waggled her empty milk cup at me.

I yelled.

One of those ironic moments when I'm saying things like, "You cannot just DEMAND things and talk to me in that tone of voice. Can you not see that my hands are busy trying to clean up this mess? You need to ask for things NICELY!" while I'm talking in precisely the kind of tone and at the volume level that I'm telling her is inappropriate.

This made Zuzu cry, which was shocking because she NEVER cries and just goes to show how tired she was.

Of course, it also made me feel TERRIBLE.

Then Coco was sympathy crying. Total fail. 

I solved the Coco problem by giving her a spoonful of the small portion of eggs still sitting on Zuzu's plate, then followed Zuzu into the other room to apologize. She said, "Mommy, I want you to never do that again." (Hard to promise that, kid, but I'm trying.)

By that time, it was about 6:00pm, which meant only one thing: bathtime and bedtime. I was just over the entire day.

The girls took a leisurely bubble bath (lavender-scented bubble bath is really the BEST) and I kept the lights off in the bathroom because there was enough daylight (you know, since it was only 6pm), so it was very soothing.

After bath, we snuggled up in the rocking chair in Coco's room and they took turns choosing books to read and I read everything they wanted, even Rudolph.

Usually if I'm home alone at bedtime, I let Zuzu watch an episode of Sesame Street while I put Coco to bed, but she'd lost all TV privileges so I told her she could go to my room and look at books or she could rock with us. She put up a single cry of protest, "I want Sesame Street!" and then she laid her head down on the arm of the chair and fell asleep instantly.

Coco took longer to doze off, but I just sat there and rocked with both of them for about half hour. It was a sweet, peaceful end to an overall unpleasant day. I vowed that I would have more fun tomorrow.

And so the next day, we went to Target and Trader Joe's in the morning and then we went OUT to lunch and then I read my book on the couch while letting Zuzu watch a show and after Cooc's nap we went to the pool, and when we got home I threw together an easy dinner and opened a bottle of wine and the whole day was much more pleasant.

I wish there were a moral to this story. I don't know what makes some days so much easier than others. I guess I can just be glad that I've had some of both this last week so that I can be both glad to be going back to work and nostalgic about what a great summer we've had.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


We've been watching a little bit of the Olympics around here. There are too many commercials to hold the girls' interest for long, but I've been trying to catch or record some of the women's gymnastics to show them.

As someone who never really got into team sports, I've always liked watching gymnastics the best. It's not just the unbelievable athleticism packed into these tiny women who defy gravity, but also the showmanship. I was thinking about how gymnastics is the only sport where the top competitors are wearing glittery eyeliner and hair ribbons. As a kid, that's precisely what appealed to me about the sport: it involves costumes! But it's also a little weird. Can you imagine if we expected swimmers or sprinters to pose and grin before and immediately after their races?

Zuzu has taken preschool gymnastics and she loved it--running, flipping, swinging, hanging upside down, jumping on the trampoline. She enjoyed it and I liked watching her. I wonder if it might be a sport that she'd want to pursue as she gets older. On the other hand, I realize that competitive levels of gymnastics have unpleasant implications for thinking about weight and body image.

I appreciated this article by Meghan O'Roarke: "Is Watching Gymnastics Worse Than Being an NFL Fan?" that talks about the toxic elements of the sport, and the true danger that's involved in the training and execution of more and more difficult moves (moves that Simone Biles makes look easy--she is amazing!).

And I really liked this essay by Amelia Morris that comments and expands on O'Roarke's article, comparing the exacting standards for performance, appearance, and grace that we put on gymnasts to the unrealistic expectations that our society assigns to women and to mothers. Do really difficult work, do it looking good and while wearing eyeliner, and watching what you eat, and be sure that you're smiling the whole time, dammit! Or, as Morris puts it: I want my body to work; for my belly to stretch to carry my children; to stretch—to put it gently—even more in order to birth them; and for my breasts to fill (read: stretch) with milk and therefore grow larger than they ever had been in my pre-child life. And yet I also want my body to “bounce back” to my pre-child level of thinness, to my pre-child muscularity. (Bounce is actually a horrible word for it, since, in order to work out—to run and jump—like I once did, I now have to wear two sports bras.) And then I want to adorn this imaginary post-child-yet-pre-child-level-of-thinness body with loose, shapeless dresses, wear no makeup, and appear effortlessly beautiful

This balancing act seems especially intense now as I feel all of the conflicted feelings about school starting next week--excited! devastated! happy! stressed! relieved! anxious! I don't expect to carry it off with perfect grace, either. I know I'm going to feel cranky for the first two weeks of the semester, and then we'll be in a new routine and it will be fine. In the meantime, we'll do what's necessary to make the transition--early bedtimes, pizza for dinner, and taking the time to get everything ready the night before. I know pre-planning will make all the difference, but I'm going to try to go easy on myself. I might wear eyeliner, but I'll skip the leotard and hair ribbons. And I'll happily eat pizza. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Baby has a Birthday!

Yesterday, Coco-Puff turned two.

Her face here pretty much says it all:

So of course I had to do a little photo trip down memory lane--the past twelve months of Coco.

On her birthday, last year: August 7, 2015

September 2015- She was barely walking!

October 2015 - Sturdy and happy at a family wedding

November 2015 (I loved those sweet moccasins!)

December 2015 - That sweet little pink nose!

January 2016 (this is her "I know I'm in trouble" grin because she got caught playing with the laptop)

February 2016 - big blue eyes look green in that hoodie

March 2016 - cracking us up in Grammy and Bops's backyard

April 2016 - wearing my vintage baby dress

May 2016 - last day of toddler room, loving on her baby

June 2016 - on vacation in Tahoe

July 2016 - at Moonshine Beach

This past year with Coco has been ridiculously fun. I've loved watching her relationship with Zuzu develop. It's so sweet to see how much those sisters love each other. Coco's vocabulary is exploding and two recent additions are "mermaid" and "plip-plop" (which she always wants to wear, even though she often can't get her toes in quite the right spots). Her new, most frequently asked question is "What you doing?" And when she's offering an affirmative answer, it's almost always an emphatic "Uh-huh!"

She has strong opinions and is not afraid to throw a serious screaming fit in an effort to get her point across. She's at the stage where I sometimes dread going to stores (I've said, "You're being that kid in Target" to her the last two times we've gone). 

She is still a mama's girl and I love her tight squeezes on my neck when I lift her out of her crib in the morning. She has such a great little sense of humor. Being home with her all summer has truly been a gift, but I'm also looking forward to seeing all the ways she grows and learns when she starts school in a week and a half, sporting her new "back-back" and looking like a big kid, no doubt.

In some ways it feels like she's growing up fast because she tries so hard to keep up with Zuzu. But she's little and her hair is still thin on top and she will always be my sweet baby.

Happy birthday, Coco-Puff! We love you so, so much.

Our birthday girl and her made-with-extra-love birthday cake
Same girl, less hair, one candle
brand-spanking new Coco-Puff!

Thursday, August 4, 2016


I went to a fundraiser last weekend at my friend Beth's house.

First I went over there on Friday to help set up. We were hanging out, making signs, putting together raffle baskets, drinking wine, eating Chinese food... 

Somewhere in there, Beth told us that she'd had an appointment with her surgical oncologist. The first in a year! Everything looks good for her, but the doctor mentioned a slight increase in her risk for pancreatic cancer.

It's not likely. (Of course, you know how I feel about statistical odds...) But it's still shitty. She cried when she told us because after two years of treatments and surgeries and recovery, she wants to stop being afraid. And now she feels like there's one more thing to fear.


Beth found out she had cancer on Coco's birthday.

That's not quite true, but that's how I remember it in my head. Beth had told us she'd get results on Wednesday, so when she called on Tuesday when I was home from the hospital, I blabbed on and on about Coco's labor and delivery and how I was feeling and how sweet the baby was and how much I missed Eliza and how relieved I was that Coco was here and healthy.

Beth let me talk, asked questions, and celebrated Coco with me. And then, after we'd been on the phone about thirty minutes, she told me the biopsy results were in. Cancer.

I will never forget how she put my baby before her health issues. (I also felt like a huge jackass, but she'd told me that she wouldn't know anything until the next day.)

After I got off the phone with her, I held my new baby and cried. I was scared for Beth and I was scared with Beth. Breast cancer at 34? Cancer? It seemed impossible except that it wasn't.


My greatest fear right now is that one of my kids will get cancer. 

I know there are other scary things that could happen--and scariest of all is perhaps what you can't even imagine. But childhood cancer is real and it terrifies me. There are so many stories of survivors. And then there are those families who have to limp forward with a piece always missing.


At the event, Beth and Curt had a place up at their house where you could grab a card and write the name of someone you were there for and hang it up--a real life reason you wanted to fight cancer. I felt sick to my stomach for a moment in that hallway, because it seemed like I could have filled that clothesline by myself. Beth. Brad. Erin. Gpa Vance. Gma Peggy. Gpa Gene.... And the list doesn't really stop there.


Toward the end of the night, Beth thanked everyone for coming and told the story of hearing a dad speak whose daughter had been given six months to live. She got on an experimental drug trial at Siteman Cancer Center and three and a half years later, she was there with him.

The money that people donate to Pedal the Cause matters. Every dollar of it goes to research at St. Louis Children's Hospital and Siteman Cancer Center. Research saves lives. 

This year, Beth and Curt are both riding in the race and they've expanded their team as well. I'm on the team even though my butt is not meeting a bike seat (not this year anyway). I'm doing my part to raise funds, to raise awareness, and to try to eliminate the fear of cancer, eventually.

If you're reading this, and you have $5 or $10 to spare, please know that it will make a difference and consider making a donation here:

I would love nothing more than for these girls to grow up and think about cancer the way we think about polio or the measles.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Conversations with Zuzu

Scene: I'm giving the kids some instructions--probably asking them to be peaceful and not leap off the couches.

ZuzuMommy, I want to tell you something really important. (Dramatic pause, then stage whisper.) The grown-ups don't tell the kids what to do. The kids just do whatever they want to do.

Scene: In the kitchen, discussing something totally unrelated.

Zuzu: Mommy, do trees have bones? 


Scene: Hanging out on the couch after lunch. Coco is napping.

Zuzu: (*toots*)
Zuzu: (politely) Excuse me.
Me: Do you need to go potty or was that just a toot?
Zuzu: Just a toot!
Zuzu: A stinky toot!


Scene: Walking over to our neighbor's new pool.

Zuzu: (with much authority) Coco, these are the rules of the pool: Don't wear a Binky. Put your toes on the edge to jump in. DON'T throw a fit after we swim.


Scene: Practicing soccer with daddy. Kicks the ball past him.

Zuzu: That was awesome! I love winning!


Scene: The jewelry I'd put on the bathroom windowsill is missing. Upon further investigation, I find my bracelet on the floor in Zuzu's room.

Me: Zuzu, do you know where Mommy's wedding ring is?
Zuzu: No.
Me: Are you sure?
Zuzu: Well, it might be in my piggy bank. I think maybe I put it there a long time ago when I was a baby.

(It was in the piggy bank. We then had a chat about not touching my jewelry, but really I should know better than to leave it in the bathroom where it's easily accessible!)

Monday, August 1, 2016

Office Makeover

This year my university is taking away the faculty lunch privileges we've had since I was hired--no more free lunches in the dining hall! (It was a huge perk, even though the food wasn't always great, to NEVER have to pack or think about lunch!) Our lunches have been reduced to two per week, which is a huge bummer. I'm bracing myself for lunch-packing three days a week, and it means that I will need a mini-fridge in my office, and a microwave.

There's actually a fridge and a microwave in a lounge near my office, but they are disgusting and I can't even. (When I have needed a microwave on a few occasions, I would actually go down to the biology labs because the students are required to keep those SUPER clean.)

My office has a little nook in it that has largely been unused--I've been storing empty cardboard boxes in there and I put up a coat hook. My plan is to transform that nook to a little kitchenette with a mini fridge and a microwave and a small set of shelves for holding snacks. Anything to make the transition to bringing a lunch a little more palatable. (At least my kids' school serves them lunch so I don't have to deal with that yet.)

I nabbed that great chair at Goodwill, and I'm anxiously waiting for this heatwave to break just a little bit so that I can spray paint it. I think I'm going to try a laquer finish so it will be super shiny.

In a fit of wanting ALL THE SHINY THINGS, I also decided to upgrade my ugly black IKEA task lamp by replacing it with a little gold number from Target. Turns out a little bit of gold can make me happy at my desk!

We're having family photos taken next weekend, so I plan to frame a couple of new pictures, and I bought a thrift-store painting that I will probably put up somewhere. I have been considering getting a rug, but I think it would end up being something that I'd trip over or something that would just get filthy from other people walking on it, and I don't need the aggravation.

Now if I could just finish up my syllabi, I'd really be ready for the semester to begin!