Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Game On

The semester has begun!

Also I went to PiYo on Sunday. I've done yoga and pilates before, so I was expecting an intense mat workout. Instead, I got an intense cardio/yoga flow/pilates abs workout that I am still feeling today.

I got this great groupon back in December for a fitness studio right by my house, but the catch is that I have to take all 20 classes within 90 days. That means at least one a week, sometimes two a week. So I'm already signed up for a regular yoga class and a barre class next Sunday. Working on my resolutions!

Can we talk for a second about Making a Murderer? I fell asleep during the first two episodes, got intrigued by the third episode, and now I think we're five episodes in, maybe six. I fell asleep during the last one we watched, but only at the very end. It's frustrating and intriguing and it feels much more strongly biased to me than Serial podcast.


Speaking of the Serial podcast, I was totally in the camp of Adnan is innocent. One day at lunch, I mentioned the podcast to one of our criminal justice professors. He hadn't listened to it, but he downloaded it that day (and ended up assigning it to one of his classes!). When he'd gotten through all the episodes, I asked him if he thought Adnan was innocent.

Nope, he said. Definitely guilty.

I was aghast! Incredulous! Astonished! Noooo! The pay phone! The timeline! The potential library alibi! It doesn't work!

The CJ professor rolled his eyes. He pointed out that, based on evidence, Hae was killed by someone who knew her. She was killed without a weapon, which pointed to a crime of passion. And he was totally skeptical of Adnan not knowing where he was the day Hae disappeared: "I'm dating you? Or I used to be dating you? And you go missing? I'm sure as hell gonna know where I was that day!" So, yeah...

But he agreed that there really wasn't enough evidence to convict him, regardless of guilt or innocence.

Oh the criminal justice system! I'm relieved I chose grad school over law school, but I think in another life I would have liked the challenge of practicing law in the mucked-up, biased, mess of a system we have going on.


Okay, enough true crime. Back to my life. Coco has not been sleeping well, you guys. The last time she slept all the way through the night without waking up, crying, and demanding mama-milk? Christmas Eve. Over a month ago. Two nights ago, she was up FOUR TIMES. Last night, just once. I used a lavender + witch hazel spray on her sheets and blanket last night, and I really think it made a difference. Love the snake essential oils.

The thing is, we are going to have to get serious about NOT giving her mama milk every time she wakes up. I know logically that this is the only way to get her to sleep through the night. If you rewarded someone with $100 every time they woke up in the night and yelled, they'd keep doing it every night, right? So something's got to give with the mama milk reward--particularly since she's going to be 18 MONTHS old in a week and a half.

It's just that when I'm tired and stumbling in the middle of the night, I'd rather nurse her and rock her and get us both back to bed in 10 minutes than fight her and listen to her cry for who knows how long.

Ok. Not asking for advice. Just venting. Thank you for non-judgmentally listening.

In other news (cross my fingers and spit in the devil's eye) Zuzu has been doing well at school since Christmas break. I don't think it's an accident that David's been home and our schedule has been more predictable, in spite of the craziness with the floor work we had done. She even got to be the model student to show how to sit on the line! (I guess that's worth bragging about? We got a picture emailed to us, so it must be Kind Of A Big Deal.)

My brain feels frazzled right now. But it's Wednesday! The week is already half over. I told Zuzu today was hump day and she said, "No it's not! Daddy said it's Wednesday." Sometimes it's hard to live with a three-year-old who is sure she knows more than I do about everything. I do admire her confidence, though!

This is one of those blog posts where I get to the end and I'm like, "This is nonsense. I should not post this." But I'm just going to go ahead, because sometimes nonsense is all I got. And sometimes it actually sparks really interesting conversations in the comments. You never know.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

New Year, Almost 1/12 Over

I'm kind of freaking out about how close we are to the end of January. (I've made zero progress on my working out and photo organizing resolutions, and I've also taken very few photos this month even though my children are continuing a streak started at birth of being totally adorable, and I can't even remember what my other resolutions were at the moment, so I need to get myself in gear.)

Soon I will take some pictures of the new carpet and closet, but of course we didn't really take before pics, so that doesn't make for nearly as satisfying a blog post. I will go ahead and say that we got the super squishy carpet pad put in our bedroom and it's amazing, but also it's kind of over the top. Like walking on memory foam. I feel like I should be doing front hand springs or something.

I used to be able to do front hand springs. I know I could in college. Possibly in grad school also. I don't think I could do one now... Hmm. Is this something I want to work on? Maybe when the weather gets warmer. Yes, let's say that. Right now my motivation for activity extends to boiling water for tea.

The start of the semester is upon me (we had a January term that just ended) and I'm in that treading-water mentality. So many things I want to be doing and never enough time to get them done. 

This weekend I have to finish my syllabus for the poetry class I'm teaching, and also put our whole house back together. The entire upstairs is in complete disarray, and I want to really organize the girls' closets and not just throw things behind a closed door. Which means I really need more than a weekend!

We are in the process of selling David's grandma's house and auctioning off much of the contents. It's not easy, emotionally or organizationally. But, in a much-needed moment of hilarity, when we cleaned out the attic, we discovered a nude painting.

(David wants to clarify it is not a painting of anyone we know, least of all his grandmother.)

Whoever she is, she's currently part of our Valentine's Day decor. I texted a photo to David's aunt to show her we had displayed the priceless work of art and she wrote back, "I can't believe you took that home!"

As though I would consider NOT taking home a nude painting that had been hidden in an attic? Does she know me at all?

Go ahead--you know you want to click on the photo and zoom in on the painting.

My mantle (and the terrible lighting in this photo) will not win a blogger styling award, but the hodge podge of grandparent wedding photos, baby prints, thrift store treasures, and nudity just makes me feel happy. 

In other news, David is starting a doctoral program to get his EdD. Guess someone has degree envy! Hardy har har. It means that I'll be missing him while he's in class on Monday nights, but we will make it work.

Oh man I'm ready to have the house put back together. I give D a hard time about being rigid when it comes to tidiness, but living in this messy, mixed up house for the week and a half we had floors refinished and new carpet put in has been driving me bonkers.

Also driving me bonkers? We are three episodes in to Making a Murderer and haven't had time to watch more. Hoping we can manage to stay awake after the girls go to bed and get some serious tv-watching done.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Grief Group Sob Fest

I went to grief group last week. I remember stumbling in there in the early days and finding comfort in hearing people speak who were a few years out from their loss. The nurse who runs the group has encouraged me to come back for similar reasons--she says it's helpful for newly bereaved parents to hear the perspective of those who are further along in their grief. The idea was to try to be encouraging and empathetic, but also to demonstrate that life gets live-able again. I wanted to be the kind of Grief Ambassador who gave me hope that someday I'd be able to take a deep breath and not dissolve into tears every other second.

I don't know what happened though... I guess maybe it's just that December was a hard month and grief about Eliza got pushed back behind the grief and the busy-ness of losing David's grandma and celebrating the holidays. Or maybe I was just tired.

Whatever it was, I showed up for grief group and instead of being all, "Yes, I understand how you're feeling. Let me show you that things will get more manageable," I showed up and proceeded to basically ugly-cry for an hour and a half. I was a total bawl-bag! Like I could barely even talk at one point because I was so choked up. I cried my way through half a kleenex box!

I know I'm a contagious crier, so when someone else is crying, I always get a little teary myself. But then I just couldn't stop! I probably freaked people out. Look at me! In FIVE YEARS, you'll still be a total and complete wreck!

It is possible that I should not appoint myself Grief Ambassador. But I guess I just needed a cathartic cry, and ended up having mine in front of a whole bunch of bereaved parent witnesses.

I guess the truth is that five years in, you'll still be a total and complete wreck, but only for a couple of hours at a time, with mostly really good days/weeks in between.

A few weeks ago, I was talking to David on the phone in the car and I got emotional talking about some of Zuzu's behavioral challenges at school. I just worry about her. I can see how amazing she is, and I want to know that her teachers see that too, even when she's being a total brat and resisting transitions or not following directions. I was deliberately choosing my words carefully, so Zuzu didn't know what we were discussing, but she heard my voice sounding choked up and piped up from the back seat, "Mama? Are you missing Eliza?"

Yes, I am. Always, really. But, I swear, most of the time I can get through the day without crying!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Greetings from the Basement (New Floors in the Works)

It's not every day that I walk in the door from work and immediately pour a glass of wine, but today was one of those days. The thing is, I can't complain about it. We are having hardwood floors upstairs refinished and we're also replacing the carpets. So it's great! We have been wanting new carpets since we moved in. The carpets in our house are good quality, but they are worn and the dark teal color, while I actually don’t hate it, doesn’t really do it for me, either. We have a lot of the house's original hardwoods on the main floor, but the TV room (the addition) has carpet, as does the basement, and the bedrooms upstairs, so it's probably a 50/50 split total and will be more like 75/25 when we're finished. 

Anyway, I needed wine because the house is a wreck and we're all gathered together in the basement, which is in shambles because new carpet comes in starting Wednesday, so we have already cleared bookcases. The stain is kind of fumey--it's not bad enough that we need to move out for the night, but we are camped out in the basement with the girls. I'd open windows to some ventilation if it weren't 6 freaking degrees outside! With the girls' rooms emptied so they could be sanded and stained, our master bedroom is nearly impossible to walk through. The whole house feels like it's a chaotic mess, really, and even though I swear it's David who is anal and crazy, I can't WAIT for things to put be tidily put back together. (Hopefully before my friend Julie stays with us this weekend!)

As I said, we've been talking about new carpet since we moved in, but we weren't sure whether we wanted to recarpet all the rooms upstairs or have the hardwoods refinished. After talking it over and going back and forth a bit, we actually consulted with our realtor on what would be our best investment. And so we decided to pull up the carpet in the girls’ bedrooms and refinish the original hardwood floors that are underneath.

(I thought this could totally be a DIY project, but David is insisting on outsourcing it.)

The shitty and unforeseen expense that we (in retrospect) should have thought about is that when they pulled up the carpets, the baseboards no longer reach the floor. I assumed that quarter round would fix the problem, but the gap is too big for quarter round. So we have to either unattach and reattach the original baseboards, lowering them on a plaster wall that may or may not crumble, and then repaint the bottom inch of the wall (doesn't that sound SUPER fun?) or replace all the baseboards. We'll get quotes for both options and then decide, but either way I feel irritated. (Wine helps!)

In terms of investment, I trust that the hardwood floors are the biggest bang for our buck, since they were just sitting there (in pretty good condition) underneath the carpets. They really are nice, too. Our master bedroom has hardwoods under it, but the added sitting room and closet do not. I want the flooring to be consistent throughout our room (right now the carpet in the closet is jarringly different and it’s a huge peeve of mine), but I also don’t want to spend the money to put oak floors down in a 10’x12’ closet. I know it would look great, but frankly, I’d rather take a vacation or save for retirement or pay for college with that money! I also figure that carpet will be quieter in terms of muffling footsteps that are upstairs, and cozier when we’re talking about getting out of bed in the morning (or the middle of the night. Hi, Coco!).

We chose a fiber that is super soft and silky feeling, but is short. I know that “frieze” and twist-style carpet is pretty appealing, but after looking at a zillion carpet squares, I discovered that I prefer carpet that is tighter and tidier looking. (Also, David is totally anti carpet that has a "fleck" or color variation in it. I don't mind it, but he says it "bothers" him.) The new stuff will be a nice, boring beige, except I did choose a patterned runner for the stairs.

This carpet is soft, so it will show footprints and vacuum marks, but we don’t wear shoes upstairs and we are okay with that. I’m excited about having the same carpet throughout—although I usually try to keep the closet doors closed, I love the idea of being able to leave them open and have the look of a big master bedroom. 

The carpet in the TV room and basement will a similarly boring beige, but it's a combination loop and cut carpet, which adds some interest, I guess.

Anyway, January is shaping up to be a big month for some home improvement, which is kind of our trend for the past few years ago. You may remember the kitchen from last February? And the living room shelves from two years ago? I'll have to think about what's on the agenda for next year... 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Conversations with Zuzu

Scene: Zuzu is getting ready for bed.

Zuzu: I don't want to sleep in my room. I'm scared.
David: What are you scared of?
Zuzu: Bats that appear on my pillow. And octopuses.


Scene: Zuzu is in the bathroom. It's been a while.

Me: You going potty? You need any help?
Zuzu: Could you leave me alone, please?


Scene: Zuzu is eating a popsicle--the kind that comes in a box with Frozen characters on these. She calls these "ice cones." They come in three colors--white, purple, and blue--but they all taste the same: like Hawaiian punch.

Grammy: What does your popsicle taste like?
Me: They all taste like Hawaiian punch with less red dye number 40.
Zuzu: Mine tastes like Frozen with sparkles!


Scene: Discussing Minnie Mouse on our way up to take a bath.

Zuzu: Everybody knows it's all about the bows!
(If you're not familiar, this is like Minnie's motto or something.)
Me: (Because sometimes I just feel compelled to say something in response to that nonsense.) But we know, it's really all about being kind, and applying yourself in school, and being assertive...
Zuzu: And going poo-poo on the potty?
David: Yes. It's also about that.


Scene: At the dinner table. The girls are being remarkably pleasant.

Me (to David): How did we get the two sweetest girls in the world?
Zuzu: From the store!


Scene: I walk into the bathroom. Zuzu is using an eyeshadow brush to paint blush on the bathroom vanity.

Zuzu: Hello, Mommy! I'm making the bathroom beautiful!

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Weekend of Bodily Fluids and Closet Renovation

I'm not sure what it is about gross experiences that makes me want to sit down and write about it, but I think it's that when I experience something gross, I want other people to suffer with me.

(Like the time Coco kept handing me things and saying, "Tank oo!" while I was sitting at my desk for THREE MINUTES paying bills online, reaching down blindly to take whatever toy or binky or sippy cup she had in her hand. It was super cute until the day she handed me a soft, smushy dog turd, and I--after screaming, shrieking, gagging, and washing our hands--immediately had to text my mom, David, and my friend Erin. Because accidentally grabbing a handful of dog poop from your baby is not something that one should experience alone. Related: Cooper is a diva who thinks he is too good to poop in our yard, so unless he gets a walk in the morning, he poops in the finished basement. And, on at least one occasion, a temporarily unsupervised toddler collected a turd to hand over to her temporarily distracted mother.)

This weekend, we decided to reorganize our master bedroom closet, which will totally get a post of its own. For now, all you need to know is that of course such a project requires a trip to Ikea.

We went on Saturday night and took the girls. It was like a family fun date! It actually wasn't bad at all--the store wasn't crowded, and we ate dinner at the restaurant. The girls and David had Swedish meatballs, and I had meatless balls, and we were all happy. Even the shopping part was easy, as Zuzu enjoyed skipping from one arrow on the floor to the next, and admiring all the "beautiful" things. Coco was pretty content to ride in the shopping cart. Things were going so well!

It was 8:00pm before we got out of there, and as both girls were pretty tired, we decided to cruise around until they fell asleep. We transferred them both to bed, congratulated ourselves on a job well done, and opted to put off construction of the bookcase and dresser until the next morning so that we could watch Making of a Murderer because yes we are jumping on that bandwagon. 

At 10:45pm, we'd just dozed off when Zuzu came wandering in from her room, wanting to get in bed with us. David lifted her up and she snuggled in under the covers. 

I'm honestly not sure how much later it was, but the next thing I knew, I was awakened by her gagging and vomiting. 

And then David bolted out of bed. 

By the time I blearily turned on the lamp, it was already clear from the smell that she'd barfed. The lamp light revealed that she'd sat up, turned to the side, and puked all over him. Luckily, he's a stomach sleeper, so the vomit had hit him on his back and the back of his head (rather than, say, his face and mouth). At the time, though, he wasn't feeling so lucky. 

The stench was horrific (safe to say nobody at our house will be eating Swedish meatballs for a good long while). We were both fighting the urge to dry heave (well, I was flat-out dry heaving) as we proceeded to strip the bed (and strip Zuzu). David carried everything down to the laundry room, shoved it ALL in the wash together (even though I told him it was too much for one load--the smell was so bad he couldn't leave any of it on the floor of the laundry room). 

I comforted Zuzu and got her changed into clean pajamas and cleaned up--she actually had managed not to really barf on herself. Then she and I relocated to her room to go back to sleep while David showered and remade our bed. 

She woke up and puked two more times during the night (fortunately I had a stack of old towels ready to catch the barf) which meant that I slept NOT AT ALL, because every time she stirred, I was sitting up saying, "Are you going to throw up?" and grabbing a towel. 

Coco had this same stomach bug last week. She threw up twice during the night--strawberry yogurt and mandarin oranges--and she ended up rolling in it, matting it in her hair. She required a full bath before going back to bed, which infuriated her to the point of red-faced screaming in the bath tub. Poor little nugget. But she was so perky and happy the next morning, I thought it was a freak thing (too many oranges?) so I took her to school. I told her teacher that she'd thrown up, but she seemed perfectly fine and was fever-free, so I really didn't think much of it. I'd JUST gotten to my office when her teacher texted me that Coco had thrown up TWICE and needed to go home. Awesome parenting moment! I felt terrible. (In my defense, even when I got to school to pick her up, she was perfectly happy.) 

Zuzu was not quite the same--she was definitely feeling puny and ran a low fever yesterday afternoon. We indulged her in screen time and mostly let her hang out on our bed while we worked on the closet. 

She seemed to be feeling normal by bedtime, but we decided to keep her home today. I didn't want another Coco-incident! This morning, David got out of bed early to walk Cooper-the-Diva-Dog, and I got up with Coco. When Zuzu came into Coco's room to find me, I gasped out loud at the site of her, because she had dried blood all over her nose and face. Evidently, she'd had a nosebleed during the night! When I was cleaning her up, she sneezed, and bloody snot came shooting out. 

She told me, "I'm a little bit sick, so last night, I threw up in my nose."

If you count sweat from working on the closet, and factor in the wet diapers I changed, then there's hardly a bodily fluid that I didn't come in contact with this weekend. 

But the closet looks great! I just have a few finishing touches I'm indulging in (like a tufted ottoman! because after this weekend, I think I earned it.) and then I will share pictures. 

This just in: David's stomach is bothering him. PLEASE let this one skip me!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Back to the Grind

As usual, I was a little anxious about us getting back into the swing of things after a break. The alarm came mighty early on Monday morning. Zuzu did not want to get out of bed. Neither did I. It is very hard to get a three-year-old out of bed when she has sweet-squishy-sleepy-face and just wants to snuggle with you. She was tired enough that she wanted me to help her get dressed rather than doing it herself, so I shimmied her into a pair of navy leggings, a gray knit dress with silver thread running through it, and she wore her gold mary janes and a pink silicone necklace that she has been instructed to bite when frustrated (in lieu of her friends, natch).

By the time I got out of the shower, Coco was awake and fussy and still requires a hit of mama milk to get up and moving in the morning. I made coffee and slapped peanutbutter on a graham cracker, giving her part of a graham cracker to chew on (after letting the dog out because he is a food thief). I loaded up Coco, her bag of cloth diapers, my school bag with books, my water cup and my coffee, and headed out.

After two and a half weeks of unlimited mama-time, I was afraid that my little mama's girl might freak out when it was time for her to go to school, but she happily trotted over to her teacher. When I went to kiss her good-bye, she could barely be bothered with me, as her teacher was bringing her breakfast.

I was walking back out to my car when I got a text from David telling me that Zuzu's drop off went smoothly.

Perhaps we had all reached our quota of family togetherness time?

I got to work, snagged a good parking spot, and walked up to my third-floor office. I unlocked the door, unloaded my bags, hung my super cute 2016 calendar, put a few drops of essential oil in my diffuser, watered my plants, and sat down at my computer with a sigh of relief.

I love my kids more than anything.

But after two and a half weeks of nonstop togetherness, it was so awesome to be alone in my office. And it was pretty fun being back in the classroom talking to college students.

I'm teaching a J-term class that's not about literature but instead is about how to choose a major and how different majors can lead to unexpected career paths. It involves a lot of guest speakers and plenty of discussion about the purpose of college (vocational training? or creating well-rounded, ethical citizens?). Also I'm co-teaching it with a friend, so we're enjoying ourselves.

In case I start feeling guilty about how happy I am about being back at work (and away from the incessant demands of my children--I have SO MUCH respect for moms who stay home with their kids full time), I just need to remind myself that Harvard Business School's recent research shows that kids can also benefit from having a working mom.

So... me enjoying adult conversation, a captive audience listening to me talk, and peace and quiet in my tidy, sunlight office? It's really benefiting my children. We call that a win-win!

Monday, January 4, 2016

In Case You Missed This...

When I send out Christmas cards, I always like to include some kind of newsletter because those are my favorite cards to get. But NOBODY does this anymore! Except old people. Only a few people who sent us cards enclosed a note of some sort. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE the photos, and you don't need a bunch of words to illustrate them. But I also want the hilarious braggy letters about the kids getting straight A’s and winning the t-ball tournament and traveling to Europe and winning chili cook-offs and all that stuff. I guess that’s one more thing to go to away in the advent of Facebook offering you an up-to-the-minute edited and glossy version of your friends’ lives. 

Forget the first world issue of whether sending a letter AND a photo card is an indulgence in over the top narcissism, because I'm already entrenched in that. Personally, I face the dual impulse of NOT sending a letter because I’m word vomiting our family updates out on the blog so maybe this is totally redundant, and totally wanting to send a letter because I love that tradition and I want the keepsake myself. 

The past few years, I’ve compromised by coming up with a year-end-summary to include that's not a bunch of paragraphs, and this year I tracked down an Etsy seller who made this super cute infographic thing for me. I'd love to send a card to everyone reading this, but just in case I don't have your home address, here ya go:

(By "tracked her down," I mean that I saw something like this on Pinterest but she didn't have it available in her shop, so I e-mailed her a special request and she agreed to do it. In my experience, Etsy sellers are the NICEST people. That includes My Crafty Cousin Amanda.)

I doubt that anyone receiving our cards actually enjoys the yearly recap as much as I enjoy creating it, but I actually would love to get one of these from each of my friends and family (you know, since I don't have Facebook to tell me this stuff!). Every year I slide our newsletter in a little scrap book with our photo card because I think it will be fun to look back on someday. I'm not sure if I'll stick with this format next year, or try to get creative with something else. I guess we'll just have to see what 2016 brings.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Calendar Girls 2016

Every year, I create a photo calendar for all the grandmas. I made them again this year, and I put one together for us. 

This was a bittersweet thing, because it started out as an annual gift for Grandma Peppa, who got to wear she saved that gift for last because she knew it would make her cry to look through it and see all the people she loved. In true Grandma Peppa style, she displayed this calendar but she didn’t write on it—she wrote all her appointments and plans on a freebie calendar she kept on her desk. I always found this bizarre—it’s not like writing on the dates “ruins” the calendar—it’s literally going to expire anyway! But I think it fits the same idea of having a formal living room in her house that no one was allowed to enter or sit in. Some people (including myself) would consider that a waste of space, but I think that it gave her more pleasure to look at it in its pristine condition than it would have if she had actually “used” it. Different approach to enjoyment of the same thing.

I usually do collage layouts on the grandma-calendars, so I can feature all the grandkids every month. But I do our calendar a little differently. Yes, it features my Special Snowflakes, so it’s not exactly cool, but I like to use pictures that are maybe a little bit unexpected. Not necessarily the “best” or most posed photos, but the ones that recall a funny moment or capture a hilarious face, or sometimes the one that just has the prettiest background or colors.  I force myself to just choose one photo per month rather than do a collage. This means I have to be picky, which is hard, but ultimately I like the clean way it looks to just have one photo per month. 

This year I narrowed my choices further by selecting each month’s photo from that month in 2015 (I ended up fudging this twice--August's photo was taken earlier in the summer, and September's picture was actually taken in October).  I also decided that the photo had to feature both girls. Sometimes my favorite photo of the month was just of one of them, but the “sisters” theme of this calendar required that they were both in the picture. This meant that I had fewer pictures from which to choose, since getting a decent picture of both of them at the same time is not easy! It also left with me with a month (September!) where I had zero pictures of the two of them together that weren't blurry or awkward. I managed to make my selections and get my calendar ordered when everything on the site was 50% off, so here are the pictures of sisterhood in 2015 that will be illustrating our calendar in 2016.













Can you believe what a little nugget Coco was in the early months of this year? It's crazy to me that she wasn't walking until August--it feels like she has been running around forever. And 2015 was really the year for Zuzu's hair--the difference between January/February and May is amazing! 

One of my big goals for 2016 is to do a better job of staying on top of photo printing and organizing, so this calendar feels like a step in the right direction. 

Do you create a photo calendar? Do you think they are totally lame or cheesy? I buy a Paper Source calendar for my office (and I love it!), but the photo calendar hanging in the kitchen makes me really happy.

Friday, January 1, 2016

2015: Year in Review

I wasn't going to do one of these posts this year. I just kind of felt like it had been played out, and I have so many other posts running through my head that I'd rather write about. 

BUT, I'm a sucker for tradition. And when I have so much to write about, it's easier to just answer a list of questions.

This Christmas break has been nothing short of exhausting--we've dealt with the loss of David's grandma, the imminent arrival of Coco's molars, and an unprecedented amount of rain that resulted in water seeping into our basement and in through a kitchen window. We've spent ten of the past fifteen nights in beds that were not our own, and as we drove back to St. Louis this morning, we were all tired, cranky, I was overcaffeinated, David was overstressed, and the three in the backseat were mildly to moderately wounded (Coco has a scratch on her face from Cooper's paw caused by David; Zuzu has a scrape on her cheek caused by fall on ice; Cooper has puncture wounds in leg caused by another dog's canine teeth). FUN TIMES! 

Needless to say, the end of 2015 is hard to describe in few words, and left me with plenty of material for blog posts (I WILL be recapping Christmas, even if it happens in February and is of no interest to anyone but me and my mom). 

So now we're home. I'm sitting alone in the TV room, sipping on a cup of bedtime tea at 8:27pm. The basement water situation has been dealt with as best we could (at least it's not raining). In the few hours we've been home tonight, we've also mopped up a toilet that runneth over and a cup of spilled milk. There's piles of laundry, and Christmas decorations are still up, and I really need to plan the class that starts on Monday, but that stuff can wait. David is putting Zuzu to bed and I'm going to answer these questions and watch something on Netflix until I start to doze off and have to make myself go upstairs and fall into bed so that I can tackle the mile-long to-do list tomorrow. 

There are worst to end the first day of the new year.

(Also I just want to add that as I went through and updated the answers from 2014, I couldn't believe that I wrote those answers just one year ago--somehow it feels like 16-month-old Coco has been here forever, but I just met her in 2014! CRAZY!)

1. What did you do in 2015 that you'd never done before?
* Successfully potty-trained my kid (ha! Who am I kidding? She decided to do it herself. Finally. In August. Which is MUCH LATER than I would have preferred. I'm starting to realize that my preferences aren't always in line with her priorities. Go figure.).
* Worked out with a personal trainer. (Even though he was an undergraduate doing it for class credit, it still totally counts.)
* Took a family vacation road trip with my kids and my parents AND witnessed my brother get married. (It was fun, and really, I couldn't have chosen a better partner for him if I had picked her out myself.)

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Goals for 2015: 
Figure out how to use my DSLR camera in manual mode.  NOPE. Didn't do it. Didn't use it enough even in auto mode. Relied on the ol' iPhone for pics. And focused on participating in activities rather than worrying about documenting them. So I roll my eyes at this goal. Maybe in 2020?

Be more active. Yep. While I didn't really get going on this until the final quarter of the year, my 8 weeks with a personal trainer made a huge difference in how I felt on a daily basis. 

Don't bring work home too often. I did well on this, mostly because I discovered that it was basically impossible for me to get work done at home. So I occasionally (often) spent longer days at the office than I would have liked, but I was able to spend my evenings with my family and not grading papers.

Make time for yoga. Not as much as I would have liked.

Be energetic and ready for fun. Eh. Maybe? Probably not as much as I would have liked. Note to Last Year Self: Goals like this are annoyingly vague. 

Give proofs of love. If proofs of love equal hugs and kisses for mah bay-bees, then yes. I hug and kiss the hell out of my kids. They are so delicious and squishy.

Goals for 2016 (specific and measurable!):
Read 50 books for fun.
Write (besides blog posts). More specifically, draft an academic article and write at least three other things non-related to academia--fiction or creative nonfiction.
Do something active 2 times a week (minimum).
Get your shit together when it comes to photos--order books, order prints, get organized.

I know I have much room for improvement, but three seems like enough. Also #2 and #4 are really super hard for me, so wish me luck.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My friend Angie had her fourth baby and third boy, Ethan.
My friend Erika and Ben had their first baby and recipient of many Duckworth-girl hand-me-downs, Allegra.
Two new BLM friends had babies this year, and I delighted in the safe arrivals of Dom and Josie. Two dear friends adopted babies this year, and I delighted in the safe arrivals of Ruby and Matthew.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
David's grandma Peggy passed away shortly before Christmas.

5. What countries did you visit?
Stayed in the U.S., but visited three new states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?
More time to read for fun, a more organized and functional closet, and an uninterrupted night's sleep on a regular basis (ahem, Coco).

7. What dates from 2015 will remained etched upon your memory?
July 25 - my brother's wedding and my girls' flower girls debut. And as of right now, that's all I can come up with!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I think I did my job really well this year. I don't say that lightly--I stretched myself in my teaching and tried some new things and I really felt like I kept myself organized and used my time at work efficiently. I wish parenting were as easy for me!

9. What was your biggest failure?
Getting worked up over Zuzu's potty training was a huge mistake!

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Mastitis in January. Strep throat in December. Also one night in December I had an upset stomach after making dinner of baked brie and red wine (go figure). So feeling shitty book-ended my year, but the months in between were pretty good!

11. What was the best thing you bought?
These new shower shelves and new containers for flour and sugar. (It's the little things, people! Also I'm not affiliated with The Container Store, but I'd like to be.)

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
This is super sappy, but I've got to go with David on this one. The way he cared for his grandma in the past two months made me love him even more than I already did (and that's saying something, you guys). 

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
First name rhymes with Ronald, last name rhymes with Hump.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Montessori Preschool for the Most Special of Snowflakes (Who Occasionally Bites Her Friends) and Daycare for the Squishiest of Babies (Who is Becoming Alarmingly Toddler-Like)

15. What did you get really excited about?
Ikea opening in St. Louis

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?
"Fight Song" by Rachel Platten

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
- happier or sadder?  This is a hard question to answer. Honestly, I think right this minute I feel sadder--losing David's grandma has made me miss my grandparents more, and wish that my girls got to see my Papa (my dad's dad) more often. Overall, I'd say I'm happier. Life gets easier and my clothes fit better as the girls get a bit older, and I'm looking forward to what 2016 will bring.
- thinner or fatter?  thinner (Thanks, Personal Trainer!)
- richer or poorer?  probably the same... I'm back to work full time, so my salary is back, but Special Snowflake Preschool cuts into Mama's Household Budget

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
creating photobooks and seeing my friends

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
worrying about potty training

20. How did you spend Christmas?
With my parents at our house, then with my brother and his wife and my parents at my parents' house, also with my Papa and my dad's siblings and my cousins at my aunt Tammi's, and then we wrapped up the holiday with New Year's Eve at my best friend's house. It was fun, but I haven't had a good night's sleep since mid-December.

21. Did you fall in love in 2015?
With Jessica Jones on Netflix.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
see above! Although I'm also a fan of The Good Wife and How to Get Away With Murder, and David and I still tune in to Survivor (I heart Joe).

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
#13 might qualify here, although I don't know him personally, so it's hard to say. Maybe we'd get along fabulously and just disagree about EVERY IMPORTANT ISSUE EVER.

24. What was the best book you read?
Definitely Citizen by Claudine Rankin. 

I also really enjoyed Leaving Everything Most Loved by Jacquline Winspear (#10 in the Maisie Dobbs series) and In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware.

25. What was your favorite musical discovery?
Here is where I admit that I actually like this Jason Isbell guy--David is a big fan, so he gets credit for this discovery. I'm always suspicious of his taste in music, but this is pretty great. If you're not familiar, listen to "24 Frames." It's my favorite. David's favorite is "Elephant."

26. What did you want and get?
Red rain boots, a kitchen backsplash, and a new rug for the living room.

27. What did you want and not get?
New light fixtures, a housekeeping service, a desire to cook dinner.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
OMG. Did I even go to the movies this year? I know I did. But what did we see? Oh, it was that Tom Hanks movie about East Germany. It was okay but not a favorite film. I think my favorite film would be Trainwreck because I love Amy Schumer, but I haven't actually seen it yet. Sigh. I should add "watch more movies" to my goals for 2016.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
We drove home from Cleveland. I turned 35. NOT a memorable birthday. Maybe next year.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying [besides your first daughter being alive]?
This is hard to say. It was really a pretty satisfying year overall. Sure could use a house cleaning service, though.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?
Comfortable = Flat Shoes + Skinny Bottoms + Flowy Tops + Scarves + Maybe Some Lip Color Because Now You Are 35

32. What kept you sane?
my girls, particularly when they are sleeping and I feel all mushy and overwhelmed with love for them. (If the question were "What made you insane?" I'd have the same answer, except that's when they are awake.)

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Amy Schumer

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Syrian refugee crisis. It's so overwhelming that I confess my impulse is to want to shut it out instead of try to help, but I donated here, and I encourage you to do the same.

35. Who did you miss?

Eliza, of course, and grandparents whom we wish could have had time--or more time--with Zuzu and Coco. (same answer as last year)

36. Who was the best new person you met?
My new colleague in the English department--I'm so glad we hired someone I truly want to have as a friend.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.
Different kids require different parenting. You do your kid, I'll do mine. And we'll both wonder most of the time if we're doing it right.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
I remember driving the girls to school one morning and hearing this song and straight up crying in my car, and then I got home and e-mailed some friends and I was like, "HAVE YOU HEARD THIS SONG I'M A SOBBING MESS." Because, yes. This is exactly how I love those babies of mine.
So I'm gonna love you
Like I'm gonna lose you,
I'm gonna hold you
Like I'm saying goodbye
Wherever we're standing
I won't take you for granted,
'Cause we'll never know when
We'll run out of time
(from "Like I'm Gonna Lose You" by Meghan Trainor and John Legend)

Here's to 2016. May it bring you all the good.